Summers End

The rhymes and reasons of my sleep patterns are a mystery. I can go several weeks sleeping fairly normally. Then days, or again weeks, with only a few hours a night. No pattern. No apparent or easily discernible trigger for suddenly waking in the middle of the night. But it’s one of the distinctions of my particular form of uniqueness I suppose and I accept it.

Apologies for the quality of this post. It feels flat and forced, but I am committed to being more consistent.

I am at my parents new house. The one we got for them near my sister and that they still do not really like. I don’t like it either, but for different reasons. It is a typical old frame home in a small town in the midwest, but these places always feel oppressive to me. Small windows and not enough light; low ceilings and narrow staircases. Mom and dad just miss the home they lived in for 55 years and raised all their kids in.

Anyway, I am up at 5:00 on Sunday morning after having gone to bed at 12:30, and after sleeping only 3.5 hours the night before. But the house is quiet and peaceful. Mom’s plug-in window candles provide a faint glow and there is a light hum from the refrigerator. It’s a farm town so the windows are open and the door is unlocked.

I got a couple of good hikes in last weekend. Metroparks. I try to keep my pace up, but it’s hard when I have to stop and pet every single dog. No dog must be left unpetted.

Friday afternoon in Cleveland. Near downtown–Parnell’s Pub. Sometimes you just gotta have a Guinness. I like this place because it is never crowded. So I can read the paper or write a bit and not have too many drunks chatting me up. So I had a second Guiness and a Jameson neat.

My neighbor is 82. Very cool old dude. But his health is failing. He is too prideful to ask for help. He has to use a walker and is always short of breath. But he’s had a full life. He’s sailed significant parts of the oceans of the world including down the western coast of Africa and rounded Cape of Good Hope and into Cape Town harbor. Not something a lot of people have on their resume.

He likes to tell stories; many of them are about his many girlfriends over the years.

Since he won’t ask for help, I have to watch for signs. Mostly listening and watching for his garage door to be open. He is aware his time is short and so he is slowly divesting himself of stuff. I feign interest in some things when he offers, and later drop them into a dumpster somewhere. I take his trash cans out when I can get there before he hooks up his elaborate system to attach the big bins to the back of his car and drag them to the curb. On the last Friday of the month, when you can put anything out and it doesn’t have to be in the can, I carry out the larger pieces of junk. An old tv, a small little hutch, an old walker, a dog crate.

His daughter comes around once in a while, but mostly he is home alone. He has lunch every day with a group of friends. But otherwise he is just there in his little condo next to mine. I text him once in a while to ask if he is all right and he nearly always replies ‘I’m fine. Are you alright?’ A tough old bastard.

We played cards last night. Mom, Dad, Larry, Shannon, Terri, Ryan and Yvonne. It is harder and harder to be around Ed. He is cognitively and physically deteriorating more rapidly than ever. As is common in people with dementia, he is combative and every conversation is a chore. He is mean-spirited and harsh. He remembers small bits of information about something he read or saw on TV and tries to articulate a coherent position around it—but he hasn’t the words or the knowledge. These are traits that he has always displayed and are deeply engrained in his personality; but he was more subtle and nuanced for most of his life. Now they are exaggerated and we must constantly remind ourselves that it is mostly the disease. But only mostly. We all strive for tolerance and remind ourselves to forgive.

25 years at best; that’s what I have. It’s enough. I’ve had a fortunate life and will continue to enjoy every day. But I think I’ll be ready when it’s no longer fun.

I’ve been sending a little extra to Namibia each month. Sue finds the neediest families and buys gift basket of food, school supplies, diapers, personal hygiene items. The family provides a list of those items they need the most and Sue goes to various stores to get the best possible deal. She sends me a hand-written, itemized list of everything she gets for every family, even though I tell her it is not necessary. Yesterday, she sent me a picture of a beautifully crafted hand-made thank-you letter from one of the families. They took a lot of time on this card which of course was also not necessary, but reflects the deep need and the gratitude of these people living so far out there on the margins.

I got a reply from my Senator about the letter I wrote regarding the Supreme Court nomination. In my letter, I asked Senator Rob Portman to please refuse to consider acting on a Supreme Court nomination until after the election. He predictably replied with a form letter explaining to me why he would not comply. It’s one of the futile gestures we take on in the delusion that we have a voice in our democracy.

The police officers who broke down Breonna Taylor’s door and shot and killed her have been acquitted. Also predictable. There is the normal protests and skirmishes and outrage from the left, and rationalization and posturing from the right. ‘We must do better’ is the common refrain for a day or two until people go about their business without even making a token gesture for change. They will vote once again for their Republican politicians who will continue to populate the police force and judicial system with racist thugs.

Dentists have us by the balls. In the old days, before fluoride was put in water and before it was so clearly understood how devastating sugar is to teeth, dentists all made a tidy living filling cavities and then putting in false teeth when people hit 60. But in the modern era, almost nobody gets cavities anymore. So, the dentists now have to make up all kinds of ways to dig into our wallets so they can keep their income up. Make no mistake, I know the value dentists bring to society. I once broke a tooth in Nairobi and under the excellent remote and then actual care of my dentist came away with a saved tooth.

I made an appointment at a new dentist here in Cleveland. It has been 18 months or so since my last cleaning because of COVID and I had never bothered to find a dentist when I moved. So I call up and request a cleaning appointment.

I am told my only option is to first schedule a general exam. And the hygienist will then schedule my cleaning after. It must be two separate appointments. So now they get to charge the insurance company more money and burden me by making me come for two appointments.

While I am there, they will apply gestapo like pressure to x-ray my teeth, even though I have forwarded my x-rays which are only 2 years old.

These are the terms they have negotiated with the insurance company. The care is driven more by what they are allowed to bill insurance rather than what is medically necessary. Cleaning once a year. X-Rays every two years. And they must not let a single billing opportunity pass.

I called another dentist and they have the same system, but the first appointment I could get was 5 months out.

What am I going to do, not take care of my teeth? Like I said, they have us by the balls.

Last Friday I stopped at Johnny’s downtown for a martini and dinner. Two of the wi-fi choices were ‘divorce‘ and ‘divorce-guest‘. Apparently there was a law firm next door. It was only my second time at Johnny’s. First time was with a date so we sat in the dining room, but I was at the bar this time. Johnny’s is the very typical inner-city overpriced steak house. Dark paneling and carpeting and ornate fixtures. Some big guy named Tony leaning on the bar, watching everyone and occasionally attempting a smile but is at best a grimace. Every city has their Johnny’s steakhouse.

A retired Navy pilot who now flies for FedEx felt like he had to tell me his life story. When I got there, he was the only one at the bar. The bartender gave me a look like ‘your turn’. He made me earn my dinner.

Trump supporters continue to amaze. There was a very obvious anti-Trump post on Facebook that was underscoring the continued increase in wealth gap between top 1% and everyone else. Some Trump supporters jumped on and commented what a great job Trump is doing to reverse this trend. They were not being ironic or satirical. They were serious. They just were not smart enough to understand the post.

I made some so-so chicken satay last week. Not too sure what happened, but I think I strayed too far from the recipe. Both the marinade for the chicken and the peanut sauce was not as good as usual. Next time I will ping Onah for her recipe.

The Republican shame meter goes lower apparently than anyone would have thought. McConnell is committed to confirming a new supreme court justice with only 45 days to go before the election; reversing his position from 4 years ago when he refused to allow a vote on Merrick Garland 8 months before the election.

Now that I’ve said it out loud, I suppose I am not surprised at all. I lay in bed this morning wondering what breakfast at the McConnell house is like. Trying to imagine that goofy, turtle-looking mother fucker sipping coffee while Elaine makes toast. Do they talk about how good it makes them feel being evil and reigning down trauma and heartbreak on so many?

Funny that McConnell and Trump both have so much power. But honestly, if any of us were running a fast food restaurant and needed a manager, I seriously doubt anyone would hire them. They are so obviously deeply flawed human beings, that we would not entrust our hamburger stand to them. Yet there they are, propped up in the power chambers of our government, wreaking havoc like a couple of sinister twits.

The Republicans voted in George Bush twice. Once with a split electoral college victory stolen by a partial Supreme Court after he lost the popular vote. Not the brightest of presidents and he of course left an economic and foreign policy mess for Obama to clean up. His string of failures goes deep, including allowing 9/11 on his watch. He managed to spin his way free of much of the bad PR, but history will not shine kindly on him nor should it.

Next, the Republicans voted in Trump. A serious serious decline in every measurable metric. Trump lost the popular vote by 3M votes. In between Bush and Trump, moderate Republicans McCain and Romney lost twice to Obama.

Here’s the point. Who do the Republicans nominate next? How do you follow Trump? They know a moderate Republican probably can’t get elected because the crazies won’t come out in support. So they almost have to nominate someone as demented as Trump to entice their lunatic base to show up in numbers.

Thursday I slipped off to The Standard for a cigar and a nice rosé on the patio. Lynette is my favorite bartender but I have not seen her for a long time because just at the beginning of COVID she broke her ankle. This was the week before her wedding. She was working this day though and turns out the marriage never happened and she has moved on. I used to always joke with her like ‘if only you weren’t engaged‘.

Guess I’ll have to find a new line.

Earth Explore is a little stalled, as we wait for the supply chain to catch up. We are now looking at a mid to late October completion of our next prototype. And that is a dependency for so many other activities. We just can’t do much without good pictures of a completed unit.

It’s starting to get light out now. And the birds are awake. We will have coffee and chat on the front porch a bit this morning. Then mom and dad will go to church and we will all meet at Epicerie for lunch and then I will head north for the 3-hour drive to Cleveland.

No other news of note.

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