Thursday, October 30, 2014

The perfect haunted house

Isn't it simply divine?   The perfect place to pass out candy on Halloween!  It just screams Bach Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.

This dear reader is not a parody, or a piece of photoshop art, but was the Taylor Residence, built in Washington, DC., at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue NE, and 3rd Street NE. (We are looking north northwest in this picture.)

I first learned about the house some 30+ years ago when I lived in DC and it graced the cover of the first paperback edition of Capital Losses by James Goode.  Capital Losses was a book that really made a huge impact on me.  A social history of the destroyed architecture of Washington, DC, the book tells you something about the structure, and then tells you about the people who built it, or are most closely associated with it.

Goode called the Taylor House, built in the 1870s, an exuberant cottage.  Evidently it was well known that stereoviews of the house were sold in gift shops.  The Taylors also owned the lot next door on the Massachusetts Avenue side, leading me to believe that this fanciful mish-mosh of everything American Victorian was the start of something a bit larger, but it never made it beyond this stage.

Alas, what made it charming in 1876 didn't age so well - much like our opinion today of 1960s "Brutalist" architecture - and the Taylor House was razed for the Congressional House Apartment building in the early 1920s.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Well, Christ on a Cracker: Cousin Genie with the light brown hair, and cousin to "THAT Woman!"

Folks, I am here to tell you that in 35 years of genealogy I have never encountered a truly infamous and famous person, in one.  Cookie is so over the moon at the moment.  I have had a true "well shut the front door" moment. 

As I have said before, Cookie knows where all the bodies are buried, and which closets contain which skeletons. But today I made two rather astounding discoveries and I am here to share them. 

First off, all, save one or two, of my dearly departed Mother's genealogy lines pretty much are concentrated in Pennsylvania or Maryland prior to 1800.  This is a documented fact.   

So two weeks ago, BS (before surgery) I sat down with the next door neighbor for a glass of wine and a get to know you chat.  Both of them are very long in Maryland's better known names, so when I said I was a descendent of the Dorsey family, she said that there was a very good reason to assume that we're distant cousins.  And in fact we are! Ninth cousins once removed to be exact.

Now think about it.  We know no one in Baltimore, we move here from Ohio, buy a house in hurry and end up living next do to someone that I share, not a shirttail relationship (like a second consin to the man that her great great aunt married once because a shotgun was pointed at both of them by her pa) a blood relation with.  Next door!

But wait, there is more.

Cousin Bessie, on the right. 

As I discovered for myself, both she and I are also distant cousins of one of the most notorious women of the 20th Century - A woman so notorious that that she was better know as THAT Woman, for years: Balmore's own Bessie Warfield!

Seriously, Genie, Wallis and I, we all go back to the same couple.

I would ask how did this happen, and the answer is easy. Get seven generations of people descended from the same man and woman to start having coitus with reckless abandon, add in some third cousins getting married, a few wars,  sooner or later you are bound to be a cousin of someone who did something so socially scandalous that are buried at Frogmore.

If my mother were still alive (it will be four years this November) she would have an absolute kniption fit.  "Did you simply ask an Eight Ball and go with that answer?  It's real?  You can't tell anyone - we'll be outcasts at WalMart.  Now if you'll excuse me, I am going to end it all and jump out of the basement window in shame..."

Cousin Bessie, excuse me, I mean Wallis,  married this guy named
David, who had just gone on unemployment the day before.  Figures. 
Now, I have to say that I am related to Bessie Wallis a bit closer than the next door neighbor, as I am related to both of her father's mother and father.  Well HELLO cousin Bessie and Howdy Cousin David!

So if you need me, I will be right here, bursting with all sorts of wonder, and gas, because after that surgery, I am very gassy.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Yes, the pieces parts are all falling into place.

As I said yesterday in my brief filing, I am home and I am healing.  Moreover, I am looking forward to being able to sleep on my side tonight.

Surgery was on Monday at half past crack, and before hand my doctor asked "What is your greatest fear?"

The temporary colostomy, my reply.

"But that is not in my plan," says he.  With my feelings of fear assuaged, they wheeled me into the room, which was a lot nicer than the surgical suite in Columbus, and I saw the stirrups, and a man said, you may feel sleepy and *POOF* the next thing I know a nurse is telling me to wake up.

The scariest thing that I saw was a Foley catheter.  And the mother fucker hurt.   But other than that, no colostomy.

So essentially, I had the catheter because they illuminate your ureters so they don't injure them during the process of rerouting the body's poop pipe by snipping them.  Mine hurt plenty because the stents used got to delicate tissues. In any event, they pulled the catheter on Tuesday and pee fest began - 24 hours of almost constant peeing.

But that was not the worst.  Nor was my first shit with the new poop pipe.

The worst was bland diet dinner Tuesday - manicotti alfredo.  I won't go into the details, but it was beyond vile.  It was almost on par with Cream of Dyke soup.  So bad that I asked for an injection of dilaudid to forget.

And oh my God did I love the dilaudid.  Now I understand how easily it could be to get addicted to something like this.  Eugene O'Neil made immediate sense to me.  Within seconds of it coursing through my body I felt like a cross between a slut and a boll weevil. I nestled into my bed and slept for hours.  Delicious.

Anyhow, Wednesday morning, my Doctor's practice partner made rounds and I was told I could go home.  And here I am.  I do not like the Ultraset.  So I am managing with Aleve.  Feels good to be off that junk.

So over the next month, I'll learn to monitor my body's new rhythms.  Bland diet until then.  Lots of soup.  Next Tuesday, Doctor will pull out my staples and then the next phase of recovery starts anew!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The quickest of updates.

Surgery went well, everything fell into place.

Now I am home.

More to come as my strength returns.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Name of The Game is Operation.

Good morning blog-o-sphere!

It is now 8:00AM and as you read this, I am on an operating table in a good hospital, and have been under anesthesia for approximately an hour if we are running as scheduled.  My surgeon, however is Italian, and will be the first to admit that he runs "15 minutes to a half hour late - "Continental style" - in his words.

So an hour into this, the bottom two feet of my colon has been removed, and hopefully, they are beginning to reattach it to the end of the poop pipe.

You are asking, no, really saying, how vile! (if you are easily offended) and other wise, if you are MJ, you are saying "Cookie is having his Hershey Highway widened.  Well, not quite.

Let's just say that in a grammatical fashion, my colon is being turned into a semi-colon. ~rimshot~

Tough crowd.

As you all know, I have been living with, and managing diverticulitis for a very long time.  And over the years the attacks have become more frequent, and over the past two years my ability to bounce back from them has become much harder.

So what is diverticulitis you are wondering.  It is God's punishment for not eating the vegetables that my mother insisted that I needed to eat.  Essentially, the sigmoid colon weakens, and the walls are prone to small bulging sacks, called (diverticula) .  As foods that humans can't digest easily (sesame seeds are enemy number one) make their way through the colon, they can drop into these sacks (diverticula) with crap, fester, cause an infection, and amazing pain.  The more frequently this happens, the sacks weaken and microscopic bits on the infect matter can get out through teeny tiny holes, and they make you really sick.

After talking to my doctor, and the Italian GI doctor, we have all come to the conclusion that now is the time to fix this before it potentially kills me.

The doctor explained it thus, in his heavily accented English:

He: Through laparoscopic incisions, I will remove the bottom two feet of colon...


He: Not to worry, the colon is over six feet long.  So you will retain and use the four feet that remains.  So it is like a dryer vent, and can be extended easily.  In essence, the colon is what you would call the clown car of the human body.

Me: Clown car?  Wouldn't that be magician handkerchief? You keep pulling it and it keeps coming out...

He: Oh, no.  The small intestine is over 18 feet long.  So it is more like a magician's handkerchief - unending, but without the bouquet of flowers.

Me: Yeah, right...

He: Just a little gastroenterologist humor.

So, if everything goes according to plan, then the plumbing will start right up and I should be eating solid food by tonight, and home by Wednesday or Thursday.

HOWEVER, if things do not go well, then he'll go with plan "B", which is a temporary colostomy, and surgery in April or March to reconnect everything then.

And plan "C"?  Not even thinking about that.  But we will get through it because I am too young and beautiful to do otherwise.

By 10 or 11 or I should be awake, scratchy throat and ready for an afternoon nap because of the pain meds.

So say a little prayer and if all goes well, you should hear from me in about a week or so.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The detritus of life

Why? To accumulate stuff

This has been a heavy week for Cookie.  My mother and father's birthdays were this week, a day apart.  Mom would have been 90 and my father would have been 92.  The old man has been gone for 18 years, while mom has been gone four years this coming November.

This week also marked a month since  "Dad" the husband's father has been gone.  Friday we flew to Boston and today, Sunday, we are home. 

Mom has been moved to assisted living and, given her ills, is doing fine.  She is much more perkier than she has been in that big old house. 

We spent most of time at the house, cleaning it out so it can be sold. 

Brother in law got a dumpster delivered and they were able to clean out most of the garage before the dumpster was full.  We were able to get their closets cleaned out and the clothing went to Goodwill.  This included the boxes of "Haband" brand clothing for old people. No buttons - instead velcro for that easy to fasten and unfasten convenience.  They once sent us Haband clothing for Christmas.  We put it on, took a picture and stripped it off.  Its the sentiment that counts. 

All the real antiques are out dispersed to the four winds of familydom.  And this weekend, all of the personal "stuff" - the photographs, the good cookware, the silver, the jewelry, computers and real art left amongst the four children. 

What is left is the detritus of life.  

This includes "little things" that were cute, dust catchers, furniture that was good in the seventies but is unremarkable. Dead plants, fake Royal Doulton and of course those blasted Hummel figurines that no one wants.  Notes - piles and piles of notes, the meaning of which are now unknown to the ages. Odd pens, dry with age, boxes and boxes of staples, paper clips and rubber bands so old that they crumbled.  And greeting cards bought in advance of some birthday, anniversary, death and new baby, all unused and brown with age.

And we found every bill that Dad ever received.  All marked paid.  But he kept them neatly filed in drawers of filing cabinets.  For a man who lost hearing aids without any problem, this was a shocker. 

In the kitchen, we found food twenty years out of date food stuffs, still sealed in its original boxes. When was the last time you saw a bar of Sweetheart Soap?  For me its been 25 years, and in that time this stuff turned to powder in its paper wrapper.  In the basement fridge that has been turned off for the last ten years and kept closed.  The smell was horrid. 

I worked on Dad's household desk - almost five hours of going through every page he filed away, just to see if he socked away any dividend checks - he did - about fifty, totalling about $20 in dividends in long merged or defunct companies.  

I did score the most fabulous Corning double boiler.  But at the same time, who is going to want the rest of all this stuff?

And their house wasn't cluttered, and it wasn't as if they had lived there the whole 67 years they were married, either.  This was just the stuff that accumulated as they grew older and older.

What is sad about this is you are not only disposing of the "stuff" of someone's life, but you are reminded of the quickly passing minutes of your own life.

And you have to keep reminding yourself that these things left behind are not your loved ones.  They are in your heart.  So it is OK to throw out that Building 19 5/8th's picture on the wall, because it was just there to take up the space.  Still, its not OK to throw out that tiny loving cup because its sterling.

And now that we are back home, I am looking around, making a list and checking it twice of all the things we need to get rid of ourselves. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Quickie Quiz....

Where could this be leading:

a) A father and son bonding moment, not unlike Andy Hardy and his wise father Judge Hardy.

b) To a spirited discussion on the merits of Munsingwear undergarments, and the choosing the correct fit for your age and life style.

c) Something that makes me tingle the longer I wonder about it, but I don't know why.

d) A deep, dark place that I have locked away deep, deep down and have suppressed by focusing on defense of marriage work and only having sex with my wife for the purpose of procreation.

e) That's not the type of pipe smoking in a locker room that I am familiar with.

f) I would rather talk about the "granny panties" that Arianna Grande wears during performances and why they look silly.

Extra credit, compare and contrast the underwear ads of today with this ad from the 1930s.