Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

BARB: My big news this year is: I got my ankle rebuilt! I’d been limping around for two years so I found a podiatrist to give me a cortisone shot–but every time the doc looked at an MRI or X-ray he found something wrong (all three tendons, heel misalignment, bones spurs, etc.). So May 31, I went in for a 6 hour surgery. I wasn’t really worried but just in case I signed a DNR. The doc thought I was morbid but I’d heard stories about people in minor surgeries who came out brain damaged. I didn’t want to be the newest member of a tomato patch– Gordon hates tomatoes –although he said that he probably wouldn’t have noticed much difference. Everything went fine until I got to the recovery center. All the post-ops had their own professional, attentive nurse but I got Numbnuts. When I struggled awake he handed a small glass of water and told me he’d called my husband and that Gordon would be arrive soon. So far, so good. Then I got nauseated. He told me I couldn’t be nauseated; I assured him I could. We argued until I tried to rip out my IVs. He finally gave me a tiny pan to be sick in. Then he disappeared. Once I got over the nausea I was dying of thirst and Numbnuts was nowhere to be found. I lay all alone in my little cubicle, thirsty, clutching my vomit pan. I finally croaked out a pathetic “help”. I heard other nurses saying, “Can someone help that poor woman?” I finally fell asleep, clutching my vomit pan. When I woke I wondered what had happened to Gordon. When Numbnuts breezed by I asked if he’d heard from my husband. He left for another year then returned saying that Gordon had fallen asleep but would be here soon. Gordon fell asleep?! That jerk! When Gordon came in 15 minutes later I glared at him and said, “You fell asleep?!” As I struggled to get out of bed (I don’t remember whether to take a swing at Gordon or find more water) the head nurse showed up. She got me some water, calmed me down, and got me dressed. When Numbnuts reappeared the head nurse didn’t leave. She watched him hand me my crutches and info packet. She told Numbnuts he had to make sure I was functional on the crutches; he told her I could read the info packet and figure it out. That was enough; the head nurse took over. I practiced on my crutches until she was satisfied I wouldn’t fall over then put me in the chair and wheeled me out. Numbnuts tried to shake my hand but I just glared at him. I found out later that when Numbnuts first called he advised Gordon to wait three hours before picking me up–so Gordon took a nap. He was on the road to pick me up when Numbnuts called the second time. I hate to see people lose jobs over one screw-up (I hope it was only one) but I think they should put Numbnuts someplace where his skill set is more appropriate—like the morgue.

Anyway, I spent the summer on the couch. A guy Gordon works with told me his wife had home healthcare but Gordon took care of everything. He had to help me dry off from my shower and unsnarl into my underwear but after that I was pretty self-sufficient. I’d filled the freezer; all Gordon had to do was nuke lunch so food wasn’t a problem. Metamucil became the fifth food group due to pain medication stoppage but that was the only difficulty. I got pretty good on my crutches except for the front steps. If Gordon touched my back I could hop right up. If he wasn’t there, I’d end up in the bushes. Gordon got exasperated when I insisted on the Magic Finger–I don’t know which finger he used when my back was turned–but once I got the Touch I was fine and the bushes were safe. Inside, I’d butt bump up (or down) the stairs. I had trouble getting up at the top of the stairs—railing only on one side—so I got my morning goose. I’d do my best not to fart but I’m an old lady; it happens. I’d giggle and Gordon would swear. It was a long three months but we got through it and I’m walking again! I can take stairs like an adult instead of doing the toddler two-step. The Frankenfoot (two screws and five scars) is still sore but it doesn’t give out on me. I’ll be dancing soon. Glad I did it before I got any older. Crutching around is hard work but my triceps and pecs are solid from my ordeal and Gordon is my hero. All the burdens piled on his broad shoulders didn’t even make him blink. I got lucky.

I spent the summer putting together a small ebook of our Christmas letters. It’s called Greetings from Casa Cesspoole and you can download it on Amazon for $.99.Go to:


. It’s good for a laugh. I gimped through a South Dakota trip but I’m out of room, as usual so I’ll leave that to Gordon. Have a Happy, Merry, etc.

GORDON: Contrary to most years, I actually have some things to report. Let’s see…..

I got the first two minutes of my fifteen minutes of fame – went to a taping of the Jay Leno show, and filled out this obnoxious form asking all kinds or personal questions that I answered snippily, one of which was, “if you could be anything you wanted to be, what would you be?” I put Rock Star, and they asked me if I’d do a bit about that. So I did, and they put me on an “audience sizzle reel”. If you’re curious, you can see it on YouTube at Just know I didn’t write the script!

I’m now an MAI – Member of the Appraisal Institute. If you’re in the appraisal business, that MAI designation is like an MD in the doctor business. Although I’ve done appraisals using my state license for years, some jobs evaded me because I didn’t have the initials. So I took tests over and over until I passed, wrote my demonstration appraisal, and lo and behold, the entire hierarchy of the Appraisal Institute wrote to congratulate me on passing, and even sent a boxfull of announcements so I could tell the world. I may enclose a few of those in this letter for those who could conceivably care about this achievement.

Barb mentioned a trip back to SoDak – South Dakota State U is on a major building kick, and one of the new dorms they built was dedicated to the memory of my Uncle Ben Reifel, a Lakota Indian who also happened to be a congressman from South Dakota for ten years while I was growing up. He spent many nights on the Johnson family hideabed whenever he came back to the state, and entertained me in DC for two weeks one summer – you never know what a VIP tour is until Congressman Reifel calls and says he’d like to have one for his nephew. It was a nice occasion for a family reunion, and I got to see lots of folks I haven’t seen in ten years or more. We got in a trek to the family cemetery, and a tour of the ancestral house that both Barb & I have familial ties to. Wish that place was here in Calif, where it would be a million-dollar estate. In Erwin SD, it’s a large white elephant, and I dread what will happen to it when the current owner goes.

Finally, FINALLY, The RIDE, my first serious rock ‘n roll band, got designated for inclusion in the South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association’s Hall of Fame. I’ve been inducted into the Kansas HOF for my years in the Fabulous Flippers, but I was one of over 100 people to pass through that band, so can’t claim much credit. On the other hand, I was present at the creation of the Ride, and like to think I’m one of the reasons folks still remember us – that and the fact that we were the house band for the only 19-and-up bar to have live music in a college town with 5,000+ students. We were party central for about five years, so there’s a whole generation of SDSU grads who remember us fondly, if they were sober enough to remember. We get to play for the induction ceremony next April, but it’ll be bittersweet, because Bob Kenny, my best friend through high school and many band adventures, died suddenly a couple of years ago. He’d been hoping to be on that stage when we got our turn, and I plan to have a very large picture of him hanging off my B3 as we play. I know he would have enjoyed that, and I’m hoping the rest of the gang survives to make the trip back.

So now that I’m out of room, I’ll add my best wishes to you and yours, and try to get this condensed down to two pages. Hope your 2014 is joyous and peaceful, with a few adventures to make it entertaining. We’ll try to do the same here.


About Barbara Schnell

I've dedicated my life to full-time employment avoidance. I've been an actress, renovated a 1921 California Bungalow, set a cash-winning record on $25,000 Pyramid, and came in last on Jeopardy. I live in Los Angeles with my patient husband and two cats.
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One Response to Christmas 2013

  1. Greg sullivan says:

    Thanks 4 the update. Hope to see you in april

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