first shower in over a year
Thursday, January 7 2021
room 231, Hotel 24 South, Staunton, Virginia
Our room in Hotel 24 South was a fairly typical hotel room, with a white walls, a flatscreen teevee, and equipment to make coffee. When I opened the blinds, I had a good view of the old Fannie Bayley King Library building, which has, in more recent years, become a Christian private school.
In the late morning, Gretchen and I walked down to Cranberry's, Staunton's downtown health food store, and ordered a meal that was more like a lunch than breakfast. There was only one other person in the dining area, so we felt safe eating about 20 feet away on a table set high on a landing in a stairway. Surprisingly, Cranberry's had Dave's Insanity sauce as a hot sauce option, though additional handwritten warnings had been placed on the bottle. I used that to make an otherwise-bland bean & rice burrito pretty good. As for the Thai curried whatever Gretchen had ordered, well, it was, unsurprisingly, too sweet. We both also had vegan cappuccinos.
The plan for today was to take my brother Don to a social services intake at the Valley Community Services Board at the east end of Staunton. First, though, we wanted to get Don some replacement underwear as well as clean socks. We would've preferred to buy those things at a Target, which I thought Staunton had. But I couldn't find it, so we ended up at the huge Walmart whose parking lot is one of several terraces gouged into the side of Betsy Bell, Staunton's tallest landform. Above Walmart, there is a higher man-made terrace where a bunch of ugly apartment buildings have been erected. While Gretchen was getting Don clothes in the Walmart, I was trying to find some rechargeable AAA batteries for a Panasonic phone I had plans of installing at my childhood home so that there would be a functioning landline there. But Walmart was sold out of those.
Out at the Creekside double-wide, we found Don, and together the three of us went across the road to see my mother Hoagie. The house was cold, but she had an electric space heater running, which was making the living room somewhat inhabitable. I tinkered with the phone and realized the entire problem with it might've just been that its wall wart had been unplugged, perhaps to make an outlet available for the space heater. It turned out there were lots of phones, particularly in the Shaque, so I plugged them all in so the batteries in their cordless handsets could charge.
Next I turned my attention to plumbing. Someone had flipped off the circuit breaker for the stream-water pump (which makes the toilet in my childhood home flushable), so I flipped it back on. Down in the basement, the pump was running, but it was not pressurizing water in the pipes. Hoagie found me some of my father's old rubber boots and I waded into the stream to check the intake pipe, and it didn't seem to be doing any sucking. As for the cistern pump, it was unplugged, and when I plugged it in, it didn't sound good. Then I noticed a hole in the line connecting it to the cistern. It looked like someone had shot it with a .45.
Hoagie was being fairly cooperative while I was doing these things, but she kept referring to her son Gus as someone else, using third-person adjectives. When I would correct her and say that I was Gus, she would act like I was joking. At some point I showed her my driver's license, which (given her vision problems) she could barely see. What seemed to convince her of my identity was the large scar on my belly, the legacy of intestinal surgery back in 1983. But even after all that proof, she didn't seem fully convinced. Her ability to identify me and understand who I was was yet another thing being taken away by her dementia.
Gretchen and I drove back to our hotel room in Staunton and had a little downtime before driving back out to Muellers' Mountain to pick up Don to do the intake at Valley Community Services Board. We kept this a secret from Hoagie, since she would certainly view this as a betrayal. When taking Don into town with us, all we told Hoagie was that we were allowing him to take a shower in our hotel room.
At the Valley Community Services Board, they're super concerned about the ongoing pandemic, so when we arrived, they put us through a series of coronavirus gauntlets. We stood in a place where an infrared thermometer could determine our forehead temperature. Once we had passed that test, we were ushered to a room with a laptop. Most people doing an intake do it remotely, but in this case Don would be doing it via a laptop in a special room provided for such things.
Not everything Don said was grounded in a recognizable reality. When asked about perhaps having a job, Don volunteered that he is good at basic mathematics and could perhaps tutor young people on the subject. This sounded absurd to us; he's not very good at mathematics and he's terrible with people. The kind of jobs Don would likely be good at would probably involve heavy objects and almost no human interaction. Then there was the issue of Don's love life, or lack thereof. Don claimed that on multiple occasions when attempting to romance a woman, some opportunistic man would intercede and try to get Don to do work for him, thereby interrupting the courtship. The work being requested included tasks such as fixing vehicles. I couldn't imagine anyone asking Don to take a wrench to a vehicle not owned by an enemy, and likewise I have trouble imagining any woman cute enough to interest Don doing anything to encourage Don's romantic advances. There must've been more to these stories than what Don was saying, though he's not given to complete fabrications.
After the intake, I drove us back into Staunton, going out of the way to buy rechargeable AAA batteries at the Staples on Statler Blvd. We took Don back to our hotel room and had him take what might've been his first shower in a year or two.
Gretchen stayed back in the room when I drove Don out to Stingy Hollow. While there, I snuck into the attic of the Honey House in hopes of retrieving old Commodore equipment. I found an old VIC-20 motherboard, but things I'd really hoped to find (such as any Commodore keyboard) eluded me. I was, however, happy to find an old CGA ISA video card. I love how brutally simple those are.
I also managed to fix the telephone in my childhood home. It turned out that the wall wart had been disconnected and the phone cord had come out of a jack. That was all that had been wrong with it.
Back at Hotel 24 South, Gretchen ordered an enormous amount of Chinese food to be delivered, and we ate it while surfing between CNN and MSNBC on the room's teevee, getting the latest news on the aftermath of the MAGA putsch. With all the video recorded of the perpetrators, they're gradually being identified and rounded up. It makes you wonder what they were thinking being so brazen, and doing it all maskless when masks would've provided some anonymity. But masks are for pussified Democrats falling for the China-flu hoax, and besides, the revolution would vindicate their efforts. The lesson to be learned here is that if you're carrying out a revolution, you really need to make sure you win.
Hoagie's grey horse. Click to enlarge.
my brother Don today at the Valley Community Services Board
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