Archive for March, 2015

It’s the upstairs half of my duplex which long-term renter Shannon Smith turned into a disaster zone and a lying thief of a handyman who stole $600 of tile and tongue-in-groove imitation-wood flooring I paid for. You wouldn’t believe  what I’ve paid over the winter to keep the thermostat at 55 degrees and prevent the pipes from freezing. I’ve resented the upstairs for the same reason I don’t observe dates of national infamy. I recognize victories; not humiliations, and I have felt no greater humiliation (with the possible exception of last summer when two of my most cherished friends walked out of my life) than that which happened last October and November upstairs. Today I have no friends; only acquaintances . . . but I have many acquaintances.

Folks wondered why I didn’t try to rent the upstairs the day after she caved me in.The answer is best explained in the cat urine odor which permeated the carpet and led me to replace it with the wood veneer living room floor that’s about 80% finished. It is explained in the 10 or 15 broken areas of tile and linoleum flooring upstairs and the stolen materials which would have allowed to 70% finished renovation of those floors to be completed. I could not expect a renter to occupy a duplex that was not ready for new residents. No one looks for a new apartment in winter except evicted people, and I could not justify advertising a place in that condition anyway.  I decided to TRY to renovate the place when the market was better. I  almost called a property management company to see if they were interested in renovating and managing rental of the upstairs for a part of the income. Then I realized I’d likely be better off by hiring a home renovator first and then a property management firm second. Why should I pay property management an additional fee they would likely charge me to work with a renovation company?

Then came cataract surgery for my left and right eyes. The cataracts could have been addressed and fixed in July if my “employer” had provided information the charity aid people asked for in May. Instead I visited my eye doctor and aid  people seven times after December, and my cataracts were taken care of March 10 and 24 . PROGRESS! But it’s not over. Two more weeks and two more visits to the eye specialists after which I  will have prescription eye glasses that allow me to read close in without a hand-held magnifying glass.

As a result of all this and the lingering snow and chill, I have fallen WAAAAAY behind on the book I am writing about Springfield World War II liaison John Thornton Walker. I can’t take days away from work when the doctor action is already costing me a day, sometimes two days a week away from my employer. I need to work to eat and pay bills. I don’t have to work a lot, but the 30 hours a weeks I’m working are essential, and I’ve not been getting them.

Even so, I’ll be talking to a property manager this coming week to learn more. They might not even want to bother with a solitary upstairs duplex. I’ll know more later.

And starting Monday, I’ll be looking for a renovator.

. . . and a renter.

Live long . . . . . . . . . and proper.


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Since 2012, I’ve known my vision was failing because of cataracts in both eyes. Prescription eyeglasses helped but they didn’t help enough, and in 2013 my eye doctor would not report to state authorities that my vision was good enough to allow me to drive.  At the time, it seemed a little silly. After all, I could read most type in magazines and newspapers. During the day,  I could drive with no obvious problems. I’m sure distant details were beyond me, and that was important for a valid drivers’ license. At night, however, every light I looked at directly had halos around them — what you see around the full moon some nights — and these were BRIGHT GLARING IMPEDIMENTS to my night vision. I’ve known older people who could not drive at night because of their cataracts; nice friends who could not and would not drive after dark.  With me there was no choice. If I didn’t drive at night,  I could not keep my job. During winter, the world turned dark at  4:00 in the afternoon, and I had to lock up the store of my employer at 5:00. I must confess that sometimes I had some FRIGHTENING EXPERIENCES.   Most of the time I got by. Other times, especially  during high traffic I was CHALLENGED by the horrible circumstance,  not clearly seeing the centerline of the road and other times not seeing the line on the right side of the lane. I still almost quiver thinking about some close calls. Often when the oncoming headlights were REALLY BAD, I’d slow down so I could pay more attention to staying in the lane, and people would pass me like I was driving five miles an hour though I never did. On the belt line around town I never drove less than 30 in the 55 mph zone — and I admit, that was damn stupid of me — but it was the only way. In the city, going home from the airport,  facing occasional long strings of headlights coming toward me on dark streets, I sometimes  dropped to 20 mph. By the grace of God, no one touched me during the winter of 2014/2015 which was the WORST.  During the darkest time of the year, I even stayed at my employer — not on the clock so there was no pay for staying — so I could allow  the rush hour traffic to pass and dissipate before I departed  to volunteer work at my AeroKnow Museum at the airport, 10 minutes from my employer,  and  eventually to home for dinner and bed.  I seldom  left the airport until 9:30 so the streets would be relatively clear from people driving home after leaving their employers at 9:00.  The eye glasses doctor passed me “by a hair” the winter of 2013/2014, but refused when I returned in November of 2014  with another report for her to send to the authorities.  During all of 2014 and 2015, I’ve been an outlaw.  I  HAD to get those cataracts fixed and become street legal  again.  In APRIL of  2014 I began that process.

The eye surgeon’s office recommended state help. They scheduled my first cataract operation for July 2014. The state helpers told me they could not help me until I tried to get help from the county. The  county gave me a form to fill out that required answers from my employer. The positive outcome of the surgeries was predicated on the fact that I HAD TO WORK to LIVE. That was absolutely true. Even with Social Security income, I HAD TO WORK to LIVE.  My employer did not take my request for answers  seriously, but I could not dare quit my job in frustration. (During this stupidly protracted time I was sometimes LIVID with frustration, but I was determined I would not quit, and he was determined he would not fire me. If he did, he would have to pay unemployment compensation, and that was not an option for him.

July came and went with no surgery. August, the same. September, the same, despite my repeated requests for answers I could share with county who would then work with state and resume toe charitable aid process. In October, employer responded with answers. I hand-delivered the completed forms to county and was told I had waited too long. I would have to re-submit the paperwork, in updated form! So I did.

And I waited.  I let my new friends at state know what was going on. Finally, one of them told me in so many words, “Job, we’re not going to wait for county. I’m going to talk to my supervisor. I THINK we can expedite help through a program that provides assistance to the blind. There is no question that your vision qualifies you for it.”

In the meantime, I also could not work when there was significant snow on the streets. I could not risk an accident and have a police officer discover me driving without a license! So I missed four days’ work this winter : $240 pre-tax down the drain.

On December 4, 2014, I had a minor stroke that put me into a hospital bed dor almost three days. Later in the month I talked to my eye surgeon’s office and was told the doctor was on vacation. I would have to have my eyes examined again by the surgeon when she returned. My eyes had surely degraded since May of last year.  I had the exam and learned the eyes were worse.  Surgery on both eyes would  be scheduled for March because the surgical center had access to the Laser equipment they would use for my more critical eye, and all of my charity aid paperwork could not be completed in  time for February surgery.  (“Job, you have a cataract in your right eye the size of MILWAUKEE! I don’t know how you can see with that eye,” the surgeon told me.)  I could see with my right eye, but thanks fo the cataract, I could not read with my right eye.

In February I was notified by mail that I an not allowed to drive. I called the appropriate office to explain I had received the notification and that I was having cataract surgery on both eyes, and that soon I would be “street legal” again. I was told all that doesn’t matter. I MUST submit a report from a medical professional that I am qualified to drive. I will have to wait at least another month — until late April — to have the surgeon or another appropriate person submit that report. That’s because it takes the eyes about a month to recover from the surgery.

I had to get a clearance from my “home physician of record” that stated I was physically okay for tthe surgery: good blood pressure, heart condition and the rest of it. Thanks in part to my new dietary regimen since my stroke (NO more salt for ME! Lots of fruit and veggies;  I  ate more fruit in the month following the stroke than I had since 1973, I think. I still eat a lot and stilll enjoy it.  I passed the pre-surgery  physical with flying colors.  The cataract operation March 10 on my left eye was a breeze. The difference my my sight before and after is astounding!  My left eye technically qualifies me to drive. On March 24  I return for cataract surgery with the LASER on my right eye. I will  share an update re how that  went later this week.

I am far less anxious about the coming operation than I was about  the  first . The major adjustment since the first operation has been learning how to give myself  eye drops three times a day. THAT took some practice. I WISH someone at the doctor’s office had taken ten minutes and a dropper with sterile water to instruct me. It didn’t happen, but it should have happened. I’m not angry, and I’m ALMOST comfortable doing it since the 10th.

So cross fingers, world. I am eagerly looking forwrard to resuming life as a legal driver, and it will happen not a moment too soon!

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

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pre-poem ramble —
TO ALL WHO ARE NEW FOLLOWERS OF HONEY AND QUININE: I have a feeling you don’t particularly READ this blog. NOT even ONE of you has shared comments, and WordPress with their avatar business prevents me from knowing YOU. Please  COMMENT about Honey and Quinine and tell me a little about yourself. In recent months I have discovered ONE BLOG I REALLY like among all you new “likers.” That is the blog entitled “Yeah, RIGHT.” NICE writing, whomever you are. I mean that truly. I do like  some long time followers of H & Q. Ladies and gentlemen, you know who you are. Thanks to all who follow H & Q.

Holy ka-LO-nee it’s been a busy cupola weeks! I finally obtained financial help to pay for my years overdue cataract surgery that will restore my vision so that I will be able to drive without breaking the law. On March 3, Dr. Sandra Yeh at Springfield’s Prairie Lasik and Eye Center operated on my left eye. As predicted, the improvement was amazing! The hardest part of the process (AFTER almost a year of major hassles obtaining necessary information from my employer) has been eye drops three times a day (three different prescription medications to prevent infection and other avoidable troubles if correctly administered), which I MUST give myself since I live solo. I regret PROFOUNDLY not compromising more with some wonderful women when I attracted wonderful women and they were happy to attract me . . . and married when I had the chances. Nobody showed me HOW to administer eye drops before surgery, and I didn’t learn how until days after. That resulted in several times not doing it right and wasting very expensive medicine. I’m getting the hang of it now. Visits to the eye doctor and hassles with prescription post-December-minor-stroke medicine refills have further discombobulated my life. Cataracts in my right eye will be “blasted” with major Laser treatment March 24. THAT will be the easiest part of the equation for me. It will take about a month after the 24th for the improved vision “recovery” to transpire. I can say this: I feel like a new hummin’ bean one day short of the first one. THANK GOD for Dr. Yeh, Kathy and Margie at the state financial aid office and all the staff who allowed this miracle to happen!

The poem is from my first book of poetry Minstrel’s Ramble: to Live and Die in Springfield, Illinois,  available for purchase ($12 postpaid or $10 when and where I recite my poems). I wrote it October 10, 1995.  I hope you like it.

Strangers’ Smiles
by Job Conger

Musing over distant  loves in my head . . . . . .
occasionally . . . . . .
I have been lucky in bed . . . . . .
occasionally . . . . . .
yet, during times of unwelcome solitude,
the cherished memories, in pensive interlude
are not the under cover wild gyrations
that came with sharing passionate sensations.
Though I’m grateful to the warm sweet hearts who cared
I miss, the most, the smiles that strangers shared.

Exquisite eyes met in a glance . . . . . .
occasionally . . . . . .
a nod, a grin, a laugh, but not a chance . . . . .
Not even an exchange of names
nor sparks on kindling hopes for flames.
No kiss of heaven’s mandate to us all:
“Surrender to true love’s redeeming call.”
Apocalyptic release to nature’s strident plea
to fast-scanned souls throughout eternity.

Yet, to the hollow place . . . . . .
occasionally . . . . . .
comes the memory of a face . . . . . .
occasionally . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
and women I have hardly met
have given gifts I won’t forget:
the timeless, reflected return
of my unconscious essence burn
and sustained my dreaming wandering long miles
with the hope and strength that come from strangers’ smiles.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
as I have said at the conclusion of my Honey & Quinine blog posts for years before Leonard Nimoy died, and gratefully acknowledging his words which shared before I modified them to a form I call my own . . . . . .
— Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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