Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Nighttime Bathroom Protocol

Dear John,
I began turning the corner early this morning. I don't feel a lot better, but I'm breathing about half-normal now. And that is a great relief. I was still up a couple of times coughing last night, but I wasn't concerned about needing the ER. I'm getting better. At noon I actually
got out of bed, took a shower, and emptied the litter boxes. I'm officially unstoppable now.
I found this tonight and had to show it to you. This is exactly what happens around here. When I wake up during the night and need to go to the bathroom, the first thing I have to do is figure out who is where so I don't hurt anybody. Hunter is usually spread out across my ribs, Abby in the middle of your side of the bed, Jethro where your feet would be, and Maggie curled up either behind my knees or at the small of my back. When I move, they all shift so I can get up, and sometimes they all come to the bathroom with me. When I come back to bed, I have to be sure nobody is lying in my spot so I don't lie down on anybody. I move whoever needs moving, lie down, and they all come and array themselves in their former positions.
See what you're missing? You could have cats sleeping on you, too. Or maybe you do - all the animals are in Heaven. Maybe you get to cuddle with lions and sleep with elephants. How wonderful would that be! I can't imagine living and worshipping with all the animals who have ever lived. Was Baron waiting for you when you got there, and Naomi and Caleb right behind him? I can't wait to see all of you again.
But right now, my little family is here and it needs me. And it's bedtime for all of us. I just took cough syrup, so I will soon be even more incoherent than usual. I believe I will herd the cats and get us all in bed. If you can come and join us, we'll be happy to make room for Daddy!
Miss you,

Monday, March 30, 2015

That Look is Not an Empty Threat

Dear John,
I did get through the night - actually slept pretty well, with two stretches of getting up to get the coughing under control. I stayed home today and slept a good bit. I have hopes of getting to work tomorrow, but not of feeling particularly good. If I don't feel any better in the morning, I'll have to go see somebody about it.
This is frustrating. Getting over bronchitis has taken me over a week for years. With the fibro, I've learned to be content staying home and getting better when I need to. But now I have this full-time job, I have to work, I like to work, I need the paycheck, and people are counting on me to be there. So here's this photo to show you how I feel about it. I'm quite irritable and impatient with all the steroids and inhalers. So be warned; that look in my eye is not an empty threat.
To show you how serious this is, I haven't felt good enough to knit since Saturday. So I'm at home and can't even take advantage of all this good knitting time. I found an NCIS marathon on television and played Sudoku on my phone most of the day, alternating with naps voluntary and involuntary. And bless the critters, I had the revolving door in my lap all day. They took turns coming for cuddles.
Well, that was all quite incoherent, wasn't it? You always understood me anyway. I trust that you still do! Please say a prayer for my respiratory system tonight. I'll let you know all the latest tomorrow.
Your grouchy wife,

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Learning to Fly, But I Ain't Got Wings

Dear John,
The Final Four is set: Kentucky will play Wisconsin, Duke will play Michigan State. All four games were thrillers. The weekend has been full of excellent basketball. Next weekend should be the same.
It's been good to have the games to watch. I'm not so sure Joe's steroid regimen is meeting with the approval of my respiratory system. I feel lousy, and I'm having more trouble breathing than I was yesterday. I'm hoping the antibiotics will catch up with the infection and turn things around. Actually, tonight I'm just hoping to get through the night without an ER visit. If I'm not  better in the morning, I'll have to miss work and go see him again. I'd love to fly without IV steroids, but it's been years since I could.
So tonight I'm trying to fly, but I don't have wings. I have steroids, but my body doesn't seem to be impressed by the oral form. I hope I can lie down and still breathe. If not, I'll camp out in your recliner tonight. That would confuse the animals no end. I hope to avoid creating critter consternation.
Sleep good, and pray for all of us. I miss you with all my heart!

It Was the Best of Games, It Was the Worst of Games

Dear John,
We won. With great difficulty in the last few seconds. Notre Dame played well. It was a shame anybody had to lose.
I do believe it was the best basketball game I've ever seen. It edged out that game between UK and Duke years ago. There were few fouls and fewer made free throws. If Kentucky had been able to hit a free throw, it wouldn't have been close. It would have helped it Cauley-Stein had had his head in the game. The encouraging thing is that they can play that badly and still win. I feel bad for Notre Dame, though. They played well enough to deserve to have won.
I had a spark of memory a few days ago. Remember that I'd told you that I had no memory of UK winning the tournament in 2012? I still don't remember the game. But I remembered that I called Donna when the game was over. You weren't doing well by then and I couldn't even text you. I had to be excited with somebody, so she and I talked for a while. She called after tonight's game and I told her that, and that it shows how important a place she holds in my life, that I remember talking to her and don't remember winning the championship.
I still shake my head over what I do and don't remember of the last three months of your life. At the end of 2012 I read a list of major news stories, and I had missed over two-thirds of them. Oddly, they didn't list your death. That is a terrible oversight, as your death was clearly the most important world event of the century.
You were my world from the day I met you. And you still are. I was sorry to not watch the game with you. But I managed to make enough noise for both of us. By the end, the animals were thoroughly peeved with me for staying up so late and making so much racket. Now they're all gathered around me in bed, waiting for me to turn off the light so we can all get to sleep. And I'm wondering how I can possibly sleep after that game.
Thank you for doing such a good job of being the whole world to me. Thank you for liking sports. Thank you for being happy to have a wife who likes sports. And thanks for taking me to that first UK football game where all of this started. Thank you for being you. Keep the light on for me!
Adore you,

Friday, March 27, 2015

How I Got Punted to Joe, and What Came of It

Dear John,
I had a very late night last night. Kentucky played West Virginia at 10:00 - way past my  bedtime on a school night, but then March isn't made for sleeping. We won by an obscene amount. Donna asked if I was going to bed at halftime since we were so far ahead, but it was way too much fun for me to miss any of it.
I got to bed a little before 1:00 and slept well until 3. Remember the cold I was fighting off? It seems that I am too old to fight off a cold and recover from a fall at the same time. I woke up at 3:00 with bronchitis. I loaded up on drugs, and had to sit up until 4:30 when I was finally able to breathe and lie down simultaneously. I didn't make it to work; I'd reached the point where I wasn't going to fly without seeing a doctor.
And that was also entertaining. I called Barb's office and found that they didn't have any doctors in today. So they punted me to Joe, poor man, and I think it was a good thing. He has a different regimen for steroids in a flare, giving higher doses of oral steroids for a week instead of going IV. If it works for me, it could save me trips to South Bend. It would also save wear and tear on my veins, and I could use that. And I got a prescription for antibiotics, since what I'm coughing up - in large quantities and after great exertion - is dark grayish yellow.
While I was out I got the dime store dust washed off the car and picked up a few things at Meijer. I came home, ate lunch, and slept on the couch a good bit of the afternoon. You know I'm sick when I can't stay awake on this much Prednisone. I don't have time for bronchitis. I know that if you were here, you'd ask me exactly when I would have time for it. Some things just jump into our lives and demand the time, and we have to take it. I hate missing work - I worry about leaving them short, and I just enjoy it and hate missing it. And working is lots more fun than bronchitis - a statement which hasn't been true of every job I've had.
Speaking of sleep, this is a school night so I need to turn out the light. Be glad you're missing all this. The poor animals didn't get much sleep last night and they're ready for lights-out. Please say a prayer for me, that I can work tomorrow and that this goes away quietly, and that this IV-less regimen of Joe's works for me. Sleep well in peace and quiet, far from your coughing, hacking, nose-blowing wife!
Drippily yours,

Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Superwidow!

Dear John,
The taxes are done. They were easy this year. Next year they'll be downright boring. I have a completely irrational sense of accomplishment for doing them all by myself. After all, I taught you how to do them years and years ago. They were simple then; they're almost that simple again.
From the Revenue Service point of view, I live a very simple life. I suppose it's pretty uncomplicated from any vantage point. I go to work, pay the mortgage, have health insurance through work, pay my pledge at church, and that's about it as far as they're concerned. Next year I'll get a tax break for the new furnace. This year I got a break for the five months I was on Marketplace insurance. And that's it. Easy tax returns.
It's been an illuminating week for me. I've dealt with an on-the-job injury, gotten a new furnace, done my taxes, and done it all comfortably. I've feeling more competent and confident than I have since you died. Most of it is just the passage of time. Part of it is that I have a job that is building my self-confidence. But most of it I owe to you and Mama - to her for bringing me up to be this way, and to you for liking me like this and always having more faith in me than I did in myself. You wanted a strong, capable, independent woman. And I thank you for that.

I remember how many times that last year that you told me I'd be just fine without you. I don't think "just fine" is at all accurate, but I think I am in the sense that you meant. You never thought I'd be okay emotionally; you knew better. But you knew that I'd manage in every other way, and you were right. It's taken me three years to get my feet under me and feel like I can handle things. The dust is settling and life has predictable patterns. I have enough physical, financial, and emotional reserves to handle the unexpected things like falling on my face at work and having a new furnace installed. I'm not so afraid anymore.

None of that means that I miss you any less or don't want to join you as soon as possible. But Jen still won't let me dig and the animals continue to need me. It appears that I will be here for a while. It does mean that you're not to worry about me - I have a wonderful infrastructure and support network. Don't stop visiting me in my dreams. And keep working on Heaven's Skype connection!

Your Superwidow loves you super amounts,

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Adventures with Mechanicals

Dear John,
I went back to work today and loved it. It was good to be back. I wore a quilting glove on my sprained right wrist and picked up an elbow glove at the pharmacy. They give me a little support, but mainly they remind me what I'm not supposed to do with that arm.
I missed a bit of excitement yesterday. It turns out that the parking lot was laid on top of sod, and that won't make a stable base under the concrete slab for the new building. So they're hauling out our dirt and bringing in new fill dirt. During that process yesterday they found an old copper water pipe - found it by cutting it. They got a temporary seal on it, and today they went exploring. It turns out that it runs from our building and has never been capped off. So our water was off for about an hour today and is off again until sometime tomorrow morning when a plumber will come out to shut off the line from our basement. We really  don't need the hole to turn into a lake - it's too cool for swimming and too warm for ice skating. All of this - the soil problem and the pipe - have set things back a week or more, but it's been great entertainment. And I get to watch all of it from my drive-up vantage point.
The people from J. O Mory came today when I was at work and replaced the furnace. I left the doors unlocked and Jethro gave them an enthusiastic welcome. The guy even took Jethro for a walk. He's a tired, happy dog tonight. And I'm a happy home owner. Our new thermostat is set on 65 and the house is so warm that I may have to turn it down. The heat is running so much less than it was. I can't wait to see the gas usage on the next NIPSCO bill. 
Oh, get this: You know the HEPA filter we had built into the house twenty years ago? When Joe took out the old furnace, he discovered that it had never had wiring run to it. So it's been functioning like a regular filter all these years. There are new accordion filters now that do about the same as that filter would if it were connected to electricity, so I'm just going to use those and save paying an electrician to come out and run wiring to it. It's too late to discuss this with the builder, I'm sorry to say. We've managed nicely thus far, so there's nothing to do but laugh about it. I just had to tell you that.
We're off to bed now. I'm not working tomorrow, so I plan to finish the taxes. Feel free to stop by for that. You're so good at taxes, and you know you love it. So come and give me a hand, spend some time, play with the dog, meet the cats. I'll even make you meat loaf and mashed potatoes! How's that for an offer you can't refuse?
Adore you,

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Commence the Catpresses

Dear John,
I went back to occupational health today for a follow-up visit. I'm having a good bit of hip pain so they sent me off for x-rays. Thankfully, it's just a deep bruise - nothing broken but my elbow. The sprained wrists and bruised hands are much better. The rug burn is still of no consequence whatsoever.
I got to see the elbow x-ray. The crack is in the radial head, and if it extends it will break off a chunk of the head. And that would be inconvenient, hence the restrictions on using my right arm. It seems to be healing well - I have no discomfort at all in the elbow. So I can be out of the sling as long as I'm not having pain. I can't lift more than three pounds or do any heavy work with it. But I can knit and go back to work, so I'm very happy.
I intend to make good use of the catpresses. There is research indicating that the purring of a cat speeds the healing of a fracture. And, as I have one fractured bone and three cats, the next step is obvious. I have already begun the cat therapy. This evening they all took turns lying in my lap and purring, and I had a prolonged cuddle with Maggie. She's still young enough that she loves to be held. She closes her eyes, lays her head on my chest, and purrs herself to sleep. I'm not lacking for purring catpresses.
There are still things I can't do. I won't be able to vacuum or work in the yard for another four to six weeks. But I can take two-handed showers and brush my teeth with my right hand. And I'm so thankful that I don't have a hip fracture. I guess I'm not quite elderly yet.
It's bedtime and the animals are wandering in and falling asleep on the bed. I believe I will join them. And, as always, there is plenty of room for you if you can get a hall pass.
Yours under the catpresses,

Monday, March 23, 2015

Another Day, Another Bruise

Dear John,
Remember that I said last night that my hip was killing me? It still is. It kept me awake a good bit of the night, even after pain meds and Benadryl. It hurts enough that I'm shaky and my tummy is upset. So I stayed home today and I'll get it checked out tomorrow when I go back to occupational health. It hurts in the area of the head of the femur. And tonight I've sprouted visible bruises. I'm young enough that it's probably just deep bruising, and old enough that I have to be sure. How's that for midlife?
J. O. Mory sent a furnace tech out today and I made all the necessary decisions. I decided to go with a 95% efficiency furnace that, after the rebate, will cost less that an 80% one. And I'll get a tax break next year for the high-efficiency furnace. With installation and everything, it will be under $2000, and that's before NIPSCO chips in whatever they will. It's a good deal. My gas budget just went down $20 a month, and I can expect to see more of that after the new furnace is in.
I spent the rest of my morning working on finances, and the afternoon doing not much of anything. I slept a bit, and animals slept a lot, and there was an NCIS marathon. I hate not being able to knit. But I hope to get the right arm restrictions lifted tomorrow. I'll keep you posted on all my adventures and misadventures. I intended to be boring after my cold went away, but I've never been good at that. I'm glad you loved me anyway!
Your sore, unboring, soon-to-be-warm wife,

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Of Pizza & Nematodes

Dear John,
The right wrist feels better, the left hand is almost back to normal, and my right hip is killing me. It's nice to have some variety in my life. And I look respectable - this morning I took my one-handed shower and washed my hair. I actually put on jeans instead of sweats today. I am making progress. Except for the hip. And I'm really, really tired of this sling.
Richard picked up a pizza and then me, and we watched Duke at his place. It felt so familiar to get into a car that smelled like Pizza Hut. After all your years with them, I was used to everything in my life smelling like Pizza Hut - the car, the laundry, the house, and of course, you. There are years of good memories in that smell. I had supreme on my half. I still remember what's on supreme, meat lovers, veggie lovers, and most of the menu. I can get quite sentimental about Pizza Hut. Good memories.
There was a commercial on tonight that had children's songs in the background. I heard the words, "Head and shoulders," and immediately started singing about worms. Remember that? When we were in college, we were studying together for finals one evening and were tired and punchy. Somebody - I don't remember which one of us - started singing:
          Head and shoulders, nematodes, nematodes.
          Head and shoulders, nematodes, nematodes.
          Flat worms are Platyhelminthes,
          And round worms are nematodes, nematodes.
Only another biology major would understand. But we were still singing that song as long as you lived. We'd see an earthworm or hear about somebody who had a tapeworm, and we'd start to sing. And tonight I sang it all by myself, remembered, and giggled. That's the kind of silliness that happens when you've studied way too long. And it's wonderful.
I always loved the fact that we had such closely-related majors. And since I changed from biology to nursing after my second year, we took exactly the same first two years of classes. It gave us so much shared experience and education. And made us sing silly songs about nematodes.
Tonight I celebrate pizza and nematodes, two things that will always make me thing of you and smile. Since we can't make any new memories together, I'm glad we have such a vast and varied stock for me to think about and smile over. I'm smiling big tonight.
Thanks for the memories, the pizza, and the nematodes,

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Teabag of a Day

Dear John,
I'm back, still with half a hand. I'll try to keep it short tonight because typing really is a bear. But I just can't go to sleep without talking to you.
I spent the day in the sling. As you'd expect after a fall like that, I'm still sprouting bruises and I hurt more than I did last night. My right hand and wrist are gigantic; they weren't swollen yesterday, but I'm making up for it now. The best thing about this weekend is the basketball. I got to watch UK win today, and that's always fun. When I came down the hall, Carolina and Arkansas were tied and Notre Dame was just getting started. But I'm way too tired to stay up until midnight for them. I'm bracing myself - this is the kind of injury that can kick off a major fibro flare. So far, I just feel like an almost-sixty-year-old that fell down on concrete.
I talked to your sister today - she called me before I had a chance to call her. Bless her, she offered to come over and help out if I needed it. I doubt that I will unless I end up in a cast. But it is so good to know that I have people to call on if I need to. And talking was fun and gave me a lift. We laughed a lot.
I called NIPSCO about the furnace this morning, then talked to J. O. Mory. The tech and I agreed that the problem is in the mother board and it's time to stop pouring money into a twenty-year-old furnace. I got out the manual and gave him the model and serial numbers, went downstairs and answered some questions about the setup, and he gave me a preliminary quote of under $2000 including labor. NIPSCO will pick up some of it and Lenox has a rebate going right now, so I may get a new, high-efficiency furnace for around $1000. And my gas budget should go down a fair amount, so it will soon pay for itself. The plan is to have somebody come by and look at it on Monday evening then get the new one installed in another day or two.
Can you believe what a big girl I am? This year I'll be replacing the furnace, water heater, and roof, and all on my own without you. I'm glad all this didn't happen the first year after you died. Now I'm a lot more used to handling all this. But this is what Mama brought me up to be able to do, and one reason you married me.
Tell Mama for me how much I appreciate her teaching me how to take care of myself, my home, and my family. It was a bit unusual for the 1950s, but so was Mama. And thank you for wanting a wife who was independent and capable, and for encouraging me to be this way. I could do without the broken elbow. But that, too, will pass. It's a nuisance, not a crisis.
Nothing new has broken today, so I believe we're all doing well here. I'm following restrictions on the right arm and hand, hoping to avoid a cast and a longer recovery. But Melinda has offered to decoupage my cast if I need one. So all would not be lost.
It's past my bedtime, so I'd better turn off the light and go to sleep. I will attempt to have no more excitement for at least twenty-four hours. Think I can pull that off?
Adore you,

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Multiplicity of Broken Things

Dear John,
I'm typing with one half of one hand tonight. Let me explain.
We were having a normal, happy Friday at work. Frank came around this afternoon with the news that I am leading the bracket competition for the bank. I was amazed and thrilled. I'm probably not ahead anymore since Wichita State beat IU this afternoon. But it was exciting while it lasted.
Then I made the poor decision to take a bathroom break. I was walking fast like I usually do at work, went through the break room, turned left past the sofa to go to the bathroom, caught my foot in a rolled-up rug on the floor, and down I went. At least there were no witnesses. I got a rug burn on my right knee - of no consequence whatever - and caught my weight on my hands. The floor is concrete with carpet over it, so it was a bit ouchy, but didn't seem to be anything serious. I let Danielle know about it and went back to work, after putting the offending rug under the sofa.
The more I did, the more my right hand hurt. When I couldn't operate the drawer with it, I decided I really should go for x-rays. So, after calls, faxes, and more calls to Human Resources, I was off to LaGrange. I could drive without much problem since the car is automatic; I just had to use my left hand for the key and gearshift.
To cut to the chase, since it hurts to type with half of one hand, my right elbow is broken - radial head fracture. I can't imagine how I managed that. So I'm in a sling with my right arm immobilized, with orders to do absolutely nothing with that hand and arm until I get repeat x-rays on Tuesday.
The good thing is that it hurts much less now that it's all immobilized. The bad news is that my left hand and wrist are hurting much more than they did earlier. Jen came by, put litter in the cat boxes for me, and will pick up whatever I need at the grocery store on Sunday. Richard is taking me to the doctor on Tuesday. Danielle is trying to figure out what on earth I can do at work without using my right hand and arm.
You should see me try to eat. It's almost as funny as when I tried to feed myself when I had shingles. I was trying to get a turkey pie into a spoon in my left hand, while the animals lurked around hoping I'd drop all of it, and I couldn't stop giggling. I'm so glad the tournament is on. I can't do housework, can't even knit, so basketball should preserve what scraps of sanity I have. I can't imagine how I'll fasten a bra or do my hair.
But tomorrow I have no need to look respectable, so I will do neither. I'll sleep in, wear sweats, eat finger food, and watch basketball. Jethro will be frustrated because I can't pet him with my right hand and the cats will continue to explore the sling.
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
I just heard something odd, checked the basement, and discovered that the furnace is out again. They put in new igniters on February 17th and 28th, and will probably give me yet another one tomorrow. There appears to be an undiagnosed underlying problem. I will attempt to address that issue when they get here.
You might not want to come visit right now. We seem to have lots of things breaking and I'd hate to add you to the list. Sleep well tonight, far from the carnage that surrounds me today. Between friends, family, and NIPSCO, I'm being well-looked-after. I could probably use some prayers, though, that nothing else breaks.
Your slightly dented wife,

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Short & Sweet

Dear John,
Did you know that when you pat a cat where its lungs are, it sounds hollow? It's an odd thing.
My work day was short and sweet, not me. I am clearly neither. I'm five foot seven and an independent, strong-minded, smart-mouthed woman, as you immediately noticed when we first met. I never wanted to be sweet, rather like Annie Savoy never wanted to be cute. Unlike Annie, I've never wanted to be exotic and mysterious, either. I'm quite happy being independent, strong-minded, and smart-mouthed. After all, that's what you fell in love with. So it has to be good.
I worked my four hours today. It always feels so short, since my regular days are 9 1/2 hours and my long Fridays are 11. There wasn't any construction today, so I didn't miss anything not being in the drive-up. I actually was there for an hour, helping get the horse-sale-week night drop processed. I always enjoy this week, but I'm glad when it's done. None of us could keep this up for much longer than a week.
The tournament started today. We have a bracket competition at work - the winner gets an extra day of PTO. I was filling mine out when Danielle came by and asked if I was getting your help in choosing teams. I said that, if you were here, you'd say that I don't need help with a basketball bracket. And I love you for that. You respected my sports knowledge and never patronized it just because I don't have a Y chromosome. I don't believe you ever patronized anyone in your life. We had a shared pool of knowledge that was most of what we both knew. But it never bothered you that I knew some areas better than you did. We loved learning from each other. As I've said before, you explained the West Coast Offense to me and I taught you about the color wheel. We're a good pair, aren't we?
So my bracket is turned in and we'll see how it goes. UK plays Hampton at 9:30 tonight, and I don't think I can possibly stay up for it and get up for work at 5:30. I should be safe missing this one. And if something happens and we lose to Hampton, I don't believe I want to see it.
I've managed to say a lot about a day that was short and sweet, haven't I? We never have had trouble talking to each other. I could babble away to you all night. But tomorrow will come early and it's time for bed. I'll miss you between those flannel sheets tonight.
Your not-short, not-sweet wife,

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Chimera Cat of a Day

Dear John,
Today was like parts of two different days that were amputated and then grafted into each other. I'll let you work on that mental image. Picture a day that's like a chimera cat.
The morning was horse-sale crazy. Between the night drop and the merchant deposits, I ran until lunch. The afternoon was normal Wednesday, which means that not much was going on. This day had a split personality.
Meanwhile, the construction work continues. This morning they hauled away the rest of the broken-up pavement. Then they brought in fill dirt and filled the old dime store basement. In between they had the ceremonial ground breaking, complete with dignitaries.
I had a crowd in the drive-up this morning, working on how they would move it into the main part of the building in a few weeks. There was talk about the drawer, getting bullet-proof glass, whether there was an old window behind the bulletin board (I happened to know that there is), and lots of other issues. The good news is that they removed the periscope - the tube device that we used for the second lane. The builders couldn't have put it in a more inconvenient place if they'd thought it out with both hands for a fortnight, as Lord Peter's mother once said. The bad news is that, in the process, they cut the power to my computer. Since it was shut down without properly logging off, I couldn't get back on without intervention from tech support. It was a bit of a nuisance, but Brandon got things fixed for me. And all of this activity was during the busiest part of my day.
Now I'm tired and happy and ready to go to bed. I'm working my half day tomorrow so I'm not in until 9:00. I get to sleep in until 6:30, which is truly cause for celebration. After work I'll be making dessert for our carry-in lunch on Friday. Tell Mama that I'm making her version of Boston cream pie, with lemon pudding in the middle instead of vanilla. That will make her smile.
Oh, I saw Carl today and asked about that rooster. He says he didn't try to chase it. I thought he was too smart to go running around town chasing a rooster. Thank you again for bringing me to a town that has roosters running around in it.
Adore you,

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How I Went to Work, was Entertained, & Got a Headache

Dear John,
The big story of the day is the ongoing deconstruction taking place in preparation for the new bank building. Friday the old dime store came down, Monday they took out the basement and foundation, and today they took out the parking lot and the second lane of the drive-up.
It's all happening right outside my drive-up window - I have a front-row seat on the best free entertainment around. Today I learned about cranes and what they can do. It's wonderful how they combine power and delicacy. And I have great admiration for the man operating this one. He'd drop the head on the pavement to start breaking it up. Then he'd grab chunks of it, some several feet square, pick them up, put them on a big pile, and drop the shovel on them to break them up. And he'd take the same shovel, and very gently and precisely level out the ground. It was amazing. And when the dump truck got back, he'd load it up again with all the broken-up chunks.
The entire process was very loud, and the little drive-up addition would shake every time he dropped a hunk of concrete. They may not have to demolish it - it may just fall down on its own. By mid-afternoon I was getting a headache from all the noise and vibration, but aspirin took care of it. When I wasn't busy, I was glued to the window watching all of it.
In the meantime, there was a rooster running around downtown today. I saw it wandering through the library parking lot. Carl gave chase, but I never heard who won. That's something else that didn't happen when I was growing up in Atlanta. And everybody is talking about the weather - yesterday was near 70 with wind out of the south, today was 35 with wind out of the north. I didn't walk to work this morning. Taking the car appeared to be in order.
Well, that's all the news that is the news. Between the horse sale, the demolition of the dime store and parking lot, the weather, and the errant rooster, Topeka is staying busy. I'm more than ready to go to sleep - Jethro kept having to go out last night and I didn't get as much sleep as I hoped. It will be cold enough tonight that he should prefer to stay inside. Nobody would object.
Sleep well tonight, where there are no falling hunks of concrete to disturb you. There may be roosters running around in Heaven - I wouldn't be surprised - but that would be a good thing. And come visit my dreams if you can.
Adore you,

Monday, March 16, 2015

Silly, Solvent Widows

Dear John,
My widowfriends and I have a new issue. Most of us are getting our financial feet on the ground after the fiduciary chaos of the first year or two. Some of us are discovering that we are in better shape financially than we were before. We're glad about it, but we're also having a collective issue with guilt.
Some of our men had life insurance. You didn't - not for lack of trying, but nobody in their right mind would insure you. So my change in circumstances isn't dramatic, but it is very real. The largest factor was having credit life on the home improvement loan. The property taxes and home-owner's insurance have gone down just because the house is older now. And it's cheaper to have one car instead of two and pay for food, utilities, clothes, and what-not for only one person. I don't eat out or travel without you, so there is less expense there.
It's all quite understandable and quantifiable. And I'm grateful - we all are - especially since we live without back-up now. But there is a temptation to feel guilty. It's silly, but we can all be silly sometimes. We'd be glad to give up financial security and live out of a shopping cart under an overpass to have our men back. It just seems wrong that there could be anything good about widowhood.
There doesn't seem to be anything here that needs solving. I'm just mulling out loud to you. Please talk to the other men for us. Thank them for all they did, and still do, to take care of us. Let them know that we're grateful. And I know it isn't necessary, but do remind yourself and them that we'd gladly give everything in the world to have you back.
Your silly, solvent womenfolk,

Sunday, March 15, 2015

UK and No Heart Attacks

Dear John,
I'm feeling much better tonight, and I'm doing fine so far with no prednisone since this morning. I think I have this thing licked.
I didn't wake up until 11:30 this morning. You know I need sleep when sunrise doesn't wake me. The animals must have been tired out, too. They didn't mind sleeping in. When I woke up, they all came and piled up on me. So I checked the outside world on my phone and did morning prayers in the company of warm fur.
I finally felt good enough to care about the housework, so I dusted, swept, vacuumed, and cleaned bathrooms before the SEC championship game. Kentucky beat Arkansas, won the championship, and remains undefeated. It was lovely. Oh, and Notre Dame beat Carolina last night. I did stay up for the game; every time I thought about going to bed, something exciting happened.
The bracket came out tonight but I don't have it printed off yet. Kentucky is the #1 overall and is in the Midwest. Duke is #1 in the South, Villanova in the East, and Wisconsin in the West. UK plays Thursday in Louisville. Now begins stress and sleep deprivation!
On the social end of things, Richard came up the hill for the second half of the game and I had a long talk with your sister this evening. It's good to have friends. Jethro has continued to want out every half hour to play in the mud. It was in the mid-50s today so I opened the windows a bit to air out the house, and immediately had a cat in each window sill. And I probably terrorized the neighborhood during the game. I just can't watch sports quietly. Actually, I don't do much of anything quietly, do I? I'm glad you didn't mind me yelling during games. We were both so glad to be married to somebody that loved sports.
Jethro is asleep at me feet and Abby has come to cuddle, so I think I'll turn off the light and get some sleep. I'll try to stock up before the tournament starts. And hurry up with the Skype!
Love you so much,

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Jethro Checks the Mud for Hazards

Dear John,
Would you like to borrow the dog tonight? It's in the 40s, most of the snow has melted, and you know what that means. He's wanting out every few minutes so he can go dig in the mud. And sit in it. And lie in it. I'd have given him a bath hours ago if it wasn't that he'd go right back out and do it all over again. He's driving me nuts. So if you'd like to dog-sit for a little while, I'd appreciate it.
Other than dealing with our endearingly annoying canine, it's been a good day. I felt good enough to enjoy work and all the usual Saturday rush. I came home and watched UK slaughter Auburn. Carolina and Notre Dame are on now - playing in Greensboro, so really a Carolina home game. I'd love to stay up for it but doubt that I'll make it. And I'm glad I didn't stay up last night, since Duke lost to Notre Dame.
I'm tapering prednisone now so I'll be careful how much I push myself this weekend. Dr. Barnes wants to know if I still need it by Monday. And the draft horse sale starts Monday, so I'll need to be at my best by then. I got on this infection so fast that I think I'll come off with no problem. Everybody said I looked much better today, had more color, and that's after working long yesterday. So I must be better. But I still need to be careful for a few days.
In the interest of recovery, I believe I'll be off to bed. Besides getting ready for the horse sale, the tournament is coming. The usual March sleep deprivation marathon will start soon. Can I text you about the games like I used to when you were at work? You still haven't given me your number, you know. And, as I keep reminding you, Skype would be much better. The bracket show is tomorrow, so you need to hurry!
Adore you,

Friday, March 13, 2015

Spring Sprung & the Walls Came Down

Dear John,

Spring has sprung. Margaret and I turned on the fan in the drive-up today. It was an occasion. I took out the blanket we've used to block the cold air that comes in around the walk-up window. And I smelled my first skunk. All the signs of spring are here.

Today the walls came down and I had a front-row seat. They took down the old dime store this morning. Then this afternoon they hit a gas line. - it turns out that NIPSCO capped the wrong line. They were still at it when I came home at 6:15. Remember the car I washed yesterday? It has a lovely layer of dime store dust all over it. But the road salt is gone, so I suppose I can't complain. The noise was amazing - it was hard to hear the customers. And we all got lots of questions about what was happening. It will be interesting to watch all of this unfold.
Other than that, it was another completely insane Friday. I spent almost an hour on the phone with tech support trying to get my printer to work. Then I explored a bit when I was off the phone and discovered that somebody had plugged the cord into the wrong USB port. It was a simple fix that took forever to find. Tech support was relieved and happy.
UK beat Florida while I was at work. Duke is playing at 9:00; there's no way I can stay up tonight. I worked eleven hours on my feet, going full speed all the time. And I'm back in at 7:30 in the morning. Thank goodness for the prednisone! I did pretty well today. But I'm not going to push it. A woman's got to breathe!
I'm going to sleep now while I can do so electively. I still wish you could rub my feet, but tonight I don't believe I could stay awake for it. You'll have to come see me in my dreams. In my mind, I sleep with you every night.
Dreaming of you,

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Old Drugs, New Roads, & Mixed Feelings

Dear John,
Today I went to South Bend for a doctor's appointment and IV steroids. I can breathe now. And I'm wide awake at 10:00, doing my hyperactive hummingbird imitation. I do hope to sleep sometime. But, as you well know, this is normal while I'm on steroids. And breathing is a hard habit to break.
I came home Elm Road to the bypass so I could see that new section. You should go look at it - it's pretty amazing. The northern part goes west of the old road - we could tell that - and the south part is what we were looking at that was going on about a quarter mile east of the old road. And it all look seamless, as if the road has always been there. The neighborhoods that grew up around old Elm Road are still there and have much less traffic. It was done well.
I did something today that most people wouldn't approve of, but I know you'll understand. I took Jefferson to Elm, and this time I turned in at your old rehab place. I drove down there and sat for a minute. It felt just like it did when you were there. (Except that if you were there I'd have straightened the crooked blinds in the window of your old room.) I had strong and mixed emotions every time. The first thing I felt was the flutter of excitement that I was going to get to see you, rather like I felt getting ready for a date in college. The second was dread - what would the news be this time? Would you be better or worse? That feeling became more intense as time went by and you weren't doing well.
I still felt both of those today. That surprised me a little. I'd expected grief. But my emotions skipped right back to the old track, like a record that's been played too many times. This was probably the last time I'll play it - I doubt that I'll go back there again. I don't know why I had to do it today. But it felt right, and this journey has taught me to go with my feelings without having to understand them. As I always said, it's illogical to expect yourself to be logical all the time. You're the only person who ever understood what I meant. It seems obvious to me.
So tonight, thank you for understanding me - the part about being illogical, and my need to go back there today. I thought you were smiling when I turned in to the drive. You understood that I have a deep need for commemoration, for honoring the past. Today I honored that dreadful part of our time together. I honor your courage, patience, and determination. I honor all that you are. I honor both of us for getting though that, by and large, gracefully. And I honor them for doing the best for you that they could.
Now I have to try to sleep, and you have to go check out the new stretch of Elm Road. Yours will by the easier task. Wish me luck!
Adore you, honor you, worship the ground you walk on,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

ICU & Your Morbid Womenfolk

Dear John,
After work I met Jen and Elyssa at Tiffany's for dinner, and a good time was had by all. Except the animals, who wondered why I came home just long enough to let Jethro out but not long enough to feed them. They survived until I got back.
Jen and I were talking about catastrophic illness, and what we would and wouldn't want treated. I remembered right after you died, when everybody was asking me where I was going to move, and I finally asked the town in general if they were trying to tell me something. I said that I was staying right here; I'm leaving Topeka in the back of Yeager's hearse. Tonight I was thinking that it would be easier for Jen if I died in the hospital. And it occurred to me that I would really love to die in the same room you did.
Is that strange? Of course, being in a hospital isn't at all stressful to me as long as I'm off the time clock. But you were in that room three times. It feels like home. Yes, you died there. But we had some good times before that and I really love that room. I haven't said this to anybody else - they'd be likely to go get a net. But I know that you understand. There would be symmetry to it, a kind of coming home.
So I'm putting in my reservation. If I ever need an ICU bed, I want that one. And you'll know exactly where to find me. Going home in order to go home. I like the idea.
Your strange wife,

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Burrowing Cats & the Oxford Comma

Dear John,
There's nothing much to say tonight, but that never stopped us from loving to talk to each other. So here I am, to say nothing much except that I love you.
I still have the cold, but I felt much better today. I had a good day at work. It was gray and dreary all day but nobody minded because the high was 48. The 50s will start tomorrow. People are so happy about it. This winter wasn't nearly as bad as last, but we're all ready to see it go.
Maggie has started doing something new. When I'm in bed she crawls between the sheets, sometimes all the way to the foot of the bed. I don't know if it's for the warmth for the confined space. Sometimes at night I'll wake up and feel cat breath on my feet. She'll make her way down there, prowl around for a bit, then cuddle up around my ankles and go to sleep. One night I heard Jethro growling, turned on the light to see what was wrong, and saw this lump in the covers slowly moving past him and toward my feet. Poor creature, I don't wonder that he was puzzled.
This is just for giggles. You know what a stickler I am for the Oxford comma. The world dissolves into chaos without it. I can't imagine why anyone would try to communicate without it. It seems that commas are out of fashion right now. Show this to Mama and my Grandmother Keistler - they'll love it.
I'm off to bed now - I'm trying to get plenty of sleep so this cold will go away quietly. I'll sleep with a dog on my head, one cat on my ribs, another on my feet, and the third as the small of my back. But I'd rather have you.
Adore you,

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Good, the Bad, & the Annoying

Dear John,
Have I mentioned lately that I love you, adore you, worship the ground you walk on, and miss you an incredible amount? I wanted to be sure you know that. :)
The good news is the weather, believe it or not. It's going to be in the 50s all week and the town is walking around smiling. When it reaches 55 on my day off, I'm going to open the windows and air out the house. All this sunshine and warmth is melting the two feet of snow so we may all drown soon. But thanks to you, I expect our basement to be nice and dry. I'll keep an eye on it - don't worry.
The bad news is that I now have a head cold. But my voice is much better so I was able to go to work today. And this is why God made Sudafed. It tames the running, dripping, and sneezing. And by noon I was able to breathe through my nose. It was a nice feeling. I like that.
The annoying news is the usual for this time of year: Daylight Stupid Time is back. I so loved it when Indiana didn't do that. I'm leaving for work in the dark again. And it's only March, but it's already light when I go down the hall for bed. The animals are completely confused. No, I take that back - the animals are the ones that aren't confused. They know they're being fed at a different time. It takes me a while to get used to it - last night I had a hard time getting go sleep an hour earlier than usual. Everybody is complaining about it, on Facebook and at the bank. I haven't heard anybody say, "Oh, goody! The time change is here!"
You live outside of time, you lucky man. You don't have to deal with any of this - weather, colds, or Daylight Stupid Time. I envy you, you know. You're done with labor, struggle, illness, sin, evil, and all those miscellaneous results of human sin. I'm glad you are enjoying your reward. I'd hoped to join you before I had to change all the clocks, but here I still am. And the clocks are all changed, including the one in the car. It gains about a minute a month, so it's right for a little while.
I'd better take my runny nose and stuffy head off to bed. I miss you most at bedtime. Sleep good, dream of me, and visit my dreams if you can.
Love you forever,

Sunday, March 8, 2015

How I Had a Good Cry and Mitch is to Blame

Dear John,
I had a good cry this morning - it's been a few months - and it's all Mitch's fault.
He posted a link on Facebook to Peter, Paul, and Mary singing The Cruel War, saying how it had always made his strong, tough father cry. I didn't listen to the link. I didn't have to. My head immediately started playing it, and before long the aforesaid weepfest had begun.
The song has always touched me. But today it sounded like all the things I said to you a couple of days before you died. I know you remember - I blubbered for an hour or so, begging you to either take me with you or use your influence, once in Heaven, to get me brought there as soon as possible. In short, I wanted to go with you and I begged you not to leave me here. I'd never heard or read anything that said what I said to you that day until that old folk song started echoing in my head this morning.
          The cruel war is raging. Johnnie has to fight.
          I want to be with him from morning to night.
          I want. to be with him; it grieves my heart so.
          Won't you let me go with you? No, my love, no.  

There was no sign that day that you heard me, but I always though you did. Medically, I know that hearing is the last thing to go; it is present long after we aren't able to show that we hear. But it was the look on your face that told me you did. Your face said that you loved me and understood, and that I didn't need to be afraid because everything would be alright. I've turned back the pages so many times to revisit that look. It did reassure me, though it couldn't take away the pain. I know by faith that everything is alright with both of us, but I'm glad you gave me that extra reassurance. I need it sometimes.
Bless Mitch, he gave me the chance for a good cry that I needed to have. And he reminded  me of a song that says what was in my heart that day. Now I wait for the last verse to come true:
          Oh Johnnie, O Johnnie, I fear you are unkind.
          I love you far better that all of mankind.
          I love you far better than words can e'er express.
          Won't you let me go with you? Yes, my love, yes. 
Love you forever and ever,



Dear John,
I'm improving. I can talk a little bit - very softly and not for very long, but it's progress. I've felt a little better today. I would have gone to work except that I had no voice at all this morning. I slept until noon again and had another hour nap in the afternoon. I'm trying hard to get over this.
The day was dedicated to basketball. At 2:00 Kentucky played Florida and won, to end the regular season 31-0. And the game was at Rupp Arena, which was a good way to end the season. Now they have the SEC tournament to go. This has been such a fun season and I'm sorry you're missing it. And now the real fun starts - the intensity of the tournaments, the annual sleep deprivation of March. While I'm not missing a game, I will miss you terribly.
Duke played Carolina at 9:00, which is why it's already tomorrow and I'm still awake. It was a good game. Carolina led for the first half, then Duke came out and played the second half with full-court pressure and disrupted Carolina's rhythm. They took the lead early in the second half and never relinquished it. They won in Chapel Hill, too, which makes it more of an achievement. And speaking of North Carolina, NC State beat Syracuse today for their championship. So a good time was had by two thirds of the Triangle area.
It's past time I went to bed. We have to spring forward tonight - that's another subject entirely. It's 1 AM, but really it's 2 AM as of 2 AM. Are we having fun yet? Daylight Stupid Time is upon us. Monday I will go to work in the dark again. Tomorrow I get to re-set all the clocks.
I won't complain about that tonight - I'll enjoy my basketball victories, assemble the animals, and get some sleep. I'll stay home tomorrow so I don't spread this to anybody else, so I can sleep in. And that's a good thing to do when Daylight Stupid Time arrives! How I envy you, living outside of time.
Adore you,

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Baritone Frog

Dear John,
I've been home sick today - woke up with a nasty sore throat, which wouldn't have kept me home on a Friday even though I felt awful. But I have no voice at all. It's impossible to do my job with no voice. I got up and dressed and ate, hoping it would get better. But all I could do was make slight croaking noises. So I went back to bed and slept until noon. I must have needed the sleep.
I had a strange night last night; I suspect I was running a fever. For one thing, I slept in a summer nightgown and was hot and sweaty all night. And I kept dreaming that I went to work and got sent home because I was sick. My body must have known that something wasn't right. I also dreamed that I woke up and my hair was down to my waist. That's the dream that I wish had come true!
We had a quiet day around here. I slept another hour in the middle of the afternoon, drank tea with honey and ginger, and had a succession of animals sleeping in my lap. I didn't knit much - I felt too bad to knit, which is serious. The furbabies kept me company.
I have  a little bit of voice back, sort of like a baritone frog. I hope to be able to go to work tomorrow. My lymph nodes are so big that it's hard to swallow and I feel awful. But tomorrow will be busy and they need me to be there. We'll see what things are like in the morning. In the meantime, you're missing every man's dream - a wife with no voice! I know - you've never felt that way about me, and I'm glad. And I never felt that way about you. The hardest thing about your last month was that you couldn't talk. We need to get all of that caught up. When I get there with you, we'll sit down and talk for all eternity.
Missing your voice,

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Aftershocks & Early Blogging

Dear John,
I'm having an aftershock. I really think it's the change of the seasons. I was so miserable last night that I didn't feel like talking, even to you. I just wanted to curl up in your arms, safe and warm, and cry myself to sleep. Instead, I went to sleep with Hunter on my ribs, Abby at my feet, Maggie in the small of my back, and Jethro's big head laid on top of mine. It's warm and furry and loving, but it isn't quite the same thing.
So tonight I've reverted to something I did the first year. I'm blogging earlier in the evening. Missing you still gets worse as the day gets later. I handle things better in the living room and before 8:00. It's always good to know your limits.
I was off today. I ran some errands downtown and took Hunter for his yearly check-up. He's fine, weighs 13 pounds, and meets with June's hearty approval. He cried for the first couple of miles in the car and was fine after that. At the office he stayed pressed right up against me, but cooperated with everything including the rectal thermometer. I had planned to vacuum when I got home, but changed my mind when I saw that he wanted to cuddle up and recover. So I've had a lap full of Hunter all day, and a good time was had by all.
June said his muscle tone is surprisingly good. I wasn't surprised, considering the way they all rampage around the house and wrestle with each other. It's playful wrestling, just for fun - no claws or teeth, but lots of noise and thumping, and evidently a good deal of exercise. They keep each other in shape. And they give me lots of love and companionship, even if it's not like curling up in your arms. It also isn't like lying down alone in a cold bed. I'm thankful for them.
We'll all be happy to make room for you tonight, so come if you can. I could use a hug from you and your wonderful long arms. I'd love to put my head under your chin and breathe in your smell. If this aftershock lasts until the next anniversary of your death, which has been my annual pattern so far, I have almost six more weeks of this. It must be because I saw your shadow! But who needs to bring groundhogs into this?
Love you more than groundhogs,

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Neither a Rock Nor an Island Be: Polonius Meets Paul Simon

Dear John,
It was slower at work today and I was thinking about the animals, when I became aware of something unpleasant. I realized that, because I love them so much, someday I'll have to grieve again.
Obvious, isn't it? I've had other griefs since you died, lost friends and family members, including your mother. But there's nothing quite like losing somebody you live with, spend time with every day, and depend on emotionally. Jen and the girls should easily outlive me. But I will almost certainly outlive Jethro. Cats can live up to and beyond twenty years, so I seriously hope I don't live as long as they do. But it is quite possible that I will lose one or more of them. If that is the case, I will grieve again.
I remember when Simon and Garfunkel's "I am a Rock" came out. By that time I'd already figured out that loving will invariably be followed by pain, and I'd decided that it was worth it. It still is. But it was a sobering realization that I had today. Life is pain; anybody that says anything else is selling something.
We have quite a convergence here, don't we? Polonius and Paul Simon and the Dread Pirate Westley. Wisdom comes from all kinds of places. I am neither rock nor island. I love lots of people and animals so there will almost certainly be more loss in my life. But if I have survived losing you, I can survive anything. And I live with the hope of being reunited in Heaven. Gather all our animals and parents, and meet me at the gate!
Watching and waiting,

Monday, March 2, 2015

It's Illogical to Expect Yourself to be Logical All the Time

Dear John,
This week is backwards. I just worked a Monday that was busier than last Friday. And from what I hear, I'm glad I was off last Saturday. Slow Fridays always come with a price. This morning I had out two new tellers with me for an introduction to the drive-up. After years of being a nurse educator and preceptor, it felt like the old days. It was good.
I'm sorry I didn't talk to you last night. I was in bed with the laptop getting some bills paid, and nothing wanted to work right. I got extremely and unreasonably frustrated and irritated, and decided I wasn't fit company for anybody. About an hour later the tummy ache hit - evidently that was what had me wound up and crabby. It kept me up a good bit of the night, but I've felt fine today. Nobody deserved to be subjected to me last night.
I know what you're saying - you love me no matter what kind of mood I'm in. And you were always so patient and gentle when that mood was bad. The only thing you couldn't handle was when I was illogical. It happened so seldom that you didn't get much practice. But it was bound to happen on occasion. As I always said, it's illogical to expect yourself to be logical all the time. And you were never one of those men who equate emotion with lack of logic, thank goodness.
What can I say? You're The World's Only Perfect Man. You always said that I was wrong because you had faults. Of course you did - if you didn't have faults you wouldn't be perfect, just annoying. And you're certainly not annoying. Just perfect.
I could use some perfection tonight - come rub my feet? I'll even move the dog and three cats out of your way so you can get to them. Thank you for all the foot-rubs. Thank you for being gentle and patient with me. Thank you for having faults and not being annoying. And it's probably good that you didn't think you were perfect - that was for me to know and you to argue with. The only thing I can't thank you for is forgetting to take me with you. You've probably guessed that. Come back for me?
Love you so much,