Wednesday, March 31, 2010

getting in shape

My friend Carolyn wrote in her blog about getting in shape for the good weather. I was thinking about my odd work life-easy as it as, some mornings when everything aches, I think about retiring. Or maybe it's my knees that are thinking about retiring. Maybe there is some internal civil war going on. My ears want to keep working, but the knees yell "quit". My liver is neutral. Anyway, I'm swimming at the Y after working out at the gym for an hour with a client-and getting paid for it. I turned to a co-worker in the pool and said I was up for a raise because I had learned the backstroke and my Australian Crawl has me in the running for a promotion. Periodic visits to the doctor urge me to work out and go swimming. So if I do retire I will be spending my days spending my own money to do what I am now getting paid for. I am not the smartest guy,but I think I can unwind this conundrum.
Other news-- Maine is being deluged. I saw a game warden giving mouth-to-mouth to a trout. I sincerely hope the reason was that the fish was drowning. More tomorrow-I'm boring myself.-love to all

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Yesterday marked the 28th year of marriage between Karen Mummsen and Ronald Tomanio. The ceremony took place at the Quaker Chapel at Oakwood School in Poughkeepsie N.Y. Our wonderful friend Frank Post, who was the cook at the school, cooked all the food which included a make-your-own -sundae. For those friends out their of other Faiths, a Baha'i marriage ceremony is not official unless there is a make-your-own sundae. KAren had disies in her long blond hair while I had color in mine. The daisies, the blondness and the color in my hair are long gone, but love has filled in every material void. We had a short couple of days at Lake Mohonk-significant to Baha'is because Abdu'l-Baha was invited to speak there in April of 1912. They still have a huge portrait of Him in the hallway. Whatever event would have my mother and father seated side-by-side at the main table. My mother's least favorite sister walked by and could not resist a passing broadside volley. "Look at the two lovebirds."-my parents, who struggled to be in the same room together, shot back invisible poison darts. Weddings are a gathering of individuals that occur like comets with an extremely long orbit-once in a few million years. Which means I will one day struggle to fit into my wedding suit and Karen will test the fortitude of her white wedding dress. Lovebirds will gather for real having been reprimaned by St. Gordo, the patron saint of obese divorced couples to forgive and forget-but I will never forget the bright wake of the comet as I look back in time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Today's show

I am having a difficult time letting go of the emotions from today's radio show. A young mother of four who is recovering from a brain injury suffered when she was thrown from the backseat of car and hit her head on a guard rail. Everyone thought she had a perfect life-beautiful new house, hardworking husband and four beautiful children. She had a good job in a bank as well. Inside she felt lost and her marriage was falling apart. She accepted an invitation from a female friend to attend a concert and even though she had to get up early for work the next day and get her children off to school--drank too much--fell asleep in the back seat and woke up weeks later. Given up for dead twice, told she would not walk again or lead a normal life. I ask her why she went out in the middle of the week? Her husband encouraged her to go out because they could not stand to be in each others presence. She said "I was self centered. It was all about me and my spotless house and my beautiful things." You would think I was describing a monster and good riddance to her. But, four years later, she has become a beautiful soul committed to being the best mother she can be. Back to work and determined to help others to make better decisions. She is not out of the woods yet-racked with guilt that her friend died in the wreck. She says she is getting better but she still feels lost. She is more spiritual now and I am curious where she will be in a years time. A hard thing to go on live radio and tell such a story, but she believes if one person listening stops and thinks it will be worth it. This show and the next one are on the same theme, but with different guests. The shows are timed to coincide with prom season. 1400 teens are injured and 15 die every day from auto accidents-alcohol involved in 40% of the accidents. The numbers are greater during prom season.
To listen Google search audio archives--Portsmouth community Radio look for "Don't Dis My Ability"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

unique talent

The Baha'i Writings inform me that each individual is endowed with a "special virtue and special excellence". I have always wondered what my unique talent was and I am thrilled to announce to everybody that I have discovered mine. Now I can relax and simply coast these last few years of mortal life. While swimming with a client at the Y I noticed that I can stand straight up in twelve feet of water and, without moving a muscle I float. There doesn't seem to be a time limit either. I just hover in the water in a timeless nether world. There are emaciated gurus sitting in caves in India trying to achieve such a state of Nirvana and here I am, owning not even one diaper, and I have reached this pinnacle of statutory aquatic bliss. The next step is to develop a brochure and offer classes charging an exorbitant fee. There would be photograph of me defying gravity and Neptune. In fact, I could be thumbing my nose at an angry Neptune. How many of us at one time have wanted to thumb our nose at an angry Neptune?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tribute to a too tall poet who has taken the pledge

I woke up at a quarter to three not hearing Frank Sinatra singing "set em up Joe" (with apologies to those under a certain age) but with a thread of a line that pleaded to be pulled from another world and I knew the reason. Somebody ! owes me precious hours of sleep! And I will be checking the mail!


Carried by the Rhythm from the Ancient
Melodies and letters rattle free
From a horse-drawn wagon
Descending from snowy mountain passes
Where icy water is borne
To starving hermits clinging to the Hem of the Robe
Bearing the heavy weight of memories
Of smiling Janets emerging out of a blue glass light
From a house on a hill

Thursday, March 18, 2010

more celebration

First kudos to the much-too-tall Rhonda Palmer for her project of writing one poem(and good poems they are) for every day of the 19 Fast AND for taking the pledge "I promise not to wet myself in public". I am way too happy because the new digital scale from my beloved daughter Julia arrived and it turns out that I am actually on the thin side! I have just been using cheap, inaccurate scales. Seriously, I have lost 20lbs!!since my last doctor visit which explains why I did not get the usual disgusted looks along with a painful infliction of a Chinese wrist burn at my last appt. Looks like a major project at the house filling the sink hole and preventing another house flooding. Thanks to all who sent Farmville cows and chickens to fill the hole. Much progress being made in putting together a job fair specifically for individuals with disabilities.More later-off to work-

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


A lot to celebrate. Karen and I will have been married 28 years in another week. Our daughter Julia received notice that she has been accepted into the graduate program at Tufts University in Boston, which is only an hour away from us! We have the most adorable granddaughter in the universe, and in all the universe she has chosen to live minutes from our home by the river. It would have been such a hassle if she lived on Jupiter-the weather there is awful and I don't travel well. I have the most wonderful son-in-law with the most amazing head. An aerial view reveals that a tiny vegetable garden grows on the top of his head. Seriously, he rushed over at dawn to calm my nerves during the recent Great Flood. Our daughter Laurel is everything a father would want in a daughter. A parent's wish is that their kids surpass them. I did my part by setting the bar real low, but tonight I am proud.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Empty the flotsam floating in my mind

Flotsam is a great word. It is floating wreckage, usually caused by a collision. In my case too many ideas swimming around collide in my head leaving behind odd ideas. I have to tell someone or write it some place to get rid of the debris. So for me this blog, now that I have written down family stories for my grandchild, who, I hope, will read them when I am just an odd memory is cost free therapy. Your job is to say "Hmm, or very interesting-have you considered medication, or let me have your belt and shoelaces."Now get comfortable with your pad and pencil.
Baha'i s don't become involved in partisan politics, but we are supposed to vote intelligently which means knowing the issues. I grew up reading newspapers, watching the Evening News. My favorite anchorman who reeked of intelligence was Robert Trout. He had a quaint pencil thin mustache and was the epitome of objectivity and it showed in his unchanging expression. I doubt that he had a personal view on anything. His producer would say (in my imagination). "Today is Tuesday you like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on Tuesday." He would slowly swivel his chair until he was face-to-face with the producer and reply, "Yes master". He covered the first presidential election that I remember in 1956-Dwight D. Eisenhower won that one. Now he was a general credited with playing a large part in winning WWII. He was an old man who promised that he would play golf as much as possible and not wet himself in public-expectations were low and he met them admirably.
This weekend I was thinking what I would do If I was President. I know it can't be because we bahai's can't run for office, but I can imagine. Since Dwight the promises that have been made have been awe inspiring. "I will end poverty, war and aids, cure cancer, outlaw hurricanes, tornadoes, and those pesky earthquakes." Every 4 years we get our hopes raised to the heavens and then we crash to earth in a crumpled heep.
Now here is what I would do. First, I would like Dwight promise never to wet myself in public-very doable. Then I would issue presidential executive orders that take effect immediately by passing the cumbersome democratic process that goes on in Congress.
I. Ban ugly wedding photos in the newspaper. Think about it. You will never look better then at your wedding. Expensive dresses and suits-makeup, hair styling. A professional photographer making you as handsome as possible and you still come out ugly. This has to be a major cause of depression in this country. Have the wedding write up and in the box where the photo would be say "John and Sally are awful looking'
2. Spanish Science Fiction Channel. I had four years of Spanish in High school and can only say " hola and adios. The problem is they speak way too fast and they are always dancing at the same time which makes me dizzy. I never ordered this channel or the shopping channels, or the golf channel, or the gravy channel. This is insane, and as make believe president, I would ban the practice and let people order the channels they actually watch. This order alone would insure my election.
3. We need a lot more pandas. They are heartwarming, uplifting and put a smile on anyone's face. The problem is they don't procreate in captivity very well. Maybe it is that crazy diet of bamboos shoots. What kind of animal or person would feel romantic if they had to live off of bamboo shoots? The solution is simple-chili dogs and viagra. Take the chili dogs and viagra from eighty year old men. Enough is enough.
4. Do something about all these tall people. They fall down a lot because they can't see their feet on foggy days causing injury to small children. Our ER's are filled with small children who have been injured by these toppling giants. Our own local baha'i, Pat Foye is way too tall. Who know how many children he has sent to the E.R.?
Ok I feel better-go about your business

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


A man with a crooked tie and a straight face sagged with boredom as he explained on my tv how black holes devour whole galaxies. This is a no big deal value meal for the black hole. After lunch, the man with the crooked tie and the straight face, in an effort to put all this into couch potato language, states in dour tones, "Basically, the stuffed black hole burps and a exceedingly fine and worthy atom escapes into the vast nothingness."
Escapes? Escapes how? Did the atom bribe a galaxy guard? Was there a miniature cake with a baked in file? And don't you think that when a galaxy vanishes there should at least be a moment of silence instead of a PBS plea for support. Maybe even some law enforcement. At that point, a gendarme with a wry smile eating a rye sandwich announces, "Round up the usual suspects."
The man with a crooked tie and a straight face continued in his monotone voice, "In about ten to the hundredth years, the black hole will have swallowed itself to death and be no more."
I always thought my Uncle Tony, he with the dandruff that smelled like garlic powder, was the most ferocious eating force in the universe and I remember that he took Alka-Seltzer tablets. Maybe the answer is to make the world's biggest Alka-Seltzer tablet and fly it right into the mouth of the black hole. Maybe that would save the universe. To think my Uncle Tony could save the universe when he couldn't save left-overs. And this makes me think of the human condition. Princes and paupers, dictators and those taking dictation all get swallowed except maybe tonight's radio guest-- our co host Ali. Two eye operations, Two rods placed in her back allowing her to stand straight. Operations on her feet because she was walking on her ankle bones which is hell on shoes and souls-a little vision left in one eye. No one believed she would walk down the graduation aisle with her parents joining all the other crying parents, but she did. Surely a just God witnessing the assembled indignities that made up her ninety pound body would spare her the final indignity of being swallowed into nothingness by a black hole. Maybe she would be the exceedingly fine and worthy atom, made whole by the Light of God, that escapes and is free at last.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cheese crackers

My friends ask me about the weekend portion of my job and I tell them the word "job" hardly applies. I work four days with brain injured individuals-again the word "job" seems out of place. We go bowling which I stink at-again the word "stink"hardly applies, but we laugh like hell and have a great time. I swim two days a week with clients. Floating peacefully in the water, I invariably turn to a fellow wage slave and say, "You know, we are getting paid for this." Monday is my day off. I see the smiles out there and hear the wisecrack, "Day off from what?" Tuesday is my long day because of our live radio show. This is an incredible experience. We meet and interview giants in little bodies, scarred heroes who never picked up a gun and I could go on and on. On Friday, after I drop one client off, I make my way to a private home where an autistic man in his late forties lives. A characteristic of autism is that they find safety in fixed routine that takes place in a remote world that Captain Kirk will never find. He waits for me and only wants to know if "Ronde" will be their tomorrow. The words take a trained ear to decipher, but I know what he is saying. Assured that all is right with his world we part, but not before I give him a dollar for a diet coke. A practice I began a year ago that probably breaks some obscure rule.. In five years our routine has not varied. I was off the last two weekends for various reasons and when I arrived this Friday he was waiting for me as usual in the kitchen. In his hand was four cheese crackers. "You eat crackers" and he stood and made sure I did. Then he walked down the hallway to his bedroom where he would blow bubbles and marvel at their floating beauty. Each a world he could enter--or not. People spend small fortunes to take exotic vacations to remote areas of the globe, but I doubt they experience what this man experiences gazing at a bubble. This was an almost shocking learning experience for me. For years, Karen would ask me how my weekend was when I returned home Sunday morning. I would say something like, "You know, the same.", but this weekend I thought to myself, "It was nice. I had a bite to eat with a friend."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Poetry Hoot

I went with Karen and some good friends to the monthly poetry hoot in Portsmouth which is a hot bed of poetry. I read a reworked "World of Lepers" and much to my embarrassment there was a family of lepers at one of the tables. They gave me the finger--literally. I'm kidding of course.

World of Lepers

Who writes about lepers?
Only those who wake up less whole
Lepers check the morning bed
For what fell off in the night
They gather hair from the pillows
And give passionate eulogies for each white strand
You will be missed my thin albino friends, you will be missed
Then, sitting on the edge of the bed
While my feet rest on the lost years crumpled on the floor
I see the first signs of Maine whiteness dying
And Maine greenness coming to life
A respectful quietness grows within me
For the changes on both sides of my bedroom window
As we grow older and younger together

Monday, March 1, 2010

Groundhog Day-Ronnie style

My friend Carolyn reminded me that I repeated this story about heaven.
I actually thought I had written this up and checked back, but I guess I did not check back far enough. During the last year of my Mother's life she had little or no short term memory. I would watch "The Glen Miller Story" with Jimmy Stewart and she would dance in her chair and sing the songs to me and she was eighteen again. I would visit her the next night and she would be so excited. "Ronnie! The "Glen Miller Story" is on tonight. Do you want to watch it tonight with me?"
"Sure mom. Be great to see it again." The AMC channel showed this movie every night for a week and she watched it every night. Each day a part of us is walking out the door. The trick is don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.