All Hallows Eve = Halloween

This year Halloween was truly different from all of my halloween’s (81), it snowed. It was our very first killing frost, and the snow measured a couple of inches. The temperature registered at twenty-three degrees Fahrenheit. Our weather man cited that the last time we had snow and cold of this magnitude was ninety-five years ago. No wonder I can’t remember it being this cold!

I was prepared for the kids, but they didn’t come. Well, a few hearty souls did show up. They looked funny wearing super hero costumes covered by their snow suits. The door bell rang just five times between 4:30 and 7:00 p.m. Now what do I do with all the left over candy? I am on a Keto diet, and candy in the same house is forbidden. Rats!

Halloween kicks off a three day celebration at my church. The next day is November first and is All Saints Day, a holy day of obligation. November second is All Souls Day, and November third is for all the still living souls.

This morning I attended a special mass commemorating all the people from our parish that died during the last twelve months. There are 83 people listed, my wife Peggy is one of them. Right after this mass were two funerals that didn’t make it in time to be on this year’s program, and another one next Monday. Death doesn’t seem to care about holidays or scheduled events it just happens.

Sinfully, I scanned the congregation to see if there were any notable widows that I would want to hit on. I didn’t see anyone worth developing a relationship with. I’m really bad aren’t I? Here I sit, my wife not yet cold in her grave, and I’m looking over the field. I loved both of my wives, and still do, but both of them broke the contract (til death do us part) when they took their last breath. Life is for living, and I do grieve, but I also want to move forward without wasting a single second of my God given gift. I also don’t want to be judged at the pearly gates for wasting the life I was granted. I would rather be criticized for doing something even if it is wrong rather than not doing anything.

After wife-one died I attended a support group dealing in grief. That is where I first laid eyes on Peggy and it was an instant connection. We married two years later. We enjoyed ten great years together before she was beset with Alzheimer’s dementia. The next four years were not so great, but God gave her to me to care for in sickness and in health, and that is what I did. I miss her terribly, but at the end I prayed that God take her to stop her misery, He did.

The aloneness I experience now that she is gone is unbearable at times, and I have to do something physical to get my mind off of being by my miserable self. Sometimes, I will wash my dirty clothes, other times I will call someone just to hear a voice. Lately, I have taken to watching movies. On Demand has become my most viewed channel on television. I find that becoming engrossed in a good story puts me into a better frame of mind. By the time I cook my supper, eat, and wash the dishes, there is just enough time for one or two movies before nodding off to sleep. If Its too late to start another movie I’ll get ready for bed and read a book until it is time for sleep.

Last evening’s diversion was to use my jacuzzi tub, a pleasure I haven’t experienced for many years. I went out earlier in the day to buy some bath salts and bought a bottle of Dr. Teal’s Foaming Pink Himalayan Bath Salts and Oil. The idea of soaking in something like that was intriguing. The instructions said to use a generous amount. I didn’t measure but I poured at least a cup full of the stuff into the water. I didn’t just want some therapy, I wanted deep deep therapeutic benefits.  By the time the water level in the tub reached the jets the foam was at the rim of the tub. I stepped into the water and my foot slipped on the bottom. It took some effort to haul my thirty pound over weight hulk into the tub without injuring my self. I hadn’t counted on Dr. Teal’s oil component to be so slippery. I could barely sit up without sliding on my back. I finally braced myself across the width of the tub with my back against one side and my feet against the other. I gingerly reached over to the side and pressed the “on” button to energize the water jets. All holy hell broke loose as the massaging water whipped up a frenzy of bubbles which now bloomed over the rim and reached the window sill. My head was barely out of the bubbly cloud. The only way I knew how to keep the bubbles from filling the entire room was to keep pushing them into the water.

Before I turned on the water I set my phone to alarm me after a half hour passed. By the time it rang, I had enough therapeutic relief and was ready to exit the tub. That is when the therapeutic workout began. Trying to maneuver the mass of my body on oil slick smooth plastic became a nightmare. One false move and I would slip below the bubble line and sink under the water, and I don’t breathe too well under water. My legs were impossible to move out of the wedge I had myself in, and twisting my upper body only seemed to make the wedge work better. In the mean time, my phone kept on alarming. In my mind I was deciding how many handholds I will have to install all around the tub to make it senior friendly. I used the faucet spout as a handle and finally maneuvered my way out of the wedge position. Finally I reached the switch to shut the water jets off, and to stop the bubble machine. These were not Lawrence Welk cutesy bubbles bu rather more like a volcanic eruption.  On my knees now, I inched my way to the edge of the tub. God it was slippery. I made it, and threw my body onto the rim with both arms over the edge. Somehow I rolled onto my back against the rim with my  arms still hanging on for dear life. Slippery foam covered me from head to toe. I reached for a towel on the floor and was able to wipe off some of the oil from the edge of the tub, and this gave me enough friction to hike my ass up into a sitting position. The next therapeutic exercise involved Yoga. I lifted one leg high enough to make the edge of the tub, and with some exertion I managed to straddle the tub. My leg was covered in oily foam and I maneuvered the towel with my toe to bring it where I could step on it. I pictured myself standing on a slippery tile floor with one leg, and the other in the slippery tub, and me doing a split landing on my most sensitive body part.

I made it out and shut off the alarm. The exit took a full fifteen minutes. On my next therapeutic adventure I will begin by dispensing Dr. Teal’s Foaming Pink Himalayan Bath Salts and Oil in quarter teaspoon increments, or maybe an eyedropper would be smarter. I jumped into the shower to rinse the foam and oil off. When I was dry I reached into the tub and pulled the drain plug. This morning there was still some foam left in the tub.

You know what? The therapeutic jacuzzi soak took my mind off missing Peg.

 

 

A New Record Set

It has been over a month since I last entered an original post. Why I have taken such a long vacation from writing I cannot explain. Maybe it is because I became deeply involved in clearing clutter from my home. At the same time I jumped head over heels into a new diet to lose my belly. It ain’t easy starving to death. People ask me why I am on a diet and I tell them I am tired of my belly hanging over my belt and bouncing off my knees. That is a slight exaggeration for effect, but my belly is enormous compared to when I rode my bike three thousand miles a year.

Which diet you ask? It is called the Keto diet. I’ve done it before a couple of times with pretty good success when it was simply referred to as a low carb diet. It is the no more bread, no more cakes, donuts, candies, no more potatoes, rice, or anything with carbohydrates diet. Keto tries to keep me below twenty grams of carbs per day.

The trick with this diet is to fill up on proteins and fat. Eggs are a staple and bacon a must. This morning I made a chicken salad for breakfast and was without energy by noon. I used up the chicken breast which doesn’t have any fat. That’ll teach me to skip a rasher of bacon. To cure the problem of no energy, I cheated and had a nice carb loaded peach for lunch with two slices of greasy salami spread with cream cheese to tide me over. Why is a peach not Keto? It has too much natural sugar and takes me over the daily limit of carbs.

Keto is short for ketosis. When your body does not have carbohydrates to use as fuel it automatically goes into ketosis and the mechanism converts stored body fat into energy. Most people on this diet rave about how fast it works. Their biggest problem seems to be finding clothes that fit. The old jeans just slide right off their asses. Not me. It’s been ten weeks and I’m down ten pounds, but my pants are a long way from slipping off. Nonetheless, I am determined to reach my goal to be as slim as I was thirty years ago. That means I have another twenty pounds of myself to abandon.

I am upset that I lost only ten pounds, yet I can feel the effect, it is easier to tie my shoes, I can see my toes again, I can button some of my dress shirts without straining the material, I can pinch several inches now. The goal is to pinch an inch of skin at the waist. When I started, my belly fat was so firm I couldn’t pinch four inches, now I pinch two, ahh progress. Does that make me a progressive?

Maybe my next post will chronicle my experiment with CBD oil.

 

Kodak Memories, What To Do?

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When I first married my wife and I decided to capture our life together on film. With a little help from Kodak the number one producer of film encouraging us to do so. We bit hard. I was always engrossed in finding a camera that would take the ultimate pictures. When Super 8 movies arrived on the scene I went bonkers. I loved cinema photography. I took cartridge after cartridge of film with my trusty Bell & Howell Super Eight camera. That lasted until the camera slid from my lap onto the steel deck of a ferry boat taking us to Mackinac Island. When the camera hit the deck it made a loud noise and scared the heck out of the passengers. More than one thought the noise came from a ship sinking collision at sea.

I bought a 35 mm Argus camera for taking slides. It was completely manual and could take beautiful pictures. Note, it isn’t the camera that is responsible for taking beautiful photos, it is the operator of the device. I quickly learned after processing roll after roll of film that my operative ability amounted to nil. I chose a simple box camera instead and began to get some surprisingly great shots. There were no adjustments to make on such a device, I merely pointed the camera and clicked. My picture taking improved and it was the beginning of our life’s chronicle.

I replaced a totally broken Bell and Howell movie camera with a Bolex. The Bolex camera was the industry leader in moving pictures. Barb and I joined a movie club to learn the basics of making Hollywood style movies on a very strained budget. It was fun for me, but a drag for the family. I was the producer, director, camera man, editor, and author of all our family films. My movies would not be the ordinary ones of kids waving at the camera and smiling, they would be action films with the kids in motion. I quickly learned that the kids would cooperate provided I got my pictures in one take. Retakes became a drag for them. I prevailed most times and got some really great stuff. I entered my very first film into the cinema club annual contest and won the grand prize. I was stunned. All that honor did for me was to inspire me to out do the winner. That didn’t seem to happen, although I tried. You can view one of my films on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2OkQtp8wSA 

In the meantime, the cassettes began to pile up with our life on film, both still and movie chronicled, but not properly edited, spliced, arranged, timed, and turned into award winning movies.

Fast forward sixty years, to today. My first wife left me for heaven sixteen years ago, my second wife left just three months ago, and I am avoiding grief by clearing my home of all things unessential to my remaining years. I’ve thinned the wardrobe, decluttered the knick knacks, shredded the documents, and now I am left with ten boxes of photos.

Every time I attack a box and handle photos of my wives I get emotional, grief sneaks it’s way in and takes over. I stop dead in my tracks and begin to recall the actual events in my mind. All of them are there in the brain waiting for a stimulus to recall them. The question is do I want to recall them? Yes of course I do, but not while I am in a quandary about what to do with the hard evidence of fuzzy photos. Each time I find a duplicate of a favorite photo or even the not so favorite ones and I make an instantaneous decision to trash it, my guardian angel blows his whistle and shouts “STOP.”

Yesterday, I opened a drawer on Peg’s desk and put my hand on an envelope I hadn’t seen before. My Angel told me to look inside, and there is a set of pictures Peg made of her house, room by room so she wouldn’t forget. Guess what, she forgot, at the end she couldn’t remember how to swallow, or breathe much less care about her house loaded with her beloved knick knacks. For me this group of photos was an easy decision, trash. The same picture finding scene has repeated itself over and over through out the past eleven weeks.

When I first began sorting the albums I devised a strategy that would cut the job down. I would take the albums of my bicycle trips which meant nothing to anyone but me and trash them without looking at them. That worked for four albums. The ten boxes of family photos remain. What to do?

My new strategy is to group photos and send them to my grandkids. For instance, all of my wife Barbara’s nursing school memorabilia and photos will be boxed and sent to the grand daughter that followed in her footsteps and beaome a nurse. All of my love letters and courtship photos will go to my oldest grand daughter who is a pharmacist/writer. Perhaps she will use the information to develop characters for a best selling novel. I can continue to sort pictures into blocks of memories and send them to each of my seven natural grand kids. My pictures with Peg are another matter. Her grand children were adults when we married and our photos together do not include them. Also, our photos are 99% digital and are on my computer. It will be easier to delete these files or send them to electronic heaven when the computer dies.

Another strategy is to do nothing. I can do what 99.9% of the population does and leave the job to my heirs be they direct desendants or grandchildren.

My final thought on this topic is about Kodak, the company that created this nightmare for all people who were sucked into memory saving images. You were so involved in selling the concept of memories on film that you failed to heed the signs of a changing world. You allowed the Japanese to out wit you with digital cameras, and now they are selling the virtues of making memories on digital media which has already evolved from VHS tape, to cassette tape, to compact disks, to MP3 flash cards to the Cloud. What next? Kodak is dead now, but the world is stuck with their product and a proper way to dispose of them.

How about if we just convince ourselves to save memories in our head and recall them when needed?

 

 

Factions & White Canes

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One week ago I sat in on a session of OASIS (Orland Area Sight Impaired Support) with fellow Lions. Our club is supporting OASIS in their endeavor to initiate a new chapter in the Will County area. Sight impaired people are no different than you or me in that they love to participate in normal activities the same as they did when they were sighted. The range of impairment goes from blind at birth to age related diseases. Some can see, but very poorly, some are totally blind. When observing the group it was obvious to tell who was totally blind by their mannerisms, but those whose blindness was age related there was no way to tell that they had a problem.

The founders of OASIS is a married couple, both blind, who took it upon themselves to do something to help others in their situation. They have been doing counseling and support for twenty-three years which is how old OASIS is. Kim, leads the group in a discussion by asking a question. Her first and only question of the day was What is your greatest frustration caused by blindness? A very astute and lengthy discussion ensued as each of the participants (eight) responded. The number one frustration is getting transportation to do things, like going to the grocery store, or for a hair-do, or church. Even though our county supports seniors and disabled by running special bus services, the service is considered slow to respond, and inconvenient. Many use Uber, but complain of the high cost. The number two frustration is not getting respect from the public. For instance a few people cited being made fun of because of their cane. For the uninitiated, blind people can learn to negotiate on their own by using a cane. There is a special white cane with a red tip that is available for them to use. Evidently, our culture has shifted from giving the cane respect to one of harassment, and ridicule. In the good old days when a person with a white cane stopped at a street corner to cross there was always a citizen nearby who would step up and assist the blind person across the street. The same happened at building doors, elevators, etc. They complain that the respect is no longer there. Another situation arises when a vision impaired person steps up to the counter at a fast food restaurant. The order taker will ask “order please?” When the blind person responds I can’t see the menu, they respond “look up at the board.”

I can understand the frustration of the order taker who is under pressure to serve as many people as possible in an hour, but there comes a time when speed must be second to politeness and courtesy. I took it upon myself to write to the CEO’s of ten major fast food corporations with a suggestion to fit a  simple excise into their clerk training program. It is too early to have received any responses  yet, but I can hardly wait.

This got me to thinking about all the causes and problems experienced by people. I just mentioned the frustration of the blind, but there are many others, like those in wheel chairs or on crutches, or are linguistically impaired. Each segment is a tiny fraction of our total population, but we as citizens expect our businesses to react appropriately to each situation. Even though, what I suggested is a simple and short addition to a training program I began to vision all the other problems that can be taken care of by training. Add them up and the cost of training becomes major. It becomes even more complicated in our country because of the many different nationalities and cultures who look for entry level jobs in fast food restaurants. Many of these people are still learning the language and don’t understand the menu themselves. In the meantime, factional groups register their daily living frustrations.

What is the answer? Robotic order takers. With artificial intelligence programmed into a robot it could be programed to detect situations like language differences, visual impairments, and others. If Robo detects a person is vision impaired he read’s the menu. If a person is hearing impaired he shows a large print electronic menu, and so on.

I’m not sure any of this is necessary, but something has to change or the visually impaired will be doomed to living solitary lives inside their apartments and suffer for help.

Another thing we must do is teach our youngsters from an  early age to be polite and courteous to everyone. We won’t need robots when our neighbors step up and help us out.

Week Eight of Twelve

 

I don’t believe the meme. We enter with our mother, we leave with family or friends, and it is rotten to be alone.

I took on a super goal after Peg died. I vowed to move out of this big house into a smaller less expensive place after she left me. Right now I am in week eight of a twelve week program to empty the house of all unnecessary stuff; most of it belonged to my beloved Peggy. As long as she lived with me I happily tolerated her belongings, but once she left I no longer feel the connection. The house still looks like a train hit it, but in reality it is much more empty than it has been in a long time. By the end of next week I will have removed all things Peg except her memory which I will cherish for as long as I live. She was a beautiful woman who really took my heart, and I couldn’t do enough for her. We shared an amazing fourteen years together, and I miss her.

Peg had a habit of never throwing anything away. Yesterday, I attacked her desk to clear the drawers. Grief overwhelmed me, but I persisted and succeeded getting through everything in an hour. Toward the end, she was  packaging all the newspaper articles she saved in plastic bags or manilla envelopes. Most likely she did this out of boredom while I stayed engrossed in writing or cartooning. No doubt this finding will be one of my regrets that will haunt me during my lifetime.

Regret is an amazing emotion, and coupled with grief it can destroy a person. The only tool I have to fight it off is a promise not to neglect someone I love like I did Peg.

There are four weeks remaining in my project and I will once again be alone with my thoughts, regrets, and loneliness. I’m not alone yet because I retained Peg’s caretaker as my helper for twelve weeks to clear out the house. She is like a sister to me and a wonderful companion. Just knowing someone is in the house with me is comforting.

Yesterday, I got a call from an agent about an apartment that I  have my eyes on. I’m on a waiting list (currently number thirty) to get into the place. I have never seen what these apartments look like and asked to be shown. When I got the call I got weak in the knees thinking the place became available.  Lucky for me, an apartment became empty and I was able to walk through to see it. Someone else on the list is moving in.

The apartment is very nice, but I had a problem accepting it as a place to call home. Maybe, it is because it is the only building within 500 yards of another. Or maybe because it is occupied by seniors, living in a neighborhood with kids of all ages has some social advantages. Everyday I see people walking past my house with their dogs. In the afternoon I see kids returning from school. In the evenings I often see neighbors exercising their dogs by playing fetch. If I get to feeling alone, I walk up to the library and browse. Social contact is important in one’s life. Living in the senior complex so far away from everyone is definitely a negative.

Another negative of living in an apartment is having to give up my wood shop and Intarsia work. I look forward to giving up my garden, but the shop is another thing. I have worked with wood since I was twelve, but then again I worked with plants since I was four. I think it must be a brain thing.

The worst part of living alone after so many years of marriage is losing the soft cushy body to snuggle with. Although I have just endured four years without snuggles while Peg and I slept in separate beds in the same room. I can go on and on listing the advantages and disadvantages of living single, but it won’t do a thing for me to do so. I just have to live through this and get into a single routine like so many of my friends have already done.

I Can’t Believe It

I gave up using Windows computers because the updates drove me nuts. Not only that, the computer lost performance after each update. I happily switched to Apple’s OS system, and I’ve been using their products for six years now without any problems, that is, until now. I agreed to an Apple upgrade and since then I have lost my email. My mail is on a separate server from Google, Yahoo, or those public email servers. When the upgrade occurred the link between my service and the Apple mail system was broken. Not a problem I thought, I’ll just relink everything and be ready to go. Wrong! It is August 22 which means I have been without email for three weeks now. After too many hours trouble shooting, and reading help screens I still can’t figure out what is wrong. I am seeking professional help. Then it occurred to me that I’ve been out of communication by email for three weeks, and I am still alive! I might just forget about seeking help and forget email altogether. If someone wants to talk to me they can dial me up, or write me a snail-mail letter.

Learn Something New Everyday

Famous sayings about having a cold one!

https://i0.wp.com/cdn1.iconfinder.com/data/icons/BRILLIANT/food/png/400/beer.png“Sometimes, when I reflect on all the beer I drink, I feel ashamed.  Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I did not drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. I think, it is better to drink this beer and let their dreams come true, than be selfish and worry about my liver.”

Babe Ruthhttps://i0.wp.com/cdn1.iconfinder.com/data/icons/BRILLIANT/food/png/400/beer.png

“When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”

Paul Horninghttps://i0.wp.com/cdn1.iconfinder.com/data/icons/BRILLIANT/food/png/400/beer.png

“24 hours in a day and 24 beers in a case.  Coincidence?  I think not!”

Steven Wright

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“When we drink, we get drunk. When we get drunk, we fall asleep.  When we fall asleep, we commit no sin. When we commit no sin, we go to heaven.  So, let’s all get drunk and go to heaven.”

George Bernard Shaw

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“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Benjamin Franklinhttps://i0.wp.com/cdn1.iconfinder.com/data/icons/BRILLIANT/food/png/400/beer.png“Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer.  Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.”

Dave Barryhttps://i0.wp.com/cdn1.iconfinder.com/data/icons/BRILLIANT/food/png/400/beer.png“Beer: Helping ugly people have sex since 3000 B.C.”

W. C. Fields

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“Remember ‘I’ before ‘E,’ except in Budweiser.”

Professor Irwin Corey

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“To some it is a six-pack. To me, it is a Support Group.  Salvation in a can.”

Leo Durocher

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One night at  Cheers,  a TV Sitcom, Cliff Clavin said to his buddy, Norm Peterson: “Well, ya see, Normmy, it’s like this .. A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo.  And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first.  This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.  In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells.  Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells.  But, naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first.  In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine.  That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers!”

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