Friday, September 22, 2017

Golfing with Mary Gorton

Friday was a very good day.   I did my knee exercises, got stuff together for the trip, read some Augustine and Joshua, rode my bike for 40 minutes, then went off to play golf with Mary Gorton.  We had a lot of fun and you can tell she knows how to play golf.  On her good shots she hit the ball further than I did but her putting and her strategy let her down.  Playing from the red tees, I shot a 51 and she shot a 61 and since it was the first time she has played in a year, a 61 was a very good score.  My only problem was that I pulled my back a little lifting her bag in and out of my truck.  She doesn’t use her irons so I will ask her to leave them out or she will have to handle it herself.  We went to dinner at India Gardens and then I came home for a nap and then piano and my blog.  I will see if I can do my yoga and weights tonight.  Both Lou and Cathy are not feeling well and I offered to go shopping for them but Lou said they were okay for now.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fishing at Trail's End on Walker Creek

Thursday worked out pretty well.  I did my knee exercises, got some stuff ready for Sunday’s trip, read some of Joshua and Augustine, took a 40 minute bike ride, played 30 minutes of piano, then headed out to Trail’s End to go fishing (I caught three but had a lot of hits).  I drove back to Hethwood and took a walk for 20 minutes, then worked on two of Lauren’s essays, on my Bridges proposal for CEA, and now my blog.  I will also try to finish my spring book order.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Walk with Rob

Tuesday was a decent day.  I did my knee exercises, emailed Melinda about meeting with the tenants upstairs, dried out my kayak, rode my bike for 40 minutes, drove over to Walmart to get my new lenses and my meds, then drove up to Roanoke to get the wrap around sunglasses.  After that I gave the flute back to Glen at Valley Propane and then drove home for a quick nap and then a walk with Rob, which was a lot of fun.  Then it was home for dinner and a nap so I could edit Lauren’s essay, then my blog and now it is TV time.

Monday, September 18, 2017

No Townhouse to Rent

Monday was a difficult day but some good came out of it.  I got up and did my knee exercises then headed out to see 200 Huff Heritage.  I liked it inside and the master bedroom was quiet.  My only concern was the wall between 200 and the neighboring townhouse.  When Jean mentioned that she was showing it to another buyer later, I really wasn’t sure what to do.  I asked if I could wait till the woman who lived next door came home and I could hear the TV and her dog barking.  Jean said she would call me later, so I called Melinda a couple of times, leaving messages but she didn’t return my calls and I wanted to talk to her before I committed to the townhouse.  I talked to Dave and he made me feel that I should rent it so I emailed Melinda and finally got a response, which said that they would refund me the rest of the September rent.   I called Jean but bad news, the other party had rented it.  I was very frustrated but fortunately the Holy Spirit meeting calmed me down.  I also got an email from Jen and she doesn’t think working with me will be beneficial so I emailed her my thanks for all her time and wished her well with all the things that she was doing.  Right now I am still an agnostic, but I would like to have a loving intimacy with Jesus.  We’ll see.   I rode my bike for 40 minutes at RU and I also visited Dr. Trivedi, who had a cancellation where I got a blood booster shot.  My hemoglobin was slightly lower but not much so I should be fine throughout my trip.  Frustrating day but I am feeling pretty good and Dave called later and helped calm me even more.    


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Thousands of Red-winged Blackbirds

Sunday was a very fine day.  I did my knee exercises, then played the piano for almost 30 minutes, then got all my kayak gear in the truck and headed off to meet Kate.  I got my kayak ready and then did a few things on the truck.  She got there before 1 and soon enough we were on the water for a leisurely trip (the water level was 2.3).  We couldn’t go around the island but we eddied out there and then slowly paddled down to the good rapids which were much lower than our last trip when the water was probably over 3.0.  The rapids were still fun and then we saw an incredible sight, two large sycamores loaded with thousands of red-winged blackbirds, with some of them splashing in the shallows.  It was very impressive.  Then after splitting up I watched the end of the golf tournament at Applebees and headed home for a quick nap and a 40 minute bike ride.  I still have my weights and yoga to do but that will come later.  I did have a nice conversation with Lou and he was appreciative of all my help.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Wondering where to move

Saturday went pretty well.  I didn’t sleep that well , mainly thinking about the rent to own one story townhouse I saw on 200 Huff Heritage.  Fortunately, I took a half a valium around 4 and was able to sleep until almost after 8.  I did the first set of my knee exercises, emailed Melinda asking when my meeting with the tenants was going to happen and complaining about them waking me up again.  I then drove out to the ABC store by Kroger and got 17 boxes so that was a relief. Then I headed out to 200 Huff Heritage and checked the distances to St. Mary’s, to Radford and to Blacksburg.  You can certainly hear I-81 but I need to get inside on Monday to really make a decision.   I asked a fellow across the street and he had no problem from the adjoining townhouses but he did say that at first the highway noise bothered him but then he got used to it although he did put up heavy curtains.  He thought 200 would get less noise so we’ll see.  I left a message and he left one for me about townhouses and I hope to connect with him later.  I took a 40 minute bike ride (up the steep part 4 times) then watched some TV and then cut my hair and got ready for Mass and the Welcome dinner.  Mass was fine and the Welcome dinner ended up well with me chatting with Jim and Barbara and Das and Cece.  I stayed after to help clean up and when I got home I did 25 minutes of piano, watched some of the Louisville / Clemson game, then got to my blog.   

Thursday, September 14, 2017

still getting to sleep

Wednesday turned out pretty well.  Knee exercises, reading the Bible and Augustine.   Then I went out to play golf at Auburn Hills (it is 19 dollars during the week but they do have a 30 round special for 750 dollars, which isn’t a bad deal but I don’t want to spend 750 right now.  I shot a 52, which was fine for Auburn because it is a much harder course than the old Meadows.  I rode my bike for 40 minutes in the Perry Street parking area and then headed home for dinner.  I struggled to do my weights and yoga and I didn’t do my piano or my blog.  I just sat and watched Clash of the Titans. 

Thursday was also a pretty good day.  I slept well, did my full prayers and songs at 6:00 (when the upstairs tenants aren’t awake yet), then did my knee exercises.  I then went to get my bloodwork but despite sticking me twice (and getting in the vein), my blood wouldn’t flow so I have to go back tomorrow.  I got a good bike ride in at Hethwood (going up the steeper part 4 times) for 40 minutes and then I decided to dry out the kayak.  I was able to dry it out completely despite it being overcast and I cleaned out the truck, straightened out the tarp, put some more golf balls in my bag and read some of the Idiot and Augustine.  I also had a nice chat with Mary Gorton about writing and religion.  Later I talked with Gyorgyi and we are going to meet for lunch at Lefty’s at 1 tomorrow.  I did my piano playing and later I will do my weights and yoga.  I did get a response from Melinda Dunford and she is not going to reduce my rent but she will try to set up a meeting with the upstairs tenants. 


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

the rental home search continues

Tuesday was a decent day even if it rained all day.  I started my knee exercises, then called Dr. Poovey’s office about my eyes and the prednisone.  He said that below 20 mg. and I should be fine for a new prescription so I was able to go in at 10:30 and get my eyes checked out.  My left eye is really bad (partially due to the start of a cataract) but Poovey thought a new prescription would bring my eyesight back to 20/30 which would be much better than it is right now.  I ordered new lenses (costing 340 dollars) and I am hoping they will be ready by the 20th, just before my trip.  I then had a crispy chicken sandwich and a Frosty and then a nap in my truck.  The nap really helped and I thenwent to look at a couple houses, neither of which will work out for me.  I then drove home for another nap and after that went to the Perry Street garage for 40 minutes of flat biking.  I emailed Maddie and Claire, congratulating the latter for getting the job.  She thanked me for all my help.  I talked to Lou and he was doing okay but Cathy probably has a kidney stone so that is not the best news.  I also had a good and funny exchange with my kayak buddy.  I did practice some piano and I hope I have enough energy to do my weights and yoga.  I also edited Lauren’s essay but she is still using her grandad’s experience and that isn’t working.  They fixed the floor in the upstairs apartment and it is a definite improvement. 


Monday, September 11, 2017

Starting the hunt for a house

Monday was a good day.  I did my knee exercises, read some Augustine and some of the Bible, and then headed out to look at some rental houses and go to my office to hand in my evaluation form and my extra employment form.  I chatted with Rosemary some and Moira and then headed out to go back to my apartment, ride my bike (three times up the steeper part),  then a nap before heading out for Holy Spirit.  The group was very good again and they asked me to read the gospel and I did okay.  They did pray for me to get a place where I can sleep, which is crucial.  Melinda called in response to my email pointing out her great concern about the tenants above being able to make noise anywhere in their apartment at any time and she left a message and I should hear from her tomorrow.  I talked to Judy about faith and I am still struggling with a belief in God, the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of the body.  I keep praying and going to Mass and Holy Spirit and RCIA so I hope something will happen at some point.  I still have to play the piano and do my yoga and weights so I still have work ahead of me.     


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Another great kayak trip with my kayak friend

Saturday was a pretty good day.  I did my knee exercises, practiced piano, went for a good uphill bike ride for almost 40 minutes, watched some football, went to the 5 pm mass, went to look at a rental property at 210 Robin Hood, then ended up taking a walk around Blacksburg.  I sent Melinda an email about releasing me without penalty from the lease and asking her for compensation for the upcoming move.  I also got the notice from social security and I will end up losing 4K.  I would like to question them on it but if I bring it up I could lose even more so I may just accept things the way they are.  That means I will have to dig into my savings this month and next but I will be getting regular checks starting in November.  My travelling situation is going to be almost nothing until I see how the income taxes work out.  If I get back anything, then perhaps a short summer trip will be possible.  I talked to Lou yesterday and he was doing better and he said he would be sad to leave the girls.  He was very thankful for my help and I told him just to heal and that would be thanks enough. 


Sunday started out well.  I was able to sleep until 4:30 but needed to take a 2.5 mg valium to get back to sleep before the tenants started making noise and then I slept almost till 9, which was quite good for me.  I tried calling Shawn again but no response so I was able to get my kayak in my truck (it didn’t feel that heavy so my strength is certainly better) and I am to meet Kate at the bridge at 12:45.  I hope being folded up for so long has not hurt my kayak.   My kayak trip with my kayak friend was a great success and the water was up so we were able to hit two really good holes at the end.  Both of us got covered with water.  Earlier we went up the stream and under the railroad bridge and then we continued our chat.  One of our best trips ever.   I picked up a Jimmy John’s sandwich and then headed home for a nap and then a bike ride (three times up the steeper part) then cleaned out the wet stuff in the truck and played some jazz and some church songs on the piano.  Then it was TV time and hopefully I will do my weights and yoga.  

Saturday, September 9, 2017

I will be leaving Hethwood

      Thursday was not a great day, mainly since I was woken up at 1 again.  I couldn’t get back to sleep and got up around 6:30, not well rested at all.  I did my knee exercises and then decided to go play golf and played pretty well.  The last day I can play is Saturday and then the Meadows closes forever.  I talked to Megan Anderson and she gave me a lot of nonsense and below is the e-mail I wrote to her boss:
Dear Melinda Dunford,


      I am writing to you about the lack of success Megan Anderson has had in resolving a problem I never expected to have when I came to Stroubles Creek.
     I was told that the Stroubles Creek area was only for professionals and graduate students (I will be glad to show you my early notes that make it clear what I was told) and that it would be a quiet place to live.  Even if I wasn’t in chemotherapy for kidney lupus (and I had been extremely ill from January to early August), my apartment should be one where I can get a decent night’s sleep.  That’s why I am paying significantly more for this apartment and that is what I expected for the extra money.  I never would have come here if it wasn’t going to be a place where I could rest comfortably and heal.  My doctors will agree that good sleep is crucial to my recovery and I don’t want to die at Hethwood.   I want to also point out that I am a cancer survivor, having gotten colon cancer almost ten years ago and having to have a colon resection and 5 months of chemotherapy back then.   I also suffer from asthma, hypothyroidism and high blood pressure. 
       Let me give you a little history of my Stroubles’ experience.  For the first 12 days I was really impressed.  The apartment above me was quiet and I thought it was because of the solid construction.  I rode my bike, walked around, practiced my piano (through headphones so I wouldn’t bother anyone), wrote some and thought I had found an excellent place to live.
          But on Saturday, the 26th, I went to bed my usual time, a little after midnight, and at 1:45 in the morning I was awoken by incessant pounding on the floor above me.  I had previously thought that because Stroubles was the most expensive area of Hethwood, it would be better built but clearly the ceiling was not very well built at all.  I called the visitor’s center and left a message and then called the number that was given by your message and talked to Ashley about what to do.  She said that since Hethwood had no security officer that I should call the police, which I did.  They said they sent someone to the apartment to knock on the door but no one answered.  The noise kept up and around 3 I called and two officers came (one a Sergeant Craver), but they refused to go up and knock again and advised me not to go up and knock, and I followed their advice. 
      I talked to Ms. Anderson a number of times and little was done but I would like to focus on yesterday’s phone call after I suffered through another night of interrupted sleep.
      Ms. Anderson said, “That’s how apartment living is.” Perhaps in the rest of Hethwood but that was not what I was told about Stroubles.   She was very rude to me on the phone, and she kept interrupting me.  
      One of the worst things she did was mention the word “harassing” as if somehow my desire to go to bed at 12:15 and complaining when I the noisy tenants above wake me up is somehow harassing them.  That was an utterly ridiculous thing for Ms. Anderson to say.   By their refusal to respond to her requests, I am the one being harassed, not the tenants above. 
       Even more absurd is her allegation that she has not witnessed the noise from above.  Of course she has.  She came over with another woman and a young man (can you send me their names?) and they all took turns going upstairs and walking around and the young man said that the floor needed to be repaired by stabilizing it with screws, and that they would try to do it as soon as possible.  I am still waiting.   Do Ms. Anderson think that the tenants upstairs walk differently than her and her associates?   
       I have only been home two nights in the past week (my friend was seriously injured in a car accident and was in the trauma unit in Wake Forest Baptist Hospital and I went down to take care of his daughters) and both nights the noisy tenants woke me at 1 with their continual noise. 
       All I am asking is that you repair the floor as soon as possible, set up a meeting so I can meet the tenants, express my concerns about how noisy they are and inform them of my illness, and ask them to be quiet after 12:15 (I understand the need to go to the bathroom, but that requires only a few steps and after the floor is repaired the noise should be minimized). 
        Do you think that you are treating me fairly?  I don’t and I want to remedy the situation as soon as possible.  In my view, if I can’t sleep, the apartment is uninhabitable.


Sincerely,

Dr. Justin Askins
Professor of English
Radford University   
After that I went over to help Mary Gorton with the article she was writing and it was pretty good.  She used a lot of good details. 

Friday was a day of relief even though it is going to mean some expense for me and a lot of work.  I spoke with Melinda and she basically said that there was nothing Hethwood could do about the upstairs tenants.  They have the right to walk around whenever they want and they don’t have to meet with me.  She did agree that the floor would be repaired but she said that even if it was repaired the floor was going to be noisy.   I told her that I had my notes that I was told that only graduate students and professionals could rent apartments in Stroubles but that was a lie.  So, halfway through the conversation she offered to let me out of my lease since there was no way Hethwood could fix the problem so I agreed to her offer.  After I got off with her, I called Darbi but she is out of the realty business and she gave me Peg Warren’s number and I left her a message.  I decided to go play my final round of golf at the Meadows and that was fun and I played pretty well.  I later talked to Dave and he thought I should rent a place, not buy one right now, and that makes sense because if I end up not liking it I would be stuck or have to sell it.  He mentioned a lease to own option and I will ask about that.  Fortunately, I didn’t put up any pictures in my apartment and a lot of my stuff is still in boxes so the move is not going to be that hard.  I hope I can find a place in a reasonably short time but after moving my guest room mattress into the living room I did sleep okay.  I hope that will last until I leave.  I talked to Cathy and Lou had a low fever but at least started going to the bathroom so that is good.  They will be back on Sunday and I hope Lou feels better soon.  I also went to see Dr. Hurd this morning and the mark on my face is benign so no problems there. 



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A bad accident and my first visit to Winston Salem

Friday was going okay until about 4 o’clock when I got a call from Maddie that her parents had been in a bad car accident.  I asked her if she wanted me to come down and she said yes, and when I called Cathy she sounded pretty bad, didn’t know even if Lou were alive, and also asked if I could come down to look after Maddie and Claire.  I was a Walmart so I ditched my shopping cart and started down.  It was overcast and then it started raining about halfway there but I drove nonstop and got to the apartment around 6:30.  We soon found out that Lou was going to be transported to Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston Salem and that he was seriously injured, with 6 (later changed to 7) and a broken clavicle.  We had pizza for dinner and then spent the evening waiting for updates.

Saturday morning I drove the girls to the hospital and we got to see Lou in the emergency room and he looked pretty bad.  After out visit we went back to the apartment and I rode my bike and I think I pulled my side because it really started to hurt.  I thought I might have to go to the emergency room but I took some Tylenol and that helped a little.  We went back to visit after having dinner at Zoe’s kitchen and Lou had been move to an ICU unit.  He was able to speak but got confused at points.

Sunday was a hard day because after I took Maddie and Claire over to see Lou, all four of us returned to the apartment and then I dropped Maddie and Claire off to see Lou and then Cathy and I drove up to Hillsville to get all the stuff out of the SUV.  Both Cathy and I were shocked at the condition of the Rogue (we had both been expecting some damage to the right front passenger door but the whole right front and been smashed and the right front wheel was almost horizontal.  Clearly the Rogue was totaled, and after a brief crying stint by both of us, we unloaded the vehicle and drove over to the crash site (Cathy wanted to see it) and she decided that it had to be her fault (it seemed to me also that it was her fault) but I kept telling her it was just an accident, words that had little effect on her.  I drove her back to the hospital where she visited briefly and got the keys to the apartment then Claire and I drove back to the apartment and unloaded the stuff from the Rogue.  Then we drove back to the hospital and picked up Cathy and Maddie and we all went back to nap.  We went out to Zoe’s Kitchen for dinner and then I dropped Cathy, Maddie and Claire off and after I had two walks, Maddie and Claire returned and we headed back to the apartment where I watched the Virginia Tech game, a very exciting victory by Tech. 

Monday morning went slowly because Cathy wanted Maddie and Claire to visit Lou so I took them over and then we went back to the apartment.  We finally headed off to Radford around 10 and got there a little after noon.  I dropped her off and then went home to do my knee exercises and my weights and yoga.  I went to bed around 12 but the upstairs tenants woke me at 12:45 and I had a tough time going back to sleep, eventually having to take a 2.5 mg valium and it was past 3 before I dropped off.  I got up around 8 and had my breakfast, then started my knee exercises and called Cathy.  I did some things for her but she wasn’t doing so well so I offered to drive her back down and she accepted.  I got my stuff together drove over and we had a good drive back down, chatting a lot and we went to the apartment, picked up the girls and went to eat at Zoe’s Kitchen before we dropped her off at the hospital and Claire and Maddie visited.  There was a possibility that Lou would be released the next day, which seemed kind of shocking to all of us.  Then Cathy stayed and I drove the girls home.  I watched some TV and did my yoga exercises. 
Wednesday was a good day even though the rain made driving difficult.  Claire wanted to see Lou so I told her to come with me and Maddie and after I dropped Maddie off at Wake Forest, we took a short walk with umbrellas around the main library, a lovely park like campus.  I will ride around it at some point.  Then I dropped off Claire (Eric had gotten there) and I rested in my truck until we got the word that Lou was being released so I drove down to the exit, picked up Claire and with her help we drove in the rain back to the apartment and waited for Cathy and Eric to bring Lou back.  When they arrived the three of us got Lou up the 24 stairs and into bed where he collapsed.  Then I said goodbye and just before 2 I headed off and had a pretty easy drive to Radford and then to my apartment where I took a needed nap and then went for a 30 minute bike ride, then cleaned up my truck, then did some flute playing, then got to my blog.  I want to do 15 more minutes of flute and my yoga and weights, and perhaps go out for some prayers and singing.   


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Good Day

Wednesday was a very good day and I think progress was made on the noise problem.   I got up around 9 and did the first part of my knee exercises, then decided to head to the Meadows and carefully play golf.  I walked very slowly so as to not pop my knee and that worked pretty well.  I shot a 7 under 100 and I used my driver a bit and hit it pretty well.  I then drove to Walmart and picked up some groceries, then drove home for a nap.  I got up, did my flute playing and the rest of my knee exercises, then met with Meghan and a couple of other people (one was a technician) and they all found the noise to be excessive.  The technician said that they would try to screw down the floor better and that should help and he is going to look into putting some noise proofing up (that is very unlikely).  I then went for a 30 minute bike ride going uphill on one lap and then decided to head out to Walker Creek to fish.  I caught 5 but it is a pretty lone drive, over 50 miles so I will not be doing that trip too often.  I drove home just as dark was settling in and made macaroni and cheese and steamed vegetables.  I did get another thing from Anthem saying I would have to pay 157 dollars on another claim, but that should get me to finish my 1500 dollar deductible.  I am spending a little more than I should be so I am going to have to be more careful for the next few weeks.  I am planning to go out for prayers and songs in about a half hour.   Good day indeed.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Another Bad Night Sleeping

Tuesday was not such a great day although I think Hethwood is going to try to solve the noise problem.  I didn’t sleep very well, since the tenants kept making noise until 1 in the morning.  I knocked on the ceiling at 12:20 but that had no result.  I finally got to sleep around 1:30 and then woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t fall asleep for at least an hour.  I woke up at 7 feeling like I really needed more sleep but I couldn’t get back to sleep.  I called Meghan at 9 and reiterated my concerns and then when at least one of the tenants came back I called her and she came over but the tenant had left so I couldn’t let her hear the noise.  She later called and said that she was going to leave an email for the tenants and that she would come over tomorrow at 4:30 to try to see how loud things were.  I decided to go out since the apartment had become uninviting and as I drove in the light rain, I thought today would be a good day to get my bloodwork done.  Val was great as always and after Rob looked at the patch on my face, he recommended having a dermatologist look at it.  One of his staff made an appointment with Dr. Evans for Tuesday at 4:30 and when I called back I found out that they may remove the patch that day or do a biopsy.  It sounds very unpleasant so I will probably take a full valium when I go.  I then had a small lunch at Panda Express and then went to see the new Spider Man movie (which was highly rated) and I enjoyed that and didn’t spend any money since I had a 25 dollar gift card from the Gallos.  After the movie I headed back and got a nap in, then played my flute for 30 minutes, then got ready for RCIA.  That went okay but I was still a bit out of it from lack of sleep.  After we finished, I invited Mary for a walk at the Drill field and we had a nice walk, visiting the war memorial chapel for the first time, then heading back to Hethwood.  I ate a bowl of steamed vegetables and watched some TV before doing my blog.  The upstairs tenants are tolerably noisy but the real test will come at 12:15.  I can only hope for a decent night’s sleep.  

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Quiet Night at Hethwood

Monday turned out to be a fine day.  The tenants upstairs quieted down around midnight and I was able to sleep until almost 7.  They were a bit noisy but they left around 7 and didn’t return until around 5.  I got up and headed over to pick up the almond croissants at Our Daily Bread, and then headed for Jeff’s.  We smoked a little weed (one poke for me) and then listened to classical music for 45 minutes and it was very intense and rewarding.  Then we sat outside and chatted, then I asked Jeff if he would like to go riding and that was okay with him but before riding I treated him to lunch at Macado’s.  We rode about 5 miles, then talked of getting together soon.  I then drove home for a nap (the tenants hadn’t come back yet) so I had a very deep nap and had to struggle to get up.  I finally got up and did my 30 minutes of flute, then got ready to go to Holy Spirit, which had 16 people show up and Mary Bland led the singing and did a great job.  I gave her some money for the Welcome Dinner and I read the Gospel and did an adequate job.  After the meeting I drove home and ate a salmon burger and started my weights and yoga, and I hope to get to my jazz piano stuff soon.   John called and I left a message for him telling him how well I was doing and I hope we can chat at some point.  I spoke to Meghan at Hethwood and she is going to write a letter to the tenants about the noise and if it continues she will get more involved.   A very good day.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Whole Different Perspective on Hethwood

Sunday changed my whole experience at Stroubles Creek.  I had a very good day on Saturday and went to bed my normal time, a little after 12.  But at about 1:30, I was awakened by a lot of noise from upstairs and I wasn’t sure what was up.  However, after a few minutes of loud, almost stomping noise upstairs, I realized that no one had been living upstairs since I moved in on the 15th.  Whoever it was kept the steady noise up for at least a half hour and it continued somewhat more sporadically until almost 4.  At about 2:00 I called the Hethwood Visitor’s Center and left a message (mentioning my lupus and my chemo), then called the emergency number and talked to Ashley (again mentioning my lupus and chemo).  She told me there was no security to call and she advised me not to go upstairs and talk to the tenants.  Instead she told me to call 911.  Figuring that this was not exactly an emergency, I called the Montgomery county sheriff’s office and eventually talked to an officer who said they would send someone over to talk to the tenants.  However, the noise continued and I called back and the officer said that another officer had come and knocked but the tenants wouldn’t answer so there was nothing they could do (I had asked that the officer talk to me directly but that didn’t happen).  It was incredibly frustrating so I asked the officer to send someone again to knock and to talk with me and it was after 3:30 when two officers appeared (one, K.V. Craver) and they told me that unless they heard noise from outside the apartment, there was nothing they could do (I mentioned my lupus and my chemo and showed them the patches on my arms from the prednisone).  They would not go upstairs and knock and they advised me not to go up and knock.  They thought it better to wait to see what Hethwood would do on Monday.  I finally got to sleep around 4:30, having to get up for my volunteer work at St. Mary’s at 7, but the tenants woke me at 6 with more moving around.   After my volunteer work, I headed back to my apartment around 1:30 and thankfully the tenants were out and I was able to get a nap.  I dread what is going to happen tonight.   I am also having problems with my left side right below my belly.  My belly has grown larger than I like and that usually causes a little discomfort but today’s was pretty intense and I had to take 2 acetaminophens to combat the pain.  I have not eaten much today and I think if I can lose some of the belly, the pain will diminish.  I did go for a 3 lap bike ride (around 25 minutes) and that felt good although at first my belly really hurt.  I also read some Augustine while putting a heating pad on it and that helped a little.   Later I put a hot, wet towel on my knee and that also seemed to help a little (this was advised by Matt at Gardner’s office).  I watched the end of the Northern Trust golf tournament and it went to a playoff hole with Dustin Johnson and Jordan Speith, with Dustin Johnson winning by a stroke.  I emailed Sergeant Craver at the town of Blacksburg Police department just to have an accurate record of what happened last night.    





Saturday, August 26, 2017

Trail's End Road

Saturday was a fine day.  I did the first part of my knee exercises and also worked out my good knee some.  I did my full weights and yoga, played my piano for 25 minutes, and my flute for 30.  Then I decided to head out to Walker Creek and fish and wander.  I caught one small redeye at the White Gate bridge and then drove out to Mechanicsburg and rode down 738 and turned off at Trail’s end road and stopped at a nice spot that was pretty easy to access (the grass was cut right to the bank) and I caught 7 fish (a couple sunfish and the rest redeyes).  I could have easily caught 20 if I moved a bit.  I will return there soon.  I drove back to Blacksburg, took a nap then went for my bike ride of 35 minutes and a little bit of uphill work.  I had decided to go see the MacGregor/Mayweather fight at the Cinebowl but I realized that would put me in close contact with a lot of people so I gave up on the idea.  I drove home took a short walk, which I cut even shorter when my knee started to pop a little.  I will rest it the rest of the night and I may even not go out to pray and sing.  Rob’s mom is doing better and I hope to visit her at some point.  I offered to send flowers but Rob said wait.  I told him about the mark on my face and he is going to look at it when I come in for blood work this week.  I still don’t miss the hollow and I love how easy it is to live here.  I learned that my loss on the sale of the hollow isn’t deductible but some of the closing costs may be.  I haven’t budgeted them in so though it would be nice I will be okay without any extra deductions.  

Friday, August 25, 2017

Meeting with Jen

Friday turned out to be an okay day.  I did the first part of my knee exercises, practiced my flute for 30 minutes (my jaw felt a little tender but it doesn’t hurt), then headed over to RU to see Jen.  I recycled all my mixed recycling and my cardboard on the way and then had a good session with Jen.  I showed how some things about the writing in the Bible that I thought were awkward but since she is a literalist I don’t think my lesson had much of an effect.  Hard to tell with her.  I also gave her a 50 dollar gift card to Starbucks.  When I got home I took a long nap, then, after a cup of tea, went for a 30 minute bike ride.  I lay down for a few minutes then got up and played my jazz songs on piano for perhaps 25 minutes and then turned to my blog.  After finishing this entry I will make dinner and I hope to go for a walk. 


Thursday, August 24, 2017

A four thousand dollar loss

Thursday turned out very well, even if I lost 5 thousand dollars.  I was able to do the first part of my knee exercises, finish putting all my stuff away, then drive over to Food Lion for some supplies.  I drove over to meet Claire Hall at 12:00 at Greens and we had a nice sushi lunch.  We then took a walk on the Tech campus and finished with yogurt from the yogurt place.  I drove home for a nap then got up and played flute for a half hour, then went for a 30 minute bike ride, then later a 30 minute walk.  I came home and made dinner then went out for my prayers and songs at the gazebo.  I still have my weights and yoga to do but I should have plenty of time.  The 5K loss is because of being on sick leave and a thousand dollar bill for my last chemo (I made almost 13K more because of the sick leave so that should reduce my social security by around 4K so that is a real hit).  On the positive side it will reduce my income for this tax year so I should get about a thousand back so it’s really a 4K loss.  I still will have a few thousand left after tax time and that doesn’t include if I get to claim any kind of loss on the sale of the hollow.  I am still not missing the hollow and I am still really enjoying the safety and lack of worry living in Hethwood.  I am sure at some point I will miss the hollow but certainly not right now.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

My Knee is Okay

Tuesday was a good day, and I ended up practicing my piano, doing one part of my knee exercises, reading more of The Idiot and Numbers, riding my bike on the flat part of the Huckleberry trail for 25 minutes, then I drove out to Walker Creek and worked hard for one small red eye.  I got back just before dark and did my songs and prayers in the gazebo and did my weights and part of my yoga after that.  I am getting to bed by 12:00 and that seems to be working fine. 

Wednesday was a very good day.  I did part of my knee exercises, did some more straightening up (almost finished), and then got showered and headed to see Matt at Dr. Gardner’s office.   I was pretty scared that I had done some damage to the knee replacement, but the x-rays were fine and Matt checked out the knee and said it was fine also.  He did want me to keep riding less and staying on flat ground and just doing the non-bending knee exercises for now.  He also suggested moist heat to help soothe the knee.    I was real happy when I left.  Then I drove up to Valley Repair and Glen gave me a flute to keep (which I will if I can play it, but I will return it if my TMJ comes back).  I chatted with Glen and Tom for over an hour, mainly about Christian stuff.  It was nice to see them and I met Glen’s wife.  He also said he would invite me for dinner some night and I think that would be fun.  I drove home and took a long nap, then I got up and tried out the flute and I did very well with it.  I hope the TMJ doesn’t come back and I have to give it up.  After that I rode my bike for 30 minutes on the flat part of the Huckleberry Trail and that felt good.  I made dinner of Mac and Cheese and steamed vegetables, then I went out to the Gazebo for my prayers and songs.    I got a form from Anthem saying that over 900 dollars of my last chemo wasn’t covered but I hope that I won’t get billed that much.  Once I cover my deductible for the year, I assume everything will be covered again.


Monday, August 21, 2017

A Good Holy Spirit Meeting

Sunday was a rest day, since I didn’t want my knee popping so I did just the first part of the knee exercises and didn’t ride my bike at all.  I did take a walk, very slowly so I didn’t bend my knee (there were a couple of pops but that’s all).  I did two sets of weights and the first part of my yoga so I didn’t have to bend my knee.  Had a nice long chat with Dave.  Also, I found my checkbook so I will take care of that tomorrow.  David Hamilton texted me that he was releasing my security deposit and I texted him back some tips on the hollow.  Then I went out to pray and sing at the gazebo. 

Monday turned out fine.  I called that bank and talked to Sherie and eventually everything was cleared up and I had access to all my money.  I took a short bike ride on the flat part of the bike trail and my knee didn’t pop but I called Gardner’s office and I have an appointment on Wednesday at 1.  I hope I haven’t damaged it enough to require more surgery.  I hope I can just rest it and do some therapy but we’ll see.  I did three sets of weights and three sets of partial yoga and the knee felt okay.  I also went over to the pool for the solar eclipse but they were out of glasses.  When I got back to my apartment two of my neighbors were out and Juan had a pair of eclipse glasses so I got to see some of the eclipse.  The Holy Spirit group went very well with a lot of singing and I felt good to be connected to all the good people there.  After it finished, I had to drive home in the driving rain but fortunately I now live just a few miles away so it wasn’t too bad at all.  I am still feeling very comfortable here and I am not far from having everything put away.  I really have too much stuff and I certainly needed the two bedroom apartment.  I am cutting up the boxes so I can recycle them and I still have the books to put on the shelves but I did one box already.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Settling In

Friday turned out to be a good day.  I did more putting things away and that was helpful.  I did my knee exercises and my weights and yoga, then drove out to give Dougie the battery powered chainsaw and he gave me a check for 250, as agreed.  Then I came back and rode my bike on the Tech campus then came home and ended up going out to the gazebo (about 150 yards away) and doing my prayers and songs (very low).  My left knee is hurting too much and popping some so I think I have to rest it more.  The biggest problem is that I can’t find my checkbook and I looked for it some and still can’t find it.

Saturday was another good day.  I slept okay (I have put a sheet over the window to cut down a lot of the light) and got up around 8:30 and did my knee exercises (and my knee popped a few times and hurt some) then I put together the light I bought for next to the sofa.  I was also able to get my new printer working but no luck on finding my checkbook so I called Union and they put an alert on the account.  I have to go to the bank on Monday even if I find the checkbook.  I still have no check from David Hamilton but I will wait a few more days to give him a chance to send it.  I went out to the Meadows and played very well but my knee popped quite a bit and my knee hurt a lot.  I am going to do my weights and then go do my prayers and songs later, using my portable chair, which is much more comfortable than the gazebo benches and the picnic tables.  Mass was very good and it was nice to Sandy Merrick.  I met a neighbor, Claude Steele and bought 3 raffle tickets from Joseph Mukuni for the Knights of Columbus.  Winner and second place get season tickets to the Tech games.  Overall, I am really comfortable here and amazingly I hardly miss the hollow.  I guess it was just too much for me for too long. 


Thursday, August 17, 2017

third day in Hethwood and things are going fine


Tuesday was moving day and the movers were a few minutes late.  What surprised me was the size of the truck, which was there biggest one, not the midsize one I expected.  It took some maneuvers, but we got it up to the back stairs and the three fellows moved very quickly.  They were done in less than two hours and we were at Hethwood around twelve.  Getting my keys was quick and the guys moved the stuff in very quickly.  By 1, everything was in and I had paid them the 365, plus 70 in tips so the final cost was much less than the 1000 I had budgeted for.  I took Claire out to lunch at Greens and we had some of their artisan sushi, which was very good.  We returned and Claire helped me set up some stuff and then I told her she could leave at around three.  I few very comfortable even though I got a message from David that he wanted to meet me at 2 out in the hollow and there was no way that was going to happen.  I texted him back and told him that if he had contacted me earlier I might have been able to adjust my schedule but since he never responded to my earlier text I had no idea what he was up to.  I asked him to send me my security deposit as soon as possible and reminded him that we had agreed that I didn’t have to clean the house because I was so sick (his exact words were that “you have done enough”).  After a nice nap I drove out to White Gate and caught three little red eyes from the bridge and then went for a bike ride at Tech.

Wednesday didn’t go that well.  I had to wait most of the day for Grand to call and tell me when they were going to deliver my couch and they didn’t call until late afternoon, telling me that the salesman had fouled up and that the couch was not going to be delivered today.  I told them they should give me a credit of some sort and they agreed.  My second concern was the installation of the cable and internet and that was supposed to happen between 1 and 3, but the technician didn’t get to my apartment until 4:30 (Comcast agreed to deduct 40 from my first bill), and the installation went okay but unfortunately the fellow at Best Buy had sold me a router instead of a modem so I had to use the Comcast modem temporarily.   However, the technician got things fixed up and I now have cable (with the ability to record) and internet for 118 a month.  After he finished I drove out to Best Buy to  return the router and as I was leaving the store with the modem, the fellow at the door told me I probably needed a modem/router so I called Comcast and they agreed so I had to return the modem and get the modem/router.  I drove to Tech and rode my bike on the road to the Smithfield Plantation and then up to the frat section for 45 minutes.  Then I was driving home when I ran into Mary Gorton and I ended up showing her my apartment and then going over and chatting with her till after 12.  I was really tired when I got back but I ate some chili she gave me and a cheese sandwich and went to bed around 1. 

Thursday was a good day.  I did my weights and yoga, reviewed Barron and read a little more of The Idiot.  I took a bike ride around the area and saw sheep, cows and horses so that was a treat and the views at points were pretty wide open.  My knee was a bit of a problem but I got my 45 minutes in and then I got home, rested a bit, then the couch guys came around 4 and I was able to drive out to go play golf (the par 5 got me again) and then make it to the Reading Group with time to spare.  It was last session on Barron and it was very lively.  Mike and Sue are going to do it again in the fall and I can’t wait.  I’m sure it will be very stimulating.  I also signed up for RCIA and I hope that will be interesting also.    



Monday, August 14, 2017

Last Day in the Hollow

Monday has been going well. I met Claire at the gate at 9 and by 11:30 we were pretty much done.  I had put a good bit of stuff in my truck and I transferred it to Claire’s car when I met her.  We taped and labeled boxes, filled some plastic bags, loaded some more boxes and then had a nice lunch of Macaroni and cheese, peas, Claire’s sweet potatoes and strawberries.  I drove her to the gate at a little after 12 and then switched some more stuff to her car.  When I got home I took a nice nap then slowly got up and did a little more packing and loaded the vacuum cleaner into my truck.  I have plenty of room in my truck.  I drove in and got rid of some garbage, then picked up 5 boxes at the ABC store, then drove over to East Coasters and Ian had time to fix the bike so I left if and went over to Our Daily Bread for a sandwich and coffee.  My bike should be fixed soon and then I will go pick it up, probably take a short nap and then it should almost be time to go to St. Mary’s.  Tomorrow is moving day and I think it will go well.  The movers confirmed that they will be there at 9, and I don’t think it will take more than 2 hours to clear the house.  But the unexpected can happen so I am not going to get upset if things go slowly.





Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dinner with the Gallos

Sunday turned out well.  I slept okay, got up around 9 and then began working on getting everything ready for Claire tomorrow.  I made a lot of progress but I need 4 more boxes and Claire is going to bring them.  I did my weights and yoga, my piano playing, rested a couple of times, finished the Barron reading for Thursday, washed the dishes, and got ready to go about 1:45.    I drove over to Dougie’s and left him the trimmer and the logging helmet along with the Kevlar pants.  I will drop off the chainsaw after I leave the hollow on Tuesday.  Then I headed to Grand furniture and bought a new couch for 476 dollars, including removal of my very old love seat.  I was expecting to spend 600 so I saved over a hundred, which right now will help.  Then I took a quick nap, and headed over to Olive Garden to watch some of the PGA championship.  The Gallos got there at about 5:40 and we had a good time, lots of joking and they could tell I felt a lot better.  After dinner I drove to Perry parking garage and rode my bike for 45 minutes going up and down the ramps a number of times.  Then it was time for coffee and dessert at Starbucks and my blog.  Good day.   Still no word from the Hamiltons but I decided to leave all the manuals.  I did also warn them about cleaning the dryer vent to prevent a fire.   Tonight will be my next to last night in the hollow.  I am sure it is the right time to move.  I am really done with maintaining equipment, pruning the road, opening endless gates, and worrying about fallen trees. 


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Rob's visit

Saturday turned out very well.  I slept until 9, got up and did my knee exercises, and got everything ready for Rob.  I drove down around 11:45 and Rob got there about 20 after 12.  To my surprise, Noah was with him and it was great to see him.  I gave him some of the remaining field guides and he wanted the old TV and I told him it was his.  He thought he might be able to get it to work better.  I wished him good luck.  It only took about an hour to load Rob’s SUV so I was able to send him off and still get a nap before doing my weights and yoga and my piano playing.  I then drove to St. Mary’s for the 5 pm mass and it was comforting, although I am doing very well and not anxious at all.  After Mass I drove to Grand’s but they closed at 6 so I will have to buy my couch tomorrow.  I want to deliver the trimmer to Dougie tomorrow also.  After that I went to Merrimac and rode my bike for 45 minutes, then headed to Macado’s to have a Margie’s Cashew Chicken salad, which was just what I wanted.  I emailed Kate after she emailed and said she was too busy to go kayaking tomorrow, which means I will save 70 dollars, which is fine with me.  I will probably head home shortly but a movie is still a possibility. 


Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday, with only a few more days in the hollow



Friday was a good day, with a hike to the first stump, during which I realized that my hike would be one of my last in the hollow.  I returned and did my knee exercises, got a few things ready for Rob tomorrow, did 2 sets of weights and yoga, showered and shaved and headed off to meet Jen at 1:30.  We had a really good session, talking about Job and original sin.  After that I got a sandwich, then took a nap, and got to work on my blog, editing Lauren’s essay, and doing some email.  After I finish I will drive to tech to ride my bike in the Perry street garage since it is raining.  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Another good day

Thursday was another good day although I had a little trouble getting up but when I did I went for a hike to the first stump, then did my sacred songs once, did my knee exercises, read more Exodus, washed the dishes, and did my weights and yoga.  I then lay down for 20 minutes then got ready to go and drove to Collision Plus, where the fellow there put the tailgate piece on in a few minutes and didn’t charge me anything.   I offered a tip but he wouldn’t accept it.  The I drove over to the Meadows and shot 10 under (90 for both balls) and really played well.  I have 5 nine hole rounds left and I should be able to get them in by the time the course closes on August 31th.  I talked to Gloria and she is still not doing so well so I hope she gets better by the time she goes to England to visit Bryana.  I talked to Dave yesterday and we had a long and fruitful conversation, especially about his upcoming talk with Erina.  I did my bike riding after going for a walk with Rob and got home at 10 and cooked dinner. 





Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Good Numbers

Tuesday was another good day, with a walk in the morning, more Exodus and Vibrant Paradoxes and The Idiot, weights and yoga, piano and getting the TV stand emptied and cleaned.  I later drove in to see Dr. Trivedi and the news was pretty good.  My Hemoglobin was 9.0 (about a pint down), creatine 1.2 (almost normal), White Blood Cells 5.7 (which is good) .  The only real concern was the protein in the urine 13 (which is still too high).  If my numbers get better I may not have to go to any more chemo and I don’t have to go back for bloodwork for a month.  Christie gave me the shot to help my blood and it didn’t hurt too much.  After leaving at 5:15 I drove over to the Meadows and played very well (at one point I was 12 under and I finished 6 under and a played both par 5s from the red tees.  Then it was time to ride my bike and head home for prayers and songs. 

Wednesday was okay though the shot made me a little queasy.  I did a shorter walk, then did all my piano work, weights and yoga, dish washing, knee exercises and more Exodus, Barron and The Idiot.  I drove in to get the tail light fixed but Toyota couldn’t put the new piece in until I got it hammered out a bit and I will get that done tomorrow at collision plus.  The whole thing is only going to cost about 260 so that is not that bad.  I then had a barbeque sandwich at Due South and headed to my office to send Kate my commentary and edit Lauren’s revised piece.  I also updated my resume and took a good nap and I will be going bike riding later. 


Monday, August 7, 2017

Dopey Driving

Sunday turned out very well.  I had a little trouble sleeping but took a 2.5 mg valium to get back to sleep.  I was able to do my knee exercises, all me weights and yoga, washed the dishes, and took a quick nap before getting ready to go kayaking.   I got there with plenty of time to spare and the trip itself was a lot of fun, especially the last section of rapids.  We had a very good chat and we are hoping to go again soon.  I had some food, left a message for Rob about walking, took a quick nap and I am now at McDonald’s doing my blog.  I had a little swelling in my ankles so I took half a lasix earlier.   I ended up heading over to Rob’s for a walk but since he was tired and so was I we decided to shop for a new TV for me at Best Buy.  I ended up purchasing a 43 inch Toshiba, the modem I need and a printer, all for under 400 dollars.  I then went bike riding for 35 minutes and headed home for dinner and prayers and songs.


Monday gave me a few problems, mainly that I hit a small tree while backing down my driveway and totaled the driver side taillight.   Visions of 500 to 1000 came to me but after I headed to Toyota, the whole fix should be less than 300 so that’s not so bad.   I did my knee exercises and cleaned the 4 bookcases I am going to take with me and I may be able to use a piece of my furniture for a TV stand, which will save at least 150 dollars.  I had a long talk with Kelly and she was very happy that I am doing so much better.  She has had a busy week but seems to be keeping her head above water.  It was good to have a long chat with her.  I will be heading over to Best Buy in a few minutes, then on to Holy Spirit.  I also had a nice chat with Judy and I am really hoping that I can visit Patty and her kids when I go out to Las Vegas.   

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Bit of a Catchup

Wednesday was another good day.  I started out with a hike to the second stump and took some pictures of various places to remember my hollow with.  I did my knee exercises, 3 sets of yoga and weights, all my sacred piano pieces twice, washed the dishes, and reviewed Barron and read a little more of Exodus and God’s long response to Job in the book of Job.  I haven’t gotten a response from David and Laura from my text but I assume they will respond at some point.  I got my blood work done and I am assuming my numbers will be pretty good since I am feeling so good.   I need to decide on a TV soon so I have to spend some time on that.  The Comcast technician is coming on the 16th so I need the TV by then.  I edited Lauren Fritz’s essay and I wrote a letter of rec for Claire Gallo.  I am going to go bike riding later and that should be fun. 

Thursday was another good day.  I woke at about 9 (more nightmares) and got busy pretty quickly.  I played piano, did my weights and yoga, did my knee exercises and read a little more of exodus and the ending of Job and reviewed Barron some.  No word from David and Laura.  My meeting with Kitty Devereaux didn’t go that well.  She was concerned about my lupus (a legitimate concern) but we really didn’t click.  I don’t think her team of Stephen ministers are going to vote to accept me.  No real loss.  I went over to the Meadows but rain killed my round and three double holes so I didn’t lose any of my rounds left.  I then ate a quick meal at Panda Express and took a quick nap before the reading group.  It was another fun meeting and I can’t wait for the final session.  I hope Deacon Mike does another book.   I also had a nice lunch with Claire Hall at Gillies and she is doing well.  After the reading group, I went for a 35 minute ride in the Perry Street garage.

Friday is turning out to be a good day.  I didn’t sleep that well, since I left a light on in the kitchen, but I turned it off and didn’t have to take any valium to go back to sleep.  I awoke at 9, did my knee exercises, then took a hike down into the pasture.  I took a couple breaks on the two stumps but I felt fine throughout the hike.  I lay down for a while, reading more of Exodus and more of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot and I am enjoying it pretty much.  I then did three sets of weights and yoga and then headed out to play golf even though it looked like I might get rained out again.  I didn’t and I was 6 under after 7 holes but I played the par 5 as a real par 5 and ended up with a 9 and a 7 and I got a 6 and a 5 on the last hole so I ended up not breaking 100.  I then drove over to McDonald’s for a chicken sandwich and a quick nap and now I am at the Bburg McDonalds and doing my blog before I go bike riding.  I emailed Kitty Devereaux and told her I wasn’t a good fit for the Stephen Ministry.   Still no word from David and Laura but they may have written me at Hethwood so I have to check.


Saturday was a good day. Last night, however, I ended up killing the battery in my truck while I was talking to Dave even though I didn’t have the lights on.  I had to walk up from the pasture to the house at about 9:30 but it wasn’t too bad.   My knee held up okay and I ended up treating myself to spaghetti with clam sauce and some steamed vegetables.  This morning my knee was a little stiff but I hiked down to the truck with the portable charger I had (I put it in my good pack) but I really had no charge in it so I called Mike, then Chris and then Pat called and said he could come over to jump and he did, no problem.  I drove over to the recycling site and got rid of the useless charger then headed home for a well needed nap.  I did my knee exercises, three sets of weights and yoga, washed the dishes and read some more of Exodus and The Idiot.  I headed out around 3:45, talked to the folks at Hethwood about putting things on the walls (just spackle the holes when you leave) and there is a possibility I will be able to get in a few days early, which would might be helpful.  I went to the 5 pm mass and I felt very good and calm, and after it finished I decided to drive out to the bridge on Walker Creek and fish a bit.  It was a lovely drive and I caught a decent red eye and an even larger small mouth bass.   I stopped to get a pizza and ate only about half of it then drove to the Armstrong lot to ride for about 35 minutes.  Then to my office to print out the payroll withholding forms and do my blog.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Productive Tuesday

Tuesday is another good day.  I did a hike all the way to the gate, did my knee exercises, did all my sacred piano pieces, washed the dishes and finished Barron and read more of Exodus.  I then went to play golf and played very well, trying to use up my remaining 3 and ½ round credit which will expire on August 31.  Some of the greens are really deteriorating but it was still a lot of fun and I hit a few hybrids over 140 yards.  I then had a late lunch at Applebees and sent my commentary to the Roanoke paper.  I hope they use it.  I will head out in a bit to go bike riding. 
Here is the text of the commentary:
     Handling a serious illness is always a difficult period.  However, sometimes illness can occur that can lead to unexpected and positive results.  I have lived for over twenty years in Reese Hollow, 140 acres of white and Virginia pines, sugar maples and paw paws, red and white oaks, with the nearest neighbor over a mile away.   But he hollow is sold and I am moving into Blacksburg into an apartment where my neighbors will be less than ten feet away.  Why did I have to leave?  Well, I am 65 and I am being treated for kidney lupus.  I fully hoped to live in the hollow till seventy but my lupus and my age made it impossible.  Since December when I was diagnosed, my beloved hollow has become an overwhelming place to live.    
     Years ago I would hike all over the surrounding Pedlar Hills and up Paris Mountain.  Out west where I traveled almost every summer I have many, many good memories, of hiking the backcountry of Yellowstone, of climbing to the top of Mount Rundle, of backpacking in the Brooks Range.  I have many slides and pictures and I will have to content myself with those, even though I hope to get out West again at some point and at least drive through some of my favorite National Parks and National Forests. 
      To add to the change, I had my knee replaced over a year ago and I don’t think I want to chance wading again.  I still use my spinning gear from the banks of a stream, but wading the streams and rivers I loved, the Ten Sleep, the Poudre, Bear Creek, even closer waters like Wolf and Walker creeks, seems over.     
       If the lupus had any positive effect—and there are few with chemotherapy and prednisone and the other drugs I am on—it is that it helped me to return to Catholicism, the religion I grew up with.  I have confessed my sins, am going to Saturday mass, receive the Eucharist, and have started being active at St. Mary’s.  I think my illness has taught me to be more patient and calmer and since I am still an English Professor at Radford University (I will return to teaching in January) I think it will make me a better teacher.   More importantly, as Robert Barron writes, an illness like mine may “lead some people to despair, bur the spiritually alert person should see them as a particularly powerful way to come to union with God.”  I hope I am becoming this spiritually alert person.
      For most of my life my god had been nature, and I wrote hundreds of articles, poems, book reviews, and books about nature, my work almost always focusing on protecting the natural world.  The idea of a Christian God rarely occurred to me during my time of environmental activism, teaching, traveling and writing.  When I would take a hike in the hollow I prayed to a large white pine tree just off the dirt road and thanked the pine for another night in the hollow and asked for healing for friends who were sick or troubled.  For 50 plus years nature seemed enough of a spiritual comfort. 

     But now, after being diagnosed with kidney lupus in December and having immersed myself in Catholicism, reading authors like Thomas Merton and Barron, I have begun to see the limitations of nature as God.   Bishop Barron writes: “God creates earth, sky, stars and planets, the animals that move upon the earth and the fishes that inhabit the ocean depths.  All of these natural elements were, at one time or another, worshipped as divine.  So even as he celebrates them, the author of Genesis is effectively dethroning them, desacralizing them.  Nature is wonderful indeed, he is telling us; but it is not God.  And the consistent Biblical message is that this Creator God is not like the arbitrary and capricious gods of the ancient world; rather he is reliable, rock-like in his steadfast love, more dedicated to human beings than a mother is to her child.”   I still love nature but I am starting to see the tremendous opportunity I have been given to further a deeper and more lasting faith.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Good Monday

Monday is turning into another good day.  I didn’t do a hike but I did my knee exercises and played all of the sacred songs and three of the jazz songs.  I also did three sets of weights and yoga.  I left the hollow around 2 because I was hoping to get a lot done and I accomplished a few things, getting my meds at Walmart, dropping by Verizon to reapply for my 15% discount, stopping at East Coasters to have them look at my steering (Ian is going to have to order a part), talking to Kitty Devereaux about the Stephen ministry (it will require 50 hours of training so that may become problematic when I start teaching again but I should get in at least 20 sessions).  I will meet with her Thursday to introduce myself and learn more about the program.  I also get bloodwork on Thursday and have a meeting on Vibrant Paradoxes.  I have been having repetitive nightmares lately and I hope they go away.   I wake up upset, get back to sleep and then wake up one or two more times with the same bad dream.   I am now in Our Daily Bread doing my blog and just having finished an almond croissant.  I will work a bit on my writing and then probably take a walk at the Tech Library then head for the Holy Spirit group, with perhaps a short nap in between.   I am not sure what I am going to do about golf once the Meadows is sold.   I have 8 more 9 hole rounds before they close August 31 so I guess I will try to use them up.  After that I am not sure if I will continue playing because of my financial situation.  Auburn Hills is almost twice as expensive but I'll see how my finances are holding out.  

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A good sunday

Sunday was another good day.  I did my knee exercises then since it was going to be a pretty mild day (low 80s), I decided to see if I could still play golf since I haven’t played in a month.  I was very surprised that I played so well (I shot a 94 and had set my goal at 108).  I then drove off to the Blue Ridge Parkway to ride my bike at mile marker 99 and that was a lot of fun.  I sprayed the front with oil and I had no problems with the handle bars sticking.  I drove back down on Route 43 hoping to find a spot on the James to fish but nothing seemed to work so I drove to the Applebee’s in Salem and had a Caesar Chicken Salad and did some emails and my blog.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Another good day

Saturday turned out very well.  I had a bit of trouble getting up (eventually getting out of bed at 9:30) but I went for a hike from the gate to the orchard, trimming along the way and that felt very good.  Last night I had to cut a tree down across the road and today I moved a couple of pieces further off the road.   I got home and rested for a few minutes then did my knee exercises, my weights (with the 10 pounder instead of the 8) and yoga, played through all the sacred songs twice, washed the dishes and then headed off for confession and the 5 pm mass.  I walked some around the church, talked to Jenny Wells (she is doing fine with Paloma and Oliver, who is now 3), then had a very good mass and since I had gone to reconciliation I was able to receive the Eucharist, which made me feel even better.  After that I rested for a few minutes in the Perry Street garage then rode my bike for 40 minutes although the steering was locking up a bit so I have to have East Coasters look at it.  My kayak friend and I are going tomorrow and I will rent from Tangent but I hope to use my kayak on our next trip if I have the strength.  I stopped by the campers yesterday and gave each of the ones who helped cut my grass a gift card from Dick’s.  They really helped me out when I was feeling pretty ill and I wanted to reward them.  I had a Southwest salad at McDonalds and I will finish my blog and hopefully talk to Dave before I head home.




Friday, July 28, 2017

A Good Day

Friday turned into a very good day.  I was able to get up at 8:30 and go for a walk from the gate just up to the orchard, pruning some with the hand pruner.  I feel pretty good and my feet felt a little better.  The final trimming before I head out is almost done.  I will cut the grass next week and that should be the last cutting.  I talked to Mike Young yesterday and he thought Dougie would be fine with me coming back to visit occasionally.  I will of course ask his permission but I’m pretty sure he will agree.  David and Laura have already given me permission to return so if I get hollow needy I think I will have access at least as long as the Sissons own their property.  After my hike I lay down for a few minutes but quickly got up and did my knee exercises, then practiced all my sacred songs, then did my weights and yoga.  I also did some more straightening up and then drove into town to have a late lunch with Claire Hall.  It was great to see her and after sushi she treated me to frozen yogurt and we walked some around downtown.  I sent Mike Ellerbrock a response to his group and his articles and I am waiting for Thursday’s meeting.  I helped Dave yesterday a little.  He was in a bit of a funk and I cheered him up and he  was very appreciative.   He has been such a good friend that I am very glad I could reciprocate a bit.  I am in McDonalds doing my blog and then, since it is raining, I will go riding in the Perry Street garage after I am done.  Then home for prayers and songs.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Good Day, Bad Day

Wednesday was one of my best days in a long time.  I slept well, got up reasonably early, did my knee exercises and played all my piano pieces, prayed a rosary, read more of Merton’s essay on Faulkner, started reading Genesis and then headed off to see Rob.  He thought my breathing was much better and said it would be okay to go kayaking on Sunday.  He told me an amusing story about Noah having to dissect an animal heart and he really should write it up.  Then I went to my office and did a good bit of work straightening out the pile of letters and papers I haven’t filed.  I then rode my bike for 40 minutes and headed home in time for prayer and songs then dinner.


Thursday morning I was a little tired but I did get up and do my knee exercises and played through my piano pieces (not very well I must add).  I then drove to meet Jen Jordan at 2 and I think I was too aggressive with her, debating issues about God’s perfection instead of listening more.  I sent her a richly deserved apology, and I am going to do more thinking about what she said.  I am certainly struggling with my lack of faith and I am not sure what to do.  I will be heading to the reading group in a few minutes and I hope that goes well.  Dave was feeling a little down so I did have a nice talk with him and I hope it gets him out of his funk.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Not sure of pneumonia

Tuesday was an okay day.  The Holy Spirit group did calm me down some but I felt that asking for prayers for Lee, my roommate during chemo, seemed out of place.  I didn’t sleep well and ended up taking 2 2.5 mg valiums and 1 Trazadone.  I was pretty groggy in the morning but I did eventually do all my knee exercises, and played through all the sacred songs twice.  I also made good progress on changing my address.  I set up the electricity and I found out that basic cable and internet will cost about 80 and that would be affordable.  My hands are so slow but I am getting a little better at piano.  I decided to leave the hollow at 4 and I drove to Radford to give Claire her birthday present.  I then headed to my office to tidy up my files, which are getting messy.  My kayak friend emailed me and would like to go kayaking this Sunday, which may work if the antibiotics clear me up by Friday.  

Monday, July 24, 2017

Pneumonia again?

I thought today was going to go well.  I got home last night in time to do my prayers and songs.  I slept fine, getting up around 8:40 to do some more pruning on the orchard road, and walking a little to test my endurance.  I got home and rested some and the cough I have had for the past 2 weeks seemed a little worse even when I was sitting up.  I drove down to the pasture and decided to make an appointment with Rob for 3:30.  I went back home, did my knee exercises, read some more of Matthew and a Merton essay on peace, then organized the tool box in my truck, then finished separating all the tools that I won’t need when I move.  I did a wash and cleaned the dishes, then played piano through the six holy pieces I am working on.  I got to Rob’s a few minutes early and when he examined me he said he was very worried about me getting pneumonia again and having to end up in the hospital again.  That got me pretty upset and Rob sent me over to the Imaging center for a chest x-ray.  He also called in a prescription for Levofloxacin (500 mg), one pill per day for 5 days. He also wants me to use the Nebulizer again.   I drove right to the pharmacy, then since I needed to take it with food, I drove to McDonalds and had a chicken sandwich and a side salad.  I talked to Dave briefly and he was very concerned since he remembered my last bout with pneumonia where I ended up in the hospital for three days.  I called Rob back and he said I could ride my bike after the Holy Spirit group but stay on flat ground.  I am really upset but I hope the Holy Spirit group will calm me down.  


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Getting back to work on the orchard road and the house

Sunday turned out to be an okay day.  I was able to get up at 8:30 and do some more pruning on the orchard road, then I returned home for a rest, then went to work separating all the tools and stuff and made good progress.   I talked to David yesterday and told him that I wasn’t going to have the energy to clean the house and he said that I had done enough and I also mentioned that I would be leaving the stuff I didn’t need and he was okay with that.  I did my knee exercises and did a number of little things to get things more organized for the move.  I am certainly nervous about it, first the physical move and then the financial cost, which may cause me to look for a new place the following year.  I practiced some piano (going through all of the songs once) and I read more of Merton, although “The Philosophy of Solitude,” though an amazing effort, deals with a subject way out of my realm.  I did a good bit of praying and that always calms me some.  At about 4 I drove into Blacksburg, got rid of the garbage and recycling, and headed to McDonalds to put more of the Barron quotes into my computer and to do my blog.  I should finish by a little after 7 and that will give me time for a good bike ride and also time to drive back to the hollow to do my prayers and singing.   

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Finally, a little improvement

Saturday was a pretty good day.  I was able to get out of bed at around 8:30 and drive up to the orchard to trim a good part of it and run the lawn tractor for 15 minutes.  I rested when I returned home but did my knee exercises and my weights and yoga.  I read some more of Matthew and more of Merton, who is really interesting but seems to talk about people well beyond any place I’ll ever be.  I just want to create a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit and if I can do that, I will feel incredibly successful.  I am a very simple man who has lived a life without God and I think I can change that.  All the other mysterious and fascinating aspects will have to wait.  After getting showered and dressed, I drove to St. Mary’s and went to 5 pm Mass and I sat behind Joseph and his family.  I saw Jen with her husband Kevin and I talked to them briefly after the Mass.  I felt even more comfortable with the Mass and the singing and if my health continues to improve, I hope I can participate in the Stephen ministry.  It offers individual comfort to people with various problems and I think it would be a good thing for me.  Joseph thought that it would be a good place for me.  

Friday, July 21, 2017

Still Tired

Friday was another struggle to get up and I didn’t take a Zoloft, but after taking a 2.5 mg valium and waking up at 5, I took another 2.5 valium and 2 trazadones.  I did get back to sleep and didn’t get up till 9:30 but I couldn’t stay up long.  I read more of Matthew, three more Merton essays, and did my knee exercises, but really didn’t get up until after 3.  I did a lot of thinking about my relationship to God (and a lot of praying) but I still uncertain about things.   I am not sure if it is the effects of the reduction in prednisone (from 20 to 17 and ½), the withdrawal from the Zoloft or just the extra drugs I took to go back to sleep, but I need to get my energy back.  I did drive to the Tech Library (to charge my computer and to put in more quotes from Barron and Merton) and stayed about an hour and then I headed to McDonalds to email Jen and Joseph, and to do my blog.  I am hoping to go bike riding a little later and get home in time for evening prayers and songs.    Last night I called Judy to talk about my spiritual progress and she was very caring and told me a lot about how she became a good Catholic (she really is a holy person and I can’t believe how I missed that).  She advised going slowly and that I am on a good path and that gave me some comfort.   Joseph from the Holy Spirit group sent me a very supportive email and I responded so he would understand my situation a little better.  He thinks I am on a good path also, with my readings and my attendance at mass, reconciliation and communion.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

So Tired

Wednesday proved a pretty good day so far.  I was able to get up by 8:15 and trim the lower part of the road and then I went back to lie down for a bit but I got up and did my knee exercises and then get ready to go pick up my meds at Walmart and head to my office to do a few things and then meet with Jen and Jessica to discuss the rest of Luke Chapter 5.  I still don’t get the fear of God idea but Jen and Jessica made a good argument.   They feel that I will understand the fear of God as I connect more with him (am I connected at all?).  One of the things that astonishes me in my ignorance is how I have never worried about devils (I guess that is at the core of my agnosticism) but clearly real Catholics believe in them.  I took a quick nap and then drove to Blacksburg to do my bike ride.  I stayed inside the Perry street garage since it was shady and had a slight wind and then I rode home in time to do my prayers and songs.  I took a Zoloft around 9 and then I took a 2.5 mg. valium at about 12.  

Thursday was an awful day.  I slept until almost 8 but had to return to bed several times.  I separated a few things in the baskets but that was it.  I had to lie down and really didn’t get up until after 4.  When I talked to Rob later, he said it could be the Zoloft, the chemo, or the reduction in prednisone.  I felt the same way last Monday so I am going to stop the Zoloft or I will cease to function.  I did a lot of reading and thinking, rereading the first six chapters of Matthew and finding the later part of the Sermon on the Mount incredibly strict about anger being equated with murder and even to lust after someone is to commit adultery.  That is a pretty harsh god that Jesus represents so I guess that Jen and Jessica’s belief that the Old Testament God is the same as the New Testament one makes sense.  The earlier part of the sermon is much more compassionate.  I also read more of Robert Barron’s Vibrant Paradoxes and more an essay “The White Pebble” by Thomas Merton about his conversion to Catholicism and then to a monk and then to a priest.  His description of mass is absolutely transcendent.  I can’t ever hope for such lofty heights but I still am praying for a direct connection with the Holy Spirit.  That would be a wonderful start and maybe all I can achieve in what’s left of my life.  I prayed several rosaries today and I realize that I haven’t really loved anyone in my life (How sad!  I loved nature and fought to preserve it and I was always very fond of little kids but I never was really in love with an adult).  But I really think I can still have a loving relationship with the Holy Spirit so that would be so special and so important.    


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Very Bad Day and some better news

Monday was a real struggle and really a waste of time.  I had talked to Rob about getting bloodwork done at his office on Monday but obviously there was a miscommunication since the results wouldn’t be ready till Tuesday but Rob promised to send the results over at 8.  I got to his office around 10, and Valarie did her job as well as she always does, then I picked up some food and headed back home where I dropped off to be and had such a struggle getting out of bed.  I finally got out around 3 and decided to head into town to do my blog and then go to the Holy Spirit group at seven.  I was too tired to blog so I called Rob and told him what was going on and how I couldn’t get out of bed so he told me to stop the Zoloft which I was going to do anyway.  I parked in the Perry Street garage and rested until 6:15.  It was hot and I got all sweaty and I finally had to open all the windows to get some air in and I decided to drive about to air out my shirt and I put on some deodorant.  I mentioned to Joseph that I wasn’t feeling well and later he praised me for coming even though I wasn’t feeling well and asked for prayers for me.   It was a pretty powerful evening with about 20 people showing up and some pretty good singing.  Both Marys chatted with me afterwards but I still wasn’t feeling well and I was kind of numb driving home.  I had an orange and some steamed vegetables for dinner and went to bed around 11:15, taking a full valium and hoping for a decent night’s sleep but that was not going to happen and I kept checking the clock every 20 minutes or so.  Awful night but I finally got up around 6:15 and washed the dishes, took a shower and then packed up my stuff and headed out.

Tuesday is going to be a long day since the bloodwork got messed up again so I had to have the bloodwork done here even though I had it done at Rob’s yesterday.   Nurse Lorrie put the IV in around 9 (it took her two tries but it didn’t bother me much) and then finally we got the IV started around 10 so I won’t be getting out until around 9:45.  I had a roommate, Lee, a 28 year old fellow with stage 4 rectal cancer and he was getting 5-FU and Oxalyplatin.  He had a criminal past (non-violent) but we chatted quite a bit about Jesus and he also is looking for faith.  He told me to talk with his father Gerald when he came back and Gerald was impressive, telling me stories about his seeing Jesus and other folks seeing angels around him.  Eventually he knelt beside my bed and had me confess in front of Lee and Gerald’s pregnant young wife that I believed in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and he said that now the Holy Spirit had entered my heart.   I didn’t feel much of a change but I did appreciate his efforts.  Definitely an intense and interesting guy who certainly has the Holy Spirit in his heart.  Claire Hall also came to visit and it was nice to chat with her and while she was here Dr. Trivedi came by and said that my test results were better, that my blood level only a pint and a half down, and that the other figures were closer to normal.  She is okay with me going down to 17 and ½ on the prednisone but she thought I should wean myself off the Zoloft slowly, one pill tonight (I didn’t take any yesterday) and then skip a night then one pill, then two days off before taking another pill.  Sounds like a reasonable plan and I just hope that I can get some energy back.  It is almost astonishing how tired I became.  I am pretty sure it is the Zoloft although Trivedi said the chemo could also weaken me.  She also said that it is possible that if my numbers are good enough, that I may not need another chemo.  I took a twenty minute walk a half hour ago and I hope to get another one in before my 9 pm treatment. 


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Successful Yard Sale

Saturday was another tough morning to get up, but I was able to head to St. Mary’s by 10:30 and get there by 11.   There wasn’t much to do at first, but I helped load a few items for buyers.  The real work began around 1 when it was time to start boxing things up, starting with the books.   To me two people stood out, Sandi and Jim.  They were indefatigable.  I also met Dennis, Jerry and Cathy and Kate the gardener was there and very friendly.  Mary was handling the food and I chatted with her a little.  It was hard work getting everything outside for the Goodwill truck to pick up everything that was left.   estimated that we made 810 but the real figure was over 2200 so it was pretty successful.  I was exhausted when we finished around 4, putting away the tables and cleaning up. I did get a chance to go to confession before mass so I was able to go to communion.  However Rob called and wanted to go for a walk so took some pain reliever and then went to McDonalds, got a southwest salad, and then headed off for a nice walk with Rob at 7.  Rob thinks that once I get off the prednisone he will be able to take me off the Zoloft and that would be very good.  I did pretty well considering how tired I was.  I ended up visiting with the campers and had a fun time with them.   

Sunday was a struggle getting up (I ended up taking 2 2.5 valiums and one Trazadone because I woke around 2:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep).  However, around 8 I did get up and went out and used the trimmer around the house and I felt very good that I could accomplish that.  I had to lie down but I ended up doing my knee, exercises, cleaning out the bathroom drawers and organizing more stuff.  I also played some piano but I did rest a lot.   I have been reading Bishop Robert Barron’s Vibrant Paradoxes and there are many insightful things in it.  I also prayed quite a bit and read some more of the Gospel of John.  I am at McDonalds doing my blog and I think I am going to start putting my research in separate sections.  
  

Friday, July 14, 2017

Thursday and Friday

Thursday morning I couldn’t get out of bed until almost 11.   It was a real struggle and when I finally did get up I was very lethargic, doing a few things around the house before heading in to the reading group which turned out to be very interesting.   I think Deacon Mike is a really smart guy and several of the 15 or so people were pretty sharp also.  I bought the book Vibrant Paradoxes at the group but I was still able to participate pretty well, and Mike complimented me on one of my questions.  I rode my bike after the group and that was good for my legs.

Friday was another struggle to get out of bed and I ended up lying down a lot but I got a lot done around the house, which made me feel pretty good.  I did my knee exercises and I ended up driving into town around 3, dropping off some garbage, stopping at goodwill, then heading over to St. Mary’s to help with settting up the yard sale.  I got there around 4 and worked almost till 9 and I think everyone appreciated my efforts.   I called Judy to thank her for her card and she left a nice, loving message this evening.  I really do appreciate her concern.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

still very tired

Monday turned out okay but it was very hard to get out of bed and get going.  I did my knee exercises and eventually drove to St. Mary’s to drop off my yard sale stuff (it turned out that Mary was wrong and things started on Sunday so when I got there the tables were was loaded with stuff and people were driving up with lots more.  Luckily I got rid of all my stuff and my books then I helped set things on various tables after they were priced.   At 7 I joined the Holy Spirit Group and made a few funny comments.  Glenda was there, which was nice, as were most of the regulars.  At chatting with Felistus after the meeting, I was stunned by her situation, with diabetes and only Joseph working, and by Kate’s situation (she finally after three years got a work visa.  If I had the 55K that I should have gotten, I would have been able to pay off my equity line, pay off Tracy and still have some cash to help out.  Now I have to be so careful about every dollar.  Yet I know I am so spoiled and as I rode my bike at Tech I started crying about how hard life is for so many people.


Tuesday was another very hard day to get up but I did and eventually drove to Dr. Trivedi’s to get my shot to help my blood.  They didn’t have my lab results so I had to wait an hour and a half to get the shot and it was pretty painful.  Then I went to East Coasters and Ian put a new tire on the back and fixed the shifter.  One of the other fellows put the replacement piece on the rack.  I couldn’t tip them as I usually do and I got dizzy at the store. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Hard Day

      Saturday was a very difficult start, and this blog is quite messy but I think it is very honest and may lead to some good writing and insight into myself.   When I dropped back into bed exhausted, a deep dread took over and I had to take a 2.5 mg. valium.  I was almost totally panicked, clutching the crucifix from my rosary and begging the Holy Spirit to come give me peace.  Eventually I calmed down (am I becoming a drug addict?) and did my knee exercises while reading the book Claire loaned me called Wild at Heart by John Eldredge.  His primary thesis is that  “men need something else.  They need a deeper understanding of why they long for adventures and battles and a Beauty.” “No question about it—there is something fierce in the heart of God.” 31 This book is really affecting me, especially a passage from a section called “What about adventure?” “If you have any doubts as to whether or not God loves wildness, spend a night in the woods….alone [this is something I have done many times, camping by myself in wilderness areas like the Outer Loop of Big Bend National Park and on a solitary 50 mile hike on the West Coast of Vancouver Island or on the two vision quests I experienced].  “Talk a walk in a thunderstorm [hiking out to Lewis Lake in Yellowstone I was hit by one of the fiercest thunderstorms I every encountered and sat it out, drenched but not panicked and another time with my girlfriend up in Canada’s Glacier National Park, where a huge storm hit us and while my friend was scared, I just told her we had to sit it out] “Go for a paddle with a pod of killer whales [when I was camping on the West Coast Trail I went for a swim right near a pod of killer whales].   The passage goes on to talk about “the deserts of the Southwest with all those rattlesnakes—would you describe them as “nice” places? Most of the earth in not safe, but it’s good.” 31  From my childhood on I have always had the desire for wildness and adventure.   I have hiked and fished many times in grizzly bear country, my only protection my singing to alert a grizzly if I couldn’t see very far.    After my first encounter with the Canadian Rockies, I returned every year for ten years.  It was a sacred place and one of my greatest experiences was climbing to the higher peak of Mt. Rundle (after failing the first time by losing the trail).  Perhaps this experience was what led my ex-wife to fall in love with me.  But I did these things for 30 years and ended up living by myself for eight years in a Thoreauvian cabin without running water, a mile from my nearest neighbor, with foxes, deer, wild turkeys, coyotes and bears ,
And then Tracy and I had a log house built and we lived there together for 6 years until she left to move into town.   
“Why is pornography the number one snare for men?  He longs for the beauty, but without his fierce and passionate heart he cannot find her or win her or keep her.  Though he is powerfully drawn to the woman, he does not know how to fight for her or even that he is to fight for her….What makes pornography so addictive is that more that anything else in a lost man’s life, it makes him feel  like a man without ever requiring a thing of him.”40  I remember my first experience with pornography when I was an early teen.  My older brother had some Playboys hidden in a secret place under his desk.  I would masturbate to them and this behavior only stopped recently when I started going to the Church again.  For the first time since my teens I haven’t masturbated in months (although the desire starts at points but I stop it immediately by praying) and I feel that I have made a real change in my life.  The pornography affected the sex I had with many woman because I would fantasize about someone else when I was with certain women..  I also had dark and violent fantasies also so I perverted an act that should have been a satisfying emotional commitment into a meaningless ejaculation.  
     Now, diagnosed with kidney lupus, on a number of drugs including prednisone, and getting ready for my fourth Cytoxan chemotherapy, I am trying to return to the Catholic church.  I have gone to confession and confessed the sins above, received communion and I go to mass every week and to the Holy Spirit group each Monday.  I also pray and sing on my porch whenever I get home before dark.    But I can’t say I see much change.  Nature was my god for close to 60 years and it is hard to change gods.  “God wants to be loved”  37  I believe this but how do you do that?     I beg for the Holy Spirit to enter my heart.  I see all the holy people in the Holy  Spirit group and I want to be like them.  But how? 

I was tired most of the day but I did a lot of writing (much of it going into the essay I am working on) and I did get to 5 o’clock mass but I didn’t feel like I got much out of it.  I am anxious and confused and I am not sure the Zoloft is helping me that much.  I am going to go for a bike ride and then head home for prayers and songs.