November 2009

After the lumbar X-ray I had a couple months ago, my doctor thought it would be informative to have an MRI done on the same region.  It was certainly interesting.  I can remember when those devices were first invented and one of my job searches focused on getting into that industry so I was quite interested in the process itself.  The operator sensed my enthusiasm and gave me the tour while I was putting my pants back on. 

The MRI did little more than provide more of the same sort of information.  A disc is touching my sciatic nerve which I already knew.  I suppose the doctor now knows that there is nothing more serious going on but I was told that these things usually clear themselves up in time and I should take it easy.  I was hoping for something more useful – something I could actually take action on.  I have been told by several average, uninformed people that I should find a “good chiropractor” but some important details are left out of that advice.   That’s like saying that in order to improve your standard of living, you should get yourself a million dollars.  There are some intermediate steps left out.  The fact that chiropractors are sort of in the “quack” end of the medical professional community doesn’t help although the fact that this is a spinal issue and they focus on the spine may make it the right thing to do.  I guess I will have to look around and try to make a decision somehow.


It was memorable for two reasons at opposite ends of the emotional scale.  After Mel’s mother’s funeral, it was deemed imperative (which I agreed with) that the family carry on and have a Thanksgiving feast.  So we did.  After driving home with a trunk full of dirty laundry, Evan found himself having to spend one night and get back into a car and drive right back to Fayetteville for the feast but since he wasn’t driving or living in a dorm, he was fine with it.

We certainly crammed a lot into the past week or so – not something I recommend.  Since we find ourselves short by one car, we decided to petition to purchase grandma’s old car from the estate.  So the car situation has worked itself out although Erin would most certainly rather have grandma back than her car.  Mel brought home a huge grocery sack full of old cards and letters that had been saved and spent a good bit of time going through those.  A great deal of this sort of thing remains to be done and will be done in the coming months in getting the old house ready for sale.

On the positive side, we had the aforementioned feast at Mel’s brother’s place in the woods.  I love going to that place and always look forward to such occasions.  I made a short video of the day and posted it to youtube so that the rest of Mel’s family could watch and hopefully feel like they were there.  Evan spent lots of time doing homework.  He’s taking C++ and since I’ve been dabbling with software for about 30 years, I was pressed into service as tutor.  Strange how one can learn the concepts but still make the same dumb mistakes over and over as I was doing during tutoring.  This points to some basic flaw in the structure of the language but I don’t see enough of the big picture to know what that is.  We got our Christmas tree up and decorated the house with the kids’ help.  Evan and I raked up the yard and produced about 20 bags of leaves even after mulching.

All in all, we crammed in a lot of activity.  It helped that I had taken the three days before Thanksgiving as vacation.  I also managed to create another floor tile but this time it was made of oak to see how I liked that look.  Oak is a lot easier to get your hands on than walnut.

And through it all, I endured shooting pains from my back and down my leg. 

I guess the word for this year’s holiday is “bittersweet”.

I hope it’s not wrong to say that it was nice to see all of Mel’s family after her mom’s funeral.  We certainly finished out the day in the manner her mom would have had it:  with the house crammed with as many extended family as would fit in the door and with tons of high-carb home-made foods.  There may have been a salad somewhere but I did not see it.

All families really should get together like this at some time other than funerals.

Thankfully, the service had the desired effect on Erin.  She had been holding everything in; probably because of the performances in the play that she was responsible for but she finally let it all out at the service and seems to be getting back to normal.


Erin is doing Shakespeare this fall and it’s pretty fun.  I’ve always thought of attending Shakespeare plays as something of an affectation; something to get your dose of culture and get that over with or to be seen by others as cultured.  That’s why I don’t really go any more; I don’t enjoy it too much.

It’s different when your daughter is in the cast though.  This time it’s much more interesting to me.  The drama teacher has put some modern twists in it also to make it a bit more palatable to the expected audiences.  Michael Jackson music is a constant background to the production.  During the party scene where Romeo and Juliet meet the partygoers do the thriller dance which is quite fun to watch.

I’m amazed at how many people are interested in buying a wrecked car.  I had been worried about disposing of Erin’s car after the accident but should have known that this is America.  Put anything at all on craigslist and somebody out there will take it.  So, rather than pay some auto salvage yard to come tow it away, I got a small bit of money for it yesterday. 

All callers told me that they had a car like it with a bad engine and they intended to pull the engine out of mine and install it in their old one.  I admire people that can do that.  I admire all such forms of self-sufficiency and this is a pretty extreme one.  I would like to think that if I had the knowledge and skills to replace an engine in a car that I would shoot a bit higher than a ’96 Ford Escort but that’s just me.  I’d be building myself a Jaguar or Lexus or something.  Still, the principle is the same:  self-sufficiency is admirable and you can sell anything.

I don’t know why disasters seem to come in clusters like they do in my life.  But this fall has seen more than the usual share of problems.  But all of them pale in comparison to Melissa’s mother passing away early this morning.

She just never recovered from her heart surgery.  We can worry it to death and try to figure out what happened medically or we can just move on.  I can write at length about my latest woodworking project but with matters of this import I find myself without words.  I’m just trying to keep track of things at this point.

Luckily, I have been able to schedule a guy to fix our roof and also to sell Erin’s wrecked car and thus get those two nagging issues out of the way.  That is two fewer things for Mel to be concerned about.

So let’s see:  had to have the dog put to sleep, car wreck, and grandmother passing.  Thanksgiving could very well suck this year.

Some years ago, a teenaged girl rammed my pickup accidentally and did a good bit of damage but totaled her car.  She was extremely upset and scared; for my part I did not get mad or impatient.  I figured it was the right thing to do – no point in getting grumpy after the fact and would only make her cry.  I don’t believe in karma; I just figured that it’s the right thing to do overall.

I can see how the idea of karma came about though:  when Erin got rammed last night up in Tulsa, one of the other drivers was as polite to her when she was scared as I was in my accident.  And the cop too.  All the same, I’d rather it hadn’t happened.

I guess everyone has their first car accident.  It was dark and rainy and was up in one of those parts of town where the intersections are death traps with many lanes,  many traffic lights, and lots of traffic.  I always hate it when her church small group leader (who lives up there) has events at her house after sunset.  Anyway, Erin turned when she shouldn’t have turned and got rammed in the front of her car which pushed her into yet a third car.  Only the driver of the minimally damaged third car was rude and that only until the police officer suggested she go sit in her car and keep quiet.  Luckily, Erin got a policewoman who was not only nice but cute as well – much less intimidating than the usual big-guy-with-a-gun type. 

I’m afraid that the old ’96 Escort that served Evan and Erin so well is a goner.  It doesn’t appear to have all that much damage but when the car is only worth about $1000 to begin with, it doesn’t take much more than a bad fender-bender to total it.  We only had liability on it anyway.

I am certainly glad that nobody was hurt – especially Erin.  But other than that, it’s a bummer.  She’s going to learn what “liability only” insurance means and she’s gonna be walking for awhile.

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