A View From the Field








Journal April 2001

April 27

The reviews on the U of M visit are mixed.  When they saw me and examined me they agreed that I was doing fine, but when we finally got the results of the blood tests, my chemistry is all jacked up again, and my white count is very low - so low that when I got home, I gave myself a Neupogen injection. They have turned me back over to Dr. Lehman, and I will see him Monday to find out what we're going to do about the situation.  When I saw him on April 10, everything was fine, so I'm not too sure what happened.


This leaves my projected leave date (May 14) up in the air.  I expect to have a better feel for it after I see the doctor.  I never thought I would get through this whole recovery process without a few glitches, and I'm sure whatever is the matter, they'll figure it out and fix it.  Sooner rather than later, I hope.


We started packing this week.  My living room is now half full of boxes.  We have part of the kitchen, the dining room, and the upstairs  still to do.  The Fresh Start ladies work really fast, and I expect another two or three three-hour sessions will do it.  The movers will be here either Friday or Saturday, and I will have that out of my hair.  Since everything will be delivered to the moving company in Calumet, I don't have to worry too much if my arrival gets postponed a while.


My kitchen is now packed full of computers - the new computers arrived yesterday, and I've been too tired to wrestle the one downstairs and the other one into the living room.  I'm anxious to see how they work, but I'd rather not drop a 19" monitor on the way into the basement. 


The weather has been sunny and a bit cool, although it's supposed to warm up over the weekend.  It hasn't rained in a while, and we need regular rain for things to grow.  All my new daffodils and hyacinths are in bloom, and it's so nice to look out and see the color.  The gardeners planted them in clumps, which I like much better than rows.


I will be interested to see what, if anything, is in bloom when I get up north.  If there is a chance I would see them regularly, I'd plant some daffodils in my new garden.  I like them a lot.  


The gooseberry is now in bloom, and I'm looking forward to smelling it when it gets a little warmer.  I may eventually dig up a piece of it and take it up north, although I'm not sure how well it will do there.  The buds are swelling on the pear tree and the old lilac and they should be out soon.  Spring is such a pretty time.  I can always endure the winter because I know that the spring flowers will eventually come.


I still keep having the feeling that this moving thing is all a big dream - they'll take all the boxes away and I'll never see them again.  It hardly seems possible that I will actually be able to move into the house of my dreams.  If I have to wait a little longer than I'd thought, that's all right, so long as it actually happens.


April 22

At 6am this morning there was a bird singing in the pear tree that I have never heard before, and I was too lazy to put on my glasses and see what it was.  There has been a chipping sparrow around for the past couple of days.  He is a very small, sleek bird, with a brown stripe on his crown.  Today he was trying to eat out of the bird feeder, but the bigger bully-birds kept chasing him away.


It was sunny this morning and very warm in church.  I went down into the basement to do some things with the scanner, and when I went up to get the pictures I wanted to scan (which I had left upstairs, of course), it was raining and a bit chilly.  April weather is so interesting.


Ah, the scanner!  The pictures Shirley took arrived Friday, and I've looked at them so many times I think they're getting ratty already.  What a beautiful house I have!  The closer it gets to being done, the better it looks.  


I am so pleased with the cabinetry.  In the scanned images it's impossible to see, but my choice of door handles turned out well, I think.  Several weeks ago, Philippe sent a list of missing items, and one handle was missing from the kitchen, the laundry room and my bathroom, which made me curious, because I thought we had counted carefully.  Now that I see the pictures, I understand what happened.  The cabinet front under each sink has a handle on it, even though it doesn't open.  To me, that's weird, but I suppose it's a matter of taste. I hope nobody tries to yank it open and either breaks the handle or pulls off the cabinet front.


The pictures show the tiles installed, but they aren't good enough to see the ones that were upside down.  I still like the color (of course - it's blue!).


This week we will start packing, and that will be a trip.  My lists are getting longer all the time, especially of things that have to be found in order to pack them.  I could not have done without my friends the Fresh Start Organizers, but that's the thing I don't like about having help to organize one's house.  There is no way I could keep track of what they did with everything, and it makes me crazy.  My fond hope is (forlorn, probably), that after the two houses get sorted out, it will be easier to find things here.


Thursday is my big afternoon in Ann Arbor, and after that is out of the way it will be full speed ahead on getting ready to go.  


The new computers should arrive Friday, so I am beginning the task of stripping my personal things off the old one and getting it ready to give to Debbie.  That is no simple task, with five years' worth of garbage cluttering up the disk!  I am so glad she can use it.  It's old and slow by today's standards, but the software is up to date, and it still has years of useful life in it.  It should be fine to get her kids through high school.


I couldn't figure out why I felt sort of cruddy last week.  The barium for the cat scan has given me a good case of diarrhea, but not serious enough to debilitate me.  Then it occurred to me that for the first part of the week, I had to get up several hours earlier than usual, and I wasn't getting enough sleep!  Apparently I'm still in 11-12 hours a night mode.  Cuts into production no end, believe me!


Sleeping is difficult for me at this time of year anyway, because  with the outside temperature changes, it's hard to keep myself at a comfortable temperature in bed.  Last night I had the door open, which worked fairly well, but then there were the birds...  Oh, well. Eventually it will get warmer, or I'll be at Rainbow's End where it's cooler, and it will even out.


I just went upstairs to feed the kitties and a hermit thrush was pecking around in the rose bed.  I have seen him before, in other years, but he's usually in the bushes around the fence.  I'm glad to know he's back.  What that shows is, there are a lot of varieties of birds in my urban location, but one has to sit very quietly for a very long time to see them.  Sometimes, one can only hear them.  I shall have to hunt up my birdsong CD's again.


April 15 - Easter Sunday

After several clear, sunny and fairly warm days, today was cloudy, rainy and chilly. But I guess on Easter, the sunshine comes from within and it shouldn't matter a lot what the weather is.


Last Monday was rainy, and I got caught in a downpour while walking from Bon Secours Hospital to my car in the parking lot, but the rest of the week was more or less sunny and not too cool.  The warmer temperatures have made the buds on the trees just pop out - I noticed Monday morning that the buds on the old lilac were bursting. 


The maple flowers on my tree were open on Sunday.  Until I got acquainted with the maple tree in front of the house, which my mother planted, I didn't know maples had flowers at all.  These are maroon and make the tree look red long before any leaves are out.  Of course, then they fall and make a mess, but right now they are very pretty.


The gardeners apparently did plant the bulbs they said they did - at least there are leaves poking through the ground all over the yard.  The two old daffodils - one in back of the rose bed, and one under the spruces in front - are in bloom.  It will be nice when they have company.  The crocuses along side the driveway, after struggling to come out through the cold weather a couple of weeks ago, came and went so fast I hardly saw them.


Last evening, the first white-throated sparrow I have seen was pecking around under the feeder.  They, and the white-crowned sparrow who will come later, are neat little birds.  They look like they have a snazzy bicycle helmet on their heads, black and white striped, which is a rather incongruous contrast to their dull brown bodies - sort of like you look when you wear a bicycle helmet.  They look like they're wearing somebody else's feathers.


Speaking of feathers, I finished the sixth bird.  As soon as it gets bright enough so that I don't have to fiddle with the camera, I will upload a new picture of the bellpull.


I am tired tonight.  Singing at two services on Easter is wearing, and I didn't sleep very well last night.  That was just as well, since I inadvertently set my alarm for 5:30 PM, and I had to be at church at 7:20 to get warmed up (not that it did much good - I still felt squeaky).  The services were very nice, and especially the second one was quite well-attended.  


So now Easter is past.  Tomorrow I have the first of the two cat scans, so I will be getting that out of the way.  I've been talking to the ladies who will help me pack.


Shirley called quite late last Sunday night (after I had written the entry), and reported that it appeared to her that the fancy tiles in my kitchen backsplash had been mounted upside down.  At least the cherries were falling up.  I have had several conversations with the tile company, the fancy tiles have all been removed intact, and I can only hope they will mount them all right-side up this time.  For the life of me, I cannot understand why, if someone isn't sure about something, he won't ask.  But I guess I worked in computers long enough to know there's never time to do it right, but there's always time to do it over.  


I am so grateful that Shirley picked this time to go and inspect, so that we caught the error before the tile was grouted in!  Because, of course, I would probably have been stuck paying for their mistake.


So I'm another week closer to Copper Harbor, and the list of tasks is getting longer by the minute...


April 8

It's been one of those days we don't have often anytime, let alone the first week of April.  The temps were in the upper 70's, the sky was clear and sunny, and while it was windy, the wind was balmy.  Even now, as I write at about 8:30, it's still around 74.  We don't ever get much weather like this, and it's even more rare in early April.


The kitchen slider was open, and the door in my bedroom, and the birds were singing - if you can call a grackle's croak a song.  The red-wing blackbirds are back, and the house finches were singing.  There were some horny house sparrows on the deck and in the pear tree.  Mr. Cardinal sang for a long time, and just as it began to get dark, there were robins in the tree.  What a day!


I have filled the bird feeder, and I hope to be able to keep it full until I leave, because between now and the end of May are when all the interesting migrants come through, and even the ones who don't eat seeds will stop by if they know my yard is a feeding station.


When I got to church on Wednesday, there was a song sparrow singing, but while I've seen some on the patio, I haven't heard any songs around here yet.  On the other hand, the juncos - the snowbirds - haven't left yet, either.  That is always my final sign that spring has really arrived.


The weather forecasts are for rain after midnight, and gusty winds, but right now, it is still, just like it always gets at sundown in the summer.  Heavenly.  Buster is sitting on the end of the bed, resting his chin on the footboard and looking out the door.  What he thinks he can see in the dark, I don't know. While it didn't interfere much with their sleeping, both cats enjoyed having the doors open as much as I did.  It was also good to get the house aired out a little.  It gets smelling pretty stale inside by this time of year.


I always think that days like this one, rare as they are, are God's way of assuring us that, after a long hard winter, spring is on the way and things will begin to grow and bloom again.


However, the wind in the spruces and the birdsongs were punctuated at intervals by sirens and the un-muffled vintage car one of my neighbors is restoring.  I didn't need to even open my eyes to know I'm not at Copper Harbor yet. It is rarely really quiet around here, even in the middle of the night.  Even if there's nothing going on locally, I can always hear the cars on Mack, and the roar of traffic on the expressway, which never goes away.  It will be so nice to replace that with the sound of water on the beach!


April 4

It's the 4th of April and I'm just now getting around to doing my monthly maintenance on the journal.  Notice there is now another page between the current journal and the old months' journals.  Putting the individual links on this page would soon be getting entirely too cumbersome, so I decided to take a leaf out of John Dee's book and add the "previous months" page.  I hope that will make this page cleaner without making it harder for anyone who wants to look at the old entries.  I've considered inverting the entries in the past journals, so that each month reads forward from the top, but that would be a real chore, especially in months like December and January when I was writing every day.  I'll save that idea for sometime when I run out of things to do...


Spring seems to really be coming.  The gardeners were here today doing spring cleanup and cutting back the roses.  Some of the bulbs they planted last fall are beginning to come up.  I understand that the weather service is predicting temperatures into the middle and upper 50's by the weekend, although it will rain.  So I guess our spring will come quietly and with no severe convulsions.  Sometimes it does that.  Sometimes it snows on Easter Sunday, too.  That's why the weather is so much fun to watch.


I have had to try to keep normal-human hours this week, since my calendar seems to be filling up quickly.  Yesterday I had to see the doctor at 9:00, because I had an appointment in the afternoon.  My shingles are healing up nicely and should be gone about the time I can take off my hat.


In the afternoon, I visited my financial planners for our yearly meeting, then I spent the rest of the afternoon with the people I used to work with.  That was fun. They are all good folks, and I miss working with them. Not that I miss working.  They were having system problems, and it brought back all the old memories...and a little prayer of thanks that it wasn't my problem. That part of life is over and done with.  It's just too bad that, with a few exceptions, it's so hard to keep in touch with people when one moves on.  That is a wonderful bunch.  Of course, they secretly envy me a bit, too, since I've been able to get out of the rat race.


When I arrived back home, about 6:30, DC was sitting at the kitchen sliding door with a very sour look on his face.  He really doesn't like it when I'm away for so long.  But he's been feeling really frisky lately.  When I put down the bathmat before my shower, he attacked it, then started chasing his tail.  I think he knows how ridiculous that looks, but he likes the attention he gets.  I discovered that in the housecleaning the shoelace I was using to play "string" with him had gotten misplaced, so I hunted up a new one.  Now we'll be able to have our nightly game.  He loves strings.  The way he attacks them, I wonder if he wouldn't be a good snake catcher.  I hope I don't have occasion to find out.


After church and choir practice tonight, the rest of the week will be quiet, so I will be able to catch up on my sleep.  Now that my taxes are taken care of, and I've seen the financial people, I can get back to some of the other things I need to do and want to do, at least for a while.  Next week is not only Holy Week, I have tests on Monday and Tuesday, so that will be a full week, too.  And the end of April is coming faster than I can believe. It's time to think about packing.