March (what was left of it)

The rest of March was busy. In addition to getting ready for the memorial in Reno, the new refrigerator was coming, I had a fair amount of design work, yard work and decluttering work. And I was still had remnants of a cough I had in February. And I had more music stuff I wanted to go to if I could.

The new refrigerator arrived on March 13. The delivery guys showed up on time from Sears. They brought out the old one and brought in the new one. Generally, it went okay. It was cold out that day so they told me to wait until the refrigerator warmed up in the room before removing the blue film that was protecting it. They said it will come “right off”.

That turned out to be a total pain in the butt. I had to use a heat gun (on low) to help it along. But there are still little pieces of it stuck around parts I can’t get at. The handle is held on by proprietary set-screws despite what it says in the useless owners manual. I will have to take the doors off to get some little pieces of blue film off near the hinges. My advice is to make sure the installers do everything.

The following day, March 14 we had a bad snowstorm. That heavy spring crap.

The snow on my front porch. My car is parked across the street on the theory that my parking area would get plowed sooner; and that the more driveway we covered with cars, the less we would have to shovel.

I think we probably had about 18 inches, give or take. I parked my car at the neighbor across the street so that the snow plow could dig me out a little easier. The rest of the week was busy with design work and some errands. I had to buy food for the new refrigerator.

The next Monday I saw my doctor about my cough. I’ve had remnants of this cold since February. He took some chest X-rays and said there was a bug going around that takes 6 to 8 weeks to get rid of. I’m past that now.

Bad blood & medical office politics. He also wanted to tell me what was going on at the practice office in East Longmeadow. There was a pretty good chance that by the time of my follow-up appointment in June, he would be gone. “Unless I get fired sooner.” When the original physician’s group went bankrupt a few year ago it was taken over by Mercy Hospital. They are the second largest hospital and health system in the area.

Later Mercy bought another larger regional office practice. Mercy put the staff of that office in charge of all the other medical offices. Part of this is about having some sort of local autonomy. Apparently, that medical office has always had more of a production attitude. It tries to move patients in and out as quickly as possible. They use physicians assistants and nurses to cut costs. My doc doesn’t like that reduced care model, especially for seniors. He gave me the name of the practice he will probably be joining. His nurse called later to tell me my X-rays were clear. (In the interests of fairness I should mention that Kathy had a caring doctor at that practice for a brief period. When that doctor left we were able to get the hospice doctor to take over.)

I had to get back to work right away. I have had some interesting design requests, lately. Some have involved using Microsoft products and trying to make them look nice. For graphic designers, it is a challenge because of the lack of control.

I cringe when a “Word” job comes up.

While I was working in Barbara’s hospital room, for example, I was trying to do a standardized email signature system for a company. This particular week I designed a Powerpoint template for the first time. And Microsoft Word letterhead templates that staff won’t mess up. Good luck with that (but I am writing the rules).

I am also designing a brochure about the use of hookah (water pipes) during pregnancy. Try looking for stock photos of pregnant women using bongs. I found a series of belly dancers but none of them seem to be with child.

Thirsty Mind. That Thursday I went to the open mic at the Thirsty Mind in South Hadley. My musical friends Charlie and Mike didn’t go. I played solo. Usually, I have decided what two songs I will do days in advance. When I got there I started talking to someone about My Sweet Wyoming Home. It is a great cowboy/Western song by Bill Staines. I used to cover it occasionally when I lived in Plymouth and in Colorado. The melody was rolling around my head but not the words to it. I felt like performing it but had to scroll the lyrics on my phone in the middle of the song. Very professional.

Then for my second song, I thought I would revive an old song of mine called The Rotary of Life. I couldn’t remember parts of that either. Naturally, since I wrote it, the lyrics didn’t exist online. But I found a copy of it on one of my SoundCloud pages. I was able to listen to it on my earpiece between other performers.

(On these videos Craig Harris is playing conga drums and Scott Cadwallader, the host is playing harmonica off stage.)

Ware. The next night I went to the March open stage at Workshop13 in Ware MA.  Workshop 13 is a non-profit art center in an old church near downtown. I had heard about this open mic from a number of other musicians.

For this one, you sign-up online by sending an email. I got a reply saying I was “in.”

Then I got an email from one of the directors of the center, Roc. “Your name seems familiar. Did you work at Hasbro (the toy and game company)?” As soon as I saw his name on the email, I remembered him. When I worked at Milton Bradley (the game company owned by Hasbro). Roc was our go-to freelancer for airbrushing and illustration. He married Pat, our graphic production supervisor at Milton Bradley. That was back around 1989 so it is amazing how folks can come in and out of your circle. Roc had listened to some of my music already.  

The open stage there is awesome, not so much because of the music but because of the audience. I’m just guessing that they had around 70 people in addition to the performers. It is really a monthly town event. They listened and had a good time. The sound was great (maybe a little loud where I was sitting). And there was even a light show on the ceiling. The “host band” The Whole Enchilada, was really a host. They did the announcing and helped everyone with their sound needs. This video is of my whole three song set. Since I met the two directors, Roc and Pat at Milton Bradley in East Longmeadow, I knew that would be one of my songs.

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