Please patronize me!

Yes, please go ahead and patronize me, I honestly do not object at all. I am guessing this makes me weird. I was talking to my shrink today about my life and at a certain point I mentioned that I had a friend with means who let me come swim in her pool from time to time…and my shrink’s mouth set in a disapproving little line and she said, “Oh but surely you realize she’s just patronizing you.”


Um, yes. And so what? If one has no resources than one requires a patron. It’s a long and time honored tradition and one that as far as I can tell is only looked down upon by Anglo-Saxons and A-S wannabes. Da Vinci had a patron, Michelangelo, every famous composer, artist, writer, artisan or whatever you can name had a patron at some point.


I am dirt poor and I have been flying in a private plane, been to the Mexican Riviera, been on cruise ships, gone to Space Camp, and Duke University, been to zoos and museums and far distant cities. I’ve gone rock climbing in Brevard, skiing in Vale and the more exclusive Snowmass, been to the LA, STL, AVL operas and symphonies, been to see live theater, had gym memberships, ridden on a Ducati turbo, worn luxury leathers, owned telescopes, carbon fiber bicycles, stayed in beach houses, been water skiing and sailing, been aboard submarines and tall ships, seen Mayan runes, swam with dolphins, and fished in private lakes. And swam in an Olympic sized private pool.


In most cases my patron or patroness was in fact patronizing me…they were playing King Copethua to my beggar maid, but in almost all those cases there was also some feelings of genuine affection and in a few even genuine respect. These people also all got something back in return, be it help with a project, a babysitter for the night, someone to watch their house for them, some free publicity, or a friend for life. In the few cases where my patron and I hated one another, fine, I still got to have my experience, they got their ounce of whatever and everyone was satisfied. Whatever their motive, kindness, pity, piety, pettiness or malice, they still felt good and got something out of the exchange and I still got to have experiences that I could only dream of if I turned down their offers or accepted them as “insults”.


So was my swim hostess patronizing me? Yes, absolutely. Out of affection or a need to bolster herself? Who knows or cares? I feel affection toward her and either way I think the chance to let me swim helped her almost as much as the swimming helped me. And no harm was done to anyone. In fact, I have tried to help her out in return. Still do.


Let’s go a step further, okay? My fiancee and my best friend are both musicians, although on different social tiers, but both of them have to raise money to do what they do and that means having a * gasp * “Patron”. Do they allow this to affect their sense of who they are or their basic worth? Not hardly. It lets them have the experiences that make them happy and further permits them to make a living doing what they like. And their patrons dujour get good music, a chance to look good in public, and a chance to give something back to the community. Win-win. Same deal for me as an author/playwright and my brother as a digital artist. Same for anyone making a living at anything although it is perhaps less obvious in some situations.


So why the tight lips and the sneers? Where did this strange idea that one should not accept needed help come from? I mean who decided that accepting generosity was a bad thing or that being closed to a new experiences was a good thing? Who decided that suffering was good and suffering in silence not just better but positively noble? Very strange concept, people, especially in our you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch yours” society!


Oh, yeah, shrink lady, modern synonyms for patron – “boss”, “board”, “consortium”, “sponsor”, “manager” “the company” or even “Mom”.


Feature: Lifestyle Gym

So, it’s official my health is getting worse. But hey, who wants to live forever?

And no I do not have anything contagious, infectious, or catching…

Today, I want to feature a place that has been helping me stay sane through these very difficult times. Oddly it’s a gym, and frankly I think more people should patronize it.

Lifestyle Gym and Spa in Forest City, NC is a friendly and affordable gym and spa under Christian management and run in the true spirit of the Lord.

This is not a pick up spot or a hang out joint. It is a place where genuinely caring and compassionate people help you get healthy, no matter what your goals, fitness level, or handicaps.

I have never been hassled by anyone, never felt unwelcome and have been truly grateful for the personal services offered there.

These people know my name, my schedule, and often say “hello” to me and to everyone else. One even helped me when I lost a wedding ring, another when I needed directions, and so on. These are just good helpful people.

I especially want to mention three of my personal heroes here…Mary, a kind hearted black woman with a great smile who works the front desk, Patrick, a serious racquetball player, health nut, and member of the management staff who was very kind to me and convinced me to sign up despite previous bad gym experiences, and Marty, a MMA fan, buff guy, and kind soul who ran me through the paces my first day there and who made me feel at home.

And whether you are a lone wolf or are seeking a group/class experience these folks will have something for you.

So go sign up, okay? The facilities are great, the price is more than reasonable, and the staff are all cool.

Vaccinations – a misadventure and some advice

Okay, so I went to my doctor’s office because I needed a tetanus shot. Unfortunately the only thing on hand was the new tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis vaccine.

To be fair the physician, a wonderful doctor who deserves NO blame for what follows, did ask me if I had ever had any problems with this vaccine.

I stated that I did not know but that I did not think so.

My bad.

I got the shot and left the office. I was unlucky in that my appointment was the last of the day. The nurse was locking up as I left.

About four minutes later I was suffering from severe anaphylactic shock.

Here I got lucky. My fiancee who was with me took my seriously when I said I was in deep shit and he went around the building and pounded on doors until he got the attention of the nurse inside.

And so fortunately I found myself back in the examination room I had just left getting poked with all kinds of needles.

I’m actually a bit hazy on the details but I believe they included a benedryl shot and a corticosteroid shot. I don’t think the epipen they had actually got used. I then spent thirty minutes on my back talking to the doctor and nurse as they monitored me until I was out of danger.

They saved my life.

The lesson here? Ignorance is not bliss and if you are doing traveling that involves vaccinations it would be a very good idea to know what your risks are and what allergies you may have.

That said, how can you protect yourself?

Get your vaccinations at a doctor’s office rather than a clinic. Try for an early appointment so you don’t have to worry about locked doors if something does go wrong.

Ask questions about any possible side effects and the incidences of an allergic reaction.

Remain in the clinic for fifteen minutes after the vaccinations – this is legally required in most states but a lot of doctors will let it slide. It is your responsibility to ask to wait and to explain why if challenged.

Keep a list of all vaccinations you have had and take it with you to the doctor’s. And if you are taking other drugs you might want to ask about interactions.

Since more and more laws about vaccination are coming into effect you are going to want to take more precautions than usual.

It is also a good idea to visit the CDC Yellow Book website to find out what diseases are in the area you are going to and what vaccinations are required. ( )

You might also try their travel health page at .

And if you answer the question “Are you allergic to [drug]?” with “I don’t know?” then make sure your doctor will look out for you.

If it turns out you are allergic to something see that a big notation makes it into your medical records and also make a note of it yourself somewhere.

Trust me, with anaphylactic shock, once is more than enough.

It’s about to snow here in Western North Carolina

Preparing for the snow storm here tonight. Four to six inches, oh my! I remember being a child in Michigan and seeing twelve foot snows, I also at the ripe age of 33 remember when this area got four foot snows. Ah, climate change. But I digress. 

Since me and my brother, Dan,  were both raised by survivalists, we are better off than many – we both keep what out blood father called “oh shit kits” stored in our rooms and cars. Candles, flashlights, batteries and essential foods and meds are all on hand. We have a wood stove and plenty of wood. Lots of blankets. Canned food and can opener. Cast iron for cooking on the wood stove. (A trick better not tried with thin bottomed aluminum pans!) Stuff for our cats.  The only tricky bit is water as our well pump is electric – something we intend to rectify soon. I am filling up lots of gallon jugs tonight. I usually try to keep twenty or so on hand…and if it snows all the better. We can wash dishes, clothes, and so on in snow melt. At worst, I will be typing this on Steve’s laptop – on battery power – and sending it by analog landline before reading a book by candle light, eating a stove top meal of canned stuff, and then sleeping in a bedroll near the fire. We’ll stay better off than many. Last time we ended up hosting our  neighbors because they had no ideas and no tools for coping. Hopefully they learned something from that adventure and will be better off this time. 

And at the very worst, I go out into the woods and shoot a deer and find some edible lichen…but that seems unlikely. The worst I expect to face this go round -knocking on wood – is some dangerous driving, mostly caused by my fellow NC driver, all of whom seem to mistake their SUVs for tanks. People here seem to go absolutely crazy here at the sight of a single flake.

And perhaps a shortage of bread and milk – which I neither eat nor drink but which some people seem to feel are absolute essentials during a storm. No idea why.

But perhaps this would be a good time and place to post some basics for the modern dweller. So I am adding a new page link from the home page here call “There’s a storm coming. I need…” Check it out for a quick list of useful things that will help you survive the storm.

Roadside – Forest City, NC

An interesting day today. Whilst in search of a mechanic I found Linda Bedow – a fully qualified and licensed masseuse and bodywork therapist sitting in a floppy hat and a floppy camp chair selling massages and hot dogs at the side of the road.

Linda, a large-ish short haired lady with a great laugh and phenomenal hands who hangs out at the edge of the Dollar General parking lot across from the In and Out Car Inspections joint and the Montressori school in downtown Forest City.

I have no idea how much business she gets but it’s not enough. In the space of fifteen minutes I received the best chair massage I’ve ever had followed by one of the best hot dogs I’ve eaten, all for $12.00 USD.

That’s $10 for the massage and $2 for the dog.

The hot dog proved to be an organic all beef dog served on a warmed bun. I went with a chili cheese dog – add sauerkraut and relish with the usual condiments, but Linda also offered up slaw, jalapenos, and other dog toppers for the more discerning (or just plain hungry) customer.

And you could get a dry dog or a New York dog with everything all for the same 2 bucks.

The massage lasted fifteen minutes and was sheer delight. Linda has very good hands and she listens very well, so I got a shoulder/neck/back and lymph massage that was at just the right pressure to leave me feeling more than relaxed enough to face the rest of my day.

All in all an excellent deal all with roadside convenience…and I took her card. Want to meet her? Try her haunt there on Main Street, Forest City or call her at 1-828-919-7270

And if you get a chance, have a talk with her delightful friend and partner, Debbie – sorry, Debbie, I missed the last name – who is highly amusing and a perfect foil to Linda’s quieter side.

Definitely worth the time, your whole being with thank you later.