Good Thanksgiving Meal, Back to Work Today

Today was Black Friday, when the shopping season begins.  The bus was almost deserted when I went to work this morning, and I revelled in the peace and quiet at work.

We had a small and very good Thanksgiving dinner yesterday.  Three adults (one a married couple) and the seven-year-old daughter of the couple.  We ate well, good conversation, the works.  I overdid it with a turkey sandwich too close to bedtime, hoping that the tryptophan in the turkey would knock me out and treat me to an uninterrupted night of sleep.  Was not to be, but I did manage to shut off the alarm at 5:30 before it woke Steph and raised her ire.

Steph and Susie were both queasy and listless when I came home from work.  I confess that I didn’t feel all that well during the day.  During lunch, I was going to go to the State House to see the exhibit in the Vault (portraits of Presidents rendered on Etch-A-Sketches), but didn’t feel up to leaving the building, even though the State House is only two blocks away.  I don’t feel much more energetic right now.  I’m typing in the living room with a rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond on TBS just because I know how I’ve neglected this blog the last two days.

‘Twas the Day Before Thanksgiving

Steph and Susie went to see Australia (and gave it two thumbs up when I came home from work), and Pat texted me mid-morning offering to take me to lunch.  I accepted his invitation, which means that Friday at work I’ll have a Tupperware full of macaroni and cheese to supplement the turkey sandwiches I brought for lunch this morning.

I kept fairly busy, but had the usual problems with staying on task.  I’d do some work here and there, and then stray off to look at the Wikipedia, or the National Weather Service’s radar of Central Ohio, etc.  At least I am secure in the knowledge that there will be something to do when I come in Friday morning, and at the same time not having to sweat blood about having a stack of work so high I need a periscope to see over it.

Our huskie-chow mix Emery should rightly be named Erich Weiss (Houdini’s birth name).  He has mastered the art of opening the front gate, turning on the light in my office, and opening my office door.  On Saturday, I stopped at the pet store near the Laundro and bought a 20′ tie-out chain and brought it home, because he was easily escaping the $2 chain I had bought at Family Dollar.  Triumphantly, I brought the tie-out chain home and attached Emery to it, and went inside to help Steph and Susie prepare for the three dinner guests we were hosting.  When I went out to check the mail, I noticed that the tie-out seemed peculiarly slack.  I followed it to the back yard, and found the back gate wide open and nothing but a collar attached to the tie-out.  Susie ran in one direction looking for Emery, and I went in another, both in vain.  (This is one of the few times when cell phones truly are a blessing–we were all able to keep in touch while scattered in different directions.)  Finally, it came close to time for our guests to come, so I aborted the search.  The sun was setting, so it wouldn’t have been easy to search anyhow.  We left the front gate wide open and the front door open, so if Emery was so inclined, he could find his way back.

Which he did, eventually.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I was listening to that particular song (written by Kris Kristofferson, but covered magnificently by the Man in Black) yesterday while I was working at the Laundro, and I thought about it this morning.  The particulars of the song haven’t been part of my life for a decade (waking up hungover and walking somnabulistically through the day while other people around me enjoy it), but the morning did "come down" sooner than expected.

Steph had a wonderful concert with the Columbus Women’s Chorus at Trinity Episcopal Church this afternoon.  It was a joint concert with Windsong, which is Cleveland’s Feminist Chorus.  Columbus Women’s Chorus’ Website is, and I mention this because they have some holiday gigs coming up, including a concert on the 17th of December at the Franklin Park Conservatory and New Year’s Eve at Trinity.  Steph was feeling under the weather and running a small fever on and off–mostly on–this weekend, so she skipped church to save her energy and resources for the concert.

I went to the 9 a.m. service at church and then did dishes from the dinner party we had last night.  It was a fine meal, with great people in attendance and a lively game of Fact or Crap afterwards.  I was able to stay awake to watch Criminal Minds afterwards, but just barely.  I decided to forego watching the news afterwards, because I’m sure all they’d cover would be the OSU-Michigan game and its aftermath.  (I know that OSU won, and that the score was pretty lopsided.  Other than that, I know nothing and care even less.)

In all my years of diary-keeping, I may have mentioned sports less than five times (other than the times I was manager of the basketball team in eighth grade at St. Mary’s and videotaping basketball for the coaches in high school).  I remember my 1974 diary, the first one I ever kept.  One Sunday, desperate for something to write, I wrote, "There’s really nothing to write about, except that Miami won the Super Bowl."

Steph and Susie are watching a DVD of Funny Girl while I type.  ("People who need people are the luckiest most annoying people in the world.")

The 45th anniversary of the assassination. This is how it was covered on NBC television. I was not quite seven months old, so I have no personal memories of the event. It definitely needs to be posted, though. (Left to right: Frank McGee, Chet Huntley, Bill Ryan. The "Bob" McGee is talking to is Robert MacNeil, later of The MacNeil-Lehrer Report on PBS.)  JFK RIP.

Sweet Dreams at the Sleep Study (Yeah, Right!)

At last I have time to post in here!  Sunday night I stayed at Grant Hospital’s sleep lab, because it seems that my sleep apnea and other problems are back with a vengeance.  Steph was lukewarm about my going to another sleep study–I had one 4-5 years ago, used a C-PAP for awhile, and then when I dropped weight the snoring seemed to go away.  But the last straw was the other night, when I rolled over on my side and effectively ended up snoring in her ear.  As I have blogged in the past, I awaken at least 2-3 times per night, not awake enough to contemplate getting out of bed, but awake enough to glance at the digital clock in the darkness and realize that it’s not time to get out of bed yet.

So, on Veterans’ Day ("V.D. Day," according to Edith Bunker), I went to Central Ohio Sleep Medicine in Gahanna and spoke with a sleep doctor/psychiatrist.  I described how I have been waking up at night, how sometimes I wake myself up snoring, how it’s affecting Steph, how I’ve been sleeping past bus stops, everything.  I also was truthful about my caffeine intake.  He scheduled me for a Sunday night/Monday morning appointment at the sleep clinic downtown.  (I wanted downtown so I could go easily to work in the morning.)

How do they expect anyone to sleep?  My technician was a nice woman, but I felt like I was being prepared for the electric chair.  (She even shaved spots on my legs for electrodes and conducting gel.)  I was supposed to sleep while electrodes and leads were on my shins, temples, jaw, and shoulders, and while tubes were in my nostrils.  The wires were hair-thin, but there were so many of them!

Yes, I did awaken a few times during the night.  I don’t know how many times, or how often, because the room had no clock in it.  My watch and cell phone were on the table opposite where I had settled in bed, and I didn’t want to reach for them and drag all that equipment with me and risk disconnecting any of it.  It was a cross between Altered States and A Clockwork Orange.

Never in my life was I so happy to hear that it was time to get up.  It took several shampooings to get the conducting gel out of my hair and my beard (I do need a beard trim–the whiskers are getting to be as tough as a Brillo pad lately.)  I see the doc on 12/5 to go over the results and the charts that were generated during my night at the lab.

Will keep you posted.

Back on an Even Keel

I was at work Wednesday-Friday, and worked at the Laundro on Thursday night and am there right now.  It’s been a slow day–OSU is playing Northwestern right now, and the TV here is on ESPN2, but few people seem to be paying attention to it.  I have the laptop hooked up to the amplifier here and I have some of my Windows Media Player library blaring right now.

I was in a workshop yesterday afternoon at work when one of the supervisors (one of my supervisor’s bosses) came to the door and asked for me.  I was worried, thinking, Oh, Jesus!  Steph’s had to go back into the hospital, or something like that.  She told me that a man from McVay-Perkins, the funeral home in Caldwell which handled my mother’s final arrangements, was there with the personal effects that she brought with her to Riverside Hospital.  The supervisor came down with me–thoughtful of her.

The final belongings were a pathetic haul.  There was an entire bag of sample-sized toiletries (skin cleanser, shampoo, etc.), her wallet, her checkbook, and a spiral notebook that semed to be pretty much a prescription log.  No clandestine $100 bills.

The guy from the funeral home was the same one who came to the house Tuesday afternoon with the death certificate.  He looked like Igor from Young Frankenstein, and seemed to have such a poor concept of directions and the lay of the land that Steph and I wondered how often he got out of Noble County.  (Steph had to direct him to our house from Galloway when he brought the death cetificate.)

People have been wonderful with sympathy, etc., at work, at church, etc.  My faithful readership here on the blog and those who are close to me personally know that my reaction to Mother’s death is pretty well summed up in this Mad magazine cartoon by Sergio Aragones, from a series he called "The Shadow Knows":

I am still awed by Obama’s victory, although I am reminded of another cartoon when I think of what lies ahead of him.  This was a political cartoon that ran in one of the Cincinnati newspapers when Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa.  One panel was labelled "Today" and showed Mandela, all smiles and victory, standing on top of the world.  The panel marked "Tomorrow" showed him with the world on his shoulders, a la Atlas.

Returning to the Land of the Living

Karen, Susie, and I spent most of the morning and the early afternoon playing Indiana Jones in Mother’s apartment.  It was clean and very well maintained, but there were reams and boxes of papers–health, insurance, funeral and disposition of remains, etc.  We learned that she left no will, and Karen, Susie, and two or three of Mother’s friends went through the apartment (a one-bedroom) top to bottom in a vain search for that and a checkbook.  Karen and I spent some time at the Hocking Valley Bank seeing about freezing automatic payments from her account, and found our hands are tied without a death certificate.

The best part of the day was breakfast with my old friend Paul Wiehl, who is now the mayor of Athens.  We met him for breakfast at the Union Street Cafe on West Union Street, one of those places where the meals are so big and so filling you sit back afterwards and say, "I will never eat again as long as I live!"  He gave me some advice about starting up beekeeping, as well as giving me two beekeepers’ catalogues.  We discussed the Hallowe’en weekend, mutual friends, the political scene, what all has changed in Athens in the nearly 20 years since I last lived there, etc.  Not one bit did I envy him this past weekend, but he has risen to the responsibilities of mayor quite well.

Dinner beckons for Susie and me, so ta-ta for now.

Memorial Service, Trip to Apartment

This is an away-from-Columbus entry, at a motel in Athens, Ohio.  I’m typing with one eye on the 11 o’clock news, sitting on a bed at the Budget Host-Coach Inn.  Susie is asleep on a rollaway cot at the foot of my bed, my cousin Karen is stretched out on the other bed with a can of 7-Up in her hand.

The memorial service was a good one.  Mark Belletini did a very good sermon, celebrating Mother’s life, background, and interests, and did not sugarcoat her faults–her insanity, her substance abuse, her physical and mental abuse of me.  Many of the people who attended were friends of ours who had never met Mother, but came to support us nonetheless.  My friend Tom, whom I’ve known since 1977 when I was in junior high, came from Marietta for the memorial service.  We weren’t sure if he’d make it, because he is not famous for having functional vehicles.  But he arrived.

As did Karen, who arrived around 4:15.  The service was in the Memorial Garden at the Unitarian Church, and Karen and Tom came back to our place for dinner afterwards.  Over chicken breasts, rice, and peas, Tom caught me up on Marietta politics and gossip, and gave Susie (belatedly) her birthday presents.  Karen is an O.R. nurse in Virginia, so she gave us her slant on the many trials and tribulations Steph has undergone before and after the heart surgery.  (Tom’s pickup, which he bought used, has Obama/Biden stickers he provided, and he kept the Bush/Cheney sticker that came with the truck.  He donated an Obama yard sign to us.)

Karen, Susie, and I left for Athens to do an early reconnaissance mission through my mother’s apartment.  I’m glad her car has a GPS–I have been back and forth on U.S. 33 literally thousands of times in my life, but it’s been quite awhile, and I recognized almost none of the landmarks along the way.  It would probably have been different–and much easier–during the daytime.

The apartment was quite Spartan.  All those years on the brink of death, she minimized her belongings and kept her affairs in order.   When we unlocked the apartment, there were stacks of papers, neatly organized and marked, with financial information, medical records, lists of bills to be paid, etc.  The furniture was quite simple, with the exception of the bed.  Susie and I are taking the electrical components–TV, stereo, boom box, VCR/DVD combination, etc.–and giving clothes and furniture to the Salvation Army.  Mother kept reams and reams of documents related to her medical care, such as records of her blood pressure and temperature, reports from trips to various E.R.s, etc.

So this crazy day has wound down.  It began with chaos.  Steph and Susie took Project Mainstream to the Unitarian Church because Susie (and the rest of Rising Voices) sang at the 9 a.m. service.  I was going to take the regular bus up there and meet them in time for the service, but since Barack Obama was speaking at the State House, buses were rerouted, running behind schedule, or cancelled.  So I went home, straightened the living room, and did the dishes.

Karen has finished her 7-Up and seems to have fallen asleep.  Susie conked out quite awhile ago, and I probably should follow their lead.  Karen and I will finish taking what is usable and useful out of the apartment tomorrow, and then meet with the powers that be at the Hocking Valley Bank to deal with all things financial.  We’re afraid, however, that our hands may be tied, since Mother’s doctor can’t sign the death certificate until Tuesday.  (On Saturday, Ken from the funeral home came by and I signed and initialed the documents authorizing cremation.  So, while Mother’s remains weren’t present at the Unitarian Church this afternoon, she will be cremated in Marietta and interred in the family plot at Caldwell.)