Bonus points to the clever Gentle Readers who know for
what poem this charming illo was originally intended...
So it seems I'm getting better. I won't say it's all been roses, but from the beginning one is told over and over again that every day brings a little improvement, and on the whole that's proving true. The mental and physical fog that follows the sort of things I've been through is lifting, and my convalescence, as of this week, is heading in new directions.
With time on my hands, I've turned to old favorites for reading; somehow, venturing out too far, into all the new novels and serious tomes I ought to read, seems mentally just too much heavy lifting, and since I'm so restrained, for a couple more months, on physical lifting, I'm doing the same when it comes to books.
Actually, that's truly in a physical sense as well, since my usual books of first resort, the immortal tales of Lucia and Miss Mapp, are for the moment a tad diffy as all I have on hand is the vast anthology that several decades ago first introduced so many American readers to the wonders of Riseholme and Tilling. I could manage it well enough once it's in front of me, I suppose, but it seems rather much to ask anyone passing by to actually place it in my lap or remove it as needed.
As a result (to the surprise of few, I'm going to guess), I've instead returned to the (mostly) comforting world of Miss Barbara Pym. Her alternately cozy and bracing perspective is just the thing, I'm finding, and it has more than once occurred to me that there is much that is Pymian in the tale of a gentleman of a certain age navigating through an unexpected health crisis. Certainly, if nothing else, I have been of a sudden thrown into a cast of characters that present almost endless fodder for Barbarische meditations.
You mustn't think, first off, that all I'm doing is sitting around. Far from it; from the first days after surgery, and more now every day, there is a long list of things I'm required to do, and all sorts of people on hand to help me do it. Three times a week, for example, I have had home visits from a nurse, Bessie, with whom I immediately bonded because she too is a survivor of the Sandlands (a waystop for more than a few Filipina nurses en route to better billets in the West) and because the dogs for some reason immoderately adore her. She supervises the various medications that fill a highly geriatric daily pillbox that's now a fixture next to my chair and takes a little blood for various tests.
Then there are the biweekly visits from the physical therapist, Rick, a hearty and barrel-chested little man who perches gingerly on great-grandmother's leggy purple-striped velvet balloon chair in the sitting room as I do a variety of elementary exercises (much to the puzzlement of the terriers) meant to gently reintroduce me to physical activity.
While she was here, My Dear Sister interviewed and hired a new cleaning team, a lovely pair of Peruvian sisters who now come weekly and provide a very creditable approximation of the excellence of their predecessors Mrs. Galapatti-da Silva and Ermilia. One is Berta and one is Cecilia, and both are fleet and inclined to giggle, and if I'm still not entirely sure which is which, I am for the moment blaming it on the painkillers.
Mr. Muscato has returned to work, which is a very good thing for him (and rather for me, too, truth be told - he's inclined to fuss, bless him, and I'm cussed enough to rather enjoy some time alone), which means that we've also introduced a dog walker into the mix. Or rather a new dog walker, as we had something of a row with our last one - she had taken the boys in to look after them while I was in the hospital, and the original idea was that they would stay on with her for the first couple of weeks at home, as they do tend to be jumpy, which is not ideal given my various limitations at the moment. However, a few days after I got home, we had an early morning phone call from our vet: "Have you by chance lost a dog? We've had a call from someone who's found one with Koko's tag..."
Disaster. I called the lovely lady who'd rung the vet, who was very taken with her houseguest (temporarily, it seems, renamed Oscar, as he'd been the hit of her Academy Awards party the night before). Then Mr. Muscato called the walker/sitter: "Oh. Yeah. I was going to call you about that..." Maddening.
By the end of the day both dogs were home, and while still jumpy, they've been almost startlingly well-behaved, and we've added to our general menagerie of helpers the very cheerful Zach, who comes twice a day to air them and add an air of slacker/hipster bemusement to our rather more mature usual atmosphere.
So doesn't that present a genuine surfeit of potential Pymmy goodness? Really there's hardly a moment, but when one presents itself, I'm most likely either glued to TCM (I don't know about you, but I'm just thrilled about tonight's Maisie marathon) or lost in the gentle travails of Dulcie Mainwaring, the Bede sisters, or Wilmet Forsyth as they navigate jumble sales, the mysteries of anthropology (or rather anthropologists, a rather different thing), and the questionable affections of knitwear models.
And things will only be getting busier, as later this week I head out for yet another doctor's appointment, this time to be screened for appropriate placement in a more vigorous cardiac rehab program. I only hope I still find time to read, if only because in a few weeks I should be up to carting around the complete Lucias on my own...
I would be remiss if I didn't close with a word of hearty and sincere thanks to all of you who've commented and written with such lovely and heartwarming concern. It has been very nice indeed to know that there are so many people, friends in person and more virtually, who are so kind and thoughtful, and I can tell you truly that your great good wishes have been enormously comforting and helpful. As we say in Egypt - shukran gezilan, awi awi awi, ya helween...