Reviewing January 2019

January began poorly, as we had to say goodbye to our cat Simon. In late December he hurt himself somehow and couldn’t put weight on his left hind leg. The veterinarian at the emergency clinic took X-rays, which were negative, and suggested it was a soft tissue injury. We took Simon home but his condition did not improve. He stopped eating and spent most of his time curled up under the bed. Our own vet put Simon on an antibiotic and an appetite stimulant. But the next morning he was worse, lurching and stumbling and unable to hold his head straight. We went back to the vet. Given Simon was 14, had multiple and worsening issues, and was in pain, the right decision was obvious but still difficult.

The next week we visited my parents in the New Hampshire mountains and saw their cats, who are becoming much more tolerant of new people in the house.

I continued working on the maple sugar project, reading secondary sources on the 1790s attempts at commoditization: Taylor, William Cooper’s Town; Evans, The Holland Land Purchase; and Maxey, “The Union Farm.” There is also a very nice recent MA thesis by Mary Donchez, “A Sweet Legacy? Thomas Jefferson and the Development of the Maple Sugar Industry in Vermont”.

I went running 15 times, totalling 127 km. That’s much less than I was running during the fall. The February fitness challenge on Apple Watch is to walk or run a total of 390 km, which averages out to 14 km/day. I’ll have to boost my mileage again if I want to meet that goal. I don’t know how Apple figures out how to set monthly challenges but it seems to strike a good balance: tough but achievable.

And the spring semester began this week. I was back at the reference desk after a semester off. I’m also teaching information literacy classes and Zotero workshops, which will take up most of my time through February.

Five and a half years ago Ellen called to tell me she’d found a stray, sick orange cat huddled under a bush at the Museum. To nobody’s surprise that cat came to live with us soon after. Today we had to say goodbye to Simon.

Goodbye 2018

It’s strange how placid things feel now at the end of December, because, taken event by event, 2018 has been an awfully stressful year:

March: We find a house. A day later we make an offer. The owner meets us halfway.

April: The scale tells me I’m almost back to 200 pounds; time to really watch my exercise and diet.

May: A routine CT scan shows that my lymphoma has continued to shrink, but my appendicial mucocele has grown to the point where the appendix needs to come out. Not an emergency; surgery scheduled for August.

June: We close.

July: We move in, on the hottest day of the year.

Also July: My tenure kicks in.

August: Laparoscopic surgery to remove my appendix. I feel great; am out of the hospital that afternoon and begin to run again six days later.

Later in August: histology reveals the mucocele wasn’t a mucocele, nor was it related to my lymphoma. Instead, it’s a different cancer, of the appendix. We schedule surgery to remove the right half of my colon and fourteen lymph nodes.

September: Surgery. This time I stay in the hospital for a couple of days and it’s two weeks before I can run again.

October: Relief. Tests on both the colon and the lymph nodes were fully negative. The doctors conclude I don’t need chemo or radiation now, just to continue with periodic CT scans for the lymphoma.

Also October: My sister-in-law and her husband have their second son. They live just across the lake. We see them every couple of weeks at this point.

Since October I’ve slowly reintegrated myself into the library. The combination of tenure plus reduced duties this semester due to surgery allowed me to cut out a lot of my non-essential obligations: committees, small projects, etc. I’m fortunate that I can now choose what to add back and what to decline. The only thing I’ve agreed to do so far is teach for the history department again – a reprise of my course on the American Revolution from fall 2017. That won’t run into fall 2019, so I have a fair amount of time to decide how I want to change things.

I’ve also kept up with exercise and healthy eating. I’m down to the weight I was senior year of college, and have run as much as 55 miles in a week. I have no doubt that surgery and recovery were made much easier by dropping 30-plus pounds.

The Madison Boulder, at 85’ x 37’ x 23’ the largest glacial erratic in North America. It’s big!

Mourinho, hands in pockets, trudging through a field of soap bubbles.

a sea serpent for the campus pond, that’ll help admissions

What passed for fun in the Eastern Townships, circa 1875.

(Source: Little, J. I. “A Wilderness Boyhood: The Lake Megantic Memories of James S. Ramage, 1868-82.” JETS/RECE 28 (2006): 5-22.)

Ishii vs. Ibushi. Who knew Kota could brawl like that?