Winter is icumen in/Lhude sing goddamm

Ezra Pound’s parody “Ancient Music” seems so appropriate today, even though the winter solstice is still two weeks away–and I’ve used it before, back when this blog was still on LiveJournal.  The first wave fell yesterday, and we had a small respite from additional snowfall today.  This is, I understand, the calm before the storm.  According to the meteorologists I’ve seen on TV and online, Columbus is due to get slammed again tomorrow.

I took what turned out to be a minor fall Friday morning when I was walking out of my place to the bus stop, thinking the front walk was just wet, not icy.  In the end, I hurt nothing but my pride, but it was painful enough for me to call off from work, down some Naproxen, and sleep for much of the morning.  When I got out of bed, I was not walking like an old lady, like I was immediately after the fall, but I was walking more slowly than usual.

The juxtaposition was not lost on me.  On Tuesday, the mercury climbed into the 60s, so I rode the trike to work.  It took about 45 minutes, and I felt invigorated when I made it downtown.  (A trike ride, even when I undertake it reluctantly, does improve my mood and my overall spirit.  I have often wondered if my mental health insurance will reimburse me for it.  Futile, I know.)

I didn’t ride home until Wednesday night, because I had to head home early to meet the guys from Beavis & Butt-head Appliances, Inc., who were delivering my new washer and dryer.  (I live diagonally across from a Laundromat, but with my own equipment, I have the freedom to do my laundry at 2 a.m. in my bathrobe, if I so choose, or not to take it immediately out of the dryer.)  All they would promise was that the appliances would be at my place between 4 and 6 p.m., which entailed leaving work early, all so those these two could arrive at 6:30.  I could not christen my new machines until the following night, because the dryer did not come with a vent hose.

The trike spent Tuesday night in the BWC garage, and then on Wednesday, I rode it home.  I knew the weather was going to change, and if I didn’t ride it home Wednesday, the bike would spend all winter in the garage.

And Thursday morning, I attempted to walk to work.  I got about two-thirds of the way before it began raining too hard for me to continue.  I rode a bus for the final mile, and then worked until 5, hearing more and more ominous stories about the storm.

What is remarkable is that I managed to do a fair amount of walking today without falling.  Since I have accepted the fact–kicking and screaming–that I am middle-aged, I also know that part of this involves the fact that falls can be much more dangerous and have much more negative long-term effects than they did when I was younger.  Today, I vowed not to confine myself to quarters, so I loaded up my black over-the-shoulder bag with the laptop, two books, my journal, and the typescript of a long untouched manuscript that I am rewriting, and went to Kafé Kerouac, a walk of 0.8 miles.  Never has it seemed so long, so difficult.  The ice was melting in some places, but the bulk of the trip was on slick and bumpy ice surfaces.  Even though I was wearing tennis shoes, I felt myself about to slip several times when I put the soles of my feet on the ground.  (I am sure that if I had been wearing dress shoes, I would definitely have fallen.)

Adding to my worries was what would happen if I did fall.  Hurting myself would be bad enough, but I was mortally afraid of landing on the laptop and ruining it as well.  There were points along the journey when I was hanging onto street signs, shrubs, and garbage cans just to keep stable.

I did get a fair amount of work done while I was at Kafé Kerouac.  I finished the first chapter of the manuscript, and read a chapter of Grant’s Final Victory, the story of the last year of Ulysses S. Grant’s life, his sudden poverty, and the writing of his Personal Memoirs.

Earlier this week, I came home from work and found a large, but light-as-a-feather, parcel sitting on my front porch.  This was major good news, since lately my letter carrier seems to deliver mail only when the mood strikes him.  Inside, mummified in plenty of bubble wrap and balled-up newspapers, was a Simplex toy typewriter.  Novelist Robert Lowry died on December 5, 1994, 19 years ago Thursday.  He began writing at the age of seven, when he asked Santa Claus for a typewriter, and found it under the tree that Christmas.

The Simplex, which I bought on eBay, was the vintage of the model he received.  There is one key, and the operator turns a big rubber wheel to the desired character, and presses the big key so that it prints on the paper below.  (This machine is non-functional, and has not been inked in decades.  I have no plans to try to get it to work; it’s in my office as a conversation piece, and as an inspiration.)

The Practical Simplex Typewriter Number 300.  The keys in the front are painted, and not functional, just like the black keys on Schroeder’s toy piano in the Peanuts comics.

Online, I was kidding Susie that this was the original laptop.  Later that night, I was reading a clipping that I tucked inside the front cover of Jimmy Carter’s White House Diary.  It was a 1981 New York Times article about Carter’s upcoming memoirs.  It made the newspapers when the former President hit a wrong function key and lost two or three days’ worth of work.  More interesting was the description of the machine itself, back in the day when the masses did not know much (if anything) about word processing and computers:

The Lanier machine, which sells for about $12,000, takes up about the same amount of desk space as an electric typewriter but is taller by a foot or more because of the cathode-ray display screen.  The operator works at an electronic keyboard that returns the carriage automatically and also hyphenates and numbers pages.  Removable magnetic disks store up to 30 pages of typed information.

(I displayed a picture of President Carter’s Lanier “No Problem” word processor in an entry last month.)

Word is that we’re supposed to get pelted with even more snow and cold temperatures tomorrow.  I am not planning to go to church in the morning, so I plan to hibernate at least through the morning hours.  A good friend lured me out for dinner tonight, since I had recovered mentally and physically from the walk to and from Kafé Kerouac, but she had a car, so that involved almost no walking.  However, packed snow is much better for walking than ice is, so I may venture out to see what Columbus looks like under this second round of snow.

Advertisements

These Are the People in Your Neighborhood…

When Susie and I moved out of Weinland Park a year ago, I was under no illusions that we moved to a crime-free Land of Milk and Honey, just because we were now in Olde North (or Baja Clintonville, or SoHud (“south of Hudson”), depending on who describes the neighborhood).  I knew we were just close enough to the Ohio State campus that we would be dealing with the petty crimes that prevail during football season–vandalism, littering, people urinating in public, loud parties, etc.

I have joined the small Neighborhood Block Watch that our neighbors have been organizing.  We are going for full certification by the Columbus Police, but concealed carry permits or any type of vigilantism are not options.  The group was originally an ad hoc organization to combat the epidemic of graffiti in the neighborhood.  The police tell us none of this seems to be gang-related.  A Gang Unit officer showed us a booklet of the different Columbus gangs’ trademarks, and in this neighborhood it seems to be mostly tagging than any of these gangs marking territory.

This is the type of graffiti that genuinely scares me and brings out the vigilante within.  This appeared last February on the bridge over part of the Glen Echo ravine, less than a mile from where Susie and I live.

Once one of these “artists” is caught in the act, I am wondering what the punishment will be.  I doubt arrest and punishment will be much of a deterrent.  My pet theory is that this is not gang-related at all.  There are groups of reprobate kids from the rougher neighborhoods who band together, call themselves gangs, and destroy property and commit petty crimes, but this is not Crips and Bloods land here.  I think our miscreants are bored kids from New Albany or Bexley who are vandalizing because it is fun, and because they are in neighborhoods where no one knows them or their families.  If these kids are arrested, their parents will grease the appropriate palms to make sure the problem quietly disappears, and their charges’ future employment or college enrollment is not jeopardized by this.

However, if I am wrong, and these are kids from the rougher neighborhoods trying to show the size of their testicles by vandalizing property of people who have never met them or done anything to them, arrest and even jail will not sufficiently scare them.  I have lived in Weinland Park, and before that Franklinton, and these are neighborhoods where going to jail is almost bar mitzvah for many of these kids (“today I am a man”), and the kid who gets in trouble with the law at the youngest age comes home as a celebrity to his peers.

A small incident several weeks ago has restored my faith in the people who live, work, and pass through my neighborhood.  Faithful readers of this blog will remember that in June, a week or so after Susie went to Florida for the summer, my red Schwinn Meridian adult tricycle was stolen from my front yard.  After filing a report with the police, I made the rounds (online and in person) of the bike shops, pawn shops, and bicycle communities here in Columbus, putting the word out about my stolen trike.  Several Facebook friends posted descriptions as their status, and I knew the Third Hand Bicycle Cooperative and other less orthodox channels, such as the World Naked Bike Ride organizers, would keep their eyes on the street.

Almost immediately, though, I ordered a new Meridian online, and by ComFest I was back in business, the only difference being that the new bike was blue.  Several weeks ago, I was riding at night (it was around 9:30-9:45 p.m.) back from the Whetstone Library, where I had gone to drop off some books.  I was on High Street, headed south back toward home, when a young kid in his early 20s began running after me.

I thought he was going to mug me, so I tried to pedal faster, but he ran after me and shouted, “Hey, you!  Is that bike stolen?”

This caused me to slam on my brakes.  I told him no, but I did own one that had been.  I had never seen this kid before, but word had spread about my theft.  I told him that I had been the victim, that the stolen model was identical, except that it was red, and not blue, and I had never seen it since.  I also told him I appreciated his being concerned enough to stop and ask me about it.

Maybe the spirit of OSU dropout Phil Ochs rests a little easier when he sees that he was not entirely accurate in this song:

Timing Was Everything

Since I last posted in here, I am the proud owner of a new Schwinn Meridian, identical to the stolen cherry red one–except that it’s blue.  A friend in Beechwold put it together Saturday, and I christened it with a ride back to Olde North/Baja Clintonville on Sunday afternoon.  So, I can say I’m back in business and back on three wheels.

The Beach Boys say that “good good timing (ah ah) you need good timing.”  This is true, especially in the matter of the stolen bike.  If it had to happen, this was the best time.  The bike vanished Thursday night-Friday morning, and I faced a busy week, beginning with Pride Weekend.  I would also be working at the Columbus State bookstore from Saturday morning until the following Saturday.  Had it happened any other weekend, I think I would have plunged into a rather deep depression, which would have affected my ability to do any type of work, take care of myself, or do anything proactive as far as trying to retrieve the bike or put the word out to friends and bike stores.

“Work is the best antidote to sorrow,” Sherlock Holmes said to Dr. Watson in “The Adventure of the Empty House.”  Between Pride and the bookstore job, I was able to keep myself busy and not have time to ruminate on the loss of the trike.

I am not sure how much of a correlation there is between my bipolar disorder and the problems I am having with sleep.  My psychiatrist/sleep doctor increased my lithium intake to 950 mg per day.  (He had wanted to increase it even more, but I was worried about the dyskinesia coming back.)  The first night with the CPAP was so bad that I was not physically or mentally up to working at the bookstore on Saturday morning, and I slept without it.  (This was not a smart thing to do, since my sleep doctor has told me that I’m running the risk of having a stroke in my sleep if I continue to sleep without the CPAP.)  I didn’t get to bed until nearly dawn, but I was up by 2 in the afternoon and spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening at Goodale Park and the Pride Festival.

FedEx Ground delivered my new trike in the middle of the week.  I had them send it to a friend’s house, because if my thief happens to live in this neighborhood, I didn’t want to put him in what the Catholics call “an occasion of sin” if he were to see the box on my front porch.  Between bookstore work and ComFest, I did not expect to be riding the bike for several days.  Again, there were pleasant distractions to keep me from dwelling on the fact that I still did not have three wheels beneath me.

I hate to speak ill of the departed, but the blue trike (Trike 2.0 is its temporary name) handles a bit better than the red one.  I noticed this when I took it on its maiden voyage from Beechwold back home (just under four miles).  I noticed that it was much easier to go up inclines than on the red one.  Hills still aren’t fun, they just aren’t as much of a chore.  I still would add gears or a motor to this trike were I to ride it in Cincinnati or San Francisco.  I have had Trike 2.0 for less than a week, but now I realize that the red one handled like a tank.  I have already established a familiarity with it.  There was an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series when Scotty stopped what he was doing and had a very strange look on his face.  He told Spock, “Mr. Spock, the ship feels wrong.”  Spock totally does not understand this.  Scotty says, “All instrumentation reads correctly, but the feel is wrong.”  Mr. Scott, of course, is proven right.

When I came home from Beechwold Sunday afternoon, I just had to buzz my neighbors down the block and show off the new cycle.  One of my neighbors, who had hosted the backyard movie the night of the harvest moon, said, “Just look at that smile!”  Despite being kept busy by the bookstore and the State job, I had been badly depressed by the loss of the red trike, so I think it was a relief for my neighbors to see that I had perked up and was plugging myself back into life again.  I am sure I was not very pleasant company during the trike-less week.

I have not abandoned the search for the red trike–if/when it turns up, I’m giving it to Susie.  One person I know will make a conscientious search for it.  He’s a young guy (early 20s) who also rides a trike.  He doesn’t ride a Schwinn Meridian, but a model which he converted to five speeds.  (I was at a downtown bus stop one night earlier this month, and he was riding by.  He and I talked about trikes and compared notes about them.)  Since he’s a trike rider, he will have a sixth sense for them.  It’s like if you own a Karmann Ghia or a Mustang.  It doesn’t take long before you’re instantly able to spot every model like it that’s on the road.  And Schwinn Meridian trikes aren’t exactly in demand.

My major ComFest purchase this year was a new (old) manual typewriter, a Royal Skylark.  I bought it from One Man’s Treasure, a business in Millersport.  The owner always has a booth at ComFest, and I’ve jealously eyed his wares every ComFest.  This year, I plunked down $35 and bought this portable typewriter on Saturday.  On Friday night, he had a Remington Travel Riter for sale, and I almost bought that, except for the fact that the ribbon was just about shot.  I proudly took the Skylark home on the bus, put it in my study, and then headed back to ComFest, where I stayed until it closed for the night at 10 p.m.

The Royal Skylark in its new moorings.  One way to solve the erratic Wi-Fi availability in my study.

Steph and Susie are in New York this weekend.  They took Amtrak from Florida to Newark, and will be there until early next week.  Susie was determined to go to BronyCon, a convention for devotees of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  It’s taking place in Secaucus, N.J., but New York is still quite accessible by commuter train.  Steph is chaperoning her and spending the weekend with all these apprentice furries.  I publicly declare here that she has atoned a thousandfold for any sins of omission or commission, by what she has done and things left undone.

There is nothing on my “to do” list this weekend except for Nite Owl Theater at Studio 35 on Saturday night.  As a way of christening the typewriter, I have been mentally composing (and making a few stray notes here and there in pen and paper) a poem about apnea.  It’s partially inspired by James Dickey’s poem “Diabetes,” which appears in his collection Drowning with Others.  Diabetic friends of mine say it describes the condition and the symptoms very accurately.  This is fascinating, especially since I learned later on that James Dickey never had diabetes.

The temperature today made it to 101 degrees F.  At the moment, it’s 10:42 p.m., and the temperature stands at 94 degrees.  (I almost wish I had one of those old blue Mail Pouch thermometers.)  The house has central heating, but no central air.  Currently, I’m sitting on the front porch with the laptop on my porch rail, my shirt unbuttoned, typing away.

I am tempted to sleep out here tonight, but I don’t feel like going out to Giant Eagle to buy the OFF! or citronella oil necessary to keep the many insects from having a banquet.