April A to Z Challenge – Eh

April Challenge

When is an April A to Z Challenge not an April A to Z Challenge?  When it’s a Frank Sinatra April Challenge!  I’m going to accept this challenge, but, as usual, I’m going to do it my way.

Frank Sinatra

There is no way that I could ever write and post 26 alphabetical blogs in one month, especially with weekly Flash Fictions and other time-sensitive thoughts. I am going to try to post them from April to April.  Every couple of weeks, I’ll slip one in among my regularly scheduled insanity/inanity.  I’m already 2 weeks behind, so here’s number one.  (This is alphabetical. Shouldn’t that be letter A??!)  😯

Letter A

Advent – a coming into place, view, or being; arrival:

Arrival- the reaching or attainment of any object or condition:

April – from Latin ‘aprilis’, meaning to open (up)

Articulation – using language easily and fluently; having facility with words:

All four of these words fit into this post. Since this is the first in a, hopefully completed, series, this is my advent.  I finally got my ass off my keyboard, and applied my fingers.

Since the definition of ‘advent’ includes the word ‘arrival’, I’ll mention it also.  The definition above includes the terms reaching and attainment, almost unintentionally implying completion.  I’m still 25 words away from completion of this project, but I have reached the starting line and attained a mission.

Speaking of starting lines….Why are comedians making ‘end of the world’ jokes like there’s no tomorrow?

April, the month, and the name, is a good time to ‘open up’ this series.

I like to think that I have articulation – ease of language usage and fluency, having facility with words.  While I still possess these, I avoid being placed in a facility with wards.

Articulation has another meaning also, involving bones and joints and physical movement. More and more, I find myself using handicap parking spots, even when I’m alone in the car, because the arthritis pain in my right hip is increasing.  I can’t drive with my wallet in my right ass pocket.  I have a gay fanny-pack for summer, and an inside pocket in my leather jacket for cold weather.

I wondered if I’d forgotten how to put socks on, because I was finding the front seam balled up under my toes, like walking on a pen. When I paid more attention, I found myself walking duck-footed on the right side to ease the ache, putting pressure on the foot from a non-standard direction, causing the sock to slip and bunch.

What? You expected more?  That’s it for today!  Come Back later, for Bigger, Better Blogs.

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Memorably Invisible

Ghost

My belief, which I have occasionally stated, is that I am a loner with few friends, because I don’t reach out to make them. My view of the arc of my working life, especially the final 20 years, spent at the auto-parts plant, is a tapestry of – keep my head down, my mouth shut, do the job, don’t make waves, be quiet, small, and unnoticed.  I may have to revisit and re-evaluate that.

Three times, in as many months, I’ve been with the wife in a store, and someone with less seniority, who got laid off before me, someone who hasn’t seen me in over ten years, has recognized and remembered me, and approached, just to pass the time. The last time, a man saw me, and not-quite-jogged across half a Wal-Mart to engage in small talk – no “Remember when you taught me the easy way to do that hard job?” or, “Remember that asshole supervisor?” just….conversation.  I had to insist on continuing our errands after 10 minutes.

When we got home, the wife said, “You know, those people really like and respect you. They’re happy to be in your presence, and proud that you take the time just to talk to them.  It’s as if you emit a soft, warm glow of benediction.”  Who knew you could get friends just by not being an asshole??  Apparently I had ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ even before I had a blog.

Neither she nor I is a Trump, or a Kardashian, but I guess we’re not timid wallflowers either. Our new Osteopath is forever shaking his head and chuckling at our strange humor, our oblique viewpoints, and our widely based social and political opinions.  Plus, I take him strange shit to look at – a sword, a legal two-headed coin, an American 2-dollar bill.  He says he has no other couple anything like us, especially at our age.

The staff at the nearby Staples store is happy, friendly and helpful to us, willing to kid around, as they professionally solve our problems. Of course, as a service industry, they have to be like that with everyone, but with a PC, a laptop, a 7 in. tablet, a 5 in. tablet, two Kobos, a Kindle and a cell phone, they are exposed to us more than I really want.  (As I typed this, the wife’s cordless mouse died.)

We have joked with the female assistant manager for more than ten years. As a good retailer, she knows her customers.  The wife’s last laptop fried its graphics card.  We had to go in and choose another laptop.  We left it with them for formatting and setup – Windows 10 was released that day – and came back later to pick it up.

The wait, both times, at the Electronics Desk, was 10 to 15 minutes. The wife’s arthritis makes just standing quite painful.  Our gal quickly slipped back to the office chairs section, grabbed the expensive new OBUSFORME support model, wheeled it up and slid it under the wife.  Then she realized that the wife wasn’t using the ironwood cane she normally has, and wanted to know why it had been replaced by a forearm crutch.

The wife told her that it takes more weight off her feet; it reminds her not to overextend her right knee, and permits less stumbling. The manageress swooped her arm up, and said, “At the end of the year, can you throw it in the air, and shout ‘Happy Christmas, and God bless us every one’!”?  If the wife hadn’t been sitting down, she’d have been on the floor with me.  The gal says, we’re the only couple she knows who would get that joke – in July – think it was funny, and not be offended by it.

The day we went back, she was on break, so I got the good chair for the wife. When she came out, the wife yelled, “Hey, Sandy!” and pretended to throw the crutch.  We all howled, except the young tech, who didn’t get the joke.  Suddenly she rushed over, solicitously.  Since she hadn’t got the office chair, she was afraid the wife was in a wheelchair.  “Are you all right?  Did you fall?”

I guess, unlike many people, we don’t have flocks of folks we just have to be connected to.  We don’t have BFFs.  They say a friend will help you move.  A good friend will help you move – a body.  I should keep that in mind.   It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.  Mister Rogers won’t be in the neighborhood for five to ten years.  Would you be my friend?  😉

Empathy Thrust Upon Me

Medicine

Of all the things I hoped to be when I was young, a wrinkled bag of aches and pains wasn’t one of them.  Some while ago, BrainRants, a mere stripling in his mid-forties, published a post about all the pains and strange body noises he was accumulating.  Bloody amateur, just wait till he moves up to the pros.

Through a confluence of good genes, a relatively physical lifestyle, and a modified Mediterranean diet, I am far healthier than many men my age.

Several years ago, a doctor at a clinic remarked to the wife, “You have a lot of things wrong with you.  Nothing that will kill you, but a lot of minor problems.”  Between prescription meds and supplements, she downs 20 to 25 pills a day.  She has a general surgeon who has removed a couple of skin growths, a urologist, a rheumatologist, a podiatrist and an osteopath.  I drive her to a cancer clinic and an airway clinic for monitoring.

Until recently, I was exempt from all that.  I had sympathy for her, but didn’t really know what she went through.  All that has changed.  It started innocently enough, about 15 years ago.  She convinced me to take an antihistamine each morning, for allergies.  Then it was a Vitamin B tablet.  I don’t know what it does.  I don’t ask. I am a husband, Yes dear, Yes dear.

Vampire

Next was Vitamin D, I took a tablet a day.  Last year’s blood test revealed that I am low on Vitamin D.  It has to do with my vampire lifestyle schedule – up all night, sleep all day.  I don’t get enough sunlight.  (It burns!  It burns!)  The doctor insists that I take two.  I take a multivitamin tablet laced with something to keep my retinas from deteriorating.

This year’s physical revealed that I have ‘Old Man’s Disease’, my prostate is swollen.  It also showed that my thyroid is running a bit slow.  Perhaps that’s a small part of my weight gain.  I am now taking medication for both of those.  Only ten pills a day, 9 of them before breakfast, and a heavy-duty pain pill a couple of hours before dawn, to help me get to sleep.  I now take four ‘little blue pills’, and not one of them made by Pfizer – although the doctor did offer me Cialis.

I’m on a call-back list for a Neurologist, from my eye problem of a couple of years ago, but my Ophthalmologist visits are down to once a year.  My long-time Optometrist recently died suddenly, but I’ve found a nice young female replacement.

The duct of a fat gland in my back stopped up and it swelled a bit.  Nothing to worry about – until it infected and grew as big as half an orange, making it difficult to sit or lie down.  It burst before I got to see a surgeon, but now I’m on his call list, because another gland is swelling.

Because of the enlarged prostate, I have an appointment to see a Urologist.  I’d sooner suffer another colonoscopy.  You’re going to push what, up where?  I’m waiting for an appointment with a Dermatology surgeon because I have a couple of suspect skin growths.  I have yet to acquire a Rheumatologist, although the most recent spike of incipient arthritis had me barely hobbling for a week.

I have had empathy for the wife and daughter (and any of the rest of you who suffer these accretions of ‘minor’ problems) thrust upon me.

The most unfair thing about life is the way it
ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot
of your time.  What do you get at the end of it?
A death. What’s that, a bonus?

I think the life cycle is all backwards.
You should die first; get it out of the way.
Then you live in an old age home.

You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get
a gold watch when you go to work. You work forty
years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement!

You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you
get ready for high school! You go to grade school,
you become a kid, you play, you have no
responsibilities, you become a little baby, you
go back into the womb, you spend your last nine
months floating…you finish off as a gleam.

Here’s hoping that my list of pills and specialists doesn’t grow to match the wife’s, but even if it does, it beats the alternative.  (Did I mention that my ass gets sore from sitting at the computer too much?)

Check My Bitchy Office

 

You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine.  Please remember to wipe your feet – on the way out.

HEEllis recently treated us to some photos of her pristine, well-organized office.  If she weren’t a great little writer, (double accent on little) and the second nicest person in the world, right behind me, I might think that a neat, clean office is a sign of a diseased mind.  (Could still be right.) 😯

I recently stepped into my office to begin a post, this one as it turns out, and looked at my private pigsty.  The wife has given up on it.  I am only visited by wild animals.  It started life as a small, third bedroom, and has devolved into the recent cover photo of Mess & Clutter Magazine.  Work in there??  I don’t know how I even think in there!

This is a craft table, which can’t be accessed, because it is topped with two thrones of the Alien Overlords who rule me.  Oh look, one of them has beamed in.

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Many of my ideas do not work out, and much note paper is thrown out.  I really need the cute garbage pail the son produced at his plastic parts plant.

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A paperless society, indeed.

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This is where neurons flux, and ideas flow – when I get back with a sandwich.  You may have noticed, I file by the sedimentation system.  Oldest papers on the bottom.

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When I can’t convince a cat to vacate my Captain’s Chair, I sit in the Navigator’s Chair.  It affords an alternate viewpoint, which I have to share with dirty laundry.

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Just a little business humor – which sadly has carried over to blog themes.

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There’s a floor down there somewhere, shared by a sewing machine and hassock, and a crosscut shredder to guarantee destruction of any documents with names and addresses.  Hoodoo, voodoo, identity thieves.

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The wife’s hand-tatted lace doily, made from bequeathed crochet cotton that her aunt bought, along with the antique pattern it was made to, in the 1940s.

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One of Granma Ladybug’s ladybugs clinging to the wall, beside a shadowbox full of visual drivel.

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A couple of her stuffed mascots, guarding wheat bags which are heated in the microwave, to ease arthritis pains.

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Maybe not a typical man-cave, but I’ve taken it and made it mine a mess.  Perhaps you can now understand the strange and varied mix that gets spewed onto my blog-site.

1096

Scottish Flag

 

 

 

In the name of Robert the Bruce, and for Scotland the Brae, I claim this territory….wait, what?  There are already people blogging here?!

Three years ago today, on November 21, 2011 – 1096 days – (I get an extra day, because 2012 was a leap year) I published my first post.  It wasn’t even as interesting as this one, and that’s saying as little as I can.

The blogosphere has become a miniature allegory for the larger social life that I left when I retired.  People come, people go, most are nice, a few are assholes, many are creative, some are inspiring, all are interesting, in many ways.

I’d like to say that I’m still taking baby steps, but in my case, they’re doddering, arthritic, old-man steps.  I’ve learned how to insert pictures, as a visual accent to my sometimes ponderous prose.  BrainRants turned me on to the 100-word Flash Fiction genre, and I’m learning how to be more concise.

While I post because I feel I have something to say, however inane or inconsequential, I do so for the feeling of connectedness.  I wish to continue, both for the connections, and the fact that, at my age, inertia keeps me doing whatever works.  It gives me something to do to help fill the many empty retirement hours, with something at least vaguely stimulating and productive.  I like to think that he was happy doing so, but my father spent his last ten years trapped in his house, staring at television.

My stat numbers are not important in themselves, but rather, they are an indication of how successful I am at communication, and my education and entertainment of my readers.

Still solidly in the middle in all categories, this is the end of my third year, where there are newbies every week, and old-timers who have been at this for ten years or more.  I’ve had over 500 followers, 16,000 views, and 5,100 comments, although I’ve realized that I can increase that last number simply by replying to every incoming submission, if only with just a smiley face.

I’ve gone from ‘worrying’, to merely wondering, where I’ll get the inspirations to continue, but, just like a hundred posts ago, I have enough drafts ‘in the can’ to reach 400 posts – something which will occur around Christmas – and beyond, and ideas slowly bubble to the surface, like methane at the La Brea Tar Pits.  I’m pretty sure I can do at least half a personal millennium.  Look out 500!  Here I come.

While I’ve been successful at egotistically making this sound like it’s all about “ME”, it isn’t.  It’s really all about you.  Whether you’re a first-time reader, or one who’s been here hundreds of time, you’ve made it a pleasurable three years, and I look forward to seeing you for lots more.   😆

What Time Is It Now?

I waited the other night till after the son had left for work, shortly before 10:30 PM, to have a bath.  I like to soak, and I took three books with me, but also wanted to see the Tonight Show. (Didn’t matter!  It was a rerun.)  That gave me just an hour, and three books can be quite a distraction, so I did as I usually do.  I took my old Timex work watch with me and placed it where I could keep an eye on the time.

As the water cooled, and I ate into the second book, I glanced at the watch – 11:10.  Seemed like it should be later than that, so I craned my head around the shower-wall (Which is why I take the watch with me.), and the clock above the door read 11:20.  Time to wash up and get out – or is it??  “Honey, what time is it?”  “Almost quarter after; the bathroom clock runs a bit fast.”

I had feared that the old Timex was running slow because I haven’t put a new battery in it since well before I quit work, over three years ago.  I have two wrist watches, the 20-year-old Timex which only follows me for a bath now, and a gold Rolex-look-alike which I only wear when I go out.  I’ll probably not bother to put another battery in old Digital Dan when he croaks.  The son wears exactly the same model, and I offered it to him, but he declined.

I never wear a watch in the house because I have All The Time In The World.  As I said, we have a clock on the wall in the bathroom.  I could adjust it to run a little slower, but it nudges the wife to be ready just a little earlier when we have a doctor’s appointment to get to.

You can’t get away from clocks these days.  They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere!  In the computer room, there’s one in the computer, one in the microwave that the wife uses to heat bead-bags for her arthritis, and one on the wall.

There are two digital alarm-clocks in the bedroom, as well as the ones available in the TV, and through it, the satellite box.  The same set-up in the rec-room, plus the ones staring at you from the DVD player and the Blu-Ray.

With both a DVD and a Blu-ray, we’ve got rid of our old VHS.  At least if you couldn’t set the clock on a VHS, all it did was sit there and flash 12:00, 12:00, 12:00, but it worked.  In the kitchen we have a clock in the microwave, a clock in the stove and a clock in the toaster oven.  If the power goes out for any reason, we have to go around and reset all these clocks, or the appliances won’t function.

We also have a wall clock in the kitchen, and a desk clock in the living room.  It is said that a man with one watch knows exactly what time it is.  A man with two watches is never sure.  With the exception of the wife-nudger in the bathroom, I try to make sure that every clock in the house is at least at the same minute.

I had an online discussion with Jim Wheeler about the number of gadgets in our houses which steadily eat our electricity.  The bathroom clock, the kitchen wall-clock and the desk clock all tick, even though they run on batteries.  All of the rest of them, whether I want, or use, the clock function, quietly, continuously, just keep sucking up the power.  At least the new 12-volt toys use far less electricity than the old 120 V units, but there’s so many more of them.

The first electric clock we had in my family home, was a 120V, plug-in model.  We placed it on the wall at a spot where it could be easily seen, and went to plug in the cord, only to find the receptacle about five inches too far to the right.  Oh well, says Dad, and firmly pulled the cord.  It plugged in but, for years, that clock hung on a 10 degree slant.  It lasted for decades, but, not meant to be on a slant, after about ten years it developed a noticeable grind-y whine, yet kept perfect time.

Towns used to set their time by the sun, and residents knew what time it was, vaguely, by town hall or church bells.  The development of railroads, in Europe, but especially in North America, created a need for some agreement on “What Time Is It?” over hundreds, or thousands, of miles.  Several others had proposed limited plans, but a Scottish-born Canadian, Sir Sanford Fleming, oversaw the birth of both a trans-Canada railroad, and the 24-hour, world-encompassing Standard Time Zone system.

The continued rise of, and finer division of, technology, has produced more and finer divisions of time.  This is important for both individual machines and systems, and co-ordination between/among numerous, far-flung operations.  GPS knows where you are, because it knows “exactly” when.  It’s just that I sometimes feel that I’m drowning in TIME.

They’re almost impossible to find, but I wish I had a microwave that just microwaved, a stove that just cooked, and a toaster oven that just heated.  I feel almost threatened in my own home when I roam around in the dark, with those red and blue eyes staring accusingly at me from the dark.  I’m sure I could make do with the wind-up timer the wife uses in the laundry room.

Good grief, you old Luddite!  Get with the 21st Century!  What next?  You’ll want a cell phone that only makes and takes telephone calls?  I’ll use the reminder app. on my camera phone to send you a picture of one.

One Lovely Blog

Apparently there is another infectious round of chain-letter awards circulating on the blogosphere.  Ted over at SightsandBytes  http://sightsnbytes.wordpress.com/ afflicted me with….graciously passed on to me, the One Lovely Blog Award.  I often see these awards being given to relatively new bloggers.  I got my first when I had produced only fourteen posts.  I’m up to fifty now – a seasoned old hand.  I can only hope that they are given to newbies who show a scintilla of talent, as an incentive to keep them writing and improving.  That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.  I humbly thank Ted for prodding the arthritic old bear to bang on the keyboard more creatively.

Having completed the onerous job of displaying basic good manners, my next task is to list seven pieces of information about myself, to instill a little interest, and prevent injuries when readers doze off and slump onto the keyboard.

  1.  I rode 7 motorcycles over 20 years, totalling two of them with little more than bruises.  The last one, I fell over sideways at 3 MPH.  The bike could easily have been repaired, but I got a bionic shoulder and a busted wallet.
  2. We have four beautiful Bengal cats, and a dumb wheaten/schnauzer/poodle dog.  The dog is at the bottom of the pecking order.  There are so many cat toys strewn over the floors that it looks like we’re babysitting a bunch of three-year olds.
  3. After years of rotating shifts, now that I’m retired, I sleep at 4AM and rise at noon.  I hate morning TV but can find late-night movies or go blogging.
  4. I used to be outdoorsy when I was younger, but allergies seem to be getting worse.  We installed central air conditioning and a high-efficiency furnace with an electronic precipitator filter and stay inside as much as possible.
  5. If you read my blog about scratch-cooking, you know that I’m at least a bit of a cook.  Like Ted, I’m not much of a recipe follower.  It’s hard to screw up chilli.  If the dish requires precision, like a cake where one extra drop of milk makes a difference, I let the wife show off her talents.
  6. I prefer to deal with problems broad-spectrum.  I get as much information as I can and make and change decisions as the situation demands, rather than be saddled with an inflexible manual.
  7. I hate making out lists, especially about myself, so I’m glad that this is the last item.

I haven’t set up a blogroll yet, although I now read quite a number of interesting, entertaining and informative blogs.  I also feel that these blog awards can get out of hand and try to stop them before Marvin the Martian says, “Where’s the Ka-boom?  There should have been an Earth-shattering Ka-boom!”  If I’ve commented on your site, be assured that I feel that you are interesting enough to deserve this award as much or more than I do.  If you’d like one, feel free to belly up to the all-you-can-write blog buffet and drop one on your Chinet plate, to display on your very own site.

This blogging thing just keeps getting better and better.  Thank-you to all the kind, friendly, inspiring bloggers who have shared their lives and experiences, and shown me the way.  I will continue to try to earn your respect, and pass it on to those who come behind us.