New floors soon (I hope)

My house looks even more surrealistically messy than usual. I’m having new bathroom floors installed, so I have one toilet sitting next to my pipe organ, another sitting next to my large screen TV. I’m hoping that things will be put back later today.  (The ungrouted ceramic tile looks very nice.)

Joke of the day

With compliments to the Prairie Home Companion web site, and apologies to sopranos everywhere:

Why do you have to open the door when a soprano comes home? Because she can’t find the key and she doesn’t know when to come in anyway.

In memoriam: Paul Jerabek

Overnight on Sunday/Monday Paul Jerabek, my friend and 65-year member of the Euclid Avenue Congregational Church Choir, died after a few weeks of declining health.  What is remarkable is that Paul was 98 years old, almost 99, and until a few weeks ago he was very active, still doing many things around the church, living in his apartment at the Breckenridge Village retirement home in Willoughby, driving himself to events.

As I said, he was a member of the choir for 65 years before retiring a couple of years ago–in his 90s–because he felt that his singing was no longer up to his own standard.  (Truth be told, he was still doing just fine, especially for someone of his mature years.)  He and his late wife Alice had sung for many years in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus under Robert Shaw, Robert Page, Margaret Hillis and others.

Paul was kind, unassuming and modest, but he had many talents.  After retiring from his main career he became a prize-winning rose breeder.  I will never forget visiting his home where he had what seemed to be an acre of beautiful rose bushes.  As a gift, he once gave George and me a cutting of his own breed “Our Pearl” which continues to flourish at our house in Cleveland, being the first rose to bloom in the spring, and it is always the last rose to die in the winter.  Paul was also an award-winning photographer of professional calibre.  His pictures—especially of his own roses—have been published in many magazines.

There are some of us who assumed that Paul would outlive us all, so it came as an immense shock on Monday evening when I heard of his death.  We will be discovering many things around the church that he just “took care of.”  I especially will miss him with the choir, because for the almost 25 years that I’ve been at the church, he has filed away the choral music that the choir performs.  It’s a big job that I never had to worry about.

On Monday evening I volunteered with the crew from my church that every 5th Monday prepares a meal for homeless people in the inner city of Cleveland.  When I arrived for duty at 3:00 (I don’t usually get to help because I’m usually at work when they prepare and serve.) Paul’s daughter Cyndy Henderson and grandson Peter Henderson were preparing a salad.  I asked what they needed done, and they said I could help with the salad.  (This was before I knew that Paul had died, and no one said a word about it.)  I found out later that I had stepped into Paul’s usual role for the preparation of the 5th Monday Meal—he had prepared the salad.  I was honored to take his place.

I—along with his many, many fans—will miss him.  Rest in peace, Paul.  I know that you’re still here with us in spirit.

In memoriam: Sam

On Saturday, September 22nd, George and I had our ancient Welsh corgi Sam put to sleep. Sam was fifteen years old and had been George’s parents’ dog. After his mother died five years ago, Sam was an orphan and had nowhere to go, so he came to live with us and Rosie, our other corgi, who is now ten years old. At that point Sam was really sad (after helping with Genevieve’s care for several years) and confused by her death, as well as massively overweight. We didn’t expect him to live long. But he went on a diet, got more exercise, and Rosie accommodated herself to him, and he had a new lease on life. Who would have thought that he’d still be around five years later. By the end he was very arthritic, almost totally deaf and mostly blind, but he still loved his supper and treats.

During this 4th of July weekend, Sam had some sort of “spell”, and he wouldn’t eat his supper. When Sam wouldn’t eat, you knew that something serious was wrong. He rallied, but began a serious decline that went through the rest of the summer, with short periods of being the “old Sam.” The weekend of September 14-16, he was quite remarkable, supervising us in roto-tilling the back yard at the Austinburg house. But then he went precipitously downhill all the following week, and by Thursday he was barely conscious, he wasn’t eating or drinking, wasn’t aware of his surroundings, and when he was awake he was extremely agitated. George had been up most of the night with him all week. So we decided that it was time to end Sam’s suffering.

Late morning on Sept 22nd we drove out to Chardon to the vet who has taken care of Sam for his whole life, and he agreed that we were probably only beating nature by a few days, and that there was no reason for Sam to suffer, especially since his “Sam-ness” was gone. There was not that Sam spark last night, so I knew it was time. We spent time with Sam before the shot, both George and I were there, as were Dr. Allman and his two long-time assistants. After Sam was gone, they did not rush us out, but gave us some time to be with him. It was quick and peaceful.

Sam has had a good long 15 year life, and has survived many things that less hardy dogs would not. (Like horrific heart worm treatment and his many tumbles down the steps) He was a good and friendly companion. Sam was a stereotypical “grumpy old man,” but he never met anyone he didn’t like. His ashes have been buried under a tree in the back yard at the house in Austinburg, a spot where he especially liked to lie in the shade.

We’ll miss him.