Someone taught me new vocabulary. Not day. A not day is one in which whatever you planned does not happen.

My Friday not day started with on my right knee. I had an MRI scheduled for 8:15 a.m. I arrived at 8:05 a.m. I was required to fill out a couple of forms that asked for basic information such as my name and address continuing to a summarization of my previous health procedures. After that I was moved to another waiting room farther into the depths of the building.

The room had five people and one blasted operating television. Each person was called from the room for a procedure leaving me and Kelly and Michael Live disrupting my quiet time with my book. Shortly after I changed the station to something less distracting a woman came into the room and said with obvious puzzlement, “Linda Johnson? But you’re not hear for a brain scan.”

“Um, no!” I told her it was supposed to be for my knee. She told me to sit tight until she could find the orders and then she went on…

…looking at the papers I had filled out in the lobby, “You have a bone growth stimulator?”

“Yes, in my back.”

“We can’t do an MRI if you have that.”

“I’ve had two other MRIs since I’ve had this put in. One for my other knee and one for my left shoulder.”

“Maybe they were open MRIs.”

“Ohhh, no, they weren’t. Especially the last one.”

She gathered more information from me as to when the stimulator was put in my back, which hospital and which doctor. She said she’d make some calls.

Soon she was back saying the hospital didn’t have the records available going back that far and the doctor’s office had updated the computers in the twelve years since the original surgery, so they didn’t have access to that information either. They did say that what was being used in 2003 would definitely not be compatible with an MRI machine.

Peggy, the woman trying to work through the lack of records to get me my MRI suggested that I leave and she would continue to gather information and we would subsequently reschedule. I agreed and moved on to my second task of the day wondering if medical professionals shouldn’t have a brain scan scheduled.

I drove to Beavercreek to get to an Office Max that I had called early in the week to make sure what time frame was needed to print a book for me.

My husband and I had been in the store in Springfield the previous Sunday. I had asked an employee in the copy center whether they had an espresso printing machine. He told us Springfield did not but the store near the Fairfield Commons did. Okay.

I backed up the information he gave by calling the store and was told yes, they could do what I wanted and it would only take 20 to 30 minutes. Wow! That was fast.

I wasn’t quite done putting my book together but worked diligently on it during the rest of the week until Friday, the day before I needed it.

I took my computer and a fresh thumb drive to the store. There were two employees at the copy center and two customers standing at the perimeter. I was in no hurry.

After watching a few minutes, I knew that one of the employees was really new at this job. He seemed uncertain and asked his co-worker a lot of questions. He rarely smiled.

After 20 minutes, it was my turn and it was the new employee who tried to wait on me.

He may have been new, but at least he knew that there was no espresso machine on the premises.

“WHAT! but I was told…”

David, the new employee, turned to Matthew to back him up, which Matthew did. But Matthew also had a solution. If I could be flexible. Matthew aimed to keep the customer happy.

Matthew explained his resolution to both David and me. I agreed. Then Matthew explained to David what information to get from me and left the area.

Partially because he was new and partially because I’m Mac (computer) there were complications so David kept using the store intercom to contact Matthew.

I asked him how long he worked at Office Max. “Three days,” he answered with a timid smile. (Ah, ha! he had one.) I commented, trying to make him more at ease, that he has a nice smile. He rewarded me with another one — a little warmer.

All the information needed was exchanged. When could I pick it up? They would put it on a fast track and have it for me just before they close at 9 p.m.

That meant another round trip to Beavercreek, but at least I would have my book.

I arrived at home to discover a message from Peggy. She was unable to glean any more information about my bone growth stimulator. She offered to take an X-ray of my back to see if it’s there. (I know it’s there, why can’t she just take my word for it?). I offered to drive back to Springfield after being assured that she would just include the X-ray cost as part of the MRI cost. (We are at the beginning of our medical insurance year. I haven’t put a dent in my $4,000 deductible, so the MRI was out of MY pocket.)

I ended up making one more round trip to Springfield where (SUPRISE!) X-rays show there is a bone growth stimulator in my back. No one will do an MRI on my knee until that instrument is taken out of my back.

And, I made one more round trip to Beavercreek where after a few more minutes of waiting, I picked up 25 copies of my self-published first book, Champaign Taste.

Since we were right next door to Half-Priced Books, Husband wanted to go in. (Hey, that’s usually my line.) We went in, he found what he was looking for, we left.

“That’s a first. I came out of a book store with nothing and you bought a book,” I said to him.

Obviously it was just not for me that day.

George FriedaA friend of mine died this week. For the first time in my grief life the tears I am shedding are of joy and relief. Oh, yes, I will miss him. Greatly. He was a sun in my life. I always looked forward to seeing him. And, yes, Husband knew.

In February, 2007, I realized a dream. I became a paid writer. I was asked to write a column for the Springfield News Sun about the county I live in. The column started out as bi-weekly on Monday. By July, the job became weekly on Sunday. I knew that was the big time – to be a Sunday columnist– since that was the day of the week with the greatest circulation.

In no time, my column that I hoped displayed my inner Erma Bombeck, provided me with a notoriety I was not expecting.

Strangers stopped me in the grocery store to express fondness for my column. I rarely got away from 7:30 a.m. Sunday Mass without someone letting me know that my writing had already been read. Usually these statements let me know how I ranked in the reader’s priority list. “I read you second, right after the comics/sports pages.”

The rest of my life didn’t stop because of the column. In other words, I did not hide from my very minor celebrity.I continued to do many of the activities I had done, including volunteering at the Springfield Performing Arts Center.

One night while I was a greeter, the secretary from my church attended a performance. Sue ended up standing with me before the performance. We both noticed an elderly couple across the hallway who stopped abruptly while looking in our direction. Sue should have been my public relations manager.

She soon embarrassed me by saying loudly, “Do you recognize her from her column picture.”

The couple both had broad smiles as they nodded their heads.

“Would you like her autograph?”

“Sue!” I thought.

The couple seemed thrilled and presented their program for the night’s performance. I gave them my very first autograph. In order to personalize it I asked for their names . Sue stood by grinning and chatting away about the way I always referred to “Husband” and “Son” while I wrote a thankful note to George and Frieda McCann.

They were both short, neither much over 5 feet tall, although truthfully, I could not estimate his height accurately since he was bent over and walked with a cane. Her long white hair was twisted up and attached to the back of her head. They both had an unmistakable joy of life and each other that produced a contagious effervescence and twinkle in their eyes.

Subsequent volunteering posts brought the two of them for an evening at the symphony or a touring Broadway musical production. I always looked out for them and they for me.

I found out from a long-time Springfield resident that George had run a pharmacy in downtown. Frieda was a very active volunteer for the local library and helped to set up a library and other programs for the jail inmates. The two of them were in their 80s and seemingly had more energy than a two-year old.

Over time, we shared stories, prayer requests (mostly from me) and our common Catholicism. My close and longest friendship was supported by George when I let him know that Father Bob had cancer. He added Father Bob to his prayer list and would call me from time to time to see how Father Bob was doing.

When a 6-month old cousin was diagnosed with a kidney cancer, George was quick to add Bryson to his prayer list and then always ask how Bryson was doing when we’d see each other.

One year, a few days before St. Patrick’s Day, the McCanns came to the symphony. I was in the cloak room (coat room). George wore no green. I pretended horror (McCann!) and gave him my shamrock pin. He seemed tickled.

The McCann’s home was on a 2011 bicycle tour of homes. They insisted that “Husband” and I come in for a drink. It was the first opportunity for them to meet the man they had been reading about for four years.

I was excited for my friends to meet my husband while they expressed their disappointed that they could not have ridden on the tour since they had been avid bicyclists. George’s back had gotten so bad, he could not comfortably ride anymore. I think Frieda could have, but she would do what George could.

Time moved on, but George got slower and more bent over. It was a shock when Frieda died in January, 2014. She was in the hospital fighting flu symptoms and then she wasn’t. This was not the timing I expected. Frieda was 90.

George was devastated. His bride of 70 years.

Today I found out that George (92) and Frieda are reunited. I will miss my friend greatly, but I’m so glad he and Frieda are reunited.

I love you George and Frieda. Watch over me, please.

Two local business men, who became friends of mine, recently sold their bakery and retired. The sale included the equipment and the recipes.

The new owners will be changing the bakery’s name.

I’m sure that Bob and Roger didn’t precisely time their closing with the last of their business cards. Since I always try to be a helpful friend, I thought I should come up with a list of top ten things to do with old business cards.

It was easy to come up with ten. In fact, eleven and twelve just proved the cookie wasn’t crumbling. But what sense did a top twelve list make. I thought that I should work to get a number which is divisible by five.

Fifteen spawned sixteen and seventeen. A slice of cheesecake later and voilá I had twenty.

Without further ado, I present

Twenty things to do with old business cards

1. Build a house of business cards.
2. Crosscut shred for confetti, then throw a party.
3. Use as bookmarks.
4. Revive the Victorian custom and use them as calling cards(may take some scratching out).
5. Origami practice sheets.
6. Really awful toilet paper.
7. Alternative for dental floss or toothpicks.
8. Small note cards or scrap paper.
9. Leave under car windshield wipers at the mall.
10. Build boats for ants.
11. World’s smallest post cards.
12. Decoupage.
13. Tiny paper airplanes.
14. Cut them into smaller various sizes for a pocket jigsaw puzzle.
15. Make small paper hats for the Geico gecko.
16. Make small flip books (draw something on the edge so when you fan through them it looks as if the drawing is moving.”)
17. Tape them to toothpicks to make fans for dolls.
18. Compost filler.
19. Paper footballs (ask any sixth grader).
20. Support your local landfill.

That should be enough to get them started. They’re retired now. I’ll let them continue the list. Good luck Bob and Roger.

My section of the country has not been plagued my flooding. According to the local news there have been a few roads temporarily closed because of high water. I’ve seen one sign, but no water.
My reference to water has to do with the humidity.
I take a shower about 2 p.m., to be fresh and clean for work at 4 p.m. Alas, by 3 p.m. I’m drenched in humidity. Even at air-conditioned work, I’m looking for the fan to place next to my computer. I’m not running marathons or carrying tons of books but I’m still dripping.
The real test results of “How hot and humid is it?” came when I opened a miniature bag of peanut M&Ms. I discovered they really do melt.
And NOT in my hand!

Most of my family – mother, two brothers and a sister – live where we were all born. Only one sister and I wandered from “home”. I live two hours away and S.J. lives about a 10-hour drive.

Like most families, we do try to get together for holidays, major and minor, and birthdays. Depending on my schedule or that of my husband and/or son, we will go north. Sis isn’t usually able to make the trek without major planning. That doesn’t stop anyone from inviting all of us.

The following “discussion” recently took place among my siblings and me about Memorial Day.

CJ:Hello Everyone!

Just wondered if anyone was available or even interested in getting together sometime next weekend for a cookout. The lake house is open Saturday, Sunday or Monday.
Let me know which day works best for you.

SJ: Thanks so much for including us — I really wish I/we could make it!

Miss you all. Wish I could just blink & be there (or you could just blink & be here — Nutmeg & I would love the company:).

Have PHUN!!!

LJ: O, no,no! You click your ruby slippers together. Gees! Blink and be there! Whoever heard of such a thing?

RJ: Wrong! You call Scotty or twitch your nose.

SJ: LOL…I forgot there were so many options!!! All great suggestions — will start working on them immediately;)

LJ: : > )

If I decide, too, may I share these on my blog? It will help explain where I come from.

SJ: You may — cute! (BTW, I’m thinking Jeannie ‘blinked’, didn’t she?;)

LJ: She crossed her arms in front of her and nodded her head, probably while blinking.

LJ: (again) I just asked Bill (my husband). He says, “At that time in my illustrious career, I was more concerned with her costume than her actions.”

SJ: :)

RJ: Nuff said.

All these exchanges took place over e-mail and as quickly as if we were sitting in the same room having an actual discussion.

CJ, who started the conversation teaches and was not at a computer to see what transpired until the end of the day when she came home and replied:

CJ: I was lost as to what these e-mails were all about since I read them in the wrong order. Now I get it! Yes Jeannie did blink. I would just tell you to think lovely thoughts and sprinkle the Fairy dust.

Now you know why the circus is missing a few clowns. There in my family.

I requested to review The Accident, Chris Pavone’s second mystery. I had previously read his first book, The Expats and enjoyed it. I also had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Pavone at a book retreat that I’ve attended for several years. I enjoyed the first book and was eager to see if the author had grown at all with his sophomore experience.

He has.

This book taps Pavone’s previous long-time career in publishing.

A manuscript arrives via carrier at Isabella’s literary agency. The manuscript denotes the author is ‘anonymous.’ The contact information appears to be spurious but the information in the manuscript is scandalous for a prominent media mogul. Isabella realizes she has been put in a precarious position and tries to limit the number of people who have access to the manuscript.

Pavone has written a tight tale of intrigue that kept me looking over my own shoulder to make sure no one was going to steal this manuscript from my hands. In fact, as soon as I finished the book, I started over to allow myself to play detective from a more knowing position the second time.

With the number of books that I have stacked up to read, this isn’t something I do lightly. Since I liked it twice, I’ll bet you’ll like it once – at least.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for supplying the book to me.

Hair has been a distraction to me for my entire life. My do usually didn’t. In grade school I sat next to Carol Dumphey who could receive the brunt of a tornado and come out with every single hair exactly where it should be. On the other hand, I could sit in a hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnall’s back porch and my hair would still sproing like a too tightly wound guitar string.
Over the years, in order to reduce my frustration, I have developed a wash and go style which includes getting a haircut only when-I-can-no-longer-stand-the-length. No scheduled appointments every two weeks for me. To me, this makes for a dramatic change in my appearance between when I walk into the beauty parlor in contrast to how I look like when I walk out. I don’t get trims; I get inches cut.
Evidently this isn’t obvious to Husband of more than twenty-seven years.
He has two reactions to my tonsorial changes. I’m not sure which I prefer.
The first is to say absolutely nothing. I’m convinced it is actually because he has gotten so absorbed in something (a video game, a TV show, a fire call, etc.) that his brain has been wiped clean of my whereabouts.
The second routine has developed over the years as a result of my vocal frustrations that he hadn’t noticed what, to me, couldn’t be missed.
I would return from the beauty parlor, take no more than two steps past the front door and hear Husband, in a very deliberate but robotically stilted voice say, “Gee, mom. Your hair. Sure looks. Nice.”
At least he was trying – very trying.
Recently, I did something for only the second time in twenty years. I got my nails done. The winter was unbelievably tough on my nails. I needed professional help. I made an appointment with a nail salon.
While there, I made a daring decision. “Do you have green?” She did.
My nails complimented my wardrobe and cane. I left the salon with a confident strut. That strut lead me through our front door to hear Husband’s the dulcet vocal tones, “Gee, mom. Your hair. Sure looks. Nice.”
I laughed resoundedly as I turned to face him, “That’s all well and good except that I had my nails done.”
I didn’t let his conservatism deflate my feelings. After all, he’s lived with me for so many years his Christmas present to me several years ago was my green cane.
He had developed a way to acknowledge by beauty shop visits, he could find a way to deal with green nails.
It’s not like it’s a really disgusting color. Like pink.

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