Monthly Archives: February 2015

Guns vs. a head of lettuce …

Now you know how I feel about guns of the non-hunting variety. I’m fine with hunting, not slaughter.


February 17, 2015

Ellen/Reid: There’s a skiff of snow on top of some black ice this morning which makes tooling around here relatively treacherous. The weather is only going to deteriorate throughout the week with the lows in the single digits. That’s pretty numbing in these parts when the average high is supposed to be in the mid 50s. On the way back from Charleston last night it was pretty daunting on I-26 once we got to about 60 miles from Charlotte. The temps dropped into mid 20s. All those years of driving in the Midwest paid off. Tom and I made it back while folks with no clue how to drive or take their sweet time were spinning out or moving like snails behind salt trucks. We went steadily along at about about 25-30 MPH the final 20 or so miles and got through in one piece.

The only thing caught on this fishing trip was this photo of my friend Tom. We got skunked, pure and simple. But he wants to go back once the weather thaws.

The only thing caught on this fishing trip was this photo of my friend Tom. We got skunked, pure and simple. But he wants to go back once the weather thaws.

I’m done kayak fishing until the water warms up in late March or April. Tom and I paid a guide yesterday and none of us got a bite, not even at The Barge. The water temperature was only 37F and the fish were in a stupor. Not even our good guide, Captain Tripp, caught anything. The wind was whipping and the air temps barely reached the upper 30s. Our anchors wouldn’t hold which made things that much more frustrating. We bagged it with an hour to go (at my suggestion since I was frozen) and drove home. Tom was a sport about it and we’ll go again, but I was so disappointed he didn’t catch anything because he worked hard at it. We knew the reds might be lethargic, so it wasn’t entirely a surprise.

The arm came through it just fine. I wrapped it tight as a precaution but there were no issues with paddling. We’ll never know what a big fish might have done to it. The stitches came out so quickly and so simply – the nurse practitioner pulled them out with tweezers – I asked her why they just couldn’t have walked me through the process over the phone. That was joke of course, but literally it wasn’t 1-2 minutes from start to finish. I hit a couple of easy iron shots on Saturday when I walked nine holes with my friends and it felt good. The green light on full activity is March 1.

The feeder at the kitchen window this morning was empty and no birds could be seen. The wind blows out all the hulls. But no sooner had I filled it with black oil sunflower and shut the window than the first cardinals paid a visit. The sound of the window must be like a dinner bell to the birds because they instantly come for their share of the bounty. With this bitter cold they need the nourishment so it will be kept full throughout the day.

We had a terrible shooting of three civic-minded Muslim students in Chapel Hill last week. The alleged shooter/whack job had something like 15 guns in his apartment. The poor kids didn’t stand a chance. I don’t know why we have this morbid preoccupation with guns. Our death rate by firearms remains 20 times higher than that of the next developed nation. 20 times. I just don’t get it. There was an op-ed in the Observer the other week by some nutcase who objects to our local grocery store, Harris Teeter, considering a ban on his open carry in their stores. He’s all concerned about readiness. Readiness for what? Someone’s going to hurl a head of iceberg lettuce at him in the produce aisle? Now that’s a shooting offense. (I suggest morons like him be ever more vigilant about what’s going on over in the wine/beer aisle. Rumor has it some of the gray hairs over there get pretty out of hand during tastings.) The incident over at UNC had anti-Muslim overtones and we don’t do a very good job of differentiating between Muslims and radicals like ISIS. We paint them, as they do Americans, with the same broad brush. It’s not a very sensible way for either side to live.

Love, Dad


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It could be a teaching moment …

We double dip today with two letters after the return of one week’s worth of envelopes for non-postage. Chalk it up to ‘operator error.’ I’d like to think that won’t happen again, but hey, I am aging. On the bright side, it could be a teaching moment for my course on letter writing at Central Piedmont Community College.


February 2, 2015

Ellen/Reid: The Super Bowl is over so we collectively breathe again. I wasn’t especially jazzed about watching it last night. Must be some form of football fatigue. At least the Big Game was close for a change.

The pathology report is due today or tomorrow. Again, you’ll know things way before this letter arrives at your doorstep. The surgery wasn’t quite what was expected. I envisioned an operating room type setting but instead in an upright chair as the surgeon’s assistant marked the excision boundaries in purple ink then pumped my arm full of Linocaine, a local anesthetic, to deaden things up. She poked me a few times with the needle when I wasn’t watching to see if the liquid took hold. It worked well and worked fast. The surgeon, Dr. Smith, came in and got right to it. He reviewed the initial dermatologist report line-by-line and he was quite positive about the outcome (barring any untoward comments from the pathologist). In the space of 10 minutes he carved out a silver dollar sized circle all the way down to the muscle and plopped the orb into a bottle to send to the lab. He talked me all the way through what he was doing and why. It was morbidly fascinating, and the assistant even took a few shots with my phone. You got one of the mid-surgery shots, Reid, and you both got a look at the scar. Most of Dr. Smith’s time was spent sewing up the wound with two layers of stitches. One stays put, the other will come out next Monday. I don’t know why I envisioned a longish opening rather than a circle. When he used a test stitch to draw together the circle, it puckered up on both ends, which he called dog ears. He lopped those off with his scalpel and finished the procedure. He sat with me for a little while to answer any residual questions and offered last minute assurances then he was off to the next patient. I’m not supposed to lift anything heavy for the next few weeks to keep pressure off the incision. Not sure when I can golf again, maybe 4-5 weeks, but I’ll ease my way back into things.

I overdid it a little bit on Saturday. Without golf, I had to invent something to do so built a bench in the garage for my tools and to stow my fishing stuff.

In hindsight, 'measure twice, cut once' is a good rule to live by when you build something.

In hindsight, ‘measure twice, cut once’ is a good rule to live by when you build something.

It took me virtually all day, with a couple of trips to Lowes in there, to finish the beast. But at least things are now off the floor. Ready-made shelving might have been cheaper and quicker to install but it was cathartic to break out the saws and drills.

If Dr. Smith clears me for heavier activity, I’m hopeful to head back to Charleston in a couple of weeks to fish. My boat won’t make the trip since the prohibition against lifting heavy objects will still be in place and will instead rent a fishing kayak and lightly paddle my way around the Intracoastal. My frozen Continue reading

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“… that has made all the difference.”

Most of the things I do are head shakers: as in you shake your head at yet another act of nuttiness. (Insert your own, perhaps stronger, descriptor here.)

Here’s another chance to shake your noggin from side to side. For the first time in nearly 15 years, and for reasons unknown, I forgot to put postage on last week’s letters to Ellen and Reid. The unstamped envelopes were unceremoniously returned to me on Saturday.

Ellen's letter came back with the red mark of postal shame.

Ellen’s letter came back with the red mark of postal shame.

Since the usual practice is to allow the kids to read what is sent before you see the somewhat edited versions, the returned letters will be tucked inside today’s letter and mailed again – this time with a stamp. There’s a whole lot of head shakin’ going on.

Perhaps, however, this is a chance to show that my two aren’t the only ones on the receiving end of letters. Indeed, far from it. This ‘thank you’ went to the dermatologist who squeezed me into her busy schedule, and, to borrow from Robert Frost, “… that has made all the difference.” As I re-read it this morning, I might have worded a few rough patches a bit more carefully, but the emotional intent remains the same: what they did for me and what they do for others is very much appreciated. (Note: the names of the dermatologist and surgeon are omitted for privacy sake.)


February 2, 2015

Dr. Smith: The call from Dr. Jone’s office came early this morning with the news that I’d hoped to hear: the pathology report “… came back just fine and there’s no further treatment required.” He removed the “thin melanoma” you discovered and broke the news to me gently about a couple of weeks ago.

I guess this note is really in two parts. One is to thank you and your staff for getting me in early in lieu of waiting a nerve-whacking few weeks down the road to get into your office. And the second part relates to the surgery by Dr. Jones and what he and you represent to the average patient.

He talked to me through the entire process from excision to final knot in two rows of neat stitches. As I buttoned my shirt after ditching the stylish patient gown, and as he finished asking me if there were any other questions as he was ready to exit the room, I blurted out that what he was doing in his office is important work. He may have described things as routine, but for folks like me who walk in a half hour early and are filled with anxieties and wondering what lies ahead of us in the small, strange operating room, the surgery is anything but.

You also go through your routines day in and day out, yet I’d tell you the same thing that he heard: what you guys do over off of Fairview Road is important work for people like me.

Best regards – and thank you.

Dave Bradley


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Ready to go under the knife …

Things are done and looking optimistic and hopeful. By this time next week all the reports will be back in. Fingers crossed.


January 26, 2015

Ellen/Reid: I thought about waiting to write this tomorrow afternoon once the results of the surgery were known, but why break with tradition if there’s a few free moments this morning? Of course, you’ll know how things went long before this note arrives. Your uncle called last night but I was already zonked out. He’ll get return a call this morning. Things are increasingly positive, at least attitudinally, on this end, and that’s a good thing. The surgeon’s office called twice this week, once to make sure the financial details were buttoned up and the second was to apprise me of what to expect once in the office. Pam Kenyon called last week (she’s survived breast cancer for 11 years now) and it was so good to hear from her. Bob Furstenau has been in touch almost daily. They are good friends, as are the folks in my golf group who’ve been non-stop in their support.

I have started to buy sun gear for golf and general outdoor activity. According to what I read, clothing is a better sun protector than sunscreen so the commitment here is to pants and long sleeve shirts. I did buy a few sets of Nike Dri Fit sun sleeves. You pull them up your arms. There’s elastic on both ends to keep the thing snug and in place. Interesting that there was no knowledge of the existence of these until the diagnosis. Reid, let Liz know Coolibar is also getting some of my business and their gear is to arrive this week.

The surgery wasn't like going to the electric chair. In fact, the surgeon and I had a running conversation for the entire 45 minutes of the excision.

The surgery wasn’t like being strapped to an electric chair. In fact, the surgeon and I had a running conversation the entire 45 minutes of the excision. More on that next week.

Thanks for the short review of American Sniper, Ellen. Ever since Saving Private Ryan, I’ve steered clear of a lot of violent war stuff. Not sure why that is since I enjoy good movie making. Perhaps that’s a testament to the realism of the movie maker. The theatre is a scant 200 yards from here so maybe there will be a trip up there.

My weekend was mostly golf. Got out twice because there’s no way to be sure how long I’ll be on the shelf. It will be missed but that’s really pretty much okay by me. It was good to get a couple of rounds in with friends although the courses were soggy and muddy from recent rains. Dormant Bermuda is just awful to play on.

Got the Caldwell Presbyterian newsletter done in the nick of time. Why it is there is an increasing delay to get the thing done with mere hours to spare is beyond me. The last minute rush creates for mistakes that shouldn’t be made. John seems to like it, though, and that’s the measuring stick. Reid, you’ve never seen it although you can go online to to sneak a peek. Ellen, your copy will be in the mail this week and not overly delayed like the December issue. FYI … John’s mom is slipping and he’s been making the trek to Atlanta at least weekly to be with her.

Looks like Tom and I have a couple more people on the hook for this July’s trek to the Bridger Wilderness. We’ll go to the South end again up towards the Cirque of the Towers. Reid, if you and Liz can make it, that would be wonderful but don’t feel obligated. Since my retirement is delayed until February of 2016, there will be no leisurely drive up there with stops along the way to see you two and the grandkids. We’ll do the usual and fly to Jackson and rent an SUV from there. The real dates are July 24 – August 1.

If the arm is capable of hefting the kayak, the next fishing excursion will be down to Charleston over the President’s Day weekend. I might entice my friend Jody to go with me, and not because he can help me lift the darn thing. His mother just passed away last week and it would be good for him to fish waters where he has caught sizable fish. There are sardine’s frozen in the freezer that we’ll use for bait. Reid, I’ll buy some finger mullet just like Ryan was using when he caught all those reds. We’ll take some shrimp along for good measure.

Okay, sports, I’m out of here. Watch for a call and/or Facetime this week.

Love, Dad

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