Friday Frivolity: Headache & Halloween

I have a headache.  Yes, I’ll admit that Sue frequently says I AM a headache.  Pain in the neck is also near the top of her jocular euphemisms referencing my actions.  Ironically, pain in the neck is, in fact, relevant on both sides of the metaphor.

Some time ago, I did begin experiencing some headaches which seemed to be linked to neck discomfort.  Considering my birth on Halloween, I suspected a gremlin was practicing basketball dribbling in my cranial arena.  At times, this gremlin invites some hobgoblins in with him to shoot some hoops.  Imagine a microphone on the backboard at a basketball pre-game shoot-around.

When the crowd showed up for the game between the gremlins and poltergeists, I probably should have gone to an exorcist.  But, my insurance wouldn’t cover it and my out-of-pocket money was actually out.  So, I went to my personal physician.  Neck pain…headache…I was referred to a physical therapist.

I intend no defamation of character for my favored therapist, yet she does always seem to jump for joy with a strange gleam in her eye when I walk in with an Rx.  I fully expected she would utter the familiar pre-manipulation caveat; “This is probably gonna make you a bit sore, but it will improve eventually.”

As I sat on the edge of the rack (no stirrups or hand-cuffs, but…) , I wondered about the logic of massaging my neck muscles.  I surmised it could drive even more gremlins up into my domed stadium — which at that moment the raucous crowd was silent.  Though she was rubbing her palms together in anticipation of once again getting her hands on me, she began with questions to detail my symptoms.

Next to occur was exactly why I go to this particular therapist.  She declined to attempt to relieve my headaches via manipulation of my neck muscles.  Well. At least she recommended postponement.   She recommended I consulted with a Neurologist.

Therapist, Doctor, Neurogist, Sue, and maybe even Ghost Busters, …but especially Sue, made recommendations    Bottom line — I was quickly scheduled for a Carotid MRA with contrast (oh, yeah, I like the contrast rush), MRI, brain MRA, and a MRS (That was Sue peering in my ear for brain matter oozing out).

MRanything  is unbelievably noisy.  It’s hard to believe that we can launch a rocket to the moon with less blast-of noise than a Magnet Resonating in a tunnel.  I’m practically deaf without my hearing aids.  They plug my ears with expanding foam, wedge my head with sandbags over my ears and stuff the whole package into a football helmet with facemask and I still hear enough decibels to silence a jack hammer…hitting a manhole cover…in Times Square…on New Year’s Eve.

An hour and a half in that tunnel and still no one seems to be very clear on the cause of my symptoms, but an angiogram is next on the docket.

For those unfamiliar with an angiogram procedure — the Neurosurgeon rams a wire into my thigh, then snakes it through the arteries in my leg, circumventing the heart,  and into my skull.  This wire has Rod Serling’s ghost and Twilight Zone cameras and on the end.  Belief it or not, there seems to be fingers in some portions of my brain’s vascular system.  No pudgy bodies…just fingers.

From what the Neurologist said, if the MRI & MRA had only captured “pudgy bodies” — as in round balloon-like outcroppings of my arteries, he would continue to just monitor their growth.  However, the aneurysms, which were first detected 4 years ago, have grown lengthwise (finger-like) rather than bulging uniformly.  Ballooning aneurysms as small as mine are not of much concern.  Fingers are.

Hopefully Rod Serling swimming through my blood stream pulling a camera wired to the surgeon’s TV will find the Gremlin’s fingers.  I’ll gladly relinquish the Television-rights to a great Twilight Zone Halloween Story.

Enjoy Halloween…

Friday Frivolity: Rummagin’

I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a gene for rummagin’   If there is, I’m sure it is dominant on the Kaiser male chromosome.  Well, at least for my brother Rick and I.  Bob’s in Alabama.  ‘Bama Bob says folks thereabouts don’t have rummage and they ain’t about to sell the yard or garage.

But some weekends, the northern Kaiser boys…and their wives…begin their tour of yard sales on Thursday and could encompass a few stops every day.   It’s often a team effort.  We don’t plan to cross paths.  That way we can hit a lot more great deals than if we rode together.  Not only do we go to rummage sales, we host one almost every year.

Rick’s got a real knack for rummage sellin’.  Every year we challenge him with a new item to try to sell.  Once I recall a block of wood.  I didn’t recognize it as something Sue or I had utilized, yet it was in one of our boxes of cast-offs.  The speculation was that I bought it in a “lot” of other stuff I wanted.  Actually, that is not a rare occurrence.

Often, the best dickering and greatest values is in buying a box, tub, or coffee can of mixed items.  You see, if I can get a can of nuts & bolts that also has some screws in it, and I don’t really want the screws, I can get a better deal than if I sort them out.  At home, I could separate out the screws and offer them at our next annual sale.

Okay…so maybe that’s a bad example.  I never sell off any screws or nails.   Fact is, I keep any and all fasteners.  Sue cleaned out a drawer the other day and claimed we had enough Swingline™  staples to survive two successive generations of inheritance from our estate.

Anyway, back to the piece of wood which no one could recognize a specific use for.  It wasn’t just an ordinary piece of scrap.  It was a very nice block of wood, with a fine, polished, finish …and smooth grooves.  Rick thought he should market it as a trivet.

It probably should have been called a hot pad, but trivet sounded more expensive and in line with the 50 cent price tag.  Besides it only had 3 feet, thus trivet was more precise.  Well, I guess I should admit, …the feet were more like pads…very small, clear plastic.

Clear was a good thing.  You could hardly notice the missing one.  Also hardly noticeable was the faint impression of hinges that had been removed.   Why a trivet would have hinges was a mystery.  Ah, but the pre-drilled holes might give Rick another selling point.  Anyway, he took the challenge.

I’ll be darned if he didn’t sell it in the first hour.  I didn’t hear his entire pitch, yet I did manage to catch bits and pieces.  He’s very adept as marketing seemingly worthless stuff.  Without a doubt he called the buyers attention to the beautiful grain of the wood…oak for sure…very expensive wood…and the lustrous, un-scorch, obviously heat resistant finish.  I did hear his plausible explanation the scientifically engineered grooves precisely placed for efficient dissipation of heat.  Truly a bargain at 50¢.

My sales strategy employs little different tactic.  I’m more incline to make package deals.  We don’t put price tags on everything so people often have to ask.  I’ve been known to inflate a price when asked just so I can later discount it to give a person a deal.

A lady and her husband had selected a few items and came to me for some prices they were not sure of.  “How much for these two tapes”, the guy asked.  “Audio tapes – a dime apiece”

Then she asked me about a piece of cloth.

“Oooo, that’s a fine piece of linen, …bright, …colorful pattern too.  Two fifty a yard.”

She frowned.

I quickly countered; “Ah but this is a YARD sale, after all.  Since you probably don’t have a yard there, I’ll discount it down to fifty cents.”

She smiled approval and handed it to her husband.  “And this pillow?”

“Gee, that’s certainly lovely pillow.  Almost new looking…very fluffy.   Should easily be worth a couple bucks.  Velvet, don’t you think?  .”

“I think it’s velour.”

“Oh, …well, then, velour’s on sale today for half price.”  I picked out a second, almost matching, pillow from the pile.  “At that price you can have both of them for two bucks?”.

“I only want just one.  It’s a dollar then, right?”

Oooh-my, I could tell she was going to be tough to deal with.  She handed the pillow to her husband, and showed me two porcelain pieces marked 50¢ as she put them on the pillow.  “Fifty cents a piece, right?”

“Yup, that’s right.”

She reached into her purse; “How ’bout three bucks for the all of it?”

I was certainly surprised.  I’d calculated two-seventy.  I think her rummagin’ gene had mutated.

To be honest, I think lots of rummage sale customers have mutated genes.  One lady came up to me asking where the rest of the sales were.  I commented that ours was the only one I was aware of in the neighborhood.

Emphatically she intoned; “But your sign said ‘Block Sale’ ”

Actually the sign at the corner announced:  SALE  ⇒1 Block⇒

Yup, I’m sure there’s a gene for rummagin’ .  It’s gotta be somewhere in my DNA.  I suspect it’s on the chromosome right next to my goofy gene.


Friday Frivolity: I remember when…

Mark Twain once uttered; When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon it shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened”. 

I believe he’s not alone.  And always has been.  Every generation seems susceptible to very distorted views of “I remember when”.  I’m beginning to think that Glaucoma is prevalent in most everyone’s mind’s eye. .

For my generation, it seems that e-mail exacerbates the malady of cloudy mental images.  I often receive forwarded missives from my peers to the effect that they wish to return to the glory of yesteryear.  Such as;  “I remember when we played hide and seek by street light, without fear of an evil minded passersby.”  Except that grandpa didn’t have streetlights as a child, he surely told my dad similar recollections of favorable times.

Another recent FORWARD suggested the present day pervasiveness of thieves keeps people from leaving home with their doors unlocked.  Some even lock their doors when they are home.  As I recall, my parents only locked the house as they went to bed.  They also were liable to leave home for several hours without bothering to secure all the doors and windows.

Today, I suspect insurance companies would hold you liable if your claim of home invasion and theft does not include broken windows or door jambs.  Mentioning this recollection from my childhood causes me to think of the many times we have locked our front door, yet come home to find the patio door not only unlocked but open.  However, that’s due to different mental malady I am plagued with and not my distorted visions of the past.  Indeed, I may fall prey to forgetfulness and oversight, but I’m not particularly susceptible to the myths of nostalgia.

I don’t think I have glaucoma in my mind’s eye.  I see kids today removing their shoes to put on boots and remember the goulashes I wore.  My vision of wearing those clod-hoppers is clear and I wouldn’t wish it on any of my grandkids.

I mean, who cold run in those oversized rubber monstrosities.  I think mine were hand me downs from Goliath.  Sure my shoes easily fit inside.  They also had enough room to easily slip back out in the middle of a snow pile.  What do you mean …why was I walking in the snow pile rather than on the shoveled walk?

Isn’t that why they shovel walks?  Little boys need man made Everests to climb.

Of course, my boots would not likely have come off if I had buckled them.  Hmmm, I suspect, if I had buckled them, I would not have tripped quite so often, either.  Those buckles exceeded the laws of probability in frequency of self latching to the opposite boot.  At the moment, I can almost hear the flaps colliding as I trudged off to school.  Chink, thump, chink, thump, chink-link kerpluck…down in a heap.

So there you have it.  Two hazards recalled from my past that no child should have to face today.  First, incurring a father’s ire while searching long stretches of curbside mountain ranges for a lost boot that I was rarely sure of exactly which pile had contemptuously claimed it.

Second, and quite possibly worse, the embarrassment of unceremonious tumbles.  Where were the consumer warnings?  Not that TRIP HAZZARD warnings on boot soles would have precluded disconcerting dives from abrupt latching of boot clasps.  Haste most always had precedence over mom’s admonitions to BE CAREFUL.

My childhood experiences with galoshes are but one example of the Myth of Nostalgia.  We often think we had it better back then.  In many ways, we did.  But, you know what?  I’m glad this generation doesn’t fear small pox or polio …or black, rubber, way-too-big, buckle up, overshoes.