August 2009


I seem to have a weak back.  I remember when it started too; during one of those backyard dirt-digging projects.  Ever since then, it has not taken very much to start up a lower back ache again.  This last time was when we moved Evan into the dorm and I don’t even remember doing anything that might have strained it.  Still, I went to the doctor to talk about it.

Apparently, lower back problems are the most common thing in the world.  Talk to anybody over the age of 30 and you’ll get a story just like mine.  This time I learned that one event usually leads to a long-term weakness unless measures like the right exercise are taken.  So I can at least hope to get back to normal eventually.  I’ve been exercising but apparently need one more type to exercise all the muscles. 

This time I was sent in for an X-ray which revealed a “degenerative disc at L5” which apparently is common and not nearly as hideous as it sounds.  Disc degeneration is just a normal part of aging and need not cause any discomfort.  (at least according to Wikipedia – I have yet to talk to my actual doctor about it).  It’s slowly getting better – too slowly for me.  As soon as it perks up, I’m adding to my exercise regimen.

Dixie has exceeded the average life expectancy of the Golden Retriever and is really starting to show her age.  She has a mask of gray hair on her face, has arthritis, bad hips, bad teeth, and now, incontinence.  It’s an undignified lifestyle but dogs seem not to have anything in their world like dignity.

Yesterday, we got some medicine for the incontinence but it has yet to take effect.  Dogs are slaves to habit and I’m afraid that she’s gotten used to peeing on the floor at night and may continue even in spite of the meds.  We’ve been in the house for 15 years and raised two kids (and Dixie) in it so perhaps it’s time for new carpets anyway but I’d still prefer that she go outside. 

When she was a pup I used to say that when she got old and started giving trouble, I’d have her put to sleep but now that the day is upon me that just sounds mean.  I don’t think I can put her down just because she’s old.  She still seems happy enough and it is still pleasant to rub her fur which she enjoys as well. 

The aching hips are a problem too.  When she came home from the vet yesterday, she could not get out of the car.  She had wedged herself between the two seats and could not get out so heroic measures were required. 

But we’ll keep on taking care of her.  She doesn’t seem miserable or uncomfortable most of the time.

Based on some exterior trim work I was doing this weekend, I can say with certainty that if you get cedar sawdust in your eyes, the aromatic compounds in cedar are like teargas.

Also, when you’re working on a ladder, there is a finite chance that your beloved family dog will take a s*&t right at the base of the ladder for you to step in as you descend.

We drove Evan and his stuff over to Fayetteville this past Saturday.  He is now properly installed at the University again.  Curiously, he is living in the same dorm that I lived in thirty years ago – about three doors down from my room in fact.  Weird.

All that went pretty smoothly; one of his friends was there and helped us move the stuff.  We got it all in two loads.  We then drove down to the town square and ate lunch at Hugo’s.  I remember Hugo’s as a place that had been there forever but according to their T-shirts, they opened in 1977 – the year before I got there.  So although they have been there forever, they had not when I was there.  Also the menu is quite different.  The atmosphere is the same though: basement coolness.

From there, we drove over to our niece’s to see the new baby.  Rylee is about one year old and barely walking; therefore, quite cute.  She was pretty shy of us at first but quickly warmed up to us to the extent of playing a song on the toy piano.  Music is good – even when it is completely random and played by a baby.

From there we went home.  We didn’t get quite as sentimental as we did the first time.  This is probably all to the good.

I’m still not sure what I did to cause this but on Sunday morning, I woke up with a horrible ache in my lower back.  My back has become my weak point but usually I can identify the thing that makes it hurt.  This time, it must have been the moving of stuff to the dorm but I didn’t do any of the heavy lifting.  I still don’t know what caused it.  Things have not improved either – I still have trouble standing up.  It’s quite annoying. 

Still, once I’m upright, I can stay that way indefinitely so on Sunday afternoon, I took on some tasks that had been languishing.  I finished some trim work left over from that guttering project last summer.  I had totally forgotten about it – it should have been done long ago.  That required some minor painting which I did also.  While I had the paintbrush wet, I went into the garage and painted the new attic stair from last month’s projects.  There were two colors of paint involved so by the time that was taken care of, the day was almost done. 

I used one of those chemically heated patches that stick on the lower back and although they help, they don’t cure.  Medical science should get to work on this.

We move Evan back into the dorm tomorrow.  He’s moving into Yocum which is where I spent a couple of years about 30 years ago.  Kinda weird actually.  We’re packed – we just need to drive the stuff over and unload it.

Erin started at the high school Wednesday and apparently loves it.  That’s a pleasant change from the way I remember high school.  Here’s hoping she continues to love Erin.

Both kids finished up their summer jobs yesterday.  Because so many lifeguards are either college students (who are starting to leave) or high school kids in marching band (who are starting to practice), they’ve had to close the pools early contrary to tradition.  But if you can’t keep lifeguards around, what can you do?  The patrons are extremely annoyed by this and do not hesitate to tell the lifeguards and concessioners about it – which is why Evan and Erin are so glad for the jobs to end.

Erin told us that the concessions began to run out several days ago and the city doesn’t want any leftovers to have to deal with.  As a result, on Saturday afternoon all they had to sell was ice (50 cents a cup!).  In fact, they let Erin go one day early because it doesn’t take more than one kid to sell cups of ice.  She was thrilled.  She had all of Sunday filled with social things before she even got home.  Her grandma complained over the phone that she hadn’t seen Erin since Easter and all we could say was “Yeah, join the club.”

Evan had to work and said that the last day was a capacity crowd.  The fact that it was about 100 degrees and school starts this week made it the last hurrah for a lot of families.  He made jokes about trying to bribe a kid to puke in the pool and force a shutdown so he could come home but he values a dollar as much as the next college student and so he worked the rest of the day.  Although they did have to call the police on an unruly mother who was annoyed about the pool closing early this year.  The standard litmus test for the calling of police is “do you feel threatened by the patron?” but the lifeguard who handled it had to admit that no, having a fun-noodle waved at him was not really all that threatening but that the foul language made the decision.  I guess there’s also a rule against blasting profanity.  If I were a cop, I’d love that kind of call because you could almost guarantee that you would not get shot at from some concealed weapon.

It doesn’t feel like the end of summer to me though.  It’s still hotter than the hubs of hell and it’s not yet Labor Day.  That’s what defines the end of summer for me.  But this Wednesday, Erin will be off to the BIG high school and on Saturday, we’ll drive Evan (or more specifically, Evan’s stuff) back to Fayetteville for his sophomore year.  Sometimes I feel sad for a moment at these junctures but not for very long.  There’s still too much going on to get morose about the chicks leaving the nest. 

Check back with me when they get married and move away for good.

The summer is winding down in spite of the fact that it’s only the 5th of August.  Both kids have stuff scheduled for the next couple of weekends and Evan moves back to Fayetteville soon.  As a result, we decided that if we wanted to return to Pop’s (since Erin didn’t get a chance to go the first time), we had to do it now.  They were both off on Monday so off we went.

I took off early that afternoon so we could head out early.  There was no particular need to do so other than the desire to get home before bedtime but we did it anyway; we were excited I guess.  There was some reason to go later actually since Pop’s has a large sculpture of a pop bottle out front that has multicolored illumination at night but even so we did not wait.  It was 100 degrees.

We drove past the Round Barn straight to the restaurant and immediately had dinner.  Erin was pretty impressed with the place even if she is a teenager and is predisposed not to be impressed by much.  After dinner we all bought ourselves a custom six-pack of soda.  Every one of us picked different stuff although we all got ourselves a bottle of Avery’s BarakoBerry. 

In my case, I took the Barakoberry to work and left it on the desk of the woman who sits next to me and who is a super Republican.  We’re talking member of the young republicans, worked in Washington at the last senator’s office for several years after college – the whole thing.  I figured she would either laugh it off or get mad.  The second thing would have been more entertaining for me but in fact, she laughed it off.  She put it in the fridge to cool it off and drank it later although she did say that she turned the label around to face away from her so she wouldn’t have to look at Barak’s face.

It was all pretty fun although I was keenly disappointed to learn that they were out of Leninaide (“Drink comrade drink or it’s the Gulag!”).  I got grape NEHI instead.