“I want to get better so you can go to law school”

I just finished my four-week jump start program for law school. It was exciting and fun. I looked forward to each and every day. I liked all the people. I even enjoyed taking tests. In the realm of law students however, I believe I am the proverbial village idiot. Every village needs one after all. Talking about grades is a no-no so let’s just say that out of ten students, I seriously doubt I am #1. We don’t even know two of our scores for another week, and I really don’t care what I got. I learned what I needed to learn from this program, and to me it was not making grades.

My main problem is shifting how I have learned during the last almost 58 years to a learning style so alien it’s no wonder there are so many jokes about lawyers. “What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?   A good start.” Okay……so that brings me back to the rule of C=DVM. It’s no different in law school. C=JD. My goal in vet school was not to get any Ds. Goal met. My other goal is to shoot a hole in one. Pending.

I did learn that you teach yourself the law. You learn the ‘black letter law,’ and with hypothetical examples given (hypos) you are given a test question with a fact pattern that you have learned from a different hypo, and apply the law to it. I get it. I can’t do it yet, but I get it. I had memory problems. In the past, memorization was my best thing when learning. It doesn’t serve one well to just memorize the law, but you do have to get some things down cold, word for word. I wonder if it was from lack of any cerebral activity since my retirement from teaching four years ago, the hip fracture drama six years ago with a year, more or less, on some of the most powerful narcotics on the planet, or the grief that is still very strong from Earl’s death 14 months ago, and maybe the fact that I had mercury toxicity. That in itself can nuke your brain. How many law school wannabes have had MRIs done? I’ve had 3, one with the, oh yeah, heavy metal IV dye for contrast.

Living here in West Texas has been lovely. The weather is gorgeous, as is the countryside. No mountains, so I am disoriented with regard to direction because there are no mountains on the west, but it is very pretty here. I love my new home, one totally mine that I chose, bought and fixed up for myself and the cats with the mindset that I was ‘flipping’ it to sell when I get a horse property wherever I end up. No more being a ‘renter’ to a family who told me the instant Earl died that I lived free for 27 years, after I went into my marriage with a house of my own, paid for even. My neighbors are kind, the neighborhood is safe, and we look out for each other. I think this climate plus the lack of toxins in my previous home have made me feel better physically. I’m no longer allergic to anything but mesquite, and no longer require allergy shots. I do think the old house and my JHS classroom were toxic.

I’ve taken a few road trips to see parts of Texas. I went to San Antonio for a vet conference antiquing my way down in the little towns along the way. I found an Eastlake table with a marble top. I am fond of Eastlake furniture. When I came back, I had a stunning new marble top made for it. During the coming week before orientation begins, I will drive around the area looking at towns like Idalou and Floydada-gotta love those names! I was going to go to Tucson to ride Scoot and the Baby, but the weather there is monsoon season. My sister told me how to simulate it: Put some wet towels into the dryer. Turn on. Wait. Turn off the dryer and stick your head in.

I am staying here and going to the Hispanic Law Association’s Boot Camp. It’s supposed to be wonderful. I also have some things yet to get in order, like the evil Intent to Practice Law in Texas. I don’t know if I’m going to practice in Texas, but I will take the bar. Last summer, I was getting together a packet for my Texas vet license. Same hoops. I asked the Dean of Students if I could just transfer some materials over. Of course not-the departments don’t communicate. Duh, that would be too easy.

I had some 3 meltdowns during the four weeks of class; not due to stress but frustration of not knowing how to do something. Luckily, it clicked for me the Thursday of the third week, and I was able to do some work. The ‘grief monster’ that triggers the meltdowns is always paralyzing, but when it passes, I can get some serious work done. It doesn’t take much to set off the monster, and at least it only happens at home. The last week, I didn’t have the monster visit, but my computer was doing some weird gymnastics when I had a memo due at 10pm. I took a pillow, so as not to scare the boys, and screamed into it. Then I got back to work, sending my memo in with two hours to spare.

I think about Earl all the time. He was so ill from April to his death in June last year. In his misery he told me, “I want to get better so you can go to law school.” I tried three times to get in. I even was wait listed one year at Wyoming, my first choice, only to be rejected at the speed of light the next cycle. The first time I applied to my school I was admitted via the summer program. Earl was so very ill I had to defer. I was committed to taking care of him to the point that I would forego school entirely, because had he recovered, he couldn’t have his wife in another state.

While I have the angst everyone has about starting law school, I have had four exciting weeks that gave me a taste of what it will be like. I uprooted my entire life, shipped my beloved horses to Margo, and became a Texan (Coloradans supposedly don’t like Texans.) I’m going to give it the “old college try.” If the law school says I’m too stupid, I’ll go quietly (by the way, all the deans and staff I’ve talked to say the same thing, “hang in there”) If it’s not my cup of tea, it’s no shame to browse on. I am, after all, retired with an income, and  an active veterinarian in two states. I am committed to learning some very interesting material that will apply to my other careers, teaching and vet med. I owe it all to Earl, who always gave me confidence and who did get better so I could go to law school. He died. G-d bless my best friend and life partner. I know he is riding Marcie with Keli and Tipper running alongside. I will always love you, Dear. I hope to make you proud.

Tough times lead to less blogging

The Widow Carlson is fed up. Friends have been kind. So have neighbors, even strangers. But things turn really weird when a death happens.

The nightly robocalls from credit card companies- can they let the body cool? These companies get more people into trouble than any other financial institution. Earl and I never kept a dime in common which made for a fight-free marriage. An Illinois attorney friend said, “I just LOVE to hose credit card companies.” Right on!

One medical creditor with a bill of seventeen dollars went immediately to collection to pay corporate law firms hundreds of dollars for a few bucks.

Junk mail abounds. The hospital sent Earl a post mortem letter asking if he would like to honor staff by contributing to the Foundation. The following day, a huge bill came to “The Estate of.” I just finished my best friend’s estate. Her mail was forwarded here, and the same institution sent her a “Welcome to your new home!” letter soliciting donations from the dead.

Even the funeral home has a mailing list. A survey came for a free funeral estimate. At the bottom of the page it read, “Please accept our apologies if this questionnaire arrived at a difficult time.” It did. The owner said an outside firm does these, and people like these tasteless reminders of their own demise. I’d rather call Pakistan for computer advice.

It took his family four hours after Earl’s last breath to turn on me. They piled his junk from the hospital into my car. They asked if I would be OK getting home, then went out to dinner.

A church service was organized that he never wanted. These straight-laced “believers” were going without me to meet a pastor who is known for his eccentricities. I called him to ask what he was planning. It sounded fine. In a restaurant after, they let me have it because they thought I had changed the service. Worse, I had invited one of Earl’s good friends. She was actually called and told not to come. They could have held a service in the state where they live. No one has called me since they left the next day except his mother, who wanted Earl’s sports car, which now belonged to me.

I knew what would happen when we married, that our life together would be cut short due to Earl’s lifetime medical issues. We did not have children because he was so afraid of having a sick child. I no longer feel part of his family.

Earl was the most magnificent man in the world. We had a wonderful marriage in an age where many marriages don’t last. I have precious memories. The best one after his death is scattering his ashes on the football field at Wyoming with his buddies, reserving some to place around his beloved father’s memorial bench at UW. My comfort is that Earl is at peace, free of suffering and pain, running free and laughing in Heaven.

Things happen when cars are washed

I hate euphemisms. I’ve been hearing them constantly since my husband passed away eleven days ago. That, plus people’s own medical histories. But the saying, “When it rains, it pours” works for me this morning.

This spring, there has been so much rain and hail (with tornado warnings,) that our usual June hot, dry weather is now such that our nine-year drought is officially gone.

We had our corral graded last fall to hold rain runoff in a pond until it evaporated. Usually there is nothing in the depression that our buddy, Bru, created. The new pond has been an ongoing fixture all spring. The horses have to walk around it. The corral is a sloppy mess. I posted earlier about Scooter’s private swimming pool, and how the horses had to be shod at the vet hospital when our farrier was there. Over the last three months, I’ve watched that corral pond evaporate, return, turn bright green, dull green, yellowish, then return again.

Last night we had a storm that made the front page of the paper.

I took visiting cousins upstairs to watch the storm. They are from Arizona, so they don’t know what water looks like. We watched cloud-to-ground lightning, cloud-to-cloud lightning, pouring rain, and flooded streets. We covered our ears for the huge claps of thunder.

This time, I got to the barn in time to close the window so the spare hay on the floor did not get wet. The horses are delightfully soaked again, and I will brush them later before our open house in memory of Earl.

Upon returning from my morning walk, made a little lonelier because the Wonder Husky is in Heaven, I noticed that the corral pond was back, no longer green, and had a mallard duck happily swimming in it.

Euphemisms? Clichés? Murphy’s Law? Yep. I had the cars washed yesterday. It makes me feel better to have clean cars. The daily driver has seen a lot of use with all the company, so it went through the automatic car wash. My beloved classic Mercedes was just released to me after weeks at the shop. It had minor repairs and service, but I didn’t have time to pick it up with all the hospital and arrangements. The car wash does hand washing at a very reasonable rate, and my classic beauty was pristine. I even uncovered Earl’s sports car for the gathering today.

Okay, so things happen when cars are washed. But ducks swimming in the corral is a little much, don’t you think?

Get it done and move on!


Things are not so hot for Earl right now. He is OK for the moment, but has some major stuff coming up soon. Down and dirty, he has cancer.

Earl has the 39th anniversary of his kidney transplant on the 17th. The biggest risk to transplant recipients is skin cancer. He has been OK in this regard for about 35 years. Over the last few years, and the last few months in particular, the derm doc has been whittling away at Earl’s face, getting huge squamous cell carcinomas off. Mohs surgeries. There was one so huge, that blew up so quickly, the doctor recommended seeing a radiation oncologist just in case some slipped down to facial lymph nodes. The margins were clear, but he wanted E to do a PET scan just in case. The radiation oncologist is really, really nice man.

We were discussing this program with our primary care doctor, and big mouth Mary says, shouldn’t he have a colonoscopy first? He was seven years overdue for a screening colo. I’ve had about 6 since 1997. So, Earl finally agreed to it, and had it last Tuesday. Yep, positive. The path report came back as ischemic change, but we saw the surgeon who said indeed, it is cancer. It’s also in a weird place, the  hepatic flexure, in the distal ascending colon. Most are in descending colon. Earl is scheduled for a right hemi-colectomy on the 20th, or the 15th, if the doc doesn’t go on a college trip with his triplets (!) Nice guy, he just operated on Earl on the 11th for an incisional hernia from his surgery 39 years ago. We do have the best doctors here in Fort Fun.

The PET scan was last Wednesday, day after the colo and day before the surgeon. The timing was just right. It lit up like a Christmas tree. Yes, there can be false positives, but we are medical folks, right? There are two lymph nodes in the neck and parotid area, probably from the SCC. So we are trying to coordinate the colectomy with either a lymph node biopsy or a radical neck dissection by an ENT surgeon, whom we see tomorrow. Earl wants it done all at once.

Having been born with medical problems related to a birth defect in his bladder that affected the kidneys, and had a lifetime of medical treatment, Earl has been a really tough guy all his life. He is presently training for major surgery, and keeping a positive attitude. Friends are calling to offer help. Earl is telling them his philosophy, “Let’s get it done and move on!”