Patsy Porco

Archive for 2018|Yearly archive page

Good/Bad 2018

In 2018, Humor on December 31, 2018 at 8:49 pm

All over social media there are people saying that they can’t wait to see 2018 end. They say it was a horrible year and good riddance to it.

Let’s all take a breath and assess 2018. Something good had to have happened this year to each of us. In fact, I think that almost every event can be perceived in both a negative and a positive light (if you look really hard), so I’m going to attempt to find some sun amidst the darkness.

Screen Shot 2018-12-31 at 8.41.41 PMWhile 2018 presented challenges for me and my family this year, it also brought us our fabulous dog, Duke, whom we adopted from a local shelter. If we hadn’t gotten Duke, I wouldn’t be sitting at my laptop right now, listening to him emit sounds similar to a balloon slowly losing air. I also wouldn’t be enveloped in a cloud of gas so noxious and thick that I will have to fight my way out of it. But that’s the price we pay for having a hilarious, fun-loving, affectionate, and loyal dog. We love him to pieces and he loves us right back. We just don’t take him out in public.

Also in 2018, my commute to work got longer by 2 subway rides. This added about 20 minutes to my trip and will probably subtract years from my life. I used to take one train ride into Manhattan, but then my company moved and I could no longer walk to my office from Grand Central, at least not in a timely manner. Now, when I arrive at Grand Central, I have to elbow my way through dense crowds of people taking pictures of the astrological drawings on the ceiling, race down tunnels and stairs to the Times Square shuttle track, and push my way into a jammed subway car. When we get to the Times Square stop, I catch a train downtown to my job. The Times Square stop is like an underground carnival, where you can watch amateur musical and acrobatic performers, buy newspapers, vinyl records, and rolling papers, or join a cult. On every shuttle to or from Times Square, you will be unwillingly or unwittingly entertained. There is sometimes a man who takes up four seats with a portable keyboard and who plays songs and sings during the short ride. Other times, you get on the train and don’t see anything out of the ordinary and then the doors close and someone sitting all alone will start belting out songs at top volume when nobody expects it. This can be very jarring to your nerves, especially if you haven’t had enough coffee yet. Sometimes a dodgy group of men will appear from another car and start clicking their fingers and tapping their toes and proceed to rap a song they’re composing on the spot. The performers always request donations as the doors of the train open, but if you plant yourself by the door when you get on, you can escape before they get to you. But, despite being part of a captive audience and having to endure a longer commute, I eventually arrive at a job that I love and work with people who are really nice. And there’s free coffee. Of course, after my enjoyable day in the office, I have to repeat the above-described commute in reverse, during the afternoon rush. But—and here’s another upside—I only do this once a week because I am allowed to work from home the other four days. I left that information out until now so you could feel sorry for me, at least for a minute or two.

While the next thing happened in 2017, it affected 2018, so I’m including it: In the summer of 2017, during a party we hosted in our yard, one of our picnic tables fell through the deck. The adult table wasn’t affected, but the kids’ table hit the deck, or actually crashed through the deck onto the ground a few feet below. Only one child was sitting at the table at that time and fortunately he wasn’t hurt. He kept eating his hotdog as we hauled him up through the splintered wood. Then we moved the childrens’ table next to the adults’ table, which was on more stable decking, and continued on with the party. A year later, we finally replaced the deck. So, 2018 brought us a new deck … and no lawsuit from the child’s parents.

There were other events in 2018 that I’m still examining to find a positive side, so I understand that some things that happen can be fairly awful. But when you find yourself dwelling on the bad things that happened this year, be grateful that a flatulent dog isn’t sitting next to you making outrageously rude noises. I’ve never heard of a dog who makes noises when he passes gas. He could well be an old man in a fur coat.

My wish for 2019 is that the year brings upsides that outweigh the downsides. That’s all I want … and Beano for our dog.

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You Have to Crawl Before You Iron

In Humor on December 29, 2018 at 2:35 am

Many years ago, my sister said that she is afraid of ironing because she always winds up with her head under the ironing board, afraid that the iron will fall off the board and onto her face, thus scarring her for life.

When she told me about her unusual fear, I laughed. And from that moment on, every time I ironed, I found myself crawling around on the floor under the ironing board, also afraid that the iron, which was always precariously balanced on the edge of the board, would fall on my face, thus scarring me for life.

I don’t know why she and I always end up on the floor under the ironing board, but we do. Sometimes I’m under there picking up something silky that slipped off the board. Sometimes I’m wiping up water that leaked out of the iron onto the floor. Other times, I’m shoving the dog out from under the ironing board before he jostles the iron off the board and onto his face … thus, scarring him for life.

This doesn’t keep me from ironing, though. I love to iron. Give me a pile of wrinkled clothes, a can of spray starch, and a movie on TV, and I’m happy. I get great satisfaction from the piles of starched and folded clothes that I transformed from unwearable to glorious. Ironing also calms me.

I have a friend who gets the same therapeutic benefits from prepping food. “I just love chopping, grating, mincing, slicing, dicing, and muddling,” she told me. She likes having little bowls and ramekins filled with all of her prepared ingredients before she begins cooking. I guess I can see how the monotony of chopping, grating, mincing, slicing, dicing, and muddling could be a soothing activity but it doesn’t appeal to me. That’s probably because after doing all of that mindless work, I’d have to actually cook.

I can cook, and I do cook, but I don’t enjoy it. It’s probably because my mother spent an enormous amount of time preparing meals that were complicated, beautiful, and delicious. I either don’t think I can live up to her abilities, or I’m lazy. It’s probably the latter. I could live on meat and vegetable pizza for the rest of my life. It’s the perfect food, containing all of the food groups. No additional salad required.

My chopping, grating, mincing, slicing, dicing, and muddling friend doesn’t understand this at all. But she’s Italian. ‘Nuff said.

I’m part Irish and was probably a washer woman in a past life, so that might explain my love of ironing. But I could also have been a dog, considering how much time I spend crawling around on the floor. I was probably in the same pack as my sister.

Ironing

Yes, the word “the” is missing from before “cover” in this meme, but I hope you can overlook that and enjoy the message.

 

Chimney Sweeps, Assigned Nipples, and St. Stephen’s Day

In Humor, Ireland on October 28, 2018 at 4:45 pm

I have a neighbor, Mike, who is closing in on 90 years of age. He was born in Ireland and emigrated to the U.S. when he was a young man.

One thing that I discovered during my visits to him is that he’s very secretive about his age. Naturally, I became determined to figure out how old he is. It’s just human nature. Anytime someone tries to hide his or her age, deducing it becomes imperative for people who know the person.

During one visit to his house, I made it a point to ask him how old he was when he came to the U.S. He told me he was 21. The next time I saw him, I asked him what year he arrived here. He said it was in 1949. Last week, I asked him when his birthday was and he said November 18. Then I did the math. By my calculations, he should be celebrating his 90th birthday soon. Unless he lied. He’s very quick-witted, so I’m sure he figured out why I was asking him all of those date-related questions.

Another thing I learned about Mike is that he’s very interesting to talk to, or I should say listen to. He can talk for hours about the old days in Ireland. He can’t hear very well, so I only ask my most pressing questions because I have to yell to be heard by him. And then I usually have to repeat my question at top volume, because he still doesn’t always hear what I’ve asked. Sometimes he pretends to hear, or I hope he’s pretending. Today, he asked how I was. I said, “I have a headache.” He said, “That’s good.”

During my visit today, he told me many stories. My favorites involved chimney sweeps, a nursing sow, and St. Stephen’s Day.

Mike told me that, right before Christmas, everyone in Ireland cleaned their chimneys so that Santa wouldn’t get dirty when he entered and exited their homes. How it was done was: one male member of the family would climb up on the roof with three or four small fir trees tied to a thick rope. Another male family member would stand in the house by the fireplace. The man on the roof would lower the fir trees down the chimney to the man by the fireplace. When the trees hit the floor, the man on the ground would yell, “Up, up!” The man on the roof would then pull the trees back up. Once the trees reached the top of the chimney, the man on the ground would call, “Down, down!” This went on until the chimney was clean and both men were covered with soot. I asked him how they knew when to stop. He said, “When they decided it was clean enough.”

Then he told me about a sow that his family owned. The sow had 12 piglets and when it was feeding time, each piglet attached itself to one of the sow’s teats. At the next feeding time, they all went back to the nipple they had used before. God help the piglet who tried to take a different nipple. He or she got knocked down by the piglet who “owned” that particular nipple.

The last story involved birds. Mike said that the wrens (he pronounced it “rins”) in Ireland—he couldn’t speak for wrens in other countries—built nests with a roof and a little door, and the mother wren always laid 18 tiny speckled eggs, the size of grapes. He said that they were told that wrens were an endangered species that needed to be protected. So, on St. Stephen’s Day, December 26 (the Day of the Wren in Ireland), little kids would knock on doors and collect money to protect the wrens. Mike said that the kids usually went in pairs, but sometimes three or more children made up a group. The children all wore wooden clogs, which was their everyday footwear. One of the kids in each group would bring a tin whistle, harmonica, or another small instrument. When the homeowner answered the door, the kids would go into the kitchen. Together, they would recite:

“The wren, the wren, the king of all birds, on St. Stephen’s Day got caught in the firs. She is little, but her family is great. So give us some money to keep her safe.”

Then, one kid would play his whistle and the other would dance in his wooden clogs on the flagstone floor. Mike said they made such a racket that any dogs in the house would go for their throats. After the performance, they would be given a “coppers,” i.e., pennies or half pennies. Mike said they never got silver. Then they would proceed to the next house. Mike said there would be hell to pay if they missed a house. Surprisingly, people looked forward to the kids’ visits.

The collection territories were very distinct, so each group of kids could only go to certain neighborhoods or they’d face the wrath of the kids whose area they invaded. Mike said he always only had one partner, and they went to three villages. After Mike and his friend were finished collecting for the wrens, they went to his house and sat on the stone wall in front of it. Because there wasn’t actually any charity that they knew of that was dedicated to saving the wrens, he and his partner would divide up the coins. Mike said that was why he only allowed one other kid in his group, to maximize their profits.

After filling their pockets with coppers, they’d head down to the two stores in their village to buy school supplies, candy … and cigarettes. There were two brands of cigarettes available for purchase at their stores, but the best one was Players, he said. He and his partner would each buy a pack of cigarettes and, if their take was especially profitable, they’d spring for Players. Then they would go and smoke a few behind a barn. Any leftover cigarettes would be hidden from their parents to be smoked at another time.

I’m sure the wrens approved of how their money was spent. What would they do with coppers, anyway?

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My Dog is Playing Me

In dogs, Humor on October 21, 2018 at 1:20 am

I spent the day trying to determine whether our dog, Duke, is deaf. It never occurred to me that he might be until today. I had opened the back door to let him in. He was stretched out by the door and facing away from me. I called his name over and over with no reaction from him. Then I nudged him with my foot and he jumped up and came right in.

“I think Duke is deaf,” I told my husband.

“Wow,” my husband said.

I told him what had just happened and he said, “Huh.”

To prove that I was right, I followed Duke around and called his name when he was looking away from me. No response.

After dinner, I saw him stretched out under the dining table, facing away from me. I called his name and he didn’t move. Then I said, “Cookie!”

He immediately stood up, turned around, walked into the kitchen, and sat in front of the jar where I keep his dog cookies.

“He’s not deaf,” I said to my husband who was also in the kitchen.

“What?” he asked.

“I said that Duke’s not deaf,” I said.

“Who said he was dead?”

“Never mind,” I said.

It turns out I was following the wrong family member around.

Duke

A Mouse in the House and My Hub in the Tub

In Humor on September 24, 2018 at 2:52 am

My husband was recently in the hospital with pneumonia. He was in the ICU for five days and in a regular room for another three. During his time there, he wasn’t able to bathe, so when he got home he really wanted to take a shower.

The problem with taking a shower was that he couldn’t stand for too long because he was still weak and a little short of breath. I immediately ran out and bought him a shower chair. I presented it to him with the fanfare deserved of a 65-inch television. My excitement died with him. He told me that he wasn’t go to use it. In truth, I was relieved; those things seem unsanitary.

Since he couldn’t take a shower, I told him I’d draw him a bath. So, I drew him a bath. When I handed him the picture of a bath, he indulged me with a laugh. This is an old, tired joke in our family, so it was nice of him to humor me. I took back the picture and said I’d fill the tub.

He said to hold off on that for a minute.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because while you were out buying me a shower chair, I saw a mouse come up the steps from the basement.”

“A mouse!” I said. “It’s not even cold out. They never come inside before fall!” It was the end of summer, but the outside temperature was still very warm and I wasn’t ready for this fight yet. This was a fall battle, not a summer one. How dare that mouse not follow the seasonal rules.

In truth, we had just experienced two rodent-less falls because our son had taken an insulation gun and had filled in every crack and crevice in the basement. But this summer, we had a new Bilco door installed and I suspect the installer left some gaps between the cement and the door.

“Did you see where it went?” I asked.

“I think it’s under the fridge,” my husband said.

I responded with a word that I promised myself I wouldn’t write in my blog posts, so use your imagination. Then I pulled the refrigerator out from the wall. A tiny little black mouse ran out, around the corner of the kitchen, and into my son’s bedroom. Great. Just great.

After pushing the fridge back against the wall, I ventured into my son’s bedroom. The mouse wasn’t in the room, so it had to be in the closet. Of course the closet floor contained a mountain of clothes and shoes, so I pulled them all out and, thinking ahead, put them into a laundry basket so that the mouse wouldn’t run out and get lost in the pile. Finally, as I took out the last shoe, the little thing came running out.

I was kneeling on the floor and, in its panic, it ran over, under, through my legs before racing back into the closet. I think I was as freaked out as the mouse was, but I had to persevere. I leaned into the closet and tried to trap it under a Yankees cap, but it kept slithering out. Finally, it ran out of the closet and out of the room, probably back downstairs. I put the basket of shoes and clothes back into the closet and vowed to buy mousetraps. I had given the mouse a chance at life and it had thrown it away.

In the meantime, my husband still needed to bathe. I went into the bathroom, which is across the hall from my son’s bedroom and next to the family room where my husband was, and filled the tub with water. My husband came into the bathroom and got into the tub. I told him to let me know when he was finished.

After his bath, I went back to help him out of the tub. He was sitting cross-legged and told me he was stuck. He tried to push himself out, to no avail. I tugged on his arms, with the same result. We tried everything we could think of but nothing worked.

“Should I call Mike?” I asked. Mike is a family friend who is unfailingly loyal and especially helpful during crises. While this wasn’t a crisis, it wasn’t something I could manage by myself, and our son was at work.

“No!” he said. ” I do not want him seeing me naked!”

So, we tried again to get him out of the tub. As the water receded, my husband was able to gain more traction with his hands, but he couldn’t unfold his legs. Finally he said, “Okay, call Mike.”

I called Mike’s house and his wife answered. I explained why we needed him. There was silence for a second and then she said, “You have got to be kidding me.” I assured her that I was not. She said that Mike was at work but she would call him. She hung up and called back a few minutes later.

“Mike was just about to leave work so he’s going to come home and get his mover’s belt. He’ll be right over.” I didn’t ask her why an accountant had a mover’s belt. That was a question for another time.

I told my husband that Mike was on his way. Then I went into the kitchen. A few minutes later, my husband announced, “I’m out!”

“How did you get out?” I asked.

“Once the water was gone, it was easier to push myself out,” he said.

While that probably helped, I also think the idea of his friend seeing him undressed provided additional impetus.

“I’ll call Mike,” I said. When Mike answered, I told him that Frank had managed to get out of the bathtub. Mike laughed. “Okay, I’ll turn around. But at least I’ll have a good story for our next poker game.” He laughed again.

I relayed Mike’s message to my husband. “Oh, great,” he said. “I guess I won’t be playing poker for awhile.”

Once he was dressed and settled on the couch, I told him I was going to the store to buy mousetraps.

“Don’t forget to return the shower chair,” he said.

“Oh, sure,” I answered.

Then I left and bought the mousetraps. I did not return the shower chair. They might be unsanitary, but I’ll take unsanitary any day over a husband wedged into a bathtub.

 

bathtub pic

 

 

 

 

Walking Duke

In dogs, Humor on August 22, 2018 at 12:27 am

Yesterday, at dusk, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful summer evening and go for a stroll. However, while I like to walk, I need a reason to do so. I am not the type of person who walks aimlessly or without a purpose. So, I decided to take my dog, Duke, out for some exercise. As I gathered up some plastic grocery bags, Duke deduced that it was walk time and jumped up and down in ecstasy. Once he settled down, I attached the leash to his collar and allowed myself to be pulled down the front steps by my jubilant dog.

It was a beautiful summer night, around 7 p.m. It’s August and, each day, the sun sets earlier than it did the day before, so I knew we didn’t have much daylight left to walk in. We kept up a brisk pace up and down the streets near my house. Duke willingly matched my stride, except for when he absolutely had to stop to mark a tree or sniff an already marked bush.

As we approached a corner where we were about to turn, the door to a house across the street from us opened and out walked a man with with two medium-sized, muscular dogs, both on leashes. Duke, who is large-sized and round, skidded to a stop when he saw the dogs. At the same instant, the two dogs saw Duke and started barking. All three dogs strained at their leashes, trying to move toward each other. The man looked at me in that way that people do when they’re wondering if your dog is going to kill their dog. I quickly piped up, “He’s very friendly.” The guy looked relieved and said, “So are mine.”

So, I walked Duke over to meet his dogs. One of the dogs sniffed Duke and sat down. The other one went for Duke’s throat. Duke, in response, went for the dog’s throat. We owners had to drag them apart by their leashes. Once we had done that, I said, “So much for friendly dogs, huh?” and laughed. The man did not laugh. He looked at me, then at Duke, and said, “I’ll say.”

Hmmm. I had meant to make light of the encounter and he meant to blame Duke. I chose not to go for his throat, though. I just turned and dragged Duke down the street away from that house.

For awhile, the walk was very pleasant. I met a nice woman with an enormous sunflower garden. She explained how she prevented birds from eating the seeds out of them (she put clear plastic bags around the heads of her spent sunflowers but left them on their stems until fall, when she gathered the seeds for next year’s garden), and even offered me a bouquet of them. I politely declined her offer, and regretted it immediately, because I buy sunflowers all the time from our local store for $3 a stem. After I left her house, I wondered how long I had until her offer expired. Could I come by later, in the dark, with scissors and take as many sunflowers as I wanted? I actually spent time debating this question with myself. I finally realized that if I had to come under the cover of night, I would probably be stealing them. Instead, I decided to walk Duke by her house on another night, and bring a vase.

When we were a few blocks from home, darkness fell suddenly. One minute it was dusk, and then it was night. As we were passing a hedge in front of a ranch-style house, Duke pulled on his leash and stuck his head under the bushes. I pulled him back out. He pulled even harder, yanked the leash out of my hand, and dove under the bushes. I heard skirmishing and yelled at him to come out of there immediately. The sounds under the hedge got louder. I squatted down and looked under it, but didn’t see Duke. I went around the bushes and saw Duke in the house’s front yard with his nose down in the dirt under the hedge. I tried to grab his collar to pull him away, but he shook me off.

Right then, the outside lights of the next-door neighbor’s house came on and a woman appeared at the front door. “Boxy!” she called. “Boxy, get in the house!”

I looked under the hedge and could see a little, fluffy, black and white kitten. “I’ll try to get Boxy and bring her to you,” I said. I reached down to grab the kitten who was partially under the hedge and partially on the lawn. I had to keep knocking Duke aside so I could get to Boxy first.

I had one hand under the kitten’s stomach when the woman called over to me, “Is my dog over there?”

“No,” I said, “Is Boxy a dog? All that’s here is my dog and a kitten.”

Then it hit me. “Or maybe it’s a skunk!”

The woman turned off her lights and closed her front door.

Just then, the motion lights of the house we were in front of came on. But nobody came outside to investigate. Maybe they weren’t home. Or maybe they were smart.

In any case, I immediately dropped the furry ball and backed off, which gave Duke the opportunity he was waiting for. He grabbed the baby skunk in his mouth and started violently shaking it back and forth.

“Stop it, Duke! Stop it!” I yelled. He ignored me.

“You’re going to get sprayed,” I screamed. “Drop it!”  Instead of dropping the skunk, he hurled it across the lawn. Then he retrieved it and flung it back at me. I looked down and the poor thing looked half-dead, but it was still moving. At this point, I wished it was dead, mostly to end its torture by Duke, but also because I couldn’t, in good conscience, leave a half-dead skunk on the lawn and go home, could I?

The question was moot because Duke picked the skunk back up and resumed his furious shaking of it. I grabbed Duke’s collar and he slipped out of it. I started chasing him. He raced across the lawn, stopping only to shake the skunk or throw it across the grass. After the fourth or fifth toss, the skunk was motionless.

Duke went over to the skunk and looked down at it. He looked confused, like he was wondering why the skunk wasn’t playing anymore. While Duke stared at his lifeless toy, I pounced. I sat on him while I put his collar back on. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t tighten the collar. He knew this, and kept trying to slip out of it.

Now I had a dead skunk and a dog who was determined to escape from me. I knew I should do something about the skunk, but what? I decided to believe that the skunk was faking death and would move on once we left. I’ll check on him tomorrow, I told myself.

In the meantime, I had to get Duke home. That proved a challenge. Every three steps, he’d lie down in the grass and rub his face in it and roll around. He was obviously in pain from being sprayed in the face by the skunk. After about 20 rolls in wet grass, I was able to walk him home.

When I got him inside, I didn’t smell skunk. My husband didn’t smell skunk. I supposed that Duke had only gotten sprayed in the face and had rubbed it off. I did wash out his eyes, as much as he’d let me, but that was all I did.

This morning, the house reeked of skunk. I must have been inured to the smell of skunk the night before since I had been in the thick of it. I don’t know why my husband didn’t smell it when we got home. However, everybody smelled it today.

Needless to say, today involved de-skunking Duke. My son and I used a natural remedy from the pet store and then bathed him. He still reeks, but not quite as much as he did. However, the house does. Tomorrow, we’ll try again –– this time using a peroxide, baking soda, and Dawn dishwashing detergent mixture recommended by friends –– and also figure out how to get the odor out of the house.

I read online that the smell can linger for a year if it’s not addressed. I have guests coming over next weekend, so waiting a year for the air to clear isn’t an option for me.

In the meantime, I really should go check on that skunk.

Duke

 

The Case of the Missing Eggplants

In gardening, Humor on August 6, 2018 at 1:06 am

I was so proud of my garden this year. I had managed to grow eggplants, which I’ve never been able to do in the past.

This summer, I had at least 20 eggplants growing on two plants. They were small and didn’t seem to be getting any bigger so, a few days ago, I fed them plant food and waited.

Today, I went to check on them … and they were gone. One-hundred-percent missing. There wasn’t a trace of them. It was as if they had never existed.

Do eggplants regularly disappear? That would explain why I could never grow them. Maybe, in past years, they were there before I saw them and had vanished by the time I started looking for them.

Their giant leaves still exist, though. Only the eggplants are gone. We don’t have deer, just rabbits and squirrels. But even if they ate them, there’d be evidence, e.g., partly eaten eggplants lying all over the ground.

This is very perplexing. But, then again, so is my zucchini situation.

Everyone who grows zucchini says that they’re overwhelmed by the abundance of their harvest. I grew two zucchini. Two. I have several enormous plants that look very healthy but they don’t have any zucchini growing from them now that I picked the two that grew. I’m beginning to wonder if my zucchini disappeared, too.

My strawberries vanish regularly, but I blame that on birds. But I can’t blame birds for everything. Eggplants and zucchini wouldn’t fit in bird beaks, unless they were vulture beaks. I haven’t seen any vultures in my garden, though. If I did, I would have certainly taken a picture.

Speaking of pictures, I should have taken some of my eggplants—just to prove that they did exist and that I didn’t dream that I grew them.

The line between my real life and my dream life has been getting blurry lately.

eggplant-2924511_1280

Bye Bye

**********************

(Note to Grammar Purists: The plural of eggplant can be eggplant or eggplants. I didn’t understand the rule regarding when to use the former and when to use the latter, so I chose to use “eggplants” at every mention. Zucchini is the plural of zucchini.)

 

A Day at the Beach

In Humor on July 29, 2018 at 11:55 pm

Today was the first day I went to the beach this summer. I live along the Connecticut coastline and every town has its own beach, mine included, so I could have gone every single summer weekend, and even some weeknights, if I had wanted to. And I did want to. But the thought of packing a bag with everything I’d need, putting on sunscreen, carrying a beach chair, and driving to the beach always seemed like too much trouble.

But, today, I was determined to take advantage of our beautiful Calf Pasture Beach, so I gathered everything I’d need and drove the 4 miles to get there. The beach was packed, but there was still plenty of room on the sand for everyone. The sky was clear, the temperature was in the mid-80s, and the water was refreshingly cool, but not cold. It was a perfect beach day.

For two hours, I sunbathed, took dips in the Long Island Sound to cool off, bought an ice cream cone, and read. I sat as close to the water as I could, without getting wet.

While I was reading, I heard someone speaking very loudly. I looked over at the sound and saw an older man floating on his back in the very shallow water not far from the sand. I realized that it was the man who was speaking, and he was shouting the same words over and over at a young woman who stood near him in the water. I didn’t know what he was saying to her because he wasn’t speaking English.  The woman looked at him with no expression and walked away. When she passed me, I asked her if everything was okay. She told me that everything was fine and thanked me for my concern.

I decided that the man was probably unstable, so I went back to the book I was reading. After a few minutes, I heard a noise and looked over towards the water. The man was still floating on his back in the shallow water and was again yelling at someone, but now the tone of his voice had changed — to one of agony. I looked a little closer and noticed that he was talking to the same young woman who had acted like she didn’t know him. She had returned and appeared to be dragging the man out of the water by one leg, which only made him scream louder. This just seemed too odd to ignore, so I got up and went over to them.

I asked if I could help and the man said, “YES” or something that started with “Y” and seemed affirmative. The young woman shrugged. I grabbed the man’s other leg and started to help the woman pull him out. This maneuver caused his head to descend lower into the water, which lapped over his face, making him choke and gag. Since preventing him from drowning seemed more important than pulling him out of the three inches of water he was lying in, I dropped his leg and elevated his head with my hand. Meanwhile, the young woman continued to hold his leg. She didn’t seem to be pulling anymore, just standing still with his leg in her hands. I suggested that she put down his leg so the man could try to sit up. He nodded in agreement. Once both of his legs were on the ground, we tried to help him into a sitting position. He cried out in pain and fell backwards. I grabbed his head again and kept it above the water.

At this point, a lot of things happened at once. A man came over and asked if he should call the lifeguard. I said yes. The lifeguard came running over from her chair. She was blonde, fit, very cute, and useless. “My supervisor will be right over,” she said.

While we waited for the supervisor to arrive, another woman came running over to see what was going on. She said she was an EMT and then started demanding answers to standard EMT questions: “What’s the man’s name? How old is he? Does he have a heart condition?” I had no idea. I looked over to ask the young woman if she knew anything, but she was gone. A crowd was assembling and she had retreated to the back of it.  I ran over to her and said, “Do you know this man?

“Yes,” she said. “He’s my father-in-law.”

Her father-in-law? I had so many questions for her, but this wasn’t the time. “What’s wrong with him?” I asked.

“He has a cramp in his leg,” she said.

“You’d better get back over there and answer some questions about him,” I said.

She looked like she was thinking over her options. “Go!” I said.

She strolled over to the EMT. Just then a bunch of teenaged lifeguards arrived in a Jeep. They jumped out and grabbed the man’s arms and legs and started to pull him out of the water. He started screaming again.

The EMT, who had managed to extract answers from the young woman, said, “He’s 65 and he says he has a leg cramp. I think it’s more than that,” she said. “Maybe a blood clot.”

I had to agree that it seemed more serious than a leg cramp, since he couldn’t sit up without howling his head off. But it was out of my hands now. I went back to my chair and watched as the lifeguards and EMT slid a surfboard under the man and carried him off like pallbearers at a beach funeral.

Once the excitement was over, the crowd dispersed.

I decided that it was a good time for me to leave, as well. A person can only take so much relaxation in one day.

IMG_4096

Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk, CT

 

 

 

Medical Karma

In colonoscopy, Humor on July 25, 2018 at 7:07 pm

I had a terrible sinus headache today. I also had an appointment to meet the doctor who would be performing my colonoscopy. He is in the same practice as my primary-care physician (medical lingo for “regular doctor”) but he’s a specialist and I had never met him before.

After the nurse had escorted me into a little room and had measured my weight and blood pressure, she left me alone after assuring me that the doctor would be with me shortly. Judging from my experience, I sincerely doubted it. So, I lay down on the white paper on the vinyl bed and closed my eyes.

The lights in the room were motion-activated and, since I wasn’t moving, they went off. That suited me fine because my head was pounding and light exacerbates my headaches.

After awhile – a long while – the door opened. I shot up into a sitting position and the lights went on. The doctor grabbed at his heart.

“Oh my God!” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“You scared me to death,” he said.

“I did?” I said. “Why?”

“I thought you were dead,” he said, shaking his head. “I walked into a room that was pitch black and saw you lying on the table. And then you popped up and the lights came on.”

He reached behind himself to make sure there was a chair, and sat down and put his head in his hands.

I laughed. And laughed. “You really thought I was dead?”

He took his head out of his hands and managed to produce a shaky chuckle. “You have to see it from my point of view. When I work at the hospital, I occasionally walk into a room and encounter a dead person. You were lying with your hands crossed over your chest in a dark room. What else would I think?”

“Wow,” I responded. “Did you ever find a dead person in one of your consultation rooms before?”

“No.” He shook his head. “But there’s a first time for everything.”

“I’m sorry I alarmed you,” I said.

“You scared the crap out me,” he said. “By the way, nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, too,” I said.

Later, when I was being given instructions on how to prepare for my colonoscopy, I thought it was only fair that I got to scare the crap out of him – considering what the horrible-tasting liquid he prescribed was going to do to me.

Dr. Sammarco

 

 

 

 

Waiting for Your Boaz

In Humor on July 24, 2018 at 1:05 am

I got a text today from my friend, Boaz. He was on an airplane and he said that everyone’s private TV screen featured a picture of one of the airline’s smiling flight attendants. Every passenger was looking at a different flight attendant, and he said that the woman in front of him had a picture of an attendant who looked just like me, so he got to stare at me for the whole flight.

“I’m sorry about that,” I texted.

“Why?” he texted back.

“Because you have to stare at my double, and my attractive days are behind me. ”

“That’s funny,” he texted, “because your attractive days are right in front of me.”

That’s Boaz for you. He always knows what to say to make you feel good about yourself.

I decided to call him later in the day. During the course of the conversation, he said, “You haven’t blogged in a long time.”

“Because my life is miserable and I have nothing funny to write about,” I replied.

“You could always write about me,” he suggested. “Then I’d be famous.”

“Yeah, right,” I said. “All 30 of my readers would know your name.”

“That’s 30 more people than know it now,” he said.

I had to laugh. Boaz has that effect on people. He always sees the positive side of life. The little daily nuisances that currently have me down – our dryer broke, our basement flooded, and a circuit died on our circuit board – are just minor annoyances to him. He prefers to think happy thoughts … even during the times when he’s tempted to ship his kids off to military school or strangle a coworker.

Everybody could use a Boaz in his or her life. Which reminds me: A few years ago, there was a meme that made the Facebook rounds. I sent it to Boaz, and he loved it. He said that the message was 100% accurate: everyone should wait for his or her Boaz.

It was just too bad that there was only one of him, he said.

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 12.35.11 AM

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