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Cream cheese and soda crackers

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A late Tuesday morning greets me as I stumble out of bed after a sleep tossed night. Half a tub of cream cheese spread and a packet of saltines is not a good bedtime snack, apparently. But when you are retired, it matters little. Early or late, the world still goes on with or without me.

The routine either way is to pour a cup of coffee, and stagger down the hall to the studio and peek into your world. A fast scan of US news, then world news, and a special Middle East newsfeed. Then the blogs, and finally facebook, text messages and emails.

A period of coffee sippin’ and musing follows that, and perhaps a journal will follow. Most of my journals I call the coffee is good journals. A period beginning with the soft fog of morning reverie, and slowly solidifying into a plan of action for the day. I try to not have any contact with people until I am coherent, around ten a.m., and so my emails and telephone calls are much later in the day.

My lawn is mowed, and I can look with satisfaction out into a neat and orderly universe of swifts darting inches above the ground, mocking birds mimicking piercing calls and arguing with the cardinals. Kippur the Budgie fussing and scolding me. She is in the middle of another molt, and gets real cranky during them.

Another ten minutes, and morning talk radio will automatically kick on, and once again, the world will intrude into my little corner of paradise. But such is our world.

Good morning!

~r

Happy Easter, or Happy Astarte, or Enjoy the Day!

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… just started in on my second cup of coffee. It didn’t take me long to get thru the mornings news and blogs.

There is lots of blogs on Easter, the resurrection, and friends on facebook wishing me a Happy Easter. Not that I mind. I am happy to be wished a happy anything, ‘cept perhaps a Happy Prostrate Exam day. But I do find it a bit odd that Christians would use a pagan idol like Ishtar or Astarte to commemorate their god rising from the grave. Maybe someday I’ll investigate this mystery.

Today is going to be partly cloudy, with a one in three chance of rain. But the air is full of the sound of lawn mowers. Big ones, little ones, and grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr weed eaters, all beating back the verges of wilderness.

We are a curious lot too. We buy a parcel out in the wilds to enjoy nature, and set about civilizing it. Rattlesnakes got to go, but we set out baths and seed for birds. Coyotes are not appreciated, but we have tame dogs. And of course, field mice and rats need to be poisoned off. Snookums will NOT live with mice. Don’t water at night, because frogs multiply, and where there are frogs, there are copperheads and rattlers. Don’t leave lumber stacked on the ground. Keep the weeds mowed to provide a fire break, and cut down any cedar closer than 50 yards.

But all that is just distant musing on this soft Sunday morning. Soon, I’ll prepare for our First Fruits celebration at the shul. Two, maybe three hours out of the day. Then back this afternoon, put the new battery in the old pickup, maybe mow the front acreage if I have time.

Today is bath day for Kippur the Budgie. She really perks up on bath days, zooming thru the bath and flitting back up to the perch to shake the water off and fight with a few toys. Unless a really big bird perches on the porch handrail just outside the window. Then we get veeeeeryyy quiet and still.

So as the day slowly runs by, and the coffee nears the bottom of the cup, I leave you with a “Happy Easter” if you are so inclined, or greet you with “Chag Sameach” if that is your tradition, or enjoy the day off if that is your particular belief.

~r

Messy Musings

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Dowhrnowknower

OK … sit at the keyboard and type something. Anything to get the ball rolling.

That is the normal way I try to get off a journal. My studio looks out over the front yard, and that is the first thing I notice when I sit down with my coffee cup in the morning. To one side is Kippur the Budgie’s cage. That is why so many of my journals start off with the yard and the bird.

But some mornings, that doesn’t inspire me. I don’t wanna force my mind into composing sentences. I just want to sip coffee and vege. This morning was one of those days. I ditched services today for no other reason than I just didn’t wanna. I didn’t wanna shower. I didn’t wanna dress. I didn’t wanna load the car. I didn’t wanna spend four hours away from home.

But something always seems to impel me to write, even when I don’t wanna. I’ll bang out nonsensical pieces that I rarely share. Or maybe I’ll pick up an old piece and rework a few paragraphs. Politics used to be a motivator of mine, but I am to the point that I have given up, because nothing short of a bloody revolt is going to put our nation back on a secure path. And revolutions too often replace the bad with an even worse. And all in all, given the high level of misery in the world, does it really matter? I got mine, and I’ll die with as much of it as I can. Not that it matters even at that. I don’t have much in the way of new stuff, so probably when I pass, most of my “stuff” will end up in a landfill, and I’ll not care a whit at that point.

Anyway … to all, I wish a very great day.

~r

The mornings flogging …

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… today, my date at Cardiac Rehab looms like death over the left shoulder. Sitting here sippin’ my morning coffee as the clock ticks away toward that fateful moment when I climb into the car seat and start off to my appointment with perky Morgan, my “trainer”. Also known as Bruinhilda, the slave driver.

I try to focus on the mundane, such as noting that the pecan tree out front is in full dress this morning, the tree rose that ‘Becca the Beagledestructor chewed the bark off of is sending out canes with pink roses from the root graft, the bluebonnets and indian paintbrushes in the field are in full bloom, and the grass needs mowing.

But first, fifteen minutes on the recumbent, five minutes on the chest cranks, and fifteen minutes on the treadmill, cranking out electricity for the teaching hospital, all done under Bruinhilda’s flail.

Some days just aren’t for musing.

Rusty Rehab

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Well, I survived the first day of Cardiac Rehab. Barely.

After proudly parking in the furthest reaches of the parking lot, I entered the Cardiac wing of the hospital and walked the entire length of the building to the entrance of the dungeon lab. I was greeted by the head of the unit, who knew who I was as soon as I walked in the door.

“Your cardiac pouch is waiting on the table, Mr Armor. Take it to the back as you were told last week.”

“You are that sure I would be here today?”

“Yes, Mr Armor. We know these things.”

In no time, one of the therapists had the tail of my t-shirt up and swiped a spot with a cold swab of alcohol and placed a telemetry sticker on my side, then snaked the leads down from the neck and snapped them onto the stickers. Then she tied on the pouch with my name on it and dropped the device into the pocket.

First off was the recumbent bike. Fifteen minutes and a very low setting. I was a little nervous at the thought of fifteen minutes, but actually it was not so bad. My legs were a bit wobbly and weak afterwards, and I wasn’t too sure I was going to be able to stand very long when the session ended, but I managed to walk across the room to another machine that you cranked with your hands, and sat down.

The therapist set it up, again at a low level, showed me how fast I needed to crank it, and I started cranking … I was glad that it was only five minutes. My arms still ache an hour and a half later.

Without pause, it was onto the treadmill. The therapist set it up for an easy pace, but failed to note that it was on an incline from the previous patient. “Fifteen minutes” she said, and pushed [START] about thirty seconds into the walk I knew I wasn’t going to make fifteen minutes. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make five.

The therapist came over and noted the incline, and reduced it, and allowed me to reduce the pace a little. I still wasn’t certain I was going to make fifteen, but they asked me to try for twelve assuring me assured me that my heartbeat was in the target range, and I wasn’t dying. Cool. I hate dying.

My butt hurt. My hips hurt. My knees threatened to give out. Almost imperceptible after images of angina made my teeth ache. Breakfast sloshed around my jiggling belly and made me nauseous. But I stayed the twelve, and maybe, I could have made fifteen without collapsing.

And I was done. The expertly ripped of the telemetry stickers, retrieved the wires and sent me to the front with my little pouch where I pinned it onto the cork board. Waiting for me was the therapist. She assured me that they weren’t trying to kill me, and that merely being winded is not abnormal. Perhaps I could work just a little harder Wednesday? I dunno. I just barely made it today, but I said …. “maybe”.

The walk back to the car was precarious. I reeled down the hallways on rubber legs looking like a drunken sailor, and on out to the car, barely hanging on to my keys with my shaking fingers, and gratefully plopped into the waiting car seat. I had plans to stop at the hearing aid people for some minor adjustments, then down to the grocery for next Sunday’s breakfast fixings, and stop at the synagogue for a little bit. But they quickly got canceled. I was going home. Period.

The drive wasn’t so bad, and other drivers were probably happy that I wasn’t my usual aggressive self. Pulling into the carport, and staggering into the house kicking off my shoes as I went, I started this little journal. A few words into it, and I see Snookums car pull into the drive from her morning of foraging. Damn. Grocery day. It is a tad over a hundred feet from the kitchen to the car. And a tad over a hundred feet from the car to the kitchen. Snookums is preparing for Passover, so she had lots of stuff, and I am not feeling Sherpa like today, so it is going to take me six trips to unload her finds. I got the groceries, but the angina really started in, so I missed muscling the usual fifty pounds of dog food into the kitchen and let Snookums do it. I usually don’t permit her to do that.

Anyway, I slipped the suspenders off, and plopped down in front of the glowing Cyclops again to finish this post off. It is going to be a long 35 weeks.

~r

My name is Rusty, and I am a hoarder

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A misty cool morning with distant thunder-boomers wandering about randomly dropping rain and lightning strikes. An all-day rainy day. We love those now. They are so rare.

Snookums comes into the studio bearing that first cup of hot coffee from the brewer. Kippur slowly warms up to the rainy day routine. And I with sleep swollen fingers sit down to work the gentle ache away.

Too soon it will be time to mix up some waffle batter and maybe some turkey sausage to go with it. But for the moment, I can feel a wee bit sinful in sitting here in pj’s and letting the day unfold.

This is a fix the icemaker day. I can just feel it in my bones. And maybe *sob!*, it is treasure sorting day, sorting the clutter that surrounds me. I am a hoarder, and being separated from my treasures causes me great angst. No telling when I might need an appointment reminder for last July, or an empty packet of dental floss. But the rule is, if it wasn’t needed during the past year, it probably will never be needed.

But all that is hours down the road. For the nonce, just me and thee, and a cup of coffee …

Cardiac Arrest

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Well, nurse Ratched at the Cardiac Rehabilition Unit wasn’t so bad. A sweet, trim and fit blond and two other young ladies met me as I wandered into the door.

“Mr. Armor!”

Turns out that nurse Ratched’s name is Morgan, and she is my Exercise Physiologist. Arrayed around us was a plethora of geezers chained to recumbent bikes and treadmills, all with a pink and sweaty faces. It was a bit like slave galley’s on Viking ships. I suppose that the machines were hooked up to generate power for the hospital.

“Do you know why you are here, Mr Armor?”

“Because I have been a bad boy?” Maybe the cardiologist did write “LAZY” on the assessment.

“No. Not at all. Lots of people need a bit of help after surgery. You have quite a history, Mr. Armor.”

“It was a set up. I wasn’t in those states when it went down”

Blank look. Well, so much for my Broderick Crawford routine. These well-scrubbed sprites have never heard of Broderick Crawford, nor of his award winning performance of On the Waterfront.

“We will be doing a lot of testing these next few days. You will have 38 sessions, most of which will require a little exertion. If you cannot make an appointment, call us, and we will reschedule it. You won’t lose a session, we will just pick up from where you canceled.”

“You really aren’t going to let me out of this, are you.”

“No. As we go through each test, we will ask you what your Borg is.”

“Will I be assimilated?”

I saw from the looks of the three young women that they had no clue, so they sort of tittered, and tried to not give the geezer a blank look.

“You’ve never seen Star Trek, have you.”

One said: “I watched a couple of them at my aunt’s house. I don’t remember any one asking what their Borg was, though.”

“Never mind.”

Borg lets us know how you are feeling on a scale of 6 through 20. If you are feeling uncomfortable, we want to know. Do you carry Nitro tablets with you?”

“Will I need them?”

“We just like to have them here with you, even though our resident Cardiologists are just down the hall and we can get you up to the Cardiac unit very quickly.”

“I feel very comforted by that.”

“Good! Let’s get you wired up, and we are going to do a six minute walk to bet a benchmark.”

“I haven’t left a mark on a bench since high school.”

They pretended they didn’t hear that.

Anyway, I did ok with the walk, and they sent me home, chirping: “See you Monday!”.

“… and Wednesday and Friday” I mumbled as I stumbled out the door …