Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Sunday Morning Muse, April 29, 2012

It's the last Sunday in April, and it is a beautiful Sunday. Going up to the 60's today. Nice.

I spent part of the morning going over the 1940 Census for my whole neighborhood. I scanned the
family names on neighboring streets searching for clues to my family research. Names jump out now and then as familiar. People long dead who used to own little neighborhood stores. An Italian family who owned a candy store on the hill. A Polish family who had the butcher shop. Funny how I could go through the entire township and, without looking at the street names, I could figure out pretty much where the census names were from, because many families still own those houses and passed them down.

I watched Who Do You Think You Are? on Friday night. Rob Lowe. Amazing story of his search into the life of his 5th Great Grandfather--who has the distinction of both fighting against us, and then with us during the Revolutionary War. He was a mercenary who came from Germany, who faught in the battle of Trenton, lost, taken prisoner, and was later given the option of going home to Germany, or staying here.

It's amazing to see the records that are out there for people to search out their own family stories. It is very time consuming however, for obvious reasons, but imagine the future, when so much is digitized. Tomorrow's children will really "know" their ancestors--through video recordings, audio journals, and who knows what else will be available in the future.

Or will they care? Will they want to look back? Will they seek meaning or advice or experiences from the past? Will the stories really be as exciting as the journeys made by the immigrants to America? Establishing a country? A neighborhood? Churches? A new life in a new world. There really is a charm to studying that
era. The personal struggles and triumphs are inspiring.

In the future, what if you find out that your great grandfather was just a ne'er do well? A guy born in Pittsburgh who spent his life drinking beer and going to football games? Never holding down a job for long. A couple of marriages and no real ambition to improve himself? Do you really want to see the videos he uploaded to YouTube of getting drunk at his friend's wedding?  Would you care who his friends were on Facebook? Would those things exist 60 years from now?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Stuff My Mom Says

"You are putting me to sleep."

 Spoken after I told her she has to wear an emergency button around her neck even though I am home. Why? Because something could happen in the middle of the night, I told her, and I can't get to you. You will need to press it if the house catches fire....and don't forget, you can press it if someone breaks into the house...or if you start to choke to death---you press it... or if I die of a heart attack....

Saturday Afternoons in 1963

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Sunday Morning Muse

Snow in late April. I view it as an intrusion into Spring by an unwelcome visitor. I don't care if the ground is warm and it doesn't stay long. It's a cloudy morning... no sunrise to remark on, and the cat has no interest in looking out the window.

I am musing about supplements today. What to keep taking, what to quit taking. It's a confusing thing...when you read about the latest cure-all or cholesterol fixer, or menopause helper.

Let's start with I was never a vitamin person. Even when I was a kid I don't remember mom buying me many Flintstones to eat with my cornflakes. I think we did that for awhile, and just quit at some point. That pattern followed me into adulthood when multivitamins became out of fashion. Rows and rows of vitamins appeared on shelves mixed in with supplements with strange names making big claims. I tried several along the way... popping Vitamin C for awhile to ward off colds. Zinc for when you got colds, that sort of thing.
I tried this horse pill with all the women's vitamins in one pill. I just didn't want to take it everyday. I didn't like swallowing it. I feared I would choke and that would be it. No sense risking it.

I did the Fish Oil thing for awhile. But never got over the fishy taste and hated taking them. So I quit. I was on the Red Yeast Rice kick for awhile when someone told me it brought their cholesterol down, but then I read where the stuff that works in the Red Yeast Rice was "cut back" in it, and now it doesn't work anymore. So I quit.

These days I have the doc telling me to take CoQ10, which has suddenly become very expensive so I guess a lot of docs are telling their patients to take it. I take it because it is supposed to counteract another drug I'm taking. I do it because it can only help, I suppose. Can't really hurt. But since it is expensive, I'm not taking as much as I should. I know this. Yet I buy other things and walk right past it sometimes feeling guilty.

Looking around, I see Vitamin D and calcium on the shelf. I take those. Mom's neurologist says he gives his whole family Vitamin D....everyday. He is a really smart man, so I feel he is on to something. Calcium is a "given" for women. Bone loss issues as we age. Cranberry pills have become a staple here. Acidity for the
old urinary tract. Again, it can only help, and it can't hurt.

And my latest venture is into Pro-Biotics. The best one I found so far is Align. But it's expensive. So I took it for a few months and felt great....and felt so good I quit taking it. See the pattern there? Acidolpholus is
a bit cheaper, so I picked up some of that, and I've discovered some drug store brands of probiotics that are like 11 dollars for a month's supply, which isn't bad. Unless you already have Cranberry, Vitamin D,
Caltrate, and CoQ10 in your cart and you still need Tylenol and gas pills and hair dye. Then you say, what the Hell am I really doing?  Do I really need more pills?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Thinking About Things...and Putting Off Others

Just back from the ER again. I feel I owe it to them to say it was a lovely experience in the day time as opposed to a Saturday night. No crazy people, no people with bright patchy red hair and screaming babies. Actually no one at all waiting.

After getting checked out, Mom got to come home instead of them keeping her, which is nice. Another crisis averted for now. 

The last couple of days have been a whirlwind of stuff, not just mom's issues, but also a funeral for my friend's mom. It was a lovely service and the cemetery is one that I haven't spent much time in. It's a great old cemetery, Graceland, not far from my favorite one around here, Oak Park, which I go on and on about. I love a cemetery with old family crypts and big old headstones. Oak Park sits on a cliff on one end, at the baby section, which is really creepy. But it is a peaceful place. Oldstyle wrought iron gates, a turn of the century mausoleum with big rusty doors. It's a place where the dead can feel at rest, and not on display. Photo is Suki on a gravestone there. I took this in the early 1980's.

Graceland sits on a beautiful property with rolling hills, and does have some old graves, but newer sections now too. The ones with the flat marker and vases in them.  It is also a very peaceful place.

 The only thing I didn't like was when I was sitting in the newer mausoleum at Graceland, I saw not only the "drawers" people have with their names on them but also these see-through cubes with urns. And people put photographs and little momentos there. My first thought was it seems like a bookshelf or curio. I couldn't imagine it being here a hundred years from now, like those crumbling, still legible century old graves outside. It didn't seem permanent, like being put in the ground does. Or having your ashes scattered somewhere... 

With illness and death come discussions sometimes we'd rather not have, but end up having. No one wants to think about their own death, of course, but you can't help but wonder where you will end up. By strange chance this week, I got a call from the cemetery where my dad is buried. It is a bit commercial to me. It sits right next to a road that has a lot of traffic. They also have a lot of rules. You have to have plastic flowers off at a certain date, you can't plant anything, you can't stick anything in the ground, etc.... no memorials really other than what you can stick in a vase. You see, they are mostly all "flat" graves, and they mow around them. It makes life easier for the living.But you don't really get to honor the dead. I stick plastic flowers in there for dad, but I don't feel really good about it. From the road it looks like every other vase with a plastic flower in it.

 A nice enough woman called, going on about how they are doing a privacy policy or some such thing and computerizing records.... and how she wants to set up and appointment with me. The cynic in me says she wants to sell me plots. I cheerfully informed her that I couldn't possibly meet with her, but by all means send me all the paperwork she wants and we'll sign off on it. (I'm not having that conversation just yet. The big one. A plot with my name on it.)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Sunday Morning Muse, April 15, 2012

Much needed rain over night and a promise of an 80 degree day in April today. Nice. I'm spending time in the greenhouse moving things around, still planting some seeds, and looking into a few needed repairs to a few windows that have shifted. Nothing stays square. There is a lesson in building on a hillside.

My Russian neighbor shakes his head. Too much work around here to do. Someday all this will fall in anyway, he says. I think he is musing over his own situation more than mine. He's in his 70's now and his own hillside, a big struggle with bushes and vines, and small trees, gets harder to maintain every year. And the shed we loaned him needs a new door, this one deteriorating, unpaintable and holey. Some critter got in there this week,  I put a flower pot over the hole. It will be all right for now. Unless it is dead in there.

I looked around and got a bit solemn today when I realized the real maintenance man around here, my father has been gone now 14 years. He designed the greenhouse which rests on what looks like sawed in half phone poles butted up against each other; the bottom part buried in the ground and the top one right at ground level so that the place actually could shift some. But, as evidence of the shifting bricks on the floor, and a few windows that won't close on the "bottom hill" side, I see that something has to give, sooner or later.  I hope it is much later.

A greenhouse doesn't really need a phone, but dad had wire buried in the ground and an outlet installed way up here.  You can still plug in a phone and use it. A huge industrial fan at one time blew the hot air out the top window with metal slats. I am pretty sure he salvaged it from a grocery store that was demolished years ago. You can still plug that thing in too. It's terribly heavy and I wonder who he recruited to hoist it up there and secure it. It's still up there. I hope it doesn't fall on my head someday.  

That's it for now. Coffee is cold. I'm going to go get started.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Voter ID Not Needed Here

Eighty some year old Mrs. V. eyes every soul that comes through the door of the church basement. She is sitting behind a metal table, papers all neatly lined up, books with names in them, and "I Voted Today" stickers within easy reach. She spots me in an instant in line and, with a voice made even louder by the cement walls and floor, yells my name and asks for all to hear, "Are you married yet?" She hurriedly finishes up another voter,hands them a sticker and continues..."didn't I see you at my neighbor's 50th anniversary party 10 years ago with a nice man? Whatever happened to him?"

 Mrs. V knows everyone on the hill. There may be a few drifters or renters moving in now that some of the widows are passing away, but she will soon know their life stories, too.

 Voter fraud? Here? Are you kidding me? I will have to reach for my driver's license this year. I'm curious as to how Mrs. V. will react to all this. I'm sure her 80 year old friends don't drive and don't have ID's. I wonder what she will say to them? You can't vote here after 50 years, even though I know your children, your grandchildren, your sisters and brothers and cousins? Even though you lived in your house when you first got married after the war? And you still live there?

I'll probably tell Mrs. V. how I feel. Though she is sharp enough to already realize what it going on. It's the Republicans trying to suppress the votes of the old and the poor who are less likely to have ID. This way they can try to limit the votes in our "swing state" for President Obama. No other reason for it. Can't justify it. We don't have a massive voter fraud problem here in PA. We have political fraud. People otherwise eligible to vote, will be denied their rights.

Walking Spanish

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Little Thursday Wisdom

If some longing goes unmet, don't be astonished. We call that Life. 

Anna Freud

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Sunday Morning Muse, April 8, 2012

There’s nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with Chocolate. ~Linda Grayson

It took a few weeks but I'm back at fighting weight. How much will I gain back in one day eating ham, kolbassa, apricot rolls, nut rolls, cupcakes, sweet potatoes, lemon pie, bunny cake, green bean casserole, and maybe a little salad?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sunshiney Day

The sun is coming up a little further to the left today. Probably has to do with the earth's axis shifting over the past few weeks, wreaking havoc. I only notice this because from my desk and where the cat usually sits I was recently able to take her picture with the sun rising over her head and now that is impossible. Until maybe it rises some more. Could be the affect of daylight savings time.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Sunday Morning Muse, April 1, 2012

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.

Langston Hughes

April is here. April is the month of hope for me. January, February and March are all months of endurance. By the time we get to the fourth month I just start feeling better about things. It is a month of rain and thunderstorms, with the green color coming back in the woods, and plenty of critters coming out of hiding, like my old friend the big groundhog who lives in the dump. How did he get so fat in winter? The rabbits will be out in full force soon in the back yard, too.

The color is coming back in the Japanese maples out front. And the color may sometime return to my own cheeks without the help of Maybelline.  It's time to battle the jaggerbushes near the grapevine (over 8 feet tall!)

April means The Masters is on TV starting next week and I can see the beautiful Georgia golf course with the magnolias and beautiful landscaping.  And of course this year, I'll have some good-natured arguments with friends about whether women should be allowed to join the golf club. Old Hootie can't live forever. He was the face of "NO" several years ago when all this flared up. The latest issue is whether IBM's new CEO, who just happens to have breasts, will be able to join.  I'm thinking No, again. Hell, they didn't let blacks join until 1990. It's become more about power and money, TV sponsorships, and PGATour Event hosting than it is about women actually golfing.

I'd personally like to see her join if she actually wants to. Maybe it's because I'm still pissed off about having to eat on the porch of a local country club because women aren't allowed in the grill room. That was where participants had dinner after the golf event I was in. I golfed in a club hosted event at the time with my other golf partners, (who did not have breasts, so they were welcome in the grill room). They decided they would rather eat with me on the porch. It is a situation that I never thought I would experience, and I admit I was quite taken by suprize to be barred from a grill room. Do the men eat naked in there or something?