2017 A To Z Challenge – J

Challenge2017

When I was looking at others’ A to Z Challenge ideas, searching for inspirational prompts, I didn’t always read the complete posts. I thought it might be from a fan of legalization of marijuana, when I chose
JOINT SUPPORT,
as the title of the post for the letter

Letter J

The wife has tried for years to get knee replacement surgery. Her doctor asked her one time if she was a good Catholic, but her days of kneeling are long past.  Finally, she got referred to the Orthopedic Surgeon who replaced my left shoulder 10 years ago.  He now specializes in knees.

She was told that the first one would be about a year, and the second, six months after. Government funding cutbacks stretched the first to almost 18 months.  Despite hours of hospital interviews and paperwork, they still managed to f….oul things up.

Despite clearly marking that she was allergic to pineapple, they served her fruit salad for every lunch and supper – with pineapple in it. (I loved it.) One night, supper was sweet and sour chicken – with pineapple in the sauce.  She says that, without me bringing her fresh fruit and vegetables, and Tim Horton’s Tim-Bits (do-nut holes) and coffee, she’d have starved.  She lost almost 10 pounds in a 3-day stay.

She also impressed upon her surgeon, that she was allergic to the nickel in (surgical) stainless steel, and insisted that he use sutures, instead of the far more common staples. They still teach suturing techniques in doctor school, but her surgeon has never practiced much.  She had hoped for small, delicate stitches, perhaps in a soft blue silk.  Instead, he put in 18 big, ghastly, bride-of-Frankenstein’s turkey-trussers, with black fishing line.  Still, it healed nicely.

When I had my more complex shoulder surgery, the arm was put in a sling, and I was told not to use it for six weeks, as it healed. Only then could the long, painful process of stretching and strengthening rehab begin.  Knee surgeries have become so easy and common, that she was expected to get out of bed, stand and shuffle a couple of steps, the day after surgery.

I worried about the Princess and the Pea wife not doing painful exercises, but have been pleasantly surprised.  Although she had already been looking forward to having the second knee done, it’s possible that she’s not looking forward quite so hard now.

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Flash Fiction #133

Financial

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

THE REAL COST OF LIVING

We recently returned from the vet’s with the wife’s favorite cat – $200 dollars, and no guarantee the medicine would cure it. Then she had to go into hospital for knee-replacement surgery.  You could say that she doesn’t need surgery, but, to her, gardening is as important as eating.

The bill for the last oil change said that the year-old car’s brakes need work. The cost of gasoline and electricity are mounting.  The yearly ‘cost-of-living’ increase on my pension was 97cents/month.  I feel the financial walls closing in.

Will we survive this retirement tunnel, or finish, begging on the street?

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

2017 A To Z Challenge – E

Challenge2017

I know that, according to my own, self-imposed schedule, I should have had a post composed and ready to publish today, about the letter

Letter E

Just about the time the daily A to Z Challenge bloggers were posting their offerings for the letter E, I contracted a case of 48-hour flu. By the time I got back to the computer, it was too late to acquire a list of possible theme words.  Between the virus-induced mental incapacitation and the lack of inspiration, nothing got written.

The situation was made worse by bureaucracy. One of the drive motors on the daughter’s power wheelchair seized, and Murphy worked overtime to ensure clerical catastrophe.  What should have been a (bad enough) two weeks inconvenience, has become more than three months of dragged-on denial of service, before the Provincial disability office finally decided that it’s too expensive to repair a 13-year-old chair.

New rules say that, since she doesn’t need it all the time, she can’t have a new one.  Now she has to break in a new case worker, and jump through all the hoops to find an acceptable handicap scooter, for which the Government will (eventually) pay monthly rent.  Winter cabin fever was bad enough.  Now, the nice summer weather is here, and she still can’t get outside and be independent.

Besides the afternoon-long, hour drive up the highway and back, for her anti-pain treatment, this means that I have taken her shopping several times, to the Farmers’ Market, twice to her dentist, once to the next city to pick up cheap, bulk, dog and cat food, and each week to a counselling forum which helps her deal with the physical and emotional problems of having her loving, supportive son 500 kilometers away.

Eighteen months after being told that the wait time would be 12 months, the wife was finally contacted by her orthopedic surgeon, (the same guy who installed my artificial shoulder ten years ago) and was told that her first knee replacement, the right, was a go.  This required two trips to the hospital to fluff their paperwork.  The first was a mere two hours, the second, an extended, four hour clerical comedy show.  At least it’s finally going ahead.  On June 27th, Hobble-Along Cassidy meets Dr. Stabby McStab-Stab in a dance to the death.

All of this means that, instead of having time to write my usual, knife-sharp, crystal-clear, diamond-hard posts which inform and entertain you, you are being afflicted with this whiny, apologetic, idiosyncratic, fogbank collection of Excuses, for my E contribution.

Thanx for your sympathy, and I hope to see you in a couple of weeks with something a little more solid, for the fabulous letter F.

ICEBREAKER

ice

Recently, it seems that there’s a lot of people, who want to know a lot, about a lot of other people. A while ago, I published a post in two parts – 31 Facts In 31 Days.  Scarcely had I put it up, than I found another, apparently compiled by the neighborhood pervert voyeur.  It contained questions like, “What do you wear to bed?” There’s not enough vodka or trained psychiatrists in the world, for me to get into that.

This one is called Icebreaker, and can also be used at large meetings and seminars where people don’t know each other. Although, by the time you fill yours out, and read everybody else’s, I don’t know how much time would be left to actually get anything productive done.  I guess that’s what big meetings are like anyway.  It’s probably better than Angry Birds, Candy Crush, or Words With Friends.

This old Iceberg broke off the parent glacier about five years ago. It has been drifting down and blocking the blog-lanes ever since – a publishing hazard to sanity and good taste.  I thought in that time that I had pretty much revealed all, perhaps not though.  If you have the guts and the stamina, read on MacDuff.

Are you named after someone?
My paternal grandfather was Howard. My father was Cyril Howard.  There was a whiny kid in my town who everyone called ‘Howie’, and I grew to hate the name, so I never admit that my second name is Howard.
When is the last time you cried?

Guys cry??  Okay, okay – the last time I heard a real feel-good, beat-the-odds story, my eyes leaked – a little.
Do you like your handwriting?
Dear Lord no! With my tremor, my writing looks like a chicken on meth walked across an ink pad.
What is your favorite lunch meat?

Spicy Tokay or Mexican, salami
How many kids do you have?
Three, one of each….no, wait, just daughter, LadyRyl, and son Shimoniac.
If you were another person, would you be friends with you?
I’d have to be a member of a select group, because of my take-no-prisoners attitude and opinions, but, yes!
Do you use sarcasm?
Are you F**king kidding??  Hell yes!
Do you still have your tonsils?
No. Back when it was all the rage (1950), a surgeon cut my throat.
Would you bungee jump?
I have to take care of an increasingly fragile old body, but I would say yes – maybe till I got to the edge.  I’d like to skydive, into my bucket list.
What is your favorite cereal?
Spoon Sized Shredded Wheat, with strawberries
Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
I wear (cowboy) boots – no laces. When I don’t, I do.
Do you think you are strong? Physically?  More so than most men my age.  Mentally?  Emotionally?  Probably the same answer
What is your favorite ice cream?
In a bowl, or cone – Black Cherry.  With cake or pie – French Vanilla
What is the first thing you notice about people?
Often, how they inter-react with others, including me
Red or pink? I am seldom understated.  Intense blue, purple or green.  If I must – red.  It makes a statement.
What is the least favorite thing you like about yourself?
My increasingly failing memory, thank (insert your favorite deity) for search engines
What color pants and shoes are you wearing right now?
In the privacy of my own computer room??  You should be reading this with your eyes closed.  Dark blue track shorts and slippers.
What was the last thing you ate?
A small slab of white cake with some 10% cream and diced peaches
What are you listening to right now?
The sounds of both my allergic cat, and dog, snoring, as they lie guarding me
If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Plaid?  Probably Royal Blue
What are your favorite smells?
Oh, so many….wood smoke, rustling dry leaves, frying bacon
Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?

Some Paki named ‘Kevin’, who wanted to clean my ducts.  I told him to….
Favorite sport to watch?
Pretty much stopped watching TV.  Almost watch no sports.  Maybe American Pro Football
Real hair color?
I’d like to say black, but that was then, and this, is now mostly white.
Eye color?
Brown.
Do you wear contacts?

It’s all the wife can do to get me to wear my glasses.  Frightened as a child by the Three Stooges, I don’t poke my own finger in my eyes.
Favorite food to eat?
Yes please.  Probably tonight’s supper – potato pancakes
Scary movies or happy endings?
Some big explosions, car chases, gun fights, a little Punch and Judo, people hanging off tall buildings – that can be scary.  Then the bad guys are defeated, and it’s all a happy ending.
Last movie you watched?
Star Trek Into Darkness….see above
What color shirt are you wearing?
Maker claims it’s ‘Dusty Blue’.  I say it’s Steel Blue (greyish-blue), one of my more subdued shades.
Summer or winter?
Autumn!  If I must choose….Summer.  I don’t have to shovel rain.
Hugs or kisses?
Depends on the time, place and person….and if anybody’s watching
What book are you reading?
John Brunner – Wrong End of Time, Tom Clancy (actually, Mark Greaney) – Support And Defend, James Rollins – Devil Colony
What is on your mousepad?
Cat hair
What is the last TV program you watched?
Bones
What is the best sound?
One or more of my cats purring, preferably in my lap
Rolling Stones or The Beatles?
Different strokes for different folks – a bit, but not too much, of both, liberally mixed with many others.
What is the farthest you have traveled?
Since all trips have to be by car, I drove to Key West, Florida – 2765 Km = 1730 mi.
Do you have a special talent?
Yes!
Where were you born?
In the front bedroom of the family home, in Southampton, Ontario, Canada.

 

Coffee And Doughnuts

CB750K

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cordelia’s Mom recently published a post about inadvertently getting pulled over on her way home from work, in the middle of a SWAT takedown.  She escaped with clean underwear and no bullet holes, and asked if anyone else had had something like this happen.  While not quite that exciting, I’ve had a couple of times that I’ve been pulled over when I was completely innocent.  🙄

For about 20 years, I rode a series of motorcycles 8-10 months a year, from when enough ice melted off Canadian roads to make it safe – to when they iced up again the next winter.  This all stopped when I fell off my bike and broke my wallet.  Being on medical leave for 8 months for reconstructive surgery and physiotherapy at 80% of average wages, followed by a 500% increase in the cost of insurance for a car that wasn’t even involved in the accident will do that to you.

I used to ride the bike to work.  Taking the same route a thousand times, I soon had the traffic lights timed.  A full stop at a red light in a car is irksome, but at least you’re comfortably seated.  A full stop on a bike means supporting the machine.  I learned where to speed up a bit, and where to go a bit slower, so that lights turned green just as I arrived.

One night I left the house at 10:20 PM, for the 5-mile, 10-minute cross-town ride.  Four blocks from the plant my road was crossed by another, hanging on the side of a small hill.  The pavement flattened out to cross, then dipped down the hill again.

As I approached, I could see the orange light on the cross-street, but no headlights from any vehicles enticed to run the orange/red.  As I reached the white stop line, the light went green, and I scooted across at 30 mph.  Just over the rise, coming out of the driveway from a doughnut shop, was – a police car.  How cliché.

I slowed slightly, in case he pulled out broadside, but he slammed his brakes on.  I swerved around his protruding nose and continued, keeping an eye on my mirrors – and he turned out.  Three blocks to the main street, and I made a careful, legal right turn – and he followed.  It’s the main drag, not to worry.  A block up the street to the road my plant was on, and another cautious right turn.

The company offered parking for motorcycles on a concrete pad over an underground tank, at the end of the parking lot.  It was under some trees, away from streetlights, and next to an abandoned house.  Most of the plant’s bikers elected to park on the cement apron beside the stairs to the front entrance, where constant traffic offered a little more security.

I eased across the sidewalk and stopped the bike.  Officer Officious was still following. As I rocked the bike up onto its center stand and started peeling off my riding gloves and leather jacket, he swung onto the other side of the road, pulled a U-turn, and stopped facing the wrong way again, beside me.  Do not try this at home kids.  Only legitimate police officers are authorized to violate traffic regulations that we must obey.

I pulled off my bug-stopping riding glasses and undid my helmet strap as he swaggered his way over.  It is entertaining to see the facial expressions when someone’s preconceptions are dashed.  Perhaps he expected some teen/20s rider that he could intimidate, and seemed confused to be confronted with a 50-year-old man, old enough to be his father – but he fired the first (verbal) shot.

“Are you late for work?”
“Yes!”
“I’ll need to see your driver’s licence, ownership, and proof of insurance.”

I pulled my licence from the wallet and passed it over.  Most bikes have a small, lockable plastic box beneath the seat with a toolkit.  That’s where many bikers carry their paperwork.  I unlocked mine, dug it out and handed it over.  He retired to sit in the cruiser while I leaned on the bike.

I’d had a minor highway speeding ticket about ten years before, but my record – driving and otherwise – is surprisingly clean.  After his computer forgave my few minor sins, he returned my documents.  I put everything back where it belonged and picked up all my junk and headed for the door.  As I passed him, he took one more swing.

“I guess you have to admit that you were going pretty fast over on the other street.”
“No!”

Canada doesn’t have the Fifth Amendment, but we do have laws which prevent self incrimination.  I wasn’t going ‘pretty fast’.  He was just inattentive, and embarrassed, and possibly pissed because he’d spilled his coffee; but even if I was speeding, I don’t have to admit it.

He’d eaten ten minutes of my time, and got two words from me for his trouble.  I walked into the plant, leaving him to clean up the soggy doughnuts, and wondering why I wasn’t awed by the force of his personality.

Oops

Mommy & Uncle Paul

 ‘Hello?’

‘Hi, honey. This is Daddy. Is Mommy near the phone?’

‘No, Daddy. She’s upstairs in the bedroom with Uncle Paul.’

After a brief pause, Daddy says, ‘But honey, you haven’t got an Uncle Paul.’

‘Oh, yes I do, and he’s upstairs in the room with Mommy, right now.’

Brief Pause.

‘Uh, okay then, this is what I want you to do. Put the phone down on the table, run upstairs, knock on the bedroom door and shout to Mommy that Daddy’s car just pulled into the driveway.’

‘Okay, Daddy, just a minute.’

A few minutes later the little girl comes back to the phone.

‘I did it, Daddy.’

‘And what happened, honey?’

‘Well, Mommy got all scared, jumped out of bed with no clothes on and ran around screaming. Then, she tripped over the rug, hit her head on the dresser and now she isn’t moving at all!’

‘Oh, my God!!! What about your Uncle Paul?’
‘He jumped out of the bed with no clothes on, too. He was all scared and he jumped out of the back window and into the swimming pool. But I guess he didn’t know that you took out the water last week to clean it. He hit the bottom of the pool and I think he’s dead.’
Long Pause
Longer Pause
Even Longer Pause
Then Daddy says, ‘Swimming pool? …………
Is this 486-5731?’
No, I think you have the wrong number …

*

Kids’ Logic

6-year-old Jimmy, a precocious kid, always told everyone he wanted to be a doctor when he grew up.
One day as Jimmy was running through his house playing, he ran into the corner of a table and hurt his eye.
Being a little kid, Jimmy cried for a while but also kept saying, “Oh no, now I can never be a doctor when I grow up.”

Jimmy’s mom trying to reassure him told Jimmy that he could still be a doctor but Jimmy kept insisting that he couldn’t.

Finally she asked, “Why can’t you be a doctor, Jimmy?”

Holding one hand over his injured eye, Jimmy said, “Because now I will have to be a pirate!”

***

The doctor explained to Jenkins that he had a serious ailment for which an operation was absolutely imperative.
The patient turned pale and asked, “Isn’t it very dangerous? “
“Yes,” the doctor replied. “Five out of six who undergo this operation die, but as for you, you have nothing to worry about. “
“Why not?” eagerly inquired the patient.
“Well, you’re sure to recover, because my last five patients died,” the doctor reassured him.

***

Two men were sitting at the Club, and one said, Say, how is that gorgeous secretary of yours?  Oh, I had to fire her.  Fire her!  How come??  Well, it all started a week ago last Thursday, on my 49th birthday.  I was never so depressed.  What has that got to do with it??  Well, I came down for breakfast, and my wife never even mentioned my birthday.  A few minutes later, the kids came downstairs, and I was sure they would wish me a Happy Birthday, but not one word.

As I say, I was most depressed, but when I arrived at the office, my secretary greeted me with a big Happy Birthday, and I was glad that someone had remembered.  At noon, she suggested that it was a beautiful day, and that she would like to take me to lunch at a nice intimate little place in the country.

Well, it was nice, and we enjoyed our lunch and a couple of martinis.  On the way back to the office, she said it was much too nice a day to go back to work, and suggested that we go to her apartment, where she would get me another martini.

That also appealed to me, and after a drink and a cigarette, she asked to be excused so that she could go into the bedroom and change into something more comfortable.  A few minutes later, the bedroom door opened, and out came my secretary, my wife and two kids with a birthday cake, singing Happy Birthday, and there I sat, wearing nothing but my socks.

OOPS!

Ping Pong

A post where you follow the rapidly bouncing little bright ball of my ADHD intellect, from subject to subject, to subject, sometimes alighting, sometimes flitting away like a butterfly.

I sent Madame Weebles a one-dollar, and a two-dollar Canadian coin, Loonie and Twoonie.  While she has other foreign coins, she had not obtained these.  She told me that she had a British Two-Pound coin.  It is bi-metal, similar to our Twoonie, only gold-colored on the outer ring, and a silver inner disc.  It’s a thick, heavy coin.  Instead of the edge being milled (grooved), it’s engraved with the Isaac Newton quotation, “Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants.”

I whined that I didn’t have one and protested how difficult it could be; yet admitting that one might be as close as a phone call to a local coin dealer.  We took the dog to PetSmart for a wash and trim, while we waited, I took the wife to the WalMart in the plaza down the street.  Since it was the day before my birthday, the wife offered to buy me lunch.  We used the multi-choice food court right beside WalMart.

We had been unable to obtain some coconut-oil pills for her at our nearby health food store.  As we sat eating, I spotted a National Nutrition store, just down the mall.  After I shoved in my last bite, I walked over and found that they had the pills for an even better price.

On my way back, I noticed a Currency Exchange outlet, so I ambled over and asked the clerk if they had any foreign coinage.  “Oh no!  No coins!”  That’s too bad; I wanted an English Two-Pound coin.  “Pounds??  We’ve got Pounds!” I walked back with a smile and my coin.  Thanx Weebs, for using the cattle prod to get me moving.

I posted earlier, that the son’s employer makes parts for a company which also is making parts for an up-coming moon-buggy.  Product items can be boring or interesting.  Aside from a new customer’s commercial egg-washing trays, he now also makes small quantities of strait-jacket keys.  These are ring-shaped, powerful, rare-earth magnets, molded into a plastic fob.  With no external hole, the locks are unpickable.  I’ve kept a key, just in case.

Something else he just made 450 of, was mouthpieces for bagpipes.  Since pipers need both hands to operate the pipes, the mouthpiece is clamped between the teeth, and wears and needs replacement regularly.  We don’t know how many sets of pipes there are in Canada, or how far afield these go, but that’s a year’s production.

As a non-religious person, I have no problem with the Quebec government’s attempts to remove religious symbols from display on persons employed by the government, particularly those whose duties include interaction with citizens.  This is not an attack on freedom!  While people have freedom of religion, others also have freedom from religion, when dealing with the government.  No religion requires someone to work in government, but most of us must deal with it regularly.  Why must I accept the presence of religious symbols, while accessing services from my secular government?

To suggest that government should only attempt to deal with one segment of religious symbolism, Muslim modesty garments, and not others, would mean a government would be prejudicial in its treatment of its employees, based on their religion.  That would be an attack on religious freedom.

Not that I’m saying that WordPress would lie to me….but, early the other day I, accessed my stats page.  WordPress claimed that I had had 4 visitors, for 19 views – 12 from South Africa, 2 from United States, 1 from United Kingdom, 1 from Namibia, 1 from Viet Nam, 1 from Thailand and 1 from the Netherlands.  7 different countries produced only 4 visitors??!  And, strangely, they were all for the same post, the comedy, Instant Philosophy Degree.

A couple of years ago, the wife caught a killer nasal virus infection.  When it finally abated, weeks later, she discovered that she, the great chef, had almost no smell or taste ability left.  I got a brevet promotion from busboy, to official taster.  “Does it taste rich?  Does it need more salt?”

After about a year, she got a referral to an Ear/Nose/Throat doctor.  By then, she had regained some, but he told her that any further improvement was unlikely.  She has sleep apnea.  Like many others, including BrainRants, she uses a CPAP machine at night.  Having some problems and concerns, she requested another referral to the same ENT.

He noted that she has a deviated septum, not badly, but added to other factors, it was causing problems.  He has booked her into surgery on September 30 for repair.  Instantly, the bureaucracy kicked in.  She has had to go to the hospital for a pre-surgery information session.  She had to take with her, all the medication she takes, including vitamins and “herbals,” in their original containers.  She has been told that she has to stop taking several of the herbals, and her heavy-duty pain pills, for a week before her surgery.

No “thought” is given to the directions.  She must drink four cups of cranberry juice the morning of surgery, before she arrives at the hospital, but she is not allowed to take her concentrated cranberry pills.  She must bring her CPAP machine with her but, because her face will be swollen, she will not be able to use it.

She must, again, bring all her pills in original containers but, those medications the hospital deigns to dispense, will be from their stock of generic, NovoPharm products that she is often allergic to, because they use milk sugar as a filler.  I have told her to bring her own stock of the allowable meds, take them, and throw theirs away, but she is a compulsive rule-follower.

A comedian told of having his ear wax flushed out.  On the way home he thought someone was following him, because he could hear his own footsteps.  A man I spoke to at the Free Thinkers had a bad nose fixed.  They packed it after surgery with gauze.  Two days later, when he went in to have it removed, he said it was like the magic trick with the handkerchiefs.  They pulled gauze out, and pulled gauze out – and pulled gauze out.

He said that, like the ear guy, for about an hour, the nose worked so well, he could smell what time it was.  Maybe the wife will get a bit more of what she lost, back.  We assume/hope that all will go well.  It’s a simple, routine procedure.  There’s no reason it shouldn’t.  I’ll keep you informed.