Monday, August 15 2011
location: Creekside doublewide, Stingy Hollow Road, five miles south of Staunton, rural Augusta County, Virginia
This morning when Gretchen and I went walking with the dogs, I thought it might be fun to somehow make it down into the marshy lowlands. Gretchen and I tried taking one of the narrow horse trails down from the logging road, but Sally didn't see us make the turn, and kept going on her trajectory, which (these days, since becoming deaf) meant that she would eventually realize we'd disappeared and go back to the gate and wait for us. So we had to go after her. Ultimately this mean that Sally saw us and turned around, but she ran past us and continued back towards the gate without looking at us to see where we wanted to go. This basically pulled the plug on the walk, because now we were worried about her getting into trouble with the horses, whose dog-hating ways my mother (Hoagie) had warned us about. So we ran after her and I came upon her doing some sort of Mexican standoff with the horses. When they flinched and began to trot away, she chased after them, and it was all I could do to run after her and catch her (which would have been impossible as recently as a year ago). Sally was now facing away from the gate again, so I turned her back towards the gate, and she headed off in that direction like an obedient Roomba. The horses, feeling that the tables had turned, tried to pursue her, but I waved them off with a stick.
Back in April, I'd had some success with using WiFi beamed from the Shaque to connect to the internet via dial-up. The speed was paint-dryingly slow, but at least I could get to my email and download large web pages to read at my leisure. Today, though, I found that this system was unusable, probably due to vegetation blocking the signal. If I had a long ethernet cable, I could probably position the WiFi router in a better place, but I'm limited to the crappy 1980s technologies I'd managed to hoard back in the early 1990s. Similarly, Gretchen found that a 5.8 GHz cordless phone whose base station was also in the Shaque had become useless as well.
For internet connectivity, Gretchen and I tried out a new coffee shop called MugShots on the corner of New and Johnson Streets. That name is actually a bit of a pun, as it is less than a block away from the Staunton jail. Given the context, it's a nice coffee shop, a bit more spacious than Coffee on the Corner and with a somewhat older, less collegiate (but seemingly no less hip) clientele.
Later afternoon, Gretchen and I visited my father again at the hospital in Fishersville. We were so impressed with the old man's alertness, mental acuity, diminished Parkinson's symptoms, and good humor that Gretchen had hospital staff print out a list of his complete medicinal cocktail. In there were two different Parkinson's medications (one of which is also an antidepressant) as well as a 10mg daily dose of Celexa. There were also a number of powerful antibiotics intended to fight CDF.
Gretchen made a kind of Southern comfort food dinner tonight comprised of macaroni and "cheese," collard greens, and beans. My brother Don, who had spent his day in town blowing his weekly Supplemental Seccurity Income allowance, nevertheless had quite an appetite. In the bad old days, if left to select his own diet, he would reliably eat nothing but cheeseburgers, candy, whole milk, and Coca Cola. Recently, though, he's been grudgingly trying to improve his diet. Instead of cheeseburgers, he eats sandwiches from a local Subway franchise. And instead of Coke, he's been drinking V8 juice and bottled water (yeah, really). Today, though, we watched him scarf down two turdlike chocolate candy bars, followed by a large quantity of whole milk. "You really ought to get your blood sugar and cholesterol looked at," I advised.
Don is a sucker for any faddish medial news he hears on the television (which is on constantly in the house, even when nobody is there). He tends to latch onto little bits and pieces that support his worldview while failing to absorb any useful advice about the perils of animal fats and enormous amounts of refined sugars. Still, he's become a little more concerned about the horrors of factory farms and the sugar in his diet. He dispatches the former concern with some propaganda he heard about Walmart starting to buy some eggs laid by cage-free hens (though the eggs he eats don't actually come from Walmart). For the latter, well, there's the sudden interest in bottled water (a different, newer American scourge of the Earth). And then there's something he head on the teevee about the health benefits of wine. It made such an impact on him that tonight he actually asked to drink some during dinner. And last night he'd enjoyed a weak mimosa, though he'd found the champagne had somewhat ruined the taste of the orange juice. Tonight, though, the wine was white and quite sweet, and he actually almost seemed to enjoy it. Mind you, he's 46 years old and it was only the third alcoholic drink of his entire adulthood. (He only drinks when I'm around, which leads me to believe I might be something of a bad role model for my big brother.)
At some point the Hoagie's dog Maple had a bit of a tussle with Sally over some food on the floor. It was no worse than the usual food-related aggression I've seen dozens of times, but it kind of freaked Hoagie out and entered (as such breaking news does) the CNN-like news loop that supplies content of her constant monologues, the stuff she says when talking "with" someone else.
My mother (Hoagie) at dinner tonight in the doublewide at Creekside.
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