Leslie Ellen, to distinguish her

Codfish

My sister Leslie was born less than two years after I was. I have few specific recollections growing up, aside of being in class, in which she was not at least tangentially involved.

One of the truly odd things my parents did was to name my sister after my father. This was occasionally a pain for both of us. For me, since people knew there was someone named after Dad, they assumed it was me. I got cranky when some people, primarily men of our church, would refer to me as Little Les. Eventually, we needed something to distinguish between the two Leslies. Dad was generally Les anyway. My sister became Leslie Ellen.

I seem to recall introducing her to my classmates on the first day of school. Because I started school in February and she in September, we almost never had the same teachers in elementary school. She had one named Miss Coddington in the fifth grade. Miss Codfish, as some of the kids referred to her, really seemed to have it in for my sister. I don’t know if it was racially motivated or if the woman was just a bitter human being. Quite possibly, it was both.

She’s a saint

And while the name “Leslie Ellen” could be a bit weighty, it was convenient when she converted to Catholicism during Holy Week of 2018. While Leslie isn’t a saint name, Ellen/Helena is. Helena “was about sixty-four years of age when she received the light of the Gospel.”

Sadly, one of her oldest friends was quite bothered by Leslie’s conversation. Her reasoning, in the letter I read after Leslie’s bicycle accident, frankly baffled both of us. It was a general evangelical anti-Catholic screed that wasn’t tied to any position of the church, failings by priests, or the like.

Leslie is having another birthday, which is a good thing. After that 2018 bike wreck, every birthday is a bit of a miracle.

Health reports: how can we keep from singing?

I’m giving a talk about March, Books One, Two, & Three>, graphic novels by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell for the Friends of the Albany Public Library Tuesday at noon.

singingYou may recall that my sister Leslie had a serious bicycle accident back on June 4, 2018. She missed about six months of work recovering and has had a number of medical procedures.

On April 8, 2019, she had a couple more surgeries, around her eye socket and nose. They were done more or less simultaneously, in order to minimize the total time of recovery. She’s doing well.

Meanwhile, I’m recovering from whatever health thing that I had. You know you’re unwell when you have to stop and rest walking DOWN the stairs.

On Sunday past, I barely got out of bed, except to watch two recorded basketball games that had been on the day before. And I couldn’t view anything more than 30 minutes at a time. It was impossible to focus enough to read or write.

Even back at work this week, I felt… loopy. I was still taking meds all week, including one at night that contained codeine. And I couldn’t ride my bicycle for the same reason.

I’m glad my wife finally submitted the paperwork for the taxes to get done. Usually, that process starts in the third week in February, during the school break. But because of our extreme busyness, worse than usual, it didn’t begin until the last week in March.

It’s just as well. Last year we got back around $700 federal; this year we PAID about the same. I was happy that all those early filers girded me for what I thought was a likely outcome.

Even though I’ve not seen five minutes of Game of Thrones – it’s just not my thing – I find myself skimming all episodes, RANKED BY TOMATOMETER; I blame my pharmacist. There are even GoT Oreos.

And speaking of religious behaviors, it’s Holy Week on the Christian calendar. Monday: I get my annual physical. This is a fortuitous occurrence, as it will be the follow-up to the treatment for my illness. I think the yo-yo weather is wreaking havoc with my allergies as well.

Tuesday: My daughter’s heading to Montreal on a ONE-DAY trip, which means getting her to school by 5:30 a.m., and picking her up around 10:30 p.m.

Also, I’m giving a talk about March, Books One, Two, & Three, graphic novels by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell for the Friends of the Albany Public Library.

Wednesday: Get my teeth cleaned.

Thursday: Sing.

Friday: Not sing, but attend service.

Easter Sunday: sing, a LOT, if I still have a voice left.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Gracious she, the middle child

The excitement of her trip east to see her classmates, based on social media, is very high.

On one of our irregular-but-always-lengthy telephone conversations, the middle child asked me advice about this guy. They’d been friends, but he had become what I can only describe as toxic. (Actually, there are other other terms I could use about him, but I’m trying to keep the content here clean.)

He was that way to some other people as well, as I understand it. I once told her that he was a tool, and that became my sobriquet for him, in lieu of actually saying his name. “What’s the Tool up to now?” I’d say.

And then, after he was finally out of her life, he suddenly dropped dead. She wanted to know if she should go to the funeral. My counsel was that she should do what she felt moved to do. I have to tell you, though, that I wouldn’t have gone.

Yet she did, and appeared gracious to their mutual acquaintances in doing so. Hmm, graciousness – what a concept. In many ways, I think she’s a better person than I am, more compassionate. She does tend to wear her heart on her sleeve, whereas my feelings tend to be more internalized.

I’m fairly sure that I haven’t seen either of my sisters in person since my mother’s funeral in February 2011. But I very likely will see Leslie this fall. She is going to her high school reunion. I was perfectly happy to have blown off MY reunion last year – I THINK there was one – but crashing hers has enough emotional distance to tolerate.

Even though I was Student Government president at BCHS, Leslie was the real star in high school, both through performing and by the strength of her personality; I say this with zero jealousy, then or now. And the excitement of her trip east to see her classmates, based on social media, is very high.

The photo is from a fashion show at the Fowler’s department store in downtown Binghamton, NY some, OK, many years ago, when there WAS a Fowler’s department store.

Happy birthday, middle child.

Sorry, Leslie

It’s sister Leslie’s birthday.

LeslieI have mentioned my particularly lousy March 2014 HERE and especially HERE. About St. Patrick’s Day, give or take 24 hours, sister Leslie called and asked how I was, and I told her.

Unfortunately, I was more than a tad short of patience. When she started giving me advice, which I found to be well-meaning Continue reading “Sorry, Leslie”

I is for I

There was a lilac bush right next to the house; it didn’t look very impressive, but it smelled wonderful. Still the single smell that reminds me most of growing up.

Lacking any INSPIRATION for topic, I defaulted to writing about me this week. It is I, during my significant birthday week. But what to write about that I haven’t addressed before?

I spent the first 18 years of my life in the same house, at 5 Gaines Street in Binghamton, NY. Gaines was a very short street between Oak Street and Front Street, with only 16 possible addresses, and actually fewer buildings than that.

At the corner of Gaines and Front was O’Leary’s convenience store. I went there and bought packs of baseball cards, but I also had to buy my father’s Winston cigarettes, which irritated me greatly.

In the yard at 1 Gaines Street was a huge gnarled tree which terrified me. Continue reading “I is for I”