I, hypochondriac

Weather conditions have finally reached a point where I can take my laptop and the little Bose speaker outdoors to compose some of the blog entries. You should notice less grumpiness, more upbeat topics, and a generally sunnier tone to the enterprise. You should, but it is not guaranteed.

You see, I suffer from a great many conditions. Practically everything I read about any medical condition amazes me because I discover that I have had it for years. Today I happened upon an article on involutional melancholia and realized that I could be the poster boy for this unhappy illness.

Involutional melancholia or involutional depression is a traditional name for a psychiatric disorder affecting mainly elderly or late middle-aged people, usually accompanied with paranoia. It is classically defined as “Depression of gradual onset occurring during the involutional years (40-55 in women and 50-65 in men), with symptoms of marked anxiety, agitation, restlessness, somatic concerns, hypochondriasis, occasional somatic or nihilistic delusions, insomnia, anorexia, and weight loss.”

Wikipedia: Involutional melancolia

As I sit here on the patio I can tick off the symptoms one by one and apply them all to myself. For those of you who scoff and think this is all my imagination at work, I have only this to say: Even hypochondriacs get sick sometimes.

Way back when I was a callow youth and working as an orderly on a locked psychiatric ward, there was a patient who suffered from involutional melancolia, in Room 262. Rita was in her early sixties, a tiny birdlike woman, and she was not an easy person to be around. Most of the time you would find her rolled into the fetal position and softly moaning. She had been on the ward for several weeks, as different therapies were tried to see if anything could help her.

As orderlies, we made brief handwritten notes about the patients we had interacted with on each shift, and these were shared at staff sign-off, when the outgoing crew filled the incoming people in on what was what. These notes did not become part of the chart, but were crumpled and trashed after each session.

After several weeks of writing “Margaret did not come out of her room tonight, nor did she give any sign that she recognized the presence of staff members,” something very wicked got into me, and I wrote this:“Tonight Margaret surprised us all by coming out into the common area, where she lead the group, patients and staff alike, in a sing-along of college fight songs. After that she organized a game of charades, taking great pains to include Charles, who was having a particularly bad evening.”

When the charge nurse came to reading my contribution she was halfway through before she realized I had written something bizarre, and she uttered a single explosive laugh. She then quickly gathered her professional wits, sobered her expression, and sent me one of the best stink-eyes I’ve ever received. Later I would receive a one-on-one lecture on the inappropriateness of my behavior.

What could I say? She was quite right. I was not being paid to write anecdotes, no matter how amusing I might think they were. Most people have an inner child, but I seem to have an inner smartass.

Fire On The Mountain, by Jimmy Cliff, Bob Weir, and others


From The New Yorker


Wednesday as we were leaving the gym we passed one of those tableaus that you find wherever seniors congregate. An elderly gentleman lying on the floor on his left side, being ministered to by three EMTs and a member of the recreation center staff. The first thing I did was to check my lanyard to make sure that the victim wasn’t me, and I could therefore relax. You can’t take things like this for granted … time isn’t linear, you know.

I haven’t checked, but I imagine there are well-worked out protocols for the staff to follow. After all, the place is filled with older folks puffing and sweating away, doing their darnedest to get their heart rates up.

The recreation center is less than 10 minutes from the hospital. (Of course, Montrose being a rather smallish town, everywhere is less than 10 minutes from the hospital … and everywhere else as well .)


As our transportation devices are becoming more and more frequently electrified, I find the experimentation by manufacturers to be very interesting. In the rapidly evolving world of e-bikes, for instance, you can find:

  • Bikes with motors on both wheels, providing the equivalent of 4-wheel drive. No doubt such a machine can go many places where I don’t want to be
  • Bikes with two built-in batteries, extending ranges to close to 100 miles on a charge. (Now all that is needed is a saddle that can cradle tender tissues for that long)
  • Bikes with belt drives, rather than a chain
  • Most, if not all of the varieties of non-powered bikes are now available as electric models, including commuters, mountain bikes, cargo carriers. tandems, and folding bicycles.

What this all means, dear hearts, is that no matter how much you like your brand new shiny electric bike of 2023, that very model will likely be technologically greatly improved in 2024.


From The New Yorker


Yesterday as I was mowing the lawn, I saw a great blue heron flying overhead, low and slow. That has never happened before, since we are nearly three miles from the nearest body of water. These striking birds have an unmistakable slow wing-beat that you can pick out from a mile away.

Here’s quite an amazing short video of a pair of herons flying to their nest.Up close and personal, you might say.


Time Is Circular Department

At age thirty, I would delight in downing a double espresso after a movie. At seventy, walking past a coffee bean on the sidewalk after four p.m. could give me insomnia for two days.

Now I routinely wake between midnight and two a.m., grab my laptop, down a cup or two of coffee, write for two hours, then drop back off to sleep with no trouble at all.

Who says the “golden years” are boring? Why, every morning I stand in front of the bathroom mirror, throw my arms out and declare: “What fresh hell today?” **

** My thanks to Dorothy Parker for her great line, which I have misquoted here.


Last call. Our representative to the U.S. House of Representatives for the past three years has been Lauren Boebert. This is a woman who was elected to national office for four reasons:

  • She is a Republican in deep red country
  • She often wore a gun to work at her restaurant in Rifle CO and encouraged her employees to do the same
  • She has no shame, a prime requirement for any candidate from her party at this time in history
  • She can be taught to utter simple phrases using exactly the same techniques one uses to teach a parrot to say “Polly wants a cracker.”

But today this article showed up in our local newspaper, indicating that all is not well in Boebertville.

She is living proof of the wisdom of the maxim:  “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”


The Fool, by Sanford Clark


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