Richmond Drive

CIMG2337This is the “high-rise” for which I’m on the waiting list. Peggy and I had a 5:00 appointment yesterday so she could see the interior and figure out if she’d like to apply too and I could see a now vacant apartment and measure before the resident moves in. Tra la la, here’s the rear entrance:

CIMG2338

The manager, with whom I’d reconfirmed our appointment earlier by voice mail, was nowhere to be found. Errrrrg! We don’t have a car so a friend of Peggy’s took us over. The manager’s absence made us both furious but, trying to make the best of it, I showed Peg the common rooms and asked a couple of residents about mail boxes [yes] and individual climate control in the apartments [yes].

Here’s the lovely sun room, which I imagine on a winter day with snow gently falling:

CIMG2339

And, what respectable over-62 income-based apartment building would be without a crafts and Bingo room?

CIMG2342

So much for the common areas …

Damn it, I want to measure an apartment! So …seeing residents about, I start to schmooze. “Oh gee, we had an appointment to see Janet at 5:00 … she was going to show us a vacant apartment so I could measure and Peggy can see if she likes them … we don’t have a car, so it’s difficult to get here … and Peggy works during the day …”

The first woman looked suspicious and wiggled out of showing us her apartment with, “Oh, I don’t think I should. I might get in trouble.”

Excuse me?

On to the next woman inside the laundry room and out of hearing range (I hope) from “I might get in trouble.”

Success!

Joanne cheerfully showed us her apartment which, because she’s on the fourth floor and her windows look out at trees, I immediately coveted. No, I didn’t take pictures because that seemed rude after I’d self-invited us up, but she is such a nice woman that she showed us every nook and cranny – which I measured. 

Doncha love that feeling of “mission accomplished”?

O.K., so this is not your dream home. I, on the other hand, think of it as an apartment building in Brooklyn.  My grandparents lived in a similar building way-back-when with all those lovely things like mailboxes on the wall, elevators, love seats on each floor opposite said elevators so you can rearrange your packages – everything except the bingo room – so I’m o.k. with it.

Besides, I need some time to ‘calm my ship’.

Painting by Horatio Ordoza

Painting by Horatio Ordoza

[Yes, the canoe would approximate the size of my ‘ship’ right now.]

The rent on Richmond Drive is right, and it’s location, location, location.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now I’m calling the manager-who-doesn’t-write-her-appointments-down so I can see a vacant apartment and measure properly!

I’m on the list!

If you’re in your 30s with a decent job downtown, maybe married with kids and a dog, there are two safe, trendy neighborhoods in Louisville where you want to live.  The first is The Highlands with its main corridor Bardstown Road dense with services, boutiques, restaurants, and bus lines. If you want to be within reach of the city’s downtown core, this is the place to be. It’s also a very good place to be if you’re in your 60s because – it’s walkable!

The Bristol Bar & Grill is now a long-time almost staid member of the hip restaurants lining Bardstown Road in the Highlands.

The Bristol Bar & Grill is now a long-time almost staid member of the hip restaurants lining Bardstown Road.

The Highlands was the last ‘near-downtown’ neighborhood to be urbanized. Up until the Civil War a few wealthy families owned plantations here while the city built its industry on the banks of the Ohio.  Eventually the landed heirs began formal subdivision of farm land and meadows, a horse-drawn street car line was added in 1871, and in 1891 Frederick Law Olmsted gave the Highlands its justly famous Cherokee Park. With the park, more of the rich moved to The Highlands; more modest homes followed for the new middle class.

scenes Cherokee postcard

The photo below shows what the wealthy built.  Many are still privately owned, but a good number have been converted to condos or apartments commanding some of Louisville’s highest real estate rates.

Louisville_highlandsOff of Cherokee Park Road, which is kind of Louisville’s Park Avenue, more modest homes line leafy streets and it is these homes that our mythical 30 y.o. wants to buy.

simple Highlands home

When I came to Louisville a few years ago I lived in The Highlands and am currently staying here with my friend Peggy until I move into a senior, income-based apartment on Richmond Drive – in The Highlands.

Happy face

Happy face

The thing is, after my recent adventures in Mexico I need to stabilize

my financial boat

MY FINANCIAL BOAT!

To sit tight, as it were, for at least a year or two, and just see what happens.

So, one of my first tasks upon arriving back home, beside the numerous doctor visits, was to explore senior income-based apartments through HUD and the city’s department of housing. Until I received a PDF of a 120 page booklet called “Housing Choices” through the local HUD office I didn’t know there was a Highland Courts Apartments in this highly desireable neighborhood. I visited and applied the first day I learned about them.

I’ve never been a fan of highrise living …

This is NOT Highland Courts Apartments

This is NOT Highland Courts Apartments. Evidently no pictures exist, so I’ll take some when I go over to measure next week.

and, while there are 99 apartments in Highland Courts it’s really only four stories tall so it’s not a highrise. Still, it’s a big building and the biggest building I’ve ever lived in was a two story apartment “square” with a pool in the middle of it in Miami. I’ve always shied away from buildings with a lot of apartments because of the traffic.  But this traffic is 62 or older and, perhaps some of them, like me, are over-educated and under-funded. If they’re not, well, old people don’t scare me because I can run faster than most of them.

These are all 526 sq feet one-bedroom apartments with galley kitchens and big bathrooms in case you use a Jazzy scooter. On Tuesday I’m going over to measure for furnishings.  I’ll take pictures and tell you more soon.

There is a 3 to 6 month waiting list, though my move could happen sooner because the manager told me “Nobody wants to move at Christmas.” [Except me.]

Thankfully my old friend Peggy is willing to put up with me until I get the call.  The good news is that I qualify for a $300 rent – including utilities. I just knew it could be done!

I’ll leave you with one more image.  Among the laundry, work-out, computer facilities, craft rooms and sitting room on the first floor, there is the most glorious Sun Room you could imagine.  I imagine curling up with a book as the snow falls outside the windows. When twilight comes it will be magic.

It's even prettier than this one.

It’s even prettier than this one.

I’ll take pixchas!

 

 

 

The nuts, the bolts, and the screws

social-security-checkNo one ever wants to talk about money, one of those curious taboos in America we tip-toe around. But if you’re following my Adventures in Social Services we need to be clear.

It turns out that the average Boomer’s social security check is around $1200 a month [and I am nothing if not average.] With no other income, 48% of the boomer demographic are 100% reliant on their social security.

So I looked into what the government calls the “Medicare Savings Program.” There are ceilings under which some retirees can have their $104.00 Part B premium, all co-pays, and all prescriptions paid for. At $1,216.90 per month (deduct the $104.00 monthly premium from that), I don’t qualify at the $937.00 per month cut-off for that program. But I do qualify to become what’s called a Ql-1 SM-1 Premium Buy-In Only, which means that as long as the sequester/debt ceiling doesn’t queer the deal, I can have my Part B premium paid for. As far as co-pays and prescriptions, I’m on my own.

Before you become dizzy with joy at the thought of the extra $104.00 a month I’ll have to travel the continents, let’s look at Medigap policies. These are licensed by the state, so every state is different, and there is no guarantee that anyone can buy one, at any price.  [Well, there’s guaranteed issue in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, but all the other states underwrite based on your pre-existing condition(s).]

Why seek a Medigap policy, known widely as Medicare Supplemental Plan F?

Medicare pays 80%. You pay the remaining 20%, a yawning chasm if you're hospitalized, eh?

Medicare pays 80%. You pay the remaining 20%, a yawning chasm if you’re hospitalized, eh?

It’s a no-brainer, but as of today – in Kentucky – you can’t know (a) if you’ll be accepted or (b) what it will cost, because it’s NOT OPEN ENROLLMENT, stupid.

Come October 15 we can begin to shop. I figure I ‘might’ be able to obtain a gap policy at $131.00. Deduct the $104.00 currently paid and I’ll only be an additional $27.00 a month out of pocket.

But no one can escape the do-nut hole.

evil do-nutWell, they can if they draw less than $937 social security a month.  For the rest of us lucky pensioners, even with a Medicare Supplemental Plan F, we’ll need to purchase a Plan D for prescriptions.

Ha, ha, ha!

While the Affordable Care Act has tinkered with the percentage of payments for prescriptions in the do-nut hole, climaxing in a projected year 2020 low, low twenty-five percent (wait, there’s more!), I just saw a hepatologist who recommended a treatment consisting of three drugs over the course of 12 weeks, one of which costs $4,000.00 a pop. I didn’t ask what the other two cost.

But o.k., let’s ration treatment and go for status as a Ql-1 SM-1 Premium Buy-In Only person. For this I have to have a caseworker who must have many documents to prove I am not cheating. Honestly, I have one of the nicest ladies I’ve ever met.

You know the movie.

You know this movie.

O.K., she’s a little scattered, but who wouldn’t be with the mass of poor, disabled, and/or old huddled at her door? If YOU ever have to manuever this system I advise that you do not mail or fax anything. Like me, be prepared to go in person, wait your mandatory 90 minutes or more until she/he is free, and hand-deliver the information. I suggest casual chit-chat until you see the person actually type in the desired data. After that, you’ve done your best.

Now for the bright side! Under my chosen method of Positive Poverty I qualify for $16.00 a month in food stamps! But wait, there’s more. I also qualify for elderly, low-income housing in which one’s rent can be no more than one-third of one’s income.  And for Section 8, though the waiting lists are so long I probably won’t live to see it. AND, much to my surprise, a free, life-line cell phone which a worker signed me up for yesterday.

Applying for housing is a separate process though, so I’m just beginning that. OF COURSE there’s no one-stop integrated social service.

Ya big silly.

Well, I’m off to hand deliver another piece of information to my caseworker.

I leave you with a photo of the August 1971 Womens March on Fifth Avenue for which I was an organizer and, at one point, exhorted the masses from the kick-off stage mic to knock over the wooden barricades halving the street and FILL Fifth Avenue with our demands.

Those demands included universal, single-payer healthcare paid for by taxes exactly as we pay for police, roads, the fire department and other Public Goods. A system in which there would be no Medicare Plans A,B,C,D,E,F, J or Affordable Care Act bronzes, golds, or platinums, or a myriad of Explainers to assist navigation through what is, in my opinion, a deliberately confusing system broken at nearly every level. And that’s if you’re not sick.

My, we were optimistic.

August 1971 march

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in the U.S.S.A.

I know the Beatles did “Back in the USSR” as a nod to Chuck Berry’s “Back in the USA”, but it’s the Beatles’ song that’s playing in my head – with my own rearranged lyrics that repeat “Back in the, back in the, back in the U.S.S.A.” Why, you might ask, am I conflating these tunes? I’d answer that few things make sense, much like my home nation’s current jihad on Syria.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last week was Doctor Week!  A new GP and three new Specialists. New Rx. New strategies for chronic conditions. Thus the following phrase is to be sung to the tune of Joe Cocker’s “Many Rivers to Cross” – with new lyrics: “Many co-pays to pay …..”

doctor extracts money

That’s why I’m devoting time this week to finding a Medigap policy.  We’ll just see about that, won’t we?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I got in touch with an acquaintance here in da Ville who told me he had an old 80s Honda Spree in his shed that he wants to sell.  Synchronicity.

I chose this picture with a person riding to show you how tiny this scoot is.

Honda spreeFrankly, I was shaky when I took it for a test drive. My balance isn’t what it used to be. The fact that it will make up to 30 mph with so little between you and the asphalt is scary. It’s hard to imagine putting this thing into a car lane where most people do NOT drive the speed limit.

street traffic

Eeeeeeeeeek!

Gawd, I’m old.

Well, the scoot’s in the shop for an estimate on making it road worthy (yes, I’d like the back brakes to work and mirrors in the front) and if the numbers play I’ll be buying a helmet, knee pads, cable lock, orange caution flag, and trunk of some sort to store same, ‘cuz there is zero space for anything on this baby.

Yesterday I was in a thrift store and found a pair of kid’s Hot Wheel knee pads for a dollar each.

Hot wheels knee padsThey make dandy elbow pads.

My final scooter related purchase will be a street map of Lou’vulle so I can stay off the main drag.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last week, for one miserable day, I was defeated by the heat and the public bus system.

humidity

It was more the bus system because I HAD TO TAKE TWO BUSES. Like any mediocre transit system, transfers aren’t synched. Many bus stops have zero shelter.  As the wait grinds on, one bakes or one freezes. I suppose it’s more or less the same to the intellects who design the schedules.

Surely, if I have to see that specialist again there is a back way upon which I can scoot.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It looks like Mia may be going to live in Calgary, Canada in November. Her now-foster-mom Mary deserves a double-fudge chocolate sundae with her choice of toppings.  Yeah for Mia!

Mia at Mary's house. Picture by Mary. I miss this goofy girl!

Mia at Mary’s house. Picture by Mary. I miss this goofy girl!

On the other hand, Asher, who is married to Foosie here in Peggy’s house in da Ville, hasn’t left my side much since I returned.

Ascher 004

Did I tell you Asher was a stud-boy for Tree Top Kennels before he retired and came to me? He has ONE HUNDRED SIX children. [That’s in caps because even with thirteen females, that’s a lotta kids.] Yes, he’s marvelous with puppies. In fact, Ash is marvelous with just about anybody he meets. Though he’s older and … ahem … broader than he once was, kind of like a middle-aged guy in Miami with a beer belly – he has the most generous spirit of any schnauzer I’ve met.

When I move I won’t separate him from Foozie or Peggy. But I hope I find a place near by so I can come visit often.

~~~~~~~~~~~

yada, yada, ya … and the beat goes on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get on the bus

sweat on a stickThis pic isn’t Louisville, where the fair ended Sunday, but it’s a good ’nuff stand-in. On reflection, don’t you think it may be several decades old? It’s certainly no longer rare to have a stretch of mid-90s in late August almost anywhere in the U.S., so while the Dog Days of Summer used to be between July through mid-August, because they were tied to the appearance of the Dog Star Sirius, now everything is up for grabs. Today’s dew point in da’ Ville is destined for 62. Yes, just like San Miguel, I carry my parasol and a fan.

Unlike my previous whining self in Louisville though, this time I’m not crumbling under the heat. San Miguel’s sun hardened me.  You wanna feel hot?

Puleeze, people, this is just sultry.

stethoscope

It’s doctor week!

I now have a General Practitioner who promptly scheduled me to see four Specialists in, you guessed it, four widely separate locations. Oh, did I mention that Louisville is a car culture?

I investigated getting financed for a 50cc motor scooter, but my credit score is too low. Sigh. For the moment, as I scheme…

So, the city has a mediocre public transit system but at least the buses are air conditioned. I already have my elderly person’s card so I can ride at .80 cents, rather than the usual $1.75.

tarc busIf you aren’t old, disabled, or a student you have to pay the $1.75 which buys you a transfer good for four hours. If you don’t have exact change you’ll have to put two dollar bills into the machine. The city doesn’t give you your quarter back. I think we should give da’Ville props for robbing the citizenry outright rather than pussy-footing around, eh?

By luck of the draw my first specialist is a Dermatologist on Wednesday. I expect to be cauterized, frozen and/or perhaps sliced at some point,so I plan to take a valium an hour prior to the visit. The best thing is that I’ll be able to understand the doctor.

Friday it’s a Urologist.

————————————————————————————

But how boring, eh? Perhaps more exciting is the fact that I now have a social services caseworker. Although I worked with a lot of clients who had caseworkers, I’ve never had one of my own and I’m curious to see the system from a personal perspective. After my induction interview by a tired, pleasant and overwhelmed woman at Kentucky’s Center for Family & Children, I’ve learned that I qualify for $16.00 a month in food stamps. THAT my friends is what growing old enough and broke enough will getcha if you play your cards right, and I must say it’s a welcome addition to the budget.

You may think this is small potatoes, but ta da!

Medicare Part B

I also qualify to get that $104.90 Medicare Part B premium paid by the feds. My social security is just * * much under the cut-off point of $1257. Whee! That’s $120.90 additional income which I think we can all agree won’t cover the cost of a Medigap policy, but could potentially chew it on the chin.

Today I have to catch the bus to the library so I can print off the proof that I have no hidden assets in the Caymans.

I AM the 99%!

bus stop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in da’ Ville

 

 

My first impression upon being back in Loo’vulle is how green it is. Of course, I’m staying with Peggy, who lives in a nice part of the city called the Highlands.

Lou house

This puts me back in the land of lawns, spreading oaks, flower gardens, and – flat sidewalks! [Readers in San Miguel will appreciate my happiness at being able to walk and look at the sky.] Peggy and I can walk to Cherokee Park, designed by Frederick Olmsted of New York city Central Park fame, with Asher the miniature schnauzer and the love of his life, Foosie, a black cocker spaniel, if we choose.

Cherokee ParkMr. Olmsted designed a necklace of parks for Louisville back in the day. Because Cherokee Park is in the Highlands, so named because it is on high ground and less likely to flood, Cherokee is the park best maintained and probably most used.  It is a sprawling, winding wondrous place.

May I introduce Asher,

Ascher 001

 

And his lady love, Foosie:

In her Christmas Snow Princess outfit

In her Christmas Snow Princess outfit

The back story:

When I moved to San Miguel 14.5 months ago I left Asher, my male mini-schnauzer, with Peggy and Foosie – from whom he shall never be parted.

Asher began his life as an AKC stud dog.  He has 106 progeny.  That, and his winning personality, are probably all you need to know. Foosie, who is also an AKC cocker, is Peggy’s rescue girl. Asher and Foosie became an old married couple as soon as they met.  It’s really sweet.

And sweet to be with them again.

Flying.  I remember when it used to be fun. This is my third day back in the U.S.A. and I still ache from lugging suitcases around airports.  I miss the Sky Caps!

 

 

 

Good night, San Miguel de Allende

Photo by Tracy Gallagher

Photo by Tracy Gallagher

It’s less than a week before I’ll lift off from Mexico and, within 12 hours [no creeks rising and all of that], be back in Loo’vulle, Kentucky, USA.

Louisville skyline.  Affectionately known as "da Ville."

Louisville sky line. Affectionately known as “da Ville.”

Right now I’m staying with friends Bill & Jane in SMA’s Guadiana neighborhood who, I’m sure, won’t be broken hearted when I go. [Three days for fish and guests, as we say.] Still, for these few days it feels like I’m traveling again, which means it feels like a tiny vacation, which means it feels great!  Thank you Bill & Jane.  You’re welcome to lay your heads in whatever small hovel I can afford in the U.S.

Why Loo’vulle? you might wonder.

There IS the Kentucky Derby.

But the primary reason is that’s where my healthcare paperwork is set up. You see, each state has different Medicare managed plans and you can only change during a window of time starting October 1st  … and all that rot.

It will just be simpler to see physicians, of which da Ville, being a regional health-snare, oops -care powerhouse has plenty.

The GINORMOUS plus is that I have three truly good friends there who make me laugh and spit wine out of my nose whenever I see them. I’m sure I’ll have need for that sort of thing as I attempt to live in a car-culture American city with a crap public transportation system.

If there is some way I can swing it, I dream of, ta da!

LOVE this color!

LOVE this color!

Only, because I’m 67, I think I’d like fatter wheels, a windshield, and a rack on the back for groceries.  That should be another $500.  Of course a car would be more convenient, but I’d actually have to get a job to afford a car and you know how I feel about that.

With a scooter there will be challenges …..

Ah, no. Probably not a good idea to scoot today ...

Ah, no. Probably not a good idea to scoot today … taxi!

but, I am Woman.  Hear me roar.

Between you and me, getting a scooter is probably going to mean getting financed which, if someone is stupid enough to do it with my credit score, means descending back into the Credit Maw. Something I’ve avoided for five long and satisfying years.

Well, that would be the future, and right now there’s good news.  The beautiful Mia, my Manchurian Princessa, is being fostered with her and my friend, Mary, who will be extremely picky about a permanent home.

Mia loooves Mary and actually doesn't look terribly upset that she doesn't have me any longer. Gee, you raise 'em and then they fly away.

Mia LOVES Mary and actually doesn’t look terribly upset that she doesn’t have me any more. Gee, you raise ’em and then they fly away, huh?

And, tomorrow I’m having a Bon Voyage party with 10 friends at “Hecho en Mexico” which has a very nice courtyard where I’m sure we’ll all be using hand fans if it’s as hot as it was today.  Hot but dry, I hasten to add.

…. Ya know, there really is no way to describe the deliciously cool mornings in San Miguel, the difference between being in the blazing sun or under a big tree in the afternoon, or the slow return to mountain night air after twilight. Without a doubt San Miguel de Allende has one of the finest climates on the face of the earth.  I hope I get to return for a visit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re calling it “Positive Poverty”

I had a conversation with Gabrielle a few weeks ago in which we discussed not trading in our retirement for paid work.  Despite the fact that we’re going to have to hunker down on exceedingly slender funds, since we’re on the other side of our mid-60’s we agreed that the freedom to spend our remaining days as we see fit is worth what we both know is going to be a tremendous struggle.  We decided to call it “Positive Poverty.”

Despite its roots in history, this is a decidedly First World concept. You see, for us it’s a conscious choice.  We are well aware that for billions on the globe, it is no choice at all.

As a child of the world’s most fully realized vision of a Consumer Nation, I find it faintly absurd that I’m about to embark on a chapter of my life in which, at last, I’ll need to resist temptation. Frankly I’ve never been very good at it, and if “past experience is the best predictor of future action”, I’m really not sure I can change.

Of course, intellectually I can find a lot of reasons.

smoke stack industryReducing my carbon footprint makes me feel the most virtuous, like Tom Waits must feel in this picture.

Tom WaitsBut, this is a new virtue for me, and as such I suspect it’s really just skin-deep.  God knows, I’ve bought my allotment of stuff in the past.

See, there's even a magazine for it.

See, there’s even a magazine.

O.K., so I’m a veteran thrift store shopper.  But in the past that was just a simple aversion to paying retail. Perfect example:

New jeans $25.00 and up, up, up.

New jeans: $25.00 for the cheapies. $75.00 for the labels, then up, up, up!

Old jeans worn and faded, just the way I like 'em. $3.00.

Old jeans, worn and faded just the way I like them. $3.00 at Goodwill.

But that’s just a financial decision, rather than a spiritual commitment to stop consuming for the sake of some vague idea of freedom which frankly, I haven’t done much with before. I’ve been out of work for a little more than a year and trust me – no novel took shape, no painting appeared, no poetry wrote itself. In fact, I’ve spent that year being singularly unproductive.

I watched a lot of T.V.

I watched a lot of T.V.

So, why not find a job in the States?

I suspect this blog is going to become a place where I explore an answer to that question. I mean, what’s positive about poverty?

If you already have one for yourself, I’d love to hear it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Film review: “Adam’s Apples”

You must have a dry, dark, nearly mad corner in your brain to enjoy a film like “Adam’s Apples”, a 2005 pitch-black comedy from Danish director Anders Thomas Jensen. Starring Mads Mikkelson as Ivan, an impossibly optimistic preacher, and Ulrich Thomsen as Adam, the unrepentant neo-Nazi sentenced to community service at Ivan’s rural church where he will join Gunner (Nicholas Bro), a fat kleptomaniac sex-offender, and Khalid, a Saudi sentenced for robbery (Ali Kazeem) who, we are later informed, has a political conscience because he only robs gas stations owned by the corporation that plundered his country.

Adams ApplesAt the beginning of the film Ivan cheerfully tells Adam that Gunner and Khalid have completely reformed and that, with a goal, Adam too has a chance to transform his life. Ivan isn’t particular, and when Adam sarcastically spits out that he’d like to bake an apple pie, Ivan puts him in charge of the church’s much-beloved apple tree which he must tend for several weeks before harvest.

Jensen is not above using the apple tree in the biblical sense and when it is first assailed by crows, then infested with worms, and finally struck down by lightning we can rummage around our brains to tease out whether the fruit of knowledge has a dead man’s switch built in? Ivan makes no such judgements but informs Adam that the trials of the tree are Satan’s work at testing Adam’s goal.

It’s the rare film that can make a brutish neo-nazi a sympathetic character, yet we are forced to look through Adam’s eyes when he clearly sees that neither Gunner nor Khalid are remotely reformed, the first drinking himself into a daily stupor in the church kitchen when not stealing everything that’s not nailed down and the second with a ski mask and a wad of $17,000 in cash in his room after nightly forays to neighboring gas stations. Already disgusted with Ivan’s absurd goodness, (Adam breaks his nose within the first five minutes of meeting him while a few minutes later Ivan pops into his room with a cheerful, oblivious message about lunch), Adam makes it his mission in life to destroy Ivan’s contention that everything is working out splendidly.

Here the film descends into an absurd battle between faith and reason where we are never quite sure which side Jensen is on. Through a series of unlikely events spiked with episodic violence that is treated as matter of factly as the surreal bible in Adam’s room that, shaken by the morning bells, always falls off his dresser open to Job, we are led to an allegiance with either Ivan, who introduces his vacant and paralyzed 9 y.0. son as a math genius and active athlete and counsels a woman to have the child she has been told has a 60% chance of retardation because his son turned out so well, so that we are able to understand there is something radically wrong with this man, or to Adam who is determined to wipe that beatific smile off Ivan’s face so he will be forced to see the same bleak, brutish, unreasoning world that constitutes his own existence.

It’s a tribute to “Adam’s Apples” that we change allegiance countless times as the primeval battle between good and evil unfolds.

“Adam’s Apples” is not for everyone. There is a kind of dry, cracked, sardonic humor in Danish films that is more bleak than most, perhaps because of their long winter, and few American critics have given this movie the unreserved thumbs up I’m willing to proffer. But if you’re open to a wild romp of a film that challenges you to think while you’re laughing, you could do worse than spend 94 minutes with this brilliant cast.

Mads Mikkelsen Adams Apples

Mads Mikkelsen, Ivan

Ulrich Thomas Senson

Ullrich Thomsen, Adam

Ali Karim, Khalid and Andres Bro as Gunnar

Ali Kazeem as Khalid with Nicolos Bro as Gunnar.

scean Adam's Apples

Ivan and Adam with a solution for the apple tree

Wildly popular in Denmark and offered as their film for the 2006 Oscars, it has won 19 awardsacross a slew of European and South American festivals, and was nominated for another 13.

If you decide to watch it, I would absolutely love to hear what you think!

Currently on Amerian NetFlix.

My propane war

My propane woes continue …

propane tank

 

I purchased my third canister of propane in a one week period this morning.  The first was last Wednesday from Noel Gas, but it was empty in three days. Leak!

Thus far four people have tried to diagnose the problem.  The second canister came from the delightful Arturo from Soni Gas on Friday. He checked and rechecked the disappearing gas and decided that I needed a new regulator.  That was $11.50 for the part and $13.00 for his time. Cheap, if that fixed the problem, because at $30.00 a pop per cylinder, we’re only at a total of $84.00.

But, noooooo.

Soni Gas’ cylinder too went into the wind.  Empty three days later. Yesterday.  Arturo is handsome, but he didn’t fix the leak.

This morning the father of the family across the street came to sniff and test anything visible. First he took the stove apart and pronounced it as’ not the problem’.  Then he tested all the lines by pouring soapy water on connections and cords. This is the standard method to detect leaks.

leak in propane lineHe, like Arturo the Handsome, was looking for air bubbles.

But, there are none.

Without air bubbles, el padre thought disconnecting one piece and capping the extraneous line might be the problem. The cap cost $2.00 and I gave him $8.00 for his time.  With a lot of muchas gracias.  And now I’m at $94.00 for two tanks of gas, parts and tips.

But, el padre thought we were on the good foot at last.

That’s when I ordered the third tank.  I asked my neighbors which gas company they used? Express Gas Nieto – and they delivered in 10 minutes after the neighbors called.  How I was looking forward to a hot shower.

But, noooooo.

The Nieto hombre installed the new cylinder of propane and began to re-check the connections. Forget the cup of soapy water, he used a  bucket.  Finding no bubbles, he tried to re-light the water heater.  Oops. Nada. He pointed towards a metal tube going up (somewhere) to the roof. Then he scaled the building.  When he was on the roof with his soapy bucket he told us that he smelled gas on the roof but couldn’t determine where it was coming from.

Ut oh.

Ut oh.

[The tube enters the house at some point and travels somehow to get to the stove.]

If the leak is in an exterior fitting, it’s the gas company’s responsibility.  If the leak is in the interior of the building (behind a wall, running underneath the floor, wherever) it’s the landlord’s responsibility. I know this because when Niet0 Gas guy No. 1 left he told me he would send out a Nieto Gas Expert.  Then I called the landlady.

Nieto Gas Expert came within half an hour.  He re-soaped all the connections, scaled the building, and called for a hammer when he was on the roof. Fifteen year old Alex translated something along these lines: “There’s a pipe/tube that runs a foot or two and then goes under the concrete.  The pipe/tube has a hole in it the size of a nail head and there are other smaller holes.  The pipe/tube is very old.  He could replace it for $25.00 (materials and labor) but he’d have to tear up some concrete to do it.”

Rut roh.

That would be an interior job.

Enter Emilio, the landlord’s maintenance man.  Though he’s a little old and rotund to be scaling the roof, he makes it.  He sees, hears or smells the holes in the pipe and, proving that everyone has their own solution, retrieves a hand-held, gas powered welding machine from his truck. I hear 30 minutes of hammering, banging and tapping. I don’t hear any concrete being ripped up, which begs the question of additional holes in what Nieto Gas Expert termed “a very old pipe” beneath the concrete.  But, there is only Emilio standing between me and a hot shower, so I must trust that if he wants to weld the holes he can see shut, that will do the trick.

Exit Emilio.  Despite the fact that there was a mini-explosion when he re-lit the water heater, I now have gas.

______________________________

You probably have much bigger problems than going without a hot meal or shower for a couple of days.  It’s been raining this afternoon and there are people in San Miguel without shelter.  But, life is nothing if not quotidian, so I offer you the story of five Mexican men and one Mexican teen ager who cheerfully tried to help.

Let us hope I have gas in three days.

Now, as your reward, here is a picture of Hungry Cat:

dinner cat