Dear Doctor…

I have a few requests.

My sweetie pie and I have been dealing with a lot of your appointments lately. Many involve his mom, who’s in her late eighties and has dementia, but he and I also sometimes run back and forth see you.

I mention this because, nice as you are, some things you do are bugging me. First, what’s with all the texts, e-mails, and calls beginning the week before my scheduled appointment? “This is a reminder! You have an appointment!” These messages come almost daily, as if you’re already accusing me of forgetting to appear. Though, when you consider the number of medical appointment no-shows—roughly 18% of scheduled appointments are missed nationwide—I can see your point.  Still, the constant barage of notifications gets tiresome.

The other thing that annoys me is the time of my appointments. As I no longer have to use an alarm clock—Ain’t retirement grand?—I rarely schedule appointments before noon, if I have a choice. I pick my times carefully to coincide with other plans. But then come the texts, e-mails, and calls asking me to arrive 30 minutes before my scheduled appointment. If I pick a 1:00 PM appointment time, doesn’t that mean I’d like to be there at 1:00 PM? If I wanted to be there at 12:30, I would have said so. I realize you want us to fill out endless paperwork, but I’d rather you just schedule me for the time you want me to appear.

Finally, it would be nice if I got to see you at my actual appointment time, especially if I’ve been kind enough to show up 30 minutes ahead of schedule. There’s something grating about arriving early only to have to wait long past our arranged meeting time. While I do understand that emergencies happen, I think sometimes you’re just overbooked.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize your time is valuable. But so is mine. Note that I’m truly grateful to be able to visit you when I’m in need and my complaints are nothing personal, still time is the most important thing we have. And, since we never know when our time will be up, wouldn’t it be nice if we could all manage it wisely?


Anne Montgomery

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Tony Soprano and the Killer Cats

Aren’t my kitties sweet? Yet, I’ve learned that looks can be decieving.

I love my cats, but sometimes I wonder if they love me back. Cats are not generally like dogs, who wear their hearts on their sleeves, if they had them. Those wagging tails and loving gazes usually get the point across.

But cats’ feelings are often harder to discern.

Take for example the morning I smelled gas in my home. That rotten-egg stink was emanating from the kitchen and I was surprised to see one of the burner nobs was on. Swearing silently at whichever kid left the thing on, I switched it off. But then it happened again, and this time I caught sight of one of my cats cruising atop the stove, teetering on the edge for no reason I could ascertain. He stopped and stared at me like he’d been caught committing a crime.

“I think the cats are turning on the stove,” I said to my sweetie pie.

“Why would they do that?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“Do you think they’re trying to kill us?” He looked up from his phone.

“Why would they? They have a pretty cushy life here.”

As I didn’t want to die in my sleep of asphyxiation, I ordered a box of nob covers, the kind people with toddlers use to keep those little fingers from turning on the stove. Sometimes, when people visit they stare at those nobs, as if wondering whether I’ve squirreled away a three-year old somewhere. At which point I explain that my cats binged watched all six seasons of The Sopranos with us and perhaps picked up some very bad ideas.

The carnage is on-going and the cats won’t tell me why?

I started to feel better about my feline friends, until they began smashing stuff. I heard a crash late one night, bolted from bed, and rushed to the kitchen. Both of my black cats sat placidly and stared at me, ignoring the shattered plate, now a stream of colorful shards spread across the tile floor. I considered going all detective inspector on them—we watch a lot of British murder mysteries—but it was clear they wouldn’t talk. So, while swearing under my breath and considering whether they’d fixated on the time Tony took a baseball bat to Angie’s new Cadillac, I cleaned up the mess and placed a heavy blue teapot in the spot where the plate had resided.

Two weeks later, while we were watching TV, said pot suffered the same sad fate as the plate. Again, my kitties were stone-faced. They plopped together into a chair and groomed one another as if I wasn’t even there, cheeky creatures.

Then there are the Kitty Olympic Games. At night, both my boys zoom around the house leaping on and over anything they can find as if practicing for some kind of kitty steeplechase. Somehow they mange to knock over my recliner on a regular basis.

Since I was interested in their feline motivation, I googled “What’s in a cat’s mind?” and almost 120 million results appeared, so it seems I’m not the only one wondering what’s going on inside their little noggins. I checked a few of those links and came to the conclusion that nobody really knows.

But I did find this: Humans domesticated cats about 10,000 years ago in what is today the Middle East to keep rodent populations at bay. But about a decade ago scientists discovered that your kitty is only half domesticated, which means our little bundles of fluff are in fact half wild and remain “predatory hunting mammals.”

That said, maybe letting them watch The Sopranos was a bad idea.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.



The perfect class for high school kids!

Kids in high school study lots of different subjects and still they’re missing out on some really important things.

I spent twenty years in a high school classroom, doing my best to impart some modicum of wisdom to my students. I’ve seen some of those kids grow up. I also have four foster children now in their twenties. I mention these young people because sometimes they baffle me with the things they don’t know.

I realize now that with all the science, history, math, English, and other courses we made them take, some practical stuff might have gotten lost along the way. So, even though I’m retired from teaching, I’ve put together the perfect course that should be required for all high school students in the country.

First, every child must take what we used to call home economics. I’m sure women in my age group remember the girls-only class where we learned home management, how to cook simple healthy meals, and the basics of sewing. But why were boys not required to take home ec? Of course, back then, those jobs were considered “women’s“ work, still don’t you agree that today everyone needs those skills?

You’ll notice the word economics in that dusty, old course, and wow is that important. Often, my students didn’t know the difference between a credit and a debit card. Nor did they understand what an interest payment was or a mortgage or a budget. Checking and savings accounts were mostly foriegn. I used to show them my paycheck and tried to explain Social Security and state and local tax deductions and they were stunned by the idea that they didn’t get to keep their entire paychecks.

“Why are they taking our money?” they’d bark back.

Wouldn’t it be cool if girls learned about auto mechanics?

“To pay for things like schools and roads, police and firefighters, health programs and the military,” I’d explain.

“The government should pay for that!”

And then I’d try very hard not to roll my eyes. “Taxpayers are the government!”

Another important class was auto mechanics, which—perhaps not surprisingly—was only taught to boys. In my world, girls would understand how to change a tire, jump start an engine, and decode the meaning of some of those strange noises that periodically emanate from under the hood. And they would all understand the importance of having roadside assistance, so they don’t have to wake up Mom and Dad in the middle of the night when the car is misbehaving. (You know who you are!)

Speaking of cars…whatever happened to driver’s ed? Anyone who takes to the roads knows that many people have no idea what they’re doing out there. No one seems to understand what a turn signal is for, or the meaning of those lines painted on the road, or why it’s a bad idea to text a buddy when behind the wheel. So let’s require some professional intruction, as opposed to learning from some family member who may know nothing about good driving.

And how about a few lessons on simple home repairs, like fixing a running toilet, or patching a hole in the drywall, or clearing a clogged drain. Useful, yes?

I would definitely make my students talk with one another face-to-face.

Health class is currently required in many schools, though I’m unsure of what exactly they’re teaching. I still recall the young lady who pointed out that it is simply impossible to get pregnant the first time you have sex. Methinks a little sex ed, though highly controversial in some states, should be required in this day and age. That and physical education, which used to be obligatory, but is now reserved for coaches to keep their team members lifting weights on a regular basis. Instead, I’d get my students outside, sans electronic devices, if only to give them a chance to walk a mile or so on the track on a regular basis.

Finally, I’d teach communication skills, which are sadly disappearing at an alarming rate. Yep, I’d make them put those phones down and actually talk to one another in person, making actual eye contact in the process. I’d add that dreaded of all skills, public speaking, as well as resume writing and career planning.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. How could I possibly get all of this into one class? Because it would be a year-long, two-semester course. I know working everything in is possible because I once taught world history where I was expected to teach the beginning of humankind to the French Revolution. Compared to that, my course would be easy.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what I’d call my class.

That’s easy. I’d call it Life.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.



Joining the pretty people at the gym

I’ve been working out my entire life, but the new gym in my area was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

One of the nifty things about getting older is that sometimes we get things for free. In this case, I’m referring to that golden moment I turned 65 and Medicare kicked in. While medical insurance is certainly nice, it’s the little side bonus that got me excited. I was informed that Medicare would spring for my gym membership.

Since I’ve been working out my whole life, I was delighted to let someone else pick up the monthly tab. But when I entered my club recently, I was informed that my membership had expired.

“Don’t worry,” said the nice lady at the desk. “Just contact your insurance company and they’ll reinstate you.”

So, I did. It was then I discovered I had gym-membership options. There were apparently a number of clubs nearby that were part of the program. Instantly, I thought of the brand-new, three-story facility that had just sprung up, a fancy club at the Biltmore, a name that here in Arizona is associated with what we call the “pretty people.” I was almost embarrassed to ask if that club was on the list. Surely that wasn’t possible. The dues at my usual gym amounted to $30 a month. At the Biltmore it was $250.

“Yes, we can get you in there. It’s one of our premier clubs,” said the insurance lady.

For the uninformed, here’s what a real lap pool looks like. Aren’t those lane lines pretty?

Though I was dubious, I agreed to a visit. And what I saw at this “gym” was astounding. There were of course the usual floors filled with aerobic machines—all pristine—with separate areas for weight lifting, spinning and yoga classes, as well as basketball and tennis courts. Then I was escorted to the rooftop pool with its unobstructed view of iconic Camelback Mountain, a dining and bar area, and myriad poolside lounging cabanas. Now, I must mention here that the sparkling pool was pretty, but I paused as my guide pointed out all the amenities.

“There are no lines on the bottom,” I said.

“Um, no,” he said spreading his hands wide.

“Then how are lap swimmers supposed to get from one end to the other in a straight line?” I asked.

“I guess they forgot.”

My old Speedo just didn’t match up wih the women in thong bikinis.

As a life-long lap swimmer, I wondered how one could build a lap pool without lane lines, but then he whisked me down the elevator where I found a spa that would provide me with a manicure, pedicure, haircut and style, and a massage, if I felt so inclined. We walked past the chiropractor’s office with its warm-water massage chairs, then the sushi bar that later in the afternoon reverted to a real bar where I might have an adult beverage. Next to that was a large café boasting high-end carry-out meals, snacks—lots of them vegan—and big comfy couches where people lounged while plugged into their computers.

I considered the time of day. “Don’t these people have jobs?” I whispered to my tour guide.

“I’ve wondered about that myself,” he said quietly.

It was after I entered the women’s locker room that I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. It was the preponderance of women wearing thong bikinis. As I pulled on my royal blue Speedo, I felt like I was donning something akin to a prairie dress. But as those bare bottoms sauntered by no one gawked at me. In fact, no one said a word or made eye contact, as I waded into the pristine whirlpool, followed by a cold plunge—52 degrees: Eieee!—then a steam. Fresh white towels were everywhere. When I padded into the shower area I discovered that no one carried their own products. Shampoo, conditioner, body soap, shaving cream, and razors were all arranged prettily in each shower stall. I’d been lugging around a big pink gym bag full of stuff for years. Now, I could get by with nothing more than my bathing suit, cap, and goggles.

If you’re wondering, yes, I joined, because I’m not a dope. But I’m still a bit conflicted about my membership, which, as the insurance lady said, is completely free. As I walked through the parking lot past a gleaming black Maserati and a host of top-dollar late-model SUVs that will never be driven off road, I felt perhaps I didn’t belong. Would I miss my dingy old club and the regular folks who populate the place?

We’ll see.

Find Anne Montgomery’s novels wherever you buy books.