Category Archives: Family

St Patrick’s Day 2015 – Seein’ a little green

This is always a busy week here in Savannah. St. Patrick’s Day is like a mini-Mardi Gras for this town. For 12 years, Mrs. P and I organized, set-up and hosted a parade-watching “tailgate party” in a downtown square. This was a very intense project. When we first started doing this in 2002, the idea hadn’t caught on yet. You could show up at six or seven in the morning and settle into a prime spot. By the mid-2000’s, that changed for the worse. In recent years, it has involved getting downtown before 3 a.m. and picking a spot. We were not allowed in the square until 6 a.m. so we and other early-risers would line the perimeter of the square and negotiate with each other about where we would all set up. In a perfect world, it would be “first-come, first-served,” but the world is not perfect. Negotiating with the early risers was usually very civilized. However, there were always some folks who would roll up at 5:45, drop their stuff in the street and start pointing to one of the prime spots (on the perimeter) that someone else had claimed four hours earlier. At 6 a.m. the police blow a whistle and the rush would begin. It was usually all over in about two minutes. Then we would sit around, waiting for the sun to come up and trying to stay warm for the parade started at 10:15.

This was our party in 2013.

This was our party in 2013.

Last year, Mrs. P fell and broke her knee a couple of weeks before the event, which ruled out our ability to organize a party. No one else picked up the baton. Our children were both working and none of our friends had any interest. This year, Mrs. P was ready to get back in the game, but, again, we had no help. One 60+ year-old couple is simply not enough of a team to compete in the pre-dawn madness.

So, instead, Mrs. P and Poolboy put their heads together and decided we should have a parade viewing party at our house. (There is no shortage of live coverage on the local TV stations.) So that we did.

We’re not used to hosting parties that start at 10 a.m. on a weekday, but it all worked out. Everyone brought something to contribute to the food table. We had Bloody Marys and beer to drink, and a breakfast casserole, ham, fried chicken, potato salad, pasta salad, squash casserole and even green grits (a Savannah tradition.)

When the parade coverage ended around two in the afternoon, most of our guests retired to the patio (where many had spent the day anyway). The temperature was 85 degrees, which made it feel almost like summer.

Almost like a summer Sunday afternoon.

Almost like a summer Sunday afternoon.

The pool water wasn’t so warm, but that didn’t stop some of the children who were there. More power to them.

A couple of crazy ones.

A couple of crazy ones.

Hey watch this!

Hey watch this!

Beats me.

Beats me.

Mrs. P was trying to talk up getting back into the game in 2016, but she wasn’t getting a lot of encouragement. Depending on our children’s work schedules next year, we may be able to field a force sufficient to compete in the zero-dark-thirty land rush, but we’ll just have to see how that goes.

Good bye to a good dog

We had to say goodbye to our 14-year old Labrador Retriever, Casey, last week. Casey had been failing for some time. His cataracts left him mostly blind and we really don’t think he could hear a thing anymore. He had a bad case of arthritis in his back legs. As a pet owner, you always hope you will know when it is the right time to put your pet down — not too soon, but not too late either. We think it was Casey’s time.

Casey in 2009

Casey in 2009

We adopted Casey in January 2003 from a lab rescue group in Atlanta. We had driven to Atlanta and spent the night so we could be at the “adoption day” event bright and early. Casey won Mrs. Poolman’s heart when he leaned up against her leg and just slid down her leg to lie on his back in a definite “Please scratch my chest” pose.

As it turned out, Casey wasn’t the brightest dog in the animal kingdom, but he may have been one of the sweetest. That was one of his two definitive personality characteristics. He loved children. When he was still spry enough to go on walks, I used to joke that he was the post popular kid in the neighborhood. Small children would literally run out of their houses, calling his name. When we stopped, they would hug is neck, and he would respond with a big slurp on the child’s cheek.

His other defining characteristic is that he loved to carry things around in his mouth. He rarely chewed anything, but he had a real oral fixation. Shoes, stuffed animals, you name it. If he could pick it up, he would carry it. He wasn’t really a very good retriever, because, although he liked to chase and fetch, he didn’t want to give up whatever he had. He loved rolled up newspapers. They were the perfect size and shape. The highlight of his day was to fetch the morning newspaper from the front walk. He was known around the neighborhood as that well-trained dog that fetches the newspaper. “How did you teach him to do that?” We hated to tell people that he just came that way.

Shortly after he came to live with us, my brother- and sister-in-law came to visit us. Brother-in-law was carrying some luggage in from his car and his home newspaper was dangling from his hand in its plastic bag. They had not met Casey before, so he was shocked when Casey came running up from behind, jumped and grabbed the newspaper right out of his hand. Casey pranced around the yard, tossing the paper up in the air and very proud of himself.

It wasn’t all cotton candy and unicorns. He had a strong storm anxiety and on one occasion managed to eat the better part of two couches and a down comforter.  That doesn’t even count the numerous rainy nights we were kept awake by his whimpering and pawing.  And the last year or so hasn’t been easy.

All in all, though, he was a great member of our family for just over 12 years and we will miss him.

Good Christmas season and a nice family visit

Mrs. Poolman and I spent most of the past two weeks lounging around and doing not much of anything. Mrs. P worked for two days the first of Christmas week and then again on Jan 1-2. In between, we had a great holiday, and then a three-day visit to see my middle-sister, Maggie, and her family at Lake Hartwell, near Anderson, S.C. We didn’t do any floating in the lake on this visit, but one afternoon, the clouds parted and it was nice enough to take a boat ride. So the nine of us piled into the neighbor’s pontoon boat for a winter afternoon’s boat cruise. Very nice.

The view from the back deck.

The view from the back deck.

My niece with her "child," Norman the Basset.

My niece with her “child,” Norman the Basset.

All aboard!

All aboard!

Sister and Mrs. Poolman enjoying the day.

Sister and Mrs. Poolman enjoying the day.

Sister with the center of attention.

Sister with the center of attention.

Mrs. P enjoying the ride.

Mrs. P enjoying the ride.

Life in Memorial Medical Center

We have had a busy and tumultuous last ten days or so, and it continues.

Writer Princess spent two weekends ago in the hospital receiving IV antibiotics for an infection. She was released to recover at home, but she was right back last Saturday for full abdominal surgery to clean out an abscess. So Mrs. Poolman and I have been splitting up the hospital duty with Son-In-Law for the past four days. Never a dull moment.

I have not been a hospital patient myself since I had my tonsils removed when I was five years old. I barely remember that. Just as well. My experience with hospitalized family since then has me convinced the best thing you can do with a hospital stay is to avoid it.

I spent last night on the overnight shift with WP. I thought sleep and rest were supposed to be great healers? If so, why don’t hospital staffs let their patients sleep? I don’t think we went more than 20 minutes between people coming in and out of the room for one reason or another.  I certainly understand the need to bathe patients, but at five o’clock in the morning? Seriously?

Until late last night, WP was in an intermediate care unit with restricted visitors. So she has not been deluged by friends and other family. That was not the case last weekend. Why don’t people understand — with the possible exception of new mothers, people are in the hospital because they are sick or injured, not because they feel like hosting a party. If you visit, stay a few minutes and then LEAVE. It is not appropriate to pull up a chair, turn on the TV and order a pizza. (OK, I’m exaggerating a little here…about the pizza, that is.) At one point last weekend, I counted eight visitors in WP’s hospital room at one time. That is too much. (Mea culpa – Mrs. P and I should have done a better job at crowd control.) Note to hospital visitors – show the patient you care about them by visiting, and then show it even more by going home.

An exciting weekend at the hospital

Never a dull moment around Casa Poolman. Mrs. P and I have been spending most of the past two days at a local hospital. Our daughter, Writer Princess, had been feeling bad for the past week, and had seen her primary care doc twice. She was feeling much worse on Thursday evening. So we (Son-in-law included, of course) trekked to the emergency room. It turns out she had an infection and needed to be admitted for two days of IV antibiotic therapy. By the time the docs figured that out, we had spent the entire night in the ER waiting room. If you have not had the pleasure of such an experience, this is one you can take off your bucket list.

 It appears that healthy-living is not high on the priority list for most of the majority of ER patients. Most had figures similar to my cat, Sid, a Manx. When we first got Sid, I remember reading that you could draw a Manx cat by just using a series of circles.  The same could be said of the people we spent Thursday night with.

 I think it is true what they say, that hospitals are the worst place to go when you are sick. A woman came in and sat near me. Every couple of minutes she tried to cough up a lung, and then hung her head between her legs and moaned, “Oh Lawdy, oh Lawdy.”  If I saw her on the street, I would take her to the hospital. But we were already there. What to do? Actually, what I did was to move across the room to avoid her droplets.

The big party in WP's room.

The big party in WP’s room.

 I didn’t realize hospitals were so popular. I know that insurance companies want the hospitals to move the patients through and get them out the door as quickly as possible. So I was very surprised that WP had to wait several hours in the ER before being transferred to a room…because there was not am empty bed in the house. Really? What am I missing? This does not look like it’s the hot spot in town.

 So it’s Saturday afternoon and WP is a little past the half-way point of her 48 hours of IV therapy. We are working shifts with Son-In-Law to keep someone at the hospital all the time. We’re still looking around for the party that is keeping this place filled. Haven’t found it yet.

Mrs. P finally gets her lapcat

We have been adopted. It’s official, or at least as official as a cat-adoption can be. As I mentioned in an earlier post, a stray/abandoned/homeless black male cat started hanging around our house a day or two before Christmas. After we ascertained that the cat was definitely not the neighbor’s cat, which we originally thought, Mrs. P took him to the vet and had him checked out, shots, etc. If he wasn’t our cat before paying the $300+ vet bill, he sure was afterward.

Since then, Zorro and Mrs. Poolman have developed quite the mutual admiration society. Mrs. P goes out to the garage to smoke. Zorro is frequently hanging out there anyway, but if not, he comes trotting through the pet door to the back yard and gets in Mrs. P’s lap. Neither of our “regular” cats will do this, and this has been a source of constant frustration to Mrs. P, who wants a “lapcat.” This Zorro knows who is buying his Friskies.

Mrs. P and her new boyfriend.

Mrs. P and her new boyfriend.

We had a close call last week. While I was on my way home from work, I got a call on my cell phone from an older woman who started off with “Oh, you are a real person, not a machine.” Huh? She told me she had a black cat that had disappeared a few weeks previously when she was in the hospital. She had been at the vet and picked up on one of the various “found cat” notices I had spread around a few weeks ago. She thought Zorro might actually be her “McPheron.” She came over to the house with her adult son. However, she couldn’t definitely ID the cat as hers. Also, on the phone, she could not ID two distinctive physical features of Zorro that she would definitely have recognized if he were her cat. Mrs. P was not at home at the time, so I was not very encouraging about letting her take off with Mrs. P’s new cat. That is, not unless the cat just jumped into her arms and started licking her face, which he most definitely did not do.

 So the cat came back…and stayed.

The cat came back! Good luck?

We may have a new member of the Poolman family. It all started early last week when we heard a cat whining. Mrs. Poolman and I searched the house for one of our cats trapped in a closed bedroom or a closet but didn’t find one. But there on the front porch was this black cat crying to be fed.

Mystery Cat

Mystery Cat

Of course we fed the poor thing. We thought the cat must be “Sophia,” a stray that had taken up with our next-door neighbor. (I know this sounds politically incorrect, but let’s face it, one solid, jet black cat looks pretty much like the next one, especially if it isn’t your cat.) The neighbors had vetted her and fed her, but otherwise she was an outside cat. They neighbors were away for the holidays, so we figured we would feed her until they got back. We also placed a beach towel in a plastic box for her to sleep in and stay out of the wind.

Sophia stayed with us even after the neighbors returned which created some joking about us stealing their stray cat. Then the other night, Mr. Neighbor came over.

“Hey Poolman, that cat who is living on your front porch?”

“Yeah, so are you coming to take her home?”

“Ah, I hate to break this to you, but Sophia is asleep in our garage right now. YOUR cat is not OUR cat.”

Great! Just what we need — another cat. Upon closer examination, we also discovered that that cat we thought was “Sophia” was actually “Tom.”  We don’t know if he is lost or was dumped. He is a very nice, friendly feline. He loves attention and will actually come when you call him, especially if he thinks food is involved.

So we are looking for his real family. I have checked and posted “found cat” notices on several local pet sites. I think Mrs. P is going to take her to check on a microchip tomorrow.

If we don’t find his home, I guess we will have a new “outside cat.” He still has his front claws. That rules him out as an inside cat in the Poolman household. (We have donated too many couches and chairs to the scratching pleasure of cats over the years. We are done with that.) However, we won’t just take him to a shelter, since we know, although he is a very sweet, friendly cat, the chances of an adult cat being adopted are very slim.

I didn’t think we had a current job opening for a new cat, but I may have been wrong.

The Dynasty Continues

 

phil-robertson-p11I didn’t exactly stay glued to my computer or TV to keep track of the minute-to-minute developments over Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, but it has been an amusing holiday diversion. Some thoughts…

I’m not sure why anyone was so shocked. His comments on gay sex and gay marriage are certainly out of vogue with popular culture these days. However, they do reflect a stance that was considered conventional wisdom until just the very recent past. Let us remember, the idea of gay marriage was a fringe concept until just the last few years.

Some complained about the loss of “freedom of speech” and cited the First Amendment without having a clue what the concept entails. As it relates to a case like this, the Freedom of Speech clause in the First Amendment protects a person’s right to state his opinion. It offers no protection against the reaction to those comments. I can call those people morons all I want, but I should be prepared for a negative response.

If your fame and fortune rests on your intangible image in popular culture, then you really should be very careful about protecting that image. The same thing happened with our neighbor Paula Deen.

When you develop a vaccine to prevent breast cancer, you can rest on your accomplishment and say anything you want. Your spot in history is still reserved by your accomplishments. However, when you have no tangible foundation, your public image is like a filled balloon. Everything is fine until someone comes along with a pin. I think this applies only partially to Phil, because I’m not sure he really cares one way or the other. Remember, this is a guy who gave up on a potential NFL career because the season interfered with hunting season. If Duck Dynasty were to go away, he still has the duck call business that got the whole thing started.

It is no surprise that A&E kissed and made up. Let’s face it, DD is the only thing that makes A&E stand out in a field of second-tier cable networks. Think about it. Without DD, what is A&E?

It’s that network that runs “Law and Order” marathons. No, that’s TNT.

How about the network that runs old movies. No, that’s AMC.

Wait! It’s the network that runs those syrupy melodramas for women. No, that’s Lifetime.

I know. It’s the network that shows people how to fix up and sell their home. No, that HGTV. (Mrs. Poolman’s favorite channel, by the way.)

Get the picture? A&E sure did.

A quiet, but enjoyable Christmas

Happy Boxing Day, as they might say in the UK!

We had a simple and quiet Christmas here at Casa Poolman. I am about half way through a week-and-a-half long holiday break. Within the University System, we bunch several holidays in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day and close down the institute for a week. I added a couple of  vacation days to that run, so I will have off from the Saturday before Christmas through New Year’s Day. I love it.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Poolman is not so lucky. This was the year she was scheduled to work 12-hour shifts both Christmas Eve and Christmas. It stinks, but what can you do?

I spent the first half of Tuesday putzin’ around and taking care of last-minute Christmas preps. My CCD class provided the readers for a short Christmas Pageant during the 4 o’clock Mass. Everyone we were expecting showed up, and more-or-less on time. Yea! Last year, we had one child who missed all but one practice, but we agreed to let him participate after his mother called up and practically begged us to do so. Then “mom” failed to deliver him on time. We rearranged the readers to cover his slot, but he came running up just as we were walking into church for the start of Mass. I don’t blame the child, but the mom taught us a lesson we won’t forget.

No such drama this year. Our students all did great. After constant encouragement, they all read loud enough that the congregation could actually here them. Yea again!

Our reader team.

Our reader team.

Mrs. P got home around 8 o’clock and we split a pizza for dinner. Very fancy.

On Christmas morning, I got up and drove about 45 minutes out in the country to my daughter’s in-laws. Brad and Annie are great. It was very nice of them to invite me out for Christmas brunch. Writer Princess is very lucky (and so are we) that she has such a great set of in-laws. They a house on several acres out in the boonies. Annie has taken to raising livestock. She has turkeys, chickens, “runner ducks,” guinea fowl and goats. The highlight of yesterday’s visit were two week-old baby goats.  Very cute!

"Well, Tom. We made it through another holiday. Whew!

“Well, Tom. We made it through another holiday. Whew!”

Inquisitive goat.

“So what did you get for me?”

Back home in the early afternoon and started preps for dinner. I planned on a boneless rib-eye roast, twice-baked potatoes, green bean bundles and creamed pearl onions (Mrs. P’s creation ahead of time.) Everything went well, even the green-bean bundles, which were a little more effort than I originally planned.

Mrs. P got home around 7:30 pm and I handed her a vodka and tonic. The rest of our dinner guests included son, girlfriend, daughter, son-in-law, and son-in-law’s brother. I planned to take a picture of the meal, but, frankly, I was so wrapped up in getting it all together when it was time to serve, I just forgot.

Some friends/neighbors walked down as we were finishing dinner. We all gathered in the family room to open presents and visit.

Gathered around

Gathered around

...visiting.

…visiting.

I wish Mrs. P had been around for more of the activities, but given the circumstances, it was a pretty nice holiday.

Runaway baby Jesus

My 5th grade CCD class has been busy since the Thanksgiving break preparing for our Christmas pageant. My class provides the readers for a fairly simple production. They read the Christmas story, while the third grade class acts out the drama, dressed as Mary, Joseph, shepherds, and so on. We have had three practices, and so far, while it won’t be a Broadway production, it won’t be a fiasco either. But it did come close.

Initially, one of the co-teachers volunteered her one-year old son to play the role of the baby Jesus. This was not a great idea. Young Brady was entirely too much into crawling and pulling himself up on anything that was handy. One of the third-graders (who is playing Mary) is disabled and has a motorized wheelchair. Brady pulled himself up onto the front of the chair and grabbed onto the control knobs. The chair took off with Brady hanging on for dear life.

It was very exciting.

For about five feet.

Until they ran into a pew.

Fortunately Brady was not hurt, which is what made the incident hilarious. In any case, the child has been cut from the pageant team in favor of a younger, more docile child. I think Brady was disappointed. If he could talk, I think he wanted to say, “That was fun!  Let’s do it again.”

The fifth grade reader team.

The fifth grade reader team.

The big show will be at 4 pm Mass on Christmas Eve. Looking forward to it.

While we are on a Christmas theme, our friends Sam and Beth stopped by the other day with our “adopted grandchildren” Helen and Brittany. Mrs. Poolman and I got them each an animal-theme throw-blanket. One was a frog and the other a monkey. Too cute!

The monkey and frog.

The monkey and frog.