October 06, 2014

Doctor's Office Observations cont..

Doctor's Office Observations cont...
By John R. Greenwood

Here's the second collection of observations I've made during various doctor visits over the last few years. I started the practice back in 2011. Because quiet time has been a premium in my life I found waiting room visits provided a tiny oasis of writing time. I always bring a pad and pen. I shy away from germ soaked People Magazine and the strategically placed diabetes brochures. I found it sort of therapeutic to tune my observation skills in such a confined space. 

Sounds exciting huh? 

April 2o13
We were there for an ear ache. It was an I-can't-stand-another-minute visit in hopes of some relief. Mrs G. fought off the discomfort for several days. Ear ache was winning the battle. Mrs G. doesn't like to lose fights with illness. She fights back. Today she called in the cavalry (Wilton Med) to the rescue.

It was kid day at Wilton Med. They came in crying, hopping, whining, and whispering. One was still in her soccer uniform, her hopping was not the soccer move that brought her here.

One little boy took a baseball to the eye. He was enjoying his medical adventure much more than the mother and grandmother who brought him in--just to be sure.

There was a little peapod with a cough that started from the tips of her lighted sneaks and ended at the tips of her Dora The Explorer barrettes. It was going to be a long night in her parent's house.

One family seemed to keep circling the block of exam rooms. They would go in one door, come out another. It seemed an endless journey. By the time we left, I'm certain they had logged a few miles. They may be circling yet...


Today is a new day; we are visiting the ophthalmologist. The waiting room includes a vintage collection of veterans, cranky ladies with walkers, nosey old men who have nothing else to do other than to interrogate you about your reasons for being there. There are high spots though. The accommodating Dr. Fellenbaum is a master mechanic of eyes and tuning them to work their best. He saved my fathers vision and kept it functioning at optimum level until the end. He is an unsung hero in my eyes--literally. He is quiet and soft spoken. His office is always busy and no second is squandered. He is one of my favorite men with extra letters before and after his name.

The month of May 2013 finds us in the lobby of the Saratoga Hospital for a simple blood test. It's early yet, but the meddling grandmother behind the reception desk spends the entire time on a personal call. When an actual call comes in she seems unhappy she must depart from analyzing everyone's else's business. I suppose I should refrain from judgement. She is volunteering. I am not.

One man enters the lobby and heads directly to the complimentary coffee center. He has this down pat. He must be a regular.

July 3, 2013
Two men, obviously old friends, who have me beat by at least 10 years, sit and compare notes. It goes like this for at least twenty minutes:

Vince- "Hey, how ya doin'? I haven't seen you in a while. You still live on such-and such  Street?

Dominick- "Yup, still there. The house needs some work but I need a lot more."

And so the repertoire continued its ping pong of of short question and shorter answer. There was an occasional dig at the our 44th President and our much maligned governor. The conversation was familiar and predictable. I'm sure the weather forecast found its way in there at some point too. I smiled on the inside and suddenly missed my father and his nightly news commentary. Commentary that I'm proud to say skipped at least one generation. Generally I support the president and governor whomever they might be.

September 2013
I'm in Albany for a routine eye exam.
It's a quiet office with more canes and walkers than fish in the fish tank. Comfortable shoes abound. Squeaky voices and grey haired adult children ease the concerns of their shaking parents with mouth to ear whispers. This phenomenon circles the room like a wave. My eye lids gain five pounds within minutes. My head bobs like a Chesapeake buoy in March. The next words I hear are, "Mr. Greenwood?"

September 2014
Doctor Fellenbaum - I'm back for a yearly eye exam in Albany. It's quieter than normal here today. The waiting room has one well behaved senior who appears to be waiting for another senior who may be filed away in one of the remote examination rooms. Even when the place seems empty someone inevitably appears from the shadows every few minutes. It's as if they've been in storage out back; only to be released for good behavior or to make room for the next Mr. or Mrs. Woeisme. These visits are lighter and more entertaining than the ones I experienced with dad when I was his medical transport technician. Those events were stressful and always seemed to come when I was overtired to begin with. I've become quite adept at waiting room survival techniques. I find simple ways to self entertain. My biggest challenge is not dozing off. Mrs G. finds it disturbing when she returns from her exam to find me asleep, with my head tilted back like a Popeye Pez Dispenser drooling on my shirt and snoring like a black lab next to a warm stove. I smile at her disapproval as she grabs my hand and whisks me off to the parking lot. 

These observations are 99% accurate and meant to take the edge of those ever increasing waits that we seem to dread so much. 

Leaf Of Faith

Leaf Of Faith 
By John R. Greenwood

Life has this funny way of making you believe it cares. It lulls you into a sense of security by handing you things on a silver platter and then when your mind is at ease and your feet are up on the coffee table Life hides the remote. All of a sudden you have to get off your cushion and do something.  That scenario has repeated itself on me for years. Life has teased me, tortured me, and treated me on and off so many times you begin to sense a pattern. Like the seasons, Life brings sunshine and sunburns, Frosty and frostbite, spring fever and hay fever. It's ability to run you ragged is what makes Life so complicated. As I headed out for a Sunday morning wrestle with my 100 year-old maple's deposit I found myself searching for something to restart my engine. Since photographs are a large part of this blog, and finding ways to keep my Baby Sony fulfilled are crucial to the survival of us both, I finally grew up and bought a new tripod. I felt it might give me more street-cred if I had one behind the seat of my pickup. I thought it would be fun to try and find a creative way to use it on this cool October morning so I unfolded it, grabbed a rake, set the timer, and began clicking away at the grasp Life had on me. The title, "Leaf Of Faith" came to me as the photo session progressed. My maple imitates Life. He has some age on him; some wear and tear. Weak limbs, sagging branches, and a scarred exterior are witness to his longevity and survival skills. He has good days and bad days. Generally he stands tall and proud but on those days when the snow is packed high around his trunk and his guardian is blowing it even higher he takes a deep breath and begins to count. He knows spring will arrive soon and fresh buds will supply a fresh outlook. Songbirds will flitter amongst his newness and Life will flourish once again. It's that Leaf Of Faith we must all embrace if we truly expect happiness to remain in our lives. Regardless of how deep the snow may get, looking forward to what follows is the key. If we stop caring, if we stop wondering, if we stop yearning for that next season we are doomed. On this particular Sunday morning in October I felt Life was reaching out to me. A pile of watercolored leaves was not a chore today, it was a pleasure. For the moment anyway, Life dumped a gift in my driveway, smiled and drove away. As Life idled up the road I saw the window roll down and out flew the remote. Life in all it's wisdom knows how to keep you guessing--how to keep you moving forward. 

Things can fall apart, or threaten to, for many reasons, and then there's got to be a leap of faith. Ultimately, when you're at the edge, you have to go forward or backward; if you go forward, you have to jump together.
Yo-Yo Ma 

October 03, 2014


By John R. Greenwood

"Camera Shenanigans"
It was a long day that began when the alarm on my Ipod started chiming at 3am. I was on the first floor of the Daze Inn just off the Adirondack Northway in Plattsburgh. I would spend the next twelve hours riding with a tractor trailer driver making his deliveries in the surrounding area. It was the first day of October and Mother Nature was dressed to the nines. When our day was over I headed back to the motel. 

"No Caption Needed"
There were still a couple hours of daylight left so I made a last minute detour toward Lake Champlain to see if I could grab a picture or two before calling it a day. As I weaved my way toward the waterfront I passed a used-book store called the "Corner Stone Bookshop". It actually yelled at me to pull the car over and come in. Since stumbling across Jack Lewis's, "The Hudson River" book a few years ago at the Lyrical Ballad Bookstore I am drawn to used bookstores like a moth to a flame. I always feel as though there's a book in peril and its up to me to rescue it from a life of shelf stagnancy. The Corner Stone was packed tight with everything from old Vermont Life magazines to an introduction to Winslow Homer. I dug in. 

"Book Mo-Deal" 
After scouring the shelves for awhile I realized daylight was fading and if I wanted a view of the lake I needed to grab my books and go. I left with three great buys for a total of $12.00. I had a simple book of Winslow Homer's work, a 1974 Vermont Life Magazine, and a Time-Life book called, "Turbulent Years, The 60's." They provided a cross section of my life and my interests.  

George, Paul, Ringo, and John
What happens to me is an insatiable need to find stimulation in the form of artistic expression. If I go more than a few days without it I get antsy. I begin sniffing out inspiration anywhere I can. It might be a bookstore or a grocery store. When you're craving a creative workout you don't stop until you find something that satisfies that hunger, but like Chinese take-out you're starving again a few hours later. 

Homer's "Snap The Whip" (1872)
Because I hadn't posted anything new in over two weeks I was as desperate as George Bailey and Uncle Billy. I was getting logy and distant and clinging to the hope that a town full of college students, a bookstore, and the end of a long day might provide a little CPR. The next stop was the waterfront. 

Things on the dock were quiet. The day was as tired as I was. I got the feeling the waterfront was waiting for inspiration from me more that the other way around. 

"Spoken Silence" 
Even this orphaned bike seemed to be in need of a twenty-foot wheelie and a five-foot skid. I said hello and goodbye all in the same sentence. My monkey-mind wasn't full but at least I knew it was still working. Off for slice of pizza, a cold beer and another motel night away from home.