Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What's Going On At Our House?

People at 435 Ludlow Ave., Clifton

Dear George,
Even though I didn’t know exactly what it was, I’ve always had a vague interest in Zumba.  Then I noticed that a new Zumba class was starting up at the fitness center, so I worked up my courage and went to the first class.  The leader was a white-haired guy named Rick, but most of the other participants were women in their thirties or forties.  Within minutes it was apparent that my classmates were experienced Zumba-ers.  When the first number ended, the instructor asked if we wanted to take a break after each song.  A young woman called out, “No, no breaks – we want the Max!”  “O.k.,” Rick said, “no breaks.”  Zumba is more strenuous than line dancing.  After thirty minutes I started watching the clock on the wall.  After forty minutes I began monitoring my interior chest cavity for tiny signs of pain.  I didn’t detect any, and the hour came to an end.  I’m not sure I’m cut out for Zumba.  I think I’ll practice at home with the On DemandFitness Channel, then  decide whether or not to resume.

Campsite #145 at Miami Whitewater

Because of Katja’s upcoming knee replacement surgery, I realized I had a narrow window in which to do a little camping.  Despite showers in the weather forecast, I packed up my gear and took sheepdog Duffy to Miami Whitewater Forest.  We’d finished a pleasant day when Katja called at suppertime to say there was a tornado warning in S.E. Indiana, just a short distance from us.  I promised to come home if things got dire.  I’d put a large blue tarp over the tent so I felt pretty secure.  It started to drizzle just after I lit my campfire, and Duffy and I retreated to the tent.  Duffy thinks of the tent as his den, so he is eager to go there.  I would normally take an Ambien to sleep better, but I decided I should stay alert for tornado warnings.  The sirens went off shortly after I lay down, though the winds weren’t excessive at the campground.  The rain got heavier and heavier, pounding against our tent ceiling.   I must have lain there for four hours listening to the clatter before I finally drifted off, and even then I slept fitfully.  The rain was unrelenting all night long, and there were huge resounding thunder claps.  Duffy seemed impervious, but he climbed on my one-person air mattress in the morning hours, and I just let him stay there.  When I woke in the morning he was wet, as were my clothes, knapsack, books, air mattress, shoes, and everything else.  The water was an inch deep in the back corner of the tent, and mud had splattered up the tent walls a foot or more on every side.  The rain had subsided by 8 a.m., but I put Duffy in the car, dismantled the tent, packed up my wet gear, skipped breakfast, and set off for home.  It was a less than perfect conclusion, but I decided that riding out the storm had made the trip memorable.  After all, roughing it is what camping is about.

Steve C-F, Anna L, Paula D, and Jan B celebrating

Saturday the Sociology department held a big retirement party at a restaurant in the student union for three of my long-term colleagues, Jan B., Paula D., and Neal R.  It was the first time in fifty years that three people in the department had retired simultaneously, and, for a twelve-person department, that’s a huge turnover.  It means that this coming September over half the faculty will be untenured assistant professors, an exciting prospect for the future but one that also could involve some peril.  Jan was one of my students in the early 1980’s, had pursued a career in business and counseling, then returned to the department in a full-time teaching position about a decade ago.  She’s very innovative and funny, and she provided a dose of good feelings on a daily basis.  Paula and I came to the university around the same time when we were all youngsters in our early 30’s, and she’s been one of our good friends ever since.  She was the department head for 18 years, an almost unfathomable term, and it’s testimony to her commitment and interpersonal skills that she lasted in the role so long.  Neal, a demographer, is one of the top level social science methodologists at the university, and he’s been a thorough and patient mentor to successive generations of graduate students.  Lots of alumni from years past came to the event, and it was filled with emotional reunions and exchanges.  It was a little overwhelming to have such intense contact with so many people important to my life in the space of a few hours.  

A booth at Summerfair

Sunday was a cool, sunny day, and Katja and I drove over to Coney Island on Cincinnati’s east side along the river to take in Summerfair, an annual outdoor art festival that began the same year that we arrived in the city.  There were about 300 artists there exhibiting and selling their wares: paintings, photography, sculpture, woodwork, leather and fabrics, designer outfits, musical instruments, pottery, etc.  The show was highly selective, drawing vendors from across the nation, and, though there were a zillion people, there are few things more pleasant than strolling about and looking at beautiful artwork on a Sunday afternoon. 

Katja at rest, Day 2

We’ve been awaiting Katja’s knee replacement surgery for months, and the day finally came on Tuesday.  We arrived at the hospital at 8:15 a.m., and she was checked over by a succession of people, each of whom asked her name, date of birth, and which knee she was having operated on.  The operation itself took about 90 minutes.  The surgeon said that it went excellently, better than he expected, with minimal blood loss, near zero likelihood of blood clotting, and a perfect fit for her new knee.  I saw Katja two hours later in the recovery room, and she was in excellent spirits, aided, no doubt, by various drugs and painkillers.  By Wednesday morning things weren’t quite as idyllic, though Katja remained a good trooper.  They talked about her possibly getting out by the next day, though we both thought that seemed too early.  When we had gone to the pre-op class, the physical therapist said that she would need to have a home caregiver present on a 24/7 basis for two weeks after her hospital discharge.  That seemed daunting.  Katja said she would rather go into a skilled care facility, but I doubted that Medicare would be enthusiastic about that.  So far my main preparation is that I’ve barricaded the bed so the dogs can’t jump into it and bang into Katja’s knee.  They are dismayed, to say the least.  Soon we’ll discover how the rest of it will go.

G-mail Comments
-Gayle C-L (6-7):  David,  I can't believe you went to a Zumba class
Very. Cool. It's a good work out.  I would have like to have been there to
see that.  Lol.  :).   G

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