What was to be a nurturing week with my stepdad turned out to be a week of being berated and insulted. He had had his large intestine removed and was fitted with a J-Pouch in early November, but his diabetes had flared up and he was hospitalized for high potassium just before C'mas. It was a scary week and at times he looked near death. I had never seen him this way. There was no feel of "vacation." I only stayed because my younger brother had flown in from Germany to tend to him more intimately, and my presence for him was relief. At least my brother and I had some intimate conversations late at night, often interrupted with screams for help from Tom. In all the years I have known my stepdad, this was the one time I felt distant to him. I pardoned it off due to his illness, but he had been more cynical in the last few years.
At least I spent some time with my brother, and the following week was better with my daughter and grandchild and step mom. Weather was the usual cold and blustery and I was in no mood to hike around. I didn't do my usual perimeter trail around the Indiana Dunes State Park, nor a day trip into Chicago, nor visited friends further south in the state. I didn't do any of the regular things I enjoy doing while in Chicagoland. Now that I'm back in Arizona(it's been two weeks), I still feel the blues.
I sped across the interstate to get to Chicagoland in 21 hours. My only worthwhile stop was a stop in Hope, AR to see the "Boyhood Home of William Jefferson Clinton," a stop that was more rewarding than expected although only one encassed book is actually a Clinton original and everything else in the restored home is a replica.
Returning the same way across Texas was also fast; I should have taken twice as long to get back to unwind. I stopped briefly in Hot Springs and drove some back roads in western Arkansas, then didn't stop again until I hit Dallas. There are some scenic trails off the beaten interstate in Texas, and this time I saw them driving west on US Highway 180 into New Mexico. Oil derricks and wind vanes welcomed me at sunrise on that final day of driving on the 4th.
I have also decided the time spent at the animal shelter was not worth my agony. Although tending to the dogs and cats was rewarding, some of the other volunteers made my time there difficult, and some of the people calling asking to have their dogs shot also nerved me. Apparently shooting unwanted or sick dogs is preferred here over more humane treatment.
I am also not going to school this semester. I got fed up with Cochise College. I needed a break from all that stress.
So, we'll see what is in store this year. I'm already dreaming of taking a few days off during spring break to head down to Big Bend State Park with Sadie. That is some beautiful, remote country.