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.