Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Came Through on the Other Side

So I got through my colonoscopy okay. I survived. Intestines are in fine shape, no polyps. And the sword of Damocles that has been hanging over my head now for days is removed.

A friend drove me to the hospital in town and back this morning. Much of the time for the procedure was spent waiting, lying on my back in a hospital gown. The colonoscopy itself... oddly enough, I wasn't asleep. I was sedated but awake throughout the procedure. I was aware, I could feel it, but I just didn't care. I just didn't care what they were doing to me.

Lunch in the hospital cafeteria, and then home. And I've been spending the afternoon in bed, napping, getting up to have something to eat or drink once in a while.

I've been off work yesterday and today. And just in case, tomorrow I've scheduled so I can spend the day alone on quiet office work.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Today I've been getting along on a liquid diet. And now this afternoon I've been drinking GoLytely, and running to the bathroom every once in a while. So far, so good -- I honestly don't understand all the horrors of GoLytely that I've heard, I've drunk nearly half the gallon down now and everything has gone very smoothly, I feel fine.

Still, I'll be so glad once I've got my colonoscopy tomorrow out of the way. Ah, the joys of being past 50! This whole procedure has been preoccupying me out of all proportion these past several days...

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Well, the doctor phoned me to answer my questions not ten minutes after yesterday's post, LOL!

Now it's the weekend, and I find myself like an animal crouching in the underbrush, crouching, crouching...

Random thoughts strike me: I ought to water my houseplants, forgot yesterday to water them on Friday as usual. Do I need to run out for groceries today, or can I let that go till tomorrow? Christmas shopping needs to be done, three months to go, and still less than halfway done. I wonder if, due to my health, I should think of retiring before age 65, instead of sticking it out all the way as I've always planned. A friend sent me three emails yesterday, each begging for a reply; but I just replied to an email from this friend day before yesterday, so I honestly don't feel like assuming additional epistolary burdens again right away, dammit! Oh, and I need more poison bait bits to set out in garage, basement, attic, it's getting to be that time of year with the mice again...

Like an animal in the underbrush, crouching, crouching... And my mind is a blur...

Friday, September 25, 2009


The rain forecast for yesterday has finally arrived, and it's just what we need: slow, steady rain that's been falling all morning, and bids to continue on into the afternoon.

I've been tackling various minor tasks this morning, overshadowed now by the fact that I'm scheduled for a colonoscopy next week -- ah, the joys of advanced middle age! -- and I've called the doctor's office and I can't get the doctor or a nurse or anyone to return my call with an answer to the very simple question, how soon beforehand should I lay off my medications? You know, the medications I first started on only a few weeks ago.

With the weekend at hand, and the day next week drawing nearer, it would be nice to know.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


There are days when I just know, before the day even begins, that it's going to be a slow, lazy, lackadaisical day.

Days like today. Foggy. Pearl grey. Slate sky. Drizzle. Rain in the forecast. And nothing terribly pressing on my calendar for today.

Slow, lazy day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Have I mentioned? Lifelong Protestant though I am, I have in fact for many years said the rosary. Yes I know, I'm a Protestant tinged with Catholicism. Nonetheless I'm a lifelong Protestant, and I doubt I'll ever convert. But I do, I honestly do say the rosary. I've been doing it for 35 years, ever since my late teens. At some times less regularly, at times more regularly. But I honestly do say the rosary.

There are family reasons for this, and also (the proximate cause of my taking up the rosary) there was a good friend of mine back in college who had a big impact on me spiritually. He was a devout Roman Catholic. We used to discuss our faith, he the Catholic and I the Protestant. He gave me a rosary. He taught me how to say the rosary.

And, miraculous to say, I took him up on it. He never pressed me, never asked. But privately, on my own, I took to saying the rosary. Kept it up pretty faithfully through my mid 20s, then more sporadically for a number of years, then once again more regularly these past several years.

Immediate family know, or at least used to know, of my practice. Apart from that, as with many of my quasi-Catholic inclinations, I've been pretty clandestine and under the radar.

Don't ask me the whys and wherefores. Yes, I could get into that, in elaborate detail, but as I get older I find myself less and less inclined to air such matters.

Still, I do leave me scratching my head sometimes...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Poverty of British Life

I've been reading a volume of letters by the British poet Philip Larkin. It always amazes me when I read stuff by mid-20th century British writers -- Larkin, C.S. Lewis, Dylan Thomas, etc. -- how they had such a shoddy standard of living. Running a little paraffin stove to help heat the bedroom -- no central heating, of course. "Better to come visit me in the summer, when I can spare enough blankets for you off my own bed." The stock Briticism, "butter is dear," and margarine hardly any more affordable. Going to great trouble to get an ordinary fountain pen repaired instead of buying a new one. A university library (this was early 1950s) with not a single typewriter in it, not even for Larkin who was the head librarian.

And these were middle class writers who were pulling in a tolerable income from full-time job plus writing. I get the impression that I enjoy a far higher standard of living than they did.

Great Britain, mid-20th century: what I always think of is bad teeth and no central heating.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I have two shortwave radios, both of them portable and both of them reasonably good radios. Though the one shortwave (call it shortwave #1) is really a far more sensitive and sophisticated radio than the other shortwave (call it shortwave #2).

So what have I done with these two radios? Well, the past ten years I've had shortwave #1 sitting and gathering dust, seldom used, in a room upstairs. While I've had shortwave #2, fairly often used, sitting on the end table next to my wicker rocker in the living room.

I repeat, the less capable shortwave (shortwave #2), sitting by my elbow in the living room, gets probably 98% of the use. I've been trying to remember how this setup arose, and I think the idea was that I'd get better reception from upstairs, hence have shortwave #1 in the room upstairs. Not that this makes much difference when shortwave #1 is seldom if ever used.

So. The other day I finally took action, and did the obvious thing: I switched the two radios. Now shortwave #1 is on the end table in my living room, where it is used almost daily. And shortwave #2 is in that room upstairs, for if-and-when I need a radio on my infrequent forays into that room.

Actually shortwave #1 in the living room, being more sensitive, gets better reception than shortwave #2 would get either in the living room or upstairs.

And so I sit here in the living room this morning, wrapped up in a wool Indian blanket in my wicker rocker, cup of coffee at hand, and the dulcet tones of Radio Rebelde on 5025 kilocycles in the 60 meter band from Havana at my elbow. (Yes, I'm the sort who still says "kilocycles.") Can't understand more than the occasional snatch of Spanish, but you know, for me that's a windows of consciousness thing: listening to a detailed but only marginally intelligible sound stream opens wide the doors of perception. More perhaps on that some other time...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Last night I slept with the windows open, and outside I could hear an owl hooting. Hoooo, hooooo, hoooo! It was somewhere outside, not too far away. Hooting beneath the crescent moon. There's something comforting, something tremendously right about the sound of an owl hooting in the night.

Then there were two owls hooting. The one owl, nearby, hooting in lower tones. And another owl, afar off, with a more high pitched hooting. One owl would sound, and then the other would answer. One and then the other. The wonder of two owls hooting and answering on a clear cool night, beneath the light of a crescent moon.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mind and Heart

If anyone has been following my blog, they'll notice that every now and then I've been touching on the topic of what's wrong with the blogosphere -- in particular, what's wrong with the angry, rigid, hectoring, antagonistic portion of commenterdom.

Yesterday on his blog the Orthodox priest Fr. Stephen Freeman quoted Archimandrite Meletios Webber on the distinction between mind and heart. I find this distinction relevant to the dysfunctions I so often witness among blogospheric commenters:
In order to be right about anything, the mind has the need to find someone or something that is wrong. In a sense, the mind is always looking for an enemy (the person who is “wrong”), since without an enemy, the mind is not quite sure of its own identity. When it has an enemy, it is able to be more confident about itself. Since the mind also continually seeks for certainty, which is a by-product of the desire to be right, the process of finding and defining enemies is an ongoing struggle for survival. Declaring enemies is, for the mind, not an unfortunate character flaw, but an essential and necessary task.

Unfortunately, being right is not what people really need, even though a great deal of their lives may be taken up in its pursuit. Defense of the ego is almost always a matter of trying to be right...

[In contrast] the heart is quiet rather than noisy, intuitive rather than deductive, lives entirely in the present, and is, at every moment, accepting of the reality God gives in that moment. Moreover, the heart does not seek to distance or dominate anything or anyone by labeling. Rather, it begins with an awareness of its relationship with the rest of creation (and everything and everyone in it), accepting rather than rejecting, finding similarity rather than alienation and likeness rather than difference. It knows no fear, experiences no desire, and never finds the need to defend or justify itself. Unlike the mind, the heart never seeks to impose itself. It is patient and undemanding. Little wonder, then, that the mind, always impatient and very demanding, manages to dominate it so thoroughly.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Lately, with my health being on my mind, I've changed over to eating oatmeal for breakfast. Oatmeal, in place of toast and sausage. Especially I'm hoping that oatmeal in place of sausage will be an improvement.

And when I say oatmeal, I mean oatmeal. No prepackaged semi-oatmeal concoction, with sugar and spice and all sorts of additives... well, additived in. No oatmeal with all sorts of sugary unhealthy glop mixed in. This is just plain old oatmeal. Oatmeal and nothing but. Dump it in the bowl, add some water, and to be honest I'm surprised I can get away with heating it up in the microwave instead of cooking it on the stove.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How I Spent My Labor Day

Okay, I had to work most of the weekend. So I was especially looking forward to taking Labor Day as a holiday, off from work, nothing I need to do. Late Sunday I run into a neighbor, he gets the bright idea that possibly I might come along with him and his wife when they head out to some flea market 60 miles away on Labor Day.

Oh great. Been working already all weekend, now roped into something like that.

Fortunately the outing never materialized, and I spent Labor Day sitting around. Watched some DVDs a friend lent me, some old British TV series called Sapphire & Steel. Very low budget, something like The X-Files, something like Doctor Who.

And now it turns out I also get to take today off from work. So I'm getting, you know, a belated Labor Day weekend of sorts.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fall in the Wings

Slept last night with the windows open. It got cool out, but it's monstrously humid, so it didn't feel cool. But wait for a cool night that feels cool: that will come soon enough.

Fall is in the wings.

Friday, September 4, 2009

To the Doctor

So, the other day, being back from vacation, I went to the doctor for the first time in incredibly many years. Actually had hit the clinic a few days previously for them to collect blood and urine samples.

The good news is, I'm not going to drop dead any time soon. And there are a few health items in which, despite family history, I'm in wondrously good shape.

But there are a few other items in which I'm not in such wondrously good shape. Numbers higher than normal. The kind of numbers which, if we hadn't caught it, could've led in the long run to, well... real trouble.

So, the doctor prescribed a few different kind of pills for me. (Pills. Am I the only person who rebels at that prissy neologism, "meds"?) And we will be spending the next few weeks or months bringing readings down into the normal range, adjusting dosages if necessary, and all that good stuff.

I find myself unexpectedly feeling a sense of relief: now I know. And it's all manageable. Somehow I'd expected to go reeling from the doctor's office in dizzying panic. No, I feel like now I know where I stand. A few emotional ups and downs when I first got up this morning, but that's par for the course.

Though... on pills at last, for the first time in my life. I'm not bulletproof after all. Memento mori, and all that.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Summer's End

Where has the summer gone? To me, summer ends with the end of August. Or with the coming of Labor Day weekend. When I was a kid summer ended when we went back to school. By any of these yardsticks summer is now drawing to a close.

And already -- in the waning days of August, even -- we've been seeing lows at night which have been unheard of now for months. Before long the leaves will start turning color. Indeed, at this point we could be only a couple of months away from the first snowflakes of the season.

Summer has always been my favorite season of the year. Sic transit gloria mundi.