“Well, there was the guy who killed his wife, then cut her up and fed her to the pigs.”

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‘Yes, my Mom spent time in a prison. And make that “Prison” with a capital “P.”‘

My Mom was a nurse when she married my Dad, and she worked for a few years at Regular Nurse Jobs.

My Mom when she got “capped,” which is like graduation for nurses

I remember when I was in kindergarten and we lived in Memphis, she worked at Methodist Hospital, which my three-year-old brother Scott mispronounced as “Memphodist.” Mom didn’t correct him; she thought it was cute. (She also didn’t correct us when we referred to the “Entire State Building.”)

Mom, with one and a half kids

Well, after a while, nursing while “momming” got to be a bit too much, so she hung up her white cap and devoted herself to bringing up us kids. 

Mom had plenty on her plate, with kids ranging from Big (me) to Little (Toddler Doug) and three more in between. That’s Middle Bro Roger sporting a muscle tee on the left

But then, after years of carpooling and band recitals and PTA, the big kids flew the coop and the little kids turned into high schoolers. And Mom found she wanted to exercise her nursing muscle once again. And earn a little coin besides.

I was gone by then, both physically — off to college — and emotionally — totally absorbed in turning into a Grownup — and I wasn’t very tuned in to what was happening with the folks back at home.

Was Mom working at the prison when this was taken? I was getting ready to bolt for New York, so of course I have absolutely no idea

For example, there was a period when a foreign exchange student was living in our house — a foreign exchange student  (from Chile? Peru?) who came and went — and I never even met him.

So, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I wasn’t all that up to speed about the various nursing-related jobs my Mom had. I do recall that, for a time, she drove around to people’s houses conducting physicals for an insurance company. I remember that job because my Mom said that, invariably, the people she was supposed to give physicals to lived on remote farms with furiously barking dogs. Huge dogs that would lunge at her car door, leaving scratches on the finish and drool on the glass. “Come on out, he’s friendly,” these people would insist as my Mom cowered inside.

Mom and getting-pretty-big Doug visiting Independent Scott (who took this photo) in Oregon

So no wonder the job in Vandalia sounded more, well, normal. She could drive to work, park in a parking lot, and do her nursing in a nice clean nurse’s office. The fact that the office was inside a prison didn’t faze her in the least.

(Speaking of prisons, if you haven’t read my piece “That’ll Teach You,” you might want to take a look. It’s about the time I spent in prison — locked in a cell.)

Like I say, I was gone from home by then and starting my climb up the Advertising Ladder, so I was a tad fuzzy on the details. I knew my Mom “worked in a prison,” but somehow I pictured this as one of those “campus”-type institutions. You know, those places where they put the Bernie Madoffs and the Enron Guys.

Well, the years went by. I was sitting around the kitchen chatting with my Mom — back when Times were “normal” and I could actually visit her — and she happened to mention that she gets a pension from “The State.” Having reached “pensioner” status myself by this time, I was rather interested. “Was that from the time you worked in the prison?” I asked.

Sometimes I feel like I’m catching up to Mom, age-wise. People have ahem) mistaken us for sisters. Mom, of course, loves this

“Yup,” she replied, taking a sip of warmed-up coffee.

“You know, I never asked, but what kind of prison was that, anyway? What kind of criminals were there?”

“What kind? Well, I remember there was this one guy who killed his wife, then cut her up and fed her to the pigs.”

It’s a good thing I hadn’t just taken a sip of coffee myself.

Amagansett, New York. October 2020

 

“Lean to the left, lean to the right. Stand up, sit down, fight fight fight!”

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‘Feeling the pain; paying the price’

I’m a day late with this post — and, it would seem, way more than a dollar short. I was in the City yesterday seeing a Pain Guy about my herniated disc. Turns out I need to have a rather pricey procedure involving an injection in my spine.

(Of course it’s not just the $$$ that was distracting me from coming up with a Fun Tuesday Topic; I am beyond nervous about getting a shot in my back — I’m sweating so much my fingers are sticking to the keys on my poor ole Mac.)

In the midst of my last marathon. I’m enjoying myself immensely, believe it or not

My more than twenty years of running around sixty miles a week is probably the culprit — though the packing, lifting, shifting and so forth that goes into moving apartments certainly hasn’t helped matters much.

The only way I am supposed to be moving furniture around the new apartment

And there’s the fact that, unlike Young People Today who “cross-train,” back in my Running Days, I would basically just get up in the morning, throw on my running duds, and take off. No stretching, no limbering up, not even any cooling down — and definitely no “working on my core.”

Me, modeling my racy Quick-Draw back brace. Didn’t help. Not nearly as much as bourbon

Oh, before I forget. The photo at the top of this page shows me not only slouching like the Teen that I was, it shows me back when I dearly wanted to be a cheerleader, cheerleading being the surefire fast-track to popularity back then. (Maybe it still is.) But, alas, I was — and am — singularly uncoordinated. I could barely follow the directions for the cheer in the title, much less execute a “cartwheel.” Goodness knows I never even tried a “split.”

Payoff to all that training: The Time I finished the New York Marathon in 3 hours, 23 minutes (in the top 100 women that year). Maybe my back hurts as punishment for all this bragging (!)

Until last month, when I started doing physical therapy (via Zoom, which is a virtual miracle for PT, and, honestly, the only way I ever want to “Zoom” — cocktails are meant to be sipped in person, if you ask me. Or all by myself, thank you very much.) Until last month, if you told me you were “working on your core,” I would think you meant you’d just about finished your apple.

PT…or not to PT…that is the question

Funny story about PT. (Yes, even Physical Therapy has its silly side; mostly when I’m trying — and failing — to do something like The Bridge.) Jennifer, PT Instructor Extraordinaire, in my very first session, had me lie on my back and asked me to “tighten my abs.” So I say, “Where on earth are my ‘abs’ — and how the hell do I tighten them?” Honest. I had no idea.

No problem locating this person’s “abs”

Well, after doing PT with the Amazing Jen twice a week since August and faithfully following my at-home program every single day I can now not only find my abs, they are my new Best Friends. I am constantly aware of them and can pretty much keep them nice and tight all the time. And after doing all those Bridges and Chair Squats? I now proudly claim Buns of Steel. Why, these cheeks could positively crack walnuts. (No worries, I don’t have a video — or even a photo — to prove this.)

Out on the trail, demonstrating both birding zeal and abysmal coreless pre-PT posture

But (pun actually intended) my pain, alas, has not subsided. Hence the specialist Pain Dude consultation yesterday. And (gulp) the appointment to get That Shot next week.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep on keepin’ on with the PT. And I’ll try my best to summon up something at least moderately amusing on Tuesday.

Goodness knows, since Tuesday is Injection Eve as well as my regular posting day, I’ll need some sort of distraction. Other than cocktail knitting, that is.

It doesn’t count as drinking alone if you have some knitting to keep you company

Amagansett, New York. October 2020

 

My Proustian Coppertone Moment

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‘Wishing you and yours a most odiforous summer’

Before you correct me in the comments, yes, I know that “odiforous” isn’t a real word. According to Evil Spell-Check, it should be “odorous,” but I’ve been saying “odiforous” for years and, if you ask me, “odorous” isn’t any fun at all.

So what’s with the odors, “iforous” or not?

Well, unless you’ve been spending the last 75 days alone in a cabin in rural Vermont, you know that losing your sense of smell is one of the symptoms of Covid-19. But before we get into that, how about that guy, huh? True story. Daniel Thorson emerged after spending March 13 through May 23 in isolation at a monastic retreat and asked, “I’m back from 75 days in silence. Did I miss anything?”

Once he heard I bet he skedaddled right back into that cabin. Kind of like the Groundhog and his shadow. Except in Poor Daniel’s case it would be the pandemic and the protests. Not to mention the fact that there’s no major league baseball.

Wouldn’t this scare you if you just emerged from 75 days alone in a remote cabin?

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“How about never? Is never good for you?”

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‘Managing one’s schedule in these Corona Calendar Days’

I’m featuring a photo of Wombat here because my “date” with her is the only event on my calendar since March 14 that’s taken me further west than the town dump. Or taken me out of the house, for that matter.

Calendars may be empty, but the roads out here sure aren’t

Yes, I had to get in the car, yowling cat carrier in hand, and drive to the vet clinic in Bridgehampton. I called from the parking lot; gloved and masked vet came out, gloved and masked me handed over the cat. This transaction felt even more like a drug deal than when The Dude and I scored that Mexican meal back in late March.

While I was waiting for poor little Wom to be poked and prodded, I got to thinking about how different my calendars look for this Spring and last.

“Dr. Katz” (Yes, my vet’s name is Dr. Katz) on May 30 is the only calendar entry that’s taken place offsite (“site” being within my own four walls) since mid-March. Now let’s take a look at the same calendar “page” for May/June 2019, shall we?

A calendar so chockablock, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. And, dear reader, I’m sure I’m not the only one with huge calendrical contrasts. Why, last year I had bridge classes and museum tours and lunches with girlfriends and the French Open to watch. This year the event that occurs most frequently is “Call Mom.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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“No one goes there nowadays; it’s too crowded.”

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‘Yogi must have had a crystal ball.’

I’m sure there are many of you who do not remember Yogi Berra. Maybe you do remember Yogi Bear, one of the most cleverly-named cartoon characters of all time, or at least in my opinion. (Incidentally, I just found out by reading this Wikipedia entry that the Human Yogi sued the Cartoon Yogi’s creators, who claimed the name was “just a coincidence.” Yeah, right. And the Kirwood Derby wasn’t a goof on Durwood Kirby. Read more about him in my piece “Eenie Meanie Chili Beanie.”)

But back to the Yogi of Yogi-isms fame.

A study in checkerboard: my foot and the floor of the Mexican Place in Amagansett that was so crowded that no one went there. Well, except that one time

To cut to the chase, Yogi was a Hall of Fame baseball player and manager. (You can read more about his amazing career right here.) But even if you’re not a fan (and, yes, there are people out there who don’t like baseball; they also hate tv and eat pizza with a fork) — yes, even if you’ve never even seen a baseball game I bet you know some Yogi-isms.

Yogi’s the guy who said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” And “It gets late early out here.” Also “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.”

“Take it with a grin of salt,” Yogi would have said

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Apocalypse Now

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‘There is no Danger Man sign for this. Yet.’

I had a fun phone chat with Contractor Man yesterday. (That’s all he and I can do these days, work having screeched to a halt on the Ken and Barbie House weeks ago; bathrooms half-tiled, kitchen cabinets all made up with no place to go, etc., etc., etc., whine whine whine. I know; one-percent problems at their very worst. I’m done now.)

Decisions, decisions a century ago. (We went with the checkerboard, and it was actually a few weeks ago, though I’m hard-pressed to believe it today)

Anyway. It felt really good to at least talk to Contractor Man. And I think I got him to laugh when I asked him, “Remember when deciding whether to go with charcoal or black grout was keeping me up at night?” Ah, grout nightmares. Those were Innocent Times indeed.

Today, instead of choosing grout, I’m rifling through my dresser drawers for suitable social-distancing mask materials. (That’s The Child, sporting her safety solution at the top of this post.)

Maybe I could repurpose this schmatta, donned only a few weeks ago to pretend I’d climbed Mt. Kinabalu

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Social distancing, the Borneo Way

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‘Forget masks and Purell; just crack open a Durian’

A couple of weeks and a lifetime ago, we were birding our way along a highway (and I do mean “high”) up in the mountains of Borneo when a ramshackle car sputtered to a halt on a steep stretch of roadway right alongside us.

Another roadside attraction. Nope, The Dude isn’t looking at that gorgeous mountain. There’s a bird over yonder somewhere

Our guide sauntered over to see what was what and reported back that the driver was on his way to the City (in this case, Kota Kinabalu) with a load of fruit to sell. He and his load couldn’t make it up the incline, so he pulled over for a smoke.

That’s Mt. Kinabalu, at sunset of the day we survived the durian episode

Now, we’re in Borneo, remember, so by “load of fruit” I don’t mean a whole batch of apples or pears. Not even pineapples or bananas. Nope, these “fruits” were completely unrecognizable. Our guide Hamit (a name I committed to memory by using the mnemonic “hah! meat!”, because what passed for meat in Borneo was pretty darned amusing) — well, Hamit thought it was pretty darned amusing to offer us tastes of some of these fruits and then watch our faces.

That’s Hamit on the right. I not only forgot the guy on the left’s name, but also his mnemonic. He was our driver, and he didn’t make us eat any fruit

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What could possibly be worse than a rainforest full of leeches?

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‘Well, how about a cave full of bats?’

If you are the least bit squeamish, you may wish to skip this week’s much-belated post. Belated, because I’ve been bird-hunting in Borneo.

Through a glass, but not darkly, I spot my target: perhaps a hairy drongo?

Borneo boasts lots of lovely avian species, but has less than adequate WiFi. Not that I’m complaining; it’s actually refreshing to be less-than-connected, especially when the news Back Home is of political plotting and pandemic panic.

Speaking of panic, here is the interior of the plane we took from Kota Kinabalu to Taipei, where I started writing this piece

I’m in an airport lounge (thank you, AmEx) writing away while awaiting our plane to JFK — which will be 14 1/2 hours in duration, two hours less than our flight to get here.

As I mentioned, the Bornean birds are beauteous. But one must deal with — gasp — leeches. And, although we took the Proper Precautions (see my piece “Leech Sock it to Me!” for ghastly detail), the little buggers weren’t daunted. Leech socks, as I squeamishly explained, are supposed to keep leeches from inch-worming their way up your pant legs.

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Yep, there is a place called Yap

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‘But can you find it on a map?’

Please forgive the Green Eggs and Ham cadence; I couldn’t help myself. Everyone’s been so crabby lately. We’ve got the Secretary of State yelling at NPR reporters while waving maps — “Go on, Missy! Find Ukraine! I double-dog dare ya!” (She does, then tells on him. What did he think she’d do — she’s a reporter.)

Then we’ve got Our President congratulating the Kansas City Chiefs — from the Great State of Kansas — on their Super Bowl win. This time Claire McCaskill got a little testy:

I’ll let that one slide since she was pretty hilarious, and also because she used to be a senator from, ahem, Missouri. Which is where the Chiefs are actually from. (I used to be from Missouri, too, having spent my formative post-grad new-to-advertising years there. But those are whole ‘nother stories. Which you can find under the “Adland Lore” tab in the sidebar if you are bored and it’s raining like it is here.)

Me, doing something Important as Creative Director of a fair-to-middlin’ size ad agency in Kansas City, Missouri

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No, a “shower body” is not what you think it is.

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‘And, yes, it’s easier to find a unicorn than black and white tile’

I was almost a day late and a dollar short with this post. See, this little “coat-of-paint-and-new-appliances” project spiffing up the Ken and Barbie House is turning into a giant all-consuming time-sucking nightmare. Well, actually, it’s not technically a “nightmare” because I don’t sleep. If you don’t sleep, you can’t have a nightmare, now can you?

Also, I am technically a “dollar short,” actually many dollars, since everything costs more than you think it will. What do The Dude and I do when told an amazingly gobsmacking number for, say, ripping out the awful substandard ancient wood that was under the awful substandard ancient cork tiles so we can lay down a nice new floor?

An excellent example of a “cabinet” with “plumbing”. (See below.) I don’t dare ask how much it costs

We shrug and say “okay.” Our reasoning? This is our Last Apartment — at least the Last Apartment We Will Choose For Ourselves — so we might as well “do it right.” Even if we empty our bank account while doing it.

Today I woke before five thinking about how on earth to find a carpenter. I interviewed one last night who got very sniffy when I admitted that I did not have a “design” or a “plan.” He also smelled mightily of a strong men’s cologne. Deal-breaker, even if he hadn’t kept me waiting 45 minutes.

The night (er, morning) before it was this thing with the “shower bodies.” After a bout of googling, I found out more than I ever wanted to know about valves and diverters.

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