Archive for August, 2006

Goodbye, Betsy

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Betsy died last night about 7:30. She was set on dying by Labor Day, and she did it.

More on Betsy

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

I went over to the Chateau to visit June and Betsy yesterday afternoon.  Betsy was asleep, or at least not conscious.  She has a fever, and the hospice people are supposed to bring something for that today.  Meanwhile, June says she’s become very weak, and hasn’t really been responding much to people for the past couple of days.  As I said before, I don’t think she’s going to last much longer.

I have conflicting feelings about her these days.  She decided about a month ago that she was going to refuse medications except for palliative care, so that she could die.  I think she imagined it wouldn’t be more than a week or so, but it turns out she was stronger than she thought.  When she first told me about this decision, my response was to be supportive, as much as possible — it’s her choice, of course, and I don’t know what it’s like to be her.  On the other hand, she seemed like she was recovering well from her heart attack, and she was quite mobile, active, and lucid, so it just didn’t make much sense to me.

Now I find that I feel resentful, and I feel vaguely guilty and selfish about that.  The decision to die is a rejection of the world.  I had been making an effort to come and visit and spend time with Betsy almost every day, so it’s hard not to feel personally rejected.  At the same time, I know it’s absurd — she’s dying, so it’s all about me?  But I think that all of us feel this to some extent.  I know June has been very frustrated, since she more than anyone gave up time and other activities to stay with Betsy round the clock.

I did enjoy having Betsy living near us, even though it’s turning out to be for a pretty short time, just 9 months.  She can be funny in her acerbic way, and she was mentally sharp the whole time, until the morphine dulled her wits in the past week or two.  Not having the comfort of a belief in an afterlife, I just wish that I’d been able to spend more pleasant time with her before.

Hannah has clothes!

Monday, August 28th, 2006

I called Hannah last night, and she got her lost suitcase, so she’s not wandering around Massachusetts naked. Good thing, too, because they’re having lows in the 50s this week. Lucky dogs. It was really steamy here yesterday.

Betsy is getting weaker daily. The hospice people don’t think she’s going to last much longer, but it’s hard to know. June has to leave in a day or two, and we’ve decided we’re going to hire someone to stay with Betsy round the clock for a while. The alternative would be sending her back to skilled nursing, aka the Pit … and if she happens to be conscious and lucid, she’ll throw a fit. She hated it down there.

I’ve gotten sort of blase (I had pasted an e with an accent in here, but it caused problems in the feed to LJ) about Betsy’s impending death, I guess. She’s told us so many times that she wants to die, and has in fact been so angry at her inability to die quickly enough to suit her, that I have to view it as a positive thing. I still feel like she could actually have decided to make a go of it and had years of fairly decent quality life, but it’s her choice. Admittedly, I don’t know how I’ll feel after another 40 years. I might be tired too.

More on Hannah

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

Hannah called on Friday night to report that she finally arrived safely in Boston.  Only one of her bags arrived with her, so she had all her toiletries and shoes, but no clothes.  I haven’t heard from her since; hope she’s not naked.

In which I reach my goal

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

I went for a bike ride yesterday to Horseshoe Lake, and today to Millersville — and on the way home this morning, at the top of the hill by the water tower, I broke 5000 miles since I bought my new bike last September 23.  I still have almost a month until the one-year anniversary.  Maybe I can make 5500.

Hannah Heads Out

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Last night I drove Hannah up to St. Louis and dropped her at the Drury across the road from the airport.  Her plane was leaving at 8:45 this morning, so she needed to get there the night before.  I should be getting pretty used to the kids being grown up, but I have to say it was a strange feeling giving her a hug and leaving her in a hotel room by herself.

Anyway, she got away fine, and I didn’t hear anything until early this afternoon.  Turns out she’s in Baltimore, where she’s supposed to change planes, but the weather has been bad in Boston, so her connecting flight (coming in from Boston and then turning around) is delayed.  So she’s pretty much run out of ways to amuse herself in Baltimore.  Oh, well.  I did look up train schedules for her so she can think about what later train she might catch.

Meanwhile, on the bicycling front, some idiot almost ran me over this morning.  Everybody always gasps about me riding on country roads like W, but in fact it’s in town that’s the scariest.  I pull up to the four-way stop at Lexington and Perryville, stop, put my foot down so everyone can see I’m REALLY stopping.  An SUV pulls up on my right and stops.  I start out into the intersection, and just as I’m passing right in front of the SUV, the idiot starts pulling out.  I yelled, and he apparently woke up and stopped.  You know, I’m doing my bit to keep demand for gas down so you can drive your gas hog more cheaply, and this is the thanks I get?

On a sunnier note, only 76.55 miles to go to 5000 since I bought the new bike last Sep. 23.

Ooops. What an unfortunate, totally unintentional mistake.

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

The National SMART program gives grants to low income undergraduates in science, math, and certain foreign language majors.  It has a long list of majors that will be supported, which until recently included “evolutionary biology”.  There are numerical codes for all the majors, and 26.1303 is the one for that major — but in the current list there’s a blank line between “26.1302 Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography”, and “26.1304 Aquatic Biology/Limnology”.   The New York Times quoted officials saying the omission was a “clerical mistake” that would be corrected right away.  Uh-huh.

Random stuff

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

No single really bloggable event has occurred recently, so this is just a collection of snippets.  This is the first week of classes for me, and that’s going okay; in particular, my first Science and Religion class with Bob Towner team-teaching seemed very promising.  He’s  pastor of the local Episcopal church, and teaches a few classes for Philosophy and Religion.  We get along well, and our viewpoints are different enough that it sparks some interesting discussion.  The students seemed mostly willing to talk as well.

It’s now 30 days from the anniversary of buying my new bike, and I have 110 miles left to hit 5000 for the year.   This isn’t counting the 16.5 miles that I’ll ride this afternoon to get home.  Looks like I will make 5000 with a fair amount to spare, as I’ve averaged 160 miles a week since March.  Tuesday I rode to work and back, and also went for a ride in the middle of the day with Tom Farden, the gymnastics coach.  I can keep up with him, more or less, although he clearly is easing up sometimes for the sake of the old guy.

Betsy is determined to die by Labor Day, although I don’t know that it’s that easy.  She is getting weaker daily, and she’s in considerable pain.  They have liquid morphine for her, and she’s been taking a lot of it.  I went to see her yesterday and she really wasn’t lucid at all.  She hasn’t been eating or drinking much, so she’s losing weight.

The cats are going through some kind of power struggle.  Bart and Dora have been coming upstairs a lot more lately, and Bart is apparently trying to establish dominance over Finch and Darwin.  He practically knocked Finch off the top of the bookshelves in our bedroom yesterday.   Legba is the only one whose behavior remains consistent.  I see him most mornings on top of the heating ducts in the basement, just before he panics and hides in the laundry room.

I’m driving Hannah to St. Louis tonight — she’s going to spend the night in the hotel across the road from the airport, so she can catch her plane early tomorrow morning.  Back to Boston, where she has to be early so she can help new freshmen move in.

My town

Monday, August 21st, 2006

I was looking for something else today and came upon the 2000 Census site. You can go to the American Fact Finder and get data about any locality you want, so of course I tried Pocahontas, MO. Just hit that link and check it out, okay? Scroll down to where you can see the number of residents with “bachelor’s degree or higher.”

Yep, that’s right. Kind of puts the whole “them genius people” thing into perspective, huh?

I also note that it lists the number of people who “speak a language other than English at home” as “1″.  Who’s he talking to?


Friday, August 18th, 2006

I’ve just come from a 3 1/2 hour faculty “retreat” at which we have been trying to work out the scheduling of rooms and faculty for the spring semester.  We’re in transition to a new majors’ curriculum, and it becomes too complex to sort out without everyone there to think about how they’ll be affected.

It’s actually still going on, but my schedule is done, and I don’t have anything to do with any of the courses that remain to be figured out, so I decided to release myself.

Of course, we did discuss some other issues.  Diane was talking about problems with the graduate program; I wondered what had happened to the recruiting poster we use to send out.  She said they tried one, but people don’t respond to emails when she asks for information to put on the poster.  I told her to put the info she gets on the poster.

“But then I don’t want people coming and complaining about not being represented on the poster!”

“You can’t wait for everyone to respond.  Everyone will never respond.  Some people in this room are never going to respond to ANY email you send.  If they complain, tell them ‘Fuck you!’”

“But then their areas won’t be on the poster.”

“Fuck ‘em!”

I always try to raise the level of discourse in my own subtle way.