Saturday, June 30, 2012

firefly sighting

There are fireflies in our back yard tonight! I'm so excited!

Lightening bugs is what we called them when I was a child. I remember being breathless and sweaty in my Uncle Russell's yard as I caught lightening bug after lightening bug and put them in a Hellman's Mayo jar with insufficient holes poked in the lid by my father's pocket knife. They almost always died and I almost always ended up with one of those dirt necklaces around my neck that kids tend to get.

They are so wondrous, magical and True.

Bugs that light up. Amazing.

I will never catch another one. I am committed to let lighting bugs live and prosper.

Seeing them in my back yard tonight made me feel 7 or 8 again. But I didn't run to catch them, I only enjoyed their light, their flitting, their very Being.

The world is a better place because of fireflies. Really.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Yale New Hell Hospital

If you live in New Haven, as I did for 8 years or so, and aren't affiliated with Yale, the thing that binds you with ties that bind with most other people in New Haven is this: you HATE Yale.

And of all the thing to hate Yale about, one of the top two or three is Yale-New Haven Hospital.

The Hospital has grown like a gigantic amoeba over the years, swallowing up land that could be used for low-income housing or green space in an area of the city that is poverty stricken.

Like Lola, whatever Yale wants (in New Haven) Yale gets. Yale is a rich, privileged, entitled institution with billions in endowment and exempt from property tax while New Haven is a poor, crime-ridden, mostly minority city with few prospects of getting better. It is a rich University with a poor City attached.

But let me deal with Yale New Haven Hospital. I told my wife once that if I collapse in the atrium of YNHH to make sure they take me to St. Raphael's!

My friend, who is in her 80's, fell on Friday and broke her hip in 3 places. She fell at lunch so the EMT's probably got her to YNH by 2 or so (EMT's are great, they aren't covered in my rant about YNH.) 13 hours later, she was finally given a bed though she'd been promised all through the day that the surgery would be soon, well, not that soon. In fact, though she was awakened early on Saturday and denied food and water, the surgery wasn't until 3 p.m.--over 25 hours from the time she arrived in pain and suffering. What they also forgot on Saturday morning waiting for the surgery that would be soon...well, not that soon....was to continue her pain meds every two hours. She went almost 4 hours without meds while she called the nursing station 4 or 5 times and was told, "right away....well, not exactly right away...."

Seems she kept getting bumped from Operating Rooms by 'trauma cases'. YNH is one of the foremost Trauma Hospitals in the Northeast. So they bumped an 80+ woman for over a day to deal with, I don't know what exactly, shrapnel wounds, drone attacks, mob hits?

Besides, I could tell you lots of horror stories about YNHH, but let me just share mine today.

I arrive and park in the air rights garage on the 5th level. I go to the elevator and it says in this big sign "ELEVATED WALKWAY TO HOSPITAL IN BEHIND ELEVATOR ON 2ND LEVEL".
So, I get in the elevator and there are only odd number floors on the buttons. So I get out and get in the other elevator to find the same thing--no way to get to the second level thought both elevators tell me the same thing I wrote above "Elevated walkway....2nd Level". So I go to the third level and walk down one level and it's Level One. I go back up to level three and meet some folks who tell me there's no way to get to Level Two from this part of the Air Rights Garage. I have to go to Level One and walk out on the street to get to the Hospital.

My question is, why tell me about what's on Level Two if I can't possibly get there from where I was? On my way back I went into the part of the Air Rights Garage that ONLY goes to Even Number Floors and had to cross York Street to find Level Five.

I had to wait about 10 minutes in line to get directions to my friend's room because there were dozens of people in line (it was Sunday afternoon after all) and only one person at the desk where they tell you where to go though there were at least five computer stations. But there were two people stopping you as you came in to tell you if you didn't have a pass you had to get in line to get one.

So, the pass has 3 pieces of information 1. FLOOR...which my woman left blank. 2. UNIT...which she filled in with "East Pavilion 7-8. And 3. ROOM...which was 818. There are 11 floors on the East Pavilion and since the room was 818 I figured, it must be on the 8th floor. Not a crazy assumption since most rooms are on the floors that is the first number in the room number.

Not so fast, Kemo Sabi, this is YNHH after all and they make their own rules. There is no 818 on the 8th floor. I wandered around and found out that 818 is on the 7th floor. So, back to the elevator and down one floor. Here's where the challenge is made worse. East Pavilion 7-8 doesn't have a room 818 either. The lady I waited in line for put the wrong unit. 818 was on East Pavilion 7-7. Go figure.

The damn thing is just too big and too impersonal and makes both patients and visitors feel like idiots. I am an idiot a lot and don't mind being one--but I don't need a hospital that seems designed to make me feel that way. So, if I have chest pains while on the Cardiac Floor (West Pavilion 6-9 room 976, which is on the third floor which you'd know if you subtracted the 6 from the 9 in West Pavilion 6-9) please instruct the nurse to call the EMT's to take me three blocks to St. Raphael's....


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Secrets we live with

OK, so I watch a lot of silly, stupid stuff on-line. The other day I had an opportunity to go to a web site and learn the favorite breeds of cats in the US. Why would I want to see that, you may ask? I asked myself but did it anyway.

The most popular breed of cat is the Siamese, for reasons beyond my ken. Siamese cats are weird looking and have a disturbing cry and slink around too much for me. But, who am I to talk and foist my feelings on others.

Anyhow, the third or fourth most popular breed (I forget which) is the Maine Coon Cat. When I saw the Maine Coon Cat picture I almost fell off my chair. It could have been a picture of our cat, Lukie. Looked just like him. And the description of how friendly and outgoing and gentle those cats are was Lukie to a T.

Luke is a great cat. We used to have four cats, but three of them died in the past year or so and Luke is now an only cat. He loves it. He comes when you call him (something our dog won't do). He has learned from the dog to beg at table. I look down and there they are, both sitting and gazing at my food. He lets our granddaughters maul him and never scratches. He cuddles with us and sleeps on his back with his paws akimbo because it's cute.

A Maine Coon Cat to the Nth degree.

I found Bern and announced, "I think Luke is a Maine Coon Cat," thinking she'd be impressed and surprised.

"Yeal," she said, "of course he is."

Well, why did she know that and I didn't? I've known Bern for 48 years and been married to her for 42 years. Why did she know Luke was a Maine Coon Cat and never told me? Isn't marriage about 'having no secrets?

Well, no it isn't. It's like that horrible thing from the book by Eric Seagle, Love Story, which was the rage back in the 60's and 70's: "Love means never having to say you're sorry...."

Mood music and fade to black. What bullshit. Love ISN'T never having to say you're sorry--Love, real love, love that lasts almost five decades is "abject apology".

And Love is realizing there are 'secrets we live with'.

The Maine Coon Cat is just the tip of the iceberg.

In a healthy relationship secrets are the frosting on the cake of day to day life.

Bumping into a secret, no matter how banal, is the stuff of legend in long term relationships.

We know, deep down, that nobody ever, ever, ever really knows another person. Not even after 48 years.

The secrets we live with are the garlic in the sauce, the salt on the cantaloupe (never put salt on cantaloupe? much your loss), the lemon in the tea. The secrets we live with are the mystery and the wonder and the passion and the awe of love.

Oh, the secrets I have that Bern has never tripped over!

It is a joy when she finds one. But she'll never unconceal them all.

And neither will I find all her secrets. Not ever.

It's the currants in the fruit cake. Know what I mean?

You can live with and love someone forever and never unearth all the secrets we live with. And lavish in.

The remarkable thing is this: it is the stuff we 'don't know we don't know" that is the spice of relationship and love and growing old together.

Ponder that.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

identification cards

Identification cards have become a big deal in terms of blocking people who are eligible from voting. I was certainly an urban priest long enough to know lots and lots of people don't have any form of photo ID. Most of the people who have a photo ID--driver's license or passport--also have credit cards in their wallet. So the 'photo ID' requirement to vote is obviously aimed to stop the poor--who would, if they have the sense I think they do, vote for Democrats--from voting.

All this came clear to me when I was looking for something else and found my photo ID from the Anawalt City Schools from 1953-54. There I am, a goofy looking kid to begin with, when I was in first grade. I don't have glasses yet, which made me look even goofier, because it was half-way through first grade when people got the idea that I couldn't see for crap. Because stuff was written on the black board and I couldn't see it, I thought that meant I couldn't learn it. I was in danger of flunking out of first grade when I went up to ask the teacher a question at her desk--Mrs. Bingham was her name (Mrs. Santie was second grade, Mrs. Short third grade and the evil witch Miss Hawkins was fourth grade). Standing by her desk I saw letters and words and numbers on the black board (they really were black back then) and told her I might be able to learn that stuff because I could see it.

She called my parents and they took me to an optometrist who determined I was 20/300 nearsighted and gave me glasses to make me goofier looking.

We knew our kids would be near sighted since both Bern and I were, so Josh got glasses at 4 or 5 and Mimi did too.

Anyway, imagine the world blurred and hazy for 6 years and you, as a kid, don't know that's not what the world really looks like....

There I am, on my first grade photo ID, still blond, my eyes out of focus, my hair in a gelled up crew cut, a blindingly complicated shirt on. I wrote my name in cursive, spelling it as "Jimmy Bradley" which put the 'y' of Bradley on my right ear in the photo. The line below my name said "Issued By" and I wrote in "F.B.I.". Even then I was a big government, yellow dog Democrat, but I had a photo ID. I could have voted in Florida where having a photo ID is more important than being 6 years old.

Monday, June 11, 2012


I saw a remarkable thing today--there are several wild canaries that come though our yard. Dozens and dozens of birds come through our yard. I told Bern today that I should sit on the back deck all day and chart the birds that come through. She gave me one of those looks like she would give me if I suggested I should see how many tablespoons are in a pound of Pete's French Roast Coffee--the only coffee we drink.

So I say, "Well, who, after all, would be interested...besides me...."

She went back to her book.

What happened was this: one of the female canaries was sitting on a little support that holds up one of the flowers that is beside the bird bath, watching a sparrow in the bird bath. Then a male canary dropped out of a hemlock, like I've seen them do, and flew straight at the sparrow and ran it away from the bird bath, chasing it back into a tree.

Then the female canary went into the bird bath for a drink and a flutter.

Birds are so amazing. I try to force myself to be aware of all their calls though that at certain times of the day a dozen might be warbling at any moment--plus our parakeet, Maggie (actually our daughter's bird but she lives with us like a 'foster parakeet'--screams almost non-stop.

Some hummingbirds have been by lately and a family of cardinals comes to walk around the back yard every day.

Who hasn't dreamed of being a bird--of flying and singing for a living.

Not a bad life, I'd say...

I like to ponder birds....

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Truly embarrassing pondering


Honestly, don't read this if you have any shred of respect left for me. This is like toxic to respect.

Back away now, really, I'm begging you.

OK, I warned you.

I go to the bathroom a lot. I mean #2. I'm sure I've mentioned this before. My doctor says 'not to worry' and I don't except I have to plan a lot of things around, well, you know, pooping....

There is a place I often have to go to the bathroom and there are two bathrooms there. One is labeled "Women" and one is labeled "Men/Women". Being socialized to a high degree, I tend almost always to use the latter. However, there is a problem.

The "Men/Women" bathroom had a full length mirror to the left of the sink. I've considered this extensively and I realize that a mirror of the size of that one could not fit on any other wall lest the door open and break it or some other design problem. That is the only place that mirror could go in that room. Really, I've pondered it.

Here's the problem (remember I warned you not to read this blog!): when you're sitting on the toilet, the mirror is to your right and will, if you turn to look, give you a full view of yourself sitting on the toilet.

I've thought about this a lot. I'm not sure that even someone like Angelia Jolie would look good sitting on the toilet. I certainly never fantasize about anyone, anyone living or dead or yet unborn, sitting on a toilet. I invite you to consider (since you avoided my strict and rather severe warnings not to read this) whether or not you want to see yourself in all your glory, sitting on a toilet?

I thought so....

Here's the thing about sitting there with that mirror to my right: the only worse thing than the intense curiosity about turning to look at myself sitting on the toilet is my total disgust when I do so.

Both things happen in rapid succession when I'm sitting on that toilet.

Here's my solution: I'm going to use the "Women" bathroom when I'm there, my socialization be damned....

I've decided. That's my plan and I'm sticking with it....

Monday, June 4, 2012


I asked Bern this morning if we should send the Queen a card (though I don't remember seeing any Diamond Jubilee greeting cards anywhere). Bern answered that she was 'done with the Queen'.

I admitted I rather liked the Queen and most of the royal family--all except that horrible woman who is the two princes step-mother and is always on the tabloid covers at the grocery store for saying awful things about poor Kate.

I'm not sure what Bern meant exactly about saying she was 'done with the Queen' but I think it would probably be against some law in the UK to say such things.

How can you 'be done with the Queen' anyway? The Queen is the Queen. She's always there managing to be frumpy and charming at the same time. I really worry about Bern sometimes, 'being done with the Queen' and all.

Maybe just a handwritten note of congratulations would be enough, though I'm sure she's gotten lots of mail lately.

I'm reading this pretty good book where one of the characters is on an anti-malaria medicine and I'm beginning to have her symptoms. Sometimes being a compassionate reader is not a good idea.

Besides which, my dog ate half my breakfast. I had these two little pocket sandwiches with turkey sausage, fresh arugula, some feta cheese and a table spoon of salsa. I eat my breakfast and my lunch at a table in the dining room. It's not the dining room table but is exactly like it except it's up against a wall. I sit there to eat and read whatever book I'm reading twice a day.

I left my plate on the table and went to get a glass of cranberry juice (which I drink religiously because I had a bladder infection a couple of years ago that was the most unpleasant 10 days of my whole life what with catheters that were put in badly by the butchers in the ER and tw0 days in the hospital having dozens of gallons of water flushed through my bladder and back out. The problem with the bladder is that there is only one way in and one way out and that way is full of discomfort and endless embarrassment. So I drink a 12 oz. glass of cranberry juice every morning with breakfast. Actually it is half cranberry and half apple juice--not the 'cocktail' variety that is mostly sugar and has very little actual cranberry. Sometimes I buy a bottle of cranberry only juice to mix with the all juice cranberry apple concoction. Cranberry juice undiluted is only a little less unpleasant than bladder infections so I mix it.

Anyway, before that long diversion into cranberry juice, when I came back one of my two little pita pockets was gone, most of the arugula was on the floor and my dog had an odd look on his face, probably from the salsa, which he normally doesn't eat....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.