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April, 2008: 3 8 9 11 13 24 26 27 28

4/3/08-Thurs.-Great spring weather lately! Temperatures in the 60s (F) last night, and in the 70s today. It's already overcast, with a storm likely after midnight that may be associated with hail and new cool front. Assuming no house damage, this all sounds excellent!

For a month or two, I've been having some disturbing larynx symptoms, almost losing my voice from laryngitis at times, as well as other sore throat factors.

Whenever a new health problem lasts more than a couple weeks, I tend (since Ralph's death from a brain malignancy) to think of cancer. I went to my doctor this morning. He said chances are the problem is just from allergies or a mild infection and recommended some remedies (Flonase, gargling with a ½ Listerine and ½ hydrogen peroxide solution, plus taking Zyrtec). If these measures don't clear things up pretty well in 2-3 weeks, I need to check back with him for further evaluation and diagnostics.

After the appointment, I took myself out to eat at Tres Amigos.

Besides the throat difficulties, things seem to be going well. We got the estimate back from our CPA on our 2007 taxes. We are due a refund of about $1000. But, by applying it to this year's taxes, will not have to make any quarterly estimated 2008 IRS payments.

Despite a new hip problem that limits my sitting to in a chair (no more cross-legged Zazen or other special postures to enhance concentration and alertness), am now weekly attending a south Austin meditation group, in addition to my regular meditating at home. We also have a weekend meditation workshop coming up in about ten days.

4/8/08-Tues.-Been having some existential days. The combination of mild illness, medications, dream work, sleep deprivation, and meditation is getting to me some.

Up today before 8 AM. Took Puff for a walk. Nice morning.

Later, got laundry ready, dealt with a Terminex inspection, reviewed our tax return and checked with the CPA on a possible discrepancy (that turned out not to be), had lunch with Frances over at Tien Jin, took a nap and had a weird dream.

Took a walk with Puff again this evening and picked up a book from the library, The Things We Carry, by Tim O'Brien.

Got some greeting cards ready. Mailed them and the tax return in. Played chess online awhile.

Meditated for close to an hour, but was so tired is was more that I had a sitting up rest.

Did the dishes I'd accumulated for a few days. Fran instituted this new approach with the dishes, that we each do our own. Something she appears to have gotten from her mother, for I overheard her talking to her mom, answering her about how I was taking to the new dishes regimen. Her policy with meals too, that we each do our own, that is, as if we were two bachelors here instead of a married couple.

I evidently am not yet quite adjusted to some of these realities. Willy-nilly, I go along with them in lieu of divorce, just like I reluctantly went along with her decisions that we have no kids, stay in this house, and do little of our vacation traveling together.

We are such different kinds of people, it turns out, and yet I brilliantly chose a woman who is not that unlike a female version of my father, in how she relates to me, thinks, or is stubbornly independent, though they are (or were while Dad was alive) certainly and fortunately distinctly alien to one another in some ways.

What it comes down to, like it or not, is accepting things just as they are, for their own precious perfection, not living in some fantasy land of wishing or hoping they were somehow of an entirely other world than this truly exact and quite sufficient one just as it is!

I love my wife, in fact, but there are times I forget myself and revert, under stress or lack of enough slumber or whatever, to a cynical disappointed former idealist and perfectionist bastard. Next to the wonder of appreciating all that is without any requirement that it must change to suit just me, my concerns or grievances are but a pitiful lot.

4/9/08-Wed.-A busy time. Up early to help finish the laundry preparations. Fran did the chore alone this time, and I got ready for and went to the bank to cash a check, then hit the road for a few hours of library volunteer work, getting back about 1:30 PM. Later, finished putting away the clean clothes.

I got a dream ready and printed, to take for the dream group meeting tonight, then had lunch and took a nap. These siestas most days seem essential, as I never feel I am getting enough sleep overall. Due to the prostate enlargement, the bathroom breaks before I can rest take longer than ever. On the average day, it takes as much time to have bladder emptiness, and so feel ready to sleep, as the nap usually turns out to be. Must go through the same drawn out process before snoozing at night as well.

This evening, I left for the dream group meeting about the time Fran departed for an opera performance rehearsal. We had a productive dream interpretation session.

A little while after returning, I took the dog for a couple mile walk. Watched "The Charlie Rose" show, had a late supper, and then took a warm bath, combined with a relaxed meditation session, before getting ready for bed and ending another day.

I have many irons in the fire which, along with the prostate difficulties, means though that I never feel caught up on rest, fun projects, or chores. So far, there has been a reluctance to make hard choices and either focus on fewer things or somehow organize the time better in a way not yet imagined.

Meanwhile, am still dealing with a sore throat and laryngitis. The symptoms are not getting worse, but so far have also not improved much even with treatment. Earlier this week, I had a new bout of severe back pain as well.

4/11/08-Fri.-One may think he or she has problems until real ones come along. Even now, mine would seem laughably insignificant were I instead to be smashed up in an auto accident, disabled by a severe stroke, or diagnosed with a terminal illness. But yesterday had more of challenge about it than was pleasant.

All started well, and by a little after 9 AM I was taking Puff with me, to make a couple bank deposits and mail a letter at the U.S. Post Office, when the car engine's performance began to deteriorate for the first time since I bought it about four years ago. Within minutes, it was dying or failing to accelerate above roughly 10 MPH.

I managed to get home and enlisted Fran's aid in following as I made a series of amazingly unsuccessful attempts to get the car checked out and repaired. For one reason or another, after creeping about at hazardously slow highway velocities for long, anxious periods, we made five auto service stops only to have nothing done. Then, at last, I got a useful referral and, late that afternoon, had the vehicle towed over to Don's Automotive where the difficulty was assessed and I was notified after 6 PM, just before I needed to leave (in Fran's car) for a sitting practice session and talk by a special Buddhist meditation teacher. If all goes well, my car will be in good condition again by this evening, but I'll be roughly $1000 poorer for it.

After that harrowing day, the inspirational, calming meditation teacher's talk last night was just what the doctor would have ordered.

Later.-My car is back from the auto shop and appears to be running well. Tonight, Fran is at an opera rehearsal and I'm getting a few needed chores done before trying to get to bed at a reasonably early hour, so I shall be well rested for the meditation weekend that begins in the morning.

Am taking a somewhat different tack regarding certain issues in my life, intending now to speak less unless I have thought about what I might say and even then to be more selective in voicing opinions. I also plan to regularly do exercises to reduce my midriff and strengthen muscles generally. And to do committed meditation a larger percentage of each day.

4/13/08-Sun.-The weekend meditation retreat has gone well. It was held at a residential property only about 3 miles from our home. Both the house and grounds were ideal for this purpose. I was not so much inspired as encouraged and motivated by the presence of an experienced meditation teacher and a number of other meditators. It was not as if everything were ideal. The teacher was something of a name dropper, citing various famous folks she has met and/or meditated under or with. And she certainly is into the role of teacher, rather than simply relating to folks on an equal footing. It is as if this role is so habitual that she has grown used to it and does not make the effort to create friendships on another basis. Perhaps that just keeps things simpler. She emphasizes that this type meditation is one she came up with herself, yet throws in ideas and words from much older cultures or approaches, perhaps to give her version more credibility or authority. In many ways her teaching is quite practical, down to earth. There is also the idea of or faith in eternal life. To me, this is not consistent with our just dealing with reality. She does not insist the meditator believe in any conscious existence after death however.

Not unusually, I had a lot of physical tension and was restless much of the time over the past couple days. Still, overall, the experience was excellent, and by now I am fairly resigned to just about any meditation tradition having some aspects with which I disagree or to which I am not fully committed. The things about this teacher that I take with a grain of salt are rather benign and quite tolerable. Of course, it is with at least a bit of pride that I feel free to critique her this way. But I am kind of resigned to that and take it with a grain of salt as well.

Am delighted with cooler weather we are having yet again. Once back from Saturday's meditation sessions, it made my experience mowing in the backyard almost pleasant. The walk with Puff tonight was great too except for hassle with a couple dogs not on leashes.

When I had seen my primary care physician (around 10-14 days ago) about my pharynx and larynx difficulties, he advised things seemed not too bad but that I should watch out for green phlegm. It was not specified if this would indicate possible cancer, an infection, or something else. This morning, though, after gargling with hydrogen peroxide and Listerine mouthwash, I found green phlegm in the sink (once I had spit the solution back out). I have misgivings but suppose I need to call the doctor, see him again, and find out what comes next.

Am reminded of something the teacher said this weekend. To paraphrase, "We are most content when we live with what is, not what is not." In this case, fantasies about larynx cancer would seem to be what is not. Getting things checked out further is the best way to arrive at the true condition, whatever that is.

4/24/08-Thurs.-Very busy the last few days, particularly with completing our monthly online newsletter.

My throat problems have continued, and as noted in the prior entry there had been as well after I gargle the new appearance of green phlegm. I had a doctor's appointment this morning. My physician gave a couple prescriptions this time, one an antibiotic, though only five days' worth. At least he is treating it as an infection, not larynx cancer as I had feared.

Later, I went for lunch to Kerbey Lane Café, and next to our usual supermarket/pharmacy to fill the medication orders. The antibiotic made me quite dizzy for awhile!

Plan to take things easily for the balance of the day except for a walk with Puff this evening. Fran, meanwhile, is at an Austin Lyric Opera concert tonight, playing in the orchestra.

We learned today the sad development that a younger one of Fran's sister's champion Rhodesian ridgeback dogs was killed last week, hit by a car. She and her family are distressed, of course, she especially so.

4/26/08-Sat.-Last day before a trip up to Waco for a short visit with Mom, so am handling a few loose end chores, including getting her a card and gift for Mother's Day. Fran and I shall be in WI for that holiday this year, visiting her sister (and her family) for about a week.

I went for a haircut this morning, shopped at Wal-Mart and Johnny Carino's, took the dog for a walk, and later did my daily meditation.

Also got caught up on our regular investments analysis and record keeping.

Am still treating the throat infection, and either the illness or the medication for it make me more tired than usual.

Fran is busy most all day with nature field trips plus Austin Lyric Opera orchestra performing.

Am enjoying reading The Weather Makers, by Tim Flannery.

4/27/08-Sun.-Based on estimates compiled in Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers, it appears scientists believe 30-60% of current species (already significantly reduced from the global species pool only a few decades ago) will be extinct by the end of the century due to global warming changes to their environments and their inability to adapt swiftly enough.

Humans, meanwhile, are assuming generally that we and most of the species and environments we hold dear will remain virtually unaffected or will be successful in adapting though so many others cannot. Perhaps it is so. There is at least a remote possibility that could be accurate.

But it appears more reasonable to expect that we too will be quite adversely affected. If at the end of the 21st Century our population numbers have shrunk by 30-60%, but at least we as a species have survived, we probably should regard ourselves as having been exceedingly fortunate, notwithstanding that this hundred years may turn out to have been far more catastrophic than even the 20th Century was, with its flu epidemics, major wars, Great Depression, genocides, and threats of nuclear annihilation. That would imply a Homo sapiens population decline of about 2-4 billion in the next 92 years, and a concomitant reduction in our global economies, dependent as they have been for so long on ever expanding human numbers and hence increasingly greater demands for a multitude of goods and services.

Ron, Jane, Joel, & I had an unusually good time at Tien Jin. Several interesting or funny stories got told. Interestingly, Jane has a boyfriend, but it is a secret from her mom. Joel hopes to get a new job over the summer and to quit teaching for the Austin ISD.

The trip up to Waco was interesting for some near misses with maniacal "drivers." Also, the cool front really blew in when I was about halfway there, so strongly I could hardly open the car door when stopped for a break, and my hat immediately flew away when I stepped out. I retrieved it later.

I was backing into a space in Mom's driveway, next to her tool shed, trying to get the car up a short incline to a higher level there, but just tapped a fragile plastic storage container she had in the way back there, which promptly collapsed into about six pieces. I could not get it back together again. It seemed amazing the thing had stayed intact before. Oh well. No damage to my car.

Mom arrived soon after I had. She was not too much the worse for wear, after long drives and a cruise for the last several days. Less than an hour of rest was all she needed, but she said her friend, with whom she had roomed on the ship, had had a really hard time of it on the trip, and then went straight to bed once back.

We went out for a snack supper and picked up a DVD to watch this eve, "No Country for Old Men." It was riveting but certainly not what one would call a feel good movie.

Before we watched it, I took a walk over to and along the nearby lakeshore, lovely in the sunset. This was most pleasant exercise, given the stiff wind and temperatures down probably into the 50s or below (F).

4/28/08-Mon.-Up at 7:15 this morning. Mom and I had breakfast. Then I took another nice walk in the nearby lake park, as she headed off to teach aerobics classes. At 85, Mom must be one of the oldest exercise instructors in the U.S.

Later, I did my daily meditation ration.

Mom fixed us chili-dogs for lunch.

This evening we went to Bangkok Royal for supper, then picked up another DVD. This time, we watched "I Am Legend," with Will Smith. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an awful film.

I got ready for bed and retired for the day not too long after Mom conked out, following her last of several large vodka (80% proof!) drinks.

I shall pack up and head home late tomorrow morning.

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