why do I go there?

I got back from AL today. I flew down for my mother's memorial service. We combined it with one for my father, who died back in November. Anyway, when I arrived on Thursday there was a call from my cousin who lives a block from my parent's house in Tuscaloosa. It seems that he had been shot and was wondering if he should go have the bullets taken out. I really wonder about my family members and their intelligence sometimes.

It turned out that things were not as bad as he indicated on the phone. He was being shown a new gun by a friend when it discharged. The slug hit something and fragmented and my cousin ended up with some fragments in his leg. They were quite small and did not have enough energy to exit his leg. Still, I would think that having metal shards in my calf would be pretty much an automatic go to the doctor sign. Eventually he did go and 7 of the 8 fragments were removed. Removing he 8th one would have caused more damage than it had caused so the doctor left it and left the wound open to drain. The metal bit has a 50% chance of working its way out. I think my cousin has a greater than 50% chance of doing something else stupid.

My nephew Andrew was there and we spent one evening discussing family stories, many of which he had not heard. After a few hours of hearing about fun with dynamite, the traditional Halloween prank of blocking roads with fallen trees, tossing cherry bombs into furnaces, midnight moonshine delivery, playing with rattlesnakes, sliding down hills on mud slides and other things done for amusement he started to have serious questions about his genetics. It did not help when I pointed out that, due to the tangles of the family tree, he is a nephew and a cousin to me and is actually related to himself. He has serious doubts about having kids now.
  • Current Music
    plantive Celtic

Son & mother update

Russell is home. He spent Monday night in the hospital and had his broken arm operated on today. It took 6 screws and a plate to get things fixed. The break was right on the joint and the plate was formed around the sharp part of the elbow and screwed in place. He will wear a cast for 2 weeks. He also has some potent pain meds but has not needed them so far. I am proud of how well he is handling this. I think that he will be harder to put up with tomorrow. (G)

I leave on Thursday for AL and my mother's service and to start wrapping up things. Right now I have an hang-up re her cremation. The funeral home in AL needs the signatures of all the kids before cremation. They were supposed to fax the form to a local funeral home for me to sign and Fed EX back. So far, no form.

Bad Day

Margaret and the boys went to the zoo today. I stayed home because I had a PT appointment. Well, I got a call from Margaret after my PT session letting me know that Son # 1 had fallen was she was taking him to the ER. He injured his arm. He is still at the hospital, having had an x-ray of his arm. I don't know how he is yet.

My sister called a little after Margaret to let me know that our mother died this afternoon. I was going down to see her in a day or so. Now we all will be going down for the service.

Not a good day, all in all.

I blame Grandpa Ezrie

I took a spill on the ice last December and am still in discomfort from it. The cracked rib healed and eventually stopped hurting but my left shoulder stayed sore. Well, yesterday, after much poking prodding, x-rays and MRIs the experts delivered the news: I do not have a torn rotator cuff. I do have a touch of arthritis, some minor bone spurs, and, most painful, inflamed tendons. It seems that when my arm was jammed upward in the fall my tendons in the shoulder were forced into an unusual and restricted position. In a normal person this would have either done some tearing or resulted in a temporary sprain. In my case the unusually thick tendons I have did not yield, thus no tearing. However they also had no room to go anywhere and got "jammed" as it were and have stayed in a stressed state for months. My heavy tendons are the result of genetics and it looks like they came from the maternal line. My mother's father was a very heavy duty type. He used to stun hogs for slaughter with bare-handed punches and throw bales of hay into the loft two at a time, one in each hand. I seem to have gotten the genes for this sort of stuff, and the extra heavy tendons to allow it.

My treatment is not very severe. No surgery, just some PT and injections. It will hurt a little more for a while but eventually I will have a full range of pain free motion back. Then I will have no excuse for not doing the heavy lifting around the house. I have a script for some pain meds and I took some last night. The first dose left me a bit out of it. The second dose, however, kicked in with my usual inverse effect and made it difficult to sleep. There I was, unable to close my eyes after taking something that I was not supposed to take and drive. I can't blame Ezrie for this. I think it comes from my father's side of the gene pool.

spicy squirrils

This morning I went outside and found some squirrels sniffing about my pepper plants. I have 2 types, plain green bell peppers and habenero peppers. The habs are a type of hot pepper, a very hot pepper. They are starting to set fruit and do not have any sizable pods yet. But if the fluffy-tailed tree rats keep poking about and sample them I expect squirrely screams and high-velocity departure from the plants. A friend of mine saw a squirrel take a bite from one of his pepper plants and swears that the beastie was up a tree before the dropped pod hit the ground. And there were no further raids on his plants after that.

Evolving native species

In the southern mountains there are folk tales about gardenels. They are akin to Venus Flytraps or more accurately, Pitcher Plants. Pitcher Plants have a cup-like part in which a sweet liquid collects. Insects crawl in, become mired in the liquid, a lid slowly closes, and the bug is digested by the secretions of the plant. Well, gardenels are a sort of Pitcher Plant that are big enough to be mistaken, in bad light, for an abandoned shack. Supposedly people enter seeking shelter, go to sleep, and become plant food after the "door" closes and traps them inside. Manley Wade Wellman mentions gardenels in his Silver John tales. One of the stories involves a witch powerful enough to live in a 2-story gardenel.

As I mentioned, the tales are from the southern mountains. The Carolinas and Georgia mainly, not West Virginia. But when I was in WV I kept finding abandoned and rusted out double-wide mobile homes in out of the way places. Once I found a whole hillside with over a dozen of them arranged haphazardly with no trace of a road or signs that they had ever been inhabited. I was told that it was just a junk yard of sorts and that the rusting hulks had been dumped there. But... I remembered the stories of the gardenels and decided that the "abandoned" trailers must have really been modern gardenels. They had grown there, thus the lack of a plan in their placement and the lack of any roads. Clearly the plants have evolved from resembling shacks to resembling abandoned mobile homes. I sure would not want to try and spend the night in one.

Once I made the gardenel/trailer connection I set to wondering if any other traditional critters and plants had adapted to modern life. I saw a few gravel lots in the middle of nowhere that might have been flats (a creature that resembles a grassy spot until it rises up and envelopes you). And try as I might I could not find any behinders, but then they are hard to see since they are always behind you. I think that the painters (panthers) and bammoths (smaller hill cousins of the mammoths) are extinct. However I did manage to convince a few of my fellow Ohio workers to beware of hoopsnakes, rattlers and cottonmouths. And, after meeting a few of the locals, the Buckeyes were very receptive to stories of WV Sasquatch. (My 16 year old son has just gotten new shoes, size 11 EEEEEE. Bigfoot is a family member.)

I did, on a path in the woods, find some bones, mainly vertibrae, that were rather large. I decided that they were from a deer. Only a deer, bear, or human would have had ones that were large and I did not poke around lest I find anything to disprove my deer theory. Yep, that roundish brown rock I could see half buried in the leaf mould was a rock and I was not going to risk finding out it wasn't. I just went back to my van and did some paperwork. With the doors locked and the windows up and watching the woods constantly until I was ready to move on.

Mother woes, again

Bad news about my mother. She fell yesterday and broke her hip. (Yes, I know at at her age such falls are often due to a hip breaking before the fall but end result is still broken bones and my mother on the floor.) She is undergoing surgery as I write to replace the ball in her hip. While the operation is fairly routine it is risky due to her age and health. She has a DNR order in place and I find myself in great turmoil. I think that her current crisis has tapped into repressed emotions over my father's death last fall.

WV roads

While in WV for the Census I had the enjoyable experience of seeing some big-wigs from our regional office in Detroit actually come down to WV. They arrived full of vim and vigor and ready to show us what we were doing wrong. By the second day it was clear that they had been blunted a bit by the reality of the landscape. By the third day I heard one of them on his cell phone explaining why he had authorized the rental of 4-wheel drive vehicles: "You just don't understand what the land is like down here." This was the mantra the people on the ground in WV kept saying when talking to Detroit. Nice to see that it sunk in even if it took a trip to the state to do it.

My wife thinks that WV has a state law prohibiting any section of road from being straight and level for more than 100 feet. She has mainly been on main roads. On the back roads there is no allowable level and straight distance. I spent a lot of time on gravel and dirt roads that wound about ridges and through hollows, by and through streams, and along hillsides. One of my co-workers found Thirteen Creek Road, recently renamed Muddy Creek Road. It used to cross 13 creeks. No bridges or culverts, just 13 incidents of driving through flowing water. (It is now down to only 9 such crossings due to some culverts.) I encountered a few roads that did not cross creeks but rather used the creek bed as the road for hundreds of feet at a time. Road intersections were fun. It was not uncommon to find roads and driveways meeting the main road at such acute angles that turns onto them could only be made from one direction. I had to drive past the intersection and find a place to turn around to come back and turn up the road. And all of these turns were up hill, of course.

And, by the way, the phrase "up the road" is a literal direction in West By God Virginia.
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    no music, Rachel Maddow on MSNBC

Census Troubles Resolved, sort of

Good news is that I am getting paid my Ohio rate for the WV work. The Ohio office is making up the difference. Bad news is that I am stuck with a lower per diem rate. The one I was quoted was for the Charleston, WV area. I did not work in Charleston and the per diem for the less urban areas is lower. This was set by the Main Office in DC. I guess I should have been looking for deer or bears to augment my meals while there.

I have put a few pictures from WV on the web at There are not many in part due to me not taking many. I may post more soon but the pickings are small.