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Three score and ten or more

Friday, January 05, 2007



A few weeks ago I received a bill from Meilahti Hospital in Helsinki for EUR 88609.73. I dutifully relayed that bill to Blue Cross through one of the Human Resources officers at Georgia Southern University. Day before yesterday I received a check made out to me for $67023.92, in dollars, approximately half of what I owe the hospital. I immediately deposited that check, shepherded it through the bank until it was truly deposited, and today, mailed a cashier’s check to the hospital for that sum ($67023.92). Only for a very few moments was I tempted to go out, buy an expensive car and tickets to Shangri-la. Soon I will find out if the hospital accepts this a full payment or if I have to begin selling those organs in my body that still work to raise the remainder of the money.

In September I sent pictures of a tree next to my house that had been struck by lightning. When we returned from Finland in mid November the tree was dead and my roof and yard were covered with pine-straw (to the non-southerners, you sometime call these pine needles, but in the southern long leaf yellow pine, these needles are eight to twelve inches long and have picked up the name pine straw). I muttered about the need to remove the tree, but in hope of selling my house to a commercial developer who was going to tear the house down anyway, I procrastinated a bit. Finally I contacted my insurance agent to see if the loss of the tree was covered, and was told to go get an estimate for its removal. I did this, found that two trees had been killed by lightning and that insurance would pay all but $500.00 of the cost of removal. I really needed another bill for $500 bucks, but the removal started last Thursday and continued through Monday (The trees were in a place where they had to be cut down bit by bit. Now they are gone. This morning the tree man came to pick up his check (and an axe that he discovered that he had left in my yard).

Janet has been attending our water aerobics class but has just walked or swam gently. Monday she went to her first real physical therapy session and the therapist told her that it was time to try the exercises in water aerobics. Today she did that, and as a result has been completely “stove up” all day today. I just put her to bed with liberal applications of muscle rub and a couple of darvoset tablets. She is in real pain.

As a sculptor of dolls and a maker of puppets, one of my great joys has been my little outdoor studio. I have spent many hours there, but none at all since our trip to Finland (and actually a couple of months before). Today I went out to try to work. It is amazing how a few months of disuse will mess up a really small place. The floor was covered with dead Palmetto bugs (read one to two inch cockroaches) My tools were scattered everywhere, when I finally got it cleaned up on one side, and got out clay to begin work, much of my polyclay was hard as a rock. Much of this can be reworked but I couldn’t sculpt at all today.

It may sound really stupid, but today was a wonderful day. I think a normal life is really beginning again.
(I am too tired tonight, but I will add pictures of the tree removal, the studio (still pretty cluttered) and sometime in the next few weeks I am going to begin to post the occasional piece of what I call my art. (The last time I did that, it was a script of a play improvised by my students in a theatre workshop two summers ago or my adventures as Scrooge.)


At 11:29 AM, Blogger Gayle said...

A "normal" life! Isn't that wonderful? After all you've been through, anything normal in your life is truly appreciated, I'm sure!

I truly hope that Janet recovers fully and will be free of pain soon, bless her heart. You both have been through so much.

"Pine straw" hunh? I've never heard that before, but have been in pine tree country enough to see why it would be called that.

Blessings, Richard, and may you have many, many more days of "normal" life. :)

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Kathleen said...

As I read your post, I was smiling and thinking of you and Janet settled enough to feel peaceful and normal again.

I loved the post.

At 7:57 AM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I hope the Finnish hospital accepts that as full payment. Hospital bills sure are ridiculous.

At 9:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may be interested in this item about the Finnish temple from By Common Consent:

At 8:53 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Thank you all for your good thoughts and for caring. Anonymous, Thank you for referring me back to www.bycommonconsent.com. I went there pretty regularly when Ed Snow started writing there (I think Ed is a terrific writer), but have drifted away over time. It was a good article. It didn't gel with some of my conclusions, but it was informative and insightful.

At 7:36 PM, Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

01 10 07

Hey Richard:
Glad to know that things are getting back into the normal routine! I am sure the Finnish hospital will accept that as full payment. After all, hospitals almost never get paid. And full payment on fifty percent of a bill will usually make them quite happy!

As to your disordered working space, well glad you cleaned it up and are ready to go.

God is so Good! My Grandma Earl just had her mastectomy yesterday and she is up and at 'em. We are so blessed to be alive and with family.

It is good to know you are smiling:) I keep you and Jan in my thoughts and prayers always:)

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Thotman said...

Richard, I am so happy you are back at life in the "normal" mode. I am looking forward to seeing pine straw. I think its just great that you are staying busy and willing to part with all that hard earned insurance money...the Bahamas must have looked tempting... Thanks for keeping us up to speed. Your postive approach to the last many months has been incredible....almost Heroic..


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