Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Ending with a whimper

For the moon on the water, for the light from the stars
Oh I thank the spirits whatever they are
For friendships that last, for songs from the past
And Mrs. Pinocci's guitar

I’m winding up the year sick.

Back story. I’m rarely sick, despite all the bellyaching I do.

I get a cold only every few years or so.

It’s probably because I built up massive immunity in the late 80s and early 90s when my kids were small. For a while I had cascading severe upper respiratory infections.

Once I wound up in the emergency room, after flying with a sinus infection. Once I had a hemorrhage in my ear after flying in a small company plane.

After several years of fairly chronic respiratory distress, something amazing happened. For the most part I stopped getting common colds.

The down side was, when I would get one, it would be a doozy. It would eventually settle into my chest for the long haul, generally mandating a doctor’s visit and prescription drugs to vanquish it.

Apparently Neil and I have very different immunity profiles. I don’t think we’ve ever caught a cold from each other. Shortly before Kandace’s wedding in November, Neil caught a seasonal cold and I kept my distance, because what would be much worse than a wedding weekend spent sneezing, coughing, and spreading germs.

I stayed healthy and Neil recovered in time to enjoy the trip.

We’re scheduled to fly to Orlando later this week. We’re meeting my stepson-in-law and the grandson to go to the Star Wars experience at Disney World. Blake is into light sabers and Darth Vader these days and Luke’s idea was to take this trip before he turned three, when Disney starts charging for park admission.

The timing didn’t quite work out, as Blake turned three on December 21. So we are finessing the plan. For hotel and park purposes, Blake is two-year-old Anthony. For the Star Wars adventure, he is three-year-old Blake. We’re counting on Disney not checking birth certificates.

Late last week, I was dismayed when I had a tickle in my throat and a resulting dry cough. On the first day, I thought it might be gone by the next morning, but it wasn’t. I felt fine, I just had an annoying cough.

That was the day our guests arrived. A red letter day in fact, as these were our first house guests that weren’t family. A couple of Neil’s former colleagues asked on short notice if they could visit. The underlying reason was for one of the couple to talk to Neil about a potential upcoming opportunity, Neil’s former job in fact.

This is a couple who I have always liked very much. I made Neil twist their arms to cancel hotel arrangements and stay with us, and I was so happy that they did.

We had a lovely time, showing them around a bit, eating at a couple of places that we’d always wanted to try and a couple more that we knew they’d like. The weather was pleasant,as was the company. They could not have been easier to host, taking their tea and coffee black, being very tolerant of the cats, even though they are not pet people.

Loki of course wanted to be best friends right away, but Zamboni was the big surprise, coming out of his usual shell and being positively sociable. Biscotti was his typical aloof self, keeping wishing admiring distance (but don’t try to touch him).

Our guests wanted to take a drive out toward the mountains. I would normally have been happy to go, but my cough was still bad. I stayed home and called my doctor for a new scrip for cough meds, as my remaining bottle had a 2016 use-by date. I know pills are good beyond the date, but I thought it better to get fresh ones under the circumstances.

The doctor’s office gave me a refill but insisted I make an appointment for Monday. They agreed that I could cancel it if I was feeling much better by then. Despite my optimism, on Monday I was as sick or sicker, so I kept the appointment. The PA didn’t like the way my ears looked, and given our travel plans, I got another prescription, for a three-day course of a powerful antibiotic.

Let’s hope the magic happens. So far I’m still miserable and feeling like I haven’t turned the corner. I have a couple more days before I have to do what I must do, including board a plane to the happiest place on earth. And muscle through the five days we are there. And try not to infect anyone else, especially the three-year-old.

I’m willing myself to get well expeditiously. I’m drinking fluids, tea with honey, juice with vitamin C. I’ve pretty much glued myself to the sofa, even though it hurt my heart to miss my knitting group, especially since we’ll be traveling and I’ll miss the next meeting too. But no one would welcome my germs, so staying away was the right thing to do.

To distract myself from the malaise and pass the time, I’ve been knitting, working in two projects, planning the next ones. There are some tempting end-of-year sales on yarn, so my inner angel and devil have been battling it out. You don’t need more yarn. Yeah, but the prices. There will always be another sale. That exact yarn might sell out though. You know that it’s best to have a project in mind first and then buy the right yarn in the right quantity. Still it’s nice having a stash with options and if you don’t have enough of a color, stripes never go out of style. But the money. Well, you earned it, you’re allowed to spend it.

You’ll feel good about yourself if you resist. Oh, not much harm in one last hurrah as the year ends, then you can be good for a while.

And on and on. I can’t wait to find out which way I roll.

I finished the third book in the Outlander series and started the fourth. I’m rewatching the third season of the series and waiting for season five to drop. The series is much better than the books, although the story lines are close, and when the show deviates it’s usually for the better. The series characters seem much more layered and believable to me. Claire is a strong woman rather than a silly girl and Jamie delivers his lines with perfect nuance.

I was talking to someone who read the books first and didn’t like the show actors because she had pictured them differently. Since I was exposed to the show first, I pictured the book characters exactly as they were portrayed.

I also rewatched one of my favorite series, Rectify, which was as moving and beautiful and perfect as the first time. I watched it for the first time in 2016.

"Is this show - which essentially nobody but TV critics watched - going to leave a footprint?
Will it matter?" (E.T. VanDerWerff, for Vox., 2016)
God, I hope so. (Me, 2019)
Neil and I watched the Jack Irish series, coincidentally followed by the Christmas Carol version also starring Guy Pearce, probably the only reason I agreed to watch it. I’ve overdosed on the story, but this version was different enough to make Dickens either spin in his grave or sit up and applaud loudly.

We also watched The Mandolorian, because who could resist Baby Yoda, and because my friend Kim loved it. We also saw the final Star Wars movie. I saw the previous one and the first one only, so I lack extensive knowledge of the lore, but I was still able to follow the story and probably brought a less critical eye to the film than its die-hard fan base.

We’re watching Lost in Space season two, so I’m on Sci-Fi overload a bit. We’re still working our way through the Murdoch Mysteries season 12 and Frankie Drake.

Neil is reading me a random Dick Francis mystery, Banker. We’ve read an eclectic mix of late, including Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, published posthumously (which I didn’t like, and don't agree was an early draft of To Kill a Mockingbird) and Middlemarch (which I did like, how did I never read any George Eliot?).

I’m looking forward to reading some of our Christmas spoils, including the estate-authorized continuation of the Hercules Poirot stories by Sophie Hannah, and a “young adult” trilogy, His Dark Materials, also recommended by my friend, that I thought Neil would enjoy.

So, this year is almost a wrap, although I don’t consider the decade to be over for another year. You don’t turn 20 (or 2020) until the end of your twentieth year (ergo your 2020th year). It’s an election year, one that some of us have been eagerly awaiting. I continue to look at the political arena with a cynical eye. I never thought Trump had a chance in hell to be president, now it’s hard for me to believe that this isn’t hell or that he can be defeated.

A lot can happen in the next ten months though, so I’m keeping an open mind. This is one time when I’d be thrilled to be proved wrong.


Diane and Billy, been friends forever
They go back a long time
They grew up together
She called to tell us
He'd written from Rome
For the whole month of August
He'd be at home

So we went to see him
At her house one evening
In the place where they'd spent all their summers as kids
We walked all around
In the small bay side town
Where his Dad's called the bingo for thirty-five years

And later on that night
Under the porch light
Mrs. Pinocci brought her six string over
She said she'd been playing since she turned fifty-seven
And now I guess she's more than twenty years older

She played Yankee Doodle, we sang along with her
She passed it around and we all played a number
Neighbors and friends dropped by for a little singing
Then later a guy no one knew came to sit in

For the moon on the water
For the light from the stars
Oh I thank the spirits
Whatever they are
For friendships that last
For songs from the past and
Mrs. Pinocci's guitar


(Cheryl Wheeler / Penrod And Higgins Music / Amachrist Music ACF Music Group )

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