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2 Meetings in December on Zoom

We’d love to have you join us at 15 Minutes of Fame Writing Practice. We meet on Zoom. We do timed writings and read aloud what we’ve written IF we want to read. No fee, no registration, no spelling or grammar checks, no critique, no judgment., just show up. No dress code either; you can wear your pajamas. For more info, read the post.

15 Minutes of Fame

15 Minutes of Fame
meets on Zoom!

Saturday, December 11, 2021

and

Saturday, December 18, 2021

10:00 a.m – noon

For the Zoom link and other information,
email kathywaller1 (at) gmail (dot) com

Free, no pre-registration, and all are welcome

***

What We Do

Timed writings,
no critique,
no judgment,

no required topics–
we just write.

When time is up,
we read aloud what we’ve written–
but only if we want to read.                                                   

Then we do it again.

Just have pen and paper or laptop and
enter the Zoom meeting.
If you’re late–no big deal.

If you have trouble getting into the meeting,
email the address above. 
(The host sometimes has trouble, too,
so please be patient.
We’ll all get there.)

Images © David Davis,

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Too Old to Dream

 

I just returned from physical therapy and then walked 866 steps from the car to the recliner (it might have been 766 steps because I lost count of 100s, but it felt like 866) and my brain is fried, so I won’t try to write another episode in the Saga of the Knee.

I know that disappoints readers, but I’ll get back to it later.

I shall instead write about the song running through my head when I woke this morning.

I awaken every morning with a song. Like knee surgery, it’s not as much fun as it sounds.

For too long, it was, “Deck the Halls,” no matter the season. The song was especially irritating because I insist on putting in extra Fa-la-las, going up on each FA in a little chromatic interlude: FA-la-al-la-FA-la-la-la-FA-la-la-la-FA-la-la-la-‘Tis the season . . . every time the FA-la-las come along. That gets tiring pretty fast.

Often it’s “O Worship the King,” one of my favorite hymns. I like it because of the imagery.

O worship the King,
all glorious above!
O gratefully sing
his power and his love!  . . .

His chariots of wrath
the deep thunderclouds form,
and dark is his path
on the wings of the storm. . . .

Sir Robert Graves, via Wikipedia PD

It’s uncommon to sing of the wrath of God these days, but the lines, “His chariots of wrath/The deep thunderclouds form,/and dark is his path/on the wings of the storm” make such a stunning image that I can’t object. After all, the hymn was published by Sir Robert Graves in 1833 and reflects the views of the time.

I like the hymn so much that I taught myself to play it by doubling the bass, which makes quite a sound on the Methodist’s upright grand. It used to be the Presbyterian’s upright grand but was moved down the street to the Methodists when Presbyterian members sort of aged out. Some of us know it as Aunt Jessie’s piano because my father’s aunt played it for the Presbyterians for a million years.

My piano teacher had told me I should double the bass on all hymns and play the tenor part with the right hand. I was eleven and thought, I’ll never play the piano at church. Oh, silly me. I never learned to play the tenor with the right hand–soprano and alto were enough of a challenge–but on that one hymn, and on that piano, double base made a magnificent sound. Just like chariots of wrath.

Oscar Hammerstein II, via Wikipedia PD

But back to this morning. I woke with a song I hadn’t thought about since high school: “When I Grow Too Old to Dream.” I don’t remember the choir’s singing it, but we girls thought it the loveliest thing we’d ever heard. I don’t know how my brain came up with it, but I’m glad it did, because the memory is welcome.’

According to Wikipedia, it’s a “popular song with music by Sigmund Romberg and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II,

Years ago, I read that Mrs. Oscar Hammerstein II heard someone say that musician Jerome Kern had written Showboat’s “Old Man River.” She responded, “Jerome Kern wrote ‘dum dum dum dum.’ My husband wrote “Old Man River.” And he did.

So for the following lyrics, I give Hammerstein top billing.

The song has been recorded by numerous artists, including Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, and Linda Ronstadt. Some jazz it up. It should not be jazzed up.

Nelson Eddy, via Wikipedia PD

I’ve included two clips from Youtube. The first is by Nelson Eddy, the singer probably most identified with the song. He does a whale of a job with it.

The second is by Vera Lynn, singing it as a tribute to members of the Royal Air Force, “the few who defended Great Britain in its finest hour.”

Here are the lyrics of “When I Grow Too Old to Dream.

 

We have been gay, going our way
Life has been beautiful, we have been young
After you’ve gone, life will go on
Like an old song we have sung

When I grow too old to dream
I’ll have you to remember
When I grow too old to dream
Your love will live in my heart

So kiss me, my sweet
And so let us part
And when I grow too old to dream
That kiss will live in my heart

And when I grow to old to dream
That kiss will live in my heart
And when I grow too old to dream
That kiss will live in my heart

So kiss me, my sweet
And so let us part
And when I grow too old to dream
That kiss will live in my heart

Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Music by Sigmund Romberg

Dame Vera Lynn by Allan Warren, CC BY-SA-3.0 via Wikipedia

 

Nelson Eddy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yu-PwwDlizk

Vera Lynn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1vXsbqZnK4

The link to “Old Man River,” above, is a clip of Paul Robeson singing the song.

Paul Robeson, via Wikipedia, PD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bolster from H-E-Double Toothpicks

In my previous post, I said having a total knee replacement isn’t as much fun as it sounds.

A month after surgery, my opinion hasn’t changed.

I did spend two weeks in inpatient rehab, a topic I shall write about later. Today I take a different path.

Before surgery, I bought a bolster, The little booklet about exercise said I would need one, and that I could fashion one out of a pillow and some blankets. I tried that and it proved a disaster, so I turned to Amazon.

In the hospital, a physical therapist said it’s important to use it, as the little exercise book instructed, to stretch the ligaments in my new-knee leg. I should use it for as much as an hour at a stretch.

At the inpatient facility, I used it, put my heels on it, lay down, and let my knees hang down without support.

I didn’t like it. It hurt. My knees already hyperextend—I was forty before I learned other people didn’t lock their knees when standing—and a physical therapist at the inpatient place told me not to extend the ligaments. He said I would have to learn to walk with the knees slightly bent. The demonstration looked like a chimpanzee, and I had no confidence that I could learn to walk differently at my age (which I’m sure is fifteen, except for the elderly knees), but I happily set the bolster aside.

A couple of days later, I saw the surgeon and told him what the PT had said. He said he goes with the patient’s natural anatomy, which in my case is hyperextension, so extend those ligaments.

Darn.

Anyway, a several nights ago I got out the bolster, got in bed, turned out the light, and vowed to stretch my ligaments for twenty minutes. It hurt like you-know-what and then some. I made it for fifteen minutes before I cratered. Removing my feet from the bolster hurt more than hanging my legs from it. The whole thing hurt worse than the pain I experienced after surgery.

The next night I got out the bolster, put my heels on it, and as one of my aunts used to say, writhed in excruciating pain. Then I had an idea: when I have a CT scan, I mentally recite John Milton’s sonnet “On His Blindness.” It makes holding my breath while sliding back and forth in a tube easy, because I always get hung up on line ten and spend a lot of time trying to remember it and make it scan and rhyme. Thinking about that takes my mind off holding my breath for what seems like thirty minutes at a time.

Maybe poetry would dull the pain of hanging my knees over a chasm. Tired of Milton, I opted for Edward Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat.”

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
   In a beautiful pea-green boat:
They took some honey, and plenty of money
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
   And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,
   What a beautiful Pussy you are,
            You are,
            You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”

  Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl,
   How charmingly sweet you sing!
Oh! let us be married; too long we have tarried,
   But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the bong-tree grows;
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,
   With a ring at the end of his nose,
            His nose,
            His nose,
   With a ring at the end of his nose.

“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
   Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
   By the turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince and slices of quince,
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
   They danced by the light of the moon,
            The moon,
            The moon,
   They danced by the light of the moon.

I could recite that poem from memory when I was two years old. People don’t believe that, but I have a tape recorder in my head, and I heard it read so many times that it stuck. It’s not a poem I would choose to memorize as an adult.

Anyway, I recited it over and over, and it did distract me from the pain, until David suggested I recite Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” instead. I started it and was horrified to find that I’ve forgotten some of the words. I remember “chortle” and “frumious bandersnatch” and “vorpal”, but some words have escaped.

So I moved on to “The Walrus and the Carpenter” and was simply crushed when I remembered only the first five verses, and later research showed I’d left out verse three. And I used to know the whole thing. My cousin Linda, who lived in California but spent summers in Texas, and I walked up and down the concourse at the San Antonio airport every August, reciting the poem together while waiting for her plane to arrive. Continental was always late.

We had memorized the poem independently, neither knowing the other was learning it. We were odd teenagers. I won’t comment on our current conditions.

Not long after memorizing the poem, I was delighted to find a political cartoon with Lyndon Johnson portrayed as the Carpenter and Everett Dirksen portrayed as the Walrus. The caption read, “The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things; of cloture votes and civil rights and Martin Luther Kings.”

If I hadn’t paid close attention to the poem, that cartoon would have gone right over my head. So there’s another reason to study literature.

By the time I’d recited more bits I did remember, sort of—

O Oysters, come and walk with us!’   
The Walrus did beseech.
A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.’

But four young Oysters hurried up,
      All ___________________:
Their _____ were brushed, their _____ ______,
      Their shoes were clean and neat —
And this was odd, because, you know,
      They hadn’t any feet.
Four other Oysters followed them,
      And yet another four;
And ________________________________,
      And more, and more, and more —
All _______ through the ______ waves,
      And scrambling to the shore.
—twenty minutes had passed. I eased my feet off the bolster, moaning with every move. David put the bolster away. I pulled the covers over my feet. Sometimes when I get tangled up in poetry, it keeps running through my head and I can’t sleep. Since I’d already done ankle pumps, leg lifts, and heel slides, however, I was tired enough to forget Owls, Pussy-Cats, Jabberwocks, Walruses, Carpenters, Oysters, Lyndon Johnson, and Everett Dirksen. I passed out.
The next day I had my first outpatient appointment with a physical therapist. I gave him a rundown on my naturally hyperextended knees, the surgery, the many PTs I’d met, the instruction to learn to walk like a chimpanzee, what the surgeon said, and the bolster from hell. I also mentioned the knee sometimes threatens to hyperextend now more than I think it should.
He said he was between the chimpanzee and the surgeon and thought I’d lengthened the ligaments enough, so I should stop using the bolster.
I decided we’re going to get along just fine.
***
Images were taken from Wikipedia. They’re all in the public domain.
***
In case anyone doesn’t know, I have published stories in Austin Mystery Writers’ anthologies Murder on Wheels and Lone Star Lawless and in Kaye George’s Day of the Dark. I also have a very short story in the online magazine Mysterical-E. In addition, I have a novella, Stabbed, written with co-author Manning Wolfe. The books are available from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. To find the story on Mysterical-E, click on the link.

True Review: The Plunge by Nancy G. West (and a Few Examples of Truth, Mainly)

I had a total knee replacement two days ago. It isn’t as much fun as it sounds.

Lying in bed at Ascension Seton is delightful. Nurses are wonderful. The cafeteria is too good for my good.

But physical therapists won’t leave me alone. They keep showing up and wanting me to get out of bed and walk.

The one who came in the morning after surgery asked if I was ready to get up and move. I said I never wanted to get up and move again. That was the wrong answer.

The afternoon PT had me walk halfway to El Paso. And back. He taught me–or tried to teach–me to use the two-wheeled walker (as opposed to the four-wheeler I’ve been using). (In British literature, two-wheeled walkers are referred to by the brand name, Zimmer frames. The phrase sounds so sophisticated that I may adopt it.)

This morning I walked to Santa Fe. The pain people had awakened me at eight and I said I had no pain. After the walk, I told the nurse to tell them I’d changed my mind. She gave me something to go with the something I’d already had. They’re free with the pain meds, which I appreciate.

I hope to go to inpatient rehab. Doctors are on board. I’m convinced going straight home would be a recipe for a fall, considering I have to have someone with me every time I stand and walk. And for transport home, they’ll have to tie me to the top of the car. The knee bends a bit but on a good day it doesn’t like to get in and out of the car.

But enough of my griping. I’m fine.

Because I have a killer painkiller–a new book. A book book, paper and everything.

I won it in a drawing from Nightstand Book Reviews.

Nightstand Book Reviews is, in its own words,

a site devoted to reviews of books that are great reads. Under this umbrella are books written by bestselling authors as well as by debut novelists in both ebook and paper format. Some are traditionally published authors and some are indies.

It’s for recommendations, not rants.

Now to my new book. It’s The Plunge by Nancy G. West, author of the Aggie Mundeen mysteries. Aggie and her good (very good) friend, Sam Vanderhoven, live in San Antonio, where Sam is a detective with the police force. Aggie’s penchant for helping Sam with his cases sometimes gets in his way–at least he thinks so–but that doesn’t discourage Aggie. She’s willing to stay out of his business, but when she thinks she can help . . . and she’s impulsive . . . and when she has the opportunity to check out a new acquaintance’s medicine cabinet . . . impulsive or not, she’s a pretty good amateur detective.

The Plunge takes Aggie in a new direction–away from San Antonio, east about thirty miles to the Guadalupe River in Central Texas. When the Guadalupe floods, the effects can be disastrous, especially for people living nearby. And when there’s so much rain that surrounding creeks, and sometimes even the San Antonio River, overflow, results are devastating for miles around. That happened in 1998.

It’s in October of 1998 that Aggie and Sam plan a getaway at the home of Sam’s friend on Lake Placid, one of the river’s several lakes, ostensibly for pleasure but really so Sam can quietly investigate the disappearance of his friend’s boat. Even a little rain won’t ruin the retreat. But the pleasure weekend quickly turns into a rapid–critical–evacuation. Sam has left Aggie at the cottage to start his investigation and must reach her before the water does. Car motors stall, and at one time Aggie is looking for trees to climb.

Complicating things is that while on the water, in the dark, they see something–a drowning? Or a murder? Now there’s more than a missing boat to investigate.

As they say in fourth-grade book reports, if you want to know how the story ends, you’ll have to read the book. It’s a good one.

The Plunge touches me personally because I drove across the Guadalupe River near Lake Placid nearly every working day for twenty-eight years. I worked with people who lost everything, one whose house floated off its foundation. Another, who lived west near San Antonio, watched a car almost wash away on Interstate 10; her son raced to pull it out with a tractor, and the tractor floated. Even where I lived, thirty miles east of the Guadalupe on a smaller, quieter river, houses flooded, and several people were airlifted out.

Using this setting, Nancy G. West combines a first-rate mystery with the urgency and personal toll of the ’98 flood. The Plunge makes for a suspenseful read.

***

In fairness–and to avoid lying–I admit that the physical therapists are not modern-day Torquemadas. They’re smiling, friendly, and encouraging, and if you look like you’re going to tip over, they grab you. They’re also great at what they do. I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for them.

***

Disclaimer: As I said, I won my copy of The Plunge from Nightstand Book Reviews. I didn’t buy it, but Nightstand Book Reviews didn’t pay for the review either. We don’t do that. The gift had no influence on my views.

I also said Nany G. West is a friend. We’ve been on a writers’ retreat together (where I don’t think anyone wrote a word, but we went to a lovely tea room). We’ve been to Malice Domestic, where we met at the Guppies Breakfast. She allowed me to take a snapshot of her. She didn’t pay me to say nice things about her book or in any way influence my review.

Patti Phillips of Nightstand Book Reviews has been a dedicated reader all her life. When not reading or writing about books, she now writes a blog in the voice of Detective Charlie Kerrian. Follow his adventures at www.kerriansnotebook.com,

Contact Patti at on Facebook (facebook.com/paphillips20) and Twitter (@pattiphillips) or by email at patti.nightstandbookreviews@gmail.com.

***

Kathy Waller is co-author of the novella Stabbed, written with Manning Wolfe. Her short stories appear in anthologies Murder on Wheels, Lone Star Lawless, and Day of the Dark, and online at Mysterical-E. She’s working on a novel set in small-town Texas She lives in Austin with two cats and one husband..

 

Image of X-ray by Dr. Manuel González Reyes from Pixabay

Image of book cover by Kathy Waller

Image of Guadalupe Rver at mouth by KenB, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Image of Stabbed cover from Amazon

We’re All Mad Here

 

I wear masks. Disposable. Cotton print. Functional. Boring.

When I ordered them, I thought the plague, and thus the mode of dress, would be temporary.

Seeing no end to the madness, however, I’ve decided to dress in style.

To an English major, style looks like like this.

 

Shakespeare knew about plagues. He lived through them.

The article ‘He Didn’t Flee’: Shakespeare And The Plague begins this way:

During the 16th century, a young couple in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, lost two of their children to the bubonic plague.

The pair barricaded themselves inside to protect their 3-month-old son — William Shakespeare. . . . 

Waves of the bubonic plague killed at least a third of the European population across centuries. A year or so before Shakespeare wrote “Romeo and Juliet,” a powerful plague struck London in 1593.

Theatres closed for 14 months and 10,000 Londoners died, says Columbia University professor and author James Shapiro.

The writer reminds us that the ending of Romeo and Juliet turns on the plague: Friar Lawrence sends a message to Romeo in Mantua that Juliet isn’t really dead. But his emissary, Friar John, is suspected of lodging in an infected house and is quarantined–and so Romeo never gets the message. And believing Juliet is dead, he kills himself; seeing him dead, Juliet kills herself. . . .

Shakespeare lived because his parents quarantined themselves. Two of his characters died because a third was quarantined by the authorities.

I’ve been mostly barricaded in my home for twenty months, leaving to go only to medical appointments. The same for my husband; he picks up groceries at curbside. We get a lot of meds through the mail.

I’m grateful I’m in a position to stay home. I’m grateful for workers who make it possible for me to have food and other necessities.

I’m grateful for vaccines and boosters, for scientists who develop them and people who take them.

I’m grateful for masks and people who wear them.

Shakespeare was right about so many things. I wish he were right about this: We shall every One be mask’d. 

If everyone were, maybe we could stop being masked sooner.

The next stylish mask I’m going to order quotes the Cheshire Cat from Lewis Carroll‘s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

We’re all mad here.

***

As always, I’m delighted when readers comment. But comments claiming that wearing masks or refusing vaccination limits freedom, or anything of that ilk, will be deleted. Too many people have died, too many are behaving responsibly in an attempt to stay alive and to keep others alive. Feel free to disagree with me, but do it on your own blog. 

***

Illustration by John Tenniel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Maybe I Will Be Home Before Long

A letter my dad wrote to my cousins Wray, Mary Veazey, and Lynn Worden in Dallas while he was stationed in Europe during World War II. He’d been away from home since November 1942.

 

Belgium
9 May 1945

Dear Wray, Veazey, and Lynn,

Well, I don’t believe I know any thing to write you children about today. I think of you all the time. Maybe I will be home to see you before long.

Say, Crystal sent me some pictures of you the other day. You had grown so much that I hardly knew you. Why you are nearly as big as Betty. How about sending me some more pictures sometime.

Say you take this five dollars and make your mother or Crystal buy you three children something. I guess your mother will take you, won’t she?

Well I guess that’s about all I know. It’s about time to go to bed.

Be sure you phone Crystal that you got a letter from me and that I am feeling fine. Tell her that I still love her.

Lots of love, Uncle Billie

***

The last six months or so of World War II, my father was an ambulatory patient in Paris. He’d gone deaf from bomb concussion. For as long as possible, he hid the disability from his superiors. His fellow soldiers, however, amused themselves by running for foxholes, then laughing when Daddy jumped in. One day, Major Yarborough, for whom he drove, saw them. He took Daddy out of combat and sent him from Germany to a hospital in Paris. What happened to the others for tricking him into thinking bombs were falling, I don’t know, but I understand it wasn’t pretty.

I presume he was in Belgium on the way to Paris. He was slated to leave for the States asap but didn’t get to Dallas, where Mother was living, until October 23, 1945, the day before their third wedding anniversary.

My father was supposed to be released from service in San Antonio, so my mother had gone there, where she stayed with her aunt, uncle, and grandmother, and made cake after cake. When she got word Daddy would be coming to Dallas instead, she cried. Sam, her uncle, patted her head and told her to pack her suitcase and he would take her to the bus station.

The last time my dad had been home, the family had been living in San Antonio, where my mother and grandmother worked in Army Civil Service. When the Army moved to Dallas, they moved, too. So my father knew only the address. My grandmother and her younger daughters, Barbara and Betty, lived in the main house. My mom lived in a little  house in the back yard.

On the way through my grandmother’s house, my dad handed her his hearing aids and sad, “Don’t let Crystal know about these.” My grandmother, of course, told my mother as soon as possible.

After several days of shouting, Mother mentioned the hearing aids and said she thought he ought to wear them. He was embarrassed, and remained so for several years. One ear was so far gone he didn’t bother with the aid. He finally made peace with the other one and told small children who asked that it was his telephone.  When he took it off at night, he was sensitive to vibration but otherwise was gone. To make him hear her, Mother had to put her mouth next to his “good” ear and shout. Twenty-plus years later, a surgery to treat his kind of hearing loss was being taught by the doctor who developed it at the VA hospital in Houston. My dad, considered a good candidate, had the surgery, and his conversational hearing was restored. He said the only negative was that for a time the chirping of birds nearly drove him crazy.

When my cousins heard Uncle Billie was home, they declared a school holiday and hit my grandmother’s doorstep. Mary Veazey was seven and Wray was six. I don’t know whether they remembered him or had heard enough to think they did. I’ll add that they wrote to him, too, even though in the early years, Wray’s letters were scribbled. Lynn, the youngest, was born after he shipped out for the East Coast.

The remark about their being nearly as big as Betty was a joke of sorts. She was my mother’s youngest sister, only eight years older than Mary Veazey, and as an adult was five feet tall. It didn’t take long for any of her nieces and nephews to grow as tall as Betty. Even I got there.

***

The photos of my cousins were taken at Christmas in 1957, twelve years after they received the letter

***

 

Packing for our recent move, I came across the cigar holder a Belgian farmer gave my father when he passed through after the Normandy Invasion. It’s a valued keepsake.

 

 

 

 

 

***

Thanks to my cousin Denise Worden Allegri for retrieving this letter from her father’s files and sharing it with her aunt Mary Veazey, who shared it with me.

The Move’s A-Foot

I sit in the new living room, in my wheelchair, the only chair in the apartment, looking out across the balcony at the new view—sidewalk, pink crepe myrtle, grass, trees, and a stone.

The stone is massive. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sword hilt sticking out the top. In fact, I would be delighted to see a sword hilt sticking out the top.

A closer look—with the camera’s zoom—suggests the stone might be hollow. Removing a sword would be easier if the stone were hollow.

Just off the patio stands a tree. At first, I thought the trunk was split, like the tomb of an ancient magician who had broken free.

Closer examination of the photo suggests it might be three small trees, three trunks, no split.

So much for whimsy.

After we’ve moved, and when it’s stopped raining, I’ll get out from behind the camera and see what’s really out there.

I’ve been concerned about the view. Our old living room looks out across a broad swath of green and shade. During our seventeen months in quarantine, it’s provided entertainment: bushy-tailed squirrels gathering acorns, residents walking dogs, Amazon and FedEx employees delivering boxes. The window has been like a great big TV screen. I was afraid the new place wouldn’t afford the same quality of programming.

But not to worry. We’re only yards from the swimming pool. In the hour or so I sat here yesterday while David hung shower curtains and found fire extinguishers, a multitude of bikinis, beach towels, and flipflops passed. Not as entertaining as squirrels, but they’ll do.

We’re not really moving moving—just to a larger apartment, about three inches away. But we have to pack as if we were moving thirty miles. Sigh.

David deposited me here and went back to meet the movers. He incarcerated the cats in a bathroom. Yesterday I prepped it. Cats don’t usually need puppy pads, but Ernest throws litter all over the place. Still, I might have overdone it.

William is yowling. He’s usually the calm one. Ernest is saying nothing. He’s probably crouching behind the commode. He’s the fight-or-flight cat. David administered calming spray but still had to hunt him down and then chase him to get him into the carrier.

Oh dear. There is a new sound coming from the bathroom. It’s either Ernest trying to demolish the litter box or Ernest trying to tear through the wall. We’ll find out later. Maybe we should have put them in the larger bathroom.

Packing. David is a minimalist. He packed his stuff in fifteen minutes.

I’m a keeper, and the descendant of keepers. I have boxes and boxes of Waller pictures and other memorabilia going back generations. When I packed two years ago—my knees had decided they didn’t like the stairs in our previous apartment—I intended to organize and scan and do whatever else that should be done with old family photographs.

We’d hardly gotten settled, however, when the rest of my body and part of my brain joined my knees in revolt. I unpacked what had to be unpacked and then sat down and stayed there. Most of the family history is still in the boxes and bins it arrived in.

I felt bad about that. On the other hand, when it came time to pack for this move, a goodly portion of my job was already done.

This temporary solitude will probably be the high point of my day. Soon there will be men carrying in boxes and wanting to know where to put them. I didn’t sleep last night and frankly, my dear, I don’t give a you-know-what about where they put them.

I am tired and irritable and want a cup of hot tea and a bed. I feel like crawling inside that hollowed-out stone and staying there until Labor Day.

I should stop complaining. I should be grateful I’m not stuck over there watching strangers who might or might not be wearing masks box up the contents of the china cabinet because my wife said she’d been there, done that, and it was worth the money to pay someone else to do it. I should be grateful I’m not lugging boxes in the rain.

Well. William has stopped protesting. I don’t know whether he’s come to his senses and given up or what. Maybe he’s fallen ill. Maybe Ernest had as much as he could take and went mad and walloped him. I feel I should check to make sure they’re okay.

But opening the bathroom door could mean disaster. I guess I’ll just sit here and listen to the ceiling fan creak. And I mean CREAK. We didn’t turn it on yesterday and so the creak didn’t make it onto the Condition form. We’ll have to email the office and add it.

The creak makes William’s and my caterwauling sound almost pleasant.

Book Thieves

Somebody stole The Catholic Study Bible.

They left the mylar-covered dust jacket standing upright between its neighbors. When I reached up to pull the book from the shelf, I came away with mostly air.

I was righteously indignant. I’d worked hard to develop the 200 Religion and Mythology section. I’d put money into it. I’d spent time and thought balancing the collection to reflect many religious traditions.

The Catholic Study Bible was a big book. A hardback. It had cost a lot. I was proud of it.

Indignation lasted about five minutes. Then I started laughing.

There is a certain irony about someone stealing a Bible.

I’m still laughing.

Other books went missing over the years, too, not surprising in a small library without a security system.

Our copy of Boys and Sex escaped from 300 Social Science on a regular basis, but it stayed in the library. We found it reshelved: in 400 Language, 600 Technology, 700 Arts and Recreation, Fiction, Biography.

I suspected middle school boys. We often found them giggling over it and similar titles in the far corner of the reading room, the blind spot we couldn’t see from the circulation desk.

Girls and Sex, however, disappeared completely, as did other books about sex written for teenaged girls. Books about child abuse disappeared as well. I believed girls took them. And I assumed they took them because they needed them. There was nothing funny about that.

I skipped indignation and replaced them.

***

There is an error in grammar/mechanics in the post above. Doing it right seemed just too too, but doing it wrong leaves me open to criticism from people as compulsively nitpicking as I am. It was a difficult decision. Anyway, if you notice it, please be advised I did it by choice, not by ignorance. Just sayin’.

 

 

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Image of bookshelves by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Image of apostrophe by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Banner image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Letter Home from College

December 6 of my freshman year, possibly to announce I would fail all my final exams and all my courses. I thought it best that the parents be prepared.

By the end of the second semester, my mother had stopped believing me.

Mass communication is easy when your uncle is the postmaster. See upper left corner.

Later, maybe when Uncle Joe bought new mailboxes, our box number changed from 46 to 44. At some point, our phone number changed from 2622 to 2384.

I can’t remember my current cell phone number, but I do remember how to call home in 1970. I remember some of the answers on that biology final, too.

We’re moving again, so I’m finding stuff I ought to throw away but can’t.

“I Hear America Singing”

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear;
Those of mechanics—each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong;
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work;
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat—the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck;
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench—the hatter singing as he stands;
The wood-cutter’s song—the ploughboy’s, on his way in the morning, or at the noon intermission, or at sundown;
The delicious singing of the mother—or of the young wife at work—or of the girl sewing or washing—
Each singing what belongs to her, and to none else;
The day what belongs to the day—
At night, the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs.

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

“I Hear America Singing”

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Image of Walt Whitman (1819-1892), age 35, frontispiece to Leaves of Grass, Fulton St., Brooklyn, N.Y., 1855, steel engraving by Samuel Hollyer from a lost daguerreotype by Gabriel Harrison. Via Wikipedia.