The Colonel’s Plan – Of Triumph, Telephone Poles and Teeth

Hey, everyone, Steve here. Apologies for the unannounced hiatus. I published a non-Colonel’s Plan reflection, and then I had to take a week off to put intense effort into a presentation for Carroll County Libraries this past weekend–a presentation enjoyed only by close friends and family, it turned out! But I’ll be offering that up to conventions in the coming months, so it will yet see the light of day. Anyway, back on track now!

October 3rd, 2018

Dear Daddy –

Tomorrow would have been your 96th birthday. I guess a fitting present, one day early, is that Susan learned she is cancer free. Her surgery removed the tumor, which was categorized as stage 1A, and 12 lymph nodes, which were clear. No chemo, no radiation. One big sigh of relief all around.

Unrelated to the subject Ethan did some decorating today, hanging a B-29 model…
…handmade by you back in the 1940s. It hung over your bed in your parents’ house on Rocky Fork Road until their deaths in 1989. It’s spent the intervening years either in a box or on your dresser.

Not much has gotten done on the house since I wrote to you last. The week was filled with doctor’s appointments for Renee and Christian. Christian had a follow-up appointment with his oral surgeon to verify that his bone graft had taken. It had healed beautifully, we were told.

Christian has had a long road with his teeth. When he was about two, he was running around in his Nana’s living room in Rosedale. At that point, Renee’s Mom, Bev, had highly-polished hardwood floors in her living and dining rooms. His sock-clad feet went out from under him and he pitched forward, catching himself by his just-grown front teeth on the edge of the old hope chest that she used as her coffee table. When she picked him up, all she could see in his mouth was blood.

She called Renee at work, and they drove a shrieking Christian to our dentist in Columbia. Dr. Berne confirmed that Christian had pushed his two front teeth back up into his gums. He pulled them down a bit, if I recall correctly. He said they would settle back into place themselves with time, and either firm up and work again, or die and drop out. They were baby teeth and weren’t going to be there forever anyway.

What was concerning was the x-rays. They showed that the teeth had pushed up dangerously close, and perhaps into, the buds for the adult teeth. The one on the right looked especially funny, as if, maybe, it had had problems even before Christian’s baby teeth had tried to pull a Wolverine and retract back into his skin.

Again, time would tell. But it was then, at age two, that Dr. Berne told Christian two things: “No more fuh-fuh,” (Christian called a pacifier a “fuh-fuh,” and was never without one.) and “You’re gonna need braces in a few years, kid.” To us, he said, “Start saving.”

Christian did very well, swearing off the fuh-fuh. I hope he never has to test his will power against any other addictions, but it was a good sign that he knows how to quit a habit cold turkey.* Then, at age 12, as promised, Christian got braces. He kept them until September 6th of this year, just ten days after his 19th birthday.

That tooth we were concerned about never did grow in right. After the baby teeth came out, it took forever to descend. When it did, it was, well, a runt. It looked like a little dog canine, or a pyramid for a pharaoh who was only a millimeter tall. Eventually, it would have to go. Working out the timing was maddening, going back and forth, and forth and back, between the dentist, the orthodontist, and the oral surgeon. Finally, this spring, the poor, mutated tooth came out. Six weeks later, just as Christian was coming out of school for the semester, he had his wisdom teeth taken out (he only had three of them anyway) and some bone from his jaw was implanted in the hole where the runty tooth had lived. For about a week, he looked like a Chipmunk, but the bruises that were supposed to take over his face never really arrived. Now that that’s all healed, it’s time to implant a titanium post, and we consult between surgeon and dentist again about whether the new crown that sits on the post will be computer-rendered using 3D printing, or molded and sculpted the old-fashioned way. He’s still at least six weeks from getting the crown in any event, and the post still hasn’t been implanted.

It’s a tedious process.

I did get about ten boxes of tools and supplies emptied in the garage last week. Today I installed two more runs of predator apron around the hens’ run. It’s a beautiful day, and they’re enjoying being outside. I’ve also shimmed up the door jamb in the green bathroom—it was bowed in toward the frame a little at the bottom—and installed part of the door stop. Need to buy more supplies.

Jamison and I looked at the telephone poles along the driveway together today. He’s here helping Susan after her surgery. He was astonished at the vines growing up the poles, and he’s already had BGE out once to remove a dead tree on the lines that I’d been asking them to remove for months. Being himself an employee of a power utility, he was able to drop the right words to convince them that we had some safety issues. They’ve removed the dead tree, but those vines are threatening the lines and the transformers. I’ll have to stay on top of them about that.

That’s about it. I think things naturally slow down in the fall. It’s been a pretty peaceful fall, too—not so many brutal storms as we’ve had the last few years. I remember spending Hurricane Sandy in this house with you, all of us, because we all had big trees near our houses and were worried they might come down. They didn’t.

And now the big trees around our house are pretty much gone, and our concerns are for the ones along your driveway–which look like they’ve been there since the civil war–and the one big pine tree in front of the music room window, which is infested with carpenter ants and is tall enough to hit the roof if it falls the wrong way. Trees are nice, but they keep us guessing.

Anyway, happy 96th birthday. And I’ll write soon.



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