Here's an amazing fact. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, written in the mid 1800's has never been out of print. My favorite version is the one with Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge. The story is an attitude arranger.
Three years ago on December 22nd Dawn and I drive to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. It's her birthday. Mis-communication, over zealous ass-covering on the part of my, then, primary care physician and just plain errors of fact create the unfortunate timing. We drive through a blizzard to La Crescent, MN and the rest of the way is a "white knuckler". I'm scheduled for MOHS surgery, for a benign version of skin cancer. One of two surgeons identifies six areas of sun damaged skin. "You want to do this all today or schedule several visits?" he asks. Considering the cost in time and money, I opt for "all". In the background is a local radio station reporting a weather alert. Ice storm due this evening. The duty nurse deflates our already slack sails when she says, "I can't believe people drive through this kinda weather for a non-life threatening operation."
Yesterday, Dawn and I repeat a similar adventure without some of the foibles. This time the drive is to Mayo in La Crosse. It wasn't in La Crosse in 2008. The procedure is a 15 minute insertion of a camera and scope down my esophagus to determine what the heck is causing a blockage. Total time is 3 hours. The doctor is competent, the nurses the same. A nervous RN who checks me in looks panicked when I answer questions like, "Do you have any problems with intravenous injections?" with "No, only when the nurse is incompetent." It turns out that I have an inflammation in the area of the schatzki ring instead of a stricture. Oh, wow. More tests. On the bright side, we'll do some Christmas shopping after Mondays Cat Scan. Pooch the Cat isn't gonna take the scanning lightly. It'll be punishment for knocking an egg off the island this morning. I purposely laid the whole, uncooked egg on a dish towel to keep it from rolling off the counter. The little turd.
If I slept with the digital camera, I'd post a shot of the two animals sitting at the doorway of the breezeway looking out at a two inch blanket of snow with a "What the hay?" expression. The cat blazes a trail around the house, keeping a sharp nose out for tunneling mice. Mandy the dog follows with her nose in each of the cat's tracks. "Yup, that's a cat track. Yup another cat. Yes, that is a cat track. And on and on."
I've been wrestling with the conclusion of The Albatross Man. I've made some changes since the original version in 1996. Tom Marks, a former neighbor in a closely knit block of us young marrieds back in the 70's remembers Christmas as the time when his Dad dragged him from tavern to tavern. Milwaukee had 5000 taverns back then. One on each corner wasn't unusual. As the kids grew up and moved away, we started doing what a number of folks did. The decorations became simpler, the get-to-gethers more difficult. Pagan tendencies( from paganus:rustic or peasant) sometimes took comfort in the return of the sun after December 21st. Close encounters with my own Catholic and Hispanic Catholic traditions taught me St.Nicholas saved children from death by tossing three bags of gold through the window of a place where children were known to be harmed in exchange for the children. The symbolism still exits in the form of a sign with three balls outside an old fashioned pawn broker. OK, Jim run with that one!
There was no moral of the Albatross Man story in 1996. In the final installment, I''l consider one.
What's the most prescient book you'e ever read?
9 hours ago