Friday, October 05, 2012

Letter to dad

Good morning to you dear Father...

Well, of course it is not "good morning" to you because it is likely late in the afternoon that this letter has finally been deposited in the mailbox on the front stoop of your humble abode there in Gar-dinkey. Here, the hands on the tick-tocking clock on the wall are creeping forward in almost imperceptible clicks toward 6:30 a.m.. Richard is rustling around in the bedroom, gathering up last night's tubs of stuff, which he worked on while he watched TV, to take them back into his office to resume work, and in his office I hear the first of many alarms going off as his computer reminds him of the things he needs to do -- take medicine, gather up the household trash to haul up to the road, and on it goes and the day begins.

Richard is struggling to get control of his ADD without taking more drugs and so has ordered some books written by ADD people who have learned how to use this problem to their advantage. I hope and pray that these aids will help him get a handle on his life. I feel so sorry for him sometimes. Feeling sorry for him does not help him of course, but I am not sure how to help him. He has done an amazing job taking over the housework and the cooking so that I can "earn the money," but there is the downside too -- the "honey-do" list continues to grow -- maintenance on the house is on an ongoing thing -- never stops -- and he has less and less time, it seems, to take care of those things as well. 

He did, however, complete the project of arranging for the new propane tank to be installed and ordering propane for it while the price is still relatively low compared to what it will be as winter sets in. Of course, this like playing the arbitrage or dabbling in the stock market -- you take a chance buying when you think the price probably won't go any lower and hope that you did not make a mistake. Many of the companies that sell propane offer a "pre-buy" where you pay in advance. At the point when we took delivery on the tank, the pre-buy price was higher than the current price for propane, so perhaps we saved some money. No matter, we will at least not have the worry of running out of propane when there is 3 feet of snow on the ground and the tank is running out. I am thinking that we should turn the tank into a "yellow submarine!"

I have been here for almost more than an hour now, finishing up an article for the vascular surgery journal and getting ready to move on to the next project. Which is your letter. It is hard sometimes to pay attention to the important – writing to my precious father --

instead of getting sidetracked by the urgent (we must have this manuscript back by...)

The queue of work is getting longer and longer. For about 2 weeks last month I had a taste of what it might be like to be semi-retired -- the drought that struck us in the summer hit my work as well, and I had almost nothing to do. I floundered a little bit but found myself sleeping in an extra hour in the morning and shutting the computer down earlier in the evening. It was almost vacation, but a bit unsettling all the same. I concluded that it would not be too hard to get used to working much less than I am now. Richard repeats the mantra 3 more years... just 3 more years. Unless of course they decide to "fix" Social Security by making all of us work to an even older age. At any rate, the mini- semi-vacation came to a crashing halt -- they were wanting me to take on 3 more journals on top of what I am already doing. Impossible. Absolutely impossible.

The state of Missouri is kind enough to send renewal notices 60 days in advance of one’s birthday, so I received notice and did not procrastinate and got my license renewed a few weeks ago. The picture on my last license was actually quite good. The picture on this one would do well as a mug shot. Horrible. I was the first person that morning to renew a driver's license, and when she took my picture and told the computer to print the license, I broke the computer. I kid you not. She had to shut the thing down and reboot it, which seemed to take quite a long time but probably not more than 10 minutes or so. I have no idea what the first picture of me she took might have looked like, but I guess it must have been pretty bad! All I know is that when all was said and done, I walked out of the office with my new license, still warm from the lamination, complete with horrible picture – if I were a horse I’d say I look like I had been rode hard and put way wet with a hangover on top of it. Good to go for another few years.

One of the channels we get on the "small dish" has been running a program called My Cat from Hell about people with really bad cats, and then this person who is a cat expert tries to help them figure out why their cats are so horrible and how to fix the problem. I do "get it" that people become attached to their animals and are not willing to simply get rid of them when there is a problem. In quite a few of the programs I have seen so far, the cat is so bad that it is causing rifts between couples -- the cat hates the boyfriend or the cat hates the girlfriend, or the cat hates the couples’ friends, and in several of these programs it becomes very clear that if the choice is between the keeping the cat or maintaining a relationship with the "significant other" or the couple's friends -- the cat would win. That bothers me a bit. Quite a bit. Of course all of the programs end up with the guy solving the problem and everything is happy. After seeing some of these truly horrible cats I am thinking now that we do not have it quite so bad. Our little Squeaker is an aggravation...

 and annoys us quite a bit, but she is a very sweet tempered, so I see that we do not have it "bad" at all.

October sneaks in the back door it seems -- all emerald and golden -- thanks to the rains that finally came toward the end of September. For most of the summer the fields were burnt up, beige, with the beef cattle hard pressed to find much to eat and farmers running their wells dry trying to water them with field ponds dried up and scrambling to find hay to feed them, with prices beginning to skyrocket as demand increased. Now the fields are again lush and green again for a brief time at any rate before the first frost hits and the landscape puts on its winter clothes. We did not have many wild flowers this summer because there was so little rain – only one of the ranks of surprise lilies came up, and the second batch of tall purple flowers that usually fill the yard only bloomed just around the base of the maple tree and in the front flower bed where we were dumping water from the house. Now the goldenrod wave their yellow plumes gently in the breeze and yellow daisy-like flowers dot the rights of way. It is just lovely. Richard found an amazing fuzzy golden caterpillar outside,

which will become the next generation of a rather large, plain dagger moth, after it spins its cocoon to weather the winter.

The hummingbirds were still here and fighting with each other as late as last week, but in the past few days most of them have left and what I am seeing now I think are migrants stopping of for a day or too "tank up" as they head further south. Because our hummers don't have quite as far to fly as those coming from the upper midwest they can hang around a little longer. Unlike you, I will not get to see them year-round and I will miss their antics. Ornery little fellas! Soon the winter birds will be here -- snowbirds  (not people snowbirds but the real snowbirds) and the yellow-rumped warblers...

Yesterday when I went down to the basement to feed the birds I came upon the big black snake that patrols in there looking for mice -- the bottom of the basement door is starting to rot so there is a piece broken out of it that is big enough for this rather large snake to come in and out. Most of it was stretched out in the sun along the wall with the first foot or so of its body vertical up the side of vertical wood blocks that contain the flowerbed. There is a huge hole under the alcove, probably made by an armadillo, and we think it hangs out in there as well, or perhaps it is looking for one of the chipmunks, which also may be living under there -- rather precariously I think. Richard told me one morning he happened to walk around the corner of the house to see the chipmunk coming out from under the alcove just as the snake was going in. But the snake had just eaten something so the chipmunk lived – that time at least – another day

I am teaching Titus for Sunday School, and Paul's advice to him about instructing older women to teach the younger ones how to live reminds me so much of mom, and the wonderful legacy she left Jennifer and I as her daughters, and her sage advice and the example of her life as your wife and our mother. We were so very blessed to have her as our mother and I know you were blessed to have her as a wife.

Hard to believe she has been gone now almost 3 years.

Well... I guess that is all for now.... I love you...

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