Thursday, October 28, 2010

Head to Toe and Away I Go

I think I am falling apart. Last week I was diagnosed with the Shingles for the third time. That’s right. Three times. Perhaps it will be like baseball and the Shingles virus will have been struck out—way out of my body. As usual, my symptoms were atypical, so atypical it took visits to two dentists (who thankfully refused to pull out all my upper teeth to relieve the pain), and two doctors until the verdict was pronounced. The medicine is working—a sure sign the fourth professional made the correct diagnose, which was hard because the rash was not in plain sight. It was hiding in my mouth, out of plain sight even to me.

With the pain in my head decreasing daily, today I went back to the foot doctor to find out why my toes still felt numb.

“Your shoe is too confining,” the doctor told me. “That’s why the toes aren’t healing.”

“But you told me I had to keep my sneakers on all day in order for my heal to heal,” I responded in a most confused voice.

I have a heal spur on one foot and some sort of cyst between the toes of the other foot that needs plenty of space—no squishing of toes like sneakers do—to go away.

Could someone—anyone—please tell me how I’m to go on my upcoming, long-awaited vacation by wearing a sneaker on one foot and sandal on the other? Am I to tell the gawkers that it’s a new style created in South Florida?

On the up side, even though my shoe-style is laughable, my illnesses are curable.

I’ll be away from my computer for a week or two for all good things. I’ll keep you posted as soon as I can. Be well, and remember, my book Retired, Not Expired will be read sooner than I think!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Punctuation Ogre and the Letter Lapper

Remember Thermostat Jeannie, the one who moves my home thermostat up to Hubby’s comfort level? Well, her two best friends, Punctuation Ogre and Letter Lapper, live inside the grammar and spell check feature in my Word program.

When I write anything, be it a blog or article, as soon as I hit “Save,” the two of them get to work. Punctuation Ogre moves commas, or even worse, inserts them in places they don’t belong. I know the proper use of commas—I taught that skill for 35 years. Then she turns quotation marks, especially the end quotes, in the wrong direction. Her other tricks are switching commas and periods, sprinkling quotation marks around words, and misuse of the parenthesis.

Letter Lapper devours letters from words, leaving them grossly misspelled. Sometimes she only nibbles part of a letter, thus changing an “e” to a “c” or an “m” to and “n.” The other day, I typed the word FUNdraiser on a flyer, a word one of the charity organizations in my Seniorville uses. The next day, I received an email saying I omitted the “d.” I know the letter was there when I hit “Save,” but alas, it wasn’t when my friend received the flyer to proof read.

Errors in print mortify me. One reader asked if I ever heard of the grammar and spell check feature. He didn’t believe me when I told him about Punctuation Ogre and Letter Lapper.

I recently received the layout of the manuscript for my book via email. I opened it up to see and voila—each page contained proof Punctuation Ogre and Letter Lapper performed their destruction once again. Since I know the errors were not there when I hit “Send,” the damage had to be done in cyberspace while the book made its way to the publisher. With tears in my eyes, I realized I could no longer fight this war by myself. I sent out a call for the Punctuation and Spelling Warriors.

The Four Star General of Punctuation and Sensible Sounds responded—perhaps because his wife loves my blog and knows how the Ogre and Lapper have frustrated me since I’ve started to write. He carefully fixed the wounds in my manuscript, making him eligible for the Proof Reader’s Medal of Honor. Now if only he would develop a foolproof grammar and spell check program to be installed in all computers, he could be richer than Mark Zuckerberg, My number one fan deserves such a reward!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hometown? Hmmm

“Where are you from?” a new friend asked my visiting cousin.

“How far back do you want me to go?” was my cousin’s response. He was born in one city, went to college in another, and lived in two other cities where he did graduate work before settling in the Midwest 40-odd years ago. So where is he from? His multiple moves are par for many, including me. I have two states and several areas within those states that I refer to as, "hometown," depending on the questioner.

After my brother’s and my families moved to the same area on Long Island in the 60’s, a mutual new friend said to me, “I thought you and George were brother and sister?”

Since we are, his question made no sense, and I said so. He replied that my brother said he was from Brooklyn, whereas I claimed Queens as my home. We moved out of Brooklyn when Big Bro was ready for college, but I still had Junior High and High School to attend. Hence, I consider Brooklyn as my place of birth, but Queens, where I spent my teens and college years as the place where I'm from.

I’ve been in South Florida for over half my life. My sons grew up here. Florida is one of the states like California where many people my age were born somewhere else. Occasionally I meet folks who were actually born here—occasionally. Yes, they are true natives. But what should I answer when asked where I’m from? The place I lived for 30 years before I moved South, or South Florida, the place I lived for over half my life? A comic who entertained in my development a few weeks ago settled the issue for me.

“You’re a native Floridian,” the comic told his audience of retirees,” if you were here before I-95.

Those in the audience like Hubby and me who qualified as Floridians according to his definition howled. The others had a blank look on their faces. They were clueless that all the interstates weren’t in South Florida until around the turn of the century—just a bit more than ten years ago, right around the time many in the audience relocated south.

When we moved here in ’73, from Long Island I was amazed that Florida was not crisscrossed with highways and parkways as the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut was. The last “rail” of I-95 that connected the northern part of the country to South Florida was completed about ten years after we arrived. I-75, wasn’t complete until around 15 years ago. Florida’s turnpike extensions to bring it to the tip of our peninsula shaped state also weren’t complete until long after our arrival.

I have friends that won’t drive on an expressway—and some hail from Manhattan and never owned a car until they retired! To me, driving for 45 minutes on a highway is as easy as walking across a room. Learning to enter and exit highways was part of my driver’s ed. Did all the years of accepting bumper to bumper traffic for hours until I reached my destination—usually work or visiting “nearby” relatives, zooming onto an expressway at 50 mph to merge with traffic prepare me to view an hours drive as “nothing?” Yes. And I definitely didn’t pick up those skills in Florida. There were no highways here when we arrived. I brought them with me, along with the attitude that a 30-minute trip doesn’t require an overnight stay.

So, when asked where I’m from, I may answer South Florida, but my driving ability and outlook as to what constitutes a “long drive” definitely demand I give the city of my early years proper recognition.