The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Route Nine Hike

Going down the road.

The weather lately has been nothing but snowstorms interrupted by arctic blasts! In Northampton yesterday I saw this person shoveling their roof.

It's no joke, if the snow piles up too much then in extreme cases your roof might collapse, or more commonly, your gutters will bend and fall off. Repairing or replacing them can be expensive.

The Northampton Fire Department has been going around shoveling out fire hydrants.

Poor Calvin Coolidge has found it impossible to preserve his dignity with a fluffy white snow hat on his head!

To the kids of Hamp weather like this is nothing but an opportunity for creative fun, as evidenced by this snowman that appeared in my neighbor's yard. Of course this being politically correct NoHo we can't call it a snowman, but instead must refer to it by the gender neutral term "snowperson." Whatever you call it, that snowbeing has a nicer scarf than I do!

Yesterday may have been New Year's Day, but I still had an afternoon appointment with my substance abuse therapist in Amherst. Unfortunately there were no busses running yesterday and I could find neither friend nor family member nor fuckbuddy to give me a ride. On my welfare budget there was no way I could afford a taxi. So I decided to walk. I knew I could count on my therapist to give me a ride back to Hamp after our session (his office is in Amherst but he lives in Northampton) so I decided I would walk to Amherst via the Rail Trail. That would be very scenic, as well as inspiring, since I do some of my best thinking while walking.

To prepare myself for my two and a half hour stroll, I geared up with a strong jolt of caffeine at the Northampton Starbucks. Here is a picture I took from my table, looking out at the History of Women in Northampton mural.

At the Rail Trail I prepared to cross the trestle over the Connecticut River.

Despite its snowy banks, the mighty Connecticut remains unfrozen.

On the other side of the river the farm fields of Hadley, so vibrant green in the summer, are a white wasteland in winter.

As I walked along, I soon realized I would never be able to get to Amherst in time by the Rail Trail. It is unplowed in winter, and not enough people have walked on it to make a clear path. Therefore I would have to slog along through the snow at a pace that would've left me both late for my appointment and physically exhausted. So instead I turned off the trail and onto Route Nine, coming out by the vets.

What the hell, I told myself, I'll just walk along Route Nine straight into Amherst! It was very pleasant, with most of the sidewalks cleared. I looked at many of the houses and businesses with a closeness I seldom get to do when I drive past. I like the patriotic paint job this person has on their truck.

Route Nine is very rural most of the way. There wasn't a beast in sight as I passed the Long Hollow Bison Farm. The bison must have all been huddling in their barn safe from the cold.

Unfortunately the rural nature of Route Nine is rapidly vanishing. Even the arctic weather has not prevented bulldozers from working on clearing the land for the new Home Depot hardware superstore.

Is this the ultimate destiny of all of Route Nine?

At last I arrived in my beloved Amherst. Greeting me was this carrot nosed snowman/woman/person/being/whatever and their faithful snowdog.

My Route Nine hike was indeed an invigorating and refreshing way to spend the first day of the year!

By the way, tomorrow is the Iowa causcuses, the first step in the presidential election process. Here are my predictions of how it will turn out:

On the Republican side:

1st Place: John McCain
2nd Place: Mitt Romney
3rd Place: Fred Thompson
4th Place: Mike Huckabee

On the Democrat side:

1st Place: Hillary Clinton
2nd Place: John Edwards
3rd Place: Barack Obama
4th Place: Joe Biden

Here is my sister-in-law's latest update on my brother John:

We spent most of the day at the Infusion Center. So what else is new, huh? We are on day +5 since the transplant. John received several bags of goodstuff today -- 2 units of red blood cells, a liter of fluid, & 2 units of potassium. He also spiked a little fever while there -- and escaped being readmitted to the hospital by the skin of his teeth. They gave him an antibiotic at 2:30 and by 3:30, his temp was going down. It is just so tricky with a lack of any immune response. Each evening we have been fighting that little fever thing, so guess that is just going to happen. 75% of patients do have to be readmitted, but we really want to be in the 25 % that don't. So we will keep praying and hoping for God's favor.

What a caregiver! This morning, I gave him a strawberry smoothie to drink. He said it tasted good and felt good on his throat. He only gulped one swallow when he stopped and said, "Honey, this tastes like yogurt." We suddenly read the label and realized it has live cultures in it -- a "no-no" on the neutropenic diet! Gosh, you really have to read those labels and stay on guard. I almost poisoned my sweetie!

His mouth pain is worsening and he resists the oral pain pills, so today the doctor ordered a Fentanyl patch. It constantly gives pain relief through his skin -- in addition to the mouth swishing pain reliever. He has been really snoozy today -- they give Benadryl before the infusions and with all the various meds, he just nods off. We start up the Neupogen shots again tomorrow, so hopefully they will get some action going on sending out some new white blood cells from his marrow -- he needs those protection soldiers! We have another 4 nasty days, and then we will start to have good ones again. Whew! But the wonderful part is that once those good ones begin, we should be at home plate. We've run the bases and we don't have to do chemotherapy anymore! Hallelujah! Thank you Lord Jesus! We are trusting that John will have a complete healing and many years to chase and tease the grandkids!

Thanks so much for hanging with us through this.


Finally, here is a heartwarming holiday classic.


Bill Dusty said...

Wow, Tommy - your predictions certainly are bold ones. I don't see Thompson beating out Huckabee - I think Thompson's flaming out. Your choice of Edwards beating out Obama is interesting (and possible). In this (hypotheitcal?) poll, McCain is waay back...

But I know you're a McCain guy, so good luck!

Mary E.Carey said...

Great snow dog and Calvin Coolidge Conehead. Your bother John looks like he's hanging in there admirably.

Tony said...

Question:(don't answer if you don't want), but how come you don't bike ride and/or drive? An old girlfriend of mine was like 28 and she (perplexingly) never wanted to learn to drive. Are you of the same ilk?

Tommy said...


No, I am of the poverty sticken, licence lost to drunk driving ilk. Believe me, I would drive if I could! Then again, all that walking keeps me looking studly.

Tony said...

Aaaah. Gotcha. Pedal Power!

Anonymous said...

Hey Tom

Looks like John is doing Okay at least for now. They sound like such nice, likable people. Such a Loving couple. He has not had things easy lately. A lot of disappointments and all around Trauma. But I like his attitude (And yours too) Stay strong. Don't let things get you down. That's the only way. Doing what is right for you, first.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tom, on Wednesday, you made your predictions in the Iowa caucaus...
As usual, you were way off.

Go Obama, go!