Monday, September 27, 2010

Hurray for Autumn

Thursday was the autumnal equinox, and here in Cleveland we enjoyed record-setting high temperatures of 90 degrees. Friday evening a cold front passed through and Saturday and Sunday we barely saw 60 degree highs. Working outside on the brick paver walkway and taking Sam for a stroll, we could feel the chill in the air!

Sam celebrated by trying out some of the latest fall line of clothing, courtesy of his cousin Benjamin. Thanks, Ben, and YAY for fall!

Sam's toothless grin is contagious!

Come on and give us a hug.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Punkin' Head

Aunt Jane has worked her knitting magic again! Her ability to create just about anything with yarn and fancy knots is legendary.

With the autumnal equinox upon us, the arrival of this dual-duty chapeau was just perfect. It's a nice, warm wool cap AND a Halloween costume.

Sam says: Thank you, Aunt Jane!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Busy Weekend

I've been shamefully tardy updating the blog here, or so claims one of our more enthusiastic followers.

What do you say, Sam, shall we send along a family update? We should? Well OK!

Our last update included the beginning of another school year, BLT sandwiches, and a wonderful visit from Grandma Pam at Labor Day.

Since then, we've been keeping busy.

The current house project is replacing the walk from the driveway to the front steps. Previously, it was a series of very bumpy stones placed on the ground haphazardly. The resulting "walk" was an ankle turning misery every season of the year, and in winter, a double misery because it was nearly impossible to shovel effectively. I tore it all out and trenched the path to a depth of 8 inches or so. I'm putting in a gravel base on top of which will go red brick pavers. The resulting path will be smooth, will drain correctly and will be plenty wide for the snowblower to pass come winter.

I've also been "teaching" a class on Shaker oval box making. Friend Daniel has been over to the shop for a series of Sunday morning sessions. It has been a lot of fun!

What else? Kim has been busy at home with Sam. Walks, naps, coffee with friends and running errands fill their days. Perhaps these photos show that the results have been quite a success.

Anna can think of little else than France these days, although her rigorous school schedule (I think she's even taking AP Lunch this year) should keep her distracted between now and her January departure. She continues to work at the Heights main library, ten hours per week.

Maggie fights the good fight in 7th grade. Her Saturday orchestra at the Cleveland Institute of Music has begun- her favorite part of the weekend, she says.

What about Sam? Littlest dude turns 4 months old this week. And he's feeling a little bit Salty!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Back in the spring of this year my sisters and I were contacted by the U.S. Department of Labor, regarding our father's employment with Harshaw Chemical back in the 1960s. The government is owning up to radiation exposure for employees of defense and energy contractor companies, including Harshaw, which provided uranium for the government from the 1940s through 1959. Dad worked there in the mid-60s, just after his career in the military, and before returning to graduate school to earn his PhD. He died three and a half years ago, six years after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood-borne cancer that attacks bone.

The Department of Labor program, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program, tracks down employees of these companies, performs an audit of their employment, and if probability of cause of illness is found to be more than 50% likely to have been due to their work, compensation is paid in a lump sum.

We've long been curious as to how Dad might have gotten his cancer. It does not appear to have been genetic. Could it have been caused by his two years working at Harshaw? It would not be such a surprise: ten years ago, the site of the Harshaw company was designated a "superfund" cleanup site under the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program. So we filed our claim through the EEOICP.

Part of their requirements included providing medical evidence of Dad's diagnosis of cancer. After jumping through a bewildering number of hoops put up by the legal department of the Cleveland Clinic, I was able to obtain my father's medical records. Since I wasn't exactly sure what I would need, I asked for nearly all of the records kept on him for the period from his diagnosis through his death.

The box that arrived with these records contained over 1,300 pages: physician notes, lab reports, radiology reports, discharge summaries. I've dealt with a lot of this kind of paperwork surrounding my parents lives and deaths. I was the executor of their estate and am their trustee. I thought I'd become immune to the emotion behind legal and medical paperwork like this, but somehow, looking through these reports hit me pretty hard. There were all of the faces of the talented physicians, physicians assistants, nurses and technicians who helped Dad over those six years. And here was what they had said about him, or more succinctly, what they said about his illness and treatment. Most of it is strictly scientific, something my dad always appreciated. But peppered throughout the papers, particularly the physicians reports, are indications of who my dad was.

"Spent 45-60 minutes with patient, who had researched the treatment."
"Patient is a pleasant 65 year old former professor."
"Discussed treatment options with patient, his wife and son."

Some of the comments, particularly towards the end of his life, were more disheartening.

Our claim with the EEOICP is pending, and it's not clear how likely our case will be awarded compensation. But one of the things Dad was crazy about was following up on programs like this, so we'll continue to go through the steps. Dad would approve.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Grandma Time

Sam was fortunate to have a visit from his Grandma this week. Brief though her visit was, he sure enjoyed seeing her! The rest of us did too.

(and yes, that's a fish on the seat of his pants)

After Grandma left, Sam was able to catch up a little on West Wing re-runs. Quality tummy time.

Monday, September 6, 2010

First Day of School, 2010

There are, at this point, about 12 years worth of "smile, it's the first day of school!" pictures for us- Anna in long braids, going off to Kindergarten and now nearly at the top of the heap at Heights (her junior year.) Maggie with two pigtails eight years ago, and with two pigtails again for 7th grade. Usually, I punish them by taking the photos in front of the school. This year, they got off easy with the photo taken at home.

Now this time, how do you REALLY feel about the end of summer and beginning of school???

Sam, in the meantime, is feeling Salty.