News from the Hill — with all the usual Smith Manor-isms

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February 01, 20/20

Happy February Fools Day!

Today was a little disjointed for me. I went shopping at Sams, and just as I was getting into the checkout line, I received a phone call from Becky. Suzanne had called to ask if we were up for lunch at the Creperie & Cafe. I agreed, then was trying to estimate how long it might take me to check out from Sams - at 11:30 on Saturday - then Told Becky I'd be home by noon.

There was one man ahead of me in the self-checkout line, and as luch would have it he had just one item in his hands. It took him about five minutes to find the bar-code on that one item, having scanned three other areas to no avail. Then, when he finally got it scanned, he was baffled further by having to press Finish and Pay, and again by having to answer a question to get his receipt. Finally it was MY TURN. I scanned my four items in two minutes and left the store.

We got to the Cafe in good time, waited for Suzanne to arrive, then ordered soup. They had two soups: Potato Sausage, and Root. Becky got PS and I got R. They were both loaded with pepper, and Becky doesn't handle hot spices at all, black pepper high on the list of spices she eschews. She mad do with a glass of ice water. The Root soup was almost too peppery for my taste, but I souldiered (well, sailored) through it, finally extinguishing the pepper's residual with a Presley dessert (Nutella, banana and bacon with loads of whipped cream) Crepe.

I think I napped a lot all afternoon.

February 02, 20/20

Happy "Presentation of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple" Day!

Happy Candlemas!

Happy St. Groundelmas!

Happy Groundhog Day!

Happy Heavenly Hash Day!

I hope that pretty much covers it, for I've used a bunch of lines already and haven't said much - yet!

This morning's Anthem went well. Our director was pleased, and the congregation responded with good comments, so what more can we hope for? We sang Mozart's Now Sing before the Lord, a 3-part quasi-canon. When we had started to practice it, it seemed one of the longest anthems we had ever tackled. Last Wednesday, at rehearsal, we went over and over it, and each time we sang it, it became shorter. After we sang it this morning, the choir members I spoke with agreed it should have been much longer - it seemed we had just begun then it was over!

After church, we visited with Suzanne, Mike and Hank for dinner and Mah Jongg. Suzanne didn't play, leaving Mike, Hank and us to enjoy the game. Hank won the first two hands, then asked if Suzanne wanted to play, but she said that he couldn't leave the game until he had won three hands in a row. I won the third hand, then I declared that Hank's three in a row had to start over, then I won the fourth hand. By that time, it was time for the other two guys to leave so Mike could get sufficient sleep before his early shift at the hospital tomorrow.

To our dismay, Becky and I found that we had loaned our copy of Groundhog Day (the movie) and have yet to get it back, so for the first time since we got the movie we didn't watch it on Groundhog Day. We have it set to record to the DVR, but that won't be until early on Monday the 10th! We'll watch it anyway, though.

As for St. Groundlemas, that's a figment of the late Mark Schweizer's imagination, a celebration of the Right-Reverend Whistlepig's Ministry of Meteorological Prognostication. Apparently "...the new priest decides that a Candlemas Evensong on February 2nd is in order, what can the choir do but comply...As St. Groundelmas...". (from The Cantor Wore Crinolines).

This evening, I received a "Wave" from the Facebook Messenger account of Susy Smith Watt. Naturally, I waved back, and a conversation ensued. "What are you up to these days," she said. It was unlike Susy to start a conversation like that, but I reponded with some drivel about singing in the church choir, playing the handbells, etc. "Have you heard the good news?" she said. I said that I had not, apparently, and suggested she enlighten me. "CNCS!" she said. "Central Navigation Computer System?" I responded, and the answer said some organization, and tht she had received $150,000 from them, no strings attached, a grant. That's when I knew it wasn't Susy messaging me. I emailed her and she let me know that she doesn't use Messenger because it's too easily hacked. She asked that I report the abuse of her account. When I got back to the Internet, another message asked if I was still here, and another asked if I wanted to be referred to the organization, to which I responded NO! Then I reported the incident. Facebook has it under investigation and will remove the conversation IF THEY FIND IT TO BE IN VIOLATION OF THEIR COMMUNITY STANDARDS. When is hacking and using another person's account NOT in violation?

February 03, 20/20

Today, we had our traditional meal with Jim & Carol (lunch at TGI Friday's, this time), followed by a visit with Dr. Reilly. As I had suspected, Becky was discharged from her post-accident therapy, but I was retained for another four treatments. My left shoulder and right hip are still quite sore, but they only hurt when I move (or when I don't move, or when I move them wrong or too fast). If I exhaust the therapy sessions with no improvement in my shoulder, I'll go to see Dr. Lechner, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulders, elbows and wrists. He will take xrays, then send me for an MRI, and if necessary, recommend surgery to repair the injury (pure conjecture on my part, of course - I'd rather not have the surgery).

February 04, 20/20

Early this morning, I went to visit my Urologist. The urine sample showed no infection, no abnormalities - clean bill of health, as far as that goes. They also drew some blood for a PSA test, since my last one showed 4 points higher than the previous baseline reading. He's not being an alarmist about it, but given that both of my brothers have had prostate cancer, he's being cautious. As a result, I will be visiting him on a semi-annual basis for the foreseeable future.

Nothing exciting happened in Tai Chi class, other than only six students were there. That's one more than last week, but not up to full enrollment, yet. Our instructor is making an example of me - which is to say she is using me to demonstrate to the class what they should be doing. Since I've been doing Tai Chi longer than anyone else in the class, and since she obviously feels I know what I'm doing and that I do things right and slowly enough (slower than she does them, in fact), she has me going through the part she's explaining as she points out certain aspects. "See how he's fending off his (ficticious) opponent and his right hand is protecting his left elbow as he turns toward him?" Things like that. Naturally, I don't object, though I have to admit there are times I don't catch on to what she has asked me to demonstrate right away, and other times I have to adjust my position to match what she's describing.

Our Tai Chi instructor has recommended that we watch two youtube.com videos: Bubble Man (Tom Noddy) and Opium Bubbles. They are comedy routines involving the blowing and manipulating of bubbles. I found them fun to watch, but not the demonstration she had described of controlling ones energy fields as we go through the Tai Chi form. Of the two videos, Bubble Man was the better, in my opinion, because I could see everything that Tom was doing. He was on a stage with the audience before him. In Opium Bubbles, which had nothing to do with opium, that I could tell, the man was playing to an audience in the round (or nearly so), and at least one occasion he said, "As you can see," when I plainly could NOT see as his back was turned to the camera. At one time, though, he demonstrated The Carousel, which he said was his homage to Tom Noddy, which I felt was a good touch on his part.

February 05, 20/20

Another early morning appointment, this time it was with the dentist. This year, I was assigned to another new Dentist at the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC). The dentists are serving their residency at MAHEC, and after a year they normally progress to private practice all over the country. They are all fresh out of dental school where they were taught the latest breakthrough methods, and their offices are equipped with the latest in technology.

A few days ago, my gums had an unpleasant run-in with my partial bridge, resulting in a sore on the gum under the clip around the back tooth. Dr. Halstead started (predictably) by suggesting that the best option would be to replace the partial with an implant. The next stable option would be to replace it with a "permanent" bridge cemented to the crowns on the teeth on either side of the void. Then he said that the type of partial I present wear are not made at MAHEC, but if I wanted, I could get one made elsewhere with no hard feelings. In my mind, I might not live long enough to justify the cost of an implant, and listening to all those who have gotten them, it's a months-long, unpleasant process to get an implanted tooth-replacement.

Becky has recently been fitted with a permanent bridge, and she is quite comfortable with it, as I'm sure I would be. The dentist did adjust my partial so that it would not contact the gum as heavily, though he did caution me that it has become quite thin, and by adjusting it, he had to thin it more, in places, and it may not last in its modified condition. I decided that I will continue to wear it until it becomes unstable, then have the more permanent bridge installed, which I would expect to last to the end of my days.

February 06, 20/20

I had my next-to-the-last treatment at the Chiropractor this morning. He's been concentrating on my left shoulder, which has stubbornly stayed sore for much too long. Each time I'm there, he tightens the ball-n-socket, and each time it needs and responds to his efforts.

Then, of course, Becky went to the Allergy Partners to get shots (how fun), and the rest of the day was leisure time.

February 07, 20/20

Becky had a visit with her orthopedic surgeon this morning. He was quite pleased with the health of the bone, and he authorized her to wear shoes without the insert around the house and maybe to the mall where she can be sure of a level surface to walk on, as well as her return to Tai Chi class. She's well pleased.

I have come down with sinusitis which, while not debilitating, has me wishing I could use an aerosol mentholatum nasal spray. Perhaps a Neti Pot would be in order. I'll give it a try. In the mean time, I've been using The Spray (a renamed Thieves Oil spray) with limited success in reducing the effects. I think I started a little too late to have prevented it completely.

February 08, 20/20

When I awoke, after a night of coughing up phlegm, my nose was inflamed, so I got a cup of distilled water, heated it for a while in the microwave (20 seconds, only), stirred in an eighth-teaspoon of Irrigating salt and filled my Neti-Bottle. I let the water cool for a few minutes, because ever at 20 seconds it was a bit too warm (but the salt dissolved well). Then I squirted the liquid through my nose and breathed freely and comfortably all day.

I drove out to Great Clips to get a haircut. The thermometer readout in Yoda said 32 degrees! The one at the house had said 39, so you can imagine my surprise. Fortunately, the heated seats in the car made up the difference quickly. When I got home again, it was snowing. I was happy that Winter had decided to be itself, but when I took a video of it, the flakes were so small they barely showed. An hour later, the flakes were larger, so I took another brief video to show them. Another difference was that in the first video, there was visible snow in the grass. In the second, there wasn't.

February 09, 20/20

This morning, we awoke to 27 degree temperatures with frost on the windshields. Since both the front and rear defrosters use an electric heat, they cleared quickly, while the side glass had only a thin coating that peeled off easily. Our drive to church was on dry pavement, so no trouble there.

Our choir warm-up went well in spite of the lack of heat in the building. It being a stone building, of course, it was cold. Still, the organ played well, as did the organist; the five handbells that were to accompany the choir worked well, and the ringers played well. Then the Prelude Players had to tune up and rehearse a little (2 fiddles, a 4-string banjo, a mandolin, a tenor guitar and a six-string guitar). We're doing another variation on church music, now, featuring that group for the prelude music on the 2nd Sunday each month, this being their inaugural Sunday. They played three hymns, two of which came from our praise book, and the congregation sang along with them.

In keeping with the more minimal music the choir sang an anthem from the Southern Harmony tradition, accompanied by handbells, as I said above. That was a fun piece to sing, and we did it quite well.

February 10, 20/20

After taking Becky to get her shots, then stopping for some nourishment, I found an answer to an email that I had to follow up on. I think I must not have followed closely enough, because I still didn't get the answer I sought. It turns out that searching for the correct replacement keyboard for a specific computer is much more difficult than Suzanne and I had expected. Basically, she has used her arrow keys for such a long time that they have ceased to operate correctly. She has started using the shift-number-pad keys until she can get the keyboard replaced. We finally found the model number, but unfortunately that didn't lead us to the specific keyboard to purchase because she has a backlit keyboard. The backlit keyboards go to different model numbers, of course, and there's no telling if they will work in her computer.

February 11, 20/20

After a very painful early morning, I got out of bed and felt really terrible, so I had the last daytime Thera-Flu in the house. After a while, I started feeling better, but when Becky got up, she wasn't feeling much better than I was, so I sent an email to our Tai Chi instructor to inform her that we would not be in class today. 

Then, in the evening, I was starting to feel worse again, so I had a night-time Thera-Flu, and I thought I had written this blog entry, but then grew exceedingly drowsey and wobbly, so I went to bed.

February 12, 20/20

Today, I awoke with sinuses blocked so badly that I took another night-time dose of Thera-Flu, after which I slept a lot, but was able to breathe. I sent an email to our Director of Music at church, advising him (as well as the handbell ringers and choir) that we would not be there tonight so that we would not infect anyone else in those choirs. I'm not convinced that the lack of heat in the church on Sunday had nothing to do with my illness. I haven't had a cold or sinus infection for so many years, I cannot remember the last time I had suffered like this.

At 9 PM tonight, I fired up my laptop to make this entry, and learned that I hadn't made yesterday's entry as I thought I had, so it's a two-fer, tonight.

I'm taking another Thera-Flu, any minute now, and going to bed. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

February 13, 20/20

I felt better, this morning, but the only reason I skipped Thera-Flu was that we had no more daytime stuff, and I didn't want to sleep all morning again. Instead, I did laundry until about 11:30, then drove to the store for, among other things, Thera-Flu Daytime!

After lunch, I pretty much slept through a movie, and when I awoke after 4 PM, I remembered that I had been doing laundry, so I resumed the task, emptied the clothes from the dryer and loaded in the underclothes, then decided to watch one of my least favorite TV shows - turned out to be a rerun that I particularly hated, so I slept through it, too - until dinner time.

After dinner, I got the last load of laundry from the dryer and we watched the "News", after which we watched Steven Colbert to listen to the real news. I'm usually on the computer during the "News", anyway, so that it doesn't become a colossal waste of time.

Now we're enjoying (if that's the right word) the last of our Night-time Thera-Flu (must go shopping again tomorrow, I guess).

February 14, 20/20

Happy Valentine's Day

To celebrate VDay, I took Becky to Allergy Partners for her second shots of the week. From there, we went to the library to cast our Veto (sic), and thence to Early Girl eatery for Brunch. Becky had Sausage and Sweet Potato Scramble and found that the sweet potatoes were artificially sweetened, rather than just relying on their own sweetness (Candied Yams, they called them, but not on the menu) and were not to her liking, though the rest of the scramble she found delicious. I ordered the Pulled Pork Bowl, which was exactly to my liking, seasoned just right, a good amount of pork, lots of bacon gravy and salt and pepper exactly as I would have it.

On the way home, then, we stopped at Sam's so I could pick up a few necessities, then stopped at Starbucks to get a celebratory cuppa, then returned home.

How romantic!

February 15, 20/20

First thing this morning, I heard Becky say, "It's time to get up." I'm not exactly sure she actually said it (Becky doesn't remember, either), or was it just my head telling me I needed to get up and start moving around. At any rate, I got up and started reviewing what I needed to do, today. I needed to go to the store to stock up on distilled water for our CPAPs, because I didn't have enough after last night to run one of them tonight. Oh, that and I needed to buy more Thera-Flu Night. I had used Tylenol Bedtime, last night, and slept well all night.

I managed to survive until about 11 AM before resorting to Thera-Flu, and then just to ease the sinus headache. I have so much mucus  being produced that I'm constantly either coughing or blowing my nose (or both), and I'm getting a bit tired of it. I've never been so productive in my life. However, tomorrow I'll be in church trying my best to be quiet (which may entail my leaving the Sanctuary from time to time). At least I will be able to sing the low notes at full voice.

February 16, 20/20

At church, this morning, having missed choir rehearsal last Wednesday, I was welcomed back as though I'd been gone a month. I was unsure of my voice, at virst, having barely recovered from my upper respiratory distress and still sounding somewhat like a bullfrog, but once I got warmed up, I was able to sing reliably, and had quite a good bass range for a change. That was a good thing, too, because we had a passage that our director wanted sung fortissimo, even in the low octave, and I was able to provide the quasi-Russian Bass he was looking for. Then, as we processed out, I somehow ended up on the Gospel side, and when we doubled back up the side aisles (as we normally do), I was on the opposite side of the Nave (usually ending up on the Epistle side), so those who habitually sit on that side of the church heard me singing the bass part of the final stanza of the hymn in my unusually full voice, giving them the mistaken impression that I "always sounded that good." I got a few compliments from those sitting (standing) close to where I had stopped, which is very unusual. Normally we get compliments only on how good the choir sounds and how wonderful our new Director of Music is.

The rest of the day, I was bogged down in a battle with insanity, that is, I was trying to learn how to keep from having to constantly change the resolution on my Linux OS every time I start or restart the computer. I had asked for help from the Linux Users Group (LUG - turns out to be a fairly apt name for it), and after stating my problem, they kept asking questions, and as I answered them, the problem seemed to morph from what it was to something they might have understood. Finally, this afternoon, one of the members asked me to restate the problem, which I did. Then he accused ME of making more and more problems for myself. The last email I got from him, he had sent straight to me from his own email account, not through the Group, and when I answered him, he got snippy with me and said, in effect, he would thank me not to write to his email address, but to respond to the group. When I had answered him, I didn't have the link to respond to the group, so it was his own damned fault. Once again, I'm refusing to correspond with him. He never makes any sense to me, anyway.

February 17, 20/20

Becky had a breakthrough, today. I had gone to the store and, using our Shopping List app on our phones, she had loaded a list of eight things I was to purchase, and when I returned, we realized I hadn't bought stamps and mailed the two letters. I told her I'd go back to the store, but only if she drove. She had only driven once since our accident, and that was in HILDOR, her Saturn (Hildegard of Dorchester). She got behind the wheel of Yoda and I talked her through turning on the car, adjusting the seat and the mirrors, then she shifted into reverse. It wasn't until we got to the street and the car didn't want to move, but actually started dinging. She found the light BRAKE on the instrument panel, so I explained to her how to release the parking brake. Once that was released, she seemed to be more at ease with the car. She drove through the neighborhood, down a winding downhill road, and by the time we got to the traffic light at Riverside Drive, she seemed to be much more relaxed with the car. I had to show her where the speedometer was, because in both our other cars it is/was on the left of the panel. This one has it on the right, beside the instantaneous MPG gauge (totally unnecessary and mostly unusable, except to let me know the car is on the battery, not running the engine). She drove to the store without difficulty, but will need to be coached on the other bells and whistles Yoda has that she's not accustomed to seeing.

February 18, 20/20

Since yesterday was President's Day, we had deferred Becky's allergy shots until this morning. So at 9:30, we left home to drive out for those shots. At 10:35, we left the Allergy Partners and drove to the gym for our Tai Chi class. After Tai Chi, we drove to TGI Friday's (which I've started to think of as Tai Chi Friday's) for lunch. It wasn't until we left TGI that I realized what color Yoda is.

We left the parking lot and, true to form, we had to stop at the traffic light. After about 30 seconds, the engine shut off, as it will when idling for a while, to save gas. We waited for the usual three to four minutes at the light, and the moment the light turned green, the engine started again. I hadn't even moved, but heard the engine start, then looked and saw the light was green. Yoda's paint is a pale green, and I realized it was "Sapient Green." Yoda had sensed the light changing and started its engine so I could drive away.

February 19, 20/20

Bell Practice went well, tonight. We brushed up on the two pieces we'll be playing as Sunday morning's Prelude, promising to perfect them early on Sunday before the service.

Then Choir Practice happened. We got two new pieces of music, ran roughshod over them just to get a lay of the land, so to speak, then we ran through some of the music we will be singing Sunday evening for Evensong, and finished up with a refresher course on how to sing Sunday's anthem. We've got it down pat, as they say.

February 20, 20/20

Happy 02 20, 2020!

It started to snow just as I left the house, at 9:15 this morning, to drive to Fairview Chiropractic for my last adjustment before the evaluation to see if I have recovered to pre-accident condition. I'm pretty sure I have. When I left home, I could barely see the flakes. When I got there, the snow was falling more forcefully, but it still wasn't bothersome. I got back home to see that the snow was now falling a little better, and I started making 15-second videos every 15-30 minutes. By the time I had recorded the 8th one, the snow had stopped, so I spliced the videos together and posted them to facebook tonight. Then I snapped two photos after dark, which shows the snow really well, and I posted them also.

    

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