Thursday, February 22, 2007

Follow Up

Jimbob's surgery went well. Both for the implant on Friday and then the removal on Monday. But he looks like he was hit with a baseball. The results won't be conclusive for another 3 months or so. Right now, the doctor is watching to make sure there is no infection or other complications.

He drove to east Texas with his youngest brother and mom on Wednesday. When bro first asked, Jimbob said no, but I convinced him that it would make things easier for me. Since I'm working so many hours, I know he'd start getting bored. Then, he'd be out there on the road with a patch over his eye.

I know that there are a lot of people who drive with only one eye, but Jimbob is accustomed to stereo vision, not monaural (regardless of how bad it is.) Under the best of circumstances, his driving scares me witless and this is no where the best of circumstances. I'm afraid one of these days, he'll really hurt someone.

The older he gets, the worse his driving is. My kids won't even ride in the car with him. He drives too fast, follows too close and doesn't pay attention. Last time we went out of town, I was a nervous wreck when we got home. He just thinks its funny.

His mother drove until she was nearly 90, and I guess he thinks he can too. I think he needs to throw in the gauntlet and let someone else drive.

By the way, Jimbob turned 74 last Saturday.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

In the Toilet

If you've ever read my blog before, you'll know how much I hate plumbing chores. Well, yesterday was no exception. The toilet in the master bath was having run-on problems (diarrhea of the toilet?). And I'm not just talking a little trickle. The damn thing just wouldn't stop gushing. So I decided to replace the flush valve and fill valve.

I've replaced the fill valve at least half a dozen times between my two bathrooms and the two where Jimbob used to live. The problem started when I couldn't get the water turned completely off. It was down to a slow trickle that I could contain with a large Tupperware bowl. I got everything taken apart, cleaned up and put back together.

Then I turned the water back on and flushed the toilet. It flushed just fine and stopped running right on cue...but I guess I didn't get the big foam gasket between the toilet and the tank seated right. Water gushed everywhere. So I disconnected the water again, drained the tank, cleaned up the mess and put it back together.

This time when I reconnected the water to the tank, the corrugated metal piece of shit pipe from the wall to the tank cracked. And of course there was no unscrewing it and replacing the broken hose. The builder used the cheapest labor and material on this house. After two calls to different plumbers, I decided I couldn't afford the $100 just for them to show up at my front door. Yes that was the fee for them to come out on a Saturday. Time and materials would be in addition to that.

A call to handy man, Doug was more encouraging. He was getting cleaned up to go to a wedding but he would come over later. He had to turn off the water outside, cut off part of the old pipe from the wall and sotter on a new connection. Only one last problem. When the toilet was originally installed, they had cracked the tank in half a dozen little hairline places. All said and done, Douglas charged $63. Big difference.

Tomorrow I'll stop at Home Depot on my home and buy a new tank. Grrr! I hate plumbing.

I probably shouldn't bring this up, but I think the big C is working again. I was sitting here at the computer when I heard a big bang in the garage. I thought maybe something had fallen off the wall, but when I went out to check, I didn't see anything amiss. I also checked out front to see if maybe someone had hit the door with a basketball. Nope, nothing there either.

This morning, I went to open the garage door to leave for church and all it would do is hum. There used to be a braided metal cord that helped pull up the door running in the upper track. Notice I said, used to be? When it let loose, it whammed into the door and that's what I heard. Damn!

Talk about a feeling of futility. I don't know that I want to try to accomplish anything today. A good book and maybe a glass of wine will pass the afternoon...safely.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Courtship of Reverend Frank Wright-part 2

That whole golf episode really made me mad. The first chance I got I decided to get even. One of the things Momma really liked to do was square dance. They used to go every Saturday night until the great, all-powerful Reverend Wright consumed our lives.

Next Wednesday rolled around and Daddy deposited us at Creekwood Nondenominational Church for choir practice and sundry other youth activities. Little did he know that I had other plans. In wide-eyed innocence I suggested to Reverend Frank that the youth group should take up square dancing. I knew the perfect teacher…Momma. It’d kill Daddy if he wasn’t the chosen one. Everyone thought it was a great idea. The reverend vowed to approach Daddy tomorrow. He felt it was improper to ask Momma directly.

My plan worked perfectly. Daddy came home from school the next day sputtering and posturing. Frank had asked his permission for Momma to teach square dancing. Surely the good reverend had made a mistake. After all, he was the teacher with two degrees and the expert square dancer. He just couldn’t understand how Frank had come up with such a dim-witted idea.

This went on the entire school year. Daddy started bringing home asparagus, artichokes and Brussels sprouts because Frank and his wife, Millie, liked them. This was the man who previously wouldn’t eat anything except sauerkraut, green beans and spinach…all smothered with a nasty glob of bacon grease.

Jerry and I scraped together all our change to buy Momma a cookbook at the five and dime. She had to learn to cook all over. No longer could she fry everything, drown it in bacon grease or cook it to a mush. Daddy had suddenly developed a gourmet appetite.

Poor Momma did her best to keep up with all these new demands. She was raised on a small farm in Texas and this was all beyond her. She could wring a chicken’s neck with the best of them and fry it to perfection. Now, she threw up her hands in confusion more often than not.

But when it came down to the wire, I think she really knew what was going on even if she never let on. Momma was a lot smarter than Daddy ever gave her credit for.

The months ground on with no relief in sight. We had pretty much settled into the routine of church and Sunday school every Sunday whether we wanted to be there or not. An overload of homework was our only saving grace from choir practice and youth nights. Daddy always called Reverend Frank to make sure it was all right if we missed one night before giving in to our pleas. Momma was teaching square dancing to the kids and was truly enjoying it, much to Daddy’s chagrin.

And of course there was Daddy’s endless talk about Reverend Frank Wright and his wife. We knew more about them than our own relatives back in Texas. He’d recite every word the man said from the time he picked Frank up in the morning until he dropped him off in the afternoon.

I don’t exactly remember when Daddy started picking Frank up with the excuse that it was right on his way. Funny thing was we only lived two blocks from school and until that year Daddy always walked. Suddenly he started driving six miles right on his way to go pick up Frank so they could have coffee together in the teacher’s lounge before classes started.

That was another first for Daddy. He’d never developed a taste for coffee until Reverend Frank came along. Of course there weren’t any Starbucks or Java Haus back then so it was pretty much straight up Columbian diesel fuel. Some days Daddy was glassy eyed and jittery as hell from too much caffeine. Still, he refused to admit he hated the taste of the stuff all because Frank guzzled it like water.

At last, the first of June rolled around. School would be out the eighteenth. Summer vacation was less than three weeks away and we would no longer have to live and breathe every moment by the hallowed words of Reverend Frank Wright.

Daddy smugly announced that he had invited Frank and Millie for dinner the following Friday. This was to be his pièce de résistance, except he pronounced it peese da resistants (heavy on the ants). He was strutting around like a bantam rooster feeling very amorous. Not only were Frank and Millie coming, but they had asked to bring another couple.

“This is it,” Daddy crowed. “I’ll bet he’s going to announce my promotion. Just you wait and see.”

All Momma could say was, “Should I fix fried chicken, WT?”

Daddy bristled like a porcupine. “Most certainly not! Fried chick
en’s for a bunch of country bumpkins. I’ll stop by the store on my way home Friday for something special. Our guests aren’t coming until 8:00 o’clock so there’ll be plenty of time.”

“You mean country bumpkins like us?” I asked. Where did he get off putting on airs with that bit about our guests?

“Hush, Jordie,” Momma advised. “Don’t antagonize your father. He has a lot on his mind.” I don’t know how she could keep a straight face.

Special was right! That Friday, Daddy came home laden with six live lobsters. Where he got them nobody knows. It sure wasn’t at the Mayfair market where we did all our shopping. Dismayed, Momma wailed, “What am I supposed to do with those?”

“The man at the store said you boil them about ten minutes or until they turn bright red. Serve them with melted butter and that’s all there is to it. Now let’s get the rest of this stuff ready. Our guests will be here soon.”

Frank and Millie arrived with their friends in tow. Bob and Jean Terry were introduced as close acquaintances, but there was an undercurrent I didn’t like. Daddy was too inflated to notice. He was in his element. He’d picked up a gallon jug of Mogen David wine to impress everyone. He didn’t see their grimaces as “his guests” sipped the wicked brew.

At last everyone was seated around the coffee table exchanging banalities while Momma fretted in the kitchen over those very live lobsters. To her credit, she emerged a few minutes later with a glorious smile. “Let’s sit down for salad while the rest of our dinner cooks,” she said.

That was the cue for Jerry and me to retreat to our rooms. Daddy wasn’t about to waste anything as expensive as lobster on us. In reality, we hid around the corner in the hallway to eavesdrop. This promised to be too good to miss.

Still playing the noble host, Daddy proposed, “Here’s to our old friends Frank and Millie and our new friends, the Terrys.”

Not to be outdone, Reverend Frank jumped up, “WT, I want to thank you for your wonderful support throughout this school year. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Next Mr. Terry raised his glass, “To the coming summer and the following school year.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I whispered. Something just didn’t ring true.

“Don’t know,” Jerry shrugged.

In the middle of his salad, Frank suddenly stopped with his fork halfway to his mouth. “WT, since you’ve been such a loyal friend this past year, I want you to be the first to know. I’m retiring from the school system at the end of this term. I’m going to be doing full time missionary work in Tahiti from now on.”

You could see it in his eyes. Daddy just knew he was going to be the next principal at Shirley Avenue Elementary School.

Before he could say anything, Frank continued, “Bob has been appointed as my replacement. I know I can count on you to lend him your support. There’s so much to do as a new principal.”

Stunned…devastated…bewildered…none of these words could describe Daddy’s reaction. But he was saved by a horrendous crash. All the color drained from Momma’s face as she leapt to her feet and ran to the kitchen.

Jerry and I were right on her heels as Daddy sat there like a melting lump of lard. The shallow pan with the live lobsters had turned over. Apparently the water was getting too hot for their liking. The contents had spilled all over the kitchen. Five of the crustaceans scampered for safety while the sixth waved one claw in a weak farewell salute; brained by the falling pot.

Reverend Frank stood in the doorway assessing the scene, “Ahem, I believe you were supposed to boil the water first. Perhaps it would be better if we all left now. We don’t want to put you out further. Come everyone, we’ll stop at Portafino for dinner on our way home.”

“What a pompous ass!” I hissed after they’d hustled out in embarrassment.

“Daddy,” Jerry coaxed, “you’re better off without him.”

“Yeah, he’s just a big phony,” I agreed. “Who does missionary work in Tahiti anyway?”

“The things I did for that man,” Daddy whispered. He looked like he was about to cry. “Go to bed girls. I’m going to help your mother clean up this mess. Then we’re going to a movie. I never want to hear that man’s name again as long as I live.”

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The courtship of Reverend Frank Wright-part 1

I wrote this story a couple of years ago and the ladies in my writers club slammed me because the father wasn’t very loveable. Well, no. That was the point, however I’m not going to elaborate on what is true and what is exaggerated.

For an educated man, Daddy always did entertain some very strange ideas. The third of ten children, he was the only one to attend college. In fact he had two degrees in education and he liked to remind you of it every chance he got; especially during arguments. I think somehow it made him feel superior to his brothers. Notice I didn’t mention his sisters. They didn’t count.
Daddy’s reasoning powers were a legend in his own mind. You might be right about an issue, but he was never wrong. No one could tell him that polio wasn’t caused by being too clean. Cold showers didn’t prevent colds and influenza. The state of Texas (and only Texas) had a depression for the sole purpose of nearly starving him to death. He thought an imagination was a sin. To have a vivid imagination meant you were going straight to hell. Do not pass “GO”. Do not collect $200.00.

WWII didn’t exist because the Army had declared him 4F. Daddy only read non-fiction books and watched Ed Sullivan and Lawrence Welk on television. Sunday nights, he might allow us to watch “The Wonderful World of Disney” if he was in the mood. He was a no nonsense type of guy.

Religion was reserved for the poor, the ignorant…and women. So you can imagine everybody’s surprise when he announced, “Jordie, I’m taking you and Jerry to church in the morning.” Momma sat there with her mouth hanging open while Jerry and I rolled our eyes and made faces at each other. We didn’t know it but this was the beginning of his courtship of Reverend Wright. In fact we didn’t even know who Reverend Wright was but we were about to find out.

The next morning we kept our opinions to ourselves as we reluctantly dressed to make our religious début. When the sermon was finally over, Daddy dragged us to the door to meet Reverend Wright. “Frank,” he gushed, “I didn’t know this was your church. (Yeah, right!) I’d like you to meet my wife Rebecca and my twins Jerusha and Jordan. Frank’s the new principal at our school. The girls were just saying what a wonderful sermon you preached.”

Reverend Wright gave us a rather lecherous once over then announced, “Such wonderful Biblical names, WT. I’m sure you’re very proud of your family.” Already this guy gave me the creeps.
The reverend didn’t appear to grasp the hypocrisy of the moment. Daddy hadn’t been in a church that either of us could ever remember. In fact, he didn’t even own a Bible. There was nothing Biblical about our names. We were named after our grandmothers. “Well, ladies I’m glad to see young people in God’s house,” Reverend Wright replied bending to shake hands with each of us. The guy was smarmy like a used car salesman. “Perhaps you’d like to join one of our youth groups, or even the choir. We have a lot of activities for teens.” As far as I was concerned, his eyes said more than his words.

Jerry rolled her eyes at me in dawning understanding. Daddy never called us by our given names. Obviously he was up to something.

“That would be wonderful,” Daddy gushed again. “I’ll get with you for times. I know they’d love to join the choir.” Jerry and I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket and Daddy was the first to tell us.
Suddenly, we could see the wheels of fortune turning in Daddy’s head. He was so sure this was going to gain him a promotion at school. Although a promotion to what was a mystery. There was one principal, one vice-principal, one nurse and twenty-five or thirty teachers. Back then they didn’t even have counselors.

From that day forward we never knew what to expect. Daddy would come rushing in from school and announce that we were going to the sock hop at church in an hour. It didn’t matter that we hated dancing…and boys even more. At fifteen we were the neighborhood tomboys. Next he volunteered us to help repaint the church. He said it would be a lot of fun, but we didn’t see him out there sweating like a race horse.

Halloween came and Jerry had to dress up like the Bride of Frankenstein and I was the Mummy in the church’s haunted house. It was our job to scare the daylights out of the little kids. When Christmas came we had to make baskets for the shut-ins at a local nursing home. We had more glue and glitter on us than the basket. After that fiasco we were spared having to apply make-up for the creepy old ladies. Jerry and I barely knew the difference between an eyebrow pencil and eyeliner.

As the school year progressed, things went from bad to worse. Early in January, Daddy showed up with a complete set of golf clubs, shoes and some of those ugly plaid golf pants. He lovingly drew the putter from the bag and swung at an imaginary ball making a hole in one in his mind’s eye.

“I thought you hated golf, Daddy,” I said. “You always said it was stupid to knock hell out of a ball and then go chase it.” Of course I knew why this sudden interest, but I just had to needle him.

“You watch your language, young lady. I’ll have you know golf is the sport of kings. Frank says it’s been around for hundreds of years. Now I’m going out in the backyard to practice a few shots. We have a big game in the morning.”

As if I hadn’t figured it out. I swear if Reverend Frank took up collecting dog turds, Daddy would have too. Anyway, I watched for a few minutes then called, “Hey Jerry, com’ere. Daddy’s out back hitting golf balls.”

We could hardly contain our laughter. Daddy golfed like he square danced. Once he finally selected what he took to be the correct club, he positioned his feet, stuck his butt out like a caboose and his nose in the air. I didn’t know a lot about golf, but I was pretty sure that wasn’t the way you were supposed to do it. A few swings of the club and the ball finally wobbled off the tee.

Jerry and I were falling all over each other laughing. It’s a good thing he couldn’t hear us because he’d have been plenty pissed.

Daddy wasn’t easily deterred in his mission to become Frank’s golf partner. He teed up again to give it another try. This time he connected solidly. The ball went soaring a whole twenty feet. It smacked hard off the dog house and scared poor Rusty half to death. But Daddy was jubilant because he’d hit the ball.

His next few attempts looked like he was trying to bludgeon the poor ball to death. Then another hard swing and a solid hit sent the ball soaring like a bird over the fence into the Peterson’s back yard. Daddy was puffed up like a peacock until he heard the smash of breaking glass. “Uh oh!” Jerry and I chortled together and ran to hide.

The next thing we knew, Daddy came slamming in the back door with his clubs. He was red faced and puffing. “Jordie,” he yelled, “call Mr. Peterson and tell him you hit a baseball through his window. Tell him I’ll pay for it when he gets it fixed.”

“But Daddy, I’m sure he knows the difference between a baseball and a golf ball,” I wailed.

”He’ll be so mad, he’ll never notice,” Daddy denied. “Now call him like I said.”

I knew better than to argue. Reluctantly, I did what I was told. It wouldn’t have been so bad except Mr. Peterson was an old grouch and insisted on talking to Daddy. Nothing to do but Jerry and I had to go over and clean up the mess. As we left, Daddy called, “Bring back my golf ball. No use leaving it for that old skinflint.”

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Politically Correct Police

I needed a weekend off. I'm not being very politically correct these days at the office. I got in Friday to an e-mail form the stupid cow that read, "The only projects that are not ordered are Nancy H's and I'm sure she has a perfectly good reason for not completing them." At first I just deleted it, but the more I thought about it, the madder I got. This woman does everything in her power to say "I'm sooooo terrific and everyone else can't do their job." I swear I'm going to buy her a neon billboard that blinks, "Look at me. Look at me."

Anyway, I retrieved the e-mail from the trash and replied to everyone that she copied (including our boss), "Thank you K-- for your res ponce, but I think it is adequate that you address your projects and allow R----- and me to take care of our projects." Actually, I thought I was very polite.

All day, I kept expecting the boss to call me into his office and say that K-- was just trying to be helpful. Being a giant wimp, I would normally just accept whatever he said, but I'd made up my mind I wasn't going to accept this kind of BS. Maybe he didn't get around to reading my reply on Friday and I'll get waylaid tomorrow. I just know I'm sick of her little digs in the guise of being "helpful."

I guess I'll never understand someone who is so insecure that they constantly have to put everyone else down while blowing there own horn (deserved or not). I'm happy if people leave me alone to do my job and it's plenty for me to know I do it well. Anyway, it'll be interesting to see if the politically correct police come after me in the morning. What are they going to do, fire me?

As a friend of mine always, slaves can't be fired. You have to sell them.