The Princess moved her beloved cactus garden back out on the deck last week. She keeps them in the house during winter. On Tuesday we were startled to look outside and see this.
We both were so freaked out that I said, “Yuck, I’m not going to deal with prying them off of there until tomorrow.” The Princess, adopting my “head in the sand” philosophy, closed the blinds so she wouldn’t have to look out on the death scene. The next morning I went out with a long-handled tweezers and started to pry one of them off. Holy poop! The dang thing tried to snap at me. Jeez they’re alive! So, with some trepidation I took the tweezers, pried like crazy and eventually, first one, and then the other were flicked down onto the surface of the deck…and they headed for cover. So Geico, back off. The most you could get us for is Gecko torture. And even that, really, it was just “needle-boarding.”
CONCERNS RISE OVER GDP
No, not gross domestic product, I’m talking about the Gosh Darn Pony. I used slightly different words, but you get the idea. I’ve been out to see the Pony twice in the last week. I reinstalled the radiator and then filled it. This was after putting a new oil seal in the hydraulic pump just prior to my trip. With the radiator all set, I tried to start the engine, got a couple of puffs of smoke, but couldn’t quite get it to start. Turns out that once again I had forgotten to open the gasoline shut-off valve on the sediment bowl. I’m going to have to hang a big sign from the rafters over the Pony asking HAVE YOU TURNED ON THE GAS? It’s hell to get old. Gene put a charge on the battery for me over night, and I went out again yesterday to see if I could get the Pony running. I went through the usual rigmarole of putting oil and gas in through the spark plug holes, put the plugs back in and cranked it over. Four straight times I got the engine to catch for about 2 seconds. I tried various starting procedures, choke on, choke off, throttle high, throttle low, and every combination of those, but still, every time, two seconds and out. GDP! HELP!
MINNESOTA TRIP, PART MIDDLE
I didn’t explain this before, but as I found myself coming up on my big 65th birthday, I asked The Princess if her birthday present to me could be a Mayo Clinic physical exam. I must have caught her in a good mood, because she readily agreed. I called Mayo about two months ago, got the exam scheduled, and used some frequent flyer miles to buy the airline ticket. As the weeks ticked by leading up to the trip I mentioned my birthday present exam to a number of people. Almost everyone thought it sounded nuts. Some said so, and others just looked at me funny not knowing what to say. Call me crazy (or just your usual idiotic author), but to me it sounded like fun. My rationale was, get someone different to look me over for a change, make sure all the right tests were done and if everything came out fine, I’d have the added comfort of knowing a world-class outfit had decreed it.
The trip down to Rochester on Highway 52 from the twin cities was about an hour and a half, all smooth sailing. I stopped at a roadside restaurant called Little Oscar’s on the way down for breakfast and took the photo below as I left.
I’m telling you, that Model T flat-bed truck sure brought back memories. You too, Bill? That’s the same model that cousin Ed and I brought back from, yes, Minnesota back when Grandma and Grandpa were still alive. Boy, we had some fun with that thing.
When I got to the edge of Rochester, I pulled into a Target parking lot, grabbed the iPad and phone and started calling downtown hotels. I settled on a Hilton Garden Inn, which turned out to be a great decision. I was about three blocks from the buildings I would spend two days in, and it was directly connected to the skywalk/subway system from the second floor, the floor my room was on. So, cool thing number one about going to Mayo’s, no matter what time of year you go, you’ll always be comfortable, because you never have to go outside. Maybe I’ll just continue in this vein with a list of “cool things about getting one’s physical exam at Mayo.
Cool thing number 2, they’re thorough. I met my internist, kind of my “point person” for the whole thing, at 1:00 pm. She spent an hour with me, first just talking history, gathering facts and reviewing the few items I’d brought along. She then went on to do the actual physical exam. All right, I’ll admit it, I didn’t anticipate that for the first time my digital prostate exam would be performed by a female doctor, but she was really cool about it, and we joked back and forth as she did the procedure. The side benefit, women’s fingers are smaller.
Cool thing number three, they’re efficient. Following my exam, my doctor and I sat down and talked again. Based on what she heard, read and found during her exam, a plan for the rest of the exam was laid out. This plan was fed into Mayo’s computer system and appointments were set-up. I was given a set of set of pages that told me where to be, what for and when to be there. As I went from place to place, I’d flash your pages, they looked in a computer monitor and sometimes they’d say, “Oh, says hear there’s been a change in one of your appointments” and hand you a revised set of pages.
When they drew my blood in a small cubicle, one of many, the phlebotomist slid a little door open in the wall, placed the samples on a conveyor belt, and off they went to the lab. They say results are usually available to your doctor via computer in two hours. They even took a little extra blood, so that, as in my case, when the doctor wants another test done, the lab already has the blood to do it.
Cool thing number four, it’s a beautiful place. The buildings themselves are striking, and they are filled with artwork. Here’s a little slide show of some of the art I saw.
By the way, at the information desk one can get an audio guide of some of the more impressive pieces of art. Which reminds me of cool thing number five, you are never lost. There are information desks EVERYWHERE staffed with friendly people, well they’re Minnesotans, but they tried to find warmer ones for those jobs.
Cool thing number six, the shopping. Via the skyways/subways one is connected to an indoor shopping mall with some really great stores, food courts and numerous smaller shops, handy for buying The Princess a small gift. Here’s something that brought me up short. One of the unusual stores, I mean unusual looking, was a Barnes and Noble book store built into what was once an old theater. But as I was browsing I took the photo below.
Huh? What you see in this photo is about a fourth of the books offered in this category. Am I just really old, or incredibly out of touch, or does it say something about kids when books on Teen Paranormal Romance take up an entire row in a major bookstore. Is normal no longer good enough for romance, it’s got to be paranormal? This was the scariest thing I saw on my entire Minnesota trip.
Cool thing number seven, the museum. Still, within the same complex of buildings lies a small historical museum, including this old, horse-drawn ambulance, which used to bring local patients into the clinic.
Cool thing number eight, Jaspers Restaurant. Just a few steps from my hotel was this truly first class small restaurant with Alsatian cuisine. I ate there both nights. One night I had the walleye, you know, when in Minnesota…everything delicious. But connected to this cool thing is another, number nine, Daub’s Bakery, a local institution. Turns out that Daub’s owns Jasper’s. I stopped at the original Daub’s on my way out of town and was not disappointed.
But of course, number ten, the coolest thing of all, getting a “clean bill of health” from my doctor during the wrap up session. Well, “ok, almost clean, certainly nothing life threatening. As a matter of fact, the doctor says I have only a 7% chance of dying in the next ten years. Hey, why didn’t she say I have a 93% chance of living, doesn’t that sound better? Those Minnesotans, I tell ya.
I had a ball at my Mayo physical. I guess that’s the best recommendation I could give. I even got a free T-shirt as a souvenir after donating blood. To all of you, I wish you good health this Easter Day and thanks for reading.