Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Nice Fall Day

Fifty years ago today one of my fondest wishes came true. I had a new baby son. So naturally I have thought about Gerry all day today.

After I had put on a roast for our noon meal, I had time read a bit of Charles Frazier’s thirteen moons and regretted having to stop just when I got to the part of the story about the Cherokee Removal.

Being able to leave a clean kitchen to come home to barely gave me time to make it to the optometrist appointment at 2:30 in Marion. But I arrived early even after circling the block to find their beautiful new building, which still did not have an identifying sign since Dr. Power had only moved into it on Monday. Remembering the news account of a car accidentally slamming into his old office and sending patients flying, I knew he was relieved to be in a brick building with a little more space between the building and parking lot.

There I had a couple of concerns taken care of. On Saturday I had received notice from the insurance company that the over $200 left on my bill for glasses last December was not covered. I had already paid $95 in December and assumed the rest was all paid off. Immediately the women in the office assured me that this was properly covered because of its being related to the cataract surgery I had just had. They said the insurance company did this all the time and a simple phone call from them would fix it. (Why do I suspect that the insurance company enjoyed using the doctor’s money all this time?)

Then the doctor himself relieved my concern about the cataract on the other eye. I was afraid that it might have become so much worse that I would need to have the surgery before Christmas, which was exactly what I was planning to do when I had made today’s appointment many weeks ago. He assured me, however, that I could have the surgery safely with the new procedures despite being on coumadin. But also that it would probably not hurt for me to wait the six months until I am off coumadin. We talked politics during and after the exam, so the entire appointment was pleasant and interesting.

Then I was on my way around the block to Dr. Kaarsbery’s office in this newly developed professional park out by our new hospital. She wanted me to have another INR reading today to make sure she is adjusting the coumadin dosage correctly. Last week the reading had been high. A single prick on the finger and the meter assured me I was in the normal range this week.

By now it was getting cool and dark. I had to put on the jacket in the car that I’d avoided wearing. After a quick visit with Katherine, I was back to the Kroger store to pick up the prescriptions I had left there to be filled. I bought as few groceries as I could get by with because it was past supper time and I needed to hurry. With three baked chicken thighs from the deli and fresh fruit, I figured I had sufficient other foods to fill in the blank for Gerald’s supper. We were eating within l0 minutes after I arrived home, and I emptied the car after supper and Obama’s infomercial.

It had turned out to be a good day—just as it was 50 years ago.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Coming and Going

The presidential candidates are all over the map meeting up with America’s citizens to win their votes. The citizens themselves also find travel much more a part of their lives than any other time in history. Not very long ago, it was not unusual for someone to say when someone died that the person had always lived in a certain locale and had never been further than the nearest city. After the Depression, many young men and a few young women served overseas during World War II. As that Greatest Generation dies off and leaves us, we read in their obituaries of the foreign soils they traveled to.

With the cheap gas of the last decades, Americans have enjoyed and become habituated to going and coming often more limited by time than expense. People have to commute to work in places miles away. Many folk travel to shopping in larger cities without much thought. Then as our local stores went out of business, we began to find out we didn’t have anywhere else to shop but at larger communities in our regions.

Gerald and I were so tied down by livestock on the farm that we couldn’t travel for years and looked forward to that opportunity in retirement. In fact, as soon as Gerald retired from farming, his first project was buying a new truck and modifying it to haul efficiently. For the next three years, he worked as a trucker—whenever he chose to take a trip or whenever he could get a load. He loved going all over and seeing the industries back in the mountains or learning to navigate in a new city. When he travels in the same territory today, he still likes recalling those trips, and he is constantly aware of other truckers and can get envious in a hurry when he sees a beautiful truck.

Gerald left for Columbus, GA, yesterday in order to see Geri Ann’s Oconee High School softball team in the state tourney this afternoon. His plans were to stop in Nashville for a dinner date with Leslie, his blond granddaughter at Belmont University.

This is also the weekend that Erin is using some flier miles to come from Texas into Nashville. She and Les will also be having dinner together. Erin will meet a fellow Johnston City friend there and they’re driving home to Johnston City for another friend’s wedding.

I don’t even know where all Gerry’s work has taken him during the past two weeks. I do know he was able to see his grandson Aidan briefly last weekend while in Chicago. And he and Vickie like the other softball parents will be in Columbus motels right now. Tara wanted in the worst way to go with Gerald to see her little sis in the state tourney, but she knew she needed to stay in Aurora. Her December due date is taking its toll on her traveling comfort. But Mary Ellen’s family is excited that she is to be coaching in Lake Saint Louis next weekend for a Southern Force tourney. I’m excited that Jeannie’s family will be spending Halloween night here (briefly) as they arrive from Freeport on their way to spend weekend with Leslie in Nashville.

I was planning on going to the Georgia tourney also, but my doctor on Monday felt it was a risk with me still healing from the blood clot in my leg that had caused the lung clots. So I am at Woodsong instead of on a trip, but I have had a variation in my life style.

Son-in-law David is working in California this week, so I’ve been going into town to spend nights with Katherine and Sam. I come back home during the day. Katherine had a tysabri infusion yesterday and her morning aide was able to drive her to the hospital. Suddenly Tuesday night she realized she needed a ride home and both David and her dad would both be out of town. Fortunately, the evening aide came to get her instead of coming later in the evening.

Gerald believed I could drive the van, which has a lift for Katherine’s chair, but I never have and I was fearful of trying with no one to back me up if I failed. The only time I tried to drive the van, I did not get out of Katherine’s driveway. I quit to avoid hitting Sam’s basketball goal with the projecting side mirror as I backed. I also don’t understand the lift’s operation. The van certainly takes enormously more gas than the wise choice David has for travel to his work place, but we’ve come to expect that those in chairs should no longer have to live their lives confined to their homes.

Our other sons-in-law and our next-door neighbor are also often away from home for coaching events, conventions, or meetings. Our only other near neighbor travels nightly from her farm to her job in a plant over an hour away. This time of year we pray for her safety from the deer dashing across the highways, and soon we will once again fear the icy roads for her.

While the increase in travel is partly pleasure gratification, travel has been built into our work lives. We can never go back to living in insulated geographic bubbles with little contact with the outside world no matter how attractive that nostalgic pull feels. I have always loved reading about village life and also loved experiencing it. How people connect and interact is fascinating and when people can’t easily go elsewhere, there is no question their local community connections are more vigorous and often more life enhancing. One of my all-time favorite books was poet Elizabeth Bishop’s translation of The Diary of Helena Morley, the actual diary of a young teenage girl who told of her life in her village of Diamantina in Brazil in 1893-1895,

The same sort of village or community life is created within cities as people connect with those of common interests. When two of our daughters lived in the same city, we had to laugh at the interconnectedness that made it just as indiscreet to talk negatively about someone there as in it was when my mother moved to Dad’s hometown of Goreville, where everyone was either our family’s relations or relations of relations.

Now we have farm friends and city friends who are hurting while trying to keep gas in their cars to get to work. We have friends who have had to cut out attending functions they really want to attend in order to save gas. We have wise friends with no economic problems who, nevertheless, have cut gas consumption because it is astute to do so and because it is patriotic to do so.

How our nation will come out of this dependence on foreign oil and our present economic crisis will be interesting to observe. I have a feeling that we are going to find out what we are made of in the next few years. Will we be as strong as our grandparents who survived the Depression with much suffering and ingenuity? Will we be as self-sacrificing and as tough as the Greatest Generation who helped us survive World War II?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Getting ready for the debate and a busy schedule tomorrow....

I spent the last two days at home at Woodsong--something I always enjoy. Saturday when I went to our village library, I was finally able to check out John Grisham's The Innocent Man. I finished it last night, and I it is very much worth reading. This is his first nonfiction book after writing 18 novels, but it was more fascinating than any novel.

Today I finally had to go to town, so I recycled newspapers and aluminum cans and then dropped off our church's latest collection of med bottles to donate to the free clinic. I ran by Katherine's and saw her and Sam and then picked up groceries at Krogers. I was home in time to fix creamed tuna on toast for our supper along with a salad and the yummy grapes I'd just bought at Krogers. Now I am hurrying to get ready for the debate.

I want to go to bed right afterwards because I have an over-full schedule tomorrow starting in the morning. So I am going to cheat and share a news release I sent out on Monday about our program tomorrow night at Southern Illinois Writers Guild. How exciting to think that this man started his own business as a high school senior:

Evan R. Youngblood, owner of a technical services company called Megabytes, will speak to Southern Illinois Writers Guild at John A. Logan College Thursday night, October 16, at 7 p.m. Public is always welcome to SIWG meetings in the Terrace Dining Room Annex.
Youngblood, currently Information Systems Manager for The Bank of Carbondale and the IT Officer, started Megabytes when he was a senior at Herrin High School in 2000. Since then, Megabytes has continued to grow into a complete web designing, networking, and computer supply business.

As a web designer for Rend Lake College for 18 months, he also served as instructor for the Institute for Learning in Retirement and Community Education and still occasionally teaches for RLC.

Youngblood will present a program designed to help writers with computer use and will cover digital photo management, some explanations of free or cheap software, and digital TV conversion.

A graduate of both John A. Logan College and Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Information System Technologies in 2004, Youngblood is also a private pilot based at the Marion Airport. He participates there in Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles program which offers free flights to children interested in aviation.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

One Final Farewell

When I got up at 7 this morning, Gerald and Gerry were already at the breakfast table planning their day--although it was almost midnight when Gerry arrived at Woodsong last night after he drove up from a conference for new coaches in Birmingham.

They have spent the day cleaning out dog pens and the building back in the woods that housed Gerry’s office/batting cage area up the place that had been their home since 1997.
Trailer loads have been carted to the farm here, and I am sure Gerry’s truck is loaded down for the trip back to Athens. Gerry collected the final item left in their former home—a large beautiful plant given to Vickie at the time of her father’s death. Gerald just came in for a 9:30 supper, and Gerry is still out there somewhere having supper with a buddy.

I know I will never drive by their home on Route 37 without some regret that they no longer live there. It was a warm hospitable home on a tiny farm at the very edge of town—absolutely perfect for their family and Gerry’s business. Here the older two daughters finished high school, and Geri Ann finished eighth grade. They had woods to ride four-wheelers in, plenty of room for all kinds of dogs in and out of the house, and deer to view on evening outings. We have great memories of all the family parties that Vickie gave down through the years for birthdays, graduations, or just to get together. We are hoping the new owners have as much pleasure there as the Glasco5 did.

Tomorrow Gerry wanted to be on the road back to Georgia—hoping to reach Watkinsville in time to see Geri Ann’s softball game. But he still has more work to do here, so he will miss that game. Hopefully Oconee High will win the regional, and then he can see the next game. Time to look back is over, and now we forcing ourselves to think about the future.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Grandmother Flash Alert!

When we visited granddaughter Leslie Eiler at Belmont University recently, she explained that for security reasons at the time of the Presidential debates, students would need to either stay in their dormitories or be off campus. I was wondering yesterday where she was when we received an email from Jeannie that Leslie had gone to Knoxville with a suitemate. However, Leslie then received an email that her number had been drawn from the lottery that allowed a certain number of Belmont students to attend tonight’s debate. So early this morning, Leslie was on a bus headed back to Nashville from Knoxville.

If you see a cute little blond in a red suit in the audience tonight, that could be Leslie. We were already excited about the debate, but now even more so.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Dear All--

Late yesterday afternoon, Gerald brought me home from Barnes-Jewish Hospital after 5 days there following our combined trip for BSU reunion/cardiology appointment/stress test for Gerald//visit with daughter Mary Ellen's family in the west St. Louis area.

Gerald's test results were good,, and Dr. Alan Weiss was kind enough to work me into Gerald's appointment time and send me to the hospital, where it was determined I had blood clots in lung making my breathing difficult.

I am in good shape with no serious harm done. No restrictions at all on my activities tho I was warned that my energy level will be low for a week or so, and that is true. There was no pain involved in any of this except for minor pain of shots, etc. What caused this clotting? Nobody knows. Doctors focused on traveling, and Gerald wondered if it was the hours at the computer! (Surely not!! Ha. Ha.)

The serious blood clots are now dissolved. As I understand it, the coming six-month regimen on warfarin (blood thinner) will help the body in its natural fight to keep blood from developing too-large clots. After six months, if all goes as expected, I will go off the warfarin. (For your edification, Gerald is quick to call this med "rat poison." He is quite experienced on all this INR coumadin testing, etc.)

I am grateful for the blessing of having the timing on this episode work out so that I was seen by Gerald's cardiologist, whom daughter Mary Ellen had researched and recommended to us. I felt very comfortable knowing I was being seen by one of the best in the nation, and I felt that was comforting to our children. I was as relaxed as one can be in the hospital when every few minutes, someone was in the room asking questions that often I did not know the answer to--or taking me for yet another test. No time or energy for phone calls, etc. After all the tests, I am reassured that my heart is just fine.

I know to never again postpone going to ER if I get breathless again. Actually I already knew this. And in a difference set of circumstances, I would have gone to Marion ER earlier--but I was not at Marion. So oddly, the timing on this turned out to be perfect. This makes me feel that I am meant to complete some writing projects important to me and to de-clutter my messy office that I am very ashamed of. So I thank God for the new lease on time on this planet.

I also thank so many of you for your kind thoughts and prayers. Last night as I worked my way through emails and read your notes saying you were praying for me, I felt very loved and encouraged and grateful for good friends. You will hear more from me when my energy returns and I catch up. Tonight I have to listen to the debate.

Love from Woodsong,