Tag Archives: Life

The Nightingale

At Mrs. Poolman’s suggestion, I picked up The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah after Mrs. P had finished it. I had some initial doubts, since I suspected it was “chick book.” In fact, it probably is, but there were enough other plot elements to keep me interested.

The NightengaleThe book is the story of two French sisters living in Nazi-occupied France during World War II.  Each in her own way resists the Germans. When they were young, their mother died and their father essentially dumped into the care of a guardian. The “chick” part of the plot deals a lot with the two sisters’ ambivalent feelings towards each other and towards their remote and mostly absent father. To be honest, it was this part of the story that kept me from finishing it sooner.

On the other hand, the author places the characters and their family angst into an interesting and active time and place in history. One sister is active in the French underground. Her adventures keep the story moving along. The other sister stays at home and mostly just copes with the occupiers and tries to survive and protect her daughter. About half way through the book a crisis involving her best friend forces her to take a more active role in resisting the Germans. Things pick up at that point.

There is no equivocating about whom the author considers the good guys and the bad guys. Although one Wehrmacht officer is depicted as a decent human being, the remaining Germans are painted as purely evil.

The entire World War II story is told as a flash-back as one of the sisters is remembering it in 1995. You don’t know which sister is the modern character, and I won’t spoil it for you.

I had one major complaint with the book, and it was one I repeated to Mrs. P several times. I wish the author had taken a little more care with the history in which she has planted her story. Time after time she describes war-related events that, if not totally impossible, were at least highly improbable.

She has characters discussing how the war was going badly for the Germans in North Africa before they really were. She has one of the sisters smuggling downed American fliers out of France months before Americans actually began any kind of aerial activity. (There were American fliers in the RAF, so this isn’t totally impossible, just unlikely.) She has an American Mustang (Hannah makes a point of saying it is a Mustang.) shot down while strafing a German airfield in the middle of the night She places this a good year before Mustangs were used in any numbers. And no one was strafing airfields at night any way. It’s night, so the pilots can’t see what they are doing. They also risk flying into the ground or into trees while making low-level passes.

In summary, The Nightingale isn’t bad. I’m not sorry I took the time to read it. However, I think it will appeal more to readers who enjoy stories about women’s feelings and relationships (Mrs. Poolman, for instance), rather than those who prefer a more action-focused plot.

A close shave

I think I started shaving when I was around 13 years old. I’ve always had a fairly heavy beard. It wasn’t as bad as my brother, who (legend has it) began shaving before he was potty trained. For many years, this was a torturous experience. I was always nicking myself. My neck, especially, was usually raw from the nicks, cuts and razor rash.

Then in the mid-1980s, my face found a savior in the form of a professional makeup artist. I was presenting on a live regional Emmy Award broadcast, and the producers had hired a makeup artist to make sure everyone looked their best under the lights. I think I had a particularly rough shaving session that afternoon. He looked at my razor-burned and nicked neck and asked me what kind of shaving cream I used. I don’t remember the brand, but I was probably using a cream or a gel at the time. He told me:

“Poolman, what you need to do us just go and get an old-fashioned shaving brush and a cake of shaving soap. That should take care of about 90 percent of your shaving problems.”

250px-Shaving-BrushI went out the next day and bought a mug, a brush and a cake of shaving soap. I began using them that weekend and never looked back. It has been 30 years and during that time, I have “nicked” myself maybe a handful of times a year, and those were usually occasions when I was trying to stretch a little extra life out of a dull blade. I use a shaving gel from an aerosol can when I travel, simply because the mug-brush-soap doesn’t pack easily. When I’m back at home, it’s back to the shaving mug and brush.

I have been an evangelist to any guy who would listen on the benefits of the shaving brush. It’s smooth; it’s efficient; and it’s cheap. A bar of shaving soap costs around a dollar and lasts for a couple of months.

Despite it being the “best” way to shave, apparently the technique hasn’t caught on very well. Several months ago, I went to the both CVS and Walgreens to find a replacement cake of soap, and neither store had it in stock. I ended up ordering a case of a dozen from an on-line vendor. Then, earlier this week, my shaving brush broke. (The stress incurred when lathering the brush in the mug eventually cracks and breaks the handle from the piece holding the bristles.) No big deal. So you buy a new brush for $6.00 every couple of years.

If you can find one.

I went back to CVS and Walgreens, but no joy. So back on-line I went, and spent some money that I would have preferred to keep local. This is really sad. Not only is the shaving mug and brush a long standing masculine tradition, but it’s actually the best way to protect your face during a shave. It is both better and less expensive than the myriad of creams and gels that are available. The stores shouldn’t be discontinuing those products; they should be promoting them. Whatever are they thinking?

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 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.