A Little Bitty Bug Took Me Down

An old song by Burl Ives is streaming through my mind. I love the lyrics because they are melancholy, and with a slight change of lyrics the song fits my current mood. The song is a Little Bitty Tear. . .

It has been eight days since I tested positive for Covid, and this is the first day I feel well enough to write anything. Mostly I feel nothing but exhaustion. Most likely I will tire myself into a nap by the time i finish this short post. Yes, I am double vaccinated but not boosted. Not that the boost would matter any. All I can believe is that life would be much more miserable if I were unvaxxed.

Looking back on the past days I have come to remember that I have had flu that hit me harder than this thing, and recovered. The Asian flu of 1957 in particular, put me down long enough to have to drop a physics class, and to interrupt my pursuit of an engineering degree. That bout cost me a full year extra of college. The biological difference between Asian and Covid is about sixty-five years. I can truly say that I feel the age effect dragging me down a rabbit hole into another universe.

Covid beat me up and stopped all the projects I had in the fire. In fact, today is the first time in a week that my exercise consisted of walking down the stairs to inspect the “house in a house” project to see where I left off. No doubt, I had worn myself down by pushing hard to complete the job, thus opening the door for the virus to take over. If I out live this event I may even finish the house in a house dream.

Meanwhile, looking out my kitchen window at the 2022 Monet’s Vision I see only unwanted natives overtaking the orderliness of a once manicured garden.

It’s time for the nap.

Broken Glass, Bleeding heart

This week as I helped clean the table after supper I placed my empty wine glass on the counter and then proceeded to knock it over. My first reaction was to step back and survey the floor for broken pieces. Next i went for the broom and dust pan. I know that when glass breaks and scatters it goes into mysterious places that don’t make any sense. I wound up sweeping the entire kitchen being careful to get under the cabinet skirts. I collected a small pile of chards and dumped them. Next, I did the same with the counter top. Again, there were glass chards in places where one does not usually look. when it was all over, it dawned on me that the glass that broke was over sixty years old. It belonged to a set my wife Barb and I received for our wedding. For years, we guarded the crystal set of wines, water, sherbets like they were sacred. eventually, after Barb died, I began to use the glasses every day. They were beautiful, pure thin glass without blemish, and had a unique hexagonal shaped stem. They rang with a harmonious chime when clinked with a knife or fork. The set remains partially intact as the dessert glasses and a few small wine goblets remain. What I have concluded is that I’ve been using the water glasses as my wine glass, the actual wine glass holds but a fraction of liquid as the water glass does. I liked the healthy amount of wine I drink using this glass.

Crystal Wine Glass Number 8–RIP

Drinking from the crystal allowed me to swirl the wine and determine the hold time for the wine to recede, thus giving me some information as to the quality of the beverage. When I hold the glass to the light I see the clarity and richness of the color, and when I poke my nose to the rim, I can smell the scents of the fruit, the barrel, and flavors emitted. All of this was included with a flash back of Barb telling me to be careful handling the glass. Often, I am reminded of the times when we, as a young family, sat at the supper table and enjoyed a bit of wine using the crystal. One time in particular Barb adventurously poured a bit of wine into the crystal glasses for our toddler children, Steve was four and Jacque was three. Jacque clenched the hexagonal stem in her chubby little fist and not realizing what she was holding squeezed her hand tightly not to drop our precious glass. As soon as she raised the glass to toast with us, I noticed the round bottom of the stem stayed on the table. Without alarm I quietly grabbed her tiny arm and helped her guide the glass away from the table where a sharp edged stump of stem awaited her hand to return. Luckily, there was no blood shed, and there was no panic to stress the child, but number one of a set of eight crystal wine glasses was dead. On this day some fifty-three years later I carelessly killed number eight.

Messenger Woods

Today, I. and I took a short hike in Messenger Woods Nature Preserve in Homer Glen, IL. In my short lifetime I have visited almost every nature hiking path in the area, but Messenger escaped me. We figured the snow would be too deep to walk, but took a chance on it being a well used trail. we parked in a loop and stopped to read the message board, and to view the map. I determined the trail head to be about two to three hundred meters away. There were no tracks leading to it. My Lovely shook her head and balked at the prospect of lifting legs ten inches high with every step. We returned to the car, and I decided that as long as I was there I would continue to the end of the drive to see where it leads. The drive was short and sure enough there was the official trial head for the short .5 mile loop. The second choice was a 1.3 mile loop which we decided to do at another time. The short loop was well trodden and the path was lumpy but walkable. The lumps made it a bit treacherous, but what the hell let’s do it.

The sun was at it’s peak and the sky was as blue as a sky can be. The brightness required us to wear sunglasses. The temperature was a balmy 26 degrees Fahrenheit. The walking was slow because of the lumps, and the hills. Walking up a hill was easier than walking down. During the downside our shoes tended to ski out from under us and we would up flailing arms and twisting our bodies to keep from falling. We took it slow, and even slower on the downsides. The singing birds were the only noise in the forest. The trees at Messenger are huge and old. It wasn’t obvious how huge until we passed a downed tree, and saw the trunk horizontal and stretched out. Being a Nature Center they are not allowed to remove the fallen trees, but they are allowed to clear a path if a downed one crosses the trail. Many of the fallen seniors were easily sixty feet in length, and two feet or more in diameter.

We didn’t see a single deer during our walk but the forest floor was riddled with foot prints of many different kinds of animals. Deer tracks were the most common. I have yet to learn where deer stay in the day time. One would think that on a sunny day like today they would be easily spotted, but they weren’t.

While walking I had a recollection of a camping trip I took with friends to Yellowstone Park in Wyoming. Five of us, two engineers and three school teachers, stuffed our bikes, gear, and selves into a GM mini van and drove to Jackson Hole in July. The goal was to bicycle around the Yellowstone Park loop, and camp between segments. Before we reached Jackson Hole, one of the teachers who was an experienced camper, skier, and hiker asked if he could stop at a small town maybe Pinedale, forty miles south of Jackson Hole. There was a super sports equipment store there where one could buy neat camping, hiking, fishing, and hunting gear of any kind. During that stop, I bought a pair of polyester wind-pants to wear over my legs on chilly Yellowstone nights. This morning I was trying to remember what year it was that we took that trip so I could peg the age of these pants. Since that trip x-x years ago this is the first year I have worn the wind pants, and I have worn them more than any other time. Talk about being emotionally connected to something like a pair of pants, this is a prime example. Now, I am thinking of all the other stuff I have hidden in drawers, closets, and shelves that are there because the items are too good to throw away, and I might use it again. The easiest way to quantify all that stuff is to call it a house full.

Accomplishments for 2021

Where do I begin? In January of course. This is not as great as I would like it to be but it is what it is, and I have to live with it. Just making the list has been cathartic. I recommend that all who read this do the same thing at the end of each year.

2021 Accomplishment List

  • Wrapped up a successful winter coat drive, 735 coats collected and donated to ten charities
  • Launched a new sock collection with the District Grammar Schools
  • Began a new Intarsia project “Night Hunter”
  • Moved Lovely into a new job three times
  • Delivered lunch to Silver Cross Hospital Health Care workers
  • Met on ZOOM for the first time
  • Attended 12 OASIS meetings for the Sight Impaired
  • Received Shot # 1 for COVID-19
  • Prepared 100 collection boxes for the sock drive
  • Proposed marriage to Lovely
  • Entered two pieces of art into the Emerging Perspectives art show at Tall Grass
  • Began sorting socks
  • Joined OASIS Board of Directors
  • Drove Lovely to Rolling Meadows and Island Lake twice
  • Attended 10 Lions Board and Member meetings
  • Bought a Marriage License
  • Vaccination #2
  • Picked up socks from Walmart & Meijers
  • Shopped for a wedding dress, and suit
  • Sorted 23,000 pairs of socks into Men’s, Women’s and Children’s
  • Delivered Easter Food baskets with Lions
  • Hiked the trail between Frankfort and Mokena
  • Made funeral arrangements for Freddie
  • Attended Freddie’s funeral
  • Married Lovely
  • Met with the Stray Bar Wine club 6 times
  • Drained and cleaned the pond
  • Visited Holland Michigan Tulip Festival
  • Planted the 2021 Monet Vision ‘Gold Rush’
  • Installed anti bird netting over Lovely’s pickle patch
  • Spent three days at the family farm
  • Launched my Wurst Fest Ticket sale drive via mail.
  • Went to the Lithuanian Embassy in Chicago for Lovely’s birth certificate
  • Spent 8 hours in the ER with major abdominal pain to learn I passed a kidney stone.
  • Went to Ray Bodnar’s funeral mass
  • Took my grand daughter to see ‘Van Gogh Immersed’ in downtown Chicago
  • Drove to Michigan City, IN to get immigration documents signed
  • Attended brother Bill’s 90 bd party
  • Attended Artist’s reception for ‘Into the Light’ with Intarsia piece.
  • Visited Brookfield Zoo
  • Replaced the rear shocks on the Death Star
  • Placed two Intarsia pieces into a local salon for display
  • Marched in the Frankfort Labor Day Parade
  • Bought new hearing aids
  • Started Lovely on a 24 session regimen at the Chiropractor.
  • Applied to get State of Illinois special Medicaid program for Lovely
  • Completed ‘Night Hunter’ and put it on display in our house.
  • Visited Lincoln Park Zoo with Lovely
  • Collected money for Lions Candy Day
  • Walked many miles with Lovely
  • Attended Lion Les Egbert’s funeral mass
  • Hiked Little Red School House White Oak Trail
  • Hiked LRS Black Oak Trail
  • Hosted and cooked for family Thanksgiving
  • Designed a new Christmas Card, and had them printed
  • Sent 160 cards
  • Spent a week at Island Lake cat sitting
  • Launched the 2021 Winter Coat collection
  • Collected money at Jewel for turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas
  • Delivered 550 coats to FTFP, SSCC, TL, SA, MM, NLTFP
  • Refinanced the house
  • Hosted and cooked for Family Christmas
  • Attended Boyz Nite out Christmas party with wives.
  • Wrote 182 posts on GrumpaJoesPlace.
  • Read 56 books
  • Watched three hundred movies
  • Stayed on KETO diet for nine months
  • Attended Library Volunteer Night meeting as Lion
  • Spent untold hours gazing into space and wasting time.

Good Bye November 2021

I’ll miss you. You granted me some really nice weather, warm and sunny days, the kind I enjoy. You gave me activities that kept me imbibed in red wine which I really loved. You goaded me into starting the Second Annual Lions Winter Coat Drive. I stood outside on the one cold day, and shook my bucket for dollars and cents so my Lions Club could buy Thanksgiving dinners for some people who are down and out. Although I came home frigid I had fun greeting people with a warm smile and a quick quip.

I especially liked the three days when I got to send my kids birthday cards, although it is hard to believe they are adults on the verge of retirement and not toddlers. The visits with my only daughter turned into fun when she and her husband related the activities of their children. I especially love it when they tell me about my grandkids activities and I remember myself doing the same things. My wish is that they are having as much fun doing them as I did.

All month my lovely and I have become more acquainted with specialists who relieve pain by the barbaric method of twisting and crunching the body into conformance, and then treating the same places with electro-stimulation and light therapy. The amazing thing is that it works. This not curing the body, but it is reducing, and/or eliminating pain. This is one type of treatment that I never believed in and put into the same category as Chinese herbs and teas.

Another joy to behold was attending the funeral of a very good Lion friend. He was my mentor. His personality was a little gruff, but underneath he was all mush and kindness. When I asked him about the history of the club, so I might lead them in a traditional way he spent hours explaining how it was when he was President. He was a member of the old guys section and often they became boisterous and obnoxious in their comments about the new guys and their dumb ways. He helped me understand so I was able to steer the ship through troubled waters safely.

Every year I set a goal to read fifty-two books, and every year I get to forty when time runs out. This year, I am currently reading number fifty-one and have two more novels parked on my desk ready to be read. The book I’m reading is the history of Asian immigrants coming into America, and now I can see why the Liberals think we are a racist country, because we were. Their problem is that they believe we are still racist, and they are dead wrong.

Cute smart preschool girl reading books in library or at home. Kids early learning and home education concept.

There were some days when the mere thought of going outside to clean up the garden incited my body into extreme laziness and spasms of muscular pain. Thankfully, I counted to five, took the step, and went outside to dredge the pond, clear the leaves, and cut back all the tall stuff growing around the water’s edge. As I did those things I remembered back thirty years when a much younger Joe loved working in a much larger yard when it was cloudy, grey and forty degrees out. Those days energized me and nourished my soul. This year though, after two hours I came in drenched in sweat, and so tired I never moved another muscle for the remainder, but I still decided I loved doing the work.

Another November project was the annual Christmas Card design. In years past I went to my art file and pulled a drawing that I could work into a card. This year “I had a dream” that my message should involve Morty Angel my cartoon character. The concept involved all new art work so I wound up drawing pictures which took way too long only because I am out of practice and my hands don’t move as fluidly as they did when I drew last. Then, I had to relearn software that I use once a year and which is no longer supported by Microsoft because it is too old.

Tomorrow, I welcome December 1, 2021 with a to-do list a mile long, and even though December has thirty-one days they will pass in a flash and I will be toasting my lovely on New Year’s Eve at 12:00:01 A.M. on the first of January 2022.