Autumn HollowAutumn Hollow
Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

12 June 2018
Catching Up is Hard to Do
I realized when looking my blogs over that I hadn't updated this one in a long time. After all, it's not really "a new home chronicle" anymore, is it? We've been here twelve years. Some of our oldest neighbors have moved away, and, even though nice neighbors have replaced them, it's not the same. Most of the homes sold on this street are being bought to be rentals, and renters just don't care about their neighborhoods and the home as much as someone who actually has a stake in the house. (Some friends of ours have sadly learned this as a family member's home they rented was completely trashed. They have spent weeks trying to get it in shape to sell.) No one seems to want to own a home, at least in this area, anymore. A couple of miles up the road, maybe, near downtown Smyrna, where they can walk to the new Publix and the library and the little pond, maybe, but not here.

Life has been good here, but as the years have gone on aging has taken its toll on us. Two months after my previous entry here, James had to get a power chair. After two falls on the stairs which resulted in two compressed disks in his spine, the two heels of his feet riddled with bone spurs, two bad knees in which he gets steroid injections quarterly, and two arthritic hips, our health provider felt that this was necessary for him to have transportation to actually keep working, never mind actually go and amuse ourselves occasionally. He can no longer walk any long distances. Up until last spring he was coming out with me at night to walk the dog, but he can no longer even manage that.

In July 2016 he had the first of two heart attacks; the second of which was in September of 2017. One doctor freely admitted that he should have been catherized in 2015 when he was having minor chest pain and was sent to Northside Hospital for a battery of tests, but after 24 hours of testing they said he was okay and sent him home instead. We have made major dietary changes, with low-sodium and low-carb as our motto, but problems with his kidneys have continued to plague us. He started having kidney irregularities in December of 2015, but not one of his blood tests flagged the high scores, nor was he contacted by a doctor to get them checked out, so we didn't know they were abnormal until he had the first heart attack. For six weeks between March and April of this year he was actually on kidney dialysis thrice a week, until someone finally figured out the big problem wasn't his kidneys, it was his prostate gland. It is now so enlarged it is blocking his ability to completely empty his bladder. The overflow is is backflowing into his kidneys, causing most of the problems. He is now undergoing tests in that area to see what the ultimate solution to the problem is.

In December 2017, while starting out on a trip to Chattanooga, we were struck by a car running a red light. The back quarter of the black pickup truck was completely ruined, especially the right rear wheel, which was bent on its axle. The expensive power chair lift at the back of the truck was also ruined. The power chair was thrown across the road, but miraculously still works, although it was very scratched up. We spent the month of January searching out a new pickup and bought a white 2014 Toyota Tacoma we found at a small used car lot. We got enough from the insurance claim to pay for a new trailer hitch and chair lift and put something for a down payment. The black truck was showing power train problems, so it was probably for the best, but now James has a multi-year truck payment he didn't have before.

Our young pets Tucker, the hyperactive tricolor terrier, and Snowy, the white and grey budgie, are now mature guys. Tucker is less hyperactive, still very alert and very terrier-torial, and celebrated his fourth adoption day just recently. He will be five in the fall, and Snowy will be five in November. After learning to perch on my finger after months of coaxing, "Mr. Snow" had a complete personality change in October of 2015 and became a nipper. In the last few months he has been letting me scratch him behind the ears, and he talks up a storm, especially when I put on his favorite program, Leo Laporte's podcast "The Tech Guy." But finger sitting? No dice.

My milestone came in January of this year when I retired after nearly 33 years of Federal service. Workwise I just flat out couldn't take the stress of end-of-fiscal-year anymore and the traffic horror that is the Atlanta commute any longer. When we moved into this house it would take me forty minutes to get to work and an hour to get home. When I retired it was 45 to fifty miles in the morning, and 80 to 120 minutes for a ride home. Teleworking for eleven of the twelve years we have been here was a godsend, but even two or three days a week fighting traffic became draining. I'd also become a dinosaur at my job. CDC is no longer hiring purchasing agents; the trainee contract specialists cut their teeth on purchase orders and now everyone does them along with their contracts. There were only two purchasing agents left, and the other one was also contemplating retirement. Plus it had gotten more and more difficult for me to drive in the dark. I've never been able to drive well in twilight and it has gotten worse over the years; and except for the ten weeks around the summer solstice, I was pretty much driving to work in the dark daily. That and the crazy traffic was making me fearful. Last year the Atlanta Braves stadium moved seven miles from our house (we didn't get to vote on it; they just stuck it there and now it has eaten up all the county's budget for parks so that they are threatening to close half the parks around us) and made the traffic situation even worse.

In the months since January, when I haven't been keeping James company in a hospital room or going back and forth to doctors' appointments with him, I have been trying to get the house in order. I suppose everyone finds this out (except perhaps minimalists) as they get older, but you tend to accumulate the damnedest pile of junk as you live. You buy new stuff and toss some of the old stuff, but not all, and it just fades into corners, taking up more and more space each year. I've been wanting to tackle this junk for years, and now I have the chance.

I wish it looked a lot better, but it looks a little better and even that is a help. This is a brief summary of the progress (I'm sure it's a boring list to read, but these are major victories for me):
  • I tidied up about 3/4 of the garage, tossing old boxes, general junk, and decanting my bicycle and putting it in a position that I can ride it rather than it being trapped near the nose of the pickup truck. This has also made room so that if James parks the truck properly he can walk around the front of it and not have to go out of the garage in extreme weather. However, I did not get a chance to tidy the tool shelves before the weather got too hot. Perhaps in November, when the air is breathable again.
  • All the stored food has been cleaned out in the kitchen, downstairs in the pantry closet, and on the downstairs hall shelves. I had to completely empty the kitchen pantry after it was invaded by carpet beetles. We had stuff in there from when we moved! All old stuff or bug-infested stuff was thrown out, a big 33-gallon bag of it, a terrible shame. I had the exterminator come and treat, and then it was restocked so only sealed containers are on the floor. Good food that had too much sodium in it was donated to a friend's church's food pantry.
  • The broken desk in the library is finally gone and all the backlogged books are shelved. I need more shelves.
  • The closet in the spare room, which holds party supplies, things like vaporizers, all the wrapping paper, and two boxes of magazines was completely cleaned out. I added another box to hold advanced-purchased gifts, folded all the tissue paper neatly, and tossed out a box full of cloth material that I was never going to use. Convention programs were all boxed neatly and I tossed out some bad memories I didn't want to keep.
  • The master bedroom closet was stripped of junk and storage drawers and boxes labeled.
  • Various other things were organized and labeled (like stored Command hooks).
  • Several boxes of usable stuff went to Goodwill, including computer speakers, working computer parts that we won't be using, extra keyboards and wired mice, housewares, gifts we weren't using, a few clothes (usually when clothes leave here they are not wearable).
  • Broken electric and electronic things were dumped in the electronics recycling boxes for disposal in November, like broken fans, clocks, and my poor MopVac, which I haven't used since Swiffers came out and you can't get the rubber mop part anymore anyway.
  • At least a half dozen full 33-gallon bags of junk have gone in the trash (maybe more).
  • Four Xerox-paper boxes of books and DVDs went to McKay's and were actually traded for cash instead of credit.
  • The hall closet was cleaned out until all cleaning and party supplies and light bulbs and paper towels and towels can be taken out safely.
  • I discovered my 1974 graduation present tape recorder still plays, which is a good thing because I still have cassette tapes!
  • I have made inroads in tidying my craft room so I can actually work in it. I have been doing a couple of very amateurish watercolor paintings and playing with watercolor pencils.
There is still much more to go but James' problems are depressing me and wearing me thin (so you can imagine what it's doing to him), so I've slowed down a bit. Summer always makes me depressed anyway; it's so hard to exercise when there's barely any air out there. I'm trying to do 30 minutes of activity a day, but it's a hard slog when it gets up into the 80s and all I want to do is sleep under an air conditioning vent.

But, as Walter Cronkite always said, "That's the way it is."

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pumpkin divider