Saturday, September 25, 2010

Undeep Thoughts

Doesn't anyone but me find the Tree in "The Giving Tree" more than just a bit of an enabler? I never found this story as heartwarming as my friends did. And I really wonder if Shel Silverstein meant it that way.

One good thing about electronic medical records (and there aren't a lot of good things yet) is that I get to spend a little less time on hold to medical organizations (labs, pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, radiology clinics) and listening to their music, ads, etc. Salem Hospital is currently the worst. Yesterday I was victimized by a sad, dreamy, slowed-down piano version of, yeah, this is weird, "The Candy Man". To judge from their hold music, SH wants to be your hospital if you are into Lawrence Welk reruns and '50's movie theme music. Oregon Health and Science University favors Top 40 classical, absolutely nothing you can't hum along to even if you own fewer than 5 classical albums. Walgreen's at least has decent pop sometimes--I've occasionally been disappointed to be interrupted in my sing-along by the actual pharmacist answering the phone. Nursing homes/retirement centers are the other worst: They seem to assume that almost everyone who calls is actually looking for a nursing home so that the innocent nurse practitioner answering an urgent call from a nurse is assaulted with ads telling her what a great place this would be for her or her loved one to live. With some spritely music to punctuate. These are the times when electronic access to records and order forms can't come fast enough!

Things I will miss when we, Lord willing, in a month or two, move to Portland:

  • My clothesline (new place has no place private to put one and I don't like to hang even my clean laundry in public).
  • The Santa Rosa plum tree. Grabbing a plum off it and eating it bent over to let the juice hit the grass instead of my clothes.
  • The wood stove, as even the smallest would probably blast us out of the new place, which is, well, little.
  • The Evilberries, as my daughter named the unreproducible thorny blackberryboysenberryloganberrywhoknowswhatotherberry hybrids that were an attempt to keep the neighbor kids from coming through the fence (ineffective) but make the best jams and cobblers we'll never see again.
  • Having the kids spend the night and eat several meals in a row with us. But we should see them more often, if for less time at a pop.
  • Sunday walks with Susan. I'll always talk to Susan, thank God for the technology that makes that easy, but we won't get to walk as often. Maybe I'll have to get a dog, name it Lucy, and be Susan to someone else on Sundays.

Speaking of whom, this is the poem which really kicked off my poem-writing jag of the 20-oughts:

Poem for Susan, Epiphany 2007

Sitting on the sofa at ten.
The phone still warm from my ear.
Pondering why I am glad I didn’t accidentally say
before hanging up
“Love you” (as I say to my family) instead of
“Take care” (as I say to my friends).
Wondering why that would have embarrassed both of us
because we really are good enough friends that it is certainly true,
and we certainly both know it.
But still glad I didn’t accidentally say it.

And because of our conversation
About the common disaster that has overtaken our family,
the sudden decline of a loved old one
and the hardship that creates for us all,
I am happy to sit,
hearing in the near silence
the hum and blow of the furnace,
feeling in my motionlessness
the pulse of my blood,
noticing in the not-noticing
the absence any real pain in my body.

This won’t last.
I’m not entitled for it to.
But I’m grateful
for hearing, pulse, and painlessness.
And, of course, for you.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Not a Bad September Day

This morning, one of those pitch-perfect September mornings, the first Saturday after school started, I ran past the soccer fields, and it was all as it's been since my kids were kids. Tiny creatures in crayon yellow and crayon green T-shirts were buzzing around a black and white ball, with adults hovering above and around them with whistles and snacks and sweatshirts. Of course it took me back to my days sitting sideline, often with a nursing textbook, always with other grownups with whom I may or may not have had a lot in common, but if nothing else, at least those kids. It was a ritual, a rite, in our case one that our son always seemed to regret having gotten involved with shortly after the start of the season. I kind of miss those days, and I kind of don't. I felt much more a part of this community then, which was cool.

This afternoon, a pitch-perfect September afternoon, I did a Dallas afternoon romp, first to the library to return overdue books, get seduced by some others I don't have time for, and to check out my those books without human help. Okay, I needed a human to help me learn to do it, but now I can do it alone. When the lady cheerfully told me I could check out books without her, the first thing out of my mouth was, "But what about your job?" She assured me she'd still have a job. (I hope she wasn't insulted, thinking I thought her job was only about passing things under a scanner and collecting the only kind of fines most people don't mind paying. She didn't seem to be.) Then I went to a vacant lot and bought apples, corn, and shiny red pears from the blind man and his family who always sell them. I had to read the scale and report honestly so they could charge me correctly. He did the math in his head. Then I went to a coffee kiosk in the Safeway parking lot and ordered a cherry Italian soda without cream, which is one of the prettiest and most refreshing things in the world. THEN, a glutton for a good afternoon, and mainly just a glutton, I went to the deserted noodle and sushi place on Main and got the evilest yummy sushi roll, now known as a Dallas Roll, which is deep fried. I was the only one in the perfectly un-air-conditioned restaurant and enjoyed a peaceful feast over a book I like but expect to end badly, and it all only was broken by my pager bleating at me, because, yes, I'm on call.

A little later my daughter called, and I told her of the roadbumps in the way of our efforts to move to her general neck of the woods, North Portland, but that I hadn't lost hope. She told me that she has some adoptive grandchildren in that neighborhood she thinks we might take advantage of (and their parents of us!) and I was glad to hear it.

Now, this evening, I'm going to do a bad job of cooking steak, and eat the corn I bought, and try to polish off a children's feature (is there a better word than "feature" for this kind of thing? It isn't really a story, so...?) about lost and found sheep and people. Sometimes I think my life is a little bland. I imagine by now you do, too. But a normal day like this is such a pipe dream for so many, and I will not despise that, and I will be, am, grateful.