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Three score and ten or more

Monday, September 27, 2010

Interesting song.

I received the link for this song this morning.  The guy who wrote and performed it was a High School Assistant Football coach who (I understand) was fired because of the song.  Conservative  readers will think it is fun, Liberal readers (as many of them as I have) probably will be advised to skip the whole post.


Friday, September 24, 2010


The writer of one of my favorite blogs http://riverbendjournal.blogspot.com/ Ed Abbey wrote, a couple of days ago about his six anniversary as a blogger, and kindly went back to each of those years and left a typical blog of the period.

This aroused my curiosity so I went back to the archives to see when I started blogging.  It happened to be in August just five years ago.  I then plowed through my old blogs to see if there were samples I should leave, but I seem to have no sequential sense to what I wrote.  I cited my memoirs a lot, had a brief period of revealing some of the stupid teen age tricks in which I was involved and apologized often about not blogging more often (if the blogspot tracker is correct I go in almost 500 posts in five years, so I averaged over one a week)   I have enough “organ recitals” that it is a wonder that Janet and I are still around.  I let my native conservative politics bleed through more often than I thought I had and picked up some fairly consistent readers for the first four years.   I have lost a lot of those since I got really spastic about posting.

I had  wonderful time learning from others and almost went into mourning when bloggers like Saurkraut and Gayle went into  hiding.

Anyway I don’t intend to copy samples of old posts in this post. My semi-computer-literacy would keep me here for a day or two.  My sincere thanks to those who have taken the time to read what I have written and even more to those who have written what I have read.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mormon Missionary Story

I haven't done this for awhile, but I decided it was time.  For those of you who hate Mormon Missionaries this is the time to move on.  If you have curiosity about how they function (nothing theological here) read on.

If you have seen missionaries around in your neighborhood some things become apparent:  They travel in pairs that  pretty  much stick together;  They will usually be found with a white shirt and tie, or in cooler weather in a suit.  They have other behavioral rules:  for the most part they are not allowed to go to the movies, read popular novels and magazines and are generally expected to live a pretty staid life.  They are not allowed to meet with girls their age with out a local member as chaperone.  In my mission we constantly assumed that their was an "arms length" rule relating to those of the opposite sex.  They are discouraged from going swimming or skiing or indulging in sports that have high percentages of injuries.  On the other hand, on free days (they have one a week, called "p" days or Preparation days, usually on Monday) they will often be found playing pick up basked ball, usually in the gymnasium portions of the church building, but not always.  The rules generally include early rising (6:00 AM or thereabouts.  Scripture study in the morning and a day of missionary work (attending meetings, or door to door canvassing or something of that order) following.  In many missions they are discouraged from spending a lot of time visiting members (except members who are not very active participants at church.)  In all these activities the rule is to stick with your partner (the regular term is "Missionary Companion" all the time.  Many missionaries are still teenager and it is hoped that one member of a companionship will be a good influence on the other.  (to keep each other from doing something stupid was one description I have heard)

When I was a missionary in Finland fifty or so years ago, many of the restrictions were not there, but there were other rules that took their place.  We were expected to wear a suit all the time (except on P days) and in Finland at least, we were expected to wear a hat.  In July sometimes we were given permission to leave the hat home-- You can't imaging how little fun it is to ride a bicycle wearing a suit and a fedora in July, even in Finland.  We were allowed to swim, but not in mixed company, and, in Finland in the fifties, cross country skiing was necessary to do some of the things you had to do. (not many).

Finland was a new land, where the church was young, and local leadership was scarce, so, in addition to proselyting nineteen or twenty year old guys also had to conduct meetings, lead the congregational singing, play the piano (if that was one's skill) and perform all the ordinances.

Proselyting is hard work but if  you want to be a useful missionary it is one of the things you do.  Always in pairs, of course.     At the time of this experience, I had been in Finland about nine or ten months.  I was beginning to get the hang of the language, had a good companion, and was really beginning to enjoy the work. (As a point of fact, I arrived in Finland with a grammar book written by on to the missionaries and had heard two words spoken in Finnish, so a lot of my time, to this point had been spent in language study.)  My companion spoke good Finnish and was a good teacher and I was rolling with the flow. We were holding an average of about thirty meetings a week, which we thought was pretty good. when one day we received a notice from Mission Headquarters that my companion was being transferred to another city (Lahti, I think).  In the next two days  arrangements for travel were made and I suddenly realized that I was going to be on my own for almost two whole days before my new companion arrived.  This was complicated by the fact that we had about six or seven appointments to meet with people in their homes at that time, and according to mission rules I couldn't do that without a companion.

You can't imagine how lost a feeling you have being alone when, for several months you and your companion have been in each other's company twenty four hours a day.  I took my list  and called the people for whom I had phone numbers and arranged to postpone  the appointment till my new companion arrived.  I trudged around and talked to the people in person, several of whom thought it was pretty silly that I couldn't just come in and teach them by myself but most of them understood that "rules were rules".  One of the places where I had to go rearrange things was an apartment where five very attractive young ladies lived together.  When I went to their place, they thought it was hilarious that I couldn't teach them by myself.

They said things like (roughly translated) "What in the world to you think we are going to do? Drag you into the back room and have our ways with you?"  And reassured me that my departed companion was much more attractive than I, and that he might have problem, but I was perfectly safe.    When all came down to brass tacks they decided that they didn't want to re-schedule the appointment, and that I could safely ride my bike home.  All this time, I was mostly standing there dumb and blushing,.  I tried futilely to give them some literature and finally slunk off home, muttering and grumbling.

It wouldn't have been so bad if Joensuu had been a bigger city, but it is pretty small, and my new companion and I kept running into the girls on the street.  When we did, they all pointed at me and giggled  and made "kiss kiss" gestures at me.

I explained all this to my new companion, but I think it was awhile before he completely believed my story.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Who Needs Excitement?

I was just about to close up my computer for the night when my oldest son, who has been living with us most of the year because he is too ill to really stay in his trailer, came to the office door with the exclamation "My car is on fire".  He was sitting on the couch watching one of the last football games of the day when he heard a "whoosh" and went to the door too see what was the matter,  His car was completely enveloped in flame.  There were a number of explosions just as I came to the door (not the gas tank, thank goodness) and I ran to get the fire extinguisher as he called 911. 

Of course I had put the extinguisher where I would be sure to find it, and I couldn't find it anywhere.  The fire department came almost immediately and began to work on the fire.  There were two or three other explosions, one of which shot silver sparks out the side of the car.  ( reminded me of a mercury fire).  He had a 100 foot extension cord, a chain saw, a saws-all, and a couple of gallons of paint (surrounded by about a hundred paper back books.) in the back of the car.  The firemen said that the silver sparks that shot out the window were probably from aerosol cans of paint, but they didn't have enough scraps to identify.  The car was a twenty some year old Toyota with 235000 miles on the odometer, so, except for the replacement cost there wasn't much financial loss. but the tools will never be the same.  

What had worried me most was the the front of the car was only about ten feet from the wall of our house, and it was parked next to an enormous crepe myrtle and I was worried about fire damage to the house or the bush.  There was none, thank heaven, though I am going to have to do some judicious trimming on the crepe myrtle to make it look right.

Right now I am still shaking, but it is all over except for calling a wrecker to dispose of the carcass in the morning.   I am so grateful that it didn't damage the house, or even the hedge in front of the house (holly, mostly)/   I'll try to take some pictures of the old bus before they take it away.   No one from the fire department could come up with a reason for the fire, though they guessed that it was probably an electrical short.

It is now midnight, and I am going to give a major thank you prayer and go to bed and try to sleep.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

No more whining

I just had to try to post this.  (I did succeed on getting it to my facebook page)

I have directed more than a hundred plays of all kinds, in addition to which, since 1962, when I began puppetry to supplement my stipend and feed my (then) four kids.  I started with the occasional birthday party using a script and puppets from an article by Jim Henson in a popular magazine.  I shifted gears and continued to so puppetry at a variety of levels while my main focus was theatre.  In 1987 it became the focus of most of my creative activity.  I taught classes, gave workshops, and my students produced (under my direction) three to four puppet performances every year.  After all this activity, much of which I think very proudly, occasionally I see a puppet performance that makes me think of my seventy five plus years as “still” an aspiring puppeteer.  I think this is wonderful.  I hope the link works again.http://video.mail.ru/mail/wad58/video.mail.rumailwad58/1181.html

Friday, September 10, 2010


It is a little hard to develop this subject because it is absolutely and perhaps abjectly personal.   I am wondering about myself, my braiin, my energy, what is wrong with me, what is right with me, and all that stuff.

I have reached a relatively happy status right now.  The income tax return that I was fussing about  a few weeks ago resulted in a refund (state and national) that, along with an annuity payment has made me feel more financially stable than I have for awhile. I don’t know if my health is improving in reality, but I find that I can walk upright like a homo-sapiens for a lot longer each day, than has sometimes been usual in the recent past.  Janet’s health is improving enough that she stated yesterday that if it weren’t for the incessant pain in the leg that was shattered a couple of years ago, she would think she was completely healthy

On the other hand, my attention span has become so short that I irritate my self, and probably everyone around me.  I seem not to be able to finish anything.  The house is getting deeper and deeper in projects that I have started without finishing.   I have two lengthy posts for this blog that I started, wrote energetically for about half an hour (One about a production of Godspell that was a particularly wonderful experience in my life and another that I titled The partial resurrection of the dead red van ).  Both of these are a bit historical and experiential but subjects that I think my children and family with find illuminating and a bit humorous.   I got a good start on each of these and just couldn’t keep on to the conclusion, in spite of the fact that I have probably spent more clock time at the computer this week than is common. I don’t have an explanation except that on each of these I just hit a block that I couldn’t, or can’t seem to pass.   I got most of the work done to organize my studio, and I find myself going out there to sit an look at sculpts,, gizmos, and the wall without the energy to make any use of them.  Jan walked into our bedroom an asked me if i had finsihed my laundry (we share that little task) and I had to admit that I didn’t know.  I remember packing it into the laundry room but had to go and look to see if I had put it in the washing machine (about half of it, but not finished.)

I find this whole thing fascinating.  I wonder, analytically, if this is the way Alzheimer's, or other forms of dementia start.    I find it kind of funny to be thinking about it when what I am thinking about is why I can’t seem to think.  Whatever the result, I find myself slipping and sliding like a car with slick tires on ice (or wet red clay).

I will try to finish the posts I mentioned, and keep track of whether this slipping and sliding ends up with my brain crashed on the side of the wall, or if I am just cutting donuts (those who drive on icy roads know what that is) that I will finally come out of them.  (I just discovered that Live Writer –which I love- had posted half of this post among the 2008 posts in the blog.  Well, that’s par for the course. 

Saturday, September 04, 2010


No I am not going to whine about my neuropathy.  I think I have written, at least briefly, about neuropathy before, but if I haven’t, sot that you will know what I am talking about, I will briefly define neuropathy.  It is the elimination or at least diminution of nerve function.  In someone like me who has a peripheral neuropathy, it means that you have lost a lot of nerve function in you arms and hands, and legs and feet.

When they told me I had such a thing, I realized that I had something I had never heard about before.  Since getting it, I found that most neuropathies belong to diabetics, and that If one suffers from diabetes there is almost a fifty percent chance that sometime in you life neuropathy will affect you.  Over eighty or so percent of folks who have a neuropathy are diabetics, the rest of us have what the doctors refer to as idiopathic neuropathy.  (idiopathic is the word doctors use do say that they don’t have the vaguest idea what caused it.  In my case, the general assumption was that I had spent much of my early professional life with my hands in acetone, toluene, dies and other  substances while building and painting scenery and making puppets.

Since that time some doctors who treat me think I probably had a light stroke or two, and that caused it.  Janet had two strokes when she was in Finland and she certainly has a neuropathy (quite different from mine) so I tend to agree.  For most folks the affects are similar but vary in intensity, but the most common effects are that you can’t feel much below the knees, except for the bottoms of you feet which burn and hurt like heck most of the time.  I always feel like the skin from the ankles to the bottom of my feet is about two sizes too small.  I spend about fifteen minutes per foot applying a prescription med that has neurontin and lidocaine in it.  I also use capsaicin cream (the stuff that burns- only my feet are reversed to the effect on my feet is cooling) etc.  I also check my feet carefully for sores etc, because these and create serious problems.  (I also take a whole bunch of different kinds of pills.)

I am writing this because, this morning I had one of the most irritating effects.  When you can’t feel your legs, you can bump into almost anything with out feeling it.  This morning I tripped over an extension cord and fell on the sidewalk.  It didn’t hurt much and, as usual, I didn’t pay much attention.  I was busy getting ready for the delivery of our new freezer.    The delivery guys from Lowes showed up and I was helping them move stuff around for the installation when one of them looked down and said “What in the heck happened to your leg?”  I looked down  at my left leg and my pants were soaked in blood from the knee to the ankle. 

I can’t tell you how often this happens and how many pairs of chinos and even dress slacks I have ruined this way.  i have  salvaged the last two or three of these because I have become an artist with pre-spot, cold water and a brush, but if it happens to something that requires dry cleaning, none of the cleaners around here seem able to handle fifteen inches of blood soaked pants  I swear I am going to invent some kind of blood alarm.  I still haven’t convinced Jan that just soaking the leg of one’s pants in blood does not necessarily require a 911 call or a trip to the emergency room.   Oh well, the pants are de-blooded and the gauze patch on my knee has only required one replacement today.

(My neurologist said that free bleeding like that is a good thing.  If I were a diabetic neuropath, diabetics have vascular problems which inhibit healing, and that’s why many of them lose limbs from foot and leg injuries. Maybe I should not look a gift horse in the mouth.)