Friday, December 29, 2023

Happy New Year: Looking back, looking about… but no looking ahead just yet

A couple months ago when my Uncle Mike (my dad’s younger brother) passed, his family displayed various photos at the service of my uncle and his brothers from their younger years.  I was greatly surprised when I saw the one above of my own dad, as I’ve never seen a photo of him this young before.

That’s Dad on the left of course, looking 6-7 years old from 1943.  Knowing I had a photo of myself at around the same age in 1967, I thought I’d do a side by side (like I’ve done of Dad & myself before, here).  I find it hard to believe these two photos are only 24 years apart.

What I mean is, I’m betting our family wasn’t any wealthier than Dad’s was in the 1940s; but I think in the 1960s there was a greater emphasis placed on the look of success.  I remember the story behnd this suit on the right quite well; my mom was so upset with my ‘hobo look’ in my first grade school photos, she said never again and picked out these nifty threads from the 1967 Sears catalog. 

Thanks to Google, I was able to look up my suit and the price was $11.99, shirt & tie included (around $90.00 in today’s dollars).  I got some good use out of that suit (much to my mom’s delight) as my second grade teacher Mrs. Brown had a thing for us kids dressing up a couple times that year.  And in the last week of school, our entire class came to her home for a ‘hot lunch’, girls in dresses, boys in ties. 

Mrs. Brown had a son three years older than myself, also named Doug which intrigued me; I’d never met another Doug before.  I remember asking him if I could see his room—he said yes—and asking him if he wanted to be friends.  He said no.  Oh well!

Meanwhile in the present, my tmj has put a real damper on things, my blog writing included.  I swear, I’m not looking for sympathy or attention—I just want it to be over.  It’s put a halt to things in my life (like going to the senior center) and I’m left with little energy to do anything except apply hot & cold compresses, stare at the tv and wait for things to get better.

I had this three times before—the first was in July 2016, lasting seven months.  At the time I had no idea what it was, and wound up spending $3000 on specialists and various oral appliances, all of which did no good.   My second bout was a year later and only lasted 6 weeks.  My third was horrendous, and went on for over two years.

So far it’s been two weeks and I’m hoping (as I’m sure it was ‘woken up’ by my recent battle with covid) it fades as quickly as it surfaced.  Thanks for letting me share and on that note…

Happy New Year Everyone

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Computers, covid & Christmas: life goes on & on

Remember me?  It’s been three weeks since I’ve last written, but feels a lot longer for some reason.  In my last post, I lamented that my 2011 laptop had finally bit the big one and I’d lost all my stuff and was unable to blog again for the time being.

Shortly after that, an old friend and former classmate reached out and told me about an apparatus on Amazon for extracting data from a defunct computer’s hard drive.  I was surprised to hear from her, we had a falling out a couple years ago and I assumed I’d never hear from her again.  She’s a better person than I gave her credit for, and it meant a lot.  Thanks Pen.

Around the same time I got my new laptop (which I’ve yet to do anything with), I learned my neighborhood pharmacy was shutting down, part of the big Rite-Aid bankruptcy.  My bp & heart medications were re-directed to the nearest Giant Eagle, a couple miles from me and not acessible by public transportation.  My old friend Susie drove me there, but the next day contacted me and said “Dougie, I have bad news.  You know I’ve been staying with my sister-in-law… she tested positive for covid this morning.  We’re probably next.”

Sure enough, two days later on Saturday December 9, I awoke feeling like someone had beaten me up while I slept.  Went to the bathroom, grabbed a covid test from my medicine cabinet and yep—I was positive for covid.

I know covid treats everyone differently—some people get slammed and wind up going to the hospital, for others it’s nothing more than a bad cold.  Mine was pretty rough, and for the next 4-5 nights I had a 102.6-103.0 fever.  I’d go to bed with my teeth clamped down from my baking head, and wake up in the morning with my teeth chattering from wet bedsheets soaked with perspiration.

My local senior center was wonderful during this time.  They checked in on me regularly, and since I couldn’t attend the annual holiday party, stopped by to drop off a nice gift and some holiday goodies.


I wish I could say things ended on a happy note, but exactly one day later—Saturday December 16—I awoke with my right jaw swollen, and my cheekbones and both eyes burning.  I wondered if all the stress from that covid had reactivated my TMJ disorder. 

I can’t say for sure what it is, but right now I’m dealing with a lot of mouth soreness and inflammation.  I was able to show my doctor using my smartphone, he thinks it could be a sinus infection, but won’t prescribe antibiotics just yet.  He has me on a couple of prescription strength decongestants for the rest of the week and says we’ll go from there.

While I am having some difficulty eating, at this time of year my local deli sells various holiday “fluffs” of roast turkey and ham & pineapple that are very soft & billowy, and require no chewing.  They’ll help me ride things out, but I’m sure things will return to normal soon. 

I want to look at events from a positive perspective; in the last couple weeks, I’ve lost 7.8 pounds!  This is the kick in the pants I needed to get things in motion.

Another good thing that resulted from posting my tech-woes here, I have my old laptop working again, sort of.  Someone local who wishes to remain anonymous wrote and asked me the particulars of my defunct laptop.  He recommended a couple accessories on Ebay which I got a couple days ago and wonder of wonders, did “re-energize” my laptop. 

I don’t know how much longer this old girl is going to last, but at least now I have a little more time, and can shoot out a couple more blogs using good old Windows 7. 

I sure hope everyone out there is doing well, thanks for listening and Merry Christmas.


Saturday, December 2, 2023

This was supposed to be a love story, not a goodbye

If there are gods of irony or karma up there, they’re probably looking down at me right now and having a real laugh at my expense.  I have no one to blame but myself.

Several nights ago I received my umpteenth warning from Windows that it could not perform security updates, as my Windows 7 operating system was out of date.  I told myself that 2024 was definitely going to be the year I bought a new laptop.

I bought my current laptop in February 2012, a Toshiba Satellite L750 with a custom trim in gloss chocolate.  (It came with a 500gb hard drive and 4gb RAM if you want to get technical about it.) 

For the last 12 years, it’s served me very well. 

As December marks my 18th year of blogging, I thought I’d write a blog singing the praises of my Toshiba and how I hope it gets me through the next couple years, at least.  I did what I always do—I wrote my blog on my desktop using a 2009 blog-editor.  I added photos to it using a 2009 photo-editor. 

I moved it to the internet (to my online Drafts folder), then waited until the next morning to post it on my blog.  I always wait and publish new blogs in the mornings. 

Anyway—this past Thursday morning, I turned on my laptop, it revved up like it always does, then sputtered out.  I checked my charger, tried it again—my laptop sprang to life for 3-4 minutes, then out it went again.  I spent the day trying to get it working, but it’s pretty much kaput.

Panic set in as my whole digital life was on that machine.  It’s where I manage my investments, track my retirement spending, read & send emails, and write my blog.

I have other ways to get to the internet, like my Samsung Galaxy tablet—it allows me to read ebooks, watch movies & Youtube videos, go online and read others blogs—but I cannot create blogs on it.  I can’t edit photos or compose blog-drafts on it.

In fact, the only reason you’re seeing this right now is because the “love story” I wrote was moved online before my laptop croaked.  I’m using my tablet to change what this said. 

So I suppose what I’m saying now is, I may be off the grid for awhile.  I need to buy a new laptop, and learn Windows 11.  I have no idea what I’m going to use to edit photos or write blog drafts with, as I’m pretty sure those 2009 editors on my Toshiba are not compatible with today’s operating systems.

Here’s what I ordered from Amazon this morning, set to arrive next week.  Wish me luck, and I hope I get to talk to everyone again real soon.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Where’s all the people? Just a couple Thanksgiving photos (minus any people)

My brother-in-law Jim picked me up the night before Thanksgiving, and I got to enjoy the holiday with him & my sister Shawn, my niece Sophia and Jim’s son Michael, his wife Jessica and their two little boys 8 year old Caleb & 6 year old Isaiah. 

My sister had real pies of course, but her daughter-in-law Jessica’s pumpkin pie cookies were a big hit

On the trip there, Jim & I stopped at a McDonald’s to get dinner and I was shocked—I’ve been at Mickey D’s exactly one time in 21 years, and it felt like I’d fallen into a time warp and stepped into the future when we went inside. 

(I’m not kidding, I’m planning to do a blog about this.)

Anyway, I wanted to take some photos of everyone on Thanksgiving Day but people kept scooting out of my way or I got sidetracked.  Here’s a couple random shots, I hope everyone had a nice holiday!

Packing for my trip home, here are shoes I’ve bought just in the last six weeks.  I always prided myself on only owning two pair of dress shoes for work and a pair of sneakers, but now that I’m in my sixties…. bring ‘em on!

Thanksgiving morning, Jim & I went on a ride in the countryside and drove past my family’s old farmhouse (my family moved out 40 years ago). 

I was surprised how barren things looked—my dad’s large vegetable garden is gone of course, but so are the sheds out back, the apple tree in front, the dozen or so tall pine trees that circled the property

My sister’s country Thanksgiving table.  Doesn’t this look nice?
I feel guilty; my sister worked on this dinner from the crack of dawn and my only job was filling the cups!
And finally, as Dad used to say:  “Let’s commence to eatin’!”

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Photo of the Day: Can you guess which one is my niece Sophia?

This past weekend, my sister Shawn sent me this photo in an email without including a message.

I responded “Sophia looks prettier than ever, but I don’t like her ripped pants.”  

My niece is second from the left, and I’m well aware her jeans with the torn knees are what’s in style but I still want to sew big patches on them.  Wouldn’t they look cuter with big knee patches?

Shawn replied “I’ve always been mental about her shoes being clean and I’m glad they still are.”

I wrote back “Um what is this?” and Shawn answered “Drag Bingo.  I love how Sophia isn’t afraid to try new things.”

I suppose those ripped jeans aren’t so bad after all!   And on that note…


Saturday, November 18, 2023

Frasier may have left the building, but at least he’s back for a short visit

In the summer of 2016 when I made the ill-fated decision to move out of the city, I also decided to do some serious downsizing and gave away half of what I owned.  I donated over 300 hardcover books and half of my DVD collection to the Bellevue Library.

This was actually the very first thing I gave them, my complete set of Frasier, which aired on NBC from 1993 to 2004.  Looking back, I’m not sure why I did; I dearly loved this show.  Everything about it was brilliant—from the writing to it’s inspired casting (Frasier wasn’t even supposed to have a brother, one of the producers saw David Hyde Pierce and remarked his uncanny resemblance to Kelsey Grammer). 

As great as it was though, my second favorite thing about the show was his luxury apartment in the fictional Elliot Bay Towers in Seattle.  I used to record the show on my vcr, then pause it during replay just to study the artwork or the titles of the books on his bookshelves!

My favorite thing about the show though was the calls to my mom after every new episode.  She knew to expect my call the moment Kelsey began singing “tossed salad and scrambled eggs”, and we’d rehash that night’s story and laugh all over again. 

Sadly, Mom passed about 6 months after the final episode.

The reason I share all this now is because last night I laughed again at Frasier for the first time in a LONG time, and afterwards felt both relief and some heartache too.  The show was recently revived on Paramount Plus with much fanfare (they announced it was returning 3 years ago) but after 4 episodes I was greatly disappointed.  

USA Today wrote a pretty scathing piece about its revival and got raked over the coals by Frasier’s adoring fans; the paper was right though, the show was a turd.

And then last night (after putting it off for over a week) I watched the fifth episode and it was nothing short of awesome—they got it, they got that magic back!  Well, for this episode at least.  Frasier and his adult son Freddy are in Frasier’s Boston apartment, waiting on blind dates; when the first woman arrives, they’re both attracted to her but don’t know which Crane she’s there for, and instead of just asking…. I was howling.

Later when the second woman shows up, and Frasier confesses to Freddy he wants her too, his disgusted son remarks “Why don’t I just pretend to be your personal chef?  We’ll set up another table on the balcony, and try to fool both women into having dinner with you!”  Frasier pauses, stares into space like he’s mulling it over and says “You know, there was a time when I would’ve considered such a thing…”  My God I laughed so hard! 

I know it sounds silly, but if you were a fan of playwrights like Preston Sturges or Noel Coward, you’d enjoy this too. 

Okay, I thought I’d wrap this little lovefest up with 3 takes on Frasier’s apartment.  The first is from the original Frasier, complete with his dad’s ratty 1970’s recliner. 

The second is how designers imagine it would look today—pretty fancy stuff. 

The third is his apartment on the revived show, set in Boston.  I am digging that Rorschach wallpaper!

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus—I know because I’ve got his red shoes

Here are my new red shoes, which arrived via UPS early yesterday.  Ho Ho!  I’m so tickled to have them, I keep pausing my television to go into the bedroom and look at them.  My gosh, aren’t they nice?

Even though they weren’t cheap (more on that later) I’m surprised at their quality—it’s top notch.  And they’re real leather too.

I know what you’re probably thinking—“You got a new pair of shoes, who gives a tinker’s damn!”  Well you’re right, but you have to understand two things:

  1. I’ve been looking for a pair of red running shoes for a long, long time.
  2. But I’m a freak of nature and have two platypus feet.

Does this sound normal to you?  For as long as I can remember, I’ve worn a size 9 1/2 shoe.  In my thirties, my shoes began hurting my feet so I tried a size 10; but they were no good, too loose but still hurt my feet in the front.

Eventually I learned about Wide shoes, and all was good again.  Then in my early fifties, the sides of my feet began feeling pinched again.  That’s when I discovered Extra Wide.  But those shoes can be limited in style & color; still, I made do.

And then in my sixties, I began to notice that Extra Wide was a 50/50 toss up.  Sometimes they fit, not always. 

(A few weeks ago I was with my sister Shawn at a Skechers store, half the 9.5 EW shoes hurt my feet.)

So I’m on my computer a couple weeks ago, and googled “it’s hard finding mens shoes that fit”, and found a discussion board where one guy was saying the exact same thing, and someone recommended he check out Propet shoes.  They specialized in extended sizes and widths, and shoes requiring orthotics.

I went to their website and began looking around, and that’s when I saw the red shoes.  In size 9.5, up to XX (5E).  Extra EXTRA Wide.  Yes!  

Still, they were $114.95 and I couldn’t bring myself to pay that much for a pair of shoes.  (I just got 2 new pairs of shoes a month ago—buy a pair, get one for free at Skechers.)  I looked at these daily though, and then a few nights ago they were discounted to $84.00 and I pounced on them.

But there’s magic in these ruby red sneakers:  I tried them on, they fit good… but I still wished they were 2% less snug.  I looked them up again on the website and saw someone asking if you could remove the insoles as they wanted to insert their own arch supports. 

Another person said yes but remember, Propet shoes also come with removable insoles under the main insoles if you needed more room.  They do??

Yep—I found and removed them from mine (the blue insole below).  And now they fit perfect.  I think I’m going to save these sexy red beasts for our senior center’s first outing in December, and wear them with a splash of Old Spice cologne.  Maybe they’ll work their magic on someone else too. ;^)


Friday, November 10, 2023

This thing we call life, and the cards we’re dealt—including the silly ones

Top:  Birthday cards from my second floor neighbor Sally, my sister Courtney & Robert, friends Danielle & Josh.  Bottom row:  My online friend Bobi (who included a retro cow magnet for my fridge), my friend & former classmate Diana, friends Chuck & Robin, my sister Shawn

I was talking to my Canadian friend Robin the other morning (who sent me that cool ‘black cats & bats’ Halloween card in the bottom row for my birthday a week ago), and was telling her I have a real problem throwing away cards.

She said she held onto cards for sentimental reasons and I said I did the same, like ones from my mom (who passed 19 years ago) as she always wrote such nice messages inside.  But even the ones I don’t keep, it pains me to toss them anytime soon.

There’s not many here, and of the few I got, half were a surprise; but I genuinely like the people who sent them and I feel fortunate to know them.  I’m fortunate, period.  I’ve got my health for the most part, my own place in a part of the world that isn’t torn apart by war, enough money in the bank to pay my bills and live comfortably.

Y’know, I feel silly for posting much of the things I do on my blog.  I worry about guns and climate change and Israel and Ukraine and the future of our country’s democracy like everyone else.  (At least I hope everyone else worries about these things.)  I just don’t feel the need to write about those things right now.  Maybe in the future, I don’t know.

For now I just want to thank the people who sent those cards above (and the cow magnet below) and the smart, funny readers who visit my blog.  That’s all!

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

You people are safe from us older delinquents—well, for a month at least

A couple years ago (okay, 17 years ago) when Facebook was brand new and I was in my mid-forties, I posted a photo of myself in my new leather jacket on the main page.

At the time I was going through some sort of mid-life crisis, and wrote that after spending my entire life as a nerdy square, was I now too old to be wearing a black leather jacket?

Expecting a chorus of positive feedback to go for it, I got the following:

1) My friend Tracy asked if I was trying to look like the Fonz.

2) My friend Alex asked if I was wearing sweatpants below my jacket, I should consider wearing jeans.

3) My younger friend (and Photoshop expert) Eric added this pair of oversized undies to my photo.  Why?  Because the only panty-raids I’d be going on were for granny panties at the nursing home.

While his doctored picture began getting dozens of likes and LOLs and comments, I slunk away and debated hurling myself off my fourth floor balcony.  Oh the humiliation!  In the end I just laughed it off, what else can you do?

The reason I shared this middle age delinquent look back is because at the start of November when I received “Courtney’s Chit-Chat”  (a monthly newsletter from the senior center with 2 calendars—one for activities, the other a lunch menu) there was this special note on the main page:

It has been brought to our attention that members participating in group trips have not been respectful to ACCESS drivers and participating members. Please keep in mind that you are a representive of the center on trips. ACCESS can suspend individual members as well as suspend the center indefinitely from trips.  Due to multiple offenses, we are cancelling all November trips.  We do not condone bullying or disrespectful behavior. 

Group trips will pick back up in December with a chaperone.

What the—grounded!  Well, that sucked.  Hmm.. aside from two trips to the casino (and one to Oakmont Bakery when I was sick), I’d pretty much gone on all the other trips.  If I did something wrong, would they have let me know?  Did I see someone else do anything?

There is one woman in our group who makes a dash back indoors to whatever establishment we just came out of, when the Access shuttle pulls up to take us home.  I just chalked it up to a last minute bladder-check, but she usually takes several minutes and we’re not supposed to keep those Access drivers waiting.

Speaking of Access drivers, when we went on the Mt.Washington outing for lunch, several Access vehicles showed up to take us home.  One was a regular 4 passenger car, and this tall, elderly black man got out.  He said “I am lookin’ for someones named Janet—Pearl—and Douglas!”  

We all came over to his car and he said “Welcome aboard ladies—and fine gent!  They call me Crazy Roy!  Now who wants to ride up front with me!”   Pearl & Janet were already getting in the back seat, and I said “No, no—wait.  I want to know why they call you Crazy Roy.”

Janet (also black) said “Child, just get in the damn car!”  Crazy Roy tilted his head back and laughed.  He said “Because Mister Douglas, crazy things happen to me most everytime I get behind that wheel!” 

He has got to be kidding me.  I stood there for a minute, mentally getting my affairs in order then climbed in beside him.  No joke—this is a true story—not 10 seconds after Crazy Roy pulled away from the curb in front of the restaurant, some crazy-ass man jumped off the sidewalk in front of our car with his arms outstretched, dancing in place like a jiggly scarecrow.  Crazy Roy rolled down his window, stuck his head out and shouted “GET OUTTA THE LANE, FOOL!  I ALMOST RUNNED YOU OVER!”

As we got on our way, Crazy Roy said “See?  We’re good now, we got the crazy outta the way!”  I said “Pearl, as soon as we get back to the Tiffany please remind me to call Pittsburgh Cremation & Funeral Care—they’ve got a special going on right now for simple cremation, 1500 dollars.”  

Pearl laughed and said okay, Crazy Roy said “ARE YOU SERIOUS?  FIT-TEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS?  YOU GOT THE PHONE NUMBER?”   I said “Uh… not on me, why?”

Crazy Roy said “’Cuz yesterday was my 80th birthday!  I could go anytime!”

I guess I can live with being grounded for a few weeks.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Hot Dog People and green devilled eggs: what a difference a year makes

I’m sure everyone is pretty much Halloween’d out, but I wanted to share a few photos from the party at the PrimeTime Center this week.  It was such a fun time, with good people and good food, and a few too many treats.

There was cupcakes & candy galore, punch, cider, cheeses, crackers, meatballs, chips, dips and ghoulish green devilled eggs.  Those eggs were to die for... heh heh!

Three of the four women that run the center (Courtney, Elisa & Colleen) were dressed as giant hot dogs and hilarious, each in their own way.  They announced it was my birthday, and it was quite a thing, 50-60 people singing Happy Birthday.  A pretty wonderful experience.

Giant cobwebs (and tarantulas) cover the stained glass windows of the center

I say what a difference a year makes, because precisely one year ago, I spent my birthday at Mercy Hospital, undergoing drug trials for new BP & heart meds.  When I came home the next day, I had a severe gallbladder attack and wound up right back at Mercy Hospital!

Anyway, here’s a few photos of the festivities at the center this week.

“Say weiner!”  Elisa, Colleen (center) & Courtney looked great in those costumes, but Colleen’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” complete with hat & cane stole the show

  Earlybirds are settling in, pretty soon the center will be filled with young and old alike

I was served my favorite lunch, a jumbo sausage sandwich with onions & peppers, sauteed spinach and a watermelon and Feta cheese salad.   Did you notice that cupcake with the lit candle in the upper corner of the tray?

The Phantom of the Opera (Elisa’s long-time friend David Passeau) played organ music that varied from lighthearted to foreboding, depending on what was going on.  I love this guy!
I love this woman too, and I don’t even know her name!  Dressed as a giant Hershey bar (with a Hershey kiss on top), she won second prize in the costume contest. 
First Prize went to Ruthie, for her homemade Dalmation costume.  She’s a sweetheart (and I believe the oldest person there).

I was going to wear my Navajo serape from the Pow-Wow we attended a few weeks ago, but chickened out.  (I did wear a Pumpkin orange shirt and glowing ghost ring, at least!)  I’m just sorry I didn’t get more photos of the people or food, I went home holding my belly and groaning never again—so what’d I do the following day?  Went back and feasted on leftovers!

Courtney getting her second breath--a hot dog’s work is never done

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

There’s a 113 year old schoolhouse at the foot of my sister’s backyard

My sister Shawn & her husband Jim have spent a small fortune painting, installing new windows and adding a new roof to the 1910 schoolhouse on their property.  The structure is put to good use, with plenty of space for tools, vehicles and other equipment.  Still… there’s something about it that spooks me.   

I knew it!

Friday, October 27, 2023

One of our Friends is no longer with us

Note:  This was written the day before the death of Friends actor Matthew Perry and has nothing to do with his passing.  The title is just a sad coincidence.
Last night my friend Elisa (who I worked with for 10-11 years at the Allegheny County Dept of Aging, and now helps manage the Senior Center) texted me and wrote “I’m sure Kim already texted you but in case she hasn’t, Terry Cavallo died yesterday.”

I assumed she was talking about someone at the center.  Who was Terry Cavallo?  I texted back I didn’t know the name, but the moment I pressed SEND, it hit me: Kim as in Kim Hall from the Dept of Aging?  Terry as in Terry Kavala?

Before I could ask, she sent a link to his obituary.  Oh Terry.  My heart sank.  He had been wrestling with blood disease, and his latest treatment was the same given to leukemia patients.  His heart couldn’t bear the strain.

For as long as I’ve known Terry, he was always lean, fit as a fiddle.  He never drank or smoked.  He was only 63 years old.

I sat here and thought about him all night, and our many years together, and it hit me, we were Friends before Friends.

There was a core group of 6 of us, all close in age, who worked at the Dept of Aging and met for lunch everyday for 10-11 years, from 1990 to 2001.  There was 3 guys—Terry Kavala, Jerry Duch & myself, and 3 girls—Carolyn Galvin, Elisa Eyer & Kim Hall.

We sometimes had a couple of older guest stars like Joanne & Darlene join us, and a younger guest named Janet—but it was the 6 of us who met Mon-Fri for lunch in the Nurse’s Room, our “Central Perk”. 

Terry was like Ross, the funny but melancholy academic.  Jerry was like Joey, the cute Italian guy who was always cracking everyone up.  I was Chandler, the neurotic with the job the rest knew little about.  (They just knew I worked with computers.)

I’m not sure how I’d match up Elisa, Carolyn & Kim to Phoebe, Monica & Rachel, I’ll have to ask them what they think.

I don’t know if it’s too soon, the poor man has just passed.  But it’s been a long time since I last saw or spoke to Terry, and I’ll always carry this one memory of him with me.  I had bought my mom a ruby garnet ring (that was on special for Mother’s Day) from Kaufmann’s, a big department store right across the street from our office.  When I showed it to the group at lunch, Terry remarked how much he liked it and wanted to get one for his wife. 

I told him to make sure he asked for the wife’s ring, not the mother’s one.  Men weren’t being careful and were ticking their wives off. 

From the expression he gave me, I assumed he knew I was just being a goof.

However, the very next day at lunch Terry was nowhere to be seen.  Afterwards when I was back at my desk, my phone rang.  It was Terry, who said he’d just spent his lunch hour at the jewelry counter at Kaufmann’s insisting there was two versions of the ruby ring they had on special.

When I said oops my bad, he calmly said “Douglas I’m coming for you next.”  

I literally ran down the hall to Carolyn Galvin’s office and told her I was a dead man if she didn’t save my hide.  I can’t remember what happened after that, but I’m still here so… I only wish Terry was.

Goodbye Terry—you deserved so much more.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Photo of the Day: Here’s an oldie but a goodie…

Do people still use that expression?  “Here’s an oldie but a goodie…”  You used to hear that all the time, on the radio at least when they played an old hit from the 50’s or early ‘60s in the 1970s. 

But I wasn’t necessarily talking about the Ray Charles song on display on this contraption, but the contraption itself.

I bought this MP3 player in December 2009 on Amazon, a Sony Walkman.  It has 8GB storage—I have over a thousand songs on it and there’s still room for 500 more.  I kept it in my workbag, it was only used in the office and the bus ride there & back.

It’s not very big; a quarter inch thick, and that’s the actual size of the thing at the top.  Frankly I’m surprised it’s discontinued, the technology still amazes me.

The reason I’m showing it here is because of recent events at the Tiffany (where I live).  I may not look it, but I use the exercise room in our building’s basement at least 4 days a week.  There’s a large flat panel tv on the wall, and while on the treadmill or stairclimber I’d have that Roku tv on, watching an “Oldies” music channel of rock n’ roll from the 1960s-1980s.

But several days ago, the television stopped working—well, stopped streaming.  It turns out one of the tenants in the building was paying for the service down there, but moved out.  No one else has stepped up yet to keep it going.

I was having trouble with my daily exercise routine with nothing to listen to, and was debating bringing my bookshelf radio down there when I remembered this MP3 player from my pre-retirement days.  I dug out my old workbag, and there it was.

But I hadn’t turned it on in 8 years, would it still work?  It sure did, after I plugged its USB cord into my laptop to charge for a couple hours.  When it came on I laughed out loud; it was still at the midway point thru Patty Duke’s ‘Funny Little Butterflies’, what I’d been listening to while cleaning out my desk my last day in the office.

So a couple nights ago, finished with my workout downstairs, I got on the elevator to come back upstairs and it stopped on the first floor (where the lobby is) and 2 young men got on.  I’ve seen them here before, they’re recent move-ins on the 6th floor.  They’re both at least 6’3” and can’t be older than 19-20, and look very much alike.  I’m sure they’re brothers.

I was still wearing my earbuds, but the device was turned off—so I heard the first one behind me say “Can he hear us?” and the second one said “I don’t think so”.  This is what I heard after that.

“What’s he holding, is that a Walkman?”  “Nah, Walkmans are bigger. They play tapes.”  “Is it a radio?”  “Maybe he’s listening to the Pens.”  “Maybe he’s a Swiftie.”  “Haha ask him if he even knows what that is.”

Anyway, I was facing the doors and biting my lip to keep from laughing.  But it amazed me that they didn’t know what I was even holding; is an mp3 player from 2009 an antique already?  I saw on the news recently that 9 out of 10 people under the age of 20 own iphones or ipads only.  I know Apple is premium tech but that still blew me away.

And for the record I know what a Swiftie is, and I’m not one of ‘em!  But 40 years ago when I owned a Walkman that DID play cassettes, I listened to blondes like Stevie Nicks, Olivia Newton-John, Mary Hopkin, Belinda Carlisle and Stacey Q.  And I still do.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Welcome to the neighborhood, I think you’re going to fit right in

Last week, I got one of these cute door plaques for my front door.  20 years ago if my mom had asked if I wanted something crafty to hang on there, I would’ve said no thanks, door decor wasn’t my style.  What happened?  I got old, that’s what happened.

Anyway, I was going to get a nifty one of a human skull that said “NOT WELCOME”  (you know, for Halloween) but then it occurred to me I had a new neighbor moving in this week and I didn’t want to make a bad first impression.  So I got this wooden pumpkin instead.  I actually like it.

No one knows, but since my neighbor Lonnie moved out August 31, I’ve been a secret nervous wreck.  Who will my new next door be?  When you live in an apartment building like mine it’s very possible to hear your neighbor’s tv, music and everything else they’re up to thru your living room wall.

Back in April, a young maestro from the PMT Conservatory moved into the studio apt by the elevator on my floor.  Do I mind hearing him singing I am the Phantom of the Opera while I’m waiting to go downstairs?  No.  Do I want him singing in the apartment next to mine?  Hell no!

Do you remember my blog about the skinny little man on my floor, who lived here 5 weeks and complained about his apartment (because it got too much sunlight, for starters)?  I wrote about him here.  He pleaded with our landlord to let him move if an apartment became available in the rear of the building.  They told him he had to wait 6 months.

He finally got the chance a couple months ago.  The lawyer who lived down the hall from me announced he was moving out.  Skinny Man (Bob) signed a new lease that same day.  So what if the rent was $75 more per month.  So what if it contained no carpeting.  (Bob liked carpeting.)  So what if the all-white kitchen was too feminine for Bob’s taste.

So what if he was giving up a great neighbor, a quiet guy named Joel.  He’d get to live in the rear of the building!

Now—do you remember me writing about that lawyer?  His neighbor was a lovely young Afro-American woman, Chantilly.  (I wrote about both here.)   She likes to play music, have friends over, and have late night laughs—a lot.  Hey, she’s only 24 so that’s to be expected.  And it’s easy for me to say that, I don’t live beside her.

Bob does now, and he’s miserable.  He’s also stuck.  (Steiner said no more moves unless it’s out of the building.)  Walking away from new carpeting and a maple kitchen is one thing, but a quiet neighbor too?  That’s crazy!

So who was moving in next to me?  I didn’t have a clue.  And then this past weekend I heard a plop outside in the hall and when I opened my door, saw this in front of my neighbor’s door.

That’s a pretty welcome mat, and a good sign.  Guys come with loud music, loud voices, loud videogames but usually no welcome mats.  What if it was a woman over 50 too?  Would that be asking for too much?

I think luck was on my side.  Three woman soon arrived, all wearing work-clothes and said they were friends with my new neighbor Dee (who was on her way here with the movers, and running behind schedule). 

Bonnie, Lisa and Dina said she was 69 years old, low-key and did a lot of reading.  (Reading is good.)  They said Dee was retired, and wanted to live someplace “long-term and quiet”.  Better & better.

Dee finally arrived a couple hours later, and was polite but dismissive; I think she’s serious about maintaining boundaries.  I can dig it.  She has a gravelly voice and looks remarkably like Imelda Staunton from the 2004 movie Vera Drake.

Well, it’s been a couple days and all is calm.  Aside from some thuds and clatterings that first day, I’ve hardly heard a sound.  Dee I hope you enjoy your new home here and live beside me a long time. 

If you can outlive me, all the better.  I don’t want to have to go thru this again!  

Oh and for the record—I got that skull plaque after all.  It’s hanging in my bedroom for Halloween, we’ll see.  I don’t want to give Dee any ideas!

Saturday, October 14, 2023

The Narcisi Winery: It’s like having a little piece of Italy, right in your backyard

Two days ago, several of us from the Primetime Center took a little road trip to Gibsonia, roughly 40 minutes north of Pittsburgh—and home to the Narcisi Winery.  The weather could not have been more perfect, around 60F and not a cloud in the sky.

It’s a family owned business, and the buildings (restaurant, winery, ampitheater, assorted gazebos & grape arbors) made it feel like we’d arrived in Italy.  It was beautiful.

Based on reviews I read online, I was all set to order the Roasted Eggplant Parmigiana; but once we were seated, I wound up eating half the warm bread at our table and was carb’d out.  (It was delicious, served with olive oil, parmesan cheese & crushed red pepper for dipping—I think we went through 3 loaves!)

The server recommended I try one of their dinner salads, and said their steak salad got high praise.  I said I had difficulty with most steaks because of a jaw dysfunction, but she told me it was very tender, a cut between a ribeye and filet mignon, and the chef would cook it special.  I said okay.

Hands down, it was the best meal I’ve had this year.  And probably the best steak salad I’ve eaten in my lifetime. 

Afterwards, a few of us did some wine tasting at the taster’s bar, and the sommelier was so kind finding me a wine I enjoyed, I wound up buying a bottle to take home.

Here’s a couple pics of our outing: 

My friend Evvie & myself, waiting for our food to arrive and doing what we do best (chatting and noshing)

This isn’t a great picture of Geri, but I wanted to include everything behind her—a tremendous stone fireplace and tapestries of Italy that adorned the stucco walls
Here’s that steak salad I talked about earlier, the greens were delicious in a peppery garlic marinade. It was pretty much perfection
After our meal and after the wine tasting, we went outside to explore the grounds.  Do you remember that scene in ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ where the kids and their parents are let loose in the factory, licking fruit-flavored walls and eating candy flowers and such?

I was reminded of that here, with half the seniors in our group exploring the arbors, stuffing their mouths and purses with grapes!

And finally, here’s that bottle of wine I brought home.  Given current events, I may open it this weekend, and do some reflecting.  Stay safe, everyone.