Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

High School Reunion #57

Yes, it was fifty-seven years ago that I graduated from Hiram High School--June 6, 1962, in Hiram College's Hayden Auditorium, 8:00 p.m. (Just to show you how Times Have Changed: I'm now in bed by 8 p.m., reading, streaming--lights off by 8:30!)

The program from the day reminds me that we seniors from the school's chorus sang Randall Thompson's setting for Frost's "The Road Not Taken," a poem I would ask my students--for decades--to memorize. Anyway, I was in that chorus--and sang that day. (There are a bunch of recordings of it on YouTube--here's a link to one.)

The speaker was Dr. Burton Gorman, head of the secondary education department at Kent State. Little did I know on that 1962 day that I would later earn my master's and Ph.D. from KSU. The title of his speech was "See How Far." I don't remember a word of it.

Presenting our diplomas that day was Dr. Edward Rosser, who taught chemistry at Hiram College. He was president of the Hiram board of education--and his daughter, Marcia, was graduating that day and delivered one of the student addresses that day. (Marcia, do you still have the text?) He got to hand Marcia her diploma. And how thrilled must he have been to sit and listen to her sing her solo, "How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings"? Oh, what a glorious voice Marcia had.

The invocation and benediction came from Rev. Hunter Beckelhymer, minister of the Hiram Christian Church, which I attended dutifully (if not gleefully) each Sunday; he was also the leader of our Christian Youth Fellowship, which met early on Sunday evenings. And after the CYF dinner and meeting, we would swarm over to Hayden Hall to see the Sunday night movie the college delivered to the community each week. He was a wonderful, bright man, Rev. Beckelymer, and ended his career teaching at TCU.

The program lists forty graduates that day. (I'm there as "Daniel Osborn Dyer"--we all got the Full Meal Deal on the program.)

Not all of the students were from Hiram. Nearby Streetsboro HS had been having problems and had been forced to send, for the past four years. students around to various other county high schools. So about seventeen of those forty were from Streetsboro and had endured for four years long bus rides and a slow acceptance from us snooty Hiram kids. (What on earth did we have to be snooty about?)

But acceptance did come as those kids distinguished themselves academically, athletically, musically, dramatically--and all other kinds of ways.

The program ended with the recessional, played by the Hiram High Band. It doesn't say what we played--yes, "we." I was sitting among them demonstrating how not to play the cornet. I was bright enough to pretend to play the difficult parts and to let the kids who actually practiced make the music.

And then it was all over. And our lives went on. Until they didn't.

Quite a few of my classmates--including some very good friends--are gone now. Some are still alive, but I've not seen them--or heard a thing about them--in decades. They never go to the reunions.

Because Hiram High was a tiny school--and because it closed its doors forever in the spring of 1964 when the school consolidated with the nearby Crestwood Schools in Mantua--our reunions now are Come One, Come All. We meet late in July at a community center in Welshfield, five miles north of Hiram. I've attended almost all of them in recent decades. We have a pot luck (I usually take bread of some sort--scones in recent years), an update on all of the classes, and lots of conversation with people who, for the most part, we see but once a year--if that.

My class (see pic below) had only four members attending this year. The pic, I know, shows five, but the man with his arms on his wife (Ellen Hughes Dingus) was not a member of the class of 1962, but he is always there, supporting Ellen, who was, our freshman year, a class officer (don't remember which slot).

L-R: Sharon Mullen Steiner, D. Dyer, Ellen Hughes Dingus (with husband,
Don Dingus), Ron Etling

As always, it was fun to "catch up," to tell and hear stories we've told and heard countless times before, to wonder about missing classmates, to marvel that we, for yet another year, are still alive.

We are fortunate to have among our Hiram High grads some folks who are determined to keep this enterprise going--who are dedicated to keeping records (and emailing them to the rest of us)--who take pictures (and send them along)--who ... you know? Without them, Hiram High would have long ago vanished--just as the building itself has vanished, razed decades ago.

I left the reunion about an hour before it officially ended. I'd felt a surge of overwhelming loss, and I wasn't sure how much longer I could pretend I didn't feel it. I drove west on US 422, seeing familiar sites I've known since 1956 (when we moved to Hiram, where for ten years Dad would teach at Hiram College, Mom at James A. Garfield HS in nearby Garrettsville). My eyes were a little blurry and bleary--and teary.

By the time I pulled into our driveway, I was better. On the outside.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Sunday Sundries, 236 (Late Edition!)

1. AOTW--Okay, so this is maybe a day late--so maybe I'm the AOTW? Or, better, how about that woman who, yesterday, walked right in front of my (moving) car while she was texting and smiling and not noticing traffic at all? She was very nearly the DAOTW (Dead AOTW).

2. I finished one book last week:

     - A friend at the coffee shop gave me (uh, let me borrow) his (signed!) copy of Seth Borgen's 2019 story collection, If I Die in Ohio, a volume that won the New American Fiction Prize. Deservedly so. The stories are (mostly) brief, focused, intense, sometimes light, sometimes painful, sometimes both. There's one story--"I Used to Know This Place"--that takes place in a town very much like Hudson, Ohio (where, I believe, he grew up); it's a moving and wrenching tale of the self-destructiveness of teens; others deal with marriage (and failed marriage), about parenthood (and how some of us are just ill-equipped for such a role), about the young trying to figure out what they need to (must?) do.

Borgen now lives in Akron and teaches creative writing. His students should pay attention: He knows what he's doing.

3. I had my 57th high school reunion yesterday, but I think I'll do an entire post about it later this week, so ... hold your breath!

4. We realized last night that we had not finished streaming the recent film Deadwood on HBO. We'd been sort of picking away at it--10 minutes here, 15 there--and then had somehow forgotten all about it. So ... we recommenced last night and are nearing the end. So strange to see all these characters we'd once known so intimately (we'd been addicted to the HBO series fifteen years ago--is that possible?), characters now looking, well, fifteen years older--as we are though we, of course, have not aged a whit! (Link to some video.)

5. And we are now able to continue streaming the series Case Histories, based on the Jackson Brodie novels by Kate Atkinson--and why? Because Joyce just finished the fourth novel, Started Early, Took My Dog, and we did not want to watch the show based on it until she'd read the book. We both love Atkinson's novels (the Brodies and her "literary" novels) and are hoping the BBC will also film her new Brodie, Big Sky (2019). (I've read it; Joyce has just started it.)

6. On Saturday evening Joyce and I joined our son and his family for a birthday dinner to celebrate his 47th (on July 16) and Joyce's (... I forget ...) at Oak and Embers in Hudson, a place that specializes in smoked meat (duh), large crowds--and even larger servings. (I managed only half my "plate" [more like the size of a manhole cover].)

Still, great to see him, his wife (Melissa), our two "grand"sons (Logan, 14; Carson, 10). After the feast it was back to our place for cake and presents and regrets about eating too much.

It's impossible to believe that Logan will start high school in the fall!

7. Last Word--a word I liked recently from one of my various online word-of-the-day providers:

     - from dictionary.com

cosplay [kos-pley] noun
1. the art or practice of wearing costumes to portray characters from fiction, especially from manga, animation, and science fiction.
verb (used with object)
1. to portray (a fictional character) by dressing in costume.
QUOTES: Although cosplay isn’t a requirement at Comic-Con, many people participate, and they take it extremely seriously.
-- Michael Hardy, "The Best Costumes at Comic-Con 2018," Wired, July 23, 2018
ORIGIN: Cosplay is a blend of costume and play, but the combination is masking a much more complex performance. Japanese borrowed the English compound noun costume play (as in theater) and rendered it into its sound system as kosuch?mu-pur?, which was shortened by the 1980s to kosupure and narrowed to the more specific sense “the art or practice of wearing costumes to portray characters from fiction, especially from manga, animation, and science fiction” (as well as characters from video games). English borrowed back kosupure and refashioned it as cosplay by the 1990s. Japanese words like kosupure are considered pseudo-English Japanese coinages known as wasei-eigo. Other familiar examples adopted into English from Japanese include salarymananime, and Pok√©mon, the latter itself a popular subject of cosplay. 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Melting Melancholy

We don't do as much as we used to do. But maybe can't is a more accurate word than don't. This, for example, is the second summer in a row we have not been able to spend a week in Stratford, Ontario, going to see nearly a dozen plays in a week at the Stratford Theatre Festival--something we had done for nearly twenty consecutive years.

We no longer hop in the car and drive to the West Coast--or the East--to see family, to visit literary sites, to visit Enid, Oklahoma, where I stare at the places where I used to live, go to school, play.

In recent years, Ill Health has raised his ugly, hoary head, and it seems as if I've always got an appointment with a physician somewhere. (Joyce has many such meetings, too. In fact, she's writing her next book about it right now.) And one of the permanent meds I'm on just saps my energy.

It can be depressing, this inability to do things I've (we've) always loved. Hell, my vertigo has gotten so annoying (and dangerous) that I have to be circumspect about virtually every step I take. (I recently posted here about a fall I took on Memorial Day in our son's back yard when I swung and missed at a wiffle ball floated my way by grandson Logan and was lying stunned on the ground, closely examining the grass, before I even realized I'd fallen.)

The other day we saw on the TV some shots of Monument Valley, one of the few iconic sites in the West I have not seen. I said aloud that I'd like to go out there this summer. Then realized that wasn't going to happen.

You remember in the old movies the technique called an "iris out"--when black appears at the outer edges, then closes and ends the scene with a blackout?

Well, that's sometimes how my life feels these days. The circle of light grows ever smaller, etc., etc.

Depressing enough for you? (Yeah, me too.)

So last night, after supper (and after Joyce had opened her birthday gifts from me) we drove down to Szalay's Farm Market in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and bought some fresh corn for the week. Joyce also talked me into a jar of applesauce (didn't take much convincing). And somehow--miraculously--a couple of homemade peanut-butter cookies ended up in our bag. (I have no idea how that happened. Surely Joyce didn't shoplift!)

Home we drove, munching Evil Cookies, stopping at the Hudson McDonald's for Diet (!) Cokes (cancelling, of course, the effects of the cookies), then home. I read a little before Joyce came in (she'd been reading a Kate Atkinson novel in the other room), and for about an hour we lay in bed and streamed pieces of shows we like. I fell asleep with my arm around her ...

This morning, she (as is her wont) headed out to the health club; I walked over to Open Door Coffee Co., where I sipped their great coffee, read in a couple of different books, then, a couple of hours later, wandered home, where I baked some maple-pecan scones to take on Sunday to the 57th reunion of my Hiram High School Class of 1962.

While I was typing this, Joyce came down and said she was heading over to the Farm Market here in Hudson, about a block from our house. She loves the lettuce one vendor has.

And this evening we will join our son (whose birthday was on the 16th) for a birthday bash at a nearby restaurant--then back to our place for Goodies.

And as I type all of this--these past few paragraphs--I feel my morning depression lifting, floating away, disappearing into the haze of humidity that has been this week.

And I realized I would not for the world stand in Monument Valley, alone. Not when I can go to Szalay's with Joyce, when I can fall asleep with her beside me.

PS--It's her birthday today! The 50th one we have spent together!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Seidman Cancer Center, Continued

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

My lab results appeared on the University Hospitals portal on Sunday evening. A weird time. I'd been checking continually since last Thursday (I'd had the lab work on Wednesday), but nothing was showing up, so I don't know why I checked on Sunday evening. But I did, moments before I turned off the light for beddie-bye (a time, which at my age, is ... 8:30 p.m.), and I saw the results were in. I told Joyce, lying beside me.

"Why don't you wait till tomorrow?" she asked.

"I'll worry all night," I said. And so I looked. And worried all night anyway.

Only two test results were there: a comprehensive metabolic panel (everything pretty normal) and the bone scan, whose description was beyond my "knowledge" of medical science. So I'll wait till tomorrow to hear my oncologist explain it all to me.

Monday morning--the testosterone test was back (level very low--which is exactly where we want it: prostate cancer loves testosterone, so for the past six years I have been on drugs that kill testosterone--Lupron and Trelstar). And the PSA result was also back. It has been falling since my radiation therapy last fall (my second round of that). The chart below shows what's been happening.

6 August 2018
12 September 2018
16 October 2018
9 November 2018
15 January 2019
18 April 2019
10 July 2019

So ... that's good news. Although I've not had a prostate gland since my surgery in June 2005, prostate cancer cells also emit the Prostate Specific Antigen, so the declining numbers are a good (though temporary) thing.

Tomorrow morning, we go back up to Seidman, as I said, for a consultation with my oncologist--and for a couple of injections (Trelstar [see above] and Xgeva [for bone strength: Trelstar weakens bones])--one in my quadriceps, another in my ... you know ...

So I'll post more when I know more ...

July 18, 2019; 8:30 a.m.

Joyce and I arrived up at Seidman a bit before my “official” arrival time of 10:20. Then there was the usual waiting, the worrying, the walking back with the nurse for the check of my vitals, for the-customary questioning (“Have you fallen lately?”).

And then more waiting for my oncologist to arrive. From our room we could hear him dealing with other patients in two different rooms before he finally entered ours.

Then, at last, he arrived. Amiable greetings. Then ... down to it. He said my vitals looked good—as did my bloodwork from the previous week. He was especially pleased by my 0.29 PSA. Joyce asked him why he thinks it’s gone so low, and he said he couldn’t be certain, but it could be because of the immunotherapy I underwent back in January and February 2018. That gave me a surge of hope.

He did have a concern about my bone scan, however. A spot on one of my lumbar vertebrae. He said that he couldn’t compare it with my previous bone scan because, well, that scan hadn’t been very clear. (Can’t compare two things when you can't see one of them!)

So … that means I’ll be heading back for another scan on September 24. (O, joy unbounded!) Then he’ll be able to detect more accurately what is going on—if anything really is.

My Seidman visit ended with my quarterly Trelstar injection (appropriately occurring at the, uh, end of the visit). A bit of an ouch.

And in two weeks I’ll head up there again to recommence my 6-week injections of Xgeva, a drug that promotes bone strength (Trelstar weakens bones). I’d suspended Xgeva for some months because I’d had a dental implant—a process that takes (as some of you surely know) forever.

Rain was in the forecast yesterday, so I’d brought along an umbrella, and as we were about to head out of the building, Noah’s Torrent commenced. I told Joyce to wait; I’d go get the car. And so off I went (waded?), questioning my wisdom with every splashy step.

When I got to the car, I closed the umbrella, tossed it in the back seat, got in the front, and in that short amount of time—less than a minute—I was soaked. It’s possible I said a few bad words.

I was about fifty yards from Seidman, and by the time I got there, the rain had stopped, and Joyce, dry and smiling, walked to the car. Where her kinds words comforted me, all the way home.

Monday, July 15, 2019

A bit more on Wilkie Collins ...

Yesterday in this space I posted a little about the novel The Fallen Leaves, 1879, by Wilkie Collins. And I forgot to mention something: At the very end of the novel, he said that he was going to write a sequel about the married life of Amelius and Sally. Here's what he said:

Were the forebodings of Rufus destined to be fulfilled? This question will be answered, it is hoped, in a Second Series of The Fallen Leaves. The narrative of the married life of Amelius presents a subject too important to be treated within the limits of the present story—and the First Series necessarily finds its end in the culminating event of his life, thus far.


Before I started Collins' next novel (Jezebel's Daughter--which I started reading in bed last night), I check out some Collins' sites and biographies and found that he did not ever write that sequel.

But at the beginning of Jezebel's Daughter (1880) he had some things to say about his previous novel--and about his decision not to write (at least not right away) a sequel to it. He says some very telling things about the state of literature, about the use of sex in novels, etc. Here's the passage, addressed to Alberto Caccia, his Italian translator:

Let me begin by informing you, that this new novel does not present the proposed sequel to my last work of fiction—"The Fallen Leaves."
The first part of that story has, through circumstances connected with the various forms of publications adopted thus far, addressed itself to a comparatively limited class of readers in England. When the book is finally reprinted in its cheapest form—then, and then only, it will appeal to the great audience of the English people. I am waiting for that time, to complete my design by writing the second part of "The Fallen Leaves."
Your knowledge of English Literature—to which I am indebted for the first faithful and intelligent translation of my novels into the Italian language—has long since informed you, that there are certain important social topics which are held to be forbidden to the English novelist (no matter how seriously and how delicately he may treat them), by a narrow-minded minority of readers, and by the critics who flatter their prejudices. You also know, having done me the honor to read my books, that I respect my art far too sincerely to permit limits to be wantonly assigned to it, which are imposed in no other civilized country on the face of the earth. When my work is undertaken with a pure purpose, I claim the same liberty which is accorded to a writer in a newspaper, or to a clergyman in a pulpit; knowing, by previous experience, that the increase of readers and the lapse of time will assuredly do me justice, if I have only written well enough to deserve it.

In the prejudiced quarters to which I have alluded, one of the characters in "The Fallen Leaves" offended susceptibilities of the sort felt by Tartuffe, when he took out his handkerchief, and requested Dorine to cover her bosom. I not only decline to defend myself, under such circumstances as these—I say plainly, that I have never asserted a truer claim to the best and noblest sympathies of Christian readers than in presenting to them, in my last novel, the character of the innocent victim of infamy, rescued and purified from the contamination of the streets. I remember what the nasty posterity of Tartuffe, in this country, said of "Basil," of "Armadale," of "The New Magdalen," and I know that the wholesome audience of the nation at large has done liberal justice to those books. For this reason, I wait to write the second part of "The Fallen Leaves," until the first part of the story has found its way to the people.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Sunday Sundries, 235


1. AsOTW: This is a new one. The other day, driving home, I turned into our street (about a half-block away from our house), and I saw three walking women (in workout gear) in the street ahead of me, backs to me, walking fairly slowly. They were side-by-side, taking up the entire lane approaching me--and part of the lane I was in. I thought about the horn. Didn't use it. (Wuss.) One turned her head, saw me, turned back, did not tell the others, and so I crept along to our driveway, where, cursing (gently, gently) I turned. Oh, one other fact: THERE ARE SIDEWALKS ON BOTH SIDES OF OUR STREET.

2. I finished one book this week, The Fallen Leaves (1879), a late novel by Wilkie Collins (1824-89), whose complete novels I've been slowly reading, pretty much in the order he wrote them.
This one tells the story of an American, Amelius Goldenheart (!), who's left a Christian (and socialist) community here to go to England. There, he meets and is betrothed to a young woman (who hardly seems deserving, by the way), and while she is away on the Continent, he rescues a girl from the streets (it's that Christian socialist thing, you know?) and begins to care for her upbringing. (There are subplots, too--swindles, a missing daughter, etc.). Soon, as the young girl from the street begins to blossom, she feels her gratitude to Amelius changing into ... something else.

Let's just say that things work out in a not-very-surprising way.

I liked this: Another character (a friend of Amelius), hearing Sally (the girl) tell him that she is "fond" of Amelius, later says to himself in his carriage, "I reckon it's a sort of fondness that don't wear well, and won't stand washing" (249).

Not Collins' best novel--by any definition--but, hey, gotta read 'em all, you know?

3. We're nearing the end of the current season of Endeavour, a series we've long loved--just as we loved Inspector Morse (Endeavor tells us about the early career of Inspector Endeavour Morse). This season--four episodes--has not been my favorite. I love the actors, the characters--but the plots of the first three seemed devised by Agatha Christie with a bad headache--and perhaps a bit tipsy.

Episode 4 is another story. (We're not quite finished with it.) Wrenching in many ways. I don't want to say much more about it because the "problem" involves some central characters.

Watching via PBS app. (Link to some video.)

4. We didn't get to the movies this week--always a bad week when that happens ...

5. My Sunday bread-baking ritual continues. I feed the sourdough starter (now about to have its 33rd birthday) about 9:15 on Saturday night, then, about 7 a.m., put some of it back in the fridge and bake something(s) with the rest. Today, it's a couple of multigrain loaves. (They're rising in their pans as I write this--see pic.)

6. Next Sunday I have my 57th high-school reunion (Hiram High School, RIP, class of 1962). All the Hiram classes meet for a common reunion each July (it was a tiny school, and the high school closed in 1964--though the elementary lingered for a while. Link to news story about closing of Hiram High.) Anyway, I'll get to see some "old" friends, I hope--and laugh about things we have never forgotten ... but really ought to!

7. During the 1978-79 academic year, Joyce and I were teaching at Lake Forest College, north of Chicago a bit. There, we bought this antique clock, which we've loved, and which inexplicably stopped a few months ago. I tried all my tricks. Nope. Knew I needed to call our Clock Guy--but just hadn't done it. Then, yesterday, Joyce moved it slightly (her magic hands!), and it started and has not stopped since. Confirming all I've always believed about her!

8. Last word--a word I liked this week from one of my various online word-of-the-day providers:

     - from the Oxford English Dictionary--a word we need to bring back--and quickly so!

gamphrel, n. A stupid or foolish person; a fool, a blockhead, an idiot.
Origin: Apparently formed within English, by derivation. Etymons: Scots gamf, -rel suffix.
Etymology:Apparently <  Scots gamf fool (although this is first attested later: see gamp adj.) + -rel suffix. Compare gomerel
 Scottish and Irish English (northern). Now rare.
1729  A. Ramsay Horse's Complaint  in Poems  II. 122 To Gallop with some Gamphrel idle.
1802  J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry  IV. Gloss. Gomrell, Gamfrell, thoughtless or foolish person.
1847  H. S. Riddell Poems, Songs, & Misc. Pieces  310 Heigh me! is thus the gamfrel gane?
1923  G. Watson Roxburghshire Word-bk.  143 Gamphrell.
1924 Northern Whig (Belfast)  5 Jan. Gamfril.
1996  C. I. Macafee Conc. Ulster Dict.  139/2 Gamfril, gamfral, gamphril, gamful, gampheral, a fool, a clownish person.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Cartoons and the Common Culture

Bizarro cartoon from a year ago today
Those of you who are my Facebook friends know that I occasionally post cartoons from the daily newspaper--generally, cartoons that have some sort of cultural reference. These are some of the common cultural allusions I see in cartoons:

  • Rapunzel and her long hair
  • Frankenstein's creature
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Noah's ark
  • Adam and Eve
  • Dorian Gray (less common--but still ...)
  • Edgar Allan Poe (with, especially, his raven)
  • Washington Irving (especially the Headless Horseman and Rip Van Winkle)
  • Shakespeare (Romeo beneath Juliet's balcony and Hamlet with the skull of Yorick are especially popular)
  • various Greek and Roman gods and historical figures
    • Zeus, Poseidon, Odysseus, the Trojan Horse, etc.
There are others--many others--but you get the idea. Newspaper cartoonists can still assume that we (well, most of us?) will recognize these characters and situations and will smile/laugh at the twist the cartoonist imagines.

But for how much longer? As reading-as-a-leisure-activity declines, as streaming video floods over the world, as the public school curriculum continues to fixate narrowly on tests and test scores, I wonder: Is the day coming (and soon?) when a reference to Hamlet or the Trojan Horse or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde will leave most comic readers puzzled?

And another factor: How many comic readers are there? As print newspapers continue to decline (and disappear), as we become more and more divided by the news media we watch (or check on our smart phones when we hear a ping!), will common cultural allusions continue to become more and more contemporary? Will we see more and more cartoons about Spider-Man and Wonder Woman and Ant Man and fewer and fewer featuring the allusions that once were widely understood?

I smiled this morning when I saw the cartoon perched above this post--and not just because I've read Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde but because I wondered: How many people now remember who Mr. T was? (He's now 67, by the way!)

Between 1983-87 he was in a very popular TV series, The A-Team. There were 97 episodes. (If you're clueless about who he was--he's the guy glaring at you from the far right.)

He was in a bunch of other stuff, too--including Rocky III (1982). Older folks (like me!) of course remember him--he was everywhere for a while. But what about the Younger Crowd?

It's a cliche, I know, to say that "things change"; after all, they always have. But not at this swift pace. Do young readers today know Harry Potter? (Our younger grandson, 10, has just finished reading/loving all the books--but are they still popular? I don't know.)

As I look over this post, I can tell it's sort of an Old-Guy's Lament ... you know, Back when I was young ... A tad pathetic, I know.

But I can't help grieving for the loss of the days when most everyone knew about the Trojan War, had read "Rip Van Winkle," who knew what-on-earth Hamlet was doing with a skull!