Sunday, June 20, 2010

How I spent Fathers' Day

To be honest, I have not been feeling all that good this week, and it was with trepidation that I went to sleep last night, wondering if I could go to the cemetery with DG today.

I woke up feeling better than I have. and so off we went to Greenlawn.  The day was beautiful, the sky was blue, and aside from missing a turn or two on the way to section 41, we arrived with Bob's favorite day lilies in hand. DG placed them on the overgrown headstone. The whole place is unkempt, but still beautiful, with the huge trees and the birds and God's blue skies. We sat in the car together, then, and rememberd DG's Dad, and we cried because we think he would be pleased to see how well we are doing.

Then we drove around to the other side of the section, and we put day lilies on my Dad's head stone.  He has been gone since 1938.  Still, he is always in my thoughts. He was, to my children "the real Al Harmon"; as much as they and I adored Al Harmon Jr., they are still respectful and loving to a man they never knew. There have two Al Harmons since my brother; we have Rocky, Al III and Weiler, Al IV. And I think it is appropriate to include Alex Ruben, named for Molly's Dad.

We stopped for Starbucks on the way home, and visited with each other some more...

A perfectly wonderful day. I wish the same to all your parents out there. 

I don't have time to edit this.  The Pebble Beach golf tournament has just come on.  It's kind of ironic that I am rooting so hard for Tiger, who doesn't seem to have been a wonderful father, but his Dad was so important in his life, and in his skill , that it is fitting that I salute all fathers everywhere, including, of course, the fabulous fathers, Bob and Tim Greene.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The need to know

I have always been a policy wonk; long before there was such a descriptive word. I read every paragraph James Reston wrote, and corresponded daily, by letter, to the Eisenhower White House. (Oh, that Ike; he must have had his mind on Kay Summersby; he never responded to my letters. I thought-- and I still do-- that the better informed a citizenry, the better the country would become.

Wrong! wrong!

Now, I am ready to throw in the towel. Everyone has what they consider an informed position, and everyone feels a need to write about it. There are paid pundits and self-promoting folks who use Jack Cafferty, for instance, to get their two-cent worth of "wisdom" out to the public.

Have a certain point of view, and you will find a newspaper, a radio station, a news channel to give you access... and validity and visibility. We are drowning in words. (Believe me, I love words, I'm a writer.) Just don't use the words foolishly; use them so they are useful , not full of hot air.

I was not going to blog today, but this morning, as I tried to digest the Dispatch and the New York Times, I had my a -ha moment. I just don't give a damn. It seems incredible but no one is credible anymore.

I may spend my days idly watching soap operas, eating boxes of bon-bons as the world turns.

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's all about my driveway

Norah Ephron wrote about her neck and Sarah Silverman about her bladder, and it's my driveway that is worthy of a blog, if not a book. 

"Many long years ago," the story begins. The house was built by people who wanted nothing but the best. Not my style, exactly. Not my style at all. We bought it, though, because it really is a great house and, eventually, the heavy velvet drapes with the lace panels beneath wore out... and I have lived with the stone-encrusted bathroom counter tops so long I don't even notice them.

The house sits below a (very) small hill. It is a horizontal house and it seems to me that, if in the beginning, they  could have designed a semi-circular drive down the hill past the house and then up the hill, again, to a road hardly ever travelled, life would be a lot easier for my aging friends who come to see me.  But I'm no engineer and the property is narrower at the top than down in the back So. We have a driveway that is a pain for guests and, in winter, unmanageable.

We always drove down into the garage, and backed up to the street. When I was in my prime, I could almost do it with my eyes closed. Others, less familiar with the terrain have come close to tipping over. "Come close" is the worst that ever happened.  Thank the good Lord.

It is these difficult Ohio winters that have, truly, caused the problem. Adhering to the principle of "nothing but the best, the original drive was concrete. By the time it became ours, the concrete was  cracking up. We had taken on as much as we could handle to buy the house. Concrete was too much of an investment.

We went with blacktopping. Blacktopping, blacktopping year after year after year, because the %^&#&* concrete base kept cracking up beneath the blacktop.

The black-toppers are here today. They have applied one coat and an asphalt patch, and will be back this afternoon for coat two.

At this terrible time when the Gulf beaches are covered with tar, it is ironic that I am needing more tar.

The world is so full of problems. Norah's neck or Sarah's bladder or Phyllis' driveway seem ridiculous to even mention. But I cannot help thinking about it, imprisoned as I will be for 72 hours.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

May I call you Phyllis?

I was making one of those necessary, and usually annoying, phone calls: to order shoes, or question a charge, or change my gas supplier, at the end of a two-year contract that I should never have chosen in the first place. I wish I could remember exactly who it was, for this is a kudo to them or their phone rep.

After I had identified myself to a robot, either by my phone number or the last four digits of my "social", a lovely-sounding human being said to me, "May I call you Phyllis?" I was dumb-founded! How long has it been since anyone asked your permission to call you by your first name?  Daily, someone calls and says, 'Phyllis, are you interested on our special price for grub-control?", when they aren't even my lawn service, or, in my e-mail, there are messages from purveyors of goods I have used that start, "Phyllis, it's time to send Carolyn flowers again."

It is not that I think I ought to be called "Mrs. Greene" because of age or seniority, although I am always older than the caller. Are there any jobs for 90 year old gardeners or even on phone-banks? I think not, although there are plenty of the aging population who could use the income and welcome the diversion.

I have always suggested to care-givers that they call me Phyllis. They are my friends, as is everyone who  helps me in anyway. Nobody should expect due-deference; that should have expired with slavery.   I did have a severely ill friend whose family had called in Hospice. The nurse, on her first visit, called the client by his first name; his wife saw the expression on his face and when they left his room to talk, the wife said, "I think he would prefer to be called Mr. K.....". 'Nuf said.

When I first got very sick, three years ago, I had a care giver who had lived in Paris most of her life, but whose family still lived on the Ivory Coast, where her mother, the matriarch, had care-givers of her own. She had some relationship to African royalty. Martha refused to call me Phyllis; it was improper to use a first name for an older woman. She referred to me as "La Contessa". I was never sure she meant it as a  sign of respect, or if she was inferring that I was surely not worthy of the title, and , in some way, she was condescending of me.

Whatever.  Please, just call me Phyllis. It is very nice if you ask what "title" I prefer. I would appreciate your asking. But I warn you in advance, if you are comfortable with Ms., Mrs. or hey you, just say it. But remember, I ain't no Contessa.