Friday, June 24, 2022


A couple of days ago I resolved to engage in some serious weight-lifting and other forms of exercise.  Dr. Agarwal, my heart doctor checked me over, did an electrocardiogram and decided to change my blood pressure medication in order to reduce the swelling in my ankles.   He had said my heart was weak, but all he worried about was my ankles.  The logic of that escaped me and so I resolved to take matters into my own hands.  My diet was okay, but I decided to drink more water and less coffee.  I subscribed to a Harvard Medical journal which referred to a study that found that coffee drinking reduced heart attacks by 30%.  More specifically, coffee drinking of no more than 3.5 cups a day did that.  Also, the 30% benefit accrued whether the coffee was regular or decaf.  Espresso wasn’t mentioned.   For 4 cups and more the statistics didn’t hold up.  And so I resolved to drink no more than 3.5 cups of coffee a day, half of them decaf. 

Today with the temperature outside at 107 degrees I nevertheless noticed that my legs were stiffening a little from sitting too long at my desk and so decided to do some yard work.  There was one particular branch that was hanging down most precariously.  I feared that in a heavy windstorm it might cause the main trunk to come crashing down, so I got a saw which when two parts were connected would reach up that high.  I didn’t feel particularly dizzy, but my balance wasn’t good; so I moved about to find more stable footing and continued sawing.  I thought I was far enough away so that the falling branch wouldn’t hit me.  I wasn’t fleet of foot enough to dash out of the way.  When it came crashing down some of its branches came close to me, but I wasn’t hit.  I put the saw away, got a trash barrel and began cutting the smaller branches up, then hauling the barrel over to the main green-waste barrels.  

I didn’t feel bad, but it was hot so I went back up stairs to read for a while and cool off.  I made three or four trips like that out back, stripping the small branches from the main branch, putting the small pieces in a barrel, emptying that small barrel into the larger ones and sawing pieces off of the large branch.  

After tidying up I decided to unwind the hose and water the back lawn.  As hot as it was I could see the grass was suffering.

While watering I day-dreamed about the past.  I was definitely pushing myself.  I was feeling a bit light-headed.  I recalled one time in my twenties that I had a pain in my chest.  I didn’t know exactly where my heart was, but thought what I felt might be a heart pain and so decided to go jogging as a kill or cure investigation – I did that sort of thing back then.  Later on I told my Aunt Dorothy what I’d done and she said my heart wasn’t where the pain was.  I later went to a doctor who said my upper transverse colon was pressing against my diaphragm.  It wasn’t serious but he gave me some red pills saying that if they didn’t help he would give me some green ones.  I had only recently started work at Douglas Aircraft Company and had discovered the food trucks that were out front in the morning had the most wonderful breakfast burritos.  I looked forward to having one every morning.  But after I had chest pains, I reflected that they were spicy; so I experimented.  I quit eating a burrito every morning, and the pain went away.

Maybe I was doing something like that today, working hard in the backyard, harder than I had done in months, on a very hot day.  I didn’t think I was doing a kill or cure sort of thing, I just felt good – as far as I knew.  

I finished watering, coiled the hose up, went back inside and started up the stairs.  Jessica was waiting for me with a strange look on her face.  She sniffed my leg suspiciously.  Why did she do that, I wondered?  I continued on but before I turned the corner I noticed she continued to stare out back.  Maybe I had died in the back yard, I thought, and that is why Jessica was staring out back.  How would I know?  I walked up to my study and peered out at my lawn to see if maybe my body was down there.  I couldn’t see it, and then looked back behind me and saw that Jessica had followed me upstairs after all; so I probably wasn’t in the back yard.  But if I had been, that would have been a pleasant way to die, I felt no pain whatsoever.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Comments on My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

I read some place that this book was the top best seller some place for some period of time – didn’t pay close attention to where, and so downloaded and read it.  Coming from reading about the most recent mass murder and hearing from someone something along the lines of “guns aren’t the problem.  You will know this if you think about previous generations who had even more freedom with guns but didn’t have the problems we have now.  No, the problem is that we have produced children who are homicidal maniacs.  It’s our deteriorated parenting skills that are at fault.” I found myself wondering whether this whimsical serial-murdering couple might foster a few more homicides.  After all, the lazy teen-ager might think, why spend a whole bunch of time learning how to be clever enough to get away with killing four or five people, when you can get an automatic rifle and kill ten or twelve people all at once?”

The narrator-husband of “My Lovely Wive” is clearly no match for feminist serial killing wife, and so is perfectly willing to help her do whatever she likes.  He doesn’t quite meet her standard for faithfulness, however, and so eventually finds himself in her cross hairs.  

The ending seemed to me weak.  The author couldn’t resist a bit of cleverness which doesn’t in my view work, but perhaps most readers will find it amusing.  

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Adventures in old age

 After events early this morning, I imagined an ethereal voice asking, “Well, it was your wish to live well into old age; how do you like it now?”

Waking, feeling okay but not quite enough okay to go on a hike, I decided to take the dogs with me to Stater Bros.  Its not much of an outing for them, but they both treat it as one.  It was just a minute or two after 06:00 when Stater Bros opened.  I got one of the crippled slots as close as you could get, grabbed my walking stick which was on the other side of Duffy in the front seat, opened my door and started to get out, but realized I had not hung the crippled parking sticker (I don’t recall its formal name) on my mirror.  So I leaned over in front of Duffy, opened the glove box and attempted to slide the parking sticker out.  It slipped down into the glove box; so I scrambled around in order to get it.

And then Jessica saw her chance.  She squeezed through an opening next to the drivers-side front seat and the side of the Jeep and made it out into the parking lot.  I called her back to no avail.  There seemed to be an enticing smell in the nearby bushes that had her full attention.

I got out and looked about.  There was almost no traffic in the parking lot.  I called Jessica to me but she found something else to sniff.  My handicap (ah that is probably the name on the sticker) annoyed me.  This was the first time I’d dealt with a dog reluctant to get into the Jeep since I’d  earned whatever it said on that sticker.  

I opened the back rear door, rummage around in my hiking backpack, found Jessica’s leash, held it out to her enticingly, and she ran to me and allowed me to put it on her.  I then tried to pull her toward the back seat.  She resisted because we were on the right side of the Jeep and she always gets in on the left side.  And in the process she slipped out of her collar.  Jessica had been groomed the day prior and I hadn’t adjusted her collar accordingly.  When I put it on her back at the house I realized she could slip out of it, but decided I would fix it later.  After all, we were only going to the store.

In order to get her over to the left side of the Jeep I would have to coax her with the leash which was connected to the collar she could slip out of.  So I decided to lift her into the back seat.  Jessica then went into her sack of potatoes mode.  She slipped out of my grasped several times.  I didn’t think I could get her into the back seat without hurting her,, but failure wasn’t an option.  I had hold or her left front leg with my left hand and right rear leg with my right.  I increased my effort, fearing I might hurt her, but she didn’t complain and eventually she was ensconced in her usual position in the back seat.  I tried to remove her leash but she’d had enough of me for the time being; so left it on her.

While wrestling Jessica into the back seat, I knocked my hiking stick under the Jeep.  I squatted down, fished it out, and then stood up, puffing all the while.  I looked about to see if any of this had been witnessed by any of my fellow Stater Bros patrons, but the few nearby gave the appearance of not having seen a thing.  

After a few extra puffs, I believed I had enough energy left to make it, and so used the crosswalk that led to Stater Bros front door.  Some times cars drive fast past the front of the store, but I didn’t feel I could watch out for them.  My attention was completely devoted to the ground in front of me. I decided I’d rather be struck by a vehicle than be guilty of any more ludicrous activity I could be blamed for.  I did my shopping, made it back to the Jeep without further trouble, opened the back, glared at Jessica now resting innocently in the back seat, and noticed I had gotten the lettuce for bacon and tomatoes sandwiches but had forgotten the tomatoes.  I had also intended to get a roll of summer sausage but had forgotten that as well.  

Driving home I discovered I wasn’t comfortably in my own lane; so had to concentrate in order to stay there.  For this I justifiably blamed my blood pressure medication amlodipine which has the annoying side-effect, dizziness.  When I am out in the morning engaged in routine activities, I am not dizzy, but apparently Jessica and our morning adventures changed that.  

Looking around, I see that both Jessica and Duffy are still napping.  It is reassuring to see that one can be fatigued for reasons other than old age.


Travis McGee on city violence

 I hadn’t read John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series in several years, and the other day I decided to read it (or some of it) once again.  In the second novel in the series (there are 21), Nightmare in Pink (published May 21, 1964), given what we are seeing in the news nowadays, MacDonald’s McGee seems especially prescient:  

“New York is where it is going to begin, I think.  You can see it coming.  The insect experts have learned how it works with locusts.  Until locust population reaches a certain density, they all act like any grasshoppers.  When the critical point is reached, they turn savage and swarm, and try to eat the world.  We’re nearing a critical point.  One day soon two strangers will bump into each other at high noon in the middle of New York.  But this time they won’t snarl and go on.  They will stop and stare and then leap at each other’s throats in a dreadful silence.  The infection will spread outward from that point.  Old ladies will crack skulls with their deadly handbags.  Cars will plunge down the crowded sidewalks.  Drives will be torn out of their cars and stomped.  It will spread to all the huge cities of the world, and by dawn of the next day there will be a horrid silence of sprawled bodies and tumbled vehicles, gutted buildings and a few wisps of smoke.  And through that silence will prowl a few, a very few of the most powerful ones, ragged and bloody, slowly tacking each other down.”