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March, 2008: 1 5 6 14 15 16

3/1/08-Sat.-Since the last entries, a few weeks ago, I have continued with more daily meditation than had been usual for the past several years. I have noticed some positive results. Among other things, the number of nightmares has gone down significantly. But I also am "processing" more inner material (ideations, thoughts, memories, sensations, feelings, etc.) on a fairly regular basis.

Am listening to "Film Score Focus," on KMFA this evening as I write this. It has been a favorite radio program of Fran's and mine for quite some time.

I have continued my volunteer work for the library, sorting and otherwise processing donated or withdrawn books, which eventually may then be sold in special public bargain book sales or in a new bookstore run by the city with cooperation from the Friends of Austin Public Library and its volunteers like me. In the meantime, I also buy many appropriate low-priced books a month there for nieces or nephews, most of which get sent up to our WI relatives.

Frances and I are getting along better than we had for some time, seeming, I think, more like a couple. Who knows if this is due more to me, more to her, or if circumstances beyond us are involved? But, for now and for however long it lasts, this is much appreciated.

I was last month involved in a variety of preparations for Fran's 50th birthday celebration. In keeping with her personality, she had insisted that she not have any surprise parties in connection with this usually well noted milestone.

I had in fact planned, prior to her emphatically voicing objections to such festivities, to contact dozens of her friends and acquaintances, as well as all her close relatives, to have them participate in at least one (and possibly two, if it would be more convenient that way) big shindig(s) in Fran's honor.

And I did not easily accommodate myself to the new situation, once I had gotten the word from her nixing such preparations. I thought for some days about just ignoring her wishes, as if she really did not know what she wanted and that, in the event, though perhaps embarrassed, she would finally nonetheless be glad to have had a big party. In this frame of mind, I earnestly discussed the matter with quite a few, including friends of mine at the library's temporary sorting facility as well as my mom and sister-in-law, Mary, whom I'd visited with in late January through early February. However, once all of these insisted it would be best not to go against Fran's strongly expressed wishes, I finally and reluctantly accepted the newly understood reality.

Then I channeled my energies and enthusiasms for the occasion into making it a good, if more private, revelry between the two of us. The greater intimacy of this merrymaking was at once undermined a little but also enhanced by my mom's and sister-in-law's efforts, for each in her own way, aware of my inclinations as well as Frances' preferences, managed to add to the event, Mom by notifying some of our other relatives, and Mary by providing me with an array of little gifts to be given over a period of days, along with those I would be providing, so that, altogether between Mom, Mary, and myself, Fran would receive at least 50 presents for her 50 years.

I got fully into the spirit of this, then, and Frances has clearly been pleased, even tickled to the point of giggling as she receives each new gift addition, to receive a great succession of little surprises, in lieu of a huge, unwanted, more social one.

The biggest of her presents is to be a car, to replace the one, with well over 100,000 miles on its odometer, she has been driving since 2002. It burns oil very badly, has leaky tires, and usually does not pass the annual inspection until new work is done. So, the hope is to get a new one in the next couple months.

I decided in the last two weeks to supplement my at home meditation sessions with sittings in a group setting, to encourage persistence and better quality in my own personal efforts as well as increase a bit my social network. Luckily, I found a small group that meets in South Austin on Saturdays. I had my first time with these folks today. They seem very nice, and the session was productive. I agree with a comment by one of the members that spirituality in meditation refers to the process by which we become whole. It may not ever be completed, but that integration has a better chance to proceed through one's sitting practice.

Am very much enjoying my current read of Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides. Unfortunately, the book group for which I am reading it may be folding. Attendance has been declining, and the last time we got together, for a discussion of Orhan Pamuk's The Black Book, nobody else had even read more than a few pages.

3/5/08-Wed.-I've had pretty good luck with doctor appointments so far this year. Last month I had routine dental and annual physical visits. And the dental x-rays as well as the physical lab work results were normal. Today's dermatology appointment was more interesting. A new spot, about which I was concerned on my nose, turned out to be insignificant. However, the doctor found an apparent melanoma (the deadliest skin cancer) on my right arm and did a biopsy. Afterward, I was unreasonably resentful over the charge. The billing clerk, no doubt following office policy, had included in the fee both my usual co-pay and their calculation of my share of the biopsy cost. I objected that I needed to wait and see how Blue Cross Blue Shield figures my correct portion of the extra fee, but the clerk insisted on immediate payment and that they'd give me a refund if it turns out I had overpaid. I much prefer to wait and pay the correct amount to begin with than have the hassle of getting a doctor's office to reimburse, which is often not gracefully done. But I'm aware too that some of my emotional reaction to the bill may be a displaced response to the new cancer news.

Heretofore, I've had no major problem with my joints in connection with meditation, but in the last few weeks my right hip has frequently been quite painful after sitting with crossed legs (my normal position) for just 25 minutes or more. Bother! (The adjustments needed to getting older have just been ratcheted up another couple notches.)

3/6/08-Thurs.-Reprieve! I got a call today from the dermatologist's office. The biopsy done yesterday turned out to have completely benign results. I had not even realized how worried I was till getting this news and feeling the relief. Of course, I wish the doctor had not been so quick to do the procedure, and even wonder if he may be more likely to biopsy since he makes more money that way than with simple skin check exams, but I suppose it is better that he err on the side of caution, with such a potentially lethal cancer involved. Still, am quite glad this time the lesion in question turned out to be of no consequence.

3/14/08-Fri.-Have stopped in north Georgetown for a breakfast snack, on our way up to Waco for a new visit with Mom.

My last get-togethers with relatives were supper at their house one Sunday early this month with Harry and his family and, a couple days later, supper with Pete at the Tien Jin Chinese restaurant.

3/15/08-Sat.-Mom had an older folks' group activity trip to lead today, to a city about an hour's drive away. She had a good but fatiguing time and got back just a little before my nephew, Joel, arrived this evening.

During the day today, Fran worked on some computer projects she'd been waiting to do at a convenient opportunity. Meanwhile, I did a couple chores I'd been putting off, meditated, took a nap, and used Mom's broadband internet service to research several stocks of interest.

This evening, after Puff and I had taken a second walk of this period away, all of us (except the dog) went out to eat at Olive Garden. Later, Joel and I played a number of pool games, most of which he won handily.

3/16/08-Sun.-Frances, Puff, and I had an uneventful drive back to Austin today, arriving a little before 2 PM. It has been a relaxing weekend, but I felt I could have rested even more before returning to my usual "grind."

I had meditated some each day, but only in the last several hours perceived these recent sitting sessions to have been productive. As mentioned earlier, I believe, due to a significant hip pain on the right, I am now unable to sit often cross-legged, as I had comfortably been capable of for the last several decades. Am still adjusting, then, to other ways to meditate that will at once involve less pain yet help assure I stay alert.

Have been disappointed with a small meditation group I had tried over the past couple weeks.

Changes in the volunteer setting for my work processing books, etc. to aid the city library, have also been rather unfortunate, so that I feel it is appropriate now to look for other outlets for some of my free time.

We did complete the record of transactions and other paperwork for our CPA, so he can prepare the 2007 tax return. I took the folder over to him this week.

Today I completed Middlesex, a book I thoroughly appreciated!

Tomorrow, Fran gets the last of 50 gifts, in recognition late last month of her 50th birthday. This period of gift giving and receiving between us has been quite fun. She had insisted I not give her any surprise parties, but has much enjoyed the extended and multiple birthday celebration I did arrange.

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