.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Three score and ten or more

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I went away Thursday evening to South Carolina. My daughter was taking a couple of days off to go to Mississippi to visit my third son who planned to take her, in turn, to Memphis to introduce her to NASCAR.

My task (along with dear wife, of course) was to dog sit the grand dog Roscoe and Meow the psycho-cat. I will write in some detail (in the future) about Roscoe and the cat. I have mentioned them before but will try to get pictures up. What I really want to talk about today is a couple of contrasting restaurant experiences.

After my daughter returned from Mississippi and Memphis, we stuck around for a day to visit with her. Part of the visit was to go to another of her favorite restaurants (I have already written about a couple of others.) She had been going for lunch to a place called "D's". It appears to be a chain, though I hadn't seen it before. She was particularly enthusiastic about their chicken salad on a croissant.

When we arrived, the menus were presented and their seemed to be no chicken salad (except a grilled chicken salad with salsa or something, and that wasn't what she had been used to) . When she asked, she discovered that her favorite was a lunch special that wasn't served in the evenings, so we picked through the menu for other things. She settled on a pork chop, Janet decided on "you peel it" shrimp and I ordered, what they called, Beaufort Stew. Reading the ingredients, it was obviously what I have described on line as a Low Country Boil.

The "Beaufort Stew" ingredients listed shrimp, sausage, corn on the cob and new potatoes; the only ingredient in "Low Country Boil" that was missing was pearl onions (an sometimes carrots). I was interested in how it would come out, since the low country boil is notoriously difficult to prepare for a restaurant. Potatoes take a long time to cook, but shrimp and corn, if overcooked (more than a couple of minutes) are not very good. One place in Savannah cooks everything separately (in the spices) and combines them at the last moment. It doesn't really work because there is an exchange of flavors when things are cooked together, but it isn't bad either.

My wife and daughter decided on water to drink, I chose diet coke with a slice of lemon. We were served our drinks and settled back to wait for our food-- and wait for our food--and wait for our food. The people at the table behind us came in after us, and had eaten and departed before our food arrived Our server came by frequently to tell us that our meal would be ready soon, and to refill our drinks. The wait would have seemed shorter if the water and the diet coke were not heavily chlorinated. Chlorine can be nasty in water but in a diet coke it is more than nasty. I can understand a restaurant serving unfiltered water if it wants to push bottled water (not mentioned on the menu), but serving unfiltered fountain drinks is really not cool. One expects it in a minute mart or gas station, but not in a nice restaurant.

Anyway, the meals finally arrived. Janet received a large plate of shrimp, and what appeared to be a lovely spinach casserole (substitute for mashed potatoes). Daughter's pork chops and sides looked wonderful. My shrimp was fresh, well spiced, and delicious as were the small chunks of Polish sausage mixed in. The corn had been sliced into one half inch slices, which made eating them a little weird. The only way to handle them was one slice at a time. I was reminded of the scene in Forest Gump where Tom Hanks is eating baby ears of corn trying to chew the mini kernels off the cob. The corn was WAY over-cooked and mushy, but the spice in them was good enough for me to play Forest Gump with each of them. The quartered new potatoes were raw. They had been cooked enough that the outer eighth of an inch was soft, but they were so raw that a fork wouldn't pierce them at all (I realized that the meal was so late because they had started it from scratch and were waiting-not long enough-for the potatoes to boil). I told the server, who told the manager who offered to take the plate back and replace it. I confess that the idea of another eternal wait was too much so I declined and decided to eat around the potatoes. There were enough really delicious shrimp that I was pretty satisfied, and just as I finished they brought me another plate of boiled new potatoes some of which were also undercooked, but just a little. We left, tipped the server pretty well because she was in there trying all the time, but I think I will leave the place to daughter for her chicken salad croissants at lunch. I may change my mind; places that really know how handle and spice boiled shrimp in the shell are not all that common.

I contrast this with another restaurant. We had been told to check out a Mennonite restaurant in Blackville, SC, a little town about half way between Statesboro and Columbia. It is on our way, so we stopped there once before but they serve at only certain hours (between 10:00 AM and 3:00 P.M I believe) and we had missed the hours. Our first time there we wandered through the attached antique shop (very nice with good prices) and bought some butter nut bread that was so good that if it were closer to home would finish off my diet completely.

On our return home we stopped in at about 1:00 in the afternoon. The place was really busy but there were a couple of empty tables. We walked through the cafeteria setup, and had some real trouble making choices. The food is really "down home" stuff with fried chicken, meat loaf, chicken dressing (including meat), quartered new potatoes (cooked all the way through) chicken livers, butter beans, string beans and a fair variety of other vegetables including the greens without which southern restaurants are naked.

We finally decided on meat loaf (with a wonderful sauce) new potatoes, and for Janet, string beans, for me, butter beans. The available beverages were ice water and lemonade (both without chlorine or other additives). Home made whole wheat, butter nut, cheddar cheese breads, along with a variety of rolls were available. The food, in generally was to die for. The potatoes melted in the mouth, the meat loaf exceptional and the butter beans just right. I would only have one niggling criticism. The potatoes and other appropriate foods were obviously cooked or basted with real butter, and the provision of "spread" (margarine) with the bread was a mistake. The difference was too obvious.

For dessert we had a very good peach cobbler with some average ice cream (they need to change dairy suppliers). If you are ever in Blackville, SC, don't miss Millers Restaurant, (We bought whole wheat and butternut bread to bring home. If we had also brought some of the other breads I would already have gained ten pounds.) DO NOT miss this place. It is half a block off the highway on the only four lane street crossed by the highway. If you are not there, it is on highway three, only a short drive from anywhere else in South Carolina, and worth the drive.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Boston Butt

Way back when, I posted a recipe to make cajun gunpowder, the only really required spice on either a low country boil or a boston butt. I prepared two boston butts for the funeral last week. They were first scored across the top and bottom with a sharp knife, then anointed and rubbed with a "fair amount" of extra virgin olive oil. After the oil had a moment to soak in, then each piece of meat was rubbed with about a third of a cup of cajun gunpowder, top, bottom and sides. There is quite a bit of salt in the cajun gunpowder, but I like to grind some fresh sea salt and fresh ground pepper on the surface as well. The final rub is with a couple of tablespoons of Tone's Italian Seasoning.

After all the rubbing and anointing, each butt is placed in its own pan and shifted to the oven. I start with a cold oven, set the oven on bake, about 500 degrees for half an hour. I then turn the oven down between two hundred and two hundred twentyfive degrees and let the stuff roast on low heat for about twelve hours (generally overnight, eight to eight is a good time. If I plan to slice the meat I may (I did this time) take it out about an hour early and let it set on the cupboard for one to one and one half hours. If it is to be "pulled" like barbecue, I leave it for the full time, or even a little more, so that it falls easily off the bone. This one is "cut" with two forks, shredded or pulled. The remains are then chopped with a cleaver.

Below are the pictures of the two butts, just out of the oven. The one on the right gets pulled, the one on the left (which has cooled for about an hour) gets sliced. Actually, my ineptitude in posting blogger pictures has resulted in the sliced pork on top, the two butts in the middle and the pulled pork (with Georgia barbecue sauce on the bottom. The pulled pork is served with a container of barbecue sauce handy and sliced bread beside it. The sliced pork is used however one likes it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Well the funeral for my friend is over. It was very nice and very spiritual and I will talk about it later. I will take that occasion to show what a Boston Butt looks like coming out of the oven and prepared for the ravening hords, but I decided that the last few posts have been sufficiently angst ridden that I would change levels for a post or two.

One of my many favorite bloggers, Thotman (if you have never read him, you are missing a good experience, click on the link at the right) stated that he is going to spend some time talking about the animals (I assume that he means pets, work animals, etc)in his life. Some of my favorite posts from Ed Abbey have been the stories (not enough of them) about his dog, and Saurkraut has some wonderful dog posts (again see links at right, I am going to re-learn how to post links as I go along. Gayle the Republican has given me instructions that are usable by anyong with a functional brain, and one of the days, my brain is going to click on again).

I am not going to write about a dog. I am going to write about my cat (and at three score ten and some odd years old, I can't remember his name). I am now terribly allergic to cats, but it wasn't always so. It was one of those things that came along gradually, climaxing sometime during my high school period. For most of my life, I was normal (at least as far as cats were concerned). I had a cat (or a cat had me, that sometimes is the way it goes) that was, in my opinion, remarkable.

He was coal black and if he had been a dog he would have to have been a dachshund. He had fairly short legs and a long skinny body. When he was agitated, his back would hump up like a horseshoe. He could have modeled for the cardboard cats that are pictured in the stores during the Halloween season. One of his favorite sports was to ride with me on my bike.

We were not rich folks, and I had a remarkably ugly old girls bike. It was yellow, balloon tired, and at sometime in its existence it had been run over by a car . (I have a vague memory that it might have happened because one of the bloggers on this list left it lying in the driveway where it could have been backed over by my dad). It clearly had been broken in half, but my dad was, by profession, an excellent welder, and he had joined the two halved together and made them one whole. Except for the ugly weld marks near the pedals and the fact that it was a girls bike whick was always ridden by a boy, it was an excellent bike. It was also a stimulus to the cat. Every time he saw me get it out to ride, he would bound to the rear fender (it had a flat long seat over the fender for passengers), and, as I started to ride it, jump, or sometimes. to my pain, climb, up on my shoulder and perch there with his humped back to ride along with me.

In the process of our rides, cat became acquainted with a big great dane mix dog who lived upon the corner of the 100 block of Washington Ave. (We lived at 331 Washington, one and one half blocks away.) When I would ride anywhere near his house he would charge out and chase my bicycle, barking loudly and occasionally scaring the living heck out of both cat and myself.

One day, as my dad was driving the family home from "somewhere", coming down Washington, I glanced up into the monster poplar tree in front of dog's house and saw my cat. Fearing that "dog" had chased "cat" up in the tree I asked my dad to stop the car so that I could bring the cat home. As he pulled the car over, and I started to get out, the dog came out of the yard beneath the tree, and the cat sprang out of the tree to the top of the dog's head and sank the claws of all four feet into the poor critters scalp. Dog howled and yelped and shook his head as cat jumped from head to tree and back up to his branch. It was then, that I discovered that my cat had declared all out war.

I decided that this was not an opportune time to try to get the cat out of the tree, or to get anywhere near the dog so I got back in the car. It didn't move for awhile because my dad and mom were both giggling hysterically in the front seat. When we got to the house, I wandered slowly up the block, and, not seeing dog anywere around, called the cat, who came down, let me pick him up and take him home.

Soon my friends noticed, and told me about seeing cat perched on high surfaces all around the neighborhood, attacking the dog. He seemed always to escape, since he never missed coming home for dinner. On one occasion, while I was riding my bike with the cat on my shoulder, the dog came out to chase me and cat attacked from my shoulder (which probably was as painful to me as to dog; I never realized how deeply cat claws sink into their perches as they prepare to spring.) At any rate, after that, dog still came out to chase my bike when the cat wasn't around, but he ignored me when the cat was on his shoulder perch.

It appeared that cat had won the war, though he still seemed to be frequently on the attack. The whole thing had passed from my consciousness until, one day, I glanced out the living room window at cat, stretched out sleeping in a sunny place on the lawn. At the same time, creeping on his belly, silently across the lawn, looking, for all the world not like a dog, but like a lion on the hunt, was dog. He was within a foot or two of cat. Envisioning a severely, if not fatally. chewed cat, I made a race for the door. Just as I opened the door, dog let out with an extremely loud combined snarl and WOOF.

The cat levitated into the air, his long body twisting and turning like some kind of carnival dervish, then, it seemed, without even touching the the ground, the cat zipped into and up to the top of a large lilac bush at the side of our house. ( I have seen many cats climb trees, but that was the first and only time I have seen a cat climb up the inside of a bush). The dog did not pursue the cat. He turned, and looking proudly like that great dane (whose name I can't remember) we often see outwitting the dog catcher in our comic strips, he pranced down the street to his home, not even looking back.

I neither saw, nor heard, any strange interactions between dog and cat after that time. I think that in some way that we can't perceive, a truce had been struck.

Biologists and other scientists alway taught me that dogs and cats are not sentient beings, but I think that they communicate and reason, at times, in ways that we will never understand.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What a day, or what days?

Day before yesterday, I was whining about being tired of trying to get our taxes done on time, things organized in our new home, and even feeling a little smug about finally getting the E-file in on time. Oh Gee Whiz, think about it!

Yesterday, I heard from Turbo Tax that I had screwed up something minor on my tax form by miscopying my 1099R (numbers are almost as bad as acronyms) and that the IRS had rejected my tax return as filed. I would have to find the 1099R that I received from the Georgia Teachers Retirement Service and recopy it then resubmit it. Of course, as I explained last post (or thereabouts) the form 1099R had been lost in our move. I spent time yesterday tearing apart things in my office trying to find the form when Janet hobbled into the office and said "Why don't you just phone the TRS and see if they can give you the information?' A light finally dawned, but they were closed for the day so I would have to wait till today to try it.

Today, we got up and went to our water aerobics class, but I hadn't fully realized how much pain Jan was going to have as a result. As we came home she was in such pain in her knee and her hands that she took a painkiller and went to bed. I kissed her and called TRS, only to find that it would take me fifteen minutes to access the income tax form on the TRS website, which I did, straightened out the tax return and resubmitted it. Everything seemed rosy except the pain that Janet was suffering.

Moments later, I received a phone call informing me that the wife of one of my dearest friends had passed away last night. The caller asked if we might help supply food for the family on Saturday after the funeral. They really didn't have to ask. These were some of the best and closest. She has been ill for some time but they were my friends. I married them, back when I was in charge of the local congregation of Mormons. I performed the wedding on Valentine's Day back in the late 70's or early 80's. We have been close ever since, (and actually for several years before.) I stated that I would roast a couple of large Boston Butts and do anything else that was required. Moments later I called my friend, wept with him a moment, and put myself at his disposal for anything else that he needed .

As I hung up the phone, it suddenly hit me that exactly one year ago today, I was kneeling in prayer beside my wife in the ICU of Meilahti Hospital in Helsinki Finland.

They had disconnected her from all the anesthetics etc. two days before, and we were just praying that she would regain consciousness. On that day they had taken her up to radiology for a CAT scan or MRI to see if they could figure out why she was so slow to wake up. The Neurologist entered the room and informed me that the examination had shown evidence that she had suffered two strokes. The had performed an EEG, and it had shown almost no brain activity and that when, or if, she regained consciousness, I should be prepared for the possibility that she might never be able to speak, or to walk or to function as a normal human being. On that very day, she began to fight the oxygen tubes, kick her legs, and respond physically to the physical therapist. It was several days later before she recognized anyone, or was able to speak at all, but she was clearly alive, and regaining consciousness at some level.

Last Sunday we visited our friend. She hardly woke up to talk to us, but she did wake up, smelled the roses we had taken her, conversed a bit, then drifted back into sleep. (She has been on morphine for chronic pain). Now, three days later she is gone, and my beloved Janet is with me. The coincidence and contrast just is mind boggling. Only a week or two ago my friend was sitting up in her recliner chatting, and being a little irascible. One year ago at that time Janet was just out of surgery and I wasn't sure I would ever see her beautiful eyes open again. I am so grateful, and at the same time confused.

Certainly I am not very concerned about the taxes any more (though Janet will feel more secure when the word comes from Turbo Tax that every thing is kosher). I find myself sitting here a little numb. I can't help feeling that God has kept us together because He has something for the two of us to do, and I do so hope that treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis (which seems to be the problem now) will put us in a position to do it.

To top it off, I have been so caught up in today's events that I didn't fulfill a promise to call my granddaughter who is extremely ill with keto-acidosis down in Florida, but -- first thing in the morning.

It is probably a good thing that I am writing on a computer rather than a typewriter, or, I'm afraid the paper would be all wet. I should be out of tears by tomorrow, and will soon write about some of the other events of this day. (Yes, this WAS a busy day).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Coothood is becoming a pain in the neck (or back, or head)

It is late and I am too tired to go to bed. It has been one of those days. (Actually it has been three of those days.) Way back in April I spent some time doing my income tax, but decided not to send it in because some really weird things were coming out of my Turbo Tax program, creating a situation where I had multiple thousands of dollars coming as a refund, and I knew that wasn't correct. For some reason that I couldn't figure out, it (the program) had decided that about half of my income (mostly pension etc) was non taxable. I knew that it had never been non-taxable before so I decided to give it a rest, apply for the automatic extension and work on it later.

It worked out (confusing pronouns eh?) that soon after my automatic extension went into play, I got into the house buying and selling thing, trying to preserve both my and Janet's health, moving, helping my son move, learning to clean swim pools (they are not as much fun when you are one the end of a pool vacuum) and to make a long story long, I procrastinated till the last minute only to find that I still couldn't figure out why my income was screwed up (I finally discovered that I had put a check on the wrong little box somewhere). In addition to that, My "file system" had become un-filed during the move and I ended up sorting thousands of pieces of paper (most of which I had sorted in April then "un-filed them"while moving). I turned on the shredder and shredded almost all of the non-tax paper in my office (six shredder loads) finally getting the right pieces of paper together, correcting the wrongly checked box and after three days of purgatory --( I am reluctant to say hell because I might sit here and say it over and over and over again for days. -- I am trying to gentrify my language ).

The days were not improved when I discovered that both of my Florida granddaughters were hospitalized, one with an apparent pelvic infection (she has been in and out of the hospital for a while, being diagnosed first as having acquired intestinal parasites of some sort, then diagnosed as having salmonella poisoning, now with an infection), the other with keto-acidosis, a very serious complication of diabetes that is often fatal. These two young ladies are the mothers of three of my great grandchildren, so I am concerned not only for them, but for their mother, father, and their progeny.

Taxes are hard enough when you can concentrate on them, without family worries, and my days were filled with geezer and coot experiences. locating five essential receipts, putting them down to find a sixth, and when the sixth appears, the five evaporate into some kind of limbo. Mistaking 2005 receipts for 2006 receipts, then after they are entered into the program, having to figure out how to delete them and find the right ones, and on, and on and on. Finally when all was finished and Turbo tax was preparing to send my forms off electronically, it suggested (wisely) that I print all the forms for my records. At that moment, my HP deskjet 940c that has been doing yoeman service for years decided to die. DIE DIE DIE. I really needed that.

I finally opted to just save my work and send it off without printed copy. With my luck, tonight, when I am asleep the computer demons will attack and kill my hard drive. (I hope they don't realize that I made a zip disk. or they might go after my zip drive too.)

To relax, I turned on Monday night football to watch the Falcons do what they have been doing so well this year. Lose.

Nuts. I decided that I would check Tracksy and see who has been reading what I haven't written much of lately. I love Tracksy. It shows me that enough people come by to read my work, that I decide, at least temporarily, that this whole blogging thing is worth while. I went to check one of the articles that someone had googled, and found an old joke about a lady who mislaid a breast (her own) while at a banquet (I dare you to go back and find that) It was distressing to find that about twice as many people read that nonsense than are now reading this nonsense, but it was fun to see what interested some poor soul (from England, no less) enough that he/she googled it. I also found that I could read a post that I entered a week or so ago about acronyms, in Russian. Someone had translated it. Since I last studied Russian in about 1954 I did not successfully translate it back, but it was fun trying. If I could write in Cyrillic with this computer, I could show you what "acronym" looks like in Russian.

It is now about 1:30 A.M. and having gone from Tracksy to blogspot, I think I am tired enough, and have run past my tax frustrations enough that I can go to bed. Of course I might not get to sleep, but hey, one does what one can.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I spent a lot of the day at our old house trying to dispose of stuff so that we can get it ready to rent (and, who knows? pay off the hospital in Finland). One project was to empty seven drawers of filing cabinets so that the cabinets themselves can find their way either into the yard sale or to the office space of one of my descendants. I hadn't anticipated the angst involved. In one drawer was much of Janet's professional material. She taught mostly AP English. (To which her students referred as APE, and as a group and individually they presented her with stuffed ape toys on almost any appropriate occasion. She has apes with college graduation gowns, medical scrubs, etc.. etc.. We have disposed of about sixty stuffed apes, in sizes ranging between three inches and three feet.)

As an AP (advanced placement or college level English) teacher she taught most of the brightest kids I ever knew, and the filing cabinet was full of prize winning essays, other essays, poetry, stories, even a couple attempts at formulaic romance novels written by students that were almost as close to us as our children. Her hands have been hurting so badly that she had given up on trying to sort things and charged me with emptying the file drawers without even looking at the material. Impossible! It was like throwing away children. There was an unfinished book which she began which dealt with Creative Dramatics for children, handouts which she had created on writing précis, essay structure, audience analysis, internal logic, evidence, and on and on. I found myself in tears.

One of the blessings (in fact the greatest blessing) in being a teacher is seeing your students succeed and her students have done that so emphatically (Of course, in AP classes you have the cream of the crop to start with) going off to undergraduate and graduate schools including Emory, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and others. Her students include professors, executives, teachers (what goes around comes around ) writers, and others who are just wonderful people who still send her Christmas cards, baby announcements, and even the occasional entrepreneurial opportunity, but they go away, and eventually, all you have of them is the stuff in the file cabinet. Ultimately one has to empty the file cabinet, and it is a little like death.

I got half way through one drawer in her file, and know that I am going to have to go back (I think I will try to get her to supervise) and finish the job. Then I have to go to my file cabinet and dump one- act plays written by my playwriting students, prompt scripts from plays I have directed, and….. Some things about geezer status and coothood are kinda nice, but some things are painful beyond measure. One of those is giving up so much that has been so important.

Monday, October 08, 2007

On Moving, and professional behavior, and stuff.

I have been in the wheel spinning stage of trying to figure out where I am going and what I am doing after failing to sell the old house and somehow, in spite of working about as hard as I am capable of working, only being a little more than half moved into the new house. My mood wasn't improved by my receiving a notice from a collection agency (I think) in Finland that the amount of money I owe the Finnish hospital is growing exponentially. (This is made worse by the fact that the dollar/Euro ratio is getting worse every day. (My Finnish language skills improved a lot while we were in Finland last year, but not enough that I really know what in the heck the bills from Finland mean except that the numbers become bigger all the time.) In the mean time, tomorrow Janet goes to see the retina specialist to see if there is any chance that her peripheral vision will improve, and next week she goes to the rheumatologist to see if there is any chance that the pain in her hands (which prevents almost any use of the hands) can be lessened. (at least, between Medicare and my insurance and my pension, we are keeping the current group of doctors paid.)

Th funny thing is, that even with the debts and the doctors and the moving, and all the frustrations, in some ways, I feel more alive that I have in some time. When I don't post, it is because I am doing something that seems important, not just sitting at the computer wishing my brain would start clicking.

In my last post I mentioned that I had channel-surfed into an evening of Dancing With The Stars, and commented on how much I enjoyed watching Jane Seymour dance, and remembering some pleasant experiences in her regard. Tonight, I did something I haven't done since the first season of the program, I tuned in intentionally. I was pleased. Most of the dancing was entertaining, though Wayne Newton looked as old and stiff as I feel. (When I was in high school I taught ballroom part time and fancied myself a pretty good dancer. Bad knees and a neuropathy --and the approach of geezerhood put a stop that thought, but for a moment, I looked at Wayne Newton and thought, "Well heck, if he can fake his way through it, maybee???? -Naaah.") but the rest of the dancing was interesting and entertaining and Jane Seymour was, as before, class itself. Her performance was one of the two wherein, if not previously informed, it would be hard to tell which was the real professional dancer. I ended up having a good time. When the dancing was over, I went channel surfing again and found a football game between Youngstown State and Southern Illinois at Carbondale.

I was a doctoral student, teaching assistant, and ultimately an adjunct faculty member at Southern Illinois for almost five years. I am also a college football fan, but in this time I never saw a Southern Illinois football game. I finished my degree in 1970, and now, in 2007 I was watching my very first Southern Illinois University football game. It was actually a heckuva football game.

My SIU football experience had mostly involved living in the same building with a guy named Sam Silas, who was an SIU graduate student and a first string defensive player (linebacker mostly) for the St. Louis Cardinal football team. I got, from him, an idea of what it was to be a consummate professional. His conditioning routines were constant, well thought out and effective. I watched him on TV and he was one of the best. Ultimately All Pro if I remember correctly.

My other experience was giving a failing grade to a Prime football recruit from Mississippi who was, truly, illiterate. The day after I gave him his mid-term F, I talked on the phone with two coaches, a direct supervisor (who was really embarrassed) and a Vise President of the University. It was not specifically stated, but I had no doubt that if his final grade was not a passing grade my career was to be an abbreviated one. I had my back up and was weighing the consequences to my family if I stood my ground when the young man, knowing that he had no real chance for an education as things stood, walked out of school and hitched a ride back to Mississippi. I hope things worked out for him, because he sure saved my career with his departure. It was so sad, because he was such a nice young man, quite intelligent, but the product of segregated schools in Mississippi that had never taught him to read. He told me honestly that he was shocked, when he came up to Illinois, that he was expected to actually attend classes. No one had ever expected more of him than that his football team won games.

When Georgia Southern University put in a football program back in the eighties, I fought it tooth and nail (in futility) remembering my experience at SIU. I was so relieved at the difference between the programs. When Erk Russell, the Georgia Southern Football coach, or one of his assistants contacted a faculty member it was to make sure that the guy was attending class and doing the work, and if the coach received a bad report, the student repented swiftly and intensely. It made things fun.

Well, I have to leave for the Medical college of Georgia before Seven AM. (It is a couple of hours away and we have a morning appointment. Nite Nite.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Geezer reflections.

I've been away from the computer for two or three days and had a wonderful time celebrating the birthday of my daughter who lives in Columbia SC. We played gently with her dog Roscoe one of the all time cute basset hounds who is a bit under the weather since he swallowed a corn cob last week and spent the week in the hospital having his intestines re-sectioned. He is okay now and having a good time playing with his cat (My daughter claims ownership of the cat, named Meow, but both Roscoe and Meow know the reality of the situation.) Meow, knowing that I am allergic to cats spent most of the time, when she wasn't chewing Roscoe's ears, trying to climb my leg. I have swatted her enough times that she now esteems me an enemy, and can't really understand why Rosco thinks I'm neat. Janet refers to Rosco as "our second grand dog". Our first grand dog is a pit-bull lab mix that belongs to our second son. She has been in the family for enough years that she is gray muzzled.

Among our adventures in Columbia was attendance a one of the nicest restaurants I have been in for years. It is a smallish place called "Motor Supply". I am not sure of the reason for the name unless the previous tenant of their space was a parts house, but trust me, if you go to Columbia SC for any reason, and you really like nice restaurants (and there are many in Columbia), try Motor Supply. It is one of those places where the menu is hand written (and xeroxed) and is different every day. I had broiled shrimp on a creamy rice base that was exceptional, and I have lived on the Georgia coast long enough that I am fussy about my shrimp, though the best part of the meal was probably the asparagus, which was really a garnish. I would so like to be able to make asparagus taste like that. If I could, I might eat nothing else for days.

We began our trip with a stop at the Medical College of Georgia. Janet has been having intense pain in her knee (which was replaced four years ago) and in both hands. Her orthopedist thought the pain might be stroke/neuropathy related, but her neurologist is referring her to rheumatology to be checked for rheumatoid arthritis. It never rains with pouring a little, but the neurologist gave her percocet for the time between appointments, so at least the pain is somewhat relieved. I almost asked him for a little to use on my hip, but thought better of it.

It is a little bit of a pun, but growing old is a -pain-. Today my hip was better and we both made it through water aerobics, so I have visual evidence that we still move a little.

I have been reminiscing a little bit in recent pages, but this evening, I plopped in front of the TV and, while flipping through channels ran across Jayne (Jane?) Seymour dancing in "Dancing with the Stars". She is one of the all time classy ladies. About thirty years ago, the Georgia Theatre Conference (The organization for all of the high school and college teachers of theatre in Georgia) held a convention in Athens, home of the University of Georgia. One of the featured events of the convention was Jane (Jayne) Seymour who had been invited as a guest speaker for one of the sessions. I should mention that, occasionally, one of the featured events is partying and shopping, so once in awhile partying (or other workshops) takes precedence over other sessions.

The session featuring Ms. Seymour was almost unattended. I think that there were about fourteen of us there out of the three hundred or so that were attending the convention. If I were a well known stage actress (she hadn't played her television role as Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman yet) and had taken valuable time to attend like that, I probably would have walked out, but she was class itself. She was brilliant, casual, knowledgeable, and the kind of person I would love to have had my students meet. (I had a chat with those who were at the convention about their absence). I have know many Hollywood types, and have listened to a lot of actors, ranging from Dustin Hoffman to Anthony Quinn talk about acting, but I have never sat in on a better session with more good information. (I think we all wandered out of the room and went in to sit somewhere more casually before we were finished.

As I watched her dance, realizing that she can't be a heck of a lot younger than me, I was reminded of her real class.