Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Wondrous Sight

The Canada geese are arriving from their Summer homes up North and this reminded us of another charming visitor. Last Winter on our way home from Chestertown, MD, we came across huge flocks of Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens). 

Unlike the ubiquitous Canada Geese, the shy Snow Geese are relatively unknown. They arrive on the Eastern Shore in fewer numbers and flock together in a small area as opposed to their cousins who call every empty field, or body of water their domicile. 

Snow Geese prefer to spend most of their time in large fields, rather than huddle in large bodies of water around the Chesapeake Bay. This particular flock numbered at least 1,000 birds, who would either settle down in a dense mass of feathered bodies or spend a good part of an hour freewheeling in the air like a dog circling and circling a likely spot on the ground before settling in for a nap.

And the result is spectacular. Sub flocks of hundreds of Snow Geese fly by in a waving grey mass. Then they suddenly change direction all at once, much like fighter planes in a dogfight and the whole mass turns into a brilliant white. One more abrupt change of direction reveals a third fascinating display of white wings with contrasting black tips.

Eventually the snow Geese fly beyond our sight leaving us to realize that we can't think of a nicer reason to live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  “Sailboats racing on the bay, wild geese covering the horizon, a plate of steamed crabs and a wonderful sense of Colonial America … all combine to add a new dimension to our Chesapeake Lifestyle!”

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Help Me Find This Movie

Readers, you are my last hope of finding the name of a movie I enjoyed many years ago. I don’t recall the time, possibly in the early 80s. It was an Italian movie which takes place in Naples? The opening event is a birthday party for a 12 year old boy at his home. Many friends and relatives attend, including his aunt, a local puttana. The wine flows freely and as the party continues, everyone including the boy and his aunt is drunk. The evening ends as the aunt and the boy stumble around his room and fall into bed together. 

Weeks later, the aunt is having an hysterical conversation with her sister, the boy's mother. It seems that the aunt and the boy enjoyed a tipsy moment of pleasure on the night of his birthday and the aunt is now pregnant with the boy's child. Apparently, the aunt was able to determine that her nephew as the only cause.

The rest of the story evolves around the family's attempt to reconcile the event and determine what to do with the unwelcome child. The outcome is brilliantly displayed in the last scene, showing the 12 year old boy rushing home from school, racing up the stairs, dressing the infant and proudly pushing his son around town in a fancy carrozzina. Only in Italy - no one else could match this delightful seriocomedy.

Discussions With My Back

Had a long discussion with my spine today, it wasn’t very fruitful. 

After a recent fall, I developed a a series of acute pains in my buttocks, thighs and legs, to the point that restricted my activities and walking. The soreness continued at night, making sleep another painful process. I discussed this condition with our family doctor who recommended an MRI of the spine. The results showed that I had spinal stenosis of the lower back (lumbar L 3-4). Went to a neuro-surgeon who explained in clear and concise detail the anatomy of the spine, the causes, symptoms, conditions and treatment.  It seems that this problem had been developing for a long time and had reached a point where a surgical procedure is probably the only cure. 

So I talked to my spine to see if it could help me in my distress and soon discovered that it was in no mood to cooperate.   

“Bob,” it said, “what did you say so many times in the past, I quote “I (Bob Hall) have a cast iron stomach and a cast iron back.” Well, your cast iron back just gave up due to abuse and unnecessary roughness.”   “ I replied, “I’m sorry, back, what did I do?” 

“DO!  You dummy,” retorted spine,  “why did you leave that cushy job running a corporation and wait until you were in your fifties, when your body is deteriorating, to become a macho orchardist and farmer?  “You thought it was great fun to handle thousands of heavy bushels of apples for weeks at a time, heaving 80 pound apple bins around the orchard as if they were frisbees and the dumbest stunt of all, lifting 600 pound bins of apples to slide on the forklifts. And, manhandling hundreds of heavy rocks in the cornfields didn’t help one bit!”

“I said that I was sorry, what can you do to help?”  Spine replied:   

“Sorry will get you nowhere, sorry is a state of mind. Sorry can’t make me better, it’s too late, only a scalpel can!  Please give me the surgeons's bona fides and ask him to be gentle."  Oh, by the way, have you checked with your cast iron stomach lately?" 

Some days it just doesn’t pay to get up out of bed.

Experiences with an MRI

Dear Dr. 

Acting upon your orders, I applied for, and received, a magnetic resonance imaging of my spine. It was an interesting session to say the least.

It's not that I don't mind an occasional unsettling occurrence, viz.

Having to divest my clothes for a flimsy, ill fitting, and embarrassing hospital gown (gownie)
Enclosed (squeezed) into a coffin-like atmosphere for 30 minutes.
Inability to scratch a fierce itch on my face
A freezing westerly wind reaching 40 miles per hour against my face
Enduring a half hour of ear piercing sounds resembling a Philip Glass symphony*

It just that I don't like them all at once!

I beg to remain, Sir, your most humble, obedient and aching patient.

*I must confess that the scherzo in the 4th movement of Glass’ MRI Symphony was rather likable with his typical repetitive sounds - Bob's Back, Bob's Back, Bob's Back, Bob's Back, etc.

PS: After the session, I felt as if I had an out-of-body experience. Then I remembered a brass plaque on the MRI machine:  A Gift From the Mary Shelley Foundation.  Kinda makes you wonder. 

This week's refrigerator magnet:
"In the end everything will be all right
If it's not all right
 ... it's not the end"