Hello, I have been missing from this blog for a time.  I offer the following as an explanation:

When Ebenezer Scrooge woke up on Christmas morning he dashed to the window and threw it open.  Below, a boy traipsed by in the snow.  Scrooge stopped the boy, asking him what day it was and the boy confirmed that Scrooge’s ghosts had handled his conversion in one night.  He then sent the boy to the butcher’s to buy the biggest turkey in London, all the while exclaiming “remarkable boy, intelligent boy, delightful boy.”

Delightful, intelligent and  remarkable are all warm-fuzzy words we use to describe people, their feats and abilities.  Yet, if one was to cherry-pick definitions one would find this for remarkable: Worthy of notice. Attracting notice as being unusual or extraordinary.

Martin Buckman, my doctor of 23 years who retired last summer, once told me “you never want to be medically remarkable.”  For the last month I have been medically remarkable.  For in that month I have experienced my very own internal Hurricane Sandy.

It began on October 19th, with early warning signs of my near-annual fall sinus infection.  By the 21st it was full blown.  How many times in each of our lifetimes have we said “the pain has never been worse.”  The headaches I experienced beginning the morning of the 21st had "never been worse," and I meant it knowing there must have been numerous times when it had indeed been worse - the time they gutted me like a fish to cut out a hunk of my colon vaguely comes to mind.  But the pain was sufficient for hyperbole and all of the superlatives I could spout, given that it hurt to concentrate hard enough to come up with such superlativish words.

On October 29th, after five days of Augmentin, a mediocre antibiotic, I became medically remarkable.  I woke up with the same teeth-grinding pain, but added to it disabling double vision.  My right eye, pissed at all of the pain, went on strike.

That began my trek through the medical dictionary and up the hierarchical ladder of the medical profession.  The ebb and flow of my remarkableness can be tracked in somewhat similar fashion to one’s game piece in Chutes and Ladders.  Here’s mine, accomplished during the last 26 days: Sinus infection  -> nurse practitioner/antibiotic  -> screwed-up eye  ->hospital ct scan  ->  primary doctor  -> ophthalmologist  -> hospital MRI  -> ear, nose & throat (ENT) doctor / a new antibiotic plus prednisone  -> ophthalmologist again  -> KU Med. Center emergency room (a teaching hospital)  -> ER triage nurse  -> ER doctor ironically named Dr. Dangers (I kid you not!)  -> hospital ophthalmologist and her student shadow, same ophthalmologist with same student plus an intern -> Neuro-Ophthalmologist (the  big Kahuna) with intern  -> hospital ENT with intern  -> Doctor Dangers, who eventually released me from the ER  -> nurse practitioner again  -> and today the original ENT for a follow-up.  Yet to come, beginning the week after Thanksgiving: primary doctor again, regular ophthalmologist again, ENT again, and on December 19th, the Kahuna Neuro-Ophthalmologist.  This all assumes that I don’t become even more remarkable which would accelerate the ladders and chutes and branch out things to other kahunas..


And I learned of anterior ethmoids, nerve regeneration, the  cranial nerves 1 thru 7, mucormycosis, diplodia and lots of other really exciting stuff. 

Though I have very good insurance, it’s not that good.  The bills have yet to roll in. 

My eye still sucks, it’s still medically remarkable, and no clear cut cause was determined, only suspected ones, all rare.  We know that my 3rd cranial nerve is damaged but still hanging in there and that there is a 95% chance it will totally regenerate within 90 days (today is day 22).  If it doesn’t, then Kahuna says he can go in and surgically clean it up (my, that sounds interesting).  Meanwhile, my ENT ponders a 2013 expedition up my sinuses for a good housecleaning.  Waiting for regeneration,  I patiently wear my pirate patch and explain why it’s worn to my friends and acquaintances, over and over and over……  


Convolution, Overland Park Style

Recently the Kansas Attorney General gave an interpretation of the two-year old concealed carry law that persons can carry concealed weapons everywhere, including into all public buildings except primary and secondary schools and public safety (courts, city hall, police, fire, etc.).  Private businesses may opt out by posting a no firearms sign at each entrance, but public buildings, such as sports complexes, community centers, pool buildings, golf courses and clubhouses, etc. may not opt out. The Attorney General interpreted that individual entities like county or municipal governments do not have the right to opt out of the state concealed carry law and legislate bans within their own boundaries. By enacting concealed carry, Kansas has become a more safe place to live agreed the governor and the legislature.

 Monday night, Overland Park's city council voted 11 - 1 to allow open carry within the city limits.  The council decided that if a bunch of people are packing heat concealed, well then, we need to allow people without a concealed carry permit to pack open heat without a permit, so long as your already-permitted 9 mm, .357 Magnum or Desert Eagle is holstered with the safety on. That way, says OP, the open carriers can make us safe from the concealed carry people – which by the way, OP lobbied strongly against the legislation that made concealed carry the state law and was among a group of cities that asked the AG if they could opt out.

Councilmember Paul Lyons, was the sole vote against the open carry ordinance, "Overland Park is one of the safest cities in the nation, so there is no reason for someone to be openly carrying around a gun for protection," Lyons said. "The only reason someone would want to show off a gun is to intimidate people, and that's not the image we want our city to project."

`Nice try, Paul, but what if ...

So yes, Overland Park now has no nose and a spited face.


The Pledge

I am working on a novel, have been for sometime.  I've hit a wall around page 100 and need to push through it and continue on.  Late last week, in an email to my friend and editor, Priscilla, I pledged to write five new pages over the long labor day weekend.  It was not an idle pledge, but one I meant to keep.  I violated that pledge; I wrote not one word.  But I do have a note from my mother:

To Whom it May Concern,

 Please excuse my son, Jack, from his writing assignment. He was all set to do the work, really he was, but circumstances did not allow. First it rained, not just a little, but a lot, 5.4”. As we had never seen rain before in these parts, our family had to watch and admire and give thanks. Second, my son remembered that he had to prepare for his fantasy football draft to be held right after the weekend, and as that work had a finite expiration point – the draft – and his novel’s expiration date is merely before he dies or becomes senile (whichever comes first) well you must see that he had to work on draft preparation. Third and finally, the boy did feel guilty not fulfilling his pledge, so every spare moment not spent watching rain or studying running back tendencies he spent honing (nitpicking) his short stories “Coyote Christmas” and “The Portrait.” I know, I know, that’s not what he pledged, but writing is writing, right?


Jack’s Mother

I have yet to hear whether the note worked or whether I'll be kept after school in 8th hour detention.



"Water, Water, Everywhere" or "A Visit from Old St. Isaac" 

Twas the weekend before Labor Day

And all around the ranch

Not a thing was still green,

Not even a willow branch.


The horses were restless

Anxious to be fed

When yawning Jack the Slacker

Finally rose from his bed


Out on the metal rooftop

There arose such a clatter

He sprang to the window

To see what was the matter.


When what to his wondering eyes should appear,

Thousands of raindrops, prompting a cheer!


The drought has not ended, but the now tropical depression Isaac dumped 5.4” of steady wind-blown rainfall on our parched little corner of earth. The familial arguments and snarkiness prompted by our concern over horses, pasture, lawn, trees and home foundation, and the costs already incurred to keep them alive, and the bills to come without some relief, have mercifully ended. We now wear smiles, and joke and even cavort some. Meanwhile the cracks in our soil remain, each crack still wide enough and deep enough to lose a whole $1.99 bag of plastic army men.


Water, Water, Never-ywhere

Our little corner of God’s country lies in a drought, a nasty one.  It’s causing all kinds of problems; crops, grass, trees and more. Building foundations crack and relationships strain.

Recently, Gary Lezak, our best local weatherman (just ask him), showed a map of our area. The whole area was in a drought, but he drew an oval that included Kansas City within which experiences severe drought.  Severe drought is rare and causes additional problems for the areas within one.  It’s some bad shit.  Then Gary looked at the camera, his eyes sparkling and a sly smile grew on the corners of his mouth (Gary loves weather extremes of all kinds), “And here below Kansas City,” he drew another oval, “lies an area of exceptional drought.”  His voice raised, squeaked even, like a kid on Christmas morning. After calming down He explained that exceptional drought is measurably worse than severe and almost never happens. “We’re talking worse than any single drought during the dust bowl years, folks," he said.  Gary informed us that the only local five month period that holds a candle to Kansas City’s summer 2012 drought was 1911, but here in Miami County it’s much worse, we're exceptional.

Every time we have a forecast for a chance of rain it seems to veer north or south or peters out all together.  A several state area has been stuck under a high pressure dome which storms approach and  bounce off to the north or south.  The high pressure dries everything out, which in turn reduces evaporation and lowers humidity perpetuating the high pressure dome – a vicious dry circle.  We’ve been watering our house foundation for six weeks with no end in sight.  Others who haven’t are experiencing problem repairs that range in the tens of thousands of dollars.  We’ve already lost two trees, one a Black Hills spruce that is considered drought hardy – apparently not exceptional drought hardy.  We won't know how much of our brome pasture grass is still alive until we get enough rain to green it up. There's no tell-tale green anywhere. 

This morning Nancy and I had an argument.  A can’t miss storm approaches and was supposed to arrive last night.  We woke up this morning – I several hours before her being on retired person's time –  and not a drop had fallen. I watched several station’s weather reports and apparently the first of three waves, the lightest of the three went north of us, Lawrence got rain, Hiawatha, eighty miles north, got more than two inches. The other two waves still approach and are dead on target.  Rainfall estimates ranged from .5 to 2.5” for our area.  Nancy, having heard none of this and having exited the bed from the wrong side, told me that we will get no rain and that I must initiate another phase of watering regimes tomorrow.  I wanted to wait and see.  She wanted to vent and wanted me front and center as the ventee.  I obliged briefly and then got angry too. 

Eventually we negotiated a truce.  It’s sprinkling now as I complete this blog.  Wish us luck.