Episodes of Epistaxis

Recently, Life has, repeatedly, given me a bloody nose. And I don‘t like or understand it.

I never previously suffered with nosebleeds (okay, possibly once when I smacked my face into something, but not frequently and not mysteriously, as has been the situation this past month). Now, not to panic — such bleeding has only occurred four (or five) times, and it always clots away pretty fast, in an hour or less, nostril squinched closed between fingers clutching blood-absorbing kleenex (okay, Big Corporate — “facial tissues”). I havenʼt even been deprived of much of my precious sanguinous fluid, but this bodily misbehavior is new and puzzling.

Sure, it has been very cold (last night may again have set a record subzero low) and therefore dry both indoors and out, but I never spontaneously spouted red before… I would like to know what‘s up.

And that (rather moderately strongly motivated) curiosity prompts me to (after yet another two-month gap) to post anew here on Wakdjunkaga‘s Blog.

I have for years been taking a prophylactic blood-pressure-reducing (and arthritic base-of-thumbs pain-alleviating) nightly aspirin (or two) which I have ceased for several weeks, thanks to this novelty of spontaneous bloody eruptions from my left nostril. Did (optimistically) thinning my blood cause this (possibly age-related) unpleasant phenomenon?

And, abashed, I acknowledge that I do possess witlessly a lifelong unwholesome habit of digitally disentangling dried olfactory viscidity, and an errant fingernail may have in a thoughtless moment abraded a surface vein or capillary. (Yeah, sometimes my affection for periphrasitic pleonasm may have its euphemistic benefits.) And such boorish personal expurgations (but always restricted to private moments) may have unconsciously occurred since the epistaxis began…

However, I have diligently attempted to cease both possibly conducive activities — medicinal and chamferous. So far to no avail.

WikiHow "How to Stop a Nosebleed" — There are an amazing number of manga images of nosebleeds when one googles the term Try it yourself.

WikiHow “How to Stop a Nosebleed” — An amazing number of manga images of nosebleeds result when one googles the term!

The first incident was February 2, as I was bent over trying to tie my shoes before we left town for the day (which we did but an hour or so later than we might have done without exsanguination). I had the idea perhaps the stress of doubling my fat belly to reach my ankles might be causative (and I still wonder, as you will see). A small second eruption seeped spontaneously while we were looking for birthday cards at Target a few hours later; I plugged myself and sat on a bench by the doors, feeling inadequate until she had bought her selections, by which time, maybe ten or fifteen minutes later, it had ceased.

The second was the most startling so far (okay, maybe third). February 8, in the evening, as I was just begun on my shower, suddenly there was red all over. It took me a minute both to see and to realize. And it was really gushing, too. Just great. Janet scurried to my aid, and I had to stay both naked and incompletely dry for too many minutes before clambering one-handed into nightclothes and sitting myself quietly in my TV-viewing recliner for a good forty minutes (or more). She had to clean up my phlebotomistic mess, unfortunately. I eventually went to bed dreading that I might suffer another bout onto my pillow — although I did not.

Assuming I didn‘t skip any events, the third/fourth experience delayed until the 26th. During the gap I did halt the aspirin intake, mostly, but had returned to a baby tablet at night while we had been away for her birthday celebration at her sister‘s house. So I had consumed minute aspirins five nights (maybe fewer, as I don’t recall if I took one every evening). This time I had just finished dressing myself to head east for the nightly workout when I realized I had swiped blood onto the back of my hand. Eff! This bout extended over an hour, with several resurgences, each always on a reduced scale after I believed it had stanched. No workout that night…

And the fourth, most recent was yesterday morning (thus two within a week lately). I had arisen, not particularly early, ready to shovel snow, as we had received a new four inches or so overnight (actually all Saturday afternoon and into the night, and I had scraped away what might have been two inches midafternoon, after a previous inch Friday night). This time, I had gotten outside and pushed two big passes of snow away, realizing I really should get out the snowblower, when, on my way back across the driveway to the garage door, I saw red spots form on the snow. Effing eff of eff! Yesterday, I pinched my nose for maybe twenty minutes and three absorbent paper squares until She-Who-Must was ready herself to do the snowblowing, when I just jammed a new kleenex (“nasal tissue,” whatever) into my nostril, most of it hanging down over my lips, and quickly hatted and gloved to go out and help/show her how to get started. I kept at it (scraping at snow and machine tracks), with one replacement of the instantly frozen kleenex until the job was done a half hour later, and my epistaxic episode had concluded. (I liked not feeling like an invalid, worthless, while the incident proceeded.)

And that is where this new unpleasantness in the corporal husk stands as of now. Puzzling and distressing. Is exertion to blame? Am I headed for apoplexy? Will a perhaps lacerated blood vessel heal and end my predicament? No more aspirin, ever? Should I investigate nosebleeds as a consequence of lisinopril and/or simvastatin intake? Suggestions?

Advice or insight on this annoying development would be appreciated.

(Sorry about the gruesome topic, but I did previously write on ocular migraine symptoms and lipoma surgery. This issue — hideous pun — seemed to be right in line with those topics — quite popular, at least by hit counts. And I really would appreciate some advice.)

(composed with Bluetooth keyboard in MacJournal for iPad, transferred by wifi to the computer for editing and uploading for further editing to WordPress)

©2014 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Failed Again

Even the title for this piece failed again (the effing computer having tke over from th keyboard nput — as you can see here — so I had to go back and add the “in” at the end of “Again;” and Iʼll just leave the stinking errors in this parenthetical addendum as evidence of what Appleʼs miserable excuse for technological advancement forces me to endure daily/hourly/every minute and second that the effing computer is on — not that anything Windows-based would do any better, I perceive*).

Our new faucet. Notice, please, the lovely brushed nickel matching the sink (a novelty here at Wakdjunkagaʼs Abode).

Our new faucet. Notice, please, the lovely brushed nickel matching the sink (a novelty here at Wakdjunkagaʼs Abode).

I began this rant on the tenth, intending to mention I had failed (one piece of the total set of failures to which the title refers) to fix our kitchen sink (replacing the faucet) because the original supply lines were too short for the new faucet. I needed 21 and 23 inches of line respectively (cold and hot water), and places in town only sold 20-inch lines. However, real life and time in general have intervened, and thanks to a trip out of town (intentionally for brunch with My Belovedʼs sister and her husband and his sister and her significant other) I got what I needed, which I could have acquired in town it turned out — extension lines. I installed them successfully (so far) with only one hiccup when the cold water leaked the first time around. Wow.

My plumbing job isnʼt pretty, but it works.

My plumbing job isnʼt pretty, but it works.

My first plumbing job! (Although willing to do just about anything with electricity, thanks to my long noncareer with theatrical lighting and special effects, I have avoided accidentally flooding either our house or any theatrical venue by my plumbing incompetence.) My aged retirement continues to provide new adventures and experiences.

See the moisture (and the meter)?

See the moisture (and the meter)?

Now the only failure involved with that endeavor is that our main valve on the water entering our blessed abode has developed a bit of a leak. Just a little constant moisture down the copper line and wetness all the way to the drain in the basement floor.** But thatʼs before our water meter so… well, allʼs well that costs us nothing, for the time being.

The real failure, to which my nearly week-old title referred, is that my most recent attempt toward publication had just received rejection. Again. (And again and again and again, even though I donʼt keep resubmitting and searching out new market possibilities as I should. Nor even writing all that much either.) I had churned out and polished a brief 5000 words extending my Sepharad story (stories/series) with an adventure for Søren in Córdoba, encountering Lovecraftian horror (and his own weaknesses) as he attempted to earn some cash abetting two quarrelsome students of nigromancy. “Scholarsʼ Folly” (which may give away or, preferably, retrospectively suggest the nature of Sørenʼs climactic slip-up) being crafted for a Mythos market, hasn’t many innate qualities to make it attractive outside the specific anthology for which I wrote it. Sadly.

My own little cover for a short story (that didn't sell)

My own little cover for a short story (that didn’t sell)

Failure again.

Too bad they couldntʼ have rejected me more delicately (or even personally):

Hi,

Thanks for taking the time to sub to OUR LOVECRAFTIAN ANTHOLOGY and for your patience. We are going to pass on this.

Cheers,

THE EDITORS***

At least — good news — I do get to work again trapping bugs for USDA APHIS PPQ this summer. Take that, Sequestration!

And now, maybe to work on some fiction writing…

or else dinner.

* This (forthcoming) thought is not original with me (I believe I read something like this somewhere a long time ago, probably on the internet somewhere/when), however, it remains so utterly valid, I must type it out: Would we tolerate automobiles (or even cell phones, and I don’t mean “smart” ones) that operate as poorly as personal computers do? Admittedly mine (2009 iMac, bought as my last educational purchase at retirement) is now four years old, come June, but my truck is thirteen this year (a decade in my possession).

** I at first wrote “cellar floor,” an inaccurate description of our finished basement.But that slip reminded me that when I was small I read that supposedly (I think according to Robert Frost) the loveliest phrase in English was “cellar door.” Thoughts? Results of your research? Both welcome.

Deliberately so — one side is completely finished, while the other has no ceiling (for property-taxation reduction reasons).

But according to my New York Times link, the loveliness of “cellar door” was evidently H.L. Menckenʼs notion (no bet that we would not have heard about him in elementary school in the Sixties).

*** Detailed information (such as the editorsʼ names and the anthology title) have been altered/omitted to protect the unenthusiastic (and foolish?).

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Joining the Hall of Shame

1/11/12 

Screen capture taken at 3:25 CST Thursday, 12 January 2012 — click to enlarge

Today we pay off our mortgage. $932.05. The escrow returns to us in about fifteen days, a deliberate delay by Wells Fargo that stinks of greed — sucking additional profit through interest from our 27-year loan servitude). Of which Wells Fargo only inherited the loan about five years ago, acquiring it, if I remember rightly, from Fifth Third (but they may have owned my truck loan).

The worst owner was the insurance-cum-banking scum in Des Moines to whom we were enslaved until the big hailstorm (2001?), Allied Insurance and Mortgage. You see, their insurance arm would not pay us directly for our damage, insisting the cash had to go to the mortgage holder (themselves — Allied) but only after we had made the approved repairs/improvements (kind of a classic Catch-22). The worst part was getting paid for two sides of the house, siding damage, but having to replace all four (so as not to reduce the value of the property). Tight-assed, greedy bloodsucking bastards. Pardon my honesty.

We have paid for our home (but with some “improvements” in the second mortgage we took out with our friendly, local bank, who then sold us on to larger, greedier incompetents) thrice over — probably not even counting “points,” “fees” and other financial thievery.

Wells Fargoʼs corporate greed blew its public relations, at least with me (and perhaps now with you, too, Gentle Readers), three times over since Friday. 

First, after more than half a decade of handling our payments nearly perfectly — no delays in check-cashing to force late fees, as I had suffered under other institutions — on our penultimate payment, they somehow ignored the amount for which I had made out the check and cashed it for the monthly payment only, without the additional thousand of additional principal. A mistake? The probability of driving up our final payment by a couple of bucks a day made the coincidence of this “error” seem overly convenient to me. So I called the company (with three motives in mind — to complain about their deliberate error and get it corrected; to verify the final payment procedure and, after the “error” correction to determine the appropriate timing of our payoff; and to investigate our acquisition of the funds in our [currently rather hefty] escrow account). 

Check the incomprehensible bookkeeping from yesterday

Their second PR goof occurred there — not once I got to human customer relations agents, but in their labyrinthine and totally annoying voicemail system. All corporations should realize in these web-presence internet times that no one calls a corporation to deal with a machine. No one. And these foolhardy corporate managers, who insist on erecting these voicemail barricades against providing service, are making their customer-contact workersʼ lives far worse than necessary by automatically outraging each caller with the completely unnecessary barrier and frustration of voicemail (not to mention the addition of time-wasting and annoying advertising with the endless voicemail menus). 

Obviously, four menus into my (wasted) time, when I finally could dial zero for a human, I was raging, and poor Keisha, who answered, had to accept the burden. Nor was I interested in her long waits online for me while she “brought up” my check, nor her subsequent apologies. I wanted the correct amount credited toward paying our loan on the correct, original day. She could not do it; Wells Fargo could add the thousand the day I called, a weekend after (three daysʼ of interest later) but not retroactively. I kept insisting their “mistake” was not my problem. I had paid the amount I wished already. She passed me up to a “supervisor,” Carmen Kearney, in, as it turned out, “another state.” 

Carmen and I went round and round (and round and…) as well, although she almost immediately was able to postdate (predate?) their additional draw, as per my original check, on my checking account. Carmen apologized profusely (and pointlessly), too. It really got ugly — okay, I got ugly as she stoically stonewalled — when I got to my second and third topics, paying off the mortgage (delayed, thereby forcing several daysʼ more interest, by Wells Fargoʼs little “error” with my monthly check-plus-additional-principal) and acquiring our escrow account. Nothing could be done about the payoff delay (me: “Why should your incompetence be my problem?”), nothing, but she was “facilitating” the fastest possible acquisition by Wells Fargo of my additional thousand. And Wells Fargoʼs standard policy is to retain all escrow accounts for fifteen days after receipt of final payment to ensure sufficient funds in the payerʼs account to cover the payoff — no exceptions. (Me: “Yeah, Sure. Lets you collect fifteen unearned daysʼ interest on my escrow account.” No response to my repeated assertions of fraud. Me: “So are you going to pay me the four percent daily interest I could have been earning on those escrow funds if you had transferred them to my account with actual efficiency?” No acknowledgment of that idea.) 

And third, Wells Fargoʼs insistence on me (in this circumstance) having to follow their penny-ante regulations blew any respect I might have for this bloated, incompetent, cheating and deceptive, dis-serving and abusive financial giant stomping clumsily and viciously on the lives of its victims. They had mismanaged my payment, but I had to serve and obey humbly their inflexible regulations, to my detriment after their rude error. “Third” means that they cheated me. Is it fraud? I say, “Yes.” After all, they supposedly erred. They owe me reparations, not their selfserving regulations-as-usual. 

Wells Fargo joins the ranks of corporate malfeasance with Qwest/CenturyLink, DirecTV, Fox News, Allied Mortgage/Insurance, and whatever customer-abusing companies I have already mentioned here on the blog for the Hall of Shame in business (mal)practice. 

I actually wrote this (as dated above) yesterday. Janet did overnight the check via UPS, which showed it arrived, signed for at 9:54 this morning, Thursday, 12 January 2012 (as I had verified would happen, per a Wells Fargo note on the website, 24 hours in advance with their “Quinn” yesterday about 8:40 AM).

So far, although I post late in the afternoon, nothing shows to change our account status to zero. Way to suck, Wells Fargo.

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

The 2011 Christmas Letter

Yes, like so many other Americans, The Lovely One and I indulge in an annual Christmas letter reprising the presumed highlights of the year gone by. My parents began the tradition fifty years ago (more?), and at least some of the time all of their offspring have continued to perpetrate the subliterary ritual. Since I promised, unwittingly mextatextualizing, to post the letter here so the recipients could see the included pictures in a larger format, here is the missive we mailed out with our cards a week or ten days back…

Happy Holidays, One and All!

For the first time in several years, the world is not white with snow, and although today is pretty chilly, weʼre looking forward to highs in the forties about mid-week. Furthermore, itʼs bright and sunny today, the grass is green, and itʼs time to get this thing written once again for your pleasure or instant dismissal to the paper-recycling basket.

Janet and Miss Jones

Janet’s job at Cottingham & Butler continues as demanding as ever, still serving two masters, both the Chairman-and-CEO and the President. Once again, it was her original boss, the CEO, John, who provided the most interesting event to relate. This year he and his wife Alice both turned eighty, and John wanted to celebrate in lavish style, renting the Dubuque country club and inviting live talent to perform. Of course, much of the preparations fell not to him or Alice, rather to his trusty executive assistant, and Janet had her hands more than full for the first months of 2011, planning, arranging, supervising, coordinating and presenting the Big Bash.

First, she had to find possible entertainers and fairly rapidly produced a short list of available artists for her boss to winnow down to one — Broadway legend and former Partridge Family matriarch Shirley Jones. Then came negotiations with Miss Jonesʼs agent (and stars, even septuagenarians, do have their requirements that the host site must oblige, including temporary housing and technical specifications like stage size and lighting — for all of which of course Janet had to arrange the provisions, which meant next she was lining up technicians for sound, stage and lights, not simple on relatively short notice). Then there were guest invitations and responses (and in some cases re-invitations and/or personal phone calls when this or that close friend of the Butlers neglected to respond) and further arrangements or re-arrangements as the Big Bash drew closer and closer. Finally, Janet discovered she herself (and spouse) were also on the invitation list — mostly so she (and as it happened I) could handle last-second details or issues, as we did, including the seating chart that John and Alice only provided in rough form the morning of the party, April 30, and the arrangement of the tables themselves. We even served as house light operators for a key moment during Miss Jonesʼs performance, and Janet, as she had known for many weeks, acted as the starʼs dresser.

Although the day of the Big Bash was a busy one for both of us, it was an exciting and delicious (for me — Janet didnʼt get to eat her meal, having to depart the party room to prepare the talent to perform) fête, and Shirley Jones was not only talented and effervescent but delightful and personable, as were her accompanist and stage manager/technical director. We got to sleep in a (for us, free) hotel room that night, late, while the Butlersʼ driver Cal chauffeured the accompanist to OʼHare and then returned to deliver Shirley and her manager to the Dubuque airport. It was an exciting, unique experience.

Janet had also arranged another major production for 2011, this one for us. Serving on the board of directors for The Grand Opera House in Dubuque, she had begun to feel a little pressure from her board peers to perhaps do something artistic for the theater, like in particular… direct a play. So she put us down to direct One Flew over the Cuckooʼs Nest this year, commencing in August with performances ending September and beginning October — perhaps hoping to build from my experience in the Maquoketa Peace Pipe Players production from 2010 (please consult your meticulously maintained files of previous Christmas missives for details on that, naturally). We were delighted by the large turnout for auditions and the astonishing level of talent from which we could choose. The group we wound up with (after some days of negotiating and dismissing difficult or timid former choices) was just about as perfect as we could wish.  We also enjoyed a talented, organized stage manager in operatic Megan Gloss, who kept the cast and us on track and productive. Departing Grand technical director Keith Ahlvin made me a lifelong admirer (and even friend) by his ingenuity and creative scenic design and construction (on which I worked daily throughout September). Weʼre excited we may get to see Keith on his new job at the Adler Theater in Davenport when we go to experience Mannheim Steamroller on December 21. Rehearsals went swimmingly, even with the night we were exiled to the alley outside the theater for another group inside, and the show was a moderately attended, scintillating success.

August had also marked what we had hoped was the end of many weeks work on our upstairs bathroom (it wasnʼt, and as I type this, I really should be finishing the paint job in that room). In July Janet consulted with a local business to install a new countertop and sink and put new flooring in our bathroom (we got so excited about the wood laminate products that we also re-did our kitchen/dining room floor). She arranged as well to have the cabinets refinished before it became my obligation to paint the chambre du toilet (that convenience was likewise replaced with a modern extended-bowl, low-water model). A period of forgetful laziness (and play practice) preceded our sanding, caulking and preparation of walls and joints for the paint job I hope to complete by the time you read this. My retirement years continue to feature major and pleasant improvements to our home.

outside Parliament

Our biggest pleasure of the year was an almost spur-of the-moment weekʼs vacation in mid-October. We had toyed with what to do and where to go once our Dubuque play had wrapped, focusing mostly on western New York and perhaps Niagara Falls, but serious investigation revealed that prices for that potential driving trip were going to be sky-high — exorbitant enough that when Janet ironically searched costs for a week in Paris or, really having a lark, Budapest, she found that we could in fact spend a lovely week in the Hungarian capital for considerably less than the Finger Lakes region. She learned this two weeks before her vacation time was to begin, the day before she took off to Wisconsin for her annual Festivus getaway with her sister Diane. Fortunately or un-, when she told me about Budapest, I said we should just go for it, completely unprepared and almost utterly unplanned. And we did, booking the trip (air and hotel) that very evening.

looking across the Chain Bridge and Danube from Buda at Pest

Ten days of frantic research and packing brought us to OʼHare and a joyless flight overseas on United (now near the dregs, the bottom of our list of friendly skies) improved by our dawn-hour Lufthansa hop from Frankfurt to Budapest. We spent seven nights in the cities united across the Danube, enjoying both the reconstructed historic Buda side on the hills and the busy, modern Pest side where we roomed. Food was wonderful (gotta love that paprikash! And those “meat pancakes,” too!), sights were scenic (even when overcast or rain-drenched), the people we met were friendly and enthusiastic, and we had a glorious time — visiting the castle and the former nobles region in Buda, buying foodstuffs and presents in the Great Market Hall, wandering streets and byways, visiting the Jewish Quarter and the Great Synagogue as well as St. Istvánʼs Basilica and Mattyas Church, plus classic coffeehouses (fin de siecle, neo-Baroque gilded gloriosity and bookish paneled elegance preserved and restored). And did I mention the food? Flying home on Lufthansa restored our preference for European airlines (free and tasty meals, free booze, legroom) after the SwissAir disappointment from Prague two years ago. I am trying to complete a travelogue on my blog with more complete details and plenty of pictures, which you may check out or ignore. We had a fantastic time.

trapper John

And why wait until October for vacation, as appears to have become our habit since I left education? First, I spent nearly six weeks substitute teaching this year. Almost the entire month of March I effectively had my old Andrew job back when the current teacher had to take time off as her father died, and that particular segment of the school year meant that I got to renew my experience with both large group and individual speech contest and directing the spring play (the school generously paid this poor sub somewhat more for all those many, many extra hours). Fortunately for me, the kids were also generous and forgiving of this old man, so the time went quite well. But my earnings for the year went further. Around Valentineʼs Day, a friend suggested me for a job with the USDA; when I followed his lead, I got a quick interview and a definite offer as a “seasonal bug trapper.” I was the front line to contain the spread of the emerald ash borer (about which thereʼs plenty of information online if you just google that bug by name or even “EAB”). I spent half of April and all of May, June, July and August in my government-owned vehicle on the roads and sometimes highways of Clinton, Jackson and eastern Dubuque counties, four ten-hour days a week — creating and hanging large, sticky cardboard traps and then returning to check for bugs and replenish the lure inside to attract more insects, finally visiting each site one last time in August to check again and remove the traps. I learned much about the differences between many kinds of trees (ashes being the only variety in which I was supposed to be interested) and between many, many kinds of bugs — none of which on my traps were actually emerald ash borers. It was a definite adventure, and I now know more about the back byways of eastern Iowa than I ever thought I would. I also had five days working on the currently more serious gypsy moth campaign. Again, if interested, you can find much more on the blog. I am excited that if federal funding exists, I get to do not quite the same again next summer.

And looking ahead seems an auspicious note on which to leave this yearʼs Christmas letter. We aspire for more pleasant adventures for us and for all of you in Maya-calendar-ending 2012.

For the present, we hope this festive season finds you and yours all happy and healthy. We wish you all well and would like to see you any time.

on the cruise boat, our last day in Budapest

Janet wishes these letters were even shorter than they are (this one ran two pages, with pictures, of ten-point Palatino), but I didnʼt name other deserving participants in the play, or mention seeing family (Margaretʼs visit for One Flew over the Cuckooʼs Nest, for instance, and nephew Timʼs wedding to his bride Jessica), provide quick updates on siblingsʼ lives, or mention other news from other relatives.

Thatʼs 2011, folks.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

.

Repairs Required

As I seem to be on a whiny roll, I might as well complete a triumvirate* of complaining posts. In addition to my lassitude and the bug-ification of our backyard, by Monday two other troubles had temporarily (and mildly; we donʼt want to make too much of this) tormented my life.

Da truck (Iʼd have shown you the damged tooth repair — as they did take a photo — but they didnʼt share it with me except temporarily on their screen at the office.

About three weeks ago, The Lovely One and I cleaned out our garage, a spring cleaning come several months late. At that time I had to back my truck out of its long-term parking** on the far side of the garage so we could sweep out the whole area and get to things on the passenger side of the truck. No problem — even though the last time the truck had been driven was, I think, a full month earlier, the Frontier moved easily back out in the driveway and eventually back into place, where it had (and still has), I shamefacedly acknowledge, served as a storage unit for accumulating pop cans and bottles that will eventually make their way to the recycling store.

Last weekend, with a small bag of grass I had raked up from the previous mowing still sitting around, I decided to take that litter to the cityʼs yard waste dump. Janet dislikes stuff massing up her trunk, so such tasks ask for the Frontier. Although the starter stuttered, that was the only reaction when I turned the key in my truck. Hoping that simply a wire had come undone, I opened the hood and tried to find a] the starter, b] a possible wire, and finally c] anything much in that engine that looked familiar to me, which was effectively nothing. So Monday morning, bright and early, just after Janet had left for work, as I was preparing to walk to my semiannual dental appointment, I called for help from our car-repair and oil-change shop. They were willing to come and check out the malfunctioning starter (Randyʼs immediate conclusion). He guessed theyʼd be by about 8:30.

Since the truck was in the garage, and I figured theyʼd probably have to get it to their shop for work, I shifted it into neutral and disengaged the parking brake, so I could laboriously push the vehicle out onto our driveway. By myself. Amazingly (at least to me), I succeeded. With no one driving, admittedly, the truck did end up with the passenger side wheels on the grass.

I trekked downtown for my appointment, arriving only somewhat sweaty from the “excessive heat” of the day, already arrived by 8:00 AM. The dental appointment proved the second of my temporary troubles, as Dr. Adrian determined that a partial tooth repair*** her dad/predecessor had done just less than eight years earlier needed to be replaced by a new modern partial or full crown. Gosh, I really wanted to spend a thousand bucks unexpectedly, in addition to whatever itʼs going to cost for Randy to have repaired my truck. (Okay, yeah, I know. Dental insurance will cover close to half of the full expense. The really incredible part is that the difference between the half or full crown comes to twenty bucks.) I walked home pondering my options.

Interestingly, arriving home, I observed the truck was still in position with two wheels on the grass. Although I figured that the repair guys hadnʼt been by yet, I felt hopeful and tried to start the truck. Nothing. Silence. Not even the ticking of the starter this time.

So I went inside and got busy doing (as Iʼve already revealed earlier) nothing much. A phone call about eleven informed me that repair jobs were running long but that theyʼd be by before noon. They were, somehow starting the truck instantly and driving it away. About 2:30, another phone call told me the repair shop receptionist would come by to pick me up and carry me down to the shop to get my now working vehicle. As I usually walk home from and then back down to the shop when we take the truck (and sometimes Janetʼs vehicle) in for work or oil changes, this level of service on such a hot day made me feel almost cheerful.

Now the truck is home, the yard has been mowed yet another time (Tuesday, as I told you), and the grass clippings and tree droppings have been delivered to the dump. I still donʼt know what the repair will cost, nor have I called the dentist back with my determination about that repair job, but Iʼm hopeful nothing else goes wrong as I head back to work next week.

* That word really should be trilogy, as there are no three men involved, but I was feeling humoresque (“by Dvorak” — a poor joke that The Lovely One enjoys on a regular basis).

** With the USDA job (and the GOV in use for that), I really havenʼt had time or opportunity to drive the truck anywhere. When I am at home, except for Fridays, usually The Lovely One is here, too, and we go places together in her car (which consumes far less gas). And I just havenʼt driven anywhere for weeks of Fridays.

And a third footnote — while Iʼm complaining, I must admit to being almost disgusted with Dragon Dictateʼs infuriating insistence on inserting digits not words for every number that is included in todayʼs (and every other dictated) post. It even asininely insisted on “3rd.” Come on, programmers! Writing “the 3 bears” isnʼt even grammatically/mechanically correct!! (Numbers, except for dates and times, should — even today — be written out as words in text at least to twenty and for every even ten to 100.)  *** Dictate wanted that phrase to be: “truths we build.”

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Bugged

Our poor, bugged linden tree — and it had been doing so wonderfully well this year… until last week, that is.

Just over a week ago, home in the evening from a dayʼs work, I looked out our north window in the dining room and noticed that our linden tree looked peculiar in the topmost area. Later, I think that same day, I went around the house watering plants (a mandatory daily activity during our three-week drought, now strangely distant in the past even as rain falls while Iʼm dictating — northern Jackson and Dubuque, not to mention Galena, enduring a horrible thunderstorm-cum-tornado last night) and noticed the peculiarity was a laciness to the leaves, meaning some bug was eating them. The next night the damage had spread, and some gleaming green, chunky bugs flew in my face as I examined the tree — Japanese beetles.

I told Janet about my discovery when she got home from her workout, and she/we decided we had better do something immediately. So she trooped right down to Gasser True Value (yes, although we may hate their excessive accumulation of creosote-soaked, and creosote-fume-emitting, piles of logs, we do appreciate having a hardware store in town, although The Lovely One could just as easily have driven a little further to Theisenʼs), where she grabbed the last remaining Japanese beetle trap. Not calling on my USDA experience whatsoever, I assembled the trap following the directions on the outside of the plastic bag, hanging the bag from one of our tiki torch poles, and let the pheromone do its work.

The pheromone trap, currently about a third full on its third time around.

The trap was to be placed at least thirty feet from foliage (impossible in our yard) and it summoned by scent hordes of horny male beetles seeking sex from further away than just our yard (thus the need to keep the trap in isolation, away from plants, to prevent those erratic bugs from accidentally happening upon other juicy leaves to devour near the trap). We put it at the end of our driveway, since our neighbors had pulled down their one tree several years ago. Boy, shoving the tiki post into the iron ground was a chore and a half (not so much now, when all the dirtʼs turned from skillet hardness to mud).

And the pheromone did work. By the next evening the bag was already almost half-full. And I had to dump the still half-alive mass of churning black insects a day later — an unpleasant chore that I think was made somewhat easier by my experiences searching purple traps for emerald ash borers. Iʼm just not as squeamish about buggy life as I once was.

With the rain beginning last weekend and continuing just about daily this whole week, the beetles have diminished in quantity, and we have only had to empty the trap one more time. So far.

Of course, we are also worried about what those fiendish bugs may have accomplished in their life cycles before we started alluring all the concupiscent males to the pheromone trap. Our concern means weʼre also going to try to spray the tree with insecticide and soapy water and try to treat the ground as well — to eliminate (as many as possible) eggs that have been buried.

This was one time accessing the Internet was a genuine benefit. Neither one of us really knew anything about what to do about Japanese beetles, but a quick search googled out what we needed to know.

If only this were the end of our petty woes…

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Nothing Much

Let us now whinge…

I don’t know if itʼs the heat, or if I just encountered too many things to be doing (mowing the lawn, running errands, diddling the day away), but I just havenʼt written too much during my current, enforced vacation. That would, of course, include posts for the blog. I had half-anticipated (at least while falling asleep one day over the weekend) dictating the rest of “Mistakes by Moonlight” and thereby feeling I had completed something of note. Evidently just a dream.

However, itʼs only Wednesday! Who knows what the rest of the week will hold? (Unfortunately, me, and I predict the blog, at least, will not profit from my activities ahead.)

I have been waxing political on Facebook and even delightfully alliterative in response to unresponsive commentary. But Facebookʼs just Facebook (I think thatʼs why all oneʼs past links, posts and comments vanish into nonexistence toward the bottom of the page). So we canʼt count that activity as real writing, although Iʼd like to.

Hereʼs the kind of thing with which can fill my time — I was fascinated to discover that the blog had been visited by someone in Carrickfergus, a town well-beloved by, like me, fans of Irish sea chanties.

Which brings us to this bit of blather today. Although my brainʼs been churning with many things, only some of them political or economic, I have been finding it very hard to sit myself down and seriously accomplish even a session of dictation as random as this. Excessive heat? Only later yesterday and starting about two hours ago today. Writerʼs block? One would actually have to have written something to get blocked, and I havenʼt done that. But I have been (periodically) busy…

Yesterday, for instance, having done nothing from 7:30 until nearly 10:00 in the morning (besides wasting time online), I did spend somewhat over two hours mowing the lawn, a task which had become necessary, after three weeks of drought, when we received possibly up to seven inches of rain. (At least thatʼs an amount I was told by someone in a store somewhere around the community; and a bucket that The Lovely One likes to hang from the knob of her Door to Nowhere, located this year against the concrete wall below the back of our garage, was nearly full when I was clearing the yard to prepare to mow yesterday.) And now today I still have yet to take the sticks, raked-up grass clippings and other yard waste to the city’s compost dump — not an unpleasant chore but somehow I actually flogged myself to attempt this instead, interestingly…

— But back to yesterday, supposedly my topic currently! In the afternoon, at any time after 12:30, which had already passed before I was done mowing, I was to donate blood, having missed two earlier opportunities this summer, thanks to work (and forgetfulness). That (for once, selfless) procedure killed an hour until after 3:00 when I needed to visit Janetʼs hairdresser for a tube of conditioner she had neglected to take away with her after our haircuts last Thursday and to reset our next appointment so we would be free to be directing the play to which she committed us more than a year ago, which begins with auditions in just about a week. Then a stop at the doctor’s office to drop off the blood pressure readings from my blood donation, and then away to the grocery store for some supplies. Once home again, I spent an hour making supper, using some of those supplies, sweating profusely this entire time because (as I suggested above) the day had turned decidedly hot and humid — probably not as hot nor as humid as almost every day last week, but pretty uncomfortable anyway. And mysteriously, all too soon, while I was making Janet’s lunch for today, she was home from her workout, and our evening together got started, even with nothing on TV.

Now I loosely held plenty of time during the day that I could have churned out something as miserable, vacuous and self-centeredly uninformative as this particular post seems to be, but my time here in the office at the computer was not productive of any such activity, merely checking plenty of stuff on Facebook, on e-mail and otherwise online.

So there we are — nothing doing from this nothing much. Yet again. (At least I didnʼt wane politically philosophical here…)

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.