Archive | April, 2015

Comcast, Part II

30 Apr

We had a fairly large locust tree, about five feet from the road, which died a few years ago. This was not a do-it-yourself project, so we hired a local company to come out and cut it down for us. Not a big deal, about two hours, and not as expensive as it might have been, as we have a friend who heats with wood, and will come over to collect the wood and help clean up the debris.


We also have a River Birch which has died, and it is leaning into the electric wires, as well the wires from Comcast. You may remember that our last go-round with Comcast took almost a month to untangle, and we still aren’t happy with the service. (A classic case of getting what you pay for.) We’ve had Comcast for over thirty years, and when it was installed they did not have the technology for the Quick Disconnect box which is now standard, and we need to have somebody come out to handle this in person.

So – The Squire called Comcast and explained what we needed. I heard him say, quite firmly, “No we do not want to terminate the service.” Transfer to another department, and of course, get cut off. Call back and start over. Once again, the woman who answered grabbed the word “disconnect” and tried to talk him out of cancelling the service and then tried to sell him a bunch of upgrades! After some rather sharp conversation, he did finally get Comcast to understand what we need, and they will send somebody out “soon” to install the Quick Disconnect box, so when the tree people come back, we can drop and replace the line ourselves.

One thing which had bugged us ever since The Squire changed our Comcast service was that things seemed so much slower than before it was “improved”. While the second young lady was checking, she found we only had half the speed we were supposed to have, so she said she was going to fix it.

We shall see.

Once that is done, the tree company will coordinate with Baltimore Gas & Electric to take care of that part of things.

One of the workers dropped his “smart phone” while he was here, and The Squire called the tree company to tell them we have it. The silly thing has rung twice, but neither of us can figure out how to answer it! Ain’t it grand?

Don’t Bury Me at Sea

29 Apr

I have seen enough water problems in the forty years we’ve lived here to last me well into eternity.

Sometime during the winter a new spring opened up in the flower bed outside the den window. The water runs under the retaining wall, along the walkway, and then spreads across the walk until it reaches a point where it can cross and run down the other side and into a trench The Squire and I dug to direct it vaguely in the direction of the stream. I scrub the walk about once month with the push broom and bleach water to keep the “yuck” under control.

Last week we noticed a new spring about ten feet from one of the two wells in the front yard (We don’t call this place the “Rice Paddy” just to be funny.) and this morning The Squire went out to see if he could figure some way to direct the water toward the well, rather than having another trench or a sinkhole in the front yard.  To make a long story short, the answer is No. We did use the plumber’s snake on the pipe that runs from the well to the pond, and we are hoping that opening that up completely will keep water from seeping up into the yard any more than it is already. The well has so much pressure that it was coming up around the pipe faster than we could sweep the water into the pipe.

We were carrying all the tools back to the house, and I had kicked off my shoes rather than get them all muddy walking across the yard. The Squire, in a moment of pure whimsy, decided to go down the walk “to keep his shoes dry”. Mind you, his shoes cost over $400 and are made to conform to his feet, so this was not a totally unreasonable idea. However, the walk is covered with water – and slime.

Before I had a chance to react, his feet went out from under him, and he went crashing to the ground. He tore up his left shin, and managed to get himself thoroughly covered with dirt. Blazer was hopping all around, trying to help his poppa, and both of the humans – in spite of the pain – were laughing so hard it was difficult to get The Squire upright again.

A warm shower, lots of gauze and Bacitracin, some aspirin, and a dish of ice cream, and I think he’s going to survive.

Don’t Ask

27 Apr

A sad faced man sat at the bar, staring into his beer. A big burly bloke came over and asked him what was wrong. When the man didn’t answer, the bloke picked up the man’s beer and drained it, while the man looked on, aghast.

“What?  You got a problem with that, buddy?”

“No. It’s just the way things have gone today,” the man replied. “My dog got run over this morning, which made me late for work.  My boss got mad and fired me. I collected my belongings, and when I got outside I found my car had been stolen. I had to take a taxi home, and my wife was in bed with another man, so I came to the bar to drown my sorrows.

“And now you come along and drink my poison.”

It’s been that sort of week. Just don’t ask. Maybe I’ll tell you about it later.

The Trouble With Getting Old…

23 Apr

…is that you spend all of your spare time going to funerals.

Tuesday, I attended the service for a woman who died at 94; she was born the same year as my mother.  This morning, it was a fellow who was part of my teen years “gang”. He was two years older than I, and I had gone to high school with his wife. Unsettling, to say the least.

Speaking of unsettling – Mrs. G’s coffin was covered with a pall decorated with brilliant rainbow stripes. When my startled eyes sought out the rector I saw she was wearing a stole with the same rainbow – and butterflies.

It was the Crusillo emblem, which is an Episcopal charismatic group, not Gay Pride.  Although as open minded as Eleanor was, it wouldn’t have surprised me.

A Mentor

22 Apr

A posting on one of the blogs I follow - – talked about mentors and favorite teachers – somebody who really inspired you to make something of your life.

Perhaps if I had been able to stay at Samuel Ready, I might have been able to accomplish more according to the ways of the world. Many of my classmates went on to be lawyers, scientists, etc., in a time when this was not expected of women. (I graduated in 1960.) Unfortunately, I finished the last three years of my education in public school, and under my mother’s roof.

Going from a school with an average class size of ten to classes of forty-five to fifty was a jolt to the system, and coming from an all-girl environment to a co-ed situation darned near killed me. In many ways I was much more sophisticated than my classmates, but what I knew about boys could have been written on my thumbnail, with room to spare. I was, in short, a total nerd.  My mom’s attitude swung between “you can do better than this” to “self-praise stinks”.

It was a no-win situation. Whatever self confidence I may have gained at Samuel Ready was shot full of holes.

After The Squire and I got married, he encouraged me to go back to college and take some courses to get ahead at Blue Cross. The beginning requirements were English 101, which was a primarily a writing course. I loved it! My professor spoke highly of my work, and even read some of my papers to the entire class. He encouraged me to use my writing, perhaps going into Public Relations or even submitting things to the local paper. I did take some college courses in PR, as well as sign language, hoping to get into TV broadcasting.

I never go into broadcasting, and ended up leaving Blue Cross with medical problems, but I have used my writing and speaking talents to edit newspaper articles, teach classes in American History, and help deaf patients when I worked at Hopkins.

Not bad for a nerd.

All Dogs Go to Heaven

21 Apr

The Squire and I normally eat our breakfast in front of the computer, checking our email before we start the day. I bring Blazer’s dish into the den and he eats with us.

Dinner and supper, we eat in the dining room, with the dog’s dish on the floor at the end of the table. He will not start eating until we do.  Today, both The Squire and I were out at dinner time, and even though we had put food in the dish, it was untouched when The Squire got home. When he sat down to work a crossword puzzle, the dog came in and sat beside the dish, looking up expectantly. Finally, The Squire bent his head and said grace over his puzzle, and the dog began to eat.

You may make of that what you wish.

You Know It’s Going to be a Strange Day…

19 Apr

…when you look out the kitchen window and see a HUGE snapping turtle resting on top of the wood pile.

We have no idea how he (?) managed to get so far from where he was headed, which was probably the pond in the front yard, but the wood pile is against the patio railing, and the stream is just on the other side of the fence. Obviously, the critter was instinctively headed for the nearest water, but he certainly wasn’t going to get there from where he was. What would seem to be the direct route is not always the best approach.

Fortunately, the wheelie bin didn’t have much recycling in it, so I just dumped it out onto the patio. I put the bin behind the snapper and the lid in front of him, and he backed himself up, right where I wanted him. The Squire put the bin in the van and trucked our visitor over to church, where a flight of steps leads directly down into the Gunpowder River. Bon Voyage, Charlie!

Another member of the congregation was working on the Colonial Garden and asked The Squire what he had in the bin. He showed her, and Dot shuddered. “I’m surprised your wife didn’t try to make a pet of it.”

Boy! She’s got me pegged.

What’s in the Box?

17 Apr

Our bank is closing their local branch, so we had to go over and take everything out of the safe deposit box and move it to another location. They obviously wanted us to move it to the next nearest branch, which happens to be near up the Y, which wouldn’t be wildly inconvenient, but there is a “hometown” bank right in Joppatowne that offered the same size box for $10 less a year.

So much for retiree benefits.

Before taking the contents to the new bank, we spread everything on the dining room table to take a look at what we had.  Home inventory photos needed to be updated, some items moved to local daughter’s safe deposit box. (Hint: do not put your will or your Medical Directive [living will] in your safe deposit box. Ever, ever, ever.)  I must have had a dozen copies of my dad’s death certificate, but did not see a single one for my mom. Obviously, I had one, as I managed to close out her estate.  Eventually.

Once we got it all sorted out we trekked over to Hometown Bank to get a new box.  While we were sitting at the manager’s desk, I noticed the box of tissue, which was labeled “Spring Grove”.  Always nosey, I picked it up and turned it over, to see that it had been manufactured in Spring Grove, OH. The manager chuckled. “Obviously, Spring Grove doesn’t mean there what it means here”.

I told her Spring Grove hadn’t always been simply a mental asylum; it had also been a tuberculosis sanitarium.

“I didn’t know that.”

“Yeah. I had two relatives who died there. One was sick and the other was crazy.”

Restless Leg Syndrome

13 Apr

I have had Restless Leg Syndrome since about 1985 or so, and have been taking Klonopin pretty nearly continuously since then to control the spasms.  I was taking a quarter of a half milligram tablet when my dad had his brain surgery in 1991; I took two pills, and they lasted me the entire week I stayed in Roxboro with my mom.

My regular neurologist retired and I went in to meet his replacement and go over my meds. He informed me than Klonopin was “no longer the drug of choice” for treating RLS. Today, if a doctor told me that, I’d just tell him it works, and that’s that. Go away and leave me alone. Well, the first thing he did was put me on Sinemet, which had a horrific rebound effect. (Doctors call this augmentation; I call it Hell.) It didn’t allow me to sleep all night, but would wake me up after four or five hours with leg spasms, and if I sat still for too long – such as driving to work – my legs would begin dancing all over the place. He refused to put me back on Klonopin, but tried Permax, which made me pass out without warning,  several other equally useless (or worse) things, and finally started me on Neurontin, which led to one of the best lines I’ve ever pulled off.

Neurontin caused horrible insomnia. I was getting by on three hours sleep – if I was lucky. I  had a friend, a surgeon, who used to save me his used scalpel blades. This was back before you had to worry about a lot of odd bugs, but I would boil them, toss the rusty ones, and use the good ones in my X-acto knife. One night, I was working on a dollhouse, and the knife rolled across the table and hit my foot. When I reached down to retrieve it, I discovered it has slipped between two metatarsals and pierced an artery in my foot. I tried to stop the bleeding but only succeeded in turning the bathroom into a scene from the Maryland Chainsaw Massacres. I finally woke The Squire, who came down and patched me up.

Of course, he was afraid I was going to Get Something. “Oh, for pete’s sake, I was working on the dollhouse. The worst that can happen is I’ll get shingles!”

Confined to Quarters

11 Apr

Wednesday night, I noticed a soreness on the left side of my throat, going up into my ear. Aspirin and lots of fluids, and figured that was the end of it. By yesterday, I could barely speak, which you may have guessed is pretty serious for me.

Last night, I had a choking fit. My throat was sore and my uvula was so swollen I couldn’t breathe. This morning The Squire piled me into the car and took me to the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center. (A friend says he has a hard time reconciling the words “Johns Hopkins” with “Doc in a Box”, but that is exactly what it is.) I was so exhausted, and still dopey from the codeine cough syrup, that I fell asleep on his shoulder after they had taken my BP and temperature.  My local cousin’s wife (cousin-in-law?) was coming out just as they called me back for treatment. She spoke to me and asked why I was there, but I couldn’t answer her and just motioned to The Squire. Turns out she also had a scratchy throat, and he told her he hoped she “caught” it before it turned into the monster I have.

Anyway, I am confined to quarters for the duration, and on penicillin, codeine and Chloraseptic until further notice.

I have to tell you, Chloraspetic does work, but it tastes the way an old dog bed smells. I can’t get it in the right place when I spray it, so The Squire has to do it for me. True love, and all that. My throat is still sorest on the left side, so that’s where he aims. I was swishing the stuff around and then swallowing it, but he informed me I am supposed to spit it out. He has been fluffing and patting, plying me with hot chocolate, tea, and soft scrambled eggs.

What would I do without him?