Early one morning. There’s only the morning gloaming, sunrise scheduled for 7:30. It doesn’t matter what time it is, or even what day. I’m retired and one day is just like the other, with no reason to get up much before whatever doctor’s appointment I may have scheduled for the afternoon.
7:30. The dog, Romeo, has been happy to sleep against my thigh as I contemplate why I’ve never had a job that required my wearing a shirt with my name embroidered over the left breast pocket. I wish I had. I think I’ve been missing something in my life.
7:36. I’ve drifted a bit and Romeo turns to face the curtained window. From a guttural deep-throated growl to a shrill bark, he arouses me from my twilight to inform me that at least three children are walking by the house on their way to school. I miss school, though not at this hour.
7:50. I’m up now, wandering about the house in search of I don’t know what. It’s too early to awaken my gut, and so will settle for cranberry juice. I use it to direct the 13 pills I take each morning into said gut.
9:00. I’ve completed the Los Angeles Times crossword in 19:06 minutes and finished Wordle on the third guess. Not bad since my first guess provided no particularly useful clues. I’ve checked my Facebook feed and wished happy birthday to three of my “friends.” An email informs me that my book club selection for October is Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell. It’s a non-fiction novel about the life and times of Shakespeare’s wife. Last month we read “The Grand Inquisitor,” the fifth chapter of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1880 novel The Brothers Karamazov. It was a vigorously cheery discussion with a bunch of men from Nashville whom I don’t know.
10:16. My gut needs food. Refrigerator repair guy has the fridge in pieces. No access to food, cranberry juice or ice. Remember when as kids the water from the bathroom was somehow inferior to water from the kitchen. Found a root beer in the pantry. It was warm.
11:30. Last chance to have anything to eat or drink, except for clear liquids which I assume doesn’t include vodka. (It’s already too cold for gin.)
12:30. Begin the trek over the hill for yet another CT scan, with contrast. New computer program at the hospital and I spend twenty minutes telling the young woman the most revealing of possible entries to the program. How, I wonder, if they have my name and birthday do they not have everything else. My only known allergy is to country music, which the young woman does not find amusing.
1:40. Lying on a hard bench, my britches pulled down to my knees, I slide effortlessly in and out of the donut that contains the X-ray stuff that makes pictures of my kidneys and bladder. Everybody hides behind a formidable wall as I am exposed to a whirligig rotating around my midsection.
2:10. Load up for the trek home. Forgot to use the bathroom and I feel the contrast building up in my bladder. (At least I think that’s what it is.) There is a growing sense of urgency as my driver seems to be driving slower. I’m getting desperate. I try to think about something important. Suddenly, I remember that I was curious about people who refused to evacuate from hurricane Ian.
2:17. I am not a scientist, but I believe in science. I know nothing about hurricanes, though they don’t seem to offer winds much greater than those we get in Montana. If, however, I’m sitting around watching “Jeopardy” and a bulletin comes across the screen telling me to evacuate, I’m gone. I’ll grab a bag of medical supplies, a few of my favorite pictures and a bottle of scotch and wait in the front yard for a helicopter to come take me away. It’s that simple. And it’s because I believe in science.
2:49. Home and quite relieved, so to speak. I notice on Facebook that a cat’s age to a human’s age is 14:72. I think one of our cats might be 14. This is not comforting.
3:03. I decide to watch some baseball, now that the regular season is over, and the new rules that will forever ruin my idea of the game are instituted next season. It killed me (figuratively) when the National League adopted the designated hitter rule. I want to see the pitchers bat. And the pitch clock to hurry up the game. I don’t want the game to end early. The longer it lasts, the better.
3:11. I want football to end earlier. The four-hour average football match could be shortened by getting rid of advertisements for luxury automobiles and gummy digestibles that require supplemental penile stretching and strengthening exercises. I think we know those by another name. It could also be shortened by eliminating the extra-point kick. The last time that one-point score was missed was during the Great Depression. Take 15 seconds off the clock, tack on the extra point, and get on with it.
5:00. It’s the cocktail hour. A friend has sent me news about Sonny Rollins, the jazz tenor saxophonist who is widely considered to be one of the most important and influential jazz musicians in history. In a seven-decade career, the 92-year-old Rollins has recorded more than sixty albums as a leader. Here’s the news. He’s been a longtime subscriber to MAD magazine. Is that cool, or what?
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska
Nothing is more comforting than a bowl of al dente pasta with a clean and simple marinara sauce. This is how I’ve made mine for 30+ years. Buon appetito!
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 small carrots, diced
Salt & pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
2 Tbs. dried oregano
2 large bunches fresh basil, chopped
2, 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
2, 28-oz. cans diced tomatoes
3-4 dried bay leaves
Heat the oil in a large sauce pan and sauté the onion for 5-6 minutes; add celery and carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic & sauté one minute. Add wine and oregano. Mix with tomatoes, basil and bay leaves. Simmer uncovered for at least 45 minutes.