Coffee heat rising

Walloped, continued

Well I’m still alive, believe it or not, and still more or less ambulatory. It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 3 weeks since I fell out by the pool and and broke my shoulder. Since then my right arm has been in a sling 24 hours a day, except for a few minutes per day in the shower. That’s jolly fun. The pain has slowly gotten a little bit better, day by day in almost unnoticeable increments. This evening as a matter of fact it feels a lot better than it has over the past couple of weeks.

Yesterday — migod was only yesterday? — my son drove me out to the Mayo for more X-rays and consultation with the orthopedist. This soaked up half of his day and mine, too.

The young doc’ — who actually is a PA — ordered a vast round of X-rays to be done before we met with him.

Now, the problem with the Mayo’s X-ray department is that they operate at the speed of a galloping snail. They plunk you down in the lobby outside their four x-ray rooms and…you wait. And wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait… I must have sat there 45 minutes waiting for them to get around to X-raying my shoulder, a job theoretically scheduled at 12:45. Only two other people were waiting to be x-rayed. So that was a bit stressful, if you find annoyance to be stressful.

On the other hand, the technician was awesome. She took photos of this damn thing from every angle you can imagine and then some. By the time we got in to see Young PA Kildare, we had a very detailed set of the images.

He said he thinks it will heal up completely in another 6 to 8 weeks. But in the meantime he wants me to start physical therapy.

The nearest physical therapy outfit is about three miles away. I’ve been in there before and was magnificently unimpressed. My long-ago physical therapist, who really was awesome, has moved into tonier realms, and I will be damned if I want to drive to Scottsdale to get to a PT.

Which brings us to the next problem: I can’t drive. And my son cannot keep on taking time off work to schlep me around the city. Yesterday soaked up his entire afternoon. He is supposed to be working. He manages a crew of underlings. He cannot be gone all day long. So how the hell I’m going to get to this place escapes me. In theory I could walk: three miles (one way) is not that far for me. But in the shape I’m in just now, really it’s too far. Plus it would require walking most of the way along major horrible thoroughfares, every one of them seven lanes full of Looney Tunes. Driving on those streets is difficult enough, but walking alongside one of them…Holy shit.

So one of my chores today was to try to get my coreligionists to volunteer to schlep me over there… Three times a week. Or to somehow get the Uber application downloaded into the iPhone and try to figure out how to use it. But I ended up so so engrossed in the client’s project that I never got around to either one of those proposed chores.

God only knows how much it’s going to cost to have Uber or taxicabs haul me to this place and back home. And the hassle factor is more than I can contemplate! So that is something I’m going to have to figure out in the next few days.

On Monday when Luz the Wonderful Cleaning Lady arrives, I’ll ask her if she has time to haul me around once in a while, and if so, can I pay her to drive me back and forth to this place maybe once a week. And today when I can work up the strength, I’ll ask around the church.

Meanwhile, the beloved new client is hot to trot... Off to the University of Washington Press! She wants to get a formal proposal organized and sent to the editor there. As a practical matter, she does need to get started now: selling a book entails creating a proposal (which is a very BFD indeed) and then shopping it around to publisher after publisher.

In theory you’re not supposed to send proposals out to more than one publishing house at a time. I personally consider that to be BS and in the past have sent my proposals to four to six publishers at once. It would be a cold day in an Arizona July for two publishers to happen to stumble across each other and oh, yes, of course chat about your brilliant proposal and discover that they both received the same magnum opus on the same day. I just don’t think that’s going happen, and I think publishers’ attempts to inflict that kind of embargo on their writers are exploitive. I hesitate to tell the kid that. But may discuss it with her dissertation adviser, and also with my favorite current spy in scholarly publishing.

Also meanwhile, trying to edit copy by using Apple’s dictation system, which is about as knowledgeable as my dog, is just flikkin’ torture!!! Every passage, every sentence, every phrase pops up with error after error after error after error after error after error after error. Each one of which has to be manually fixed with one-finger, one-hand point-delete-point-tap. Over and over and over and over and over and over again. To fix one item is endlessly time-consuming. And to do it for hundreds of pages simply defies belief. Dictating a few sentences gives you things like this:

This passage is probably more appropriate for the proposal, to be addressed to publishers acquisitions editor rather then placed in the books introduction. Consider using much of this material for your proposal focusing the introduction on the background of the events and in research in which you set the book’s facts and pieces

Here is what it is supposed to say.

This passage is probably more appropriate for the proposal, to be addressed to a publisher’s acquisitions editor, rather than placed in the book’s introduction. Consider using much of this material for your proposal, focusing the introduction on the background of the events and on the research in which you set the the book’s facts and thesis.


Since then my right arm has been in a sling 24 hours a day.


Since then, the army has been wrestling 24 hours a day.


It feels a lot better than it has.


it feels a lot better than cats.

LOL!! How do cats feel, anyway?

What this fiasco means — and it is an ongoing, unending fiasco — is that every single sentence, every single phrase, every single word has to be scrutinized with x-ray vision to get it correct. And even then some weird mistakes are going to slip through. It is excruciatingly time-consuming — probably absorbs about three times as much time and effort as ordinary editing requires. I do not know when I am ever going to be able to get through the client’s copy, and I’m certainly instilling as many errors as I’m correcting.

I do have my moments of wondering whether I can continue with this project… I may have to tell her she’s going to have to find someone else to edit her book.

And that is going to make this a very expensive little accident. The project is worth several thousand dollars, all of which are about to go right straight down the drain.

None of this is helped by the chronic insomnia. I was awake between two and four this morning — well, 4 a.m. was the last time I looked at the clock. The day was overcast, which delayed the usual dawn awakening for me and the dog, but we rolled out of the sack at about six. And I am presently bat-brained exhausted.

Isn’t that amusing. Apple thinks the word Dawn is a trade name, and capitalize it CAPITALIZES …sumbiche!  Five tries to get the damn thing to spell capitalizes correctly!!!!!!!!!!!

I give up. Gotta go to bed. Good night, Mrs. Calabash!





Well, clearly I’m going to have to find some way to “pay it forward” to the church and most specifically to the choir. My gosh! Choir members have risen in mass to help me out. Yesterday morning a fellow named Kerr came over to collect me and drive me all the way to hell and gone out to Scottsdale to get my hair done.

He’s the gent whose wife fell and busted her shoulder last fall. He said she’s back to normal now. Her fiasco was significantly worse than mine because instead of just inflicting a set of cracks in the bone, she actually snapped it into two pieces. Ouch!

So it’s reassuring to know that in spite of having a worse injury, she recovered: apparently with no long-term ill effect.

At any rate, once we got to beautiful downtown Scottsdale, we found that my old and much beloved hair stylist Shane is still there! As requested he cut off the Rapunzel-esque locks into a cute, curly style… Yes, to the tune of sixty-eight dollars. And so now I will have to budget something to visit him once every two months. {grump!}

The mop needed to have about four inches of split ends trimmed off. But I rather resent having to get it all cut off. As a practical matter, though, with a crippled arm I can’t even wash it, much less comb the tangles out of wet hair or keep it combed and brushed between launderings. So… it is what it is, to coin a phrase.

Today, the pillar of the choir, D., is going to pick me up and take me down to the dentist’s office.

I made this appointment when a little revelation struck me. As I was reviewing the test results that the Mayo has posted on its portal, I realized that none of them is outside the range of”normal” except for the A1C measurement, which is a grandiose .1 above normal. The vitamin B12 level, which Dr. Fields blamed for the crazy-making peripheral neuropathy, is smack in the middle of the normal range. The last I spoke with her, she remarked that she could not understand why, given these improved numbers, the PN hasn’t started to go away.

This led me to wonder if there might not be some other cause for the present ailment. And lo! Looking around the hypochondriac’s treasure chest that is the Internet, what do I discover but that a titanium dental implant can cause peripheral neuropathy! The site that has the most detail that I could find seems to indicate that by “peripheral neuropathy” they’re talking about tingling in the gums and lips. Mine started there but has spread to the hands, arms, feet, and legs. One would think that might suggest some more systemic problem than just a local reaction to a dental implant. However… now that I think about it, before all this started I had an episode of burning mouth syndrome. That seemed to come out of nowhere… But maybe it didn’t! Maybe it was a response to all the damned dental work.

At any rate when I called the dentist and mentioned peripheral neuropathy, you could hear his ears perk up over the phone line. This is a very smart guy. And so I think it will be worth raising the question of whether the metal they stuck in my gums could be causing this thing. Elsewhere I learned that a test exists that supposedly can tell you whether you have a titanium allergy. I’m going to ask him if we can get that test done somewhere here in town.

D. picked up a bunch of things for me at a Fry’s here in town, and tomorrow she’s going to drive me to the dentist’s office. A week from tomorrow, my son is driving me back to the Mayo for another x-ray and a repeat visit with the orthopedist.

The result of all this gallivanting is that I didn’t read one word of the client’s magnum opus. In fact the stuff has been such a distraction and I’m so effing tired that I didn’t even think of it until just this minute. Tried to sleep in the afternoon to no avail. Now at 9:30 in the evening, I can barely hold my eyes open.

Busted (literally) and Disgusted

So yesterday M’jito and I visited the recommended orthopedist at the Mayo. Basically what he said was Yup! You broke your shoulder. Yup, the best course of treatment is to swallow a bunch of pain pills and keep the wounded paw in a sling.  He did give me a new sling to take the place of the one I got at the ER — the one whose support strap velcroes to a spot  around in the middle of your back, between your shoulders.

Actually he said he wanted me to do physical therapy starting in a couple of weeks, after meeting with me for a second time. Having done a course of physical therapy in the past, I wanted to be take myself to my guys, because they really are good and they’re only about a three-minute drive from my house. He also gave me a new arm sling. This one attaches either at the top of your shoulder or behind your neck, depending on how tight you wanted to be. [P.S.  OMG, did you spot that typo? 😀 Yes, as a matter of fact I wanted to be quite tight!!!)

So, referral in hand, I go to call my good old physical therapy dude. His office and number are listed in Google but when you call the phone number you get an annoying recorded phone company message saying “that number does not exist.” So now I have to get back to the Mayo and schedule physical therapy with them. That will mean I have to traipse halfway to Fountain Hills, God knows how many times a week for God knows how many weeks to cope with the aftermath of this fun adventure.

Paroxysms of hassle — painful hassle most of the time — occupied half of another day.

To get into this new sling or any similar one, you need to wear a shirt under it. That shirt needs to be easy to get into and out of. And when you have a busted shoulder, a shirt that pulls on and off over your head does not fit that description. I have three, count’em 3, shirts that button up the front. One of them is a pajama top.

So, it was off to Amazon for a shopping spree. Ultimately I ordered two shirts, which I hope will work for the current medical project and also will be usable in the future with blue jeans.

Meanwhile, my confidence in the Mayo’s crew of docs was mildly shaken, but exceptionally so regarding the handsome young doctor. He told me things that I happened to know — and have since confirmed — to be misinformed. First and foremost in the “wrong” department: he told me to quit taking ibuprofen because, said he, ibuprofen interferes with bone healing.

I remarked that acetaminophen, his drug of choice, does about as much for me as a caramel candy. Come to think of it a caramel candy would probably be better: at least it would taste good. Oh no, nothing would do but what I dare not take ibuprofen and must take acetaminophen.


Being the skeptical old bat that I am, naturally the minute I caught my breath after that junket, I looked up the question of whether ibuprofen interferes with bone healing. Right out of the box, what should I come up with but this interesting 2020 comparison of ibuprofen and acetaminophen when used as painkillers for fractures. A “Colles’ fracture” is your basic broken forearm. But the type of fracture is irrelevant: the issue is that this 2020 study concluded that ibuprofen is a “bone-safe analgesic treatment in an acute fracture-phase.”  Moving on, we come across another report, also from 2020, in which researchers divided a group of patients whose average age was 65 into a set that used ibuprofen and a set that did not. They found that “There was no difference between treatment groups in bone mineral density, histomorphometric estimations, and changes in bone biomarkers. These findings may offer an indication of ibuprofen as a bone-safe analgesic treatment in an acute fracture-phase.”

So the orthopedist wants me to come back in two weeks, after which he proposes that I start physical therapy. That all seems fairly reasonable. The wounded paw is sore if I move it wrong, but by and large not too intolerable. It would help a whole lot if I didn’t have hair that came halfway down my butt. But next week I’ve got an appointment with my long-forsworn hairstylist. Between now and then I’ll have to decide whether just to trim off four inches of split ends or to go all the way and have him cut it off into a pixie. I really don’t want to get stuck on the hairstyle merry-go-round again. The trouble  with the cute short hair style is that to keep it cute you have to go back about every four to six weeks. Even if you stretch it out to once every two months, that adds up to a lot of hairstyling bills. On the other hand, there’s no way I can deal with long hair single-handedly… as it were.

Meanwhile, I’m having grand fun (heh!) learning what it’s like to live with a disability. It certainly enhances your respect for people who have to deal with pain or disability on a permanent basis. You have to adapt yourself to so many workarounds, extra considerations, do-withouts, and roadblocks that it pretty much defies belief. Yesterday a friend on the choir who is nearly blind called to commiserate. I can’t even imagine how she gets by. She’s now had…what?… three? four? surgeries on her eyes in attempts to save the vision she has left or to recover some vision. All of them have failed. So, when you consider what other people have to deal with, you realize your little dilemmas are as nothing

Yesterday, speaking of little dilemmas, I dropped my glasses,. Natcherly, they fell between the nightstand and the bed. Stupidly, I knelt down to fish them out and ended up on the floor.

Without both hands to push myself up, I cannot get off the floor once I’m down. Hot day-um.

Fortunately, though, I now have a strategy for getting myself upright. So I butt-walk up the hallway, across the kitchen, and into the dining room — this is a journey, in a 1900-square-foot shack, under the circumstances. Luckily, this house was built during the time of the rage for sunken rooms, and the family room happens to be one of those. Once in the dining room, I can dangle my feet over the ledge between the dining room and the family room. This gives me enough purchase to stand up.

The busted arm is sore on a low-key level, but it doesn’t actually HURT hurt unless I do something stupid. Alas, we know “do something stupid” is part of my stock in trade.

It’s interesting to consider how many of the various devices intended to assist people with permanent or temporary disabilities leave a whole lot to be desired. We could for example remark upon the shortcomings in Apple’s dictation function, with which I am clumsily writing this post. Sometimes it’s kind of hilarious, but most of the time having to correct phrase after phrase after phrase and word after word after word by hunting and pecking with your left index finger is just annoying. How exactly for example, does the word of sound like I’ll? How does I’ll sound like am?

We’ve already touched upon the ludicrous Velcro-decorated arm sling that attaches in the middle of your back — that’s handy and dandy.

My son has been picking things up at various grocery stores for me, but he cannot do that forever — he does after all have a full-time job. So one of these days, I’m going to have to send Instacart out to gather some serious provisions for the Funny Farm. While I’m very grateful for the existence of Instacart, all their employees suffer from the same shortcoming: being merely human. Ask for item a and invariably you will get item b — simply because a person who does things differently from the way you do things doesn’t understand what you’re saying when you ask for something that does not fit into their way of doing things.

I suppose if these antics continued very long, you would devise all sorts of workarounds, so that over time you would arrive at a point where you could get most things done the way you want them done.

Once, within living memory, it looked like this!

Several other small challenges remain to be figured out. For example, I have no clue how and when to get my hair washed. I don’t think it’s possible to wash a mane of hair that falls to your waist with one hand, to say nothing of picking the tangles out of the soaking wet mop. Literally, in the months since we were told we must not go into beauty salons, my hair has grown a good 4 inches; from shoulder length to waist length. I’m awfully afraid that I’m going to have to have it cut off into a pixie. I don’t want to have to run to the stylist every 4 to 6 weeks, but neither do I want to go around looking like an agèd Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.  Would that be Sheena, Grandmother of the Jungle?

Yesterday, though, I did decide to take a chance on the plumbing in the back bathroom and use Satan’s fancy travertine shower stall to bathe.

The thing you have to bear in mind about this spectacular happy handyman production is that, after all was said and done, the gorgeous stonework that he lined the shower stall with has to be stripped and resealed every six months. This he told me in the last five minutes of the final walk-through before clinching the sale of the house.

Seriously, dude? That bathroom is smaller than the closet in the master bedroom! And it has no — 0.00 — ventilation!!

Is that not brilliant, I ask you? It puts Satan smack in the same class with the designer of an arm sling that has to be attached  between your shoulderblades. The upshot: I never use that shower.

The middle bathroom has a regular bathtub with one of those showerheads on a hose that you can pull off and use to wash whatever you feel like washing — like, say, the dog. But it has the disadvantage, of course, that one must step over the side of the bathtub to get into it. And the other disadvantage: the plastic tub floor gets slippery when dampened with shampoo or conditioner. The shower pan that Satan installed is also plastic, but it’s textured, so one would be unlikely to slip in there. And you only have to step over a barrier about two or three inches high to get into the thing.

Of course it presents the enormous disadvantage, besides  the semi-annual refinishing chore, of having clear glass sliding doors, which means that somehow you have to get the hard water deposits off the glass every time you clean the flicking bathroom.

Fortunately, though, Luz the Wonder Cleaning Woman just came back this week — or rather, I just allowed her back, now that I have both the covid shots. So I can foist that job onto her. I think if I keep a roll of shop towels in there to wipe the glass dry and also to wipe down the stone walls every time I shower, it should be okay.

As okay as the ongoing horror show that we’re all living through ever gets. It seems as though the current depressing predicament goes on and on and on. Nor does there appear to be any realistic, believable end in sight. Even though I expect that this arm thing will heal up if I live long enough and I don’t fall again, I think it’s unlikely that the deadly virus presently threatening the future of the human race is going to go away anytime soon. Most certainly it will not go away, any more  than the flu ever goes away. Eventually it will pick off all the victims that it’s capable of killing, and those whose constitutions allow them to survive will survive and will reproduce, partially replacing themselves with offspring who are genetically resistant to the virus’s death-dealing skills.

One thing after another

Incommunicado, I’m afraid, for quite some time. That’s because it’s been one damnfool thing after another around here.

Just now, the good news is that I managed to get the second covid-19 shot this morning. And contrary to what we read in published reports, so far the after effects are not especially dramatic. So that’s a relief. Within another couple of weeks, presumably I can feel a lot safer going out in public. A trip to the grocery store will no longer entail taking one’s life in one’s hands. At least, so it is to be hoped.

My neighbor, WonderAccountant, drove me down to the County Fairgrounds, one of the venues where the vaccine is being dispensed. We got in and out within 20 minutes, with exactly zero hassle.

I had to be driven to this appointment, we might add, because at this point I cannot drive my car.

And why, you might reasonably ask, can I not manage to drive my car to the vaccine-fest? That would be because four days ago while I was puttering around with the pool equipment, I tripped over the vacuum hose and fell face forward onto the cool-deck, escaping a tumble in the icy water and a smash across the face by a few inches. As most of us will do, I instinctively stuck my hand out in front to block the fall, with the result that I broke my shoulder.

That was grand fun. After some x-rays and two or three hours of general misery at the emergency room, staff at the Mayo opined that it probably would not need surgery. We’ll believe that after we meet with the orthopedist…next Thursday.

The upshot is, my right arm is pretty well crippled. It has to reside in a sling 24/7, which alone would be uncomfortable enough were it not that the injury is startlingly painful. The ER doctor gave me some tramadol, which I don’t feel I should be taking, because I’m not inclined to take addictive drugs. Fortunately, the aspirin that I’ve been scarfing down for the interminable crazy-making peripheral neuritis is keeping the bone pain more or less tolerable most of the time. That notwithstanding, the arm is basically useless, which complicates life considerably because I am inveterately right-handed.

Among other things, it makes it impossible to write with pen and paper and very difficult to type on the keyboard. In fact, just now I’m using Apple’s dictation function on the MacBook. This is highly problematic, because about two-thirds of what you dictate gets garbled, confused, and wierdified. For example the two sentences that I just typed came out looking like this before I edited the stuff using my left index finger to hunt and peck:

In fact, Justin now I’m using apples dictation function on the MacBook. This is highly problematic because about two thirds of what you dictate gets garbled confused and verified.

Very weirdified indeed.

The dispensers of the covid vaccine want you to use ibuprofen or acetaminophen after you have taken the shot. They recommend against aspirin. This presents a conundrum, because acetaminophen and ibuprofen do little or nothing for any of my standard aches and pains. It does nothing for the peripheral neuritis. Nothing, zero point zero-zero. I would say the ibuprofen that I dropped about two hours ago has helped a little with the fractured shoulder, so that’s something…acetaminophen does nothing. But meanwhile the feet, the shins, and the hands feel like a 120-volt electric current is flowing through them.

This latter phenomenon can be controlled to some degree, temporarily, by smearing lots of CBD oil all over your skin, and rubbing it in with Vick’s VapoRub. That would be nice if it didn’t stink to high heaven and render your feet so greasy you dare not walk across the tile floors, lest you launch a repeat performance of the poolside face-plant.

So the ineffable WonderAccountant, drove me down to get the second covid shot, my son having laid down an edict to the effect that I am not to drive my car. Normally I ignore such orders from on high, but this time I think he’s right that I shouldn’t be driving at all. And given the risk of fairly immediate unpleasant side effects from the second shot, I figured discretion was the better part of valor. Once again, as at the first three-ring circus, hundreds of people were in line, and once again everything went very smoothly.

Arriving back in the ’hood, we turned onto our street to see one of those nutty door-to-door evangelists handing out religious propaganda–or rather littering people’s front doors and door steps with it. And yes, when I got up to the house I found she had cluttered the front patio with her throwaways. What possesses these people?

You should have seen her costume! She was dressed just like the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz! A big old floppy-brimmed black hat and a skirt (also black) that fell to her ankles. We haven’t had any of those fruitcakes around here for quite a long time. I hope she’s not a harbinger of a flock of incoming.

Forward to the Past…

Military hospital during the Spanish Flu epidemic. My uncle died in one of these places.

Sometimes it feels like the 21st century is carrying us backward, not forward along the current of time. The covid plague is itself a gigantic throwback to the past, reminding us of the 1918 flu epidemic, of the recurrent waves of Black Plague, of smallpox and tetanus, of typhoid and cholera, all of which were commonplace before Louis Pasteur brought us vaccines and sanitation. Since the contagion arose, I’ve taken up a time-consuming habit of my mother’s, something she was taught to do by way of keeping her family healthy.

I grew up in a God-forsaken American camp in Saudi Arabia. In those days, the Third World was seriously the Third World, and the U.S. hadn’t been “First World” long enough for any such concepts to have taken root in the psyches of my parents and grandparents. The company — Aramco — coached all the women on sanitation practices to protect their families’ health. (Married women were not allowed to work for the company; single women came out as teachers or nurses, but if they married someone they had to quit their jobs.)

(Yes, Virginia, that WAS life in the 1950s!)

My mother had been taught that every single piece of produce had to be washed — thoroughly! — in soap and water. This was because most of the produce sold through the commissary was grown in the Middle East, where at the time agricultural fields were commonly fertilized with human waste. Amoebic dysentery was endemic…and believe me, that was an ailment you did not want to catch.

So that’s exactly what she did: every apple, every orange, every green bean, every whatEVERedible was washed manually. Lettuce and cabbage were soaked in a sinkful of dilute Clorox and then rinsed thoroughly before going into the refrigerator. We couldn’t have strawberries or raspberries or the like, because they couldn’t be sanitized in any rational way. Even a melon had be washed with soap and water: a blade slicing into an unclean melon would smear any pathogens on the skin across the melon’s flesh.

And y’know what? Washing every single piece of produce before it comes into the kitchen is THE biggest PITA that came down the pike. It’s nicely exacerbated by having to squirt every cardboard or plastic package and every tin can with disinfectant and rub it down before it can be busted open. Ugh!

It makes shopping powerfully aversive.

I think of my mother having to do that for every shopping trip over TEN YEARS…that’s how long we lived in the godforsaken place. Good grief.

No wonder she had one (count it, 1) shopping day per week!

That’s about what I’m doing, too: limiting the shopping trips to as few junkets/month as possible.

We thought it was oh! so wonderful when we came back to the states and didn’t feel that every bite of produce had to be thoroughly washed with strong soap or detergent and dipped in Clorox. One might rinse it off, but one didn’t feel that every apple and orange and can of soup had to be sanitized.

That was back when America was a “first-world country” because it was one of the only countries in the world that had a USDA and regulations that inflicted some control over the sanitation of groceries sold in stores.

No so, anymore. These days much of our food comes in from countries where farmers can’t read the (English-language) safety instructions on the toxic insecticides and some still fertilize crops with horse manure and human manure. Really, if you were at all fastidious (or in the know about imported produce), you’d dunk all your produce in a sudsy bath of Dawn detergent and water, covid-19 or no covid-19.

Between that and the plague that has brought us a contagion much like the pre-20th-century epidemics of smallpox, typhus, typhoid, cholera, influenza, tetanus, bubonic plague, yellow fever, and — yeah: influenza, it feels like we’re moving backward in time.

Back to the future. God help us.

She had good taste…

Here’s a poem that Puerto del Sol published some time back. Truth to tell, the content is from a letter I sent to my son when he was in college. I’d retrieved a set of my mother’s stoneware from a dank storage bin at my Ex’s house — she died a year before my son was born. I guess the headnote is part of the poem…

Nice Taste

After two years of searching, my ex-husband and his new wife find my mother’s stoneware dishes, right where he/i/we put them, must’ve been ten or fifteen years ago . . . in the tin shed behind the carport, cardboard boxes rotting off them like peeling sunburned skin, roach grubs and scorpions scuttering in and out, but amazingly they’re all intact, or as intact as they were when they came into our hands. I write to my son about the dishes and his dead grandmother, whom he has never known.

It was all Denby and Heath in those days.
That was what the young society matrons
had because of course that was what one had.
Denby. Heath. Big lurching plates in dark lurching
colors, swamp green and mud brown and marsh blue
lighted here and there with dabs of St. Elmo’s fire:
orange and gold.

Well so I had to have some Heathware because
your dad and I couldn’t afford Denby
Though Sara B* had Denby, wouldn’t have
anything else and somehow Barbara B**
got Denby, too, well because her mother
worked in a jewelry store
(shh) and got (a discount).
So what I chose was olive green, not to say
avocado green. “Choose things that don’t
go out of style,” she used to say.

And that was what she would buy for me,
ageless clothes that stayed presentable for
ten years and looked like they were purchased
for my grandmother.

It never occurred to me that olive plates would
someday say, enunciating crisply, “Nineteen-sixty-seven.”
How could we ever go out of style?

The bridal buying frenzy infected her.
After I was settled in my new house she
remade her empty nest. One of the things
she refilled it with was a new set of stoneware,
just like the stylish young women’s: Heath.

Only she picked white. White with dust-brown unglazed rim.
Alabaster and earth.
Simple. Clean. Understated. Elegant.
And god help us,
to this day
they’re the height of style.