Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dog Days

It's been nuts here in Central Pennsylvania the past couple of weeks.  The summer is as hot as it's ever been.  The power has gone out just about every single day, albeit briefly, but it's scary.  We are actually looking into having a generator installed that will run off of our natural gas because at age 59, I simply do not have good enough health to tolerate a week or more without power in hundred-degree F. weather.  As global warming worsens -- this was the week when Greenland suffered a 97% melt of its ice and calved an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan -- I think we are going to see more and more storms, more powerful storms, and more new and scary storms like the newly-minted "derecho."  (The derecho takes its name from the Spanish for "straight ahead" because it is essentially a hurricane without the circular rotation of its winds.  It just roars straight ahead with winds of 80 mph or more, and one was responsible for millions of people going without electricity for over a week this summer.)  So I think we need to prepare, even though this is probably NOT the last house we will ever own.  The plan is still to follow my daughter to wherever she winds up after grad school, so it may be silly to make this kind of investment in a property that we probably aren't going to keep.  But I'm sure whoever winds up in this house is going to find occasion to be grateful for this particular modification.

In the meantime we are trying to enjoy the air conditioning and the 2012 London Olympics despite the usual chauvinistic coverage -- if the USA isn't playing, it's hard to get to see it unless you can scare it up online.  I personally have always loved watching rhythmic gymnastics, but good luck finding it anywhere in prime time on this side of the pond.  But the Olympics are still great fun and are probably the only sports I watch with any kind of regularity.  And as a long-time Anglophile, I am double dog dee-lighted to see Britain winning so many medals!

When the Olympics isn't doing anything especially interesting (*cough* water polo *cough*), we're getting our daughter ready to go back to university.  We are hoping she has a more successful year this year than last year.  I think she suffered more than she let on from the constant fear of the University of Pittsburgh's nonstop daily bomb scares which ran from February right through finals week.  Her grades suffered, as did her psyche.  I hope that she will have learned as much about how to be more successful in her studies as she has in what or what not to pack up for the coming year.  I am really struggling with letting go, even more so this year than I was when she went away as a freshman last year.  Sophomore year is going to make or break her, and I hope it's the former.  Oh, how I hope it's the former.

And if all that isn't enough, we're back to struggling again with our dog, KC.  He is suffering from some as-yet-undiagnosed malady or maladies which is/are causing everything from loud night panting to sporadic limping to wheezing and coughing.  It also seems to involve a whole slew of intermittent behavioral disappointments as well.  We do not have health insurance for him, and the vet bills are running up high and fast.  The next step is more X-rays, more blood tests and a CAT scan of his brain.  Our vet hasn't come out and said anything, but the little guy has always been prone to benign fatty tumors -- I could have paid for a trip to those Olympics with what we've spent in surgeries on his tumors -- and I think that the vet suspects some sort of bad news might be found in his brain.  Regular readers will know already that KC is not my favorite pet, but I nevertheless dread getting bad news and having to make any of the possible resulting decisions about his care.  My wife and I have talked about it, and the current tentative plan is to proceed reasonably but not heroically with his care.  We simply can't afford it.  The CAT scan alone is going to be about as expensive as we can afford.  Needless to say, it's a source of stress for all of us.

So that's it.  Stress about the weather, about back to school and about the dog.  And my health could not be much worse than it has been lately.  I'm now taking 46 pills daily for my Crohn's Disease, my neuropathy and my rheumatoid arthritis, and that's just to keep me functional around the house.  My hardworking wife recently took some time off and I wanted to treat her to a long weekend in New York City, to catch a Broadway show and eat some cuisine that's not readily available here in the Bible Belt of Pennsylvania.  (We caught Jim Parsons -- Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory -- in Harvey and he was brilliant.)  But the amounts of medication I had to take to make the trip, and the stiff payment I made in side effects once we got home, really made me question whether or not it was worth it.  Circling back to London again, visiting Britain has been on my bucket list since I was a little kid ... and I'm just not capable of making that trip right now.  I may never again be capable of making it, and that, you should pardon the metaphor, is a hard pill to swallow.

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