Thursday, July 29, 2010

Time to leave

As the last week of my 6 1/2 month assignment at Harrison comes to an end I marvel once again at how quickly time flys. For the first time, though, I've likened this departure to dying. The end of the post below may come clear now having read this.
My wife always says, "leave a place/position when your riding high." And that is exactly what is happening here. This has been a fabulous assignment with terrific staff and so with the "end" in sight we all are feeling a sense of loss and remorse. Regardless of the goodbyes, come back to see us, and don't be a stranger comments, we all know that for most of us this is the last time we will encounter each other and so we depart. No I don't think I'll be pushing up grass, but still the sense of loss is the same.


Monday, July 26, 2010

It was going on towards 2 weeks since we’d told her that she was going to die. Even in her drugged state she was coherent; aware of her surroundings and capable of in-the-present conversations with visitors. Her relatives and all her living friends had come to say their goodbyes. How often does that happen? Thirty years prior, her husband had died without so much as a how-do-you-do!
A couple of days before she actually crossed over, I stopped in in the morning, as I did every morning before work, to see what, if anything, had changed:
“How ya doin’ mom?”
Slowly opening her eyes, she stared straight into mine; “I ain’t dead yet!” She said matter-of-fact, in a tone that said, I’m tired of waiting, let’s get on with it, OK?

I’m reminded of that question that comes up every now and then in social conversation: do you want to know when you're going to die?
Friday, I’m scheduled to die this Friday. D.D. said goodbye today. Everybody else is professing their individual sadnesses and stating their wishes that they don’t want me to go.

I’ll make the bed before I leave!

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

After Dr. Zhivago;
and Wimpy's,
43 years of marriage!

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. ~Mignon McLaughlin


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Magpie #23

A life long reader, he had taken of late to writing. Writing down tales from his past, observations of the present and thoughts on the mysteries of life. The muse that lit his imagination's fuse has been suffocated like a fire is extinguished with a soda acid mixture. The words are there but the ideas are not......fizzled like a fire cracker dud..pfsst, gone, kaput; buried in Angela's Ashes.

Free falling for 19 months, a blink of an eye------- the net, the net, where is the net?

Perhaps the river carrying it's ships, or the train click clacking along, or the clouds, or the heron. Perhaps the sunsets? No not there, at least not yet. Trees? One would think, but no, not even there in these lifelong friends. Can the fire be relit?

Can life be renewed, inspiration rekindled?

What's this I spy: pixilated pixie dust? Maybe. Sprinkle it around and wait. No, No, don't wait:
write, WRite, WRIte, WRITE NOW; right now!

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Monday, July 12, 2010

"Mr. Tom"

All that weeding, hoeing and cultivating early on had paid off he thought, as he pulled the lemon grass and purslane that was niggling it's way right up close to the stems of the pepper plants. Yesserie he thought; gonna look mighty purdy when folks walk by comin' down the hill to watch the parade.

Doc had been planting a garden here on the hill along side Columbia street nigh on to 35 years now. Pretty much planted it these here days for the looks of it more than for any produce he might glean from it. Not to say he didn't relish the crops when they were ripe. In the early days when he and the missus were raising a family and didn't have much money left after paying the mortgage and the taxes, a garden was necessary to help put healthful food on the table. But now his main goal was to impress passers-by with the "art" of it all. His wife still teased him about using his yard stick to make sure everything was placed just so: tomato plants 36" apart in rows 36" apart, green beans 2" apart (thin to 4" apart) in rows 18" apart, and so on. She'd say, "next thing, you'll be using a protractor to lay out the garden." Little did she know that that was exactly what he used when drawing out each year's garden plan.

"Beautiful garden you've got there," said the passerby. " Looks like you'll be eating ripe tomatoes soon?"

"Yes sir, I think so. As long as the blight that wiped out the entire crop last year stays away."

"What are those plants there? asked the visitor.

" Those are eggplant, planted them for the first time last year. The missus cooked up some delicious eggplant Parmesan, I can tell ya that!"

The man sauntered down the hill toward Main St. to find his spot to view the parade and issued one last compliment to Doc; "well sir, you've got a garden to be proud of ."

"Thanks for saying so mister, and enjoy the parade." said Doc.

Doc leaned on the handle of his five pronged cultivator and as he surveyed his handy work, he remembered the day his first met Mr. Tom, nearly 30 years ago. Still don't know if that was his name, but that's what I always called him and he never corrected me thought Doc.

"Cumere hon" said the missus, "there's an old man out on the street staring at your garden."
Peering out the kitchen window doc saw the old duffer.

Doc thought: "he was probably the age then that I am now."

He'd walked out and said: Hey young fella, how ya doin'?

"Hi neighbor" said the old man, "I was just admiring your tomatoes. What kind are they?"

"Delicious" said Doc. It's a brand of heirloom tomato. I bought the seed from Burpee's"

" Boy they're huge," said the visitor.

" Some can get to be a pound or more" said Doc. "Would ya like some?"

"One would be plenty" said the man, just for a taste, if you can spare one."

"Here, let me get you a bag and you take a few."

" no, one'll be 'nuff son, thanks a bunch!"

The following weeks Mr. Tom strolled down the hill and stopped to check the garden. Doc went out and offered him samples of everything when they were ripe but no, Mr. Tom would say, One tomato is plenty Mr. L., One is plenty and thanks abunch.

Mr. Tom came by every week 'til the frost , and Doc tilled the garden under.

"I wonder what ever became of Mr. Tom," thought Doc.

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Friday, July 09, 2010

A little serendipity yesterday:
The surgery schedule was very light; 2 cases and I was finished by 0930. I figured if I left right away from Syracuse I'd be at our cottage on the river in time for lunch and away I drove. Being mid-morning, the traffic was light, although there were plenty of troopers scanning what traffic there was. Indeed, I did arrive at the cottage at 1140, just before D. arrived with lunch fixin's from the grocery. Lunch under the cedars by the river's edge; wow, It doesn't get much better.
While enjoying the ambiance and reading my book (history of the 14th century England) Diane interjected, while reading the newspaper article describing the beginning of blueberry picking at Merkley's, that we should go out there at 5 pm and pick a few baskets full of blueberries. I wasn't keen on leaving the shore to pick berries in the sweltering heat but I relented and the results are 14 heaping quart baskets of beautiful ripe blueberries.
A simple supper of cold bbq'd chicken, tomatoes with mozzarella, basil and balsamic vinegar and fresh bread, all washed down with a Red Diamond Merlot completed a perfect unplanned spur -of-the-moment, interlude.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Veggie garden July 4th 2010

The vegetable garden is looking good this year. Although, last year it looked great until late in the season when the tomato blight hit, completely decimating our tomato crop. I think it's the first time in 35 years of gardening that we didn't harvest one tomato.

So far this year is looking different. The Roma patio plant that I planted in the garden is full of tomatoes and a few are already beginning to ripen. As was the case last year , everything else is doing marvelously. Due to the long cool, and wet spring the spinach harvest lasted a few weeks longer than normal and thus D. harvested beaucoup amounts of spinach, giving many bags full to friends and family.

I got the planting done early this year; end of April into early may which has given the onions and garlic a great start. Those crops that prefer cooler weather have done extremely well: the cabbages and broccoli are huge.

With this week's heat wave, I expect the warm weather crops to have a growth spurt. The other crops this year include eggplant, carrots, green beans, peppers both hot and sweet, zucchini, yellow crook neck summer squash, cucumbers, and 2 types of winter squash: Waltham and acorn. The green beans are getting so tall I had to check the package to make sure I hadn't planted pole beans by mistake. Nope, they're bush beans, so I'm not sure why they're getting so tall.

I confident that the weeds are manageable for the rest of the season. The first few weeks are the most important when it comes to cultivating the soil to keep the weeds tamed.

The three salsa pepper plants that my friend and florist, Joe Basta, gave me this year are doing fabulously. In fact there are a number of spicy peppers ready to be harvested now.



Tuesday, July 06, 2010

OFA marching band. July 4th, 2010, Morristown. Featuring Matilde Perrier

On the whole this microcosm in which I dwell has been very kind to me of late. That is to say: life has been pretty good for me for quite a while now. Maybe that's why I haven't been writing much lately; who wants to hear about life on the high side? We'd rather read about the low side of life, the down and out, the criminal, the adulterers, the war mongers, and the greedy McFreadys of the world spilling black gold into the pristine waters of the Gulf and fouling the shores of the gulf coast. So who has time to read or write about the mundane good days of our lives.
This past 4th of July holiday weekend was one of the best, weatherwise, for the Morristown Firemen's annual field day that I've witnessed in my 33 years of living on the parade route. The fire works were lit off on Friday night the 2nd and from the sounds of it (no I didn't watch, but the 1812 overture blasts guided me to slumber land) were awesome; the crowd parked along the highway certainly was, at least for sheer numbers. The parade started with the fire siren right on time at 10 AM Saturday the 3rd. None of our children made it home this year for the Fourth but we were graced with good company: Bonnie and the girls came up and sat on our lawn to watch the sights and collect a Halloween amount of candy tossed about by the local politicians. In addition, my French tutor Johanne, stopped by and joined us on the lawn to view the passing bands and floats. Her daughter is a sax player in OFA's band and this will be her last season marching with the band. Next year she is bound for Belgium for a year as an exchange student.
Friday through Monday was as hot, hazy and humid a Fourth as I've every witnessed, giving credence to the saying quoted by an old friend, Jerry Jacobson. Doc was fond of saying: here in the northcountry we have two seasons; winter and the 4th of July.
Newspaper readership seems to be on the wane these past 10 to 15 years. "They" say it's the "net's" fault. maybe so, probably is but who's to say? Things come and things go. Recently I heard on good authority that CWK, a newsman of local repute is intending to retire at the end of the year. That will be a very sad day for the north country. Sad for me because I'm still a reader of newspapers; the real in-your-hand newsprint. As I've "matured" the order to which I read the paper has changed. Fifty plus years ago I turned to the funnies page first to see what Joe Palooka was up to, and check on Dagwood and Blondie. I was in awe of Dick Tracey's wrist walkie talkie. Prince Valiant was my idol, but the Phantom ran a close second. Little Lulu and Sluggo, Peanuts, and Family Circus were entertaining and educational too.
Then at a certain age the sports page was the centerpiece of my reading, following the NY Yankees: Yogi and Mickey, and the NY Giants football team with it's Sam Huff and Y.A. Tittle. When my mother asked me what I intended to do after H.S. graduation I replied: "I'm goin to take Yogi's place and catch for the Yankees."
With marriage and family, the front page with it's world and regional news took center stage. Those years in my 30s and 40s when I thought I could make a difference in the flow of mankind, I kept apace of what was going on. It didn't take long to come to the understanding that the world was/is heading for hell in a hand basket and nothing you or I do will change that. And that's okay too, 'cause it was before I got here and will continue after I leave. No right, no wrong, no good, no bad, it just is and just get on with it.
Now the first thing I check is the obit page; want to know which of my friends and acquaintances are moving on before me. I checked it today and I didn't know any of the recently departed. So there, you see, what I said at the beginning of this ramble holds true to date. Things are pretty good so far. Tomorrow might well be another story but for the moment: "Our hearts are warm, our bellies are full, And we are feeling prime. This was a real nice clambake, And we all had a real good time."

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Sunday, July 04, 2010

Starburst explosions;
Symbols of celebration.
Siss, boom, pop pop pop.
My first recollection of a fireworks display on the 4th of July was when my age was written with a single numeral. It was a birthday celebration, and I'm sure that the adults in attendance were aware of the duality of the festivities. But for me, it was Uncle Ed's birthday party. The bestest part for me was the yellow cake with chocolate frosting, his favorite, made by Aunt Nellie.
After dark, mom put a lit sparkler in my little hand and showed me how to trace sparkling light trails in the air. Meanwhile the men were setting off roman candles, rockets, cherry bombs and strings of firecrackers. We all oohed and ahhed at the starbursts and booms, and booed at the duds. The whole thing was over in 15 minutes and everyone said their final happy birthdays to Uncle Ed, commented on the day's perfect weather, and departed for each of their respective homes around the neighborhood.
A decade later, in early adolescence, when a few friends and I would sneak across the river to Canada on the ferry: sneak? Yeah right; like every adult on board didn't know who we were, where we were going and why! School was out and the 4th of July was just around the corner. It was illegal to sell fireworks in New York State but not so in Canada. We were off to spend our paper route monies on packets of firecrackers, with the keen knowledge that our clandestine trip would go undetected and that the custom's agents would never suspect that we were bringing illegal contraband into the U.S..
Of course besides the 'crackers we would also buy a cone of chips with vinegar plus some other trinkets so as to "fool" the custom's agents into thinking that that was the real reason for our trip to Prescott.
How they must have chuckled after they let us through without searching us, knowing full well that there would be plenty of mini explosions in the 'burg on the 4th of July.

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Motoring home after work today to enjoy a 3 day weekend and celebrate the 4th of July; God willing!
The 4th of July is second in importance only to Christmas for me, as it should be; God and country don't ya know.
I'll be reflecting on my good fortune to have been born in the USA and the sacrifices of so many of our ancestors that made that possible.