“Why? Why? Why?…”

BANG!

I thought I’d been shot.

My wife came running and was startled to find me flat on my back, expecting the chalk police to arrive any second to outline my perimeter on the hot blacktop and wrap our house with yellow ‘crime scene’ tape.

“What happened”, she asked, with a bit of worry in her voice.

“I misread the ‘psi’ on the tire and over inflated the damn thing, it blew itself to smithereens”. Sometimes, I impress myself with how quickly I can answer her deposition-like questions, but she saw right through me this time, as I tried to misplace the blame on the tire, itself.

wheelbarrow 1

‘How could you be so careless (you nincompoop)’? Wow, that hurt more than the ‘shot’.

She didn’t actually call me a nincompoop, but after decades of marriage, a husband knows his better half’s thoughts. Her eyes spoke ‘Nincompoop’‘.

However, it seemed a good time to employ a favorite troubleshooting tool of quality control personnel, the ‘5 Why’. State the issue, then ask a series of ‘why’ questions that lead to the root cause.  Let’s try it…

My wheelbarrow tire blew apart.  Why?

I over inflated it. Why?

I misread the psi number on the sidewall. Why?

I didn’t look at it carefully. Why?

Because I’m an old guy with bony knees and if I get down on the ground to look closely, then I may not get up again. Why?

It’s Life!

There, it works, doesn’t it. I seemed to have discovered the irrefutable and undeniable root cause of the tire explosion and deafening sound, Life, and I’m not sure there’s a ‘corrective action’. More ‘Whys’ might help, but Life is very challenging. Agree?

Fortunately, no injuries were sustained other than a momentary loss of senses, a temporary deafness and total embarrassment.

Have you ever crossed paths with ‘carelessness’? A friend cut a live electrical wire at home with nary a tickle. A brother-in-law used an electric hedge clipper to trim fingernails and only suffered 32 stitches. ‘Lady Luck’ was on their side this time. Or a Guardian Angel!

Unlike cats, we have 1 Life, so let’s be careful with it, not careless. And if you are the latter, try asking yourself, ‘Why?’. Ask it as many times as necessary to find the root cause of your ‘nincompoopness’. And, yes, while she may not say it, you’ll know she’s thinking it. Just look at her eyes…the ones that have been watching your faux pas for years.

Steve
July 2018
srbottch.com

To husbands, everywhere, but especially Steve P and Gary C for ‘giving’ me a story!  Be careful!

The Planting

The tall Norway maple provided welcome shade onto our ‘hill’ garden, where we were preparing a spot for yet another hydrangea, the thirtieth, or so, in this corner of our backyard.

fLOWERS 4

Myself, I’m a reluctant gardener, so much so that I dare even call myself a gardener. However, my wife is passionate about her plants, so I help and we work the land together, she a bonafide ‘green thumb’ and me, just a ‘plain’ thumb. Quite honestly, I enjoy our hydrangea gardens. A walk among the changing flora of our mature gardens is a relaxing respite at day’s end.

The planting process is simple for our gardens: select the plant, choose a location, decide on composition (positioning), and, finally, dig the hole . All important decisions are made by my wife, the real gardener, my role comes in at the end, I’m the digger. There is no mental stress in digging, just physical, hence, the welcome cover of shade from the hot sun.

Excavating our soil is no easy task, though, it’s clay, dense and heavy, once used in the local manufacturing of bricks*. To complicate the dig, the spot we refer to as ‘the hill’ once was occupied by a tall silver maple tree. It’s only a ‘hill’ because the thick, woody roots of that tree are still there, like a subterranean maze, pushing up the ground. They criss-cross beneath the soil, challenging me to find a spot for the perfect hole. It’s a trial and error process, but I find one.

The hole must be deep and wide enough to accept an ample amount of cow manure, making a healthy bed, and the roots of the plant must be relieved, or untangled, before planting to allow them to grow freely, not be strangled. My wife cuts them with a garden knife, around the perimeter and bottom.

The plant is placed in the hole, manure is packed around it and some fine mulch (leaf is our favorite) laid atop. A good watering follows and continues for days to assure a good start.

If we’ve done it right, then we wait and our patience will be rewarded with beautiful flowers that have made the hydrangea a favorite of gardeners, reluctant gardeners, too. With such fancy names as Pinky Winky, Quick Fire, Twist n Shout, the colorful petals, from soft white to blushing pinks and blues, adorn our yard from summer to fall.

Gardeners love their hobby. My wife glows. Me? I find the benefit of gardening is teaching me patience, learning to wait for beautiful results…and then to enjoy some much needed therapy with a walk among the plants.

FLOWERS 5   IMG_0555  IMG_0160

Steve
Srbottch.Com
June ‘18

To my wife, a green thumb gardener

* http://www.historicbrighton.org/BrightonBrick/yards.html

Let’s Face It…You Can’t Fight Gravity

My audiologist laughed, maybe scoffed is a better term, when I boasted that I was writing a story titled, ‘My Ears Are Getting Bigger, But My Hearing Is Getting Worse’.

“You may get a few chuckles, but you’d be technically incorrect. Our ears actually stop growing at age six.” Six? Well, that explains the teasing by an older sister, whom, I suspect, had already ‘grown into her ears’.

“It’s probably gravity that’s making your ears look bigger, unless you wear heavy ear fashions”, he snickered. “I suggest you change the one word to ‘longer’.”

Gravity, huh? It started me thinking, is it the same gravity that caused my six pack abs to drop and cover my belt? Truth be told, I never had six pack abs. Have the bags under my eyes settled there because of gravity? What about the sides of my mouth turning down in a constant frown? Gravity? I used to blame my mother who, strangely enough, had the same look. It’s become a workout of constant smiling to keep them turned upward.

So many other areas of the human body change over time and gravity must be the catalyst there, as well. How else can we explain drooping shoulders, double chins and sagging fannies? The inch of height I lost must have gone into my feet because they’re wider and flatter. Gravity, again!

Given enough time, I’ll be measured as one foot high x three feet wide. And it’s happening fast. One day you can stretch like a rubber band, and the next you’re locked up tighter than a rusty nut.

You add Move Free to your daily supplements to help your joints, and suppositories to actually help you ‘move free’.

When did it all change? When did we cross that imaginary line of tight skin, standing tall, get up and go, to drooping, stooping and pooping? It’s time to fight back.

Tug on those loose fitting sweats (yes, mine were form fitting once, too, but that train left the station years ago), tie up your laces (if you can still reach them), and kick the mp3 into high volume (don’t worry about damaging your hearing, it’s probably shot, anyway) and move to the rhythm of an upbeat tempo (personally, I’m stuck on Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’).

You may not draw that loose skin back to place, a doctor can do that if it’s important. But I bet you’ll feel better and look better, at least in your own eyes, if they’re any good.

Let’s face it, this body, longer ears and all, has served us well. Take care of it and have fun moving.

Steve
srbottch.com
January 2018

To Sir Issac Newton who gave us an ‘understanding’ of gravity

She Made Me What I Am Today, An ‘Ironman’: The Promise

She made me what I am today, an ‘Ironman’!

Processed with MOLDIV
(photo by Glenn Higgins)*

 Iron2  Excuse me, did I say ‘Ironman’? My bad, I meant, ‘Ironing Man’. I’m an ‘ironing man’: shirts, pants, cloth napkins, aprons (not mine…yet), pillowcases, etc.

Dusting, yes, a critical skill.  It’s tedious but you won’t find creepy bugs housekeeping along our crown molding and baseboard. As for the hardwoods, the Swiffer tool is my choice. Gripping it a certain way let’s you ‘slap shot’ those pesky ‘dust bunnies’ into a corner for easy gathering.

Swiffer

Both chores combine housecleaning and athleticism: the multiple reps of a weightlifter sliding a water filled iron back and forth, back and forth, back and forth and the steady, rhythmic gliding of a ballroom dancer sweeping across polished hardwood. My wristband monitor goes off the charts on cleaning day.

The best benefit, of course, is the ‘come hither’ look of appreciation in my wife’s approving eyes. But, alas, by the time I’ve ‘pressed’ my last pleat, ‘pushed up’ from bunny hunting under the bed or ‘power dragged’ the Hoover over the dog haired rug, I’m too tired to go anywhere, hither or not.

Meantime, the golf clubs have lost their shine, the gym membership is going unused and the resistance bands have dry rot. Nevertheless, I’m staying in shape with squats (toilet bowl cleaning), bends & reaches (dishwasher loading/unloading), heavy lifting (turning a queen mattress) and sprints (“hurry, the dog needs to go out”).

The genesis of these new found domestic skills can be traced back to something I did forty-eight years ago, I made a promise.  Promises, vows, oaths, call them what you will, are important to our own notion of self-worth, when kept.  They measure us for trustworthiness. They address our character and integrity.

Promises call for sacrifice and commitment. In my case, I didn’t commit to housecleaning but I did promise my everlasting support. LIFE changes, doesn’t it?  Priorities get rearranged.

Yet, somehow, IT’s worked out satisfactorily. I have well pressed handkerchiefs and there’s no stress of calling ahead for a tee time.

I just need someone to show me how to fold a fitted sheet…

Sheets
Steve
srbottch.com (July 2017)

To legions of men everywhere who help with the housework, whether you admit it or not, because you want or need to do it.

*thank you Glenn Higgins for the sculptured body photo (GlennHigginsFitness.com)

Today, I Stopped the Bleeding: First-aid in the Locker Room

Styptic 2

I have become the purveyor of Styptic pencils in the locker room at my health center. This past year I dispensed personal ‘pencils’ to three different gentlemen who apparently have not mastered the art of shaving and sliced themselves on the lip, neck and earlobe.

As an experienced blade shaver, I understand a nick on the neck, but a laceration of the lip and excision of the ear, or portion thereof, befuddles me.  It’s awkward, if not impossible, to have a conversation with a man whose blood is squirting down his cheek, cascading off his chin and splattering onto the floor like ink leaking from a cheap fountain pen. If not for the grey hair and loose skin that is a curse of us ‘senior citizens’, the bleeding gave each man the look of a pugilist who stepped out of the ring with the great Carmen Basilio*.

However, quick action saved the day, when I offered my Styptic pencil and stopped the carnage.  For the uninitiated, the Styptic is a pencil thin chalk-like instrument packed with astringents that “contract tissue to seal blood vessels”(Wickepedia).  A short stinging dab on the cut and the bleeding stops quickly. Every blade user should have one in his kit, or medicine cabinet.

Understand, the Styptic pencil is not ‘loaned’ to the bleeder.  On the contrary, it’s a giveaway with the proper response, “no, keep it” when he offers to return it.  Then, buy a replacement to make sure you keep supplied, as I did.

Styptic pencils are not expensive and last a long time, unless, of course, one spends his workout session during the peak ‘senior hours’ when shaky hands and diminishing eyesight contribute to cuts and nicks that call for a Styptic pencil, as they’ve called for mine, 3 times.

My ‘heroics’ wasn’t life saving but it still was first-aid.  And, over time, my embellishment might just make it seem so.

Everyone who shaves with a blade must have a ‘cut story’. What’s yours?

*Carmen Basilio was a boxer who won both the welterweight and middleweight crown in the 1950s.  He was well known for being a tough fighter who would wear down his opponent as the fight progressed into late rounds.  Carmen certainly was accustomed to getting cut or bruised on his face and his ‘cut man’ would stop the bleeding between rounds. I wonder if he had a big Styptic pencil among the tools of his trade.