PANDEMIC PROPERTY IMPROVEMENTS

 Covid-19 swooped across the world and halted most activities. Americans grumbled because many lost their yearly trips to beaches, theme parks, and state parks. July 4th celebrations were canceled, as were most Labor Day activities. Thanksgiving get togethers didn’t occur, and Christmas Day might also come with folks staying at home to help stop the spread of the disease.  

Many Americans have taken the money they saved for vacations and applied it to projects around their homes. Amy and I planned to complete some projects, but things have gotten out of control. 

At home, we wanted to remodel the master bathroom. This space is Amy’s; my bathroom is at the far end of the house. However, we first needed to address some pressing needs at our condo in Gallatin. The heat pump gave up the spirit in mid-fall, and right behind that, the garbage disposal died. Luckily, our neighbor there puts us in touch with men who completed the replacements quickly and economically. We still must replace the two ceiling fans that have never worked and install a storm door. 

At home, we made a tough decision to replace the roofing. The existing shingles were worn so much that more of their small rocks lay in the gutters than on the roof. Much of the guttering was painted white over the original brown color. Those sections of metal had been in place since we built our house in 1978. The new 6-inch wide gutters stopped the cascading rain that flowed during downpours. We have two skylights, and as fate would have it, they leaked like a boat with a hole. That unexpected hit required even more investment. Daniel Hood Roofing did the work, and while the company did the work at a fair price, the monetary hit was still a shock.  

My wife has waited for too many years to upgrade her bathroom. I declared that we would complete the renovation and find a way to pay for it. She’s picked colors, vanities, shower units, toilets and lights. Most of the time I’ve nodded and stated, “I love it.” That’s what a woman wants to hear when she makes a choice, and since this bathroom is hers, I had no real say in what went into it. I believe in the adage that say, “If Momma’s happy, everybody is happy!” 

For what we’ve spent on these home improvements, Amy and I could have spent a month at some all-inclusive resort. I’m ready for a vacation, but I’m also pleased that our home and condo are in good repair, at least for a while. I do know that this is the last roof for which I will pay. In thirty years, I probably won’t be around, and if I am, my children will have stuck me in some assisted living place. Then they can take care of repairs and remodel areas to suit their tastes. Maybe they will even let me come visit the house.  

I hope every homeowners’ experience with changes at home have gone as well as mine. This damn disease that has paralyzed our country has been a positive in one way: it has brought about more homeownership pride and improvements that will increase property values. That might be the only civil thing I can ever say about 2020 or this pandemic.  

OUR TIME TO DEFEND THE COUNTRY IS NOW

 I’ve always been amazed at this country we call home. Over the years, this land and its people have bowed their backs in the face of adversity and prevailed.  

It found roots in a revolution to separate from a monarchy that treated people as second-class citizens. Men and women gave their lives to fight against invading armies until the price that England paid was too high. A group of loyal patriots wrote a constitution by which a fledgling nation could direct itself and retain its freedom.  

The War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War sent our soldiers back into battle to war, but both paled in the comparison to the Civil War. Slavery was one primary cause for this one, but Lincoln’s concern was maintaining the Union. The secession of the southern states and formation of their own country led to a years-long blood bath. Much sadder than any other war the country has fought, the Civil War pitted friends against friends and family members against family members. On the back of that were the lives of slaves who had been abused, belittled, killed. Knowing that humans were treated like livestock is something hard to understand. The final count of lives lost was 623,026. 

The years after the Civil War saw the southern states destroyed. Carpetbaggers arrived with no concern for rebuilding the states or helping those who had been freed. Still, Americans worked together to eventually make things better. We survived as a whole country. 

World War I took our young men to Europe to fight with allies to defeat a German country intent on dominating the area. The murder of 128 Americans on the Lusitania by a German submarine fueled America’s entry to the war. Two million U.S. soldier fought, and 53,402 of them died in combat. Another 63,114 died due to the flu epidemic of 1918. 

The world again found itself at war as Hitler maniacally worked to become the ruler of the world and as Hirohito pushed a nationalistic, militaristic Japan into conflict. The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, killed 2403 servicemen and thrust this country into the conflict. The belief in American values and the determination to remain a free and independent country led thousands to enlist in branches of service. By the end of the war 405,399 soldier had sacrificed their lives for the country and citizens.  

What I wonder now is if we who are citizens of the U.S. today have the same courage to fight and sacrifice for this country. Covid-19 on Thursday, December 3 took the lives of nearly 2900, a larger number than Pearl Harbor and just short of the 9/11 attack (2977). The death toll stands right now at 300,000 and more than 16.4 million cases have been reported. Predictions are that as many as 500,000+ deaths will be recorded by April.  

The CDC says 60,000 lives can be saved if Americans simply wear masks. President-Elect Biden will ask everyone to wear a mask during his first 100 days in office. I wonder if Americans have what it takes to take on this killer and defeat it. Yes, sacrifices must be made, but they are nothing compared to what others have given. We must stay home, wear mask in public, and wash hands frequently. No one is being asked to enlist or be drafted and to travel to a different country to shoot at enemies. I’d say our service is rather easy. 

I’ve heard enough belly-aching to last a lifetime about how unfair and difficult it is to do these things. Look at it a different way. We are fighting a war that has already killed too many of our countrymen. The time is to fight for our country and its survival. Are we up to the challenge? Only time and actions will tell.  

ANOTHER HOLIDAY SURPRISE

 The year 2020 just keeps getting better. We’ve struggled through a presidential election where the incumbent still hasn’t conceded but claims that illegal voting has stolen the race from him. On top of that, the entire world faces a pandemic that in America alone has infected nearly 13 million folks and killed 260,000+ individuals. We’ve been asked to stay at home as all, but the most essential businesses, have closed. Many are celebrating Thanksgiving without some family members who choose being safe over gathering. In addition to all these things, I’m now wearing a boot on my left foot.  

A month ago, my foot began to hurt. It ached, and in one spot a shooting pain on the outside hit. I figured this was just one more piece of evidence that my age was catching up with me. As the weeks passed, my foot hurt more, and I limped more. Amy strongly suggested, a code for “do it,” that visit a to the doctor was in order. So, I made the trip the Monday before Thanksgiving to Tennessee Orthopedic Center, and Dr. Hopkins announced that I suffered from plantar fasciitis and a stress fracture. How the second thing happened I’ll never know, but the combination is enough to slow me down. 

I’m in this boot until a return visit in December. It reminds me of the casts that I’ve worn on this same foot over the years. There have been four of them, along with two ankle surgeries. Luckily, most of the problems occurred when I was in high school. At that age, I could handle a pair or crutches well enough to try to race guys on the football team. On one occasion, I’d had a little too much to drink (yes, I was underage), and a car full of guys from another school wanted to fight my friends and me. I hopped out of the car with a cast on my foot and began banging on their car with my crutch. They must have decided fighting a crazy person wasn’t such a good idea.  

I wrecked my mother’s care while wearing one cast. A classmate almost ran me off the road. I backed into a driveway, looked the short way, the long way, and the short way again. When I pulled out, a Knox County Sheriff’s cruiser, that was chasing the boy without siren or lights, broadsided me. I fell out of the car, grabbed my crutches and checked on the officer, whose vehicle was sitting in a deep ditch with the back end stuck in the muddy ditch.  

This boot I’m wearing is strange to me. Always before, my foot was wrapped in a cast that couldn’t hold any weight. I had to keep my foot off the ground at all times. With this new contraption, I can walk all I want. My gait is more than a little off as I hobble around places, but at least my hands won’t blister from holding onto the handles of crutches.  

Let’s hope things are better by the next doctor’s appointment. I’m not inclined to do much more to heal an aching foot. Surgeries and hard casts don’t seem practical for someone who isn't’ always the nimblest on his feet. I might prefer these aches and pains to any new ones that further treatments my bring on.  

One thing is for sure: I’d like to have things healed up so I can walk out of this God forsaken year and into the next one that brings much more promise. Like most people, I’m over 2020.  

CHANGE OF HOLIDAY PLANS

 Thanksgiving will be different from any we’ve experienced. That happens in life, especially one that has been lived for nearly 70 years. Still, it’s strange the way events cause us to adapt to new ways. 

When we were children, our family didn’t make such a big deal of Thanksgiving. Daddy worked split shifts, and sometimes he couldn’t be home on the holiday. I don’t remember having a big turkey and all the good things that go with it on this special day. Daddy always cooked a turkey for Christmas, but not for Thanksgiving, so I’m not sure what we ate other than regular supper food.  

As we entered young adulthood and married, the three of us with our wives met at Mother’s house for a Thanksgiving meal. It was then that I remember the turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes and homemade rolls and vegetables. After stuffing ourselves, we’d spread out around the house and take naps or watch terrible football games. In the evening, one by one, we would return to the kitchen to eat again and top off the food with a piece of pumpkin pie.  

At some point, Amy, the children, and I began traveling to Cookeville for a Thanksgiving meal at her cousin Melinda’s house. Aunts, uncles, and cousins joined the festivities. Immediate families didn’t necessarily sit at the same table. It was a case of find a seat and take it. We all ate until that stuffed feeling hit. Sometime around 4:00, we fell into the car for the one-hundred-mile ride home. The traffic was heavy, and the darkening skies brought with it the glare of headlights. Arriving home was something for which we all were thankful.  

Since Amy’s mother passed, we’ve shared the day with our daughter, her family, and our son Dallas. We meet the weekend before Thanksgiving for the meal. It has worked perfectly. Lacey, Nick, and Madden have been able to spend the holiday with Nick’s parents in Huntsville, Alabama. Amy and I hang around our house and eat a modified Thanksgiving meal with Dallas. Not traveling is something for which we are thankful.  

This year, the holiday will be different once again. Lacey and Nick have decided to heed the warnings of doctors and scientists. They will remain at home in Hendersonville for Thanksgiving. We will settle in at our house. Dallas lives close to us and will come by. We will have our Thanksgiving meal and watch better football games. Yes, I’m sure that naps will also be on the agenda, as will late-evening returns to the kitchen for leftovers and dessert.  

We’ll be a bit blue to spend one of the year’s best holidays apart from our family. However, Covid-19 is raging, and it delights in attacking those who gather in large groups to celebrate. I’ve read the opinions of some who say they will not miss the chance to be with family because they fret it could be the last one that some individuals might enjoy. I’d rather miss loved ones this holiday than to risk having them fall to this pandemic and dying from it.  

Thanksgiving this year might be a “bummer.” We humans are made for interaction with family and friends. However, if we don’t begin acting like a responsible nation with a strong will and determination, more people will contract the disease, more people will die, and future holidays will be observed without loved ones who have been the victims of our timid, selfish desires. Let’s be thankful that we are healthy right now. Let’s hunker down once again and do those things that will blunt the effect of this pandemic. Next year we will have vaccines that will allow us to join once again for Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as birthdays and July 4th. The decision is ours. Let’s give thanks for our lives and our abilities to defeat a killer pandemic. Let’s make sure we ALL wear a mask. Bless each and every one of you.