Saturday, April 27, 2024

Four Weddings and a Funeral, and a Hoover vacuum cleaner…sweeper

Way back in April 1994, my sister Shawn came up to spend the weekend, and we made plans to see Four Weddings and a Funeral at the Waterworks Cinema.  Shawn used to come up a lot of weekends then, before she met Jim and got married.  We’d go to the movies, she’d take me grocery shopping, I’d make us dinner.

My Hoover Preferred Vacuum Cleaner, minus it’s separate cleaning hose but still in fine working order

Anyway, I remember the events around this particular movie as I asked Shawn if we could go to the Appliance Store before or after the show, as I needed a new vacuum cleaner. 

That was 30 years ago this month, and that’s what you’re looking at here, the sweeper I got and still use.

I have used it regularly in every apartment I’ve lived in since then, usually 1-2 times a week.  It’s never given me a bit of trouble.  I accidentally tore the separate cleaning hose back around 2005, but you can still buy the Hoover “A” bags that fit behind that plastic shell on the front.  The light at the bottom flickers off & on, but what can you expect after 30 years?

I was telling my friend Sarah in #411 my little story about the sweeper and this movie, and she said “I never heard of it.  I mostly watch romantic comedies.”

So do you own any old appliances you still use, that you’re surprised still work?  This past January I boasted on here about my Rival hand mixer that my Grandma was going to toss in 1984 because it rattled so loudly.  I took it off her hands and used it until this past February, when I made a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies and discovered my dough had sharp white plastic fragments in the cookie dough. 

Out went the dough—and my grandma’s 50 year old hand mixer.

Anyway, the reason I’m sharing my sweeper here is because last night I watched a (very funny, very peculiar) documentary series on MAX called “HOW TO with John Wilson” where every episode starts out on one topic but winds up completely different by the end.  In last night’s show “How to Watch Sports”, he shows us how to clean your apartment before you invite your friends over for the big game. 

But his vacuum was broken, so he takes it to an appliance repair shop in Brooklyn.

The owner of the shop moans it’s a Dyson, and John asks if that’s a problem.  The shop owner (these are real people) says “Hell yeah it’s a problem!  Dyson cleaners are crap, they’re the most overrated things out there!”   He tells John he should get a Shark or a Bissell or a vintage Hoover, and the next thing you know John is at the annual Vacuum Land Convention in Scranton, Pa.  

There are people there from all over the country who collect vintage vacuum cleaners.  One man confesses he’s been in love with them since he was a kid, and his dad gifted him with a rainbow of Hoover uprights over the years.  What the—!!

Here’s one more thing.  I never throw out a manual until I toss the appliance first, so here’s my Hoover manual. 

I wonder if I can still mail in the registration card?  It says to send in by Dec 31 1994 if I want a chance at winning a carpet shampooer.  I guess that ship has sailed. 

And here’s the spare agitator belt that came with the vacuum.  I’ve never needed to replace my Hoover’s belt, I’m still using the original.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Sometimes I feel like one, but I’m not a ghost just yet

A couple days ago (Saturday, to be exact) my face woke me around 6am, with it’s customary “post covid” pinching, soreness & burning.  I jumped out of bed to use the bathroom and splash some cold water on it, saw my reflection in the bathroom mirror and felt angry, afraid, defeated.

My damn face looked just like it did in mid-February at the height of this long covid affliction, swollen and ugly.  This has officially become a long-term condition.

I spent the morning doing the customary things I’ve been doing—applying hot and cold compresses, making coffee, making my bed, turning on the news, turning off the news, watching people on the street below my livingroom window.

I have every intention of joining those people outside again.  I just wish I knew when.

This past week, I was folding my laundry and my head & face were pretty hot (any type of exertion gets the flames going), but I just got so fed up with living like a shut-in that I decided I’d walk up to the Senior Center.  I haven’t been there since February 21, I missed everyone.  So I shaved and got dressed and left my building (it’s a little over a half-mile walk) and when I got about halfway there, knew this was a bad idea but hey, too late now. 

When I arrived, I was almost relieved to see Dennis (the three-pack-a-day smoker) in the same spot outside I’d seen him last, smoking a cigarette.  I asked how he was, he whispered “Do you remember me losing my voice a couple months back?”  I said yes.  He said “I still haven’t found it.  Now my prostate isn’t looking good.  How are you?”  I said I’ve been better, was sorry for his problems but happy to see him.  Then I went inside.

Right away I heard “There’s Doug!” and “Doug’s back!”  and I can’t tell you how much I wanted everything to be normal again; but I was dizzy from the walk and the inflammation was so severe I only stayed 15 minutes.  I’m still glad I went though, it was wonderful seeing friends Mary, Debbie, Evvie, Geri, Bridget and Courtney. 

Geri, a petite 80 year old Italian woman who can easily outwalk me, said “We thought you divorced us!”  She is so dear and too funny.  I said I loved them and hoped to see everyone again real soon.

Later that night, I reached out to a couple of people I’ve met in an online Reddit group called “Covid Long Haulers” with symptoms similar to mine.  I said I was at my wit’s end, every time I think I’m starting to get better, I go to bed and wake up the next morning back to square one. 

Miss Lightfoot (one of the members who recovered but still visits to give moral support) said the same happened with her.  There’s no getting better and staying better, it just repeats the same cycle until it finally goes away for good.  Hers took a year.  You know what?  At least I’m getting some good hours here and there. 

On a more upbeat note, I wanted to give a shout-out and thank you to my friend David Hofstede over at the blog Comfort TV.  You really should check his site out sometime, it’s a wonderful tribute to classic television.  Not only does David write a blog, he’s published several books on television as well.

He reached out to me last week and said he’s been following my ongoing ailment, and asked if I’d like one of his books.  He told me not to feel obligated to say yes. 

I said yes I would, thanks very much and this is what he sent.

The book covers many, many tv shows from the 1950s-1970s (and I like how he gives plot synopses of the best episodes from every series). 

But what I’ve enjoyed so far is his look back at “appointment television” (if you’re 60 or older, you probably remember The Carol Burnett Show aired Saturday nights on CBS). 

And then we had those annual shows like the Miss America Pageant or the MDA Telethons hosted by Jerry Lewis for 45 years.

Reading David’s take on those telethons, with the cuts to local tv stations, “big stars” like Norm Crosby or Charo and some of Jerry’s hammier moments really made me laugh.  I’d forgotten so much of that!

It’s a warm, nostalgic read and David delivers so much more than what you’ll find on Wikipedia, trust me.  Thanks again David.

And thanks to everyone out there who continues reading my humdrum posts.  Your feedback has meant a lot, and I cannot wait for the day I can get on here and say I’ve fully recovered and I’m my old self again.  Take care.


Tuesday, April 16, 2024

There’s a sucker born every minute—and I wish more than anything I was one of ‘em

Can I climb on my soapbox for a few minutes?  I saw something on Sunday television this weekend that threw my usual tranquil Sunday-state-of-mind into a bit of upheaval.  More on that in a minute.

When my Grandpap Morris died in 1982, I felt sad for my Grandma Morris and my dad and my aunts & uncles but that was the extent of it.  Pap and I were never close.  He left Grandma in the early 1960s, and when they got back together around 1974, made no real effort to know his grandkids.  When I cried at his funeral, my dad was both touched and surprised.  Dad, I was crying for your loss—not mine.

When my Grandma Barnhart (my mom’s mother) died in 1988, I felt bad her last years were difficult ones, but little else.  She was an unkind person who never liked me and was abusive to my mom when she was a child.  I felt sad for my mom though, who maintained a loud, funny love/hate relationship with her mother for as long as I could remember. 

(I didn’t know my maternal grandfather, he died when Mom was only 5 years old.  Her only possession of him, a 5x7 framed photo now sits on my bedroom dresser.)

When Grandma Morris (my dad’s mom) died in 1997, I was 35 years old and felt the loss of a loved one for the first time in my life.  We were very close and the best of buddies from the time I was 4-5.  She was the best grandma, ever.

Grandma Morris & me, October 1996—my 35th birthday.  Sadly she’d be gone 6 months later

When Dad passed in 2001, I cried pretty hard at his funeral, and then never wept again.  I always wanted us to be closer, and now I knew we never would be.

When my mom died in 2004, I was devastated.  Her passing wrecked me, it was a struggle to get out of bed in the mornings for a good year.  My sister Shawn’s daughter, my niece Sophia kept me going though.  She was a newborn, only 2 months old and with no grandparents on either side to call her own, she would need all the family she could get.  I know I sure did.

Right after Mom died, I was almost desperate to know if there was the smallest chance she was still “out there” in some way, and would we see her again.  I’d scour the internet for articles from so called experts on the afterlife and interviews with mediums who assured us they were in constant contact with the dead.

And then I read Harry Houdini’s story, which saddened me greatly but was the wakeup call I needed.  When his own mother died, he was inconsolable; he often laid on her grave and wept.  But he was a world famous celebrity, and used his wealth to search the globe for one medium—JUST ONE—who could help him contact his mother.  He was unsuccessful. 

Houdini spent the rest of his days giving sold-out lectures on the fraudulent practice of speaking to the dead, that it was all a hoax and every medium was a fake, a charlatan.

I’m sharing all of this now because earlier today, on a respected news program, they did a report on Tyler Henry, a 28 year old “Hollywood medium”. 

He has a waiting list of 600,000 people willing to travel far & wide to meet with him, but when Jim Parsons (Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory) requests to speak to his real-life mee-maw, Tyler Henry will make house calls. 

Tyler Henry; yes this young man is smiling, all the way to the bank!

On CBS Sunday Morning, we see him on the stage in front of a large group of people, asking if anyone knows this random name and does it connect to this random month; yes, yes shouts someone from the audience!

C’mon people, his act is so old school it’s straight out of vaudeville!  Are you that desperate to believe?  It’s okay, I get it.  For a long time, I wanted to believe too.

But Tyler insists he’s real, and tells CBS that he believes half of the so-called mediums out there are phony.  Really Tyler?  Half?  THEY ALL ARE, TYLER.  JUST ASK HARRY HOUDINI.  

You can contact him, can’t you? 

Anyway, if you made it this far—thanks for listening and I’d be very curious to know what others think.  Apparently Tyler has a show on Netflix, but I don’t subscribe to that service so I’ve never seen it.  Am I being too harsh?  Have you seen it?  Does he seem legitimate to you?

I asked my friend Diana (who happens to be a pretty devout Christian) what she thought about contacting the dead.  She said she very much believed in an afterlife, but there was no bridge between their world and ours.  That made good sense to me.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Sometimes, not often enough… we reflect upon the good things

While waiting to recover fully from this long-covid affliction and return to a more normal life, I thought I’d share this video I made almost 16 years ago for my sisters and nieces.

My 19 year old niece Sophia, and my 20 year old Kodak EasyShare camera

I made this in November 2008, as a wistful look back at the nice summer we had, and time spent together.  These are my sisters Shawn & Donda-Lin, and nieces Sophia & Drew. 

Shawn’s daughter Sophia was close to 4 here, now she’s 19 and completing her first year at college.  Donda’s daughter Drew was 15, now she’s almost 31.  Where does the time go??

Anyway—I made this at the time using my trusty Kodak Digital camera (seen here) to share on my blog in the fall of ‘08, but changed my mind at the last minute.  I think I worried it might look a little too corny or something.  

I guess that’s one nice thing about growing older… you don’t worry about those types of things so much.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

From Blog-O-Vision City in the Teepee… it’s the Waiting Game!

Before I say another word… feel free to roll your eyes and close my blog.  I wouldn’t blame you.  I promised myself I wouldn’t keep writing about this godawful long-covid thing, but I can’t help it.  April 16 will mark the start of my fourth month dealing with this, but for some reason it feels longer.

I got covid the first week of December, it lasted one week, and precisely one month later on January 16 I began getting an intense pressure in my skull and sparkles of pain in my face and lips, and worried something bad was developing.  One month later on February 21 I told my friends at the senior center I’d be taking a leave of absence until this was over.

If you look back thru my posts, I thought it was my TMJ returning from a few years back; a month later, my PCP misdiagnosed it as chronic sinusitis.  I pretty much determined it was long covid, thanks to a couple of excellent PBS documentaries on Youtube and people with eerily similar symptoms on Reddit. 

In fact, these other people’s stories have been downright uncanny.  Ignoring the symptoms for a month, seeing their PCPs, getting misdiagnosed with sinus infections, eventually going to the ER and getting MRIs or CT-scans, being put on nerve drugs like amtriptyline or gabapentin.  (I’m on the latter.)  And then waiting.  That’s all you can do.

Friday morning I got my ER bill for March 22 and the two CT scans. $494.21.  It could’ve been a lot worse. 

I think that luck is on my side, though.  The pain and pressure in my head is 70% gone.  The facial pain is still here, from a dull burn to a heavier one as the day progresses, but Ben-Gay on my neck & face helps a lot come bedtime.

I’m dealing with pretty severe fatigue too, can’t explain it.  I feel okay unless I do something like walk to the store.  When I get home, I feel like I’ve been working in heavy construction all day.  I lay across my bed and pass out for 1-2 hours.

Also when I get up during the night to use the bathroom or get a drink of water, big dizzy spells.  And in the mornings… how do I say this.  Something that most men always wake up with.  I don’t anymore.  Not since February, anyway.

(And all of that is long before I started taking gabapentin.)

But I know I’m getting better, I can feel it in my bones.  Half of the people I’ve read about took anywhere from 4-6 months to recover enough to resume normal living; the other half took 1-3 years.  I will be in the first group, if you please.  Thanks God.

Here’s one good thing from all of this; for as long as I can remember, I’ve kept 2 tubs of ice cream in my freezer.  I’d have a bowl on Friday night, a BIG bowl of ice cream on Saturday night and a smaller bowl on Sundays.  Probably for the last 30 years.

I was all set to get a couple tubs of ice cream the Saturday I woke up with covid in early December.  I didn’t go out that day to buy any, but lost the taste for it after recovering a week later and haven’t touched it since. 

I haven’t been downstairs to my building’s exercise room in 3 months, but still managed to lose 12-13 pounds and keep it off.  So… thanks covid?

And thank YOU for reading.  My next post is going to be a funny (and true) story, about my neighbor I think.  Stay tuned!

Monday, April 1, 2024

What a 62 year old bachelor makes for Sunday Easter dinner, and a big setback

This is what I had for dinner Easter Sunday:  2 deviled eggs with smoked paprika, some “Tavern Ham” from my local deli (it’s fatty, in a good way), cheesy scalloped potatoes and oven roasted broccoli.

By the way, I used a box mix to make those potatoes; but if you want to make them taste homemade, add 1 whole cup of milk (the directions say to use 2/3) and toss in half a chopped onion.  If you cook them a little extra slow, the chopped onion will ‘meld’ and thicken the sauce in a really delicious way. 

My sister Shawn said I was welcome to tag along with her & Jim to his son Michael and daughter-in-law Jessica’s for Easter dinner, and I love Jessica.  But the facial pain makes things too uncomfortable to do much smiling, let alone socializing. 

But believe me, I would’ve loved to go—since February 21, I’ve only been out of my apartment 5-6 times to go to the grocery store.  And that trip on March 22 to Mercy Hospital.

Like I wrote in my previous post (with that big smiling photo of myself which was a little premature) much of the weird “long covid cranial pressure” has been reduced in my head, which initially gave me some real hope.  But it seems to have traveled down into my face and neck, they’re in bad shape.  I’m trying to reduce the pain and inflammation with hot and cold compresses, and avoiding more pills unless it’s absolutely necessary. 

But it’s becoming too much for me.  I think as soon as I hit publish on this thing, I’m going to get some aspirin or something.

I’m sorry for continuing to share all this, I’m just in disbelief I’ve been dealing with this for the last 3 months.  It’s creepy how much it reminds me of TMJ, maybe it’s becoming that.   

I only ate a portion of the meal I made above, then gave up and wrapped some ice in a towel to put on my face and laid back down the rest of the day.

Again, I’m sorry for sharing all of this and I hope everyone reading this had a nice Easter.  I’m just angry, depressed, worried how long this is going to continue.

A few days ago my sister Shawn wrote and said she’s hoping by May, things will be better on both our ends and I can come down and just hang out.  It was such a nice letter on her part, I miss seeing her and her husband Jim.  I sure hope things are better by May and I can visit with them and be my old self again.

And get back to the senior center and back to blogging about happier things. 

Thanks for reading, you guys have been great.