- zing went the strings of my spine -


All hail the Simmons Beautyrest Mattress.  My laptop sits upon a little padded lap desk and my lower back sits upon a heating pad.  The pillows are fluffed and the night is young.

If I were a fan of big time painkillers I'd have asked my doctor today for some of the very best he had, but I've become a bullet biter in my golden years.  I get through back pain now by squinting, squaring my jaw, and thinking of England.

When I told my doctor this morning about the way I bravely get up off the ground after having one of my back spasms, he sent me down to x-ray.  Twenty minutes later we were looking at my skeleton on the light box where it was proven that the image in my head of a dozen or so fused and flaming vertebrae commingling with a throbbing eight-legged malignant tumor was merely fantasy.  What we did see was arthritis, and that was enough to get me here into this downy floof where I leaf through cane catalogs and practice various narratives of my doctor visit, punctuating them with dramatic moans and winces.

I have a weak back.  The muscles meant to support my lower spine are wimps, and so I'll be starting a regimen of physical therapy soon to transform the little buggers into a powerful rippling superstructure of lumbar support.  Soon I'll be pulling a train of rowboats with my teeth across San Francisco Bay, handcuffed, using only my lower back.  

The arthritis is just icing on the cake.  The real culprit was the strain I put on my back by doing yard work and then somehow sleeping in the wrong position.  I tried to do more yard work after that but all I was doing was turning into Walter Brennan.

The Backyard Renovation Project is well underway, and the main job, the tree trimming I was so worried about, is done.  The sixty-foot ash tree is now half that size and considerably different-looking.


Ain't it pretty?  The trimmers I hired were careful in their work.  No limbs fell onto the house, and one of the branches that came down did so with a crow's nest in it, falling softly enough to leave at least one of the three eggs intact.  

The nest had been a major concern of Viv's.  Her maternal tendencies were flapping all over the place before the trimmers came, and were it not for the calm, reasoned, intelligent mercenary in me she'd be squatting sixty feet up right now with a flashlight, a satchel full of Audubon books, and my heating pad on an extension cord.  She even called an ornithologist at the L.A. Zoo who soothed her by saying that crows were not on the endangered list and that it was early enough in their mating season that they'd probably go ahead and whip up another batch of offspring.

That's the thing about major backyard renovation projects -- if you're gonna make an omelet...

So the two icons for this coming week are the chainsaw and the dumpster.  Maybe I'll have enough strength tomorrow to push around a pencil and design a new family coat of arms.  I suppose it should include a back brace too, a fashion accessory I'll be acquiring in the morning, yet another glamorous addition to my arsenal of devices which keep me erect as I shuffle off toward Wrinkle City.


  today's music:



today's wisdom:

"Under the spreading chestnut tree 
The village smithy stands;
The smith a mighty man is he
With large and sinewy hands.
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man."

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow