Life in Kickapoo Center at the Turn of the Century
( OK, so I can't even get my own writings straight-
see yesterday's post)
I’d vowed that I was giving up writing about twaddle and pap. I’m sorry, the correct expression is, “ pap and twaddle”. If you remember, Bert Bubnick wrote a tome about that. On the cover, he copies the picture of a Tarahumara Indian man wearing a dress. A friend uses the expression frequently at the store. I must find a decent set of characters and make up a wildly outlandish plot. I bore myself lately. The standard question is whispered. "Who cares?" Excusez-moi. En Francais, le mot c‘est-merde. Yes, I have been watching French movies, again. I strain to hear the French words for English slang expressions. The English equivalent translates into several French words and I am lost. Merde. Then, thwok.
Thwok. I stare at the picture window in the living room for telltale feathers. In Dawn's studio, one sunflower seed is still pasted to the window. I poured bacon grease on sunflower seed and dump it on the platform feeder. The platform feeder is attached to the clothesline pole running to the garage. Clothes hung outside may smell fresh, but they scrape the skin off your back when you first try them on. In winter, it takes two days for them to dry. In the meantime, smart Alec sparrows use them for lavatory perches. Thwok. There’s no carcass on the deck.
The death toll is mounting. Yes, I have things in the windows to alert a nearsighted bird that it can’t fly through an apparent shortcut to hell. A cardinal, a junco, downy woodpecker and mourning dove have lain in state on my garage window ledge. Subzero winter temperatures preserve them until I decide against taxidermy. A junco is brought inside and covered with a quilt. It lies quietly in an old Mexican blue wood cage with the Sedona poop paper in the bottom. After 45 minutes, it revives. “What! Where am I? Am I dead? Who are you?” I gently cradle the junco in my hands and release it from the porch. The woodpecker disappeared from my Lakota burial site, high in the Dream Catcher hanging in our silver maple tree. The mourning dove I placed in Clinton Pine ( I name our trees) who died from winter burn. It was a mistaken notion by the nurseryman that a young pine tree can be planted in December. His helpers had to take a pick to the frozen ground. The dove got eaten by crows and Clinton was cremated.
On Monday we receive a letter from Tuck Bartlett- the prankster. This is something. Really something. What it is, I’m not sure. To get a letter from Tuck is monumental. Holding it carefully by the edge in case it is booby trapped, the letter is unsealed to reveal a real estate flyer. “You are kidding me!” It’s a picture of our former residence in Arizona. The San Diego builder who purchased it in the spring of 2004 has it up for sale at $515,000. Linda and I knew that the man who pulled up to the house in a pickup with ladder rails wasn’t buying it for retirement purposes. The money he paid comes from a land trade and tax scheme legal if one studies real estate law in nine states.
The hospital calls.
Actually a hospital can't call because it doesn’t have hands. It has many fingers that pry into people’s wallets. The radiologist wants to retake Dawn’s mammogram. When Dawn appeared at the desk for her x-rays she’s greeted by hospital deadpan. Please reread that part. I did not say bedpan. “May we help you?” Dawn replies, “Mammogram.” She parodies the Saturday Night Live sketch- “Candygram”. An unsuspecting apartment dweller is devoured by a phony shark. She repeats the routine at the second level of the hospital. No reaction. Smart ass and satire have no place in a hospital. That’s what I love about my wife. She’s got a wicked sense of humor.
On Friday we plan a trip to Lacrosse after the X-Rays. Dawn calls me on my cell. I’m reading the Menards’ sale flier with abandon in my pick up, waiting in the parking lot. “The good news is that the spot on the left side disappeared, “she says. “Now they want to do an ultrasound on the right side. There’s a suspicious area.” The nurse in reception wants Dawn to come back in several hours because the doctor was called away.
When Dawn went to the ophthalmologist( stop-take a breath, separate into syllables and swallow saliva first) for glasses a week ago, he was also called away. She learns from the receptionist that the eye doctor went to pick up his kid from school. He forgets to write an eyeglass prescription. Dawn declines to wait two hours for another appointment . Instead, we drive to the city for an afternoon of shopping thrills.
In the evening the phone rings. It’s the doctor on the line. Could Dawn come in on Monday. They need to redo a pap smear. It has something to do with her age, uteruses (uteri?) and female stuff too graphic for this guy. When the doctor says she won’t charge for a second visit, I think, “ Oh, oh! She screwed up.” Linda puts the phone down. It rings immediately. The hospital is calling again. The time is after 5:30 in the evening. “The radiologist reviewed the x-rays and decided the ultrasound was unnecessary.”
The Christian Right and the last bastion
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