Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I have been working the Social Security (SSA) issues, and have just about wrapped it up regarding documentation, compiling the data in appropriate Excel spreadsheets, my blistering letter to accompany the data, etc. I will have my complete writeup ETA at the local SSA office by Friday morning. Yay! However, while I was looking through my records for more zingers to apply against SSA, I found this gem. It is the score card for our family foray to miniature golf on the Cape one summer. I love this place because it old and in great shape, and I am able to get on the 'greens' and am able to play a round while in the wheelchair. In order on the card is Kid1, Kid2, myself and Patti. Did you notice my hole-in-one on the scorecard? Of course, Kid1 had two of these, but hey, who's paying attention to her game???

Patti looks like she lining up for her putt. I think that you are supposed to line up your toes in line with the hole? I shouldn't be giving golf tips because my toes and wheels aren't lined up with the hole either. I don't know what constitutes the ultimate miniature golf game...Does the one in the foursome with the biggest score win the match?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Birthday Boy

Today is the seventeenth birthday of our Kid2. He is our resident computer geek (he built his own last year), loves playing in the HS band (seen here in his uniform for playing at the home football games), and is along with Kid1, the expert about Monty Python's Flying Circus including The Bishop, Spanish Inquisition and Confuse a Cat. He is a large guy at 6'2", 210 lbs, but not a jock. He is a thinking man, docile, loyal and great kid. I remember when he was born, and of course I was more a bystander and coach than a participant. It was the day after Thanksgiving in 1990, and we are as thankful today as we were then. Today we are mailing documents three colleges he is applying to, and will miss him when he (along with his sister) is at college for half the year. So, happy birthday Kid2, you are one of the few remaining good guys!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanks be given

To all, it is a great to give thanks for all the blessings we have received this year. I offer a past and beautiful turkey here. It happened to be on Kid2's birthday last year, so what is so odd about a Happy Birthday turkey?

As everyone knows, there is much to give thanks for this year. Patti's mom is being released from the New Haven hospital today (the catheterization showed no blockage) , and will be here later. So far so good. The stuffing and potatoes were made yesterday, the turkey is in the oven now, so we'll have our dinner about 3:00-3:30. And it will be time to raise our glasses and toast to all the good things we have.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanks are in order

These are yesterday's pictures of the aftermath of the fire at Patti's mom Marion's house. As you can imagine, the smoke inhalation can be far more damaging than we can imagine, which makes her rescue all the more wonderful. As we have found out, the town of Orange volunteer firefighter, the first one who arrived on the scene, happens to live on the same road as Marion, and was instrumental in her escape. We are very thankful for these circumstances. We believe here that there are no coincidences in life, things happen in a certain way for a reason, in this case for the best of reasons.

Marion is staying in the hospital for another night. Patti was with her for the afternoon. We are happy that she is there, as the specialists can better monitor her vitals. Other medical personnel will take a look at things tomorrow, and we hope that she will be released soon. We all will be together for our traditional Thanksgiving feast, including Kid1 home from college on Tuesday. Kid2 and myself did the shopping earlier today, including a twelve lb. turkey, ten pounds of potatoes, cranberries, bread stuffing, apple cider and so on. We have plenty of thanks to give...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Arising from the ashes

As you have may have read in Patti's earlier post, her mom had to be rescued from a fire at her home this morning. Marion is at the hospital, and she will be admitted there for at least a night for observation. She's okay, but as Patti noted, the thing that matters is that she did get out.

We are thankful to her next door neighbor was pulling into his driveway and was able to call for assistance. You appreciate it that people pay attention to their neighborhood. For that, we are grateful.

Patti took 51 pictures inside the house. The overall structure is sound, but uninhabitable, for sure. There is substantial fire and smoke damage. No one will be living there for many months. Because of all the steps, I and the wheelchair haven't been in the house since 1995. In the picture, you are looking at the remnants of the sleeper sofa in the living room. Not good.

We are figuring that she will stay here for awhile as the wonderful insurance company and adjusters sort this all out. Patti called and said that the house has been secured, the broken windows have plywood over them. In this Thanksgiving week, we are very thankful that the events did not lead to a final calamity, and we will all be together to give thanks...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Not a creature was stirring, not even a Ralph...

I took this from Patti. It is The Book Cover Meme and it is a fun one. These are the simple rules:
  • Go to the Advanced book search on Amazon
  • Type your first name into the Title field
  • Post the most interesting/amusing cover that shows up

I had not anticipated my namesake to be in any book’s title, but was surprised. Here is a choice that has my name in its title, but does not necessarily describe me accurately, or at least not perfectly. Here it goes:

Rotten Ralph

In this 1980 tale, Ralph is described as "a very bad kitty, as is generally what cats thrive on being. He is often rude, knocks things over, disrupts social occasions, makes sport of preying on pet birds, fish or rodents, and purposely exacerbates the one annoying, albeit universally inherent, trait in dogs: obnoxiousness...Ralph's consequential homeless journey thus necessitates him a good look inwardly, seeking the key to whatever could possibly save him from being lost forever to his comfortable home and family..."

What can I say? I am obviously not a cat, and I am not rotten nor rude (right Miss Patti?). I do not disrupt social occasions, and I never prey on unsuspecting rodents. and I love cats. 'Rotten' can be an apt description for many a cat, but when they provide extra warmth in the winter and purr contentedly when you provide a quality belly skritch, well...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Brought to you in Living Color...

I have been away for a few days, but I miss posting a blog. I like the colors of fall, and color in general.

To go along with Patti's lovely foliage photos in her post on Monday, I am happy to repost a favorite photo, which is timely to the season we are in. I like our profile and the lovely Patti looks great. I really like how the red highlights in her hair really come alive in the natural light. Autumn in southern New England is a favorite season of mine.

Under the heading 'Boys will be boys' I offer this. I can't speak for all guys, but there are those who will make or take any excuse to party with the guys. I guess that dogs do not need an excuse to leave their 'business' calling card whenever and/or wherever they want. I suppose the husband here is the coolest when with his buddies, but at home I am sure that it's "Yes Ma'am, no Ma'am", the way it should be!

Friday, November 9, 2007

The end of the innocence...

Despite using the title of the Eagles song here, there are not many innocents around these days. It was inevitable that this substitute thing at the middle school had to end sometime. Let’s just say that I lost my cool with the most disruptive seventh grade class this Wednesday to the point that I was asked to not come back as a sub.

I offer no alibi, no excuses, and no details. In fact, after six classes to try to manage an unmanageable bunch, I was going to end it at the end of this school day, anyway. Naturally it would have been more satisfying to say ‘no mas’ and leave in a huff, never to return. Hey, I tried against all odds and I am satisfied with the outcome. Strange, but these situations sometimes have to end in the worst possible way to be certain that it has ended for sure, slay the dragon for real. No alibis, no kidding!

The only reason for my being there that day was that the Principal, heretofore known as L, had asked me if I’d be on the committee that was interviewing for this teaching position (the job was posted at the end of last week), so I took the music room sub assignment yet again. I spoke with L for about ten minutes before I left this brick playpen for good. She is a genuinely nice person, and I like her. I didn’t stick around for the interview.

No grown-ups have said, but I think that the reason for the music position is available is that the school is taking great pains to oust the teacher, to avoid discrimination and/or a union grievance. Yet while these things go on, there is no music being taught nor band practice at the end of the day, which was a continuing disappointment to the band students.

I had no desire to be a teacher; it was never a career choice. After college, I wanted to be involved with manufacturing, where something finite is built. Therefore, it seems odd that I would ever attempt to sub at a middle school. As a wheelchair user in a society that tends to devalue your abilities. I want to disprove this by trying even harder to prove them wrong.

Except this guy in the wheelchair at the most is still no taller than 5 feet, with nary the physical presence required to deal with a generally disruptive bunch of students. ‘Disruptive’ is the kindest adjective to use here. I will quibble with anyone who wants to blame today’s disruptive students as just mirroring today’s social ills. This of course is total BS. Parents don't do their job anyway, but our kids were well behaved, and many are.Perhaps the authorities should enforce a serious code of discipline in the schools with no exceptions. You hope the authorities will agree, and forget about the lawyers. Do what you have to do. Or choose another line of work!

As much as I hold myself at fault for losing my cool the other day (remember the ‘No alibis’ line earlier), I find that some of the moves by the administration in obtaining my services in that awful music classroom (see here) were a bit surreptitious and somewhat suspicious. On Oct. 23, the call came in for seventh grade math, Oct. 24 for seventh grade social studies and this past Monday, for sixth grade math. On each of these three occasions, I was directed to be the sub in the music classes. I had come to loathe this room, yet I complied. Other subs would deal with this once, and never accept this assignment again. But not me!

I generally had more respect for the Asst. Principal J before now, and for the reason that being in the wheelchair I never should have been placed in that room, certainly not alone, I needed to have backup. Not trying to deflect any blame here, but I was never the right person for this, only the most compliant. Silly me. Being a good guy meant that I was to hold down the fort until the school had hired a new music teacher. Although the assignment was necessary, why did I not just call the agency and say I never wanted to go to this school again. Perfect 20-20 hindsight, as they say.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Dona Nabis Pacem

Who doesn't want this? Thanks to the tireless and magnificent efforts of Mimi, we can continue the dream of peace. Can it happen? You can never give up a dream, never..ever!

What is more helpless and peaceful than these waterfowl babes? The world is a tough place, but if all can hope, pray and believe, any and all things are possible.

Many thanks to the Pencil Skirt and the wonder and hopeful things that we can affect.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Well, life is good, despite all oddities. I have found a few things worth noting as a beef rump roast (no snickering!) is beginning its journey to our tasty dinner in a couple of hours.

What can you say about that formerly star-crossed American League baseball team? I love 'em, and winning the Series twice in four years is enough to forget about 1975 and 1986. It is being said that the Red Sox may become the New Yankees, constant winners that may become a most polarizing team, engendering either love or hate from everyone. I hope that they continue to win but still be lovable and not become some sort of evil empire. My two points: Don't sign A-Rod and offer enough to Mike Lowell to keep him around. Although I don't know if it's in the water in eastern MA, but I never blamed Bill Buckner for that infamous 1986 game six loss. It wasn't his fault, the relief pitching was always suspect. Once the Mets tied that game, all bets were off. It's just a shame that he was forced out of the Hub because of that (believe he lives in Idaho now). Buckner is a good man. Still, let's hope that the modern version of the Sawx avoid those ignominious losses, and quit being down 3-1 in playoffs having to win three in a row to keep on playing in October. Still, 4-0 sweeps in the World Series can be very satisfying!

This was the Far Side on today's desk calendar. My interest is that when we were little in East Hartford, we actually had a tetherball in our back yard. The ball was the size of a volleyball and it was a riot at age 10. Now we never did what is illustrated here. It takes a warped mind to even think up stuff like this, perhaps an equally warped blogger to post such...

Finally, I think that there is light at the end of the tunnel of the Social Security fight I've had with them since the year 2000. I don't want to jinx anything, so I can't be more specific. However, I have this sense that things are turning more in my favor than has been the case in over a year. I shall keep you apprised as things develop, but if I could walk, there would be a pronounced bounce in my step...

Time to peel potatoes as I continue the quest to make a smooth gravy. Nothing like the perfect blend of fat and flour, I say...

Friday, November 2, 2007

La petite ├ęcole rouge

French is a lovely language, as Patti can attest, and what is more quaint than the little red school house? I have been this week in a couple of big (grande) red brick penitentiaries playpens schools. Of course I have been introduced to the charms of middle school, and have had three days of educational bliss there. Yesterdays class was 8th grade math, one good advanced Algebra class interspersed with four Pre-Algebra classes. You can guess which one had the far better behaved students. Today it was 7th grade math, with the same breakdown of one more serious group and four more.

I am starting to recognize students from previous assignments. Of course I remember them by their captivating personalities charisma issues. Yep, it’s issues. Class one today is a small one (19), but had no scarcity of passive aggressive can’t sit still students, loosely speaking. Happily there, I had an assistant. In class two I was assisted by a 7th grade special ed teacher, as there were several special ed students. It had its charms, as you have probably guessed by now.

And so it went. I’ll probably never really be an official teacher in a school system. Yet I expect to take more assignments there, because I have met many fine teachers, paraprofessionals and assistants who are dedicated and nice as well. I wouldn’t pick middle school per se, but the grown-ups are okay there, and I like them. I wonder what went through the school officials minds when the sub in a wheelchair arrived…

I tried a new approach this morning at classes, bellowing this as my greeting: “I am representing the middle school, and as such I AM THE LAW!”. I was probably greeted with more than a few “Yeah, right” comments. I deputized myself. But what kind of a lawman was I? Wyatt Earp or Quick Draw McGraw, minus his lovable sidekick Baba Looey. (Have you ever noticed that the sidekick is usually the smarter of the two)?

I was one day at a local urban High School. This is in a nice town, but the town has a massive change from the urban area next to the core city to a semi-rural area on the other side. Urban is the predominant word for this huge school of 2,400. The security was very evident as all three floors have security personnel with walkie-talkies. All students in the hall must wear their picture IDs. In the hall without signed ‘passports’ can get you kicked out of school that day. Yet, there are students there to learn as well as those who don’t. The Civics students didn’t bother with the sub assignments, but the AP History students did. More of the same, but success can be had by any student willing to work a little bit…

The teachers and security personnel at this HS were very nice, but I wonder what they thought when the sub in a wheelchair arrived…