I find myself in a quandary


Peggy is going to have back surgery for two slipped lumbar disks and one extrusion (the inside of the disk is being squeezed out of the disk). It's her third surgery ever (I'm up to around twenty), and the other two weren't as scary.

Peggy's back starting hurting her out of the blue two months ago, but she wouldn't go to the doctor until she was fighting back tears. Then came an MRI, steroids, and a two week wait to see a surgeon (Carmina Angeles). I told Carmina that I knew Peggy to be in a lot of pain because Peggy is in the habit of hiding her pain, but she has been unable to hide this. Carmina said she's seen grown men cry and grown women crawl into her office begging for surgery when their MRIs looked like Peggy's.

Peggy has a friend named W___ who has been in love with her for at least two decades. W___ and I were good friends for years, but when his last marriage failed (he's had five failed relationships in the thirty years we've known him, two of which were marriages), he no longer wanted to be around me. He wouldn't say why, but I suspected that it was because he saw me as a barrier between him and Peggy. I suspected this strongly enough that I wouldn't have stood between him and a cliff-top, yet I couldn't be certain that I was right. When I had my knee replacement last August, he stayed at the hospital for every waking moment (of the three days) that he wasn't at work, and he treated me so lovingly that I came to trust that he wanted to be friends again. When I got out of the hospital and he ignored me completely, I felt hurt and pressed (over three emails) for an explanation. After my third email, he responded with but one word ("Stop"), and I concluded that he hadn't spent all those hours at the hospital in order to support me but rather to support Peggy. 

Now that it's Peggy's turn to go into the hospital, I anticipate him wanting to stay with her. I told her that I wouldn't be comfortable with that, and she said that: (1) his welcome would be contingent upon him apologizing for that email; and (2) she won't tell him that she expects such an apology unless he says that he intends to come to the hospital. In other words, she's unwilling to broach the subject of him coming to the hospital, but if he broaches it, she won't demand that he answer my question, but she will demand that he apologize to me for his response. Such an apology wouldn't mean squat to me because all I would take from it would be that W___ was willing to fake an apology in order to stay at the hospital with Peggy. My best guess is that he will either not bring up the subject of coming to the hospital and afterwards not come, or that he will show-up unannounced.

Peggy doesn't plan to tell him when she's going to the hospital in order to avoid the latter scenario, but I'm confident that he will be able to figure it out. If he should simply show up, I'll just bear it the best I can because it certainly wouldn't be a good time for a row, and because I wouldn't see it as my right to tell him to leave. For Peggy's sake, I can but hope he won't come, and this makes me wonder if she's doing right by not telling him upfront what she expects of him if he wants to come. She could, of course, ask the hospital to withhold her room number, but what a sad commentary that would be upon their friendship. In fact, it would be such a sad commentary that it would suggest--to me--that their friendship was damned near dead.

But regardless of what Peggy does, here's my problem: should I try to put aside my feelings, and tell Peggy that I would be okay with him coming to the hospital without offering an apology since his apology would be meaningless to me? While I wouldn't anticipate her changing her mind about demanding that he apologize, this isn't about what she says to him, but about what I say to her. My thought is that, if out of love for her, I were able to put aside my feelings, it might at the very least alleviate some of the tension she must be feeling given that she cares deeply for W___, and that, if circumstances were different, having him there would mean a lot to her.

The Franken photo


Peggy and me, 1981
For those who live in America and pay attention to the news, the top photo is a reminiscent of the recently released bottom photo of Minnesota senator Al Franken and a woman with whom he was on a USO tour (the USO entertains troops in war zones). My photo was taken by my brother-in-law who was "in on the gag." Peggy was, as might be expected, startled, but didn't complain, perhaps because she took the attitude that, "Boys will be boys," and that's partly why girls love them. 

Al's little joke is--to me anyway--harder to forgive because he was 55 (I was 32); he wasn't having a relationship with the woman in the photo (Peggy and I had been married for ten years); and because it occurred in 2006. That said, I don't know what preceded Al's photo. While no woman deserves to have her breasts touched without her permission, if the trip had been filled with ribald humor that went both ways, the photo might look worse than it appears. Although the woman insists that she was a victim all the way, I wouldn't bet money on it because: (a) Al set up the photo, implying that he didn't anticipate a negative reaction, and (b) it hasn't been established that he makes a habit of predatory behavior. None of us are as bad as our worse moment, and this might be Al's worse moment.


It's common in modern America to argue that people from decades ago should "have known better" about all manner of things. No doubt, many of us state this conviction over a steak dinner while wearing sweat shop clothes, and, when we're done, leaving our underpaid "waitperson" a 10% tip. Surely, none of us are as pure as we might be if we operated from our hearts rather than from the latest moralistic fad. I even think it likely that, for most of us, our hearts are so overlaid with decades of jumping on the bandwagon that we are dead to messages from our hearts.

I hadn't thought about the top photo in years, it only coming to mind after I saw the Franken photo. I feel uncomfortable with it, but Peggy doesn't (while neither of us is conservative, Peggy leans more heavily in that direction than I). 

I heard a radio program yesterday in which a woman interviewed several men who admitted to playfully slapping women on the ass (I wondered how many men she had to interview to fill a radio program with nothing but such men). In any event, the men said that it was all in good fun; was intended as a compliment (sort of like, "I wouldn't have raped you if I hadn't thought you were pretty"); and that if women don't enjoy it, they need to "lighten up."

I asked Peggy if there had ever been a time when she would have been okay with being slapped on the ass, no matter how well she knew the man who did it, and she said that, unless I did it, she would have always interpreted it as a low level sexual assault. Neither of us could remember me having ever slapped her on the ass, but I later recalled that (before we got old and pathetic) we used to roughhouse pretty much everyday, so I surely did, and it's also true that we have on occasion popped each other with rolled-up towels while working in the kitchen. I can but say that if Peggy held her body so inviolate it precluded innocent playfulness, I would have a problem with Peggy. Thankfully, I have never had such a problem with Peggy.

P.S. Whatever my faults, I'm better looking than Al Franken.

Thomas Dixon, Reconstruction, and the KKK


Frontispiece to The Clansman
While browsing at St. Vinnie's, I came across the works of a Baptist preacher/writer named Thomas Dixon (1864-1946) who was best known for three novels about the Reconstruction era following America's Civil War. These books are entitled: The Leopard's Spots; A Romance of the White Man's Burden (1902), The Clansman (1905), and The Traitor (1907). In 1915, D.W. Griffith made The Clansman into a hugely popular three-hour movie entitled The Birth of a Nation. The movie revived the waning Ku Klux Klan, and despite strenuous objections from the recently formed NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), Dixon's friend, Woodrow Wilson, made it the first movie to be screened in the White House. I've completed the first two books of the trilogy, and nearly all of what I have to say about Dixon comes from these books, especially the first book in which he details his thoughts about race. 

Dixon depicts black people as inferior based upon their intrinsic immorality, intellectual dullness, and physical appearance. He argues that the black race never advanced culturally, technologically, or governmentally except under the immediate influence of white people, and that American slavery was a boon to black people in that it exposed them to the fruits of "four thousand years of white civilization." He blames blacks for the Civil War and repeatedly asserts that "a drop of nigger blood a nigger makes," by which he meant that, "It kinks the hair, flattens the nose, thickens the lip, puts out the light of intellect, and lights the fires of brutal passions."

The evil white characters in Dixon's book (carpet baggers and scalawags) manipulate the voting system to install equally evil, but far less intelligent, blacks into office in order to become rich through crooked governance (blacks won the vote in 1870), while the good white characters fight against corruption, and discuss what to do (once they have regained control over their black neighbors) with millions of recently freed illiterate people, hence the term "the white man's burden." The first goal is to disenfranchise black voters, and then to decide whether to keep them in the country or send them someplace where they would have the advantages of such civilization as the white race had been able to impart. Those who favor keeping them in America debate whether to put them to work in the various trades or restrict them to agriculture. Everyone agrees that education for blacks is undesirable because it couldn't alter their inherent inferiority while it would lead them to imagine themselves equal to whites. 

Dixon's position has several fatal flaws as I see it, all of them built upon the common human error of deciding what one wants to believe, and then looking for proof that it is true. To whit: (1) He never clearly defines the concept of innate black inferiority, and such evidence as he offers is self-serving and anecdotal. (2) He acknowledges that there are differences in individual potential within the white race, and he holds that every white person has the right to realize his unique potential to the fullest, but by lumping all black people together as being but a step away from savagery, he goes so far as to feel justified in relegating a genius to a life of manual labor without regard for that person's desires or abilities (I often pictured Neil DeGrasse Tyson while reading Dixon's books). (3) Dixon blames the problems that the black race had with assuming leadership during Reconstruction upon innate inferiority, while completely ignoring their problems with illiteracy, inexperience, and centuries of slavery. (4) Dixon is resigned to the fact that nothing short of terrorism can effectively keep an entire race of people in a condition of eternal subservience. (5) By holding the black race as barely human, Dixon is able to rationalize their oppression and exploitation as coming from a place of superior morality.

Dixon portrays the Ku Klux Klan of the Reconstruction era as a idealistic endeavor that was forced into existence in order to protect white Southerners from the combined vengefulness of the freed slaves and the U.S. military occupation. If it is true that the situation during the Reconstruction era was as desperate as Dixon described it, I too would have joined the Klan because I would have seen it as my only source of help and safety. That said, the circumstances that gave birth to the Klan ended when Reconstruction ended, and so it was that Dixon adamantly opposed the reconstituted Klan that his writings inspired. He wrote that it had little resemblance to the original Klan, and that its members tended toward stupidity and corruption. He also complained of its anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism.

Dixon's writings are yet another reminder of how woefully unschooled I am in regard to my nation's history despite the fact that the period of which he writes is a fourteen year segment of the much longer period (1865-1929) in which I am the most interested. He has also shown me how ignorant I am of the history of the KKK, a plethora of organizations with similar names which I imagined to have always been composed of sadistic ignoramuses who were proud of their ignorance and contemptuous of the educated. By contrast, the Klan which Dixon describes was a haven for men who were cultured, courageous, and idealistic. Even allowing for hyperbole, I am convinced that what I thought I knew of the Klan--and of America's Reconstruction era--was insignificant even where true.

Dixon has also reminded me of a personal deficit which lies increasingly heavy on my mind, namely that there are so very many things that interest me greatly, but that I hitherto ignored (thinking I would pick them up later) and now don't have time to learn. I had imagined that, by limiting my reading to a few decades of the largely forgotten literature of a single nation, I could at least become a passable scholar in regard to that period, place, and literature, but my mistake was akin to that of a person who looks at a slide of microscopic pond life and imagines it possible to learn everything that is known about something that is, after all, so small. If I could do my life over, I would probably strive for scholarship in the fields of American history and American literature, but where does that leave me now that my time is so short and my ignorance so vast? The walls are closing in upon me, and they find me as desperate to learn as I am paralyzed by the thought of how little time I have to learn. As Mme du Barry (mistress of Louis XV) expressed it as she stood on the scaffold, "Life, life, leave me my life. I will give all my wealth to the nation. Another minute, hangman!"

The Black Dog



During his confinement in Nazi work camps, psychiatrist Victor Frankel knew inmates who developed fantasies of being released on a given day. They would maintain optimism until that day came and went, at which point they would either throw themselves into the electric fence, or simply weaken and die.

I expected to be mostly recovered from my knee replacement in six weeks based upon remarks that the surgeon made. I was wrong, but I took comfort in the fact that I had made a lot of progress. I also reminded myself that full recovery can take a year. I then recalled that recovery from my shoulder replacement took longer than that (these joint replacements amount to dreadful wounds). At seven weeks, I developed a Baker Cyst, which is fluid-filled sac at the back of the knee that develops in response to irritation within the knee. I was first bothered by it many years ago, and I had a unsuccessful debridement surgery in 2008. For unknown reasons, the cyst eventually got better on its own, but now it's back, and the more I'm on my feet, the worse it hurts. I can no longer walk without a limp, or do most of my physical therapy exercises. Indeed, it was the exercises that brought back the cyst. I figured out which ones were to blame, and asked the therapist for alternatives. When she insisted that I continue with what she had already assigned, I decided that further therapy was most likely a waste of time.

Peggy's mother suffered so grievously from depression that she was twice institutionalized. She also suffered from chronic pain due to scoliosis, and when her life ended at age 79, the pain and depression had caused her to lose touch with the outer world. Thankfully, Peggy took after her father who's invariably upbeat. She will occasionally reflect upon something sad, and feel down for a few minutes or hours but, as far as I can tell, her lows are higher than my averages.

John Fox Jr. (1863-1919)
Because of her mother's problems, Peggy grew up vowing that she would never marry anyone who was mentally ill, and it is true that, for most of our relationship, I did better than I'm doing now. I was often lonely and found it hard to overcome disappointments, but I'm now discovering that the older I get, the lower I go. While I could have done much worse in life, I don't look upon my life as a success, and I've lost hope that I will ever realize whatever potential I once thought I possessed. 

Because of my growing struggles with depression, I simply don't have it in me to deal with additional challenges and, combined with my back problems and arthritic shoulders, this Baker Cyst is proving to be a significant problem in that it's keeping me from getting good sleep and meaningful exercise, both of which are essential in combating depression. 

Peggy has gone away with friends for a few days, and while I miss her, at least I don't have to bear with the guilt of knowing that I'm a growing burden. If somewhere deep within, I contain an untapped reservoir of strength and resiliency, I'm sadly unaware of it. It seems to me that the world is filled with people who do much better with problems that are much worse, yet I know that the mere act of making this comparison is a symptom of depression.

It's so very true that the last thing a depressed person needs is to have someone advise them to count their blessings and to reflect upon how much worse things could be, as if they're too stupid to come up with glibly obvious ideas on their own. I have heard a few people maintain that a person with cancer can simply think away the disease, but such people are rare, whereas those who say it about depression are commonplace. This is because they assign depression to a purposeful and inexcusable cowardice toward life, a failure as a human being that exists at the core of the sufferer's soul, and that could just as easily be remedied with a little gumption. During World War II, the English referred to the failure to fulfill ones duties as coming from "a lack of moral fibre." The hell of depression is that the sufferer accepts this appraisal, and at worst loses all hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Anna's Hummingbird
Still, my life is not devoid of meaning. Although my track record is poor, I find meaning in trying to be a good husband. I look for ways to show kindness to others; and I trust that my three cats would pronounce me a success due to the joy, goodwill, and affection that I offer them. I don't know how much a thousand little pleasures are worth when it comes to assigning meaning to life, but I love the hummingbirds that frequent my feeder, one species of which (see photo) will remain with me all winter. I enjoy strong black coffee; watching Perry Mason in the evening with Peggy; the birders' class that I attended yesterday; a nightly bowl of ice cream; the yellow leaves on the ash outside my window; and the John Fox, Jr book that I am now reading. Despite the physical and emotional pain, there is still much to do and to enjoy, at least on the days that I am able to get out of my own way enough to do them and to enjoy them.

Weinstein, Trump, and the Conservative Contempt for Women


Peggy taught high school math and science in Bogue Chitto, Mississippi, in the mid-seventies. She was 22 and diminutive with a trim figure, brown eyes, and long brown hair. She looked so young that, on the first day of school, another teacher mistook her for a student and scolded her for being in the teachers' lounge. Mississippi teachers still paddled at the time, but the only kids who needed disciplining were boys who were much bigger than Peggy, and who laughed at her paddlings. One day as she leaving school, three boys met her in hallway. Two of them penned her arms behind her, and the third held a knife in her face. Peggy struggled, and the knife nicked her. The boys immediately let her go.

She told her principal of the incident, but heard nothing back. When she asked him about it, he told her that the matter had been "handled." When she demanded to know what "handled" meant, he said he had spanked the boys. It was the same same punishment he would have given for throwing spitballs. Peggy appealed the matter to the school board, and I went with her to the meeting. Peggy, the boys, their parents, and I were left in an outer room until the board got to her appeal. One of the mothers screamed at Peggy for "getting my boy into trouble," and then shoved her. I stood between the woman and Peggy, and warned the woman to back off. The board wouldn't let me into the meeting, so I remained with the boys and their parents. I told them that I hoped Peggy would file a criminal complaint. 

 The boys told the board that they hadn't meant to harm Peggy, and that she wouldn't have been cut had she not struggled. The board informed Peggy that these were "good kids." Its members then demanded to know what Peggy had worn that day; why she had remained at school after the final bell; and what she had done to make the boys think they could get away with treating her as they did. They quickly decided that the principal's punishment had been adequate. Instead of going to work the next morning, Peggy and I went to a lawyer. He wrote to the board saying that because they had failed to follow their own rules (which called for expulsion as the punishment for assaulting a teacher), as well as the laws of the State of Mississippi, Peggy no longer felt safe in her person or her property, and was unwilling to return to work.

The principal expressed dismay that she had become so upset over such a "trivial issue," told her that she was a fine teacher, and implored her to stay. The students got up a petition and, when she still refused to stay, bought her a going away present. She then went to nursing school, and finished her career life as a registered nurse. As I look back, I think she did right in not pressing charges because she would have surely been as victimized by the court as she had been by the school board.

I remembered this incident when I heard the news of Harvey Weinstein being called to task after decades of sexually demeaning and assaulting women. I further reflected upon the fact that, what Weinstein did and lied about, our president boasted of doing. As he put it: “Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” 

Why, then, did 52% of the women who voted in the last presidential election vote for Donald Trump? While Weinstein gave money to liberal politicians, liberal women have never, to my knowledge, intentionally voted for a sexual predator for president, nor were the politicians who took Weinstein's money aware of what an asshole he was. So what makes liberal women different from conservative women, and why is a president who exemplifies none of the virtues of Christ so popular among the sort of men who sat on Peggy's school board, by which I mean white evangelical Christians? Perhaps you can show me a way to shake off my conviction that conservative politics and conservative religion are diseased to the core, and that their cancer doesn't stop with their contempt for the rights of women, but rather extends to the support of policies that harm all classes of marginalized people--the very people that Jesus championed. 

Organized Christianity is already on the wane in America, and I can but hope that both it and America's political conservatives have firmly set their feet on the banana skin to hell by having aligned themselves with a party and a candidate who prove that all of their talk about love and brotherhood--as well as their claims of respect for women--is utter bullshit. I have long been accustomed to blatant Christian hypocrisy, but nothing has made me loathe religion more than the ongoing Christian support for Trump. In the minds of many, if not most, conservative Christians, nothing that a liberal does can meet with their high moral expectations, while nothing that a conservative does can disappoint them.

My take on the issues


I regarded Trump's election as a flip of the bird at the condescension of liberalism's most prominent faces, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I also saw in it an embrace of discrimination against blacks, Hispanics, Middle Easterners, homosexuals, transsexuals, and secularists. Because I too despise Obama, Clinton, and groups such as Black Lives Matter, I sympathized, yet I regarded a vote for Trump as like setting your child's head on fire to kill the lice.

I had these thoughts today because of a chain of comments between myself and a Georgia blogger (http://rhymeswithplague.blogspot.com/2017/09/the-world-is-not-ending-today-after-all.html), a chain that ended with him observing, sadly I thought, that Atlanta has become notable for its diverse cultures and religions. He would like life even less here in Oregon's Willamette Valley, because it is one of the most liberal, and least religious, parts of the country, although this isn't to say that conservatives and Christians don't abound. I didn't know how much they abounded until the "Make America Great Again" caps and bumper stickers started appearing during Trump's election bid. Sad to say, those who publicly supported Trump risked having their property vandalized, and one local man was even assaulted by a mob. Before moving to a liberal area, I imagined that being liberal meant being tolerant. After all, their bumper stickers read, "Honor Diversity."


I suspect that the few conservatives who read this blog regard me as a liberal, and that my liberal readers are sometimes offended by my conservatism. When we like someone, we want them to fit into our tribe, and this means that we must agree with them on important concepts. The purpose of this post is to present my views on current issues. You will find that I don't fit anywhere.

Diversity. I think it breeds disharmony, so I would prefer, in the interest of harmony, to live in a land that was overwhelmingly composed of people who trace their roots to Western Europe, which is to say, people who are as much like myself as possible.

LGBTQ. I'm fine with gays--I even like gays, and, yes, I think they are different from heterosexuals in ways other than who they sleep with. Transgenders? As many of you know, my father believed himself to be a woman, but I have no idea what influence that has on my attitudes. Suffice it to say that I want homosexuals and transgender people to have equal rights in every way, but I'm personally weirded-out by transgenders in particular. 

Hispanics? I don't want people sneaking into my country, although those who were brought here as children didn't sneak in, so they deserve special consideration. I especially resent the liberal equation of people who swim the Rio Grande with those who spend months or years working to gain legal citizenship. No country can maintain its identity if has open borders.

Women's rights?  I'm reticent about women going into professions that require explosive strength, and I'm especially leery of them going into combat, but I think that if we're going to have equality, it needs to be all or nothing, so I can hardly oppose women doing anything they want to do as long as they can pass the same tests as men. 

Abortion? I believe that people who equate a fetus with a human being are full of it, and so it is that I support the freedom to choose. While abortion is regrettable, I think it beats the alternative, which is to force the very women who are the least equipped to care for a child to either bear children or to face the possibility of death from botched abortions, while allowing women of means to spend whatever it takes to get a safe abortion. When my teenage sister got pregnant fifty years ago, she flew from Mississippi, where abortion was a felony, to Colorado where it was legal. The trip put a strain on my parents' finances, but if there was ever a young girl who would have been a parental disaster, my sister was that girl, which means that the responsibility for parenting would have fallen to my already overwrought parents. I have another family member who raised not one but two of her unwed daughter's children after her daughter walked away. This is the price of illegal abortion. The children who are so parented are rarely well-parented, and the responsibility for their care is rarely paid for by those who would outlaw abortion. In fact, the very people who most vigorously oppose abortion also stand in vigorous opposition to government support for poor families.

Religion? If, as religious people claim, love was their guiding principal and their kingdom really wasn't of this world, no one would oppose them, but the sad truth is that religion perpetually wars against freedom and perpetually supports factionalism. Thanks to the power of religion, one-third of the world's nations have blasphemy laws, the penalties for which range from a fine (in Western Europe) to execution (in much of the Moslem world). Century in and century out, religion stands in unbroken support of hatred and intolerance. If, in the name of freedom and equality, you oppose religion's use of government to force sectarian values and practices upon the public, religious people will claim that you are persecuting them, and will take every means to silence you. As most religious people see it, there is no way but their way.

America's blacks. I don't regard the black race overall as making a positive contribution to life in America. In the sixties, their struggle was praiseworthy for its high ideals. Now, their primary struggle revolves around police shootings of black people, primarily black criminals. By making heroin dealers the poster children for their movement, groups such as Black Lives Matter cannot inspire the same public outrage against injustice that was aroused the world over by the likes of a young college student named James Meredith and a hardworking bus rider named Rosa Parks. I don't know why black Americans lag behind whites and yellows in every standard of success and well-being, but they appear to blame their failures solely upon white oppression. Since the masses of white people disagree, the accusation is a non-starter. I'm ashamed to say this because it contradicts my belief that everyone deserves a fair trial, but when I hear of a heroin dealer being shot dead in the street, I just think to myself, good riddance, no matter what his race.

Creationism. The only people who believe in creationism (re-marketed as "intelligent design") are those who regard the Biblical account of creation as scientifically accurate. They insist upon--and often succeed in--having "both sides of the controversy" taught in school, but there are no "both sides." There is instead what science can verify versus what religion accepts upon credulity, aka "faith." The difference between evolutionism and creationism is the difference between astronomy and astrology. The more credence we give to pseudoscience, the harder it will be for us to compete in a world in which science works and religion fails.

The environment. Most of America's political conservatives are Catholic or evangelical Christians who argue that their deity wouldn't have created a world that man could destroy because such a world would place the power of man above the power of God. The result of their thinking is that if humankind can't seriously harm the environment, then humankind need take no responsibility for protecting the environment. Because this is "faith-based" thinking, evidence to the contrary is irrelevant. As for non-religious people who oppose environmental protections, they fall into two camps. The first are libertarians who don't want the government telling them what to do, regardless of the consequences. The second group are capitalists who don't care how many species we drive into extinction until it gets down to animals like cows and chickens that they can make money from. They likewise don't care how many people die in droughts, super storms, firestorms, and so forth, as long as they're not among the dead, and as long as they're making money. With them, it's money first, money last, and money in the middle. Laissez-faire capitalism was made by and sustained by such people.

Gun control. I am ashamed to live in a country in which 5% of the world's population owns 50% of its guns; a country that exports millions of weapons a year to criminals and to oppressive dictatorships like Saudi Arabia; a country in which 30,000 of its own citizen die every year from gun violence, and tens of thousands more are wounded. The Las Vegas shooter only made the news because his victims were white and because he ran up the average number of people killed in a single place in a single day. The supporters of "gun rights" point to the Second Amendment to the Constitution ("A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"). We're talking here about a document that was written when the only guns were single shot muskets that were slow to load and relied upon relatively weak black powder. What's more, the stated goal of "the founding fathers" was to arm the citizen militias that substituted for a standing army. 

Prior to the recent mass shooting in Nevada, Congress was getting ready to pass legislation that would make it easier for people to buy silencers, not because honest citizens need silencers but because the NRA (National Rifle Association) is a white, richly-funded, physically threatening, one-issue lobby, that opposes any restrictions to gun ownership or to the types of guns that Americans can own. For example, the NRA supports the use of bullets that can penetrate police body armor; they favor selling guns to violent felons and to the criminally insane; and they hold that everyone should be able to walk the streets with guns on their hips or hidden in their clothes. They even argue that the answer to gun violence is more guns, their argument being that this will enable the good guys to whip out their guns and shoot down the bad guys before the latter can hurt anyone. Because this solution is absurd, it is my belief that the NRA simply doesn't want to admit that it values gun ownership over human life. I also believe that it only wants all of these guns so that white people can protect themselves against black people, and so they can wage war against their own government if that government tries to take away their guns. They're monomaniacs, at best, and I think it pleases them to know that black men are fourteen times more likely to be shot than are white men. 

Am I out of issues?

A book buying celebration


A work by F. Hopkinson Smith
I went to the doctor last week for my six week check-in (which was a week overdue) and was told that I’m doing better than most. I hadn’t known how worried Peggy had been because she had the misguided notion that I would worry if she told me, although I don’t remember an occasion on which I took-on her fears. Only after leaving the doctor’s did she confess that the knee’s continued swelling and heat had concerned her greatly.

Brian (the surgeon) suggested that an exercise bike might be beneficial, so we went to Sears where I spoke with a 20-year old salesman who said that, when he was fifteen, he had undergone one of the ten post painful surgeries (in terms of recovery). It was necessitated because his ribs were turning inward and would have killed him had he not had a metal plate inserted and spent a month flat on his back. Then I celebrated the good report by going to St. Vinnie’s and buying seven books. I rarely buy so many, but they had been moved from the rare book room into the main part of the store where I was able to get them for under $5 each and after that to Costco where, because I was using a cane and wearing a compression stocking, a woman who was anticipating a knee replacement approached me with many questions. But enough of all that, because I want to tell you about the seven old books I bought in the hope that, if you don
’t already, you too might come to love old copies of old books.

(1) All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970). I read this book twenty years ago, but was thinking just last week that I wanted to re-read it. The German edition appeared in January 1929, and my English edition was published in November of that same year. By its release, Little, Brown, and Company had put out seven editions (presumably, all in English) and fourteen printings. My copy is inscribed “Merry Christmas, 1929. From Mabel to Paul,” leaving me to wonder if Paul had fought in The War to End All Wars.

The store had two copies from the same printing. The other was sent to the States from war-torn Saigon, with the inscription, “Read to Understand.” The preface to the book reads: “This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, though they may have escaped the shells, were destroyed by the war.” I’ve read those words twice since I got home, and I’ve cried twice. How is it that I ever entertained the stupid, stupid belief that war makes men when the truth is that it
’s more likely to break them!? I suppose it was because my culture glorifies war, war, and more war, always in the name of peace, although I suppose it’s possible that testosterone also played a part.
 
(2) Harold Bell Wright (1872-1944) is best (and most infamously) known for The Calling of Dan Matthews, which is about a preacher who, like Wright himself, left the ministry to save his integrity. The book I bought today is Their Yesterdays from 1928. I first browsed this same color illustrated copy three months ago, but passed it up because it seemed too spiritual. I don’t believe in omens, yet I can’t say that finding the same copy of the same book meant nothing to me, and it’s also true that much of what he says resonates—for instance: “He had said to himself, ‘When I am twenty-one, I will be a man.’ He did not know then that twenty-one years—that indeed three times twenty-one years—cannot make a man.” I suppose it’s common for boys to pick an age at which to expect manhood. I remember that, at age seventeen, I saw a 19-year-old male mentioned in my local newspaper as “a man,” an concluded that my 19th birthday—at the latest—would be the day that I would wake up feeling different. When nothing happened, I advanced the magic number to twenty-one, and when it too failed, I looked pessimistically to thirty. At 68, I still feel like a minor fraud when I call myself a man, there being too much weight on the word for it to ever be achievable.

(3) The Workers East (1897) and (4) The Workers West (1898) were by a economist named Walter A Wyckoff (1865-1908). Wyckoff was so wealthy that his butler saw him off—in July, 1891, when he  set out walking with old clothes upon his back and without a penny in his pocket. He traveled America for eighteen months, taking day laborer jobs as he went, and writing eloquently about his experiences. This was not a rich man’s lark, but a profound effort to understand the lives of the poorest of the laboring class. One of my two copies of the set is gloriously illustrated, and the set itself had at least two previous owners. The inscription identifying the first owner reads, “Here’s to this little world of ours, which is not growing worse to women, like you, who are doing their best to make it better. V.J. from Tom S. Dec 10,1910.” The second owner was Air Transport Local 1881, IAMAW, Burlingame, CA.” Because the U.S. postal service only instituted zip codes and two-letter state abbreviations in 1963, the second listed owner must have come along decades after the first, which makes sense given that air transport would have been unknown in 1910.

(5) A 1945 edition of Richard Wright’s 1937 book Black Boy. Wright (1908-1960) was from my part of Mississippi, but, because he was black, I only heard of him after moving to Oregon and happening upon his book Native Son at St. Vinnie’s. (I also discovered Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man at St. Vinnie’s and found grim humor in the fact that, given my hitherto complete ignorance of his existence, the title seemed to prove the book’s thesis.)

(6) The Guest, 1946, by Christopher LaFarge (1872-1944). I hadn’t heard of LaFarge, but was intrigued by the book club insert’s promise of a book about a sixty year old “spinster” who lost her grip on reality after her servants abandoned her during the approach of a hurricane.

(7) Light that Faileth (1891) by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). I’ve never read Kipling, but I have read Jack London, so when I learned that London was a major fan of  Kipling, I decided to read him too. One period reviewer wrote that the book had, “a man-loving [surely a euphemism] and misogynistic undercurrent” and was, “…a metaphor for the failing gallantry of 19th-century man confronting the new woman.” My literary idol, Margaret Deland, was among those responsible for creating this subspecies, only to bemoan the fact that some members of her creation were behaving in ways that she considered coarse, if not trashy; that the exalted concept of ladyhood was being lost; and that men were starting to treat women with the same crudity with which they interacted among themselves. One-hundred years later, the word lady has been lost from our language, and the only time I hear the word gentlemen is on the evening news when a cop is referring to a criminal as such. For example; "After strangling Ms Smith, the gentlemen proceeded to kill her dog..." My copy of the book was owned by an Ada Johnson, and how I wish I could talk to her about it!



I want books that long dead eyes read, upon which long dead minds reflected, and into which long dead hands inscribed, because they allow me, in some small measure, to feel that I’m gazing into those eyes, discoursing with those minds, and touching those hands. They penetrate to my soul, and to hold them is to hold the sacred. New books are like new houses in that in that their faces are blank and their souls in infancy. Without them there would be no old books, and the factual ones are often superior, but I’m glad I have little need of them. No matter that new books cost ten times more, I would feel like I was slumming if I walked into a new book store.

As for the authors themselves—as opposed to individual copies of their works—many of the titles I buy are either unavailable new or they’ve been reprinted in paperback, xeroxed editions that I abhor. Without old books, my life would be impoverished. I would still have Mark Twain and Conan Doyle, but I wouldn’t have Margaret Deland and F. Hopkinson Smith, although both were famous during their lifetimes (Smith for his art as well as his books). It’s commonly believed that authors who deserve to remain famous will remain famous, but in my experience, authors are like clothing fashions, the difference being that clothing styles often come back around while, once they’re lost from memory, literary work are rarely rediscovered.

Bobbing for Spiders and Other Critter Tales


Daddy's Little Huntress
I didn't grow up calling a tabby cat a tabby cat. I grew up calling a tabby cat a brindled cat. Peggy, well-traveled Air Force brat that she was, considered this but another example of rural Southern backwardness. I recently pointed out to her that American authors who wrote between the Civil War and the Great Depression (such authors constitute most of my reading), commonly use the word brindled.

Peggy is an arachnophobe, so there is hardly a day that goes by but what I don't have a new opportunity to display manly gallantry by facing down spiders while she screams, "Don't let it get away!" and then, "It's going to get away!" When it doesn't get away, she implores, "Are you sure you killed it?" followed by, "Is it really dead?" followed by, "Are you sure it's really dead?" Because I deny her the indulgence of getting me out of bed to kill spiders, she is forced to either do the job herself or to enlist the help of our ferocious huntress, Scully. Scully is SO ferocious that she'll throw her whole body at a gnat. She's a cat possessed, and regularly leaves the boys standing back with their eyes wide and their ears back as if to say, "We're all crazy about killing things, but this chick's SCARY CRAZY!" 

Last week, Peggy woke up first, and found the kitchen occupied by a spider that, in her eyes, was the size of a small grizzly. She implored Scully to kill it, and Scully said, "No problem, but I'd like to bob for it first, and proceeded to drop the spider into her water bowl. After she had batted it around for awhile, the spider finally succeeded in climbing upon Scully's nose whereupon Scully slung her head from side to side and sent the spider flying. Because it was too soggy and discouraged to "play," Scully then gobbled it down.

It takes a man to do this to a cat
When Brewsky was a young cat, he was so stubborn that I lived in awe of how far he would go to get his way even when he surely realized that I was going to out-stubborn him. For instance, when Peggy and I got out of bed, Brewsky would want to continue sleeping. I would indulge him a little, but the fact was that I wanted to get the bed made. I would eventually put him on the floor and proceed to make the bed, or at least try to make the bed, the problem being that he would jump back in before I could get started. His record for doing this on a a single occasion was twelve. Yes, of course, I could have put him out of the room, or scolded him so severely that he wouldn't dare cross me, but I enjoyed the contest. When the bed was finally made, I would put him back in, and we would share a little schmooze.

Wendy, 1977-1994

When we lived in the country, we had a little black schnauzer named Wendy. Sometimes when she was asleep on the porch, I would sneak off into the woods and call her name. Because I had thinned the trees, I could see her from quite a distance as she jumped up excitedly and started searching for my track. After she found it, it was a small matter for her to come to the tree I was in, but once there, she NEVER thought to look up, but would instead go round and round the tree trying to figure out where I went next. She would eventually give up, and not knowing what else to do, follow my scent all the way back to the house and start out again. When that didn't work, she would do sweeps that took in several acres. Eventually, I would sneak down from the tree, and we would share a joyous reunion.

The older Wendy got, the more she went from being submissive to standing up for for what she considered her rights. For example, she would balk at giving up her seat next to me in the car. The day came when Wendy completely refused to give her seat, even to Peggy. When a human tried to get in anyway, Wendy would push against him or her with all thirteen pounds of her schnauzerly might. I mostly left it up to my passenger to deal with the situation, but when a man whom I had just met asked if he should sit in the back, I made her move, although I believe that, in most situations, non-humans should be shown the same consideration as humans.

In Mississippi, we lived fifty miles from Peggy's parents (her father had by then retired from the Air Force), and would often go up and spend the night. They didn't want dogs in their house, and I didn't go anywhere without my dog. In summer, I felt good about making Wendy a bed on their patio because flea season in Mississippi is no joke. However, Wendy would have been miserable outdoors on a mild night in winter, and her very life would have been endangered on a cold night in winter, so Peggy's parents grudgingly agreed to let her stay in the laundry room. She interpreted her confinement as punishment, and remained in a state of near frantic despondency through every visit. If I had it to do over, I would have given my inlaws a choice between either allowing Wendy into the den--which opened into the laundry room--or of Peggy visiting them alone.

Later on when we lived in Minneapolis, I dutifully put Wendy's coat on and took her for a walk everyday in winter although she so hated going that she would run up to the front door of every house we passed hoping someone would let her in. If I had that to do over, I would only take her walking on windless, sunny days.

Despite the fact that Peggy has since come to adore cats, she used to be a self-proclaimed cat-hater, and was even plagued by dreams of being pursued by demonic cats. One rainy wintry day, a wet, shivering, and hungry mother cat came to Peggy in distress (during her cat hating period, cats regularly sought Peggy's companionship). I don't remember the details, but suffice it to say that, "cat-hater" though she was, Peggy did what she could to help that cat and her kittens. If Peggy had said, "I'm not going to help that cat because I hate cats," I would have wondered how this woman who I married all those many years ago could have been heartless all along without me knowing it.

Wendy and me
Wendy visited more states than most people. She hung-out in communes, witnessed a lot of sex and drug use, regularly flew with me in my small Cessna, spent her days at construction sites when I was a re-modeler and on roofs when I was a roofer. We hitchhiked together, having the misfortune one wintry day of having to walk most of the twenty interstate miles between Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Tallulah, Louisiana. When Paul Winter invited his audience to howl at an outdoor concert at a former Shaker community in New Lebanon, New York, Wendy joined in, but when Paul signaled that it was time to stop, Wendy didn't get the message. People who were seated nearby smiled as they watched her throw herself into her music, while people at a distance craned their necks trying to determine who was being rude.

Wendy loved Peggy, but she only felt secure with me. One day, I left her and Peggy at a friend's home while I drove to the store. On my way back, I met Wendy walking up the road looking for me. A few months earlier, she had done the same thing when I left her with some other friends, but Peggy hadn't been there that time. Despite her devotion to me, if I--or anyone else--tried to pet Wendy, she would move just out of reach and lie back down. I had imagined that the only dogs that avoided the touch of humans were dogs who were afraid of humans, but Wendy wasn't afraid of people (cats were another story). That said, she took a long time to become friends with people despite the considerable effort that a lot of them made to hurry her along.

Bonnie. Soft name. Hard dog.
Our last dog was a blue heeler named Bonnie, who, like Wendy, didn't make friends easily. However, Bonnie did something that Wendy never once did, and that was to bite people. I was out walking with Bonnie one day when a woman who was working in her yard came over and asked if she could pet her. I warned her that Bonnie would bite, but like many people, the woman took my warning as a challenge. She asked if she could try to win Bonnie over with bologna, and I said, sure, but I didn't think it would work.

The woman looked at me like I didn't know much about dogs (she had probably heard the saying about a dog not biting the hand that feeds it), so she got a piece of bologna and tore it into small pieces, which Bonnie happily took one at a time from her hand. When the meat was all gone, the woman slowly reached out her fingers in the direction of Bonnie's head, and I could hear Bonnie's teeth clacking together a millimeter short of the rapidly retreating hand that fed her. That woman looked as if she couldn't believe what had just happened, but no one could win Bonnie over that easily, although she was extraordinarily loving around people she liked. I've had many dogs over the years, and I always told myself that I wouldn't keep a dog that would bite, but not only would Bonnie bite, she would bite me, yet if I ever adored a dog, Bonnie was that dog, partly because she had a pronounced sense of dignity and a pronounced intelligence to go with it. More about her later.

Progress Report, Smoke Report, Surgical Error Report, Kasha Report


Three weeks post knee replacement, I've gone from using a walker, to two crutches, to one crutch, to a trekking pole (an adjustable walking stick with a strap), to no aid at all around the house. Instead of working out three times a day for twenty minutes, I work-out almost continually throughout the day (as I write this, I'm flexing and straightening my knee. My major goals for the first six weeks are achieving a normal bend in the knee (120-degrees) and being able to completely straighten the knee. Last Friday, my bend was 105, which was good, and I was three degrees from achieving complete straightness.

Yesterday was house-cleaning day, and I excitedly anticipated being able to help, but after two and half hours on my feet, the knee started to swell (more than it is normally swollen), turn red, and feel hot. The PT said that I could expect swelling to be a problem for two or three months, and, of course, it negatively impacts my therapy goals. There's nothing I can do for it but to lie around for hours everyday with my knee elevated above my heart, and ice packs draped over my knee. It's enough to drive a person crazy. At this point ALWAYS feels like the stiffest knee that a normal person ever had in his life, and it NEVER stops hurting, but it's not pain that's through the roof. One good thing I can say about the pain of exercising is that it was many times worse when I started than it is today, and that by itself is enough to keep me motivated to work-out. 

Until a few days ago, the only outdoor walking I did was to and from the car for my physical therapy appointments. This was because the smoke from the many forest fires (I live in Oregon's Willamette Valley) has been so bad that people are advised to stay indoors. Fortunately, Peggy and I have air conditioning, something that not everyone here has because really hot days are rare--or at least they used to be. 

The smoke has been SO bad of late that there have been days when the sun never appeared; we couldn't see the nearby hills; and we could even see smoke by looking toward the shrubbery in the backyard looked smoky. Peggy taped cardboard over our bathroom vent fan; laid towels along the bottoms of doors to the outside; and avoided opening outside doors if she could help it. Picture a bad air day in Beijing, and that's what much of Oregon looks like. Peggy has had bronchitis and an ear infection from the foul air (she was prescribed steroids and is much improved), and many people are wearing masks. We get some smoke from forest fires almost every year, but this is record-breaking, and it has been going on for over two weeks. Fortunately, it has gotten some better during the last few days due to a front moving through. We even had our first rain in months, although it only lasted a few minutes. Every summer here is a drought summer, but as with the heat, the droughts are getting worst.

Once all the steri-strips fell off so that my incision was visible, my physical therapist (Kasha) pointed out that the incision was crooked (she thought this was a lot funnier than I did), and indeed it looked like what you would expect if a drunk man with palsy tried to draw a straight line seven inches long. I knew that Brian didn't have palsy, and after much reflection, I eliminated as untenable the possibility that a sex kitten of a nurse might have goosed him during surgery, and this left me with but one inescapable conclusion, namely that Brian had operated on me at 7:00 in the morning while drunker than a skunk, and that he had put my new joint in upside down and backwards. I knew this had to be the case because if the situation were otherwise, he wouldn't have been chewing gum to mask the alcohol odor, and I would be able to straighten the knee completely. Also, when I bend it, it would bend in the back like a normal knee instead of in the front like a bird's knee. I think that the best option at this point is for Brian to replace the right knee too, and to put it in upside down and backwards, so that it will match the left knee. Naturally, I would expect him to do this for free. It's a sucky situation, but I'm sure it happens all the time, and I don't hold it against him. Actually, it reminds me of a funny story.

If you've had surgery at either of the local hospitals in the last thirty years or so, you know that the surgeon will come around and put a mark on the spot where he or she is going to operate. He will do this while you're still awake, and you're expected to verify that he's marking the correct place, the goal being to avoid the embarrassment that comes when doctors operate on the wrong patient, amputate the wrong leg, perform hysterectomies on ninety year old men, do tummy-tucks on four year olds, and other fox paws (fox paw is French for fuck-up). As many of you know, Peggy spent her last 24 years as a nurse in an OB unit that was devoted exclusively to labor and delivery patients. Word came down one day that all of the doctors would be forevermore expected to mark the abdomens of all of their C-section patients in order to insure that they (the doctors) wouldn't do something embarrassing like removing a woman's ring fingers. The doctors considered the new rule too stupid for words, and the nurses backed them, so it was soon discarded.

But back to Kasha. I liked her quite well when we met, but she's an avid cyclist, and when the smoke became bad enough that biking was making her throat hurt, she became so despondent that I started to dread seeing her. She would bitch about the smoke; about not having air conditioning at home; about her gym being closed for servicing just when she needed it most; about her difficulty with getting a baby sitter; and about injuries from old bike wrecks; but especially about being unable to ride her bike. I was one appointment away from either having a serious talk with her or simply going to another therapist when she immediately turned herself around and became as good a therapist as I had thought she was when we first met. I even told her after my last session that I had enjoyed working with her, which surely isn't something she hears much from knee replacement patients because these sessions are painful. She looked like she could have cried, and I went away feeling very glad that I hadn't fired her before she could pull herself together.

Come and Gone

Sacred Heart Hospital
"O, the joy! Oh yeah, uh!" Explorer William Clark upon reaching Oregon's Pacific shore in 1805.

We got up at 3:30 on Thursday morning for the 7:30 surgery. The anesthesiologist and the surgeon, Brian, visited me as I lay in bed in the holding area. The anesthesiologist was mellow; Brian, intense as ever, was chewing his gum violently. If he hadn't come well-recommended, I would have suspected that whatever brains he was born with had been displaced by testosterone. I said that it was time for him to work his magic, and he gave me the best reassurance imaginable, "This isn't magic; it's carpentry.

I received my spinal in the OR where doctors have replaced their masks with what look like helmets. I could hear the saw and smell the stench as Brian cut through my bones. Then came the hammering of metal, and I remembered his carpentry allusion. 

The recovery room nurse said that the hospital regularly books more people into surgery than it has places to put them, but that if I were lucky, a room might open up later in the day. If I wasn't lucky, I would have to hope for a better tomorrow.

Three and a half hours later, a room opened up. The labor and delivery rooms (where Peggy used to work) are spacious and have good views of the McKenzie River and the Coburg Hills, so I expected the orthopedic floor to be the same. It was not. My room was so small (not to mention dingy) that workers were forever having to move some things around to get to other things. An outside wall blocked any view lower than the tops of the nearby Coburg Hills.

The pain was intense, and Brian had gone on vacation without following through on his promise of extra narcotics. When I colored the air with expressions of indignation, the powers that be decided to give me 30 mgs of oxycodone at once each morning and an additional 10 mgs every three hours round the clock. A pharmacist dropped by and said I was at risk of respiratory arrest from what she considered an ungodly amount of narcotics. I assured her that she was wrong, and she went away sulking. That night, a 10 mg Ambien, a 45 mg Remeron, a 5 mg Flexeril, and various other drugs were added to the oxycodone, and I became so shit-faced that I didn't know I was in the hospital.

A few hours after surgery, a physical therapist had me walking (with a walker) and doing flexibility exercises. The next day, I attended my first joint rehabilitation class (two of them a day), and walked the loop that circled around the orthopedic floor (there was even a board on which to advance your magnet every time you completed a loop). While in bed, one machine circulated cold water around the surgical site, another machine massaged both legs in the direction of my heart, and the bed itself had a barely noticeable massage function that increased circulation and prevented bed sores. 

The day after surgery, my temperature hit 38.2 C (100.7 F),  my knee swelled to half again its normal size, and I wasn't getting nearly enough laxative to allay the narcotic-induced constipation. When I said that I hadn't pooped since the day before the surgery, I was given a dose of ExLax. When that didn't work, I opted for a suppository, but the result was more worthy of a housecat than a man. By the next day (two days after surgery), my temperature was normal, but I felt like I had a five pound weight on my chest. I hated to mention it to the Nurse Bridget, because I didn't want pandemonium to develop over something that I really didn't think was a problem. Prudence won the day, and Bridget immediately called her supervisor. When Bridget told her that my color was good, that the pain didn't radiate, and that it felt more like pressure than actual pain; she was told not to worry. An hour later, I felt fine and said I wanted to go home. My total time in the hospital had been 56 hours.

The first thing did when I got home was to exchange greetings with three mystified cats. The second was take a couple of sodium docusates, drink a lot of water, and eat a lot of prunes. A few hours later, I had that long awaited bowel movement, but it didn't amount to much, which was just as well because lowering myself onto the pot took so long that I ended up pooping from a standing position. This very scenario had been a concern of mine at the hospital where I told Nurse Bridget that I'm a refined person, and that refined people rarely take dumps on the floor. 

My embarrassment brought to mind an experience Peggy had when she was a new nurse with a dying patient who was having bout after bout of diarrhea, each of which hit him so fast that he was unable to wait for a bedpan. His last words were repeated apologies to Peggy, and she has never stopped regretting that she was unable to find words that would have enabled that man to die in peace. If she had said what she was thinking, she would have told him that it was an honor to attend to the needs of a man for whom she felt such affection and respect. She couldn't say this because she had only met him that day and because it would have represented a greater act of intimacy than her need for professionalism would have allowed. I can but say that the workers who served me best while I was in the hospital were the ones who seemed vulnerable.

Compared to the pain that I live with and the pain that followed my three shoulder surgeries, the pain from this surgery just isn't that bad. I was told to expect hell, but my primary feeling is joy as I prepare to get on with my life minus one source of pain. My ignorance of how little pain normal people experience had at times caused me to suspect that I was simply a woos, but now that my vision has cleared, I say to you that I really do suffer. To the knee replacement fear-mongers in particular, I would scream, "What! You call this pain?" While I suppose it's possible that I'm so stupid that it takes days for pain in my knee to register in my brain, I am nonetheless optimistic.

Today is Monday, so I'm only four days post-op, yet every time I do my exercises, I see improvement. I just hope I can resist my desire to push myself too hard too fast. Brian said it would be six weeks before I could mow the lawn, but while I was out the backyard just now watching the solar eclipse, I thought to myself, "Hell, I could mow today."