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 anchovies will make the trip. I hope to entice a buddy or two to make the trip with me. Wish you could go, Reid. You have unfinished business there. Maybe next time.

Ellen, people ask how you’re feeling and I tell them you look pretty good and are feeling pretty good. Your surprise B-day party for Mr. Tim looked like a lot of fun and the surprise element of it seemed to catch him off guard. That’s the most fun is catching someone completely unawares.

Dave Hemminger called last night to see how things were doing. He and Will spent a few days in Nicaragua to relax and give Dave some time to check in on a commercial bamboo farm he’s invested in. Wild. We have loosely agreed to compete in next year’s Sailfish Smackdown. This time he’ll be in a boat, too.

Okay, kiddos, enough for today. I’ll call as soon as the lab report is in.

Love, Dad


February 9, 2015

Ellen/Reid: Yes, there are two letters today. Last week’s note was returned because your dad forgot to affix postage. That has never happened before (and I can’t promise it won’t happen again). What an idiot. At least we know the Postal Service is vigilant about stamp scofflaws.

Your calls really came at good times yesterday. Reid, when you and Liz know more about your plans to Raleigh that first weekend in May, I’ll be there whenever there’s a break in the wedding schedule. The weather should be pretty spiffy at that time of year. It will be so exciting to see you both. Tell Liz thanks for her b-day text. That was sweet. Ellen, Emma just has such a strong but sweet personality. It’s hard to wake up from a long nap. Bless her little heart. It was a good birthday, if there is such a thing at 65.

Until there's clearance to play golf, I'll walk courses with my buddies like Jane who pushes her cart every chance she gets.

Until there’s clearance to play golf, I’ll walk courses with my buddies like Jane who pushes her cart every chance she gets.

I walked 9 holes with my golf group (my friend Jane draped a birthday cake in a bag from her golf cart but the pastry melted in the 70F heat). That was fun. My friends Sondra and Jody took pity on me and hosted me for dinner. Sondra specializes in Italian food, and that woman can really cook up a storm. Everything she prepares is unbelievably good.

Ellen, John’s mother passed away last week. The service was Friday. And still he sets aside his own grief to deal with others. He even called with birthday wishes Saturday morning. He’s just such a good guy. Reid, I’d like you to meet him sometime.

The stitches come out today at noon. For the first time since the surgery, the wound went unwrapped yesterday and it is a tad sore this morning, certainly a sign that it is far from normal even though it looks healed, and that’s okay. One of my questions to the surgeon is when will I be ready for full activity, i.e. golf, hard kayaking. The swing might be okay, but my question is what might happen when I jam the club into the ground or hit a shot heavy, both of which I am prone to do. That could be pretty jarring, so what he says will be the final guide as to when to resume things. Ellen, Tom Bohr (you met him on our Bridger Wilderness hike) will go down with me this Sunday to Charleston to fish. Reid, we’ll rent Wilderness fishing kayaks at that same spot you and I put in. The weather isn’t forecast to be as warm as this past weekend, but I’m itching to get back on the water, and pending what the doctor mandates, I can’t imagine some mild paddling will do me that much harm. Jody and I fished a little bit from his dock on Lake Wylie (skunked again – that’s a recurring theme) and the arm didn’t feel too bad.

My class on letter writing starts tomorrow at Central Piedmont Community College. Only four students are signed up (the hope was for 12) and such low numbers usually nix classes but the college decided to give it a go anyway. I haven’t checked this morning to see if there are any last minute enrollees. My syllabus is mostly together, but a lot will depend on what students (all adults) tell me in the first session about their expectations for the course. No doubt the letters to you will be central to the examples.

Thanks again for your calls. It was great to hear from you. But now it’s back to work, with the clock ticking on one final year before Feb. 8, 2016. That’s a Monday, and I’ll pull the plug hard.

Love, Dad


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