I still ride a lot. I can't believe it's been five years since I posted my rides here, though.
These days I track my rides on Strava.
The weather has been extremely weird this year, as we've only had a few warm days and it's already the second half of May. That's resulted in less riding than I'd like, but to be honest I think I say something like that every year).
And the current weather report shows rain... rain, and more rain. Starting late morning and lasting through next Saturday. Since the weatherpersons are always right, it looks like I won't be back on the bike again for a week.
It never seems to become any easier.
Like most people, I've said goodbye to my share of pets. Maybe more than my share, since we bred Birmans for a few years. The mortality rate of pure-bred kittens is, sadly, higher than with the mixed breeds. Plus there's the simple fact that they all die, eventually.
Unlike most people, though, I've also said goodbye to a stepson. Almost a decade later, the pain of Shane's death is indescribable. The loss of a child changes you, permanently, providing a perspective on life that isn't available any other way. (How much worse for Corinne, his mother…)
Then a few years ago we thought Lauren was gone, too. That was bad enough that I can safely compare it to the pain of losing Shane. In fact, the two are permanently linked in my mind. On a personal level, they were similar. Thank God she and her parents came back. I nearly lost my mind.
With all that behind me, you might think having to put another cat to sleep would be easier. You'd be wrong. I was wrong.
We called her Lovey, which was the end of her real name (Z'est “La Vie”).
She was nothing but trouble from the moment she came to us. Our first two Birmans died at about a year old from FIP. The breeder owed us replacements, of which Lovey was one. Along with her came ringworm, which swept through the cattery and ended our breeding for good. (Ringworm is nasty. Horrible. Especially with long-haired cats.) Once the ringworm was gone, she developed a sinus infection. She basically had a terribly runny nose for the last… uh… I'm not sure how many years. Too many. It was gross! Sneezing, coughing, blowing her nose all over everything, all the time.
Lovey was one of the most affectionate cats we ever had. Her breath (due to the sinus infection) was truly gag-tastic, but drop your guard for less than a second and you'd find yourself with a face full of cat giving you a bath, purring so loud that you'd think she's going to fall apart.
She begged like a dog, too. Right up to the end, she'd follow Corinne around the kitchen when she was cooking, meowing loudly until Corinne gave her a treat.
Even with plenty of eating, her weight dropped from 7 pounds two years ago to just 4.5 pounds today. Even seven pounds was light, 7.5 or 8 would have been better.
So, this afternoon, I asked Dr. Turco's office to euthanize yet another of our cats. She was well loved, and it finally came time to prove it the hardest way we know how. I cried a bit on the way home, and now I've spent almost an hour writing about it, because it just never gets any easier.
And Thank God for that, too.
The short answer to the question, “Hey, Seth, you look like you tried to swallow a baseball and it got stuck! Did you?” is, in fact, "Hah! No."
I don't blame you for wondering, though. The list of weird stuff that people unintentionally or unknowingly swallow starts with spiders and then gets weird. A baseball wouldn't be much of a stretch.
The long answer is as follows.
Saturday I worked at the hall with about a third of the ecclesia, cleaning up both inside and outside. We'd let the brush encroach on the yard a bit (a lot) too much, so most of my time was spent outside.
After stacking all of the chairs in the main room so that Darren and Ravi could vacuum, I went out to help with brush cleanup.
Or so I thought. Instead of brush, I cleaned up trees. I used Frank's chainsaw to cut down one tree to the right of the shed, then I climbed a ladder and cut a large branch from another tree.
After all the cutting, I dragged the trees and branches down to the parking lot, across the newly cleared spot behind the lot, all the way out to and over the stonewall.
I've done a lot of this kind of work. Really.
But I remember thinking, when I was dragging the largest piece, "Oh man this is the heaviest thing I've ever moved." I managed, though there were a few times that I drove my feet into the ground instead of moving the tree.
Later, Frank asked me to take down another tree which was already behind the stone wall. This one was much taller but wouldn't have to be dragged. Bonnie requested that I cut it up so they could take it home for burning, so I did, then I threw the logs out to the parking lot so she could gather them. (Nobody had a wheelbarrow or tractor.)
I was surprised at how totally exhausted I was by this point. In fact, I was nervous while cutting up that tree, as I was so tired that my hands felt weak and shaky. I'm comfortable with a chainsaw, but if I had continued to feel that way I would have put it down for the day.
Sunday morning I was still a bit tired, and my back was sorer than I expected. Not very surprising.
Monday morning, shortly after getting out of bed, I noticed that my back was still quite sore. Plus, I had a gigantic lump at the bottom of my neck! (Not *quite* big enough to actually be a baseball, but close enough. Certainly larger than a golf ball.)
Corinne starts trying to find an Ear-Nose-Throat doctor to see me soon. She's thinking I have some freakish cancer that, at the rate this thing grew in, will eat me whole within a couple of weeks. First appointment she gets is for Friday in Mystic, but later she gets one with Dr. Cameron today (Tuesday).
I figured it's a swollen lymph node (which means I have an infection). I've had them a couple of times before, though the only one this big was in my armpit in my early teens. A search on WebMD and eMedicineHealth seems to confirm my Nearly Professional Diagnosis, though I wasn't comforted by the warning that if the swollen node is immediately above the collarbone then medical attention should be immediately sought. (That is when Corinne found the appointment for Tuesday. She didn't like that warning either.)
With my back still hurting and feeling generally weak and maybe feverish, I take my Ibuprofen and try to work.
Tuesday morning my back hurt a little less, but the ball in my throat is as big and hard as ever. I feel slightly clumsy, but I figure that goes with feeling generally weakened. I'm also having a very hard time remembering the words "lymph node," so clearly the fever is affecting my brain.
Tuesday afternoon I go to see Dr. Cameron. He walks into the exam room and asks why I'm there. I lean my head back a bit and point, and he says, "Oh, you have a swollen thyroid!"
"Really? I thought it was a lymph node." He asks me to swallow.
"Nope, it's the thyroid. It's connected to your larynx, so it moves when you swallow. The lymph node would stay put. Same spot, though."
Now I'm worried. My grandmother had some significant thyroid issue at some point, but I don't remember what.
"Have you done any strenuous activity in the last few days?"
With that one question, all the stress of the last couple days evaporated. He clearly knew exactly what was wrong with me, and the way he asked the question clearly implied this was a common(-ish) problem.
So I explained what I had done, and he agreed that moving that one tree was probably what did it. I ruptured a blood vessel in my thyroid, and it swelled up with blood. Overnight it hardened when the blood coagulated.
It's called a Chocolate Cyst, because of the consistency of what it contains. Mmmm, like a nice blood pudding!
The treatment? Wait a couple of weeks for it to soften up, which means the coagulated blood has turned into a thick, oily liquid. He'll then tap and drain it right through the skin, in his office. He says it will never go down on its own.
By now you're surely wishing you'd stuck with the short answer, but at least now you can be sure that I did not, in fact, swallow a baseball.
The year two thousand eleven has come and gone.
It was a good year. Not perfect, but lots of happy memories. Lots of learning, lots of work, lots of time with Corinne and Lauren, even some solid time spent with Mike, and Richie and my parents. Some very weird stuff happened with a friend who's now gone, and some new friendships were started. I spent less time on the bike and behind the camera, but have more resources to take care of my family and to help out where I see the need.
I've learned I can't do everything, but for 2012 I'd like to shift my personal, work-hobby balance just slightly more toward biking and photography and away from ridiculous and impossible project deadlines. I don't want less work, or even different clients... just more realistic goals that will let me better manage my time. (The cycling was affected as much by the work as it was by going bikeless for six weeks.)
Life with the ecclesia has been good, also. Ups and downs as with everything else. Faith, it seems, is the easy part of spiritual life: relationships are where the work happens. Perhaps that's trite, but perhaps that's why it's easy to forget and let things slip.
I hope 2012 is just as good. Maybe I'll even find a little more time for writing! Hah hah, no silly resolutions, here, sorry.
Happy New Year, everybody.
P.S. This site is in serious need of a redesign. Yuck.
I have so many things I'd like to say about last night's news. So many people with a more direct connection to Steve Jobs are saying their piece right now that my saying anything at all feels a bit silly.
So be it. I'll keep this short.
My connection was nearly life long — 30+ years — but very indirect. I saw him in person once, but never met him. My first mac was a 512 Ke in late 1985 or early 86, but I fell in love with the 128 when I saw it at a computer store sometime in 1984. MacPaint was on the screen, and someone had drawn an elephant.
For years I'd been programming in basic on a TI 99/4A, then on various Commodores. Seeing my first mac was like... something from the future. Mind boggling, even for an eleven year old.
Anyway, we all knew this day was coming. For most, since the the resignation in August. For others, since the WWDC. That was mine. I'd been watching his stick figure's shaky walking on the stage for at least an hour, saddened at how thin (gaunt) he was…
Then came the moment that told me he was resigned and knew his end was coming. He was talking about how much he loved the company he had built, and his voice cracked, and his eyes got shiny, and he looked very old and frail and sad.
I've watched people — friends — die from cancer. It's horrible. And I saw in his face that he knew, just like they knew.
There's so much more I'd like to say. Comparisons with exceptional people I respect from history and how rarely and brightly their lights shine, so rarely that we can name many of them even hundreds or thousands of years later. Or the fleeting nature of life, and how important it is that we do our best with what time and resources we have.
But mostly, since I learned in a text message from Corinne that "Steve Jobs died", I've been thinking about friends we never meet. People we interact with every day but in a very one-sided way, and how they can be important to us without them ever knowing it.
And how it hurts to lose them, even if they were never really there.
is Seth Dillingham's
personal web site.
From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. - WC