Monday, September 21, 2015

Any Suggestions?

My husband received this dollar bill as change from a purchase. Initially I thought someone had just been scribbling random words and sentences on the back, but as I read it I found a sort of rhythm. To me at any rate each successive clause/phrase seems weaker than the last, and I came to the conclusion that a wouldbe writer of a rap song did not have any paper handy. Pretty impressive pen though. I know nothing about rap and have been trying to come up with a fourth line. Are there rules? I am pretty sure it is not supposed to follow the structure of a sonnet.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Au Revoir, Dr. John

He first appeared in our lives in the 70's (I think.) He was in a Latin class of Ernie's. We found out he lived on our street and he was kind enough to give Ernie a ride to Wayne some days so that I could have the car. Later we learned that before we got to know her, his mother had seen me walking to the local store with a couple of kids walking beside me and two or three riding in/hanging onto the stroller. She had remarked to John that she felt sorry for me. Me too.

John applied to Medical School (and I think I remember Ernie telling him that if he didn't get in, he would make him take Greek.) He did get in and qualified as a Family Doctor.  I remember the graduation party, and as I write this many memories of times spent together come back. As his mother grew older, she needed more care and John hired carers and eventually moved to a one storey house where there was room for her wheel chair. About fifteen years ago his mother died and John became a world traveler—as well as he could while remaining in his practice.

We gave John a party for his sixtieth birthday a couple of years ago and he continued to combine his travels and his work. Eventually he realized he could combine the two passions and before we knew it he was applying for one year locum positions in New Zealand.

Finally the name "Ashburton" appeared, and we watched various on-line descriptions and movies. We heard about the clinic where he would be working.

It was on our picnic table that he finally signed the contract. And today he left for San Francisco where he will board his connection to New Zealand—first Auckland for a brief interview, then on to Christchurch.

We no longer have small children for you to remove stitches from. We will not be seeing you arriving at our house for Thanksgiving and Christmas with your arms full of gifts. Au Revoir Dr. John. We will await your return.

Monday, September 07, 2015


A year ago were thinking of ways to encourage Kate's husband, Ron, who was in training for the Detroit Free Press Marathon. He belongs to a gym and works out regularly, but a Marathon? He is more at home on a stage. We joined the crowds of people lining the streets of Indian Village, watched him go by and got the news (via i-phone) that he had finished his first Marathon. We were all so proud of him. Somewhere I have a photo, but . . .

It took courage on his part, but this year I will be watching the progress of a runner with a different kind of courage, and one which I understand perhaps more. I first found an article on Beth Kline-Markesino in a paper which is distributed freely in Grosse Pointe. It described how she is running the Detroit Marathon to "raise awareness of a painful, little
known disease called trigeminal neuralgia". Sound familiar? Beth surprised me by saying she was diagnosed when she was 25, which is outside the normal range (over 60, 5 to one female and right cheek more likely than left.) I cannot imagine knowing she has so many years to live with this condition.  She introduced me to an on-line fundraising site of which I was not previously aware:

Later she was one of five runners featured in an article in the Detroit Free Press written by Kristen Jordan Shamus. I was amazed by Beth's quote, "Somebody just recently said why are you coming forward? Why aren't you being quiet??"

I join Beth in not being quiet, but I am not about to run a Marathon. I applaud this lovely young woman. Join me in thinking of her on race day and in praying for her and the others who suffer with this painful and under-researched condition.

Friday, September 04, 2015

So How Was Your Day, Mrs. Ament?

As often, though not always these days, I arose with my day organized, at least in my head. The world was washed cleaned by last night's storm. I read the more interesting pages in today's WSJ and then went up to do battle with my computer. There is most certainly a problem and a Comcast agent is going to send a new modem. She assured me it would be easy to install, but—

I used to work with an Admissions Officer called Dorothy, who claimed that the admissions system worked only half the time. I was scornful, but I found my internet connection which had been dead was working just fine and banged out a few e-mails. Sorry Dorothy.

Next I did a  little cleaning—just in case. Together with the three daughters who live in the area we are going to give a last swim of the season/farewell picnic for our friend John who is slated to leave for New Zealand on Tuesday as a locum in a medical facility for a year (two years?) The weather is bound to be lovely, right? But the thunder and lightning we enjoyed last night would not work out well for a picnic, and my house was Plan B. The weather was not the only threat . . . John's visa was late in coming. Then who should arrive but John to tell us all is well with the visa and he leaves Tuesday. More then.

After lunch I had a short attack of what I call the "Two o'clock wobblies." It never lasts long, but a sit-down with a book helped. Let's see, before long it was dinner and the news. We were attempting to locate the channel showing the first Michigan State football game of the season. First we bumped into the game show Jeopardy with the charming host, Alex Trebek. All three of the contestants were teachers, and in response to a question about how she kept order in the classroom, one contestant claimed that flexibility of lesson plan and humor helped. To this Alex Trebek said he had had a couple of teachers like that. Perhaps that included Prof. Ernest Ament who taught a young Trebek at the University of Ottawa in the late fifties.

I have never spent blog entries writing about how my day went. But sometimes a lot of nothing adds up to a whole morning, afternoon and evening.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Memories are Made of This.

My older son served twice in Africa in the Peace Corps. The second stint was in Madagascar. He has preserved many memories of that beautiful country, both in words and in photographs.

Here he seems to be holding a salamander of sorts, but there is a story of him carrying a lemur on a bus for several hours to re-house it in a National Park. My husband has put together a number of Al's letters, photos etc. in a booklet called The Red Isle. We sometimes see comments on his Facebook page written in Malagasy. (Malagache?) I wrote here about one of his most poignant accounts, the tombstone of a French soldier.

One reminder of his two years in Madagascar is a photograph that sits on our piano. The Peace Corps had a competition for photographs showing how women were contributing to the economic development of their country. I believe Al's was a (the) winning photo.

A group of women planting rice. This is the posture I have always used when weeding. My husband always said women are built this way, while men kneel, and he kept offering me a rubber mat (which I only used when wearing a skirt.)

This summer I suffered badly from vertigo and instability. I would get into bed at night and the walls would go round and round. The neurologist sent me for yet another neck MRI followed by an ENG and then a VR something or other. When I had mastered the alphabet I landed up having some real or imagined chrystals shaken up in my ears. I had to sleep upright in a chair for two nights and I was supposed to sleep on my right ear. No improvement and although I was supposed to go back—I didn't.

This whole business manifested itself badly when I was trying to weed. I landed on my face in the flowerbed several times. Usually it was a toss up whether my body or the plants were hurt worse. At least the flowers couldn't drip blood.

So off I went to the hardware store. If the rubber mat was not acceptable, I thought this might be.

I now use this piece of landfill fodder as a seat while I bend over and weed. It works pretty well. I cannot claim I am contributing to the economic development of Grosse Pointe, but I have not fallen on my face. Yet.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Ain't She Sweet?

In earlier days I wrote about my previous refrigerator. Public enemy No. 1. We tended to refer to it as "our new refrigerator", although it, together with our other "new" appliances was installed in 2000. Time flies.

Oh the trouble we had with melting rubber hoses, replacement hoses that didn't work and a noisy compressor which was good for 2 weeks or 2 years, according to Rick. No water and no ice either.

So a couple of weeks ago this lovely appliance found it's way into the kitchen. It had to be counter depth, but the freezer is on the bottom, and there have been all kinds of improvements in the last 15 years. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Look at all the space. I can put big platters of food in it for a party. I wanted to show a photo of the fridge with food arranged tastefully (no pun intended). But a few minutes after I took the photo of the empty appliance, my son and four children arrived. I sent them to the basement to bring up the food I had stored in the basement refrigerator and we shoved it randomly in this beauty. Now they have left and the refrigerator is plundered. I have to decide where everything is to go. Eggs on the left? Pickles on the right? Problems again. But at least water and ice are dispensed from the door rather than the floor.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

This is Ridiculous

If I have no problem, I will create one. It was some time ago that I marked my 10th anniversary, proudly announced I would return—and disappeared off the face of the earth. There were reasons: prior to an iteration of each real or imagined reason I had sketched out a post, written a witty title, researched photos and then I came to a withering halt.

There was the title "The Summer of my Discontent". Not as witty as I imagined, but it did come a fair way to describe a summer which started off cold and so rainy that weeds had their unfettered way with my flower garden. A nice reversal—flowers eventually choked out most of the weeds, but I never bothered to remove the remainder. We did get a few days of the stifling heat and humidity of a typical Detroit summer and today it was so chilly I was looking for a sweater.

We had our usual share of visitors. I had plenty of warning, but I have lost my touch. They were all family of various degrees, all spoke English and all were helpful. The days of screamers and seas of diapers are over. Now I need to find a way to put food into the mouths of teenagers (and I have to remember that "pre-teens" get ravenously hungry too!) I don't have the words to thank my three daughters and their husbands who helped me with meals. Put it the other way round: I occasionally helped them. The weather co-operated with us, so for the most part the kids could use up their energy, and work up an appetite in the pool. A visit from grandchildren would not seem right without an out-door movie. This year it was Breaking Away, which brought forth memories of the 70's for some of us and smiles at the bits of messed up Italian from our guest from Italy.

Just when I was about to write that much awaited (ahem) first post, I got entangled with that neurologist again. Warning, if you can possibly avoid them, do. This time it involved a neurosurgeon, a bunch of MRI's, a treatment for my inner ear which demanded that I sat up in a chair for two nights and subsequently slept on my right side. I also tried taking less medication—but taking more if I had a problem, which of course I did. The problems involved inability to focus my eyes and uncontrollable shaking of my hands. So goodbye typing for a while.

I feel pretty good right now, but suddenly, though not unexpectedly, my e-mail was converted to a Microsoft based system. There are training sessions for all the employees, but we retirees are on our own.  It took me three days to figure out how to print a document. I'm getting there because I hate to be defeated, but I still have to deal with the instructions on "How do I set up my Apple iPhone (and iPad) to synchronize to the new Wayne Connect using Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync?" Until then, I cannot get my e-mail on my phone, but it involves backing up to iCloud, which I have always avoided.

O well, time to call in the grandchildren. See you soon. I promise.