Friday, March 6, 2015


Today’s Post

I think that today I am going to post several unrelated thoughts that have cross wired in my brain. I accomplished so many things by nine a.m. I was outside and shoveled some more of my driveway and can finally get my car out onto the road, if I so desire. That includes the nightly deposit across the entrance from the Penn Dot plow workers. God bless them for the jobs that they do, but why does it seem they always know when I finally get it cleared. I think they pay someone to sit on a nearby hill and notify them to make their next run when I finish.
I thought that my back would complain more today after the shoveling that I did yesterday. Not so, but I do have a knee and two hips that are fussing and aching. I am thankful that my doctors cleared me to take more than Tylenol. The Tylenol just wasn’t cutting it. I am more comfortable now that I can take Aleve. When I came inside, I emptied the trash and replaced the garbage bag. I washed a load of dishes and a load of towels. The towels are drying now and the dishes waiting to be put away.

Finally, I called U.P.M.C. to correct a bill I received for nearly $1,300.00. They had only my Medicare insurance listed as my coverage. I had to call and correct them. I told the woman who took my information that I was surprised that someone hadn’t clarified it with me before my discharge. Working in health care for over forty years that is the first thing hospitals want clarified.
While at my desk, I paid several bills. The same ones that had conspired with an icy drive to put me in the hospital after causing a subdural and a subarachnoid bleed as well as a large hematoma and concussion.
I had an odd “been here and done this before” feeling as I pulled on my coat and walked outside, across the drive, and up the road to the mail box. It intensified as I made my way to the box. Gingerly I came back down the road and traversed the field of ice in my drive. Safe inside, I relaxed and breathed a sigh of relief.
One last thing in my ramble, do the boxes “Amount paid” on a bill annoy anyone else. If they want me to put an amount in and become their bookkeeper, they should at least offer to pay me. I understand it is for those who only pay partial amounts, but to me it is irritating.

Monday, March 2, 2015


The waking Dead

I am back among the living and I am able to drive my car again. Not being confined to the house or begging for a ride is a major blessing and it improves my outlook on life immeasurably. The drive into Pittsburgh is always stressful for me. City driving, even as a passenger is not for me. Born and raised in the country, I am more used to back roads.
The Pennsylvania turnpike is okay, but I never liked narrow bridges or the tunnels. To me it is like there is no place to go, if someone decides to direct their car into your lane. There is no place to evade the other driver.
Driving through larger towns was easier for me to do when my wife, Cindy was alive. She was a great navigator and GPS, keeping me updated and on course. Only one time in all of the years we were married did she misdirect me. We were in the Philadelphia area and the road branched. We took the wrong one and drove through a Puerto Rican neighborhood. It seemed that the people were on their porch stoops playing dominoes.
On the trips out west, she was a faithful copilot, even though she had fallen off Festus, a mule assigned to her for a breakfast ride at camp. I’ve talked about the trip out west before. Seven adults, seventeen teenaged kids, were tenting for seventeen days. It was a wonderful trip and I saw things that I will never have the chance to see again.
Now, that I can drive again, I hope that the weather cooperates. Coming back from the doctor’s office today, we stopped for a few groceries. Arriving home, the Penn Dot plows had our drive filled with huge chunks of snow and ice. Slick ice had formed in the driveway and I had to take care walking as I helped to unload the car.
Anna knew that I couldn’t shovel snow today, my back was still hurting from the last few storms She took it as a personal insult that our drive was filled with the flotsam of snow. Hurrying into the basement, she attacked the piles with fury, stacking the offensive white stuff along the road below the drive where the plows would push it away.
I was left to traverse the treacherous ice slickened drive and carry in the groceries. After three massive trips that probably should have taken six to unload, it was finished. We were home safe and sound, waiting for the next storm to come, but I’d rather have spring.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Changing of the Guard
As I removed my garments this morning to shower, I removed a pair of long john bottoms. I change into clean ones every other day. I thought of our ancestors, the pioneers, the settlers like Laura Ingalls Wilder. She mentions wearing the same underclothing all winter. It was unheard of to bathe or shower every day. Once a week was the normal. The whole family shared the water. There was too much time and energy needed to fetch, warm, and dump the water afterwards to be so wasteful as to do it more often.
So much that we have now, we take for granted. A warm home, food as close as the nearest store, and even transportation. The pioneers with oxen and wagons often could see the place they had camped for the night, when they stopped to make camp for the following night. Those days were rain-filled and must have been discouraging, but they pressed onward, in hope of something better for them and their families.
Land and freedom were the heralding calls, that lured them and the trail that they followed. The carved, wrestled, and whacked a living and homestead from an often harsh and demanding surrounding. But they chose that path and felt that it was preferable than living in civilization that often sucked them dry.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sharing past hospital experiences because I am feeling lazy today. Back irritated after cleaning the rest of the drive, so this is my post for the day. Sorry it's late.
Sometimes the state troopers or the local police would stop in the emergency department on the night shift for a cup of coffee. They had a few minutes of chat before continuing on their rounds. It was a small town and back then, nothing was open after about eight p.m. While they were visiting us and getting a free cup of coffee, they would often share their stories about things that had happened to them.
One night, a trooper said that one of his friends asked him and his partner to stop and check on his daughter and her friends who were staying in a remote cabin in our area. The trooper promised to check on them as long as time permitted.
It had been a slow night. The trooper’s rounds had taken him close to the cabin, so he decided to fulfill the promise and check on the girls. When they drove into the parking area in front of the cabin, three girls came out to greet them. He introduced himself and explained the father’s request to keep an eye on them.
The girls laughed and chatted a bit. Each girl was wearing a bikini top and Daisy Dukes. One of the girls hopped onto the fender of the police cruiser. She asked, “Do you want to see my tattoo?”
The officer shrugged his shoulders and said, “Sure. Why not?” He told us, “I thought I’ve got nothing to lose.”
The girl pulled aside the abbreviated leg of the shorts at her inner thigh. There on the inside of her the labia, was a tattoo of a small devil with a pitchfork in his hand.
He said, “When I saw that, I jerked my head for my partner to leave.” We climbed into the cruiser and drove away. “I figured if those girls would get a tattoo there, they can take care of themselves.”

Monday, February 23, 2015


Reality and Cartoons Collide

When I tried to think of a topic for me to write about, two thoughts meshed. I decided to integrate them and make them my insight on life today. I was reminded of the cartoons of my youth and the reality of my aging body. The pain in my lower back from the shoveling of heavy snow made me feel as though I had gone several rounds with Joe Palooka, the comic pages boxer. Putting aside my aches and pains, I began to recall the cartoons in the Sunday paper and on television.

Dagwood and Blondie, Sad Sack, Beetle Bailey were old standbys. Dick Tracy, Prince Valiant, Felix the Cat, Lil Abner, Katzenjammer Kids captured the excitement and humor over a wide range of topics for us kids. Mutt and Jeff, Nancy and Sluggo, Heckle and Jeckle were couples that amused me. The television introduced me to Tom Terrific, Mickey Mouse, Popeye the Sailor Man. All of the cartoons started in black and white. Adventure time made the names Rodney and Knish, the Little Rascals, the Three Stooges famous to me. Kookla, Fran, and Ollie as well as Sherrie Lewis and Lamb Chop were puppets as well as Howdy Doody.

Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Pepe Le Pew, Porky Pig and Petunia, Foghorn Leghorn, Road Runner, Wylie Coyote, Sylvester and Tweety were all late comers. Caspar the Ghost and Spooky, Wendy the Witch introduced me to a gentle enchanted and supernatural world. These were the cartoons that captured my interest every Saturday morning and caused me to fight for the Sunday Pittsburgh Post Gazette funnies.

Today my writer’s creativity allowed my aging and abused body to be free and wander through the youthful hallways of my brain. I hope that by sharing my memories, that I have stirred a few of yours.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Record Breaking Cold
It was minus nine degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill factor of minus twenty-two. I waited until ten a.m. to go outside to clean the driveway and to haul in wood. The sun was shining by then and the temperature had risen to a wonderful minus two degrees.
I climbed into layers of the warmest clothing that I owned. I have a pair of long johns that are synthetic and made for skiers. Over top of them I slipped on a pair of the red and black plaid, Woolrich wool hunting pants. On my torso, I wore a T shirt, a thick sweat shirt that was sent to me by a friend from Indiana, and my dad’s hunting jacket. A black and white scarf wrapped around my neck and I topped my head with ear-warmers and a pull down ski cap. I was ready.
Taking a pair of gloves from the hot air vents in the basement, I took a wheel barrow and a shovel and walked out into a bright sunny day. I took a pair of sunglasses from my car and began the task of tossing out the snow in my drive.
Snow white lava bed
Pushed into my driveway by
Unrelenting plows.
My mind began to write as I tackled the jumble of snow the filled my drive from side to side. Snow was under my car and packed into the wheels from the snow plows. Slowly I worked my way to the road, tossing snow to the side. When I reached the highway, I carried the shovels filled with snow across the road. I had to be careful. The road surface was as slippery as my drive had been, when I fell.
The way the wind blows, if I toss the snow on my side of the roadway, the wind causes higher drifts to form and that snow ends up in my drive when the plows return. I carry it across the road to prevent larger drifts.
Under feet, snow squeaks.
Wind numbs fingers, toes, and cheeks.
The cold lasts for weeks.
 
I started to feel overdressed and warm. I stopped after three quarters of the snow was removed. I was afraid if I cleaned out in front of my car, I might be tempted to drive. I can’t do that until I am released by my doctor in March due to a head injury.
I still had wood to haul in for the wood burner. By the time I was finished with two loads, I was beginning to perspire. Even my fingers were warm and they were one of the first things that usually got cold. I didn’t overdo, so I must have overdressed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Ash Wednesday: I was reminded that today was Ash Wednesday and pulled this from my archives. It is a repeat, but it fits the day.
This incident occurred while I still worked in the emergency room. This was during the years before the days of the computer. When a doctor ordered an x-ray, the nurses would have to write the patient’s name, birthday, cubicle number, what part of the body was to be x-rayed and why it needed an x-ray on a small piece of paper. That requisition would then have to be hand carried to the radiology room and given to the techs inside.
I carried a request to the radiology room and handed it to the technicians. As I turned to leave, one of the techs said, “If you see the priest, tell him to stop in and give us ashes on our foreheads. We want him to bless the x-ray machine too.” It just happened to be Ash Wednesday.
Just as I reached the door, my odd sense of creativity and humor melded and I said, “You know, when the priest comes in, you guys can set up a confessional in the dark room. He can open the doors for exposed sins and the unexposed to give you your penance. In the radiology room, there were bins with doors marked as to whether the films were exposed or unexposed. My mind made the comparison to the Catholic confessional chamber with confessed and un-confessed sins.
I heard them laugh as I exited. Later in the day, I was carrying another chit for an x-ray to the techs. When I opened the door, the priest was already inside. The techs had ashes on their foreheads and one of the girls pointed at me and said, “There! That’s the one.” Apparently they had told the priest what I had said about the darkroom.
“Were you an altar boy?” the priest asked.
“No!” I responded.
He tried again, “Are you Catholic?”
“No.” was my answer.
He tried one last time, “Do you want to be Catholic?”
My reply of “No!” was almost lost in the peals of the technicians’ laughter.