A couple of weeks ago I was eating lunch at my favorite local diner. I always use that opportunity to read while I eat alone.
I decided to try to “drum up business” for the next book discussion at the library. I had set up something special and wanted lots of people to attend.

The waitress had not read “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat” and the book discussion group was going to be Skyping with that author.

I also mentioned that I was finishing the book from the month before which I was very emotionally involved with “The Light Between Oceans” so…

After my meal, I went to the library, checked out both books and brought them back to Laura, the waitress.

She read and loved the first book, but did not make it to the discussion. She then moved on to the second book.

Knowing the due date was approaching, I asked her about it last week. She was savoring it – delaying finishing it because she didn’t want it to end.

Today, I had a hankering for a cup of coffee, so I stopped in for a coffee to go. She greeted me, face aglow, telling me how much she enjoyed both of those books and then she told other customers how I had picked two fantastic books for her. “I’m ready for another Would you pick another one for me?”

She commented that she liked not knowing what she was getting in to. I took this opportunity to tell her about the postal book group I’m in that puts me in that exact position.

I was partially tickled, she was animated and excited as a child on Christmas morning, and dismayed. What had I started?

Now, what to pick next?

I trudged through Koch’s previous book, “The Dinner”, since I had immense trouble with the actions which were the basis for the dinner.
After reading this book, I really wonder about the writer’s mind. A mind that can write so brilliantly such a despicable tale.

Dr. Marc Schlosser is a general practitioner whose contempt for his patients oozes from the page, so much so I had trouble being pulled into the story. I detested Schlosser. Why would I want to read almost 400 pages about this sleeze?

The answer is that one of his patients dies and the reader is slowly manipulated into hanging on to find out exactly what the doctor did and then why he did it. It quickly becomes clear that the doctor was seeking retribution, but for what?

Not everything in the books or about the doctor is repulsive. The love and affection he has with his family, especially his daughters. He would do anything to protect them.

Still, Schlosser does tend to think of himself and his needs and desires first even if no one else in the family goes along with his decisions.

The book may have started slowly, but the last half of the book I read in marathon fashion. Hang in until the end and see the just or unjust desserts.

In 1969, for most occasions, I gave up eating potato chips. That simple effort accompanied by an increase in bicycle riding resulted in my loosing about 25 pounds. I was amazed at my results.

This does not mean that I do not eat potato chips ever, but I’m in enough control that I won’t devour the entire bag – even Lay’s.

Even though the weather hadn’t become autumnal, critters have been seeking asylum within our walls. During the month of September, thanks to live traps, we have relocated seven mice from our kitchen to the river. We patted them down prior to the trip to make sure they weren’t packing any breadcrumbs to drop, a la Hansel and Gretl, to find the way back to us.

Son had a stare down with one more the other night. Son at the counter, mouse in the cupboard. I made plans to get all packaged good into glass or plastic.

Last week, I had a hankering for chips. I grabbed the bag from the top of the refrigerator and took the bag to the living room. I was sure from the number of times the bag had been folded that I was probably only going to have chip crumbs. I was right. I was very surprised to discover that these remnants were not crisp. They were stale.

I held the chip bag up to my chin to catch crumbs, but was soon surprised to have crumbs on my shirt. On the other end of the bag. “How the…?”

That was when I found a hole in the bag. I quickly lost my appetite for chips. I was pretty sure how the hole got in the bag. (When I told husband, he commented about having had stale chips a few nights before.)

Tonight, I heard a very loud rustling of paper in the dining room. I was home alone, so I tried to ignore the sound. I concentrated on answering the questions on Jeopardy. The rustling was hard to ignore, but I stayed in the living room. There were too many places in the dining room overflowing with paperwork to check out and from the living room I couldn’t pinpoint the location of the noise.

It didn’t take long after Son got home from school and settle behind his computer in the dining room for him to question, “Was that you?”

I had done such a great job that I hadn’t really registered that I had heard the rustling until he asked the question. I said, “No, that came from the dining room.”

I asked if he could tell where it came from.

“Near the waste basket, I think.”

The waste basket was on the floor next to the table where we accumulated our paper recycling.

A few more rustles tempted Son away from the computer to investigate the continuing distraction.

He turned on the overhead dining room light. Shortly he was laughing uproariously and inviting me into the dining room to see what he had found.

“Where?” I asked tentatively.

“In the waste basket.”

Before I got close enough to look in to the container I could see the top of a tossed potato chip bag. It was wide open.

I looked into the trash receptacle around the chip bag, but saw nothing. I looked into the snack bag without bending over. What I did see looked like mouse leavings, but not mouse.

Son came over, picked up the chip bag and rearranged to I could see the blind corner. Our rustler was in that corner. It tried to jump up and out, but it couldn’t jump high enough to escape the slick sides of the potato chip bag.

So this mouse has proven my theory that eating potato chips is hazardous to ones health.

Meanwhile, there’s another trip to the river in our future.

Earlier this year I visited my doctor’s office where I was asked to step on the scale. Next, I was invited into an examination room where my blood pressure was taken. At that time, I suggested that if the medical staff wanted to be happy with one of those numbers, they might consider switching the order for those parts of the exam.
Now, I have a new suggestion for a medical visit.
Anyone who has ever visited a medical professional is familiar with filling out an amount of paperwork that would have Leo Tolstoy crying, “Uncle!” Followed by signing forms allowing release of information to those designated plus the HIPAA paperwork.
I’d want to see one more signature – the doctor’s on a form that says the paperwork I painfully and meticulously filled out was read.
I had intended to drive about halfway back to Ohio from North Carolina, but I began having more than usual trouble focusing my left eye, so I found a motel and called it an early night.
Waking up this morning, I knew I had a problem and suspected my diagnosis because my eyelid was crusty. “Aw! I bet I have pinkeye. How could I have gotten that?”
The mirror reflected an eye so red that either my guess was right or I’d had one heck of a party last night and didn’t remember (and cleaned up afterwards).
I put my sunglasses on over my prescription lenses before resuming my drive home. Kentucky was overcast, but the light bothered my eye.
With several stops, I made it back home and went directly to the local urgent care clinic since I’m between doctors. I complimented the office staff because I only had to fill out one side of one sheet of paper for information.
I didn’t wait long to be called to the back. True to form, I was asked to get on the scale (I asked to have it moved away from the wall but did not explain it would have made me feel claustrophobic otherwise). Disappointedly, the scale proved I’d had a good weekend in Asheville.
Next, on to the sphygmomanometer for the blood pressure check. This one, electronic, inflated the pressure cuff on my upper right arm automatically until the squeeze hurt. I’m not averse to short term pain and have certainly proven through many surgeries that I have a high tolerance for pain, but my hand went numb. It deflated and I thought, “Thank goodness.” but the attendant stayed at her laptop inputting while the machine started to inflate again. Once again, my hand went numb and tingled and I asked her to take it off.
She got a smaller-width cuff, put it around my lower left arm while she held it on. My hand went numb. I told her.
She replied, “That’s because it’s electronic.”
I stayed silent despite having had many blood pressures taken over many years even with electronic devices and never had a numb hand before.
She questioned my health history. I included 2 broken legs, 3 rods in my back, torn meniscus, rotator cuff and removal of my right eye.
The last was the only thing she questioned an I told her, “I had a tumor and they took it out when I was 3 weeks old. Retrolental fibroplasias, I think.” trying to remember the exact diagnosis. She typed on the laptop.
She asked about medicines and a couple of follow-up questions about those and then left the room.
Shortly, the doctor came in the room and asked about my symptoms. He asked if I had double vision.
“You can’t have double vision with one eye.”
He quickly opened my chart, I thought to see what he had missed. He said he wanted to give me an eye exam and I told him that I just had one.
“When?”
“Two weeks ago.”
“What was your vision?”
I worked to recall, “20 / 30.”
I pulled both sets of glasses onto the top of my head so he could look at my inflamed eye.
He questioned whether I could see well enough to drive. I told him that I was pretty good at catching the county number from Ohio license plates (as long as I wasn’t in heavy traffic at 70 m. p. h.)
He smiled and said he would write a prescription for eye drops, told me I was contagious for the next 24 hours and would write me a note to get off work and left the room.
I opened my ever-present book and read about 1-1/2 pages when the woman came back in and advised the doctor wanted to test my vision. We went into the hallway where she pointed to the eye chart at the end of the hall and tried to hand me a white spoon-shaped tool and said, “Place this over your right eye and look down the hall…”
I interrupted, objecting, “But I don’t have a right eye…”
She interrupted me, “You still need to put this over your eye.”
I pulled both sets of glasses onto the top of my head, tapped my prosthesis thrice with one of my fingernails so it “click, click, clicked” and said, “It’s plastic. I can’t see out of it. It comes out.” and used my thumb to prove the last part true then held my plastic eye in front of her face.
“Well, you don’t have to get rude about it.”
“I am not being rude.”
She relented and did not force me to use the white spoon-shaped tool and asked me to read the chart. I knew I got the colors (red and green) correct and after I asked, she told me my vision was 20 / 30.
This incident is more than two women not seeing eye-to-eye. She wasn’t listening to me. She was operating by rote.
I never take my eye out in front of anyone who is not sleeping in the same bed with me. Taking my eye out is tantamount to standing naked before another.
Is it too much to ask the medical personnel to use their eyeballs to look at the paperwork that seems so necessary to them?
I said something to the receptionist on my way out. All she said, “It’s the way we’re used to doing things.”
That still hit me in the eye.
I am very specific about my wording. I always say to doctors, “I don’t have a right eye.” never “I have no vision in that eye.” There’s a difference.
In my mind’s eye, there are a lot more people who would say the latter than people similar to me. Wouldn’t my situation be a tad more memorable. Or am I asking too much for someone to remember let alone understand the words that I’m using.
It is difficult to have an eye for detail, but I hope this might be an eye opener for some. Perhaps we could all go on strike and refuse to do paperwork at the doctor’s office unless the doctor agrees to read what is written down. That would be an eye-catcher, wouldn’t it?

According to courthouse records, our house was built in 1876. We think it was cobbled together until we moved in almost 20 years ago. No doorframes match; one has wide oak trim while another has narrow pine. That doesn’t affect the livability of the house.

The house was vacant for at least five years prior to our purchase. During those years, evidently, the house was not unoccupied.

The fall we moved in we learned about Asian lady beetles. The ladybug look-alikes sheltered in the corners of our bedroom. Hundreds of them. I learned that they taste horrible after one wandered into the plastic straw of my water bottle and I took a swig. Blech!

Some falls, these creatures abandon us choosing to winter somewhere else. I notice, but don’t really miss them.

Another critter is not so ready to relinquish control of our mutual domicile. Especially this year.

Whoever penned the song “The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah…” must not have had to live with them.

They are taking over my kitchen counter. Husband has placed little cardboard squares of an anticide at several intervals around the perimeter of the counter. This has not seemed to antagonize them in the least. It seems to serve as an antipasto prior to hitting more anticing spaces like the cutting board.

The cutting board is ever present on the counter in front of the toaster. Bread is buttered (or more likely, peanut buttered) here. Apples are sectioned with the corer for Husband’s lunch. The other day I noticed a sliver of apple (sliver being the size of one of wood that accidentally offends a finger) being wrestled by troops. Fascinating to watch, but the antithesis of what I wanted in my kitchen.

There have been so many this year and so diffuse that I have anthropomorphized them as having Fitbits attached to a limb counting each step taken, mile accumulated and calorie burned traversing my counter.

The day I picked up the chef’s knife from its designated space for when it’s dirty (at the edge of the counter, next to the stove, blade pointed toward the stove) and watched them scurry towards my Keurig coffee maker, my antipathy maximized, I decided to up the ante. I may be making a mountain of an anthill, but I would ant-ihilate them.

I googled “getting rid of ants” and found an anthology of suggestions. All required destroying the trails by applying deterrent smells. Vinegar is anathema to ants. I had that antidote.

I started by washing the few dirty dishes on the counter (one of the articles said to do this or put them in the dishwasher… No thanks, I’m full). I removed all appliances and canisters and washed them. I scrubbed the cupboard. There were a few spots I could feel something – a long ago spill maybe.

Finally, I poured vinegar into a spray bottle and added some water. As my antepenultimate action, I sprayed the perimeter of the counter with the vinegar solution, making sure that any final ant anthems were dirges. I wiped up excess fluid then returned the appliances and canisters to their proper places.

By this point, I had worked so hard in the high humidity I knew my antiperspirant had not survived. That was a small price to pay for putting the anti-lock brakes on the ant invasion.

Within an hour, I returned to the immaculate perception for a cold drink and to admire the kingdom that I had regained. Unfortunately, the ants hadn’t gotten that message. Aargh! What would it take? A trip to Antartica? A dose of anthrax?

I adjourned to the throne room, ready to call it a (k)night. While sitting, finishing my paperwork, a new creature scurried from behind a cabinet across the doorway and under the bathroom door. A mouse!

I think I’m going to need an antidepressant.

 

 

 

 

Even people not close to me soon are aware of my love (read: addiction) to books. About five years ago, I discovered a podcast that serves (read: feeds) my devotion to the written word. The podcast is called Books on the Nightstand.

Books on the Nightstand not only has a podcast but also a website and many of the devotees (read: junkies) spill over to another website, GoodReads, to leave each other messages of our most recently read book, what we want to read next, or how we can influence others or a plethora of topics that keep our fingers limber on keyboards until we are using them to turn pages or scroll e-book screens.

Finding so many like-minded souls meant we had to meet. Many of us thought we were the only ones with this unquenchable habit. Ann and Michael, the podcasters, arranged a weekend in quiet off-season Vermont for therapy. Even they did not realize the scope of the dependency. They quickly diagnosed that once a year would not quell the addicts clamoring for their services. They scheduled three sessions for the following year that another attendee dubbed Booktopia.

I have now completed nine sessions with plans for another trip at the end of August to Asheville, North Carolina. I knew I was hooked when the second year the second session was planned for Oxford, Mississippi. In June. My aversion to heat was overpowered by my demons.

Each session has presented new ideas and discussions of coping with my mania. The most recent includes a postal book group.

Six fellow book-heads (not to be confused with potheads) will each send a reading book along with a journal to the next name on the list developed by an administrator. The reading book is to be about 300 pages. We each will get two months to read and comment in the logbook before sharing our needle- um, er, books with the next. At the end of a year, our book will return with the comments of the other users in the diary sharing its travels.

Now the pressure was on. What book to choose?

Since books hide my nightstand, it might seem to the uninitiated an easy task to find a book to pass on. But…

I didn’t want to send a book most would have already read (cross off We Were Liars).

A book with 250 pages seemed too slim and with 350 too bulky.

An old read would require a second “dance.” Would I experience the same high? Could I fit a new read in my schedule?

After weeks of deliberation, I stumbled upon the perfect book while sorting books for the next local library book sale.

It was a book I owned, had not read, really wanted to, and (best of all) was the perfect size (read: dosage) – 300 pages.

Now, where did I last see it? The bedroom.

At the foot of my bed is a book shelf with four tiers (the top one double stacked) and two piles of books on the top approaching the ceiling . There are two collapsible cubes on the floor. Both full. I know one has 35 books in it. Finally the nightstand was rescued from a hotel liquidation sale so it has the cubby on the bottom, with a double row of books and then a few more placed on top of those. There are only two or three books on top of the nightstand because I actually deigned to clean it off earlier this week (trying to show Husband that I can turn over a new leaf).

I correctly chose the orange cube. The books in it were neat as were the ones stacked on top, booty from recent visits to Book Con, Booktopia Vermont and a few rescues from library book sales.

The stacked books had been carefully placed with the exactitude of the dealer making sure the customer had paid the bill in full . Each book was placed precisely for balance and stability. I removed at least six handfuls of books to unearth the desired volume, placing each in a different pile on the bed to best reconstruct the pattern. The book I sought was, of course, on the bottom, back row. I had to replace it so nothing above it would topple.

In my frenzy to unearth my treasure, I had placed the small piles of books on the bed haphazardly. I had to reconstruct the puzzle without a corresponding picture.

That was exactly how I felt, trying to force puzzle pieces that were almost right into opened spots. So what if the color didn’t coincide with what adjoined?

The rebuilding was completed. Husband would never notice anything, but I knew the books weren’t precisely where they had been. But what would that matter?

This will give me the impetus to reduce the number in/on the container.

If only these books weren’t so close to what has been my favorite reading place since childhood. The bed.

Nowadays, the toothpicks don’t seem as strong as they used to be. Perhaps it doesn’t take as many pages to supply my fix; I’ve developed a tolerance. Either that or my eyelids, along with the rest of me, have put on a few.

 

 

 

Wow! I knew it had been awhile since I’ve written, but didn’t realize exactly how long. Time goes so quickly.

It’s almost 19 years that we have lived in our house. During that time we have caused much confusion for the mail man (and yes, we’ve only had a man). At first we got mail for the previous owner,  the AME Church, and its pastor. That was understandable. Husband having one last name while I use my own has to be confusing. That has been proven by a new person getting mail at this address. That person has Husband’s first name and my last name.

Son becoming an adult has added to confusion since the only difference between his and dad’s name is an I (Dad is II and Son is III). Last month we weren’t sure who should get mail from the County Prosecutor that had no Roman numerals after the name.

It didn’t take us long to discover that there was an address very similar to ours. In fact the only difference is the direction. The number is the same, the street name is the same. We are East and there is a West.

We could have dined on many pizzas we didn’t order. We even almost had a dumpster delivered. Husband discovered it as he was leaving for work.

We’ve even gotten dunning calls from businesses trying to find people who have lived on West (it’s a four unit apartment).

Last night before we went to bed, we heard of a body being found in a house about 2 blocks south of us. This morning’s paper provided more information, some I was pretty sure was going to be trouble.

This morning’s paper gave us information such as the deceased man’s name, the fact that one of his sons was arrested for obstruction with the police and domestic violence with his brother. Strangely, they gave the address for the other brother. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was trouble. It was West.

Sure enough, about noon, Husband heard the porch screen door open, he unlocked our front door to see who was here. I was on the couch when I heard a female voice say, “Does Paul and Elizabeth still live here?” I recognized the male’s name from the paper as the brother who had lived at West.

Husband answered, “No.” I shouted out to them, “That’s WEST!”

Husband repeated my advice.

As Husband came in he commented, “Obviously they stay in close touch.”

I think I want to go back to just getting the wrong mail.

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