Category Archives: Friends

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.

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.

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.

Playing tourist here at home

We had a fun time last weekend. My sister, Maggie and her next door neighbors, Mac and Candy drove down from Greenville, S.C. for a “history weekend.” Maggie’s husband has taken a new job in New England, so he was out of the picture for this trip.

My sister is very lucky that she has just great friends living right next door to her. Over the years, we have gotten to know Mac and Cindy fairly well. At one point a few years ago, Mac and I were comparing notes and we discovered we had very similar interests in Civil War and World War II history.

Cindy joined my friends and me on our tour of the Louvre during our first trip to Paris in March 2012.

 And the whole gang of us piled into the car for a history trip to Gettysburg in 2010.

We have been talking about doing a “history weekend” here in Savannah for several years. I’m glad we were able to finally pull it off.

We started with a tour of the National Museum of the Eighth Air Force. This is a cool museum with a focus on the WWII air war over Europe.

Mac and me at the 8th Air Force Museum.

Mac and me at the 8th Air Force Museum.

On Saturday, we did a walking tour of downtown Savannah. I played tour guide, and although I’m not as professional as the experts, everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Maggie, Mrs. P and Cindy waiting for the guys to get back to them.

Maggie, Mrs. P and Cindy waiting for the guys to get back to them.

Myself, Mrs. Poolman and sister Maggie at Colonial Cemetary.

Myself, Mrs. Poolman and sister Maggie at Colonial Cemetary.

After a seafood lunch at Tubby’s on River Street, we dropped Mrs. P and Maggie off at our house. Mac, Cindy and I headed out towards the beach and Fort Pulaski. The fort is run by the National Park Service. They do a great job. We stayed only a fairly short time, since it was late and the weather was starting to look ugly, but it seemed like our guests really enjoyed it.

Mac and Cindy at Ft. Pulasi

Mac and Cindy at Ft. Pulasi

We finished the weekend off with a low country boil at our house. I think everyone had a good time. If they did not, they sure faked it well. We need to start planning our next “history weekend.” Charleston, anyone?

Things that go ‘beep’ at lunch

I saw on Facebook today that one of my good friends finally broke down and got hearing aids. I have used hearing aids myself since roughly 1990. I am on my fourth pair at this point. It is ironic that Len joined the hearing aid club, because he was with me and witnessed one of the more amusing incidents in my hearing aid experience.Hearing aids

Sometime in the early 2000s, I upgraded to the third of my eventual four sets of hearing aids. Unlike my previous two sets, this pair had a warning tone that would go off when the battery was almost dead. My hearing aid specialist had warned me of this. I noted it and then didn’t think about it again…for about a week. I was sitting in a Mexican restaurant having lunch with Len when my first set of hearing aid batteries started to die. The warning sounded exactly like the beep a commercial truck sounds when it goes into reverse. Of course, the wearer can hear it, but no one else can.

When the “beep” went off, I immediately started looking around for the garbage truck that was about to run me down. No surprise – no truck in the restaurant. I didn’t say anything, but Len was looking at me like I had just had a stroke. We went back to eating, when the “beep” sounded again. I asked Len if he had heard it. Of course, he hadn’t and was beginning to think I really had lost my mind. A moment later, one of my hearing aids shut down as the battery died. I finally put two and two together and realized the source of the beeping that apparently only I could hear.

Len was relieved. As an attorney, he was already thinking of what legal steps he could take to protect me from myself. (Think – guys in white jackets.)

So now it’s Len’s turn to learn the ins and outs of hearing aids. Just watch out for those garbage trucks, Len!

Another reason to be happy…

…I’m a guy.

Showers.

Of course, I’m not talking about the kind where you stand under streaming water to get clean. I’m all in favor of those. I’m talking about bridal showers, baby showers, and any other kind of showers that are little more than shake-downs, cleverly disguised as social events.

Mrs. Poolman and I were looking over our calendars for the next month or two to see what is coming up. Mrs. P noted that on one weekend later this month, she has a baby shower on one day and a bridal shower on the other.  I am SO glad neither of the hostesses was crazy enough to declare one of the events a “couples shower.” I hope I don’t give anyone an idea.

I understand the concept behind the showers. In theory, a group of the bride’s/new mother’s friends get together to “shower” the recipient with gifts to help them get started with their new married life or parenthood. Great idea. Keep it to the friends and immediate family who really want to help, and I’m all for it. What happens however, in an effort to increase the mass of presents, the guest lists extends out another generation to include the friends-of-family, etc. Attached to that invitation is an implied social obligation to pony up a gift and attend, whether you want to or not. Saying “no” is not an option. (“You know, when our daughter gets/got married…”)

In the case of the upcoming bridal shower, Mrs. P was invited because the groom’s mother is a long-time co-worker. I’m not sure Mrs. P would recognize the bride if she bit her on the leg.

The family organizing the baby shower doubled down on the misery. It seems the honoree and her sister had the poor timing to get knocked up with their first child within a few days of each other. (Must have been a heck of a weekend!) So the family decided to have a double baby shower.

That is an insidious little trick. At face value, it looks like a great idea. The more the merrier, right? But think about it for a moment. While family members obviously have connections to both mothers-to-be, many of the friends may be close (or maybe not really even that close) to only one of the guests of honor. Even so, they are now arm-twisted by a social obligation to purchase gifts for both of them.  (“The shower is for both sisters. I CANNOT show up with only one present.”) Nice trick.

I had an idea for Mrs. P to reduce her invitations to future showers, at least the bridal showers anyway. One of her good friend’s, daughter’s, partner (It’s complicated, sorry.) manages a sex-toy shop. I suggested she shop there for the bridal shower gift — the larger and more inappropriate, the better.

Her gift would certainly be remembered, and maybe even appreciated. You certainly can’t say the same thing about that off-brand chafing dish, or a cutting board. Plus, the word would get out and she would probably receive significantly fewer invitations to future showers.

Two birds with one stone.

Although Mrs. P laughed at my idea, she rejected it quickly. (In her defense, I think she really enjoys these girl-parties. These opinions are my own.)

“I can’t do that!”

“Why not?”

“Showers – they are part of the girl code.”

And that’s one more reason…

Hello? Anybody there?

In an earlier post, I discussed some of the differences between men and women. The other day at work several of us were talking about another significant one – the way we use the telephone. With Mrs. Poolman and me, there is a very clear difference in how different we view things.

Some examples:

I will answer any call, but I feel absolutely no obligation to have a lengthy conversation with who is calling.

“OK, I’ll be happy to pick you up in the morning. But I’m a little busy right now, so I need to go. See ya later.”

Boom! It’s over. That’s it. And if it’s a guy on the other end of the call, no offense is taken.

Mrs. P, on the other hand, will not answer her phone unless her called ID shows its someone with whom she wants to spend at least a half hour talking. The person calling may just have a simple question, but they won’t have the chance to ask if Mrs. P doesn’t have at least 30 minutes of free time on her hands. The same goes for outgoing calls.

“So why don’t you call Karen and ask her what time we should pick them up tomorrow?”

“No. I really don’t want to take the time right now to listen to her tell me everything she did today and everyone she talked to.”

“You do realize, don’t you that you have the power to say good-bye and hang up.”

“You’re a guy. You don’t understand.”

Yup, she’s right about that.

Then there is the issue of calling someone just to chat. I call my out-of-town family to ”chat,” because it’s the only way we can keep in touch. However, I cannot imagine calling one of my local guy-friends just to pass the time. I’m trying to imagine calling Matt the Welder.

Me: “Hey, Matt, this is Poolman. So what are you having for dinner tonight?”

Matt: “What?”

Me: “I just wanted to see what you were doing.”

Matt: “Seriously, dude. What do you need?”

Me: “No. I just called to chat. We haven’t talked in a day or two.”

Matt: “Are you drunk?”

Me: “No, but that’s not a bad idea.”

Matt: “So you want to know what I’m doing?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Matt: “I’m wasting my time talking to you. So I’m hanging up now. Don’t call me. I’ll call you. Not.” Click.

One more reason I’m glad I’m a guy

Men reasonsI ran across this poster, and it reminded me of one more reason, #87, why I’m glad I’m a guy.

Sales “Parties”

If you are a girl, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you are a guy, I strongly suspect you have never even been close to one. I guess they started with Tupperware back in the 50s or 60s, but it seems in recent years they have multiplied. Here is the way it works.

1.) Woman takes on a job selling a product with other women as the target customer group.

2.) Saleswoman approaches friend or co-worker and asks if she would hostess a “party” and invite some of HER friends. The purpose of the party is to provide Saleswoman with a captive audience to hock her wares. Not really wanting to produce a party, but not wanting to disappoint a friend, the Hostess agrees.

3.) Hostess then spends some of her “social capital” inviting her friends to a “party” at her house. Hostess typically provides drinks and snacks, or more.

4.) The friends/guests frequently accept, even though they have no desire to attend the pseudo-party, because they, in turn, don’t want to their friend/hostess to look bad. The implied understanding is that the Guests have a social obligation to purchase something from the Saleswoman.

Mrs. Poolman attended one such “party” last week. In this case, the product was handbags. Mrs. P came away $55 poorer, but with a handbag, to be delivered at some future date. I don’t know whether she needed the handbag or not. That wasn’t the point. She bought the bag because she attended the party, and she only attended the party, because she didn’t want to disappoint her friend, Carla. Carla wasn’t the hostess. The party was being hosted by her daughter’s partner’s mother and sisters on behalf of some cousin. Do you see how the web grows?

One of our friends here in the neighborhood, Louanne, was a real sucker for any “Saleswoman” who called on her. For a while there, it seemed like Louanne was calling every couple of weeks or so to invite Mrs. P to a party where she could/should/would buy lingerie, perfume, jewelry or candles. (The thought of giving up a Saturday afternoon during football season to go listen to someone try to sell me scented candles would drive me to socially unacceptable behavior.) At least one party she hosted was for a line of “marital aids” which was interesting. I would have gone to that one myself, but no guys were invited. Louanne finally shut down her run of parties after the other women in the neighborhood politely told her that were considering not answering the phone when her number showed up on caller ID.

Maybe I’m being too harsh. Perhaps I should call up my friend Matt the Welder and ask him to come over to learn more about scented candles. “Oh, and be sure to bring your checkbook.” I think I seen an intervention in my future.