Book and music purchases arrive

In today’s mail: Paperback editions of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s “Neogenesis” and Eric Flint and Charles Gannon’s “The Vatican Sanction.” Also: the 2016 Celebration of Joan Baez’s 75th birthday, complete with a whole bunch of guest artists singing with her.

Here’s one of the songs: Baez and Mary Chapin Carpenter singing Donovan’s “Catch the Wind.”

Here’s another: “Deportee,” an old Woodie Guthrie song sung by Baez, Jackson Browne and Emmylou Harris.

Did you know that Jackson gave the induction speech for Joan at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017?

Still here

Several things have happened since I last wrote here. First, the physical therapist has given me several more exercises, and when I remember to do them they seem to work pretty well. I’m walking with little (but not no) pain, and I’m capable of running my own errands.

Meanwhile, the refrigerator had a drip problem which I lived with for about three weeks while waiting for a part that the refrigerator tech needed to install to put a stop to a frosting-up problem. The part came, the tech arrived, and he found a hole in one of the water lines which was causing the drip pan under the fridge to fill up and overflow. He fixed that, installed the other part, and Hey Presto! no more towels on the floor to soak up the drip!

But wait! On Friday we ran the washer and dryer with no trouble. Saturday morning I washed a week’s worth of towels only to find that the dryer drum didn’t turn. Fortunately I hadn’t put a second load in the washer, so I just had one load of stuff to hang on our outdoor clothesline. Even better, though, I called Sears and got an appointment for a washer/dryer tech to come look at it today, Monday. How’s that for a speedy turnaround?

‘Course, it’s now 3:00 PM, halfway through the window Sears gave me, and he hasn’t arrived yet.

Nonetheless, this kind of stuff makes me feel better about spending several hundred bucks a year on maintenance contracts for these appliances. The newest among them is eleven years old; the oldest is fifteen.

Walking almost normally

I made my first visit to the physical therapy guy today, and he pushed and prodded and pulled and said that what’s really causing the pain is tight quadriceps muscles. Almost the first thing he said was to stop crossing my legs. I’ve done it both ways for years: ankle on knee or knee over knee, and with both legs. He said this puts tremendous torque on the knee and pulls the quad, which was fine at age 25 but not so good at age 68.

He gave me a couple of exercises to do and made another appointment for March 7. One of the exercises is repetitions of wall squats, which don’t hurt too much. The other one, though, is a killer: hamstring curls. Rather than use a resistance band attached to a wall or fixed piece of equipment, he suggested lying on my stomach, looping a towel around my ankle, and pulling my foot as close to my backside as I can. Do that a dozen times, two or three times a day. He demonstrated. It doesn’t feel good.

Fun. Oh well, it’s feeling much better than it was a month ago when this all started, so if this will keep the pain from recurring I’m in favor. Trouble is, I have no set routine for exercising, so I’m gonna have to start one.

Leg update

I saw the doctor on Thursday afternoon, February 7. He watched me bend my knee (very good range of motion when seated) and said “it looks like arthritis. Let’s x-ray it. I’ll also prescribe some ointment and a painkiller.” So we did.

I picked up the prescriptions (a very fragrant mentholated cream and some 15mg Meloxicam) and went home. An hour or so later the doc called me to say the x-rays were pretty clear that it was an arthritic knee with a little bursitis in the hip. He said he’d refer me to the physical therapists at the VA. We’re now into the fifth day since he referred me and I’ve heard nothing. I don’t think there’s more than one of those people up there, so it may take a while. Meanwhile the internet tells me these pills may take up to two weeks to have their full effect, and my knee shows no signs of improvement. I’m getting groceries thanks to my sister, but there are other errands that are not getting done.

I am not a happy guy right now. If I had gotten a treatment or a series of exercises I could do at home I’d feel like progress was in view. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened yet.


Hobble, hobble

Long about Tuesday or Wednesday of last week (so, January 29 or 30), I started feeling pain in my right thigh from knee to hip. I didn’t get hit by a car, I didn’t walk into a table, I didn’t “sleep funny.” It has gotten progressively worse, so on Monday I called my VA doctor’s office to see if I could be squeezed in somewhere. The earliest appointment I could get was tomorrow, February 7. I surely wish it would arrive soon, as this pain is really difficult to deal with when you have an elderly mother to care for along with yourself. I limp down the hall, limp out to the driveway for the newspaper, limp out to the mailbox, and enlist my sister to go to the grocery to get TV dinners since there’s no way I can stand at a stove and cook.

It seems to be centralizing in my knee, the same one I ripped up twenty years ago. I know the original wire used to reattach my patellar tendon to my kneecap has broken into four pieces (I’ve seen X-rays), but I don’t know if that is the cause or if it’s arthritis, bone-on-bone rubbing, or what. Hopefully I’ll get the start of an answer tomorrow.

Now those are lead paragraphs!

President Trump famously declared that in his administration the nation would become tired of all the winning. So on Friday he tried a little losing.

After the longest government shutdown in history, Mr. Trump surrendered with nothing concrete (or steel) to show for the battle, taking essentially the same deal that was on the table in December that he originally rejected, touching off a 35-day impasse.

So begins Peter Baker’s NY Times story of Trump’s cave-in, climb-down, abysmal failure, or pick your phrase today as he announced he’d allow the government to re-open.

I don’t know whether he thought he could bully Speaker Pelosi or whether he just didn’t believe he could be thwarted, since in his first two years in office Congressional Republicans hadn’t objected to much of anything he wanted to do. Either way, he knows differently now.

I don’t expect him to change, though. He’s a stupid and stubborn man whose sole interest is himself. He cares little about the country, its success, or its people. The sooner we’re rid of him the better.

One last thought from Baker:

Whether this episode prompts Mr. Trump to change his approach to governing, it has altered the politics of shutdowns leaving federal workers caught in the middle.

One hopes that’s true. 800 thousand employees and who knows how many contract workers were screwed here for one reason only: the stubbornness of one man and his fixation on a project no one else in government believed in.

Not a good look, McConnell

For the third time in two weeks, today Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) blocked legislation to open part of the Federal government.

The Senate GOP leader didn’t explain his objection from the Senate floor but he has warned for weeks that he will not bring up a government funding bill unless it’s the product of an agreement between congressional Democratic leadership and President Trump.

I keep thinking at some point there are going to be 10-15 Republican Senators who go to McConnell and say “we have to vote to open the government. My constituents are broke through no fault of their own, and sucking up to that idiot in the White House is killing us.”

McConnell has done more damage to American democracy than any other politician I can think of, and that includes Richard Nixon. McConnell has had no compunction about destroying norms for the advancement of his party and its goals, and history will not (I hope) remember him kindly.

Batteries not required

Just for fun, here are Peter Paul and Mary singing the most playful of songs, one about a toy. But not just any toy! Nope, this one is a Marvelous toy!

Tom Paxton composed the song in the 1950s. When legendary producer Milt Okun heard him play it Okun made Paxton the first writer signed to Okun’s Cherry Lane Music Publishing Company, which went on to publish and copyright approximately 150,000 separate works of music.

Bonnie Raitt in her youth

I remember buying every one of Bonnie Raitt’s albums in the 1970s and wondering when the rest of the music-listening world would catch on to her brilliance. It took until 1989 when she put out “Nick of Time” for that to happen. I’ve kept buying her records, too. My iTunes Library says I have 21 albums on which she appears, and I think 17 of them are ones she released under her own name.

This is from 1976.