Once again I’ve been terribly lax in posting here. I post to Facebook and this blog slides.But a lot has been going on so if you care to read it here goes:
March 20, 2023
It’s a bright, sunny, though chilly morning here in The Swamp on the Saint Johns River in DeBary, FL. But there’s a HUGE dark cloud hanging over everything.
As I’ve written, I’m getting ready to make a road trip up to KY to see a very dear friend who has been battling lung cancer. Radiation and chemo shrunk the tumor that was as large as his cell phone in his right lung by 85%. He’d been feeling pretty good and was able to get up and walk as much as a mile (he measured it once) where before the treatment he could barely walk from his living room to the kitchen without running out of breath.
While prepping for the trip to visit him he messaged me last night that the cancer had metastasized. “Cancer has spread to bones all over body… hips, pelvis, femurs, ribs, skull, vertebrae, shoulders, upper arms. Bone scan Thurs confirmed it. Moved from Palliative Care to Hospice. Treatment discontinued. Comfort and pain relief are now the focus.”
Rushing to finish packing so I can leave early tomorrow morning.j Not going to be able to spend more than a couple of hours with him to say goodbye. My heart is very heavy. I’m going to go from there to see a friend in Ohio who has always had the ability to make me laugh. I’m going to need that now.
Having a “Lay Day” in Somerset, KY. Have been on the road out of The Swamp and though a 12-hour day behind the wheel, like yesterday, wouldn’t have phased me 25 years ago when those miles follow the eight the day before, these almost 81 year old is BEAT.
On Tuesday I made it up to Macon, Georgia, half way to Somerset where I’ve come to spend time with a dear friend who was diagnosed with bone cancer a week ago. He’d gone through radiation and chemo that had shrunken a cell phone-sized tumor in one lung by 85% but as often happens the nefarious disease metastasized into his skeleton. I spent a very pleasant evening in the company of a friend of a friend who put me up for the night.
I avoid traveling on the interstates. The back roads in Florida and southern Georgia are generally straight. Most of the time there wasn’t another car visible ahead of me or in the rear view mirror. Speed limits were mostly 55 though a few places were posted at 65. Northern Georgia, Tennessee, and the tiny portion of Kentucky I’ve driven through on this trip has twisted and turned like a conservative Republican politician at a news conference. At one point yesterday the routing took me up over a mountain and on top of the rain I drove through for 10 of the 12 hours on the road the clouds on top of the mountain cut visibility to 100 yards or so. Stressful to say the least.
I got checked into a motel and my friend came over and we had a nice supper at a Mexican restaurant. I’d been looking forward to taking a long, hot shower but lay down on the bed “for a second” to glance at my emails and instantly fell asleep.
Today will be spent with my buddy. Reminisce, play a bit of uke together and generally agree that sometimes life REALLY SUCKS!
I’ll be on the road to Ohio tomorrow morning to see a friend I met in Panama who should help ameliorate the sadness of saying a final goodbye to someone I hold dear.
March 23, 2023
It is impossible not to have fun when you own and play a ukulele.
I’m up in Somerset, KY visiting an old friend. This morning I was taking my two Enya ukes out of my car to show my friend when he comes to pick me up for lunch. There was a lady, Patricia, sitting on the curb smoking a cigarette. She saw what I was carrying and asked “Do you play the ukulele?”
Well, I avoided blurting out my first impulse which was to say, “No, these are for transporting my mini machine guns around.” But I didn’t and said I played. She said she played the the harmonica. A few minutes later we were sitting side by side on the curb while I strummed out Jambalaya and she accompanied me with her harmonica.
You can’t buy moments like that with money, but you get them if you own a uke.
March 25, 2023
Made it up to friend’s house in Ohio. Harrowing and stressful drive in the morning. I use Google Maps for driving suggestions. Since it was necessary to cross the Ohio River by a single bridge to Cincinnati on all three suggested routes I took I-75 north from Somerset. The first time in the 1,058-mile journey I abandoned the back roads. Figured I’d simply take the Interstate until I got north of Cincinnati and then reprogram the app to resume the trip.
Soon after I got on I-75 it started to rain. The speed limit on the Interstate is 70 mph. The Interstate system is the home of 18-wheelers. You are forced to “go with the flow” of traffic and find yourself boxed in between these behemoths, drenched in the spray their tires spew from the roadbed while being pelted by rain from above. There were occasional downpours and visibility ahead was mere yards. I was forced to stay safely between the barely visible white lines on the pavement while being bracketed by the large trucks hurtling along at 70 mph. And while we were maintaining the speed limit there were maniacs whipping down the far left lane doing AT LEAST 90 mph!! It was like that for a couple of hours. It’s a wonder there aren’t permanent dents on the steering wheel I gripped it so hard.
Half an hour after the bridge, which crept along stop-and-go after the terror of the Interstate, and I’d gotten into the far northern suburbs of Cincinnati, I pulled into a fast food establishment for a bite to eat and get routing info for the back roads. At that point the difference in travel time to my destination between using the Interstate and back roads was negligible. Much less stressful. Another thing I like about the back roads is you actually get to SEE what the country looks like. You get to see where people LIVE. All that’s blocked from view on the Interstate. It’s amazing how much empty space there is in this country. All along the route I saw mile after mile of land being prepared tor planting crops.
Driving through Paulding and Van Wert Counties I went through The Blue Creek Wind Farm, the largest in the country. It covers approximately 40,500 acres. With 152 cancer-causing turbines the farm churns out enough electricity to service the equivalent of about 76,000 homes. Those BASTARDS!!! I believe that any MAGA hat-wearing Trump supporter should be banned from receiving any of the electricity generated by the turbines.
It’s 36F and raining.