Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quality of Life X 4

It might be more appropriate to entitle this "My Time to Whine" but I really don't want to do that. Whine, that is. I truly have little to whine about. I do feel grateful for life and where I'm at in it. Not rich. Not poor. Not unhealthy but not without problems either. I'm due to see my oncologist next week for my 3 month check up on the status of my MDS. I have a few aches and pains that are uncomfortable now and then but my layman's brain has diagnosed them as arthritis related and my occasional intake of Tylenol Arthritis pills seems to take the edge off of the discomfort. I've lived longer than my father, than his father, and both of their fathers so I'm grateful for that. Not that they didn't live longer but that I have managed to survive as long as I have and, bar drowning in dishwater or slipping in the shower, I think I might survive for another few days or so. Thus, all in all, I've really got it pretty good. I'm not depressed or at least if I am I don't recognize it as such. I have a fairly optimistic outlook for the future with the possible exception of the political rhetoric that is starting to brew and will boil over to interrupt my favorite TV programs as we approach the presidential elections next Fall. Overall, I would rate my quality of life at 9 on the Richter Scale. If I won the lotto it might increase to 10 but I'm not counting on it. If there is any stress in my life that will shorten my longevity it has more to do with the other three members of our household; wife, mother in law, or the dog.

Starting with the dog, Lucy. She has bone cancer. She's had a history of cancers that we've been able to combat with surgeries. But this one has started in her skull and appears to be moving into the nasal cavity. As a result, her left eye is starting to bulge, most likely because the growing tumor is pushing outward from behind the eye socket. No surgery is going to cure it. Chemotherapy would be a possible treatment to extend her life but nobody can say how much more time it might give her. We have surpassed $3000 in total veterinary costs for Lucy since we started caring for her this past summer. We don't feel it's in her best interest from this point on to do anything except protect her from pain and discomfort. It's really hard to tell when a dog is in pain. She doesn't cry. She still has a big appetite (per the vet mostly because of the steroids she's on) and loves treats, naps, walks, and cuddling. So as long as she's happy and appears to enjoy her quality of life, then we want to keep administering prescribed meds, feeding her "human" food along with her dog food (as recommended by the vet), and spoiling her rotten for as many days she might have left.

Now for mother in law. Eighty-nine years old and in pain. Constant pain. Worse than "aches & pains" an 89 year old person should have to endure. We've known for years she's had osteoporosis. After months of testing it finally appears that there are some small fractures in the sacral area where the vertebrae connect to the hip. She has fallen a few times over the past few years but since there was no out and out hip or pelvis breaks, I think most of her doctors have subscribed to the elderly aches & pains diagnosis. Now they're starting to catch on that the pain is real and the cause is cracked bones. She lives with us and the pain in our town home which means she has a set of stairs to go up and down at least once each day to utilize sleeping floor and living floor. There are still consultations scheduled to discuss the breaking (no pun intended) news and what to do about it. Just recently her doctor(s) have prescribed a wheel chair to minimize walking. And finally some real pain medicines more powerful than the first one they issued which was a duplicate of the pain pills we are giving Lucy! And that makes me wonder if Lucy is getting a raw deal. But we're talking about my wife's mother, now and where to go from here raises a lot of questions. If the stairs become impassible, what then? Block off a section of our living room/dining room for her to live in? With only a half bath on the first floor that would mean no showers. Do we install some kind of stair lift system so she can ride up or down? Could be a tad expnsesive.  Do we confine her to the second floor and bring her meals up to her? I think she'd go stir crazy if we did that. But she can't get into her tub anymore so we've made our shower in the master bedroom available to her so she can shower. She can't really prepare meals for herself anymore so my wife does that for her. But what has happened from all this is that my wife has become a nurse, 24/7. On the few occasions where we've been able to get away from the house for more than an hour or two we've been fortunate that our daughter has been able to look after her grandmother.  She's not senile but she's forgetful, not disoriented but has balance problems. Unlike Lucy, she does moan when she's in pain and it's pitiful to listen too. But if you ask her what's wrong or how can we help she just says her back hurts. She can't be left alone for extended periods of time, say more than two hours, or she might do something stupid. And dangerous. The other day my wife was on the phone with her mother's doctor office and her mother decided to come down the stairs without any assistance. She was half way down when we noticed and were able to intercept and assist her the rest of the way. But when she was asked if she knew she wasn't supposed to descend the stairs without help she said "she forgot." She's not stubborn. Not too much anyway. She just doesn't pay too much attention to rules, details, or what one foot is doing or the other.

My wife has become a nurse. She loves Lucy as much as I do and worries about her the same as me. She loves her mother deeply and wants to do everything she can to enable her to retain her dignity and live a comfortable life.  She feels putting her into a nursing home environment would be a betrayal of trust. Despite the fact that her mother tells her (when she's frustrated with something) to "just cart me off to the nursing home and be done with it" that she can't afford a nursing home so she's stuck with us. She's comfortable with us, we get along, all four of us. Mother in law loves to pet Lucy and Lucy loves to be petted so they form a good team. Out of the four of us I think the biggest strain is on my wife. Of all of us, her quality of life is the most in jeopardy. Lucy doesn't know she's dieing. Mother in law knows she's in pain a lot but has my wife to take care of her needs. I asked her what she wanted to do with herself when she didn't have Lucy or her mom to take care of anymore. At the same time I asked I hoped I wouldn't become her next patient. But she didn't have an answer. She basically thinks it's her duty to keep taking care of her mother and keep her out of a nursing home. I'm not sure that's the healthiest thing for the nurse. But it's her decision. I'll help however I can. But my gut tells me the quality of all of our lives would, at some point, be better served by the nursing home option. We'll see,

I won't be sharing this post on facebook.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What I Think About When I'm Not Thinking About Much Of Anything

Haven't posted much lately. Maybe I'm growing senile but I just don't feel any great urgency to write much anymore.  Isn't that what happens to senile people when the dementia starts to kick in?  Like they lose interest in everything, even the things that were once important to them (like blogging) and just stop thinking about anything except where the next chocolate chip cookie is coming from?  Make that with nuts, please. Sometimes I do feel like a nut but although I may be precariously close to the edge, I haven't fallen into the abyss of catatonic schizophrenia with waxy flexibility. At least not yet.

 When I started this blog 4 years ago I thought writing was my future. Not a new career thing but sort of like a hobby. Something that I could do to release my creative juices but in a relaxing sort of way with no pressure, no deadlines, and no bosses questioning my work. And I had no compulsion to write the great American novel or anything either.  It was just that I had always enjoyed writing and figured with no career obligations competing for my time I could sit at the computer and type away to my heart's content. Of course if after some unspecified period of time a rogue publisher was impressed with my postings and offered to bundle them all together resulting in the great American gaggle of meaningless essays then I don't suppose I'd object too strenuously.  But, really, I just don't have the time anymore, at least not the time I anticipated my retirement years were going to afford me. One of the things that takes up time is maintaining good hygiene. Not that I spend more time on it than I did when I was working but the time table has changed because of my sleeping patterns. I used to get up around 5am, go for a jog, cool off in the pool, shave, shower, brush & floss my teeth, and anoint myself with a subtle but pleasant array of deodorant/aftershave balm/cologne fragrances, including swishing a cap full of Listerine for good breath and dental health. And then spitting it out of course. Not to be crude, but swallowing mouth wash was never my thing. And after those rituals I would drive to work.

Now that I've retired I still do the same routine in the morning except I don't get up at 5 o'clock anymore. And I don't go out to jog and come back for a few laps in the pool. I sleep until about 7am now, give or take a half hour or so. Why do I sleep so late?  Duh...let me think about that...oh yeah, It's because I don't have to go to work anymore!  Any more dumb questions?  But I still practice pretty much the same hygiene routines except I don't usually shower until after I return from my walk which is now an after breakfast event. I can jog for short periods of time but my 66 year old ankles object if I do too much of it. Usually I do a brisk walk for about three miles out and back. Once in awhile four or five, once in a great while just two if I'm feeling lazy or pushed for time. And once in awhile I'll skip shaving too, but not too often. It would be nice to be able to grow a MLB/NFL/NHL game day stubble and run (or in my case, walk)  in the tall grass with the big dogs but, alas, when I don't shave, my mostly gray whiskers protruding from my double chins makes me look like Yasser Arafat (when he was alive, I mean) without the turban. So I maintain these hygienic steps in order to hide the fact that I'm getting old. I may not be able to look like a younger man anymore but, by golly, I don't have to smell like an old man! And I still subscribe to the subtle fragrance fraternity. As Playboy magazine used to recommend (I let my subscription expire two decades ago so I'm not sure if their philosophy is still in vogue) the appropriate amount of fragrance on a gentleman should be at a level where when you enter a room the occupants will not smell you coming but when you leave they will detect a light pleasurable aroma. That's my fragrance mantra. Oh yeah, and I trim my fingernails weekly. Nothing telegraphs the message loud and clear that your hands are an old man's hands than having long fingernails.

That's enough about hygiene. I've only offered my morning routine to give a glimpse of what's on my mind at the beginning of each day. I don't think about much of anything unless I have some special task or an upcoming appointment to attend to that day. Hopefully I've set my alarm to wake up earlier than 7am if I'm going to be pressed for time. And hopefully, when the alarm goes off I can recall why I set it at all. If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing that day I have certain adaptations to my hygienic rituals that I feel obligated to honor. It's not kinky or wacky or anything, no wigs or face paint or voo doo ceremony. Just variations on my normal preparations to start the day.  I feel it's the least I can do to spur my Bucs on to victory. Superstitious? Yup. Does it work? Not in the least. Do I still feel obligated to maintain my self-imposed pre-game game-day rituals? You bet your ass I do. And before you think I'm a hopeless Buccaneer fanatic, take note. Mark this day on your calendar. This week I terminated my subscription to season tickets for the Bucs.  I've been a season ticket holder for twenty years. But not anymore. Oh, I'm still a fan. I still love watching football and I still like my Bucs. But neither my wife nor I really enjoy "the game day experience" anymore. I've had good seats and RayJay Stadium is a great football arena. And it doesn't matter too much that the Bucs pretty much suck lately and probably will continue in that fashion for awhile. But being there just doesn't have the same excitement anymore. Many of the people who sat in our vicinity in the North end zone have given up their season tickets in the last couple of years so a lot of the camaraderie is missing. And while I might enjoy a beer or two at the games I've always felt I was there to watch a game...not to get drunk and take my shirt off (which would be a scary sight). And I like to cheer for my team and comment with my fellow spectators (the sober ones) on remarkable plays, good and bad. And I'll stand to celebrate a touchdown or a goal line stand and share high-fives with anyone within arms length that feels the same. But I don't feel any compulsion to stand up during every freakin' play, for God's sake! And when the drunk and shirtless "fans" in front of us feel it's their obligation to turn around and pump up the rest of the crowd to stand up and cheer louder to bolster our team's spirits? Give me a break. Why can't the morons just turn around and watch what's happening on the field instead of worrying about the rest of us in the  crowd? And stay turned around, Bubba. I didn't come to the game to see you; I came to watch a football game, loser! I've paid for seats for my season tickets, I didn't pay for stands! Anyway, I'm feeling a little bit of guilt and maybe even withdrawal symptoms with the decision to discontinue season tickets. But I'll get over it.

Something else I'll eventually get over but nevertheless feel guilty about is our sweet and gentle Lucy, the American Bulldog we inherited from our daughter Cathie. Lucy has been with us since July because Cathie's apartment complex doesn't allow dogs her size (Lucy is 66 Lbs of canine love). Dogs and football have been of interest to me for a long time and I even stated so in the description of JD's Blahs right from the start. Lucy has bone cancer. She's had six cancers now in various locations and of various types but the latest biopsy of a lump on her forehead is classified as osteosarcoma. Neither surgery nor radiation treatments would be possible due to the location. Chemotherapy might extend her life but probably not by a whole lot and, I'm sad to say, very very expensive. It's tough to bring money into the equation about a family member we love, but after all is said and done, Lucy, our sweet sweet Lucy, is a dog. Extending her life would be for us, not for her. We have pain pills and steroids, and glaucoma eye drops that we will continue to administer to make sure she does not suffer for as long as she survives. But when the time comes we will have to say goodbye and let her go. In the meantime she continues to wag her tail like a whip (Lucy-Goosey shake that caboosey!), loves to take walks, sniff around in the grass, perk her ears up when she sees another dog, growl at cats, and manipulates her domestic staff (us) to give her treats.

There are other things I think about when I'm not thinking about much of anything but football and dogs are currently at the top of my "favorite subjects" chart, right along with genealogy and wondering when and where the next chocolate chip cookie with nuts is coming from. Pretty soon the Presidential election campaigns will start heating up so I'm sure that will start moving up the chart as well.  In the meantime, I'm trying not to think about much of anything except getting older and trying not to smell that way.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Case Case

Our granddaughter Cierra stayed with us last night so that we could drive her to school this morning. Due to a logistical crossword puzzle that happens once in a while.  It's fine with us and we actually look forward to any visits by grandchildren because they're all getting more independent as they forge their way through teenagedom. Their independence curriculum doesn't call for a whole lot a face time with Grandma and Papa so we're always happy to see them any chance we get.  Cierra will be the last to become a teenager next May. She's currently in middle school and a pretty good student. And she elected to play in the band this year, playing the clarinet. She practiced a bit yesterday afternoon with her grandmother acting as the music stand/instructor.  Grandma used to play the clarinet in high school so she was semi qualified to critique and offer hints on Cierra's practice performance.  I used to play the trombone starting about the same age as Cierra (12) and on through high school and into college. So both of her grandparents in this household were band geeks and proud of it! The truth of the matter is we never considered ourselves geeks when we were in high school but in retrospect that's pretty much what we were regardless of how we viewed ourselves. So we were somewhat amused to see Cierra's preparations for gathering her gear for school this morning. Everything goes inside a back pack. Not that that's breaking news; all the kids trudge their "stuff" to school inside backpacks nowadays. But THE CLARINET CASE TOO?!?  Yep. She got everything including the clarinet case inside that back pack. Not sure how, but she did it. We asked her if it was because she did not want to be classified as a geek carrying both a backpack and a clarinet case. She denied that was her intention. I'm not sure but I'll take her word for it. Like I say, she's a good student, a great kid, and she's a band kid...pretty good combo in my book.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lucy's Lump


Lucy with her stuffed dog companion

Here we go again. Lucy, our American Bull Dog, has another lump, this time on her forehead. It has been diagnosed as malignant. So this makes the 4th cancerous growth she's had...first on one toe a year or so ago and three others this past summer on both flanks and her right wrist. The vet says her breed, along with similar short haired breeds are prone to growths. But, of course, not always cancerous like Lucy's have turned out to be. So we keep our eyes on her to see if we see anything in order to catch them before they have a chance to spread. But this one on her head seems like it came out of nowhere just a few weeks ago. It looks like a half egg sized oval right over her right eyelid. Kind of hard to see in this picture but no mistaking it's there when you see her. If it were to grow as dramatically as it has in the last few weeks in another couple of weeks she would start to resemble the elephant man. I'm not trying to be funny.  We love her dearly and are concerned for her well being so brought her to the vet as soon as we detected the problem. Lucy doesn't display any indication that it bothers her, at least not in any way we can see.

She had surgery last summer to remove the three that appeared then. So we took her to the vet when we first detected this one to see if that was the course of action to take this time. We've gone from biopsy to x-rays and finally got to the point where we got an estimate for another surgery to remove when, this past Monday, Lucy got a nose bleed. We've been back three times this week because of concerns that the nose bleed is a sign of possible spreading of the cancer into her nasal cavity. And the surgery proposal has been withdrawn by our vet and replaced with a referral to another surgeon who is more experienced in this area. We have an appointment for Lucy to be seen by this new veterinarian next Monday.

It's difficult to view where to draw the line between love for a pet and the expense of veterinary care. Last summer's surgeries as well as this month's tests and office visits are not cheap. And although the decisions to be made are never easy it just seems to compound the gravity for this to develop around Thanksgiving when the newspapers and the nightly TV news describe the human triumphs and tribulations so many people are going through. Makes worrying over a pet dog seem frivolous. And Lucy is no spring chicken either.  She'll be 11 years old in January. And just to make it interesting, this morning the lump was almost gone! Still there but drastically reduced in size. We already had an appointment for her this morning to check her blood pressure and make a blood profile and the vet explained that sometimes the liquid in tumors just disperses within the dog's system. And not necessarily "spreading" the cancer, just redistributing and absorbing. But still there and just as much a concern as it was when it looked like it was growing overnight.

We'll see what happens Monday and go from there.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Really?! One in Five??

Saw this blurb in this morning's paper. Not sure how authoritative it is. Only identifiable source is that the article originated in New York, whatever that means. Could be from the New York Chamber of Commerce or the Occupy Wall Street gathering for all I know. But documented or not, true or false, black or white or gray all over, someone seems to think the statistics are important enough to be newsworthy.

Also in this morning's paper was an article entitled, House Approves Concealed Gun Bill.  I'm not posting this because of any argument I want to make, pro or con, regarding gun control.  I admit, I DO wonder why people feel the need to carry concealed weapons but that's a subject to ponder in another place and time. My real question is just this...how many of those one in five anxious and/or depressed American adults are carrying concealed weapons this morning?  And did they remember to take their meds?

I don't expect an answer.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lucy's Eyes


Here's lookin' at you, kid!
























Is this my good side?



























These aren't the best pics of Lucy.  I must have had the focus on manual instead of automatic. People have commented that Lucy has very "expressive" eyes, almost like you can see human expressions in them. She'll never win a staring contest but, I swear, there sure are times when I think I can understand what she's thinking just by looking into her eyes.  (Geeez, I've gotta' get a life!) Lucy is spending the night in the doggy hotel tonight.  She so would win a staring contest with either of us tonight...and the expression in her eyes would be like daggers!  Sorry, Luce...we'll rescue you soon!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Canine Cousins

We are "watching" our grandsons while Rob and Mandy take a long weekend together.  They went to see a Pitt game (if you can call a 34 to 10 shellacking by Rutgers a game) in New Joisey. The boys more or less just take care of themselves with a few intermittent episodes of drama now and then but we enjoy spending time with them now that they're old enough to keep their sibling rivalry on a less than lethal level. Our real concern heading over here Thursday was how would the dogs behave together.  Lucy, the American Bulldog we inherited from Cathie (too big at 65 Lbs for her apartment complex) and the boisterous Coco, the Labradoodle, would be meeting for the first time. A close encounter of canine cousins.  Despite just being a few years old, Coco thinks she's a puppy. And a lapdog. I'm not sure what she weighs but it must be close to 40 Lbs or so and when she jumps up on you the inertia factor makes her a flying missile of 140 Lbs!  Lucy, at 10 years + is a little calmer.  She likes frequent naps, snores like a buzz saw, and had lived in the same house with two Dachshunds a few years ago but lacks exposure to dogs closer to her own size. I worried for days beforehand that Coco, beautiful, sweet, and always hyper Coco would drive Lucy nuts. Or worse yet, Lucy would react like a wild cornered beast with snapping jaws and drooling Cujo-like ferocity. We just didn't know but hoped for the best as we put together our game plan for introducing the furry four-legged cousins to each other.

We decided that Sandi should arrive first and let Coco get some of her exuberance out of her system before we shocked her with the arrival of another four-legged house guest. Coco has a greeting ritual she has patented that includes finding a gift for visitors (her choice of stuffed animals, pull toys, or anything handy), frantically whining her vocal joy with the "gift" clenched in her jaws, and a full aft body tail wag/prance routine that is charming but (we feared) waaaay over the top for quiet, sleepy, mild mannered Lucy. So get that out of her system and then bring in Lucy. That was the plan.

I followed a respectful few minutes later.  With preplanned efficiency we introduced them still tethered; Sandi in the family room restraining Coco from her ritualistic greeting and me holding Lucy with the short leash. I swear they sensed each other before I ever got Lucy out of the car. When I entered the hallway Lucy was snorting like a bull and I could see and hear Coco whining and straining to meet (or attack, I didn't know which) the 65 Lbs of quivering white fur whose all four legs were skating in place on tile surfaced foyer in a desperate attempt to meet (or attack, I didn't know which) as I held on for dear life. It was all Sandi could do to restrain Coco and it was all I could do to keep Lucy back from charging into the family room. I advanced with Lucy as slowly as I could keeping a watchful eye in both dogs for rabies induced foaming at the mouth that seemed to be the imminent next stage of this clash of the Titans. Neither Coco nor Lucy cared for this dangerous game. They both growled and whined and displayed obvious (to us, at least) distaste for each other. They both wanted to smell the other but neither wanted the other to smell them in the area where dogs like to sniff each other. Sensitive for their personal space, I suppose. But the good sign was that both of their tails were wagging. We took that to be an optimistic sign that they did not have homicidal intentions. But it still was a scene of jousting like thrusts at each other with growls and snapping jaws when either one tried to sniff at the other's tail. I was beginning to think that I was going to have to take Lucy home and leave Sandi and Coco behind because the two of them were never going to reconcile to each other.

We decided to see if they would behave better if unrestrained and outdoors. Sort of outdoors being the pool and pool deck area. If they were going to fight to the death, at least we'd have them in an enclosed arena with the screened pool area. Off with the leashes! Out to the pool! The two of them scrambled outside and immediately transformed themselves into model canine citizens. Lucy exploring. Coco watching. Lucy following Coco. Coco following Lucy. They were actually playing together! And when they got bored or tired they were tolerating each other.  And eventually they were ignoring each other. Except when one got a treat (going outside to relieve themselves is rewarded with a treat) the other made sure they got one too. Same with affection. They both like their chins scratched. They both like their bellies rubbed. They both like to go for walks. The only thing they don't like is for the other to sniff around their butt. But a growl and display of fangs seems to discourage this act quickly and surely. Seems to be a no no, even for canine cousins.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Doctor, Doctor, Gave Me The News!

Consulted with new oncologist this week for what's turning out to be a quarterly blood test to monitor my MDS. My previous oncologist had to relocate out of the area. The new one was recommended by Sandi as she was very satisfied with his medical management of her chemotherapy. I liked him so we'll see how it goes with his diagnosis and treatment recommendations. The good news is my blood counts are relatively stable so he recommended we continue watching it every three months. No restrictions on my wild and crazy life style so that was nice to hear. Actually, my numbers were improved a bit from what they had been in June, just a little bit in each case but still lower than the ranges for normal counts of white blood cells, hemoglobin, and platelets. Nevertheless, it looks like my "slowly emerging myelodysplasia" is still on the slow track and that's more than OK with me. It appears my decision to change from a Medicare Advantage plan to a Supplemental plan was premature.  I made the change anticipating chemo might be required this year and, had that been the case, it would have been a good economic decision to do that.  But I'm not disappointed.  I'd rather pay the Supplemental premiums even if I don't have to go through chemotherapy. Life's a crap shoot anyway so you just have to make the best decisions you can and stick with them. Until they turn out to be dumb decisions, in which case you adjust as quickly as you can. Make a new plan, Stan!  I could switch back during the upcoming enrollment period but I'll probably just stay with the same program. Premiums of $170 per month are nothing compared to the $1800 a month we paid for both of us two years ago.

Anyway, everything is cool so far and hope it stays that way for a long time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Of Scrap Delayed By Book Of Paver

I don't know if there's an official terminology to describe someone who produces a scrap book. A "SCRAPBOOKER" perhaps? One who prepares scrap books of cherished memories based on the old Latin verb, scrapolli, I suspect,  meaning to piece together documents and relics for the purpose of retaining visions of glories past. But here I am, deep into scrap booking or whatever you want to call it to record for posterity our trip to Alaska last June. That almost makes it more palatable, "recording for posterity" because when you say it that way it sort of sounds like genealogy. So some as yet to be identified heir of mine can come across said scrapbook a hundred years from now and see that his ancestors visited Alaska way back in 2011.  That sort of makes it worthwhile.  I have some mementos of my ancestors' trips, the most noteworthy being keepsakes my parents kept from their honeymoon. Hotel receipts and fliers and notes of expenses like cab fare and meals. Not exactly scrapbookish but sort of and I'm grateful to have them for my family history files. The problem with me, as in I, the scrapbooker extraordinaire,  is that I took too many photos. Now I've got to try to condense approximately 1800 photos into scrapbook proportions. Not an easy task, especially for a wuss like me who thinks every photo he takes is worthy of a Pulitzer prize and should be on the front page of National Geographic magazine (or at the very least, on the cover of SCRAPBOOK ILLUSTRATED).

So I've been slowly plugging away at this project for a few weeks now, ignoring my genealogy research for the most part except for occasional diversionary forays into Ancestry.com just to keep the ancestry search juices flowing, and trying to make sense of, or I should say, trying to construct a scrap book of sorts that makes some sense in coordination with the chronological/geographical elements of our trip. When I'm finally done with it and if you ever get a chance to look at it be prepared to be confronted with, nay, overwhelmed  with lots of photographs of mountains! Keep in mind I've lived in Florida for the past 22 years so mountains are not an every day thing for me. So when I saw mountains, I took pictures of mountains. Lots of 'em.  But not all, just a lot. Here's a few pages of what I've got so far.

I added text to some pages that I call "header" pages like this one. When we drove from Valdez to Fairbanks we started off in a place called Keystone Canyon. So the page identifies the beginning in the scrap book of things we saw in Keystone Canyon.  Then, after a "header" page I grouped photos together in various formats like this:

I'm so darn creative I'm sure they are preparing to carve my name into the granite wall of honor in the Scrapbook Hall of Fame. But I'll have to admit, after a while of doing this it gets a little tedious. It's my own fault after taking so many freaking mountain pictures but it just starts to become boring. Beauteous? Yes, absolutely and especially in this case but boring nevertheless.    


Anyway, I've been doing this for a few weeks now and, by the way, this book of scrap was delegated to me by my wife because after doing about three pages of photos she got bored with it and suggested I take it over.  Lucky me! So I've been plugging away at it for awhile, some days a little bit, other days a few hours, some days nothing at all. But I keep coming back to it because I'm thinking about that unidentified heir in the year 2111 who comes across ScrapAlaskaBook at the bottom of a steamer trunk in the attic all covered with cobwebs and dust and wipes it off with his sleeve and blows the dust off and in mystery and awe announces, "Hey! Look at the pictures of the mountains.! Aren't they beauteous?!"

Alaska memories and scrapbooking of same had to go on hold recently because of a predicament I call "The Orange Crisis."  We live in a deeded community which requires approval from our homeowners architectural committee before any enhancements are made to the exterior of our homes. We have submitted a request for the committee's approval to put pavers in the alcove front entrance way to our home. Since a portion of our townhouse unit has a brick facade, we thought a paver in a brick-like design would provide a pleasant appearance. When we submitted our request we included printed literature from Home Depot that depicted the selected paver sort of orange in color. We didn't see it in the paver itself but the picture sort of presented the colors as various shades of bright orange. SHOCKING! isn't it?  This is what they saw:


OK, I've got to admit this is pretty orangie.  The literature says it's shades of brown but it definitely looks more orange than brown. This picture was taken in late afternoon sunlight when we get direct sunlight on our front entrance. I had no mountains to photograph so thought I'd get a photo of the sample paver as it would appear in our alcove. Not sure I could convince them it's not orange with this one. So I put this photo in file 13. The committee will not see this photo. I went out this morning and took new photos that did not have direct sunlight and showed how we pictured the paver design and colors blending in with the brick facade:


Hopefully, this gives a kinder and gentler appearance so the committee doesn't have to fear that Home Depot is opening up an annex at our address with a logo like accented entrance way. If it works, I only have my scrapbooking skills to thank.  I guess I could have made a header page for it, something like the bottom photo with the headline, "NOT ORANGE!" but I suppose that would have been pushing it. We'll see what happens when they consider with the new updated application. In the meantime, I guess I'll just keep on scrapping!







Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Lost Art of Compromise

Drove 588 miles yesterday from NC to Vero Beach. My travel plan was fairly simple.  I anticipated 600 + miles for the trip but took some routing advice from Sandi's cousin, Bill, and successfully whittled 30 to 40 miles or so off the Yahoo mileage directions. I hoped to average about 60 mph because most of the trip was on interstate.  According to the Sorento's travel computer we averaged 62 mph with 9 hrs 27 mins driving time. We targeted a departure time of 6 am and actual time was 6:17. We hoped for late afternoon arrival considering we would have to stop to eat a couple of times, stop for fuel and a few rest breaks to get out and stretch a little. We arrived at our Vero destination at 5:07 pm so we were pretty close to target. I was also hopeful that I could maintain the posted speed limits + 4 or 5 mph and considering all the travel together, back roads shortcut through a few traffic lights and speed limits ranging from 25 to 50 mph, along with interstate speed limits of 65 to 70 mph with lower levels through construction areas and urban areas, the 62 mph result came out pretty close to the goal.

Driving can be boring. I worked in trucking dispatch for 36 years but never drove over the road. I don't know how road drivers do it. I give them a lot of credit for being able to put up with the bone head drivers that are on the roads these days.  And they have to do it day after day! A 588 mile trip for a road driver is just a day's work. But while I admire their stamina and skill, I don't like to be on the road with them. Simple physics says contact between my 4000 Lb Sorento and a fully loaded 80,000 Lb semi is going to result in semi score = 1, Sorento score = 0. Not good odds in my book. So I try to stay away from them as much as possible. I will speed up, slow down, move over a lane, and do whatever it takes to give them the room to do what they want to do and give me the room to have some peace of mind that neither of us will have any encounters other than passing the other by.  Truckers, of course, aren't the only vehicles to contend with.  All ages, all genders, all races, all whatevers are out there and at times it seems their goals when they set out that morning are to screw up my driving plans. Many of them don't seem to know how to use cruise control. So they speed up, they slow down, they fluctuate at any speed except one consistent level. I go to pass them, they speed up. I pull over to let them pass, they swerve in front of me and slow down. They weave from lane to lane, frequently with a phone stuck to their ear and S-curve their way down the highway like a Nascar driver waiting for a restart at Daytona.

Despite all these observations, I try to keep my political views under the dashboard. That is, few of the other vehicles see my middle finger or thumb/first digit LOSER displays because I don't display them high enough above window height for any offenders to see. You never know when one screwball thinks the right to bear arms means he not only can drive like a jerk;  he might also think he can shoot anybody who trips his road rage trigger. I don't want to be his (or her) target. But I do have political views while I'm driving. Especially nowadays when our duly elected politicians in Washington are having such a difficult time coming to an agreement on how to resolve the debt crisis.  I understand it's no simple process and we can't equate our household budget scenarios to the vast and complex economy of the nation, not to mention how our economy can and will affect the global economies. But when I'm driving on Interstate 95 through South Carolina climbing a hill and trying to pass a semi struggling to maintain 60 mph on the incline and some doofus in a Malibu pulls right up on my ass in drafting position and starts flicking his high beams at me, I can't help thinking that whoever this idiot is has obviously lost the art of compromise. My first inclination in this situation is to tap on my brake to shock the beegeezus out of him but I'm not going to do that, I'm just going to fantasize about it for a moment or two. I will frequently just sit there a little bit and let him stew but not for too long a time. I'll give him my right directional just to let him know I will be moving over as soon as I get a safe distance past the truck. But just as often, that's not quick enough for the idiot who will swerve to the right and then pass me on the right in spite of my directional.  So to keep my sense of humor and my own road rage urges in line, I think to myself that Malibu-moron is like the politician who goes to Washington with his goals lined up in a neat little row and refuses to take any body else's view under consideration. He has PRINCIPLES  by golly and he's not going to let some Sorento or semitrailer or Democrat or Republican or anybody else who gets in his way deter him from accomplishing his goals. It's mind over matter...he doesn't mind and the rest don't matter. His way or the highway.

Kind of a simple little analogy, I know, but it keeps me amused while driving down the road while keeping my mind on the driving at the same time. I'm not interested in finding blame against Democrats or Republicans, Congress vs. Senate, President Obama, liberals, conservatives, Tea Party, or whatever. But I'll say this. I drove 588 miles yesterday and compromised my butt off the whole way to accommodate other drivers and people sharing the road with me. If I can do it, the people we've sent to Washington can do it too. I don't expect them to vote on every little thing exactly the way I want them to. They can't please all of us 100 % of the time.  But they better learn to negotiate and compromise and get something done on this debt crisis PDQ and those that don't can kiss my vote goodbye. And they can kiss my road-weary butt while they're at it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Alaska Tour Picture Tease

Sandi and I recently returned from a 15 day land and cruise tour of Alaska.  In a word, it was AWESOME!  But, of course, a word is not enough to describe the eye candy scenery and sights.  I was tempted to photograph every mountain, every waterfall, every critter, every iceberg, every glacier, every dog sled puppy at every turn. But I'm more disciplined than that.  I only took about 1800 pictures or so. I put them on discs to store and organize (sort of organize) in case anybody wants us to join them in their living room for a narrated slide show.  Come on, don't be bashful...you know you want to see them!






Obviously, some of you live quite a ways from us in Florida so you may think you're out of danger range for us to visit. Keep in mind that Sandi and I love to travel. Especially to places where the room and board is free. HAVE DISCS, READY TO TRAVEL is our slogan. In the meantime, you'll just have to be satisfied with the pictures included in this posting. So sorry to tease you like this but pending your invitation it's the best we can do. First priority for pictures in Alaska? CRITTERS!!  Here's just a few:

Moose birthing two calves

Dahl sheep

Fox on side of road napping

'da bear

Another moose drinking in the river...Daddy moose?

Can't really call sled dog puppies "critters" because they're so darned cute.


We drove 92 miles into Denali National Park on a school bus over a gravel surfaced road with no guard rails. Pretty severe drop offs to get the blood pumping.
This gave a nice view of the road ahead


This is the view from our window on the left side of the bus.




With millions of square miles of wilderness, mosquitoes thrive and are almost big enough to be classified as critters in their own right. We stayed in a lodge in Kantishna, 92 miles inside Denali Park that supplied head nets to each guest for protection.






Sandi in fine Kantishna fashion!


Lots of  woods with lots of standing water = perfect world for mosquitoes



Mountain views


I thought this was a huge mountain...

Until this one peeked through the clouds behind it. Mount McKinley from the ground.

Mount McKinley from the air...it is absolutely astonishing when you see it...20320 feet elevation!!


The rest of these pictures were taken while on the second half of the tour on the cruise portion.




Hubbard glacier as seen from the cruise ship


Hubbard glacier up close and personal

Engines pulling our White Pass Railway trip out of Skagway


The harbor at Skagway in the distance as we climb the mountains into British Columbia

Launching apparatus for the Icy Point Zip Line, longest and fastest zip line in the world!

Sandi after the zip line vertical drop of 1300 ft, 5330 ft long, 60 mph.  After the bus ride into Denali, this was a piece of cake!

Nobody can go to Alaska and not have their picture taken in front of a totem pole.


Me and Sarah. No I did not have my hand on her butt...she was just cardboard!


Our group with JOHN HALL'S ALASKA CRUISES & TOURS.

Yes, got pictures of whales, bald eagles, seals, otters, and other critters but I'm still organizing everything. Hope to have it all ready in time to make a good presentation in your living room.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I've Got Another Think Coming

I haven't posted anything in awhile. Don't seem to be able to think of subjects interesting enough to post. I don't think it's because I've got writer's block. I haven't vegged out or anything, at least not full time. I have my moments when the view from inside my head is more or less blank but I usually snap out of it in time to avoid walking into the wall or driving the Sorento into a ditch. Usually. Yesterday I stopped off at the post office to mail a letter and in maneuvering the Sorento down an incline and simultaneously turning right I drove over a curb. And I think of myself being an excellent driver! But this wasn't because of a lapse of consciousness or anything...it was just lousy driving.  I was thoroughly ashamed of myself.  I don't accept lightly any thoughts that I may be turning into one of those "senior drivers" we all like to curse at and complain that they're "too damn old to be driving and should get off the road." I realize that publishing this mishap could result in branding myself for life but if anyone reading this is so inclined to judge me as incorrigibly deficient as a driver, I submit the following:

1) No damage was done to curb or Sorento
2) No other persons were involved or disturbed in any way.
3) I berated myself verbally with cursing and insults.
4) I was embarrassed enough that had I had one of those hand-held chain whips I would have flagellated my back. Thankfully, I don't have one.
5) After I confessed my driving transgressions to my wife later in the day, she confessed that she had done the exact same thing (although not at the same location) and, get this...she had a flat tire this morning! I'm not gloating. Just trying to put all this into perspective; obviously her driving error was more severe than mine.
6) I rest my case

Back to the writing drought. I don't know why I've slacked off on posting my blogs. Either of them. On my genealogy blog, MY SEARCH GOES ON, I posted one a few weeks ago, April 23rd to be exact, about my search for my maternal grandmother's brother who lived in Allentown, PA. I finished about as much as I could find well over a week ago, found some interesting relatives and expanded my source info on that branch and generation of the family and have moved on to other branches. I feel obligated to post again with my findings but just haven't gotten around to it. Lazy I guess. One reason I might feel obligated is due to the fact that I now have a calling card that sort of advertises that blog and my personal info. I had calling cards as an officer in the Army. I had calling cards the entire time I was employed in trucking. They were a traditional and official tool used to identify oneself and clarify one's title. Well, I'm not official anything anymore now that I'm retired, but there is a good reason why I have some now. I had ordered something online a month or so ago (I can't even remember what I ordered) but it included a free set of calling cards (box of 250) that I could design with their templates and, get this, a free T-shirt with the same design! How cool is that?! My wife thinks I'm nuts. Maybe I am, but you know what? I've got calling cards, I've got a matching T-shirt, and they were freeeee!  Cost = zero!
I've got 248 cards left if anybody wants one. I really don't have much use for them but they're kind of neat so I've put some into my old and now unused calling card holder. Just in case.  I used to keep my calling cards in the holder in my suit jacket pocket. Now I don't wear a suit jacket anymore.


So I've got more things to think up that are worthy of posting but I'm never sure when that will happen. I do a lot of thinking when I'm out on my walks. A lot of times I lock onto a thought that I think would be interesting to post on my blog(s). But a lot more times I forget about whatever fantastic subject matter had come to mind because I don't stay on one subject for very long. Scatter-brained describes me perfectly. Lately I've been thinking about our upcoming Alaska tour and trying to strategize how to pack for it. We're trying to condense our baggage into as few pieces as possible to save on airline fees. We're taking a 15 day tour combining 8 days on land and 7 days on a cruise. Attire required for both does not necessarily overlap so condensing is a challenge. Now we're not saying exactly when the tour takes place because security of our home and property when we're gone, I'm told, should not be broadcast publicly on forums like blogs and Facebook.  All I can say about that is that if anyone thinks they know when we're going and think about breaking into our home, I hope they'll have the decency to not step on my pet snakes, especially the poisonous ones, because we'll be letting them out of the cages to roam free inside the house while we're gone. And if you think they won't want to come and greet you with a nice big kiss, then you've got another think coming!




                                                                     

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Nothing I Can Say

It feels like I've been holding myself back from making political comments on this blog.  Perhaps my instincts to muffle my political opinions are the best instincts I have.  Best, in the sense that I've always tried to maintain the policy that the more you keep your mouth shut, the less chance there is of sticking your foot into it. I don't know who originated that thought but it has always seemed like a good policy to embrace. Probably more so because my opinions expressed in a public forum like Google Blogs are impossible to take back. I don't have the time, the energy, or the staff of assistants ready and willing to put the right spin on something I might say that I didn't think about before I said it. And I don't spend a lot of time editing any of the blogs I post for anything other than spelling.  Yes, it's true, I don't like misspellings in published writing, especially when the writer is me.  What can I say?  I was raised on phonics so I'm eternally hooked on proper spelling.

Donald Trump's recent verbal vomiting,  first about Obama's "missing" birth certificate,  and subsequently about the president's "questionable" qualifications for entries into Columbia and Harvard Law School, is one of the issues I've been straining to withhold from my blahs.  What a freaking bird-brain platform from which to start an exploration into national politics! If that's what it is. I'm not so sure. It may be just his efforts at self promotion and even a dummy like me knows he is a master at promoting himself. But anybody who thinks that The Donald  has even one ounce of the qualifications required to be President is missing a screw somewhere. Which leads me to my point and my political agenda in this blog...nothing I can say is going to change your mind. No matter how many screws in your head are loose.

I myself am a master at something too. A master of jumping on the bandwagon of ideas that sound good to me when I hear them. I thought Obama's comment about "circus barkers" was very close to the mark in describing his most recent critic. Before he used that description I had read an editorial that put the label of "clown" on The Donald.  I thought that was the more accurate of the two but they both worked in my mind and I embraced them in my pool of opinions about the Trumpmeister (that tag is mine but anyone is welcome to use it). But again, if you've already hooked your wagon to DaDon's circus train, nothing I can say is going to change your mind.  Mr. Trump is a great entertainer. I am a fan who watches Celebrity Apprentice like clockwork. I even stayed in one of his hotels once. So I've got nothing against the guy other than to say I think he should stick to those things he knows best...TV entertainment, family nepotism, and real estate.

Conspiracies are alluring.  I don't know why but I know one when I see one.  I never had any doubt that the "birthers" were ignorant of the facts but I recognize how intriguing it can be to see a few clues, some true, others not so true,  all fall into place and blend together into a juicy, radical, gossipy-sort of theory that would perk up the ears of any of us. The point where conspiracies can become mean spirited is, in my opinion, where most of us disconnect our wagons and recognize the conspiracy for what it is...bullshit.  But there are some who cannot disconnect.  There will be people who go to their graves believing that Obama was born outside the United States.  Nothing I can say or anyone can say will change their minds. Same with any whose curiosity has been aroused about The Trumpster's shots across the stern regarding Obama's scholastic performance. The implication seems to be that a guy who graduated from Harvard Law magna cum laude (that means he done good) perhaps wasn't qualified to go there! It makes me wonder if the same "team of investigators" that TheTrumplator sent to Hawaii for the certificate search are the same buffoons investigating Obama's scholastic records.  Someone needs to tell TheHairHead that he can call off the investigators. Not because it's bullshit. This investigation, if there is one, falls into the category of who gives a shit!?!  Wonder what class at the Wharton School Trumplestiltskin missed when they explained what magna cum laude meant?  The truth is, again, nothing I can say will change anybody from believing what they want to believe. Even if it's BS. So that's enough said.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Roll Out The Barrels

I received the plaque below from my fellow aviators in the 1st Platoon of the 175th Assault Helicopter Company in February 1972. It was a tradition to issue plaques to all departing members of the unit that were tongue in cheek in nature with inscribed narratives relating some of the humorous and dumb events that transpired during our tours.  The plaques were always awarded in the Officers Club in a semi-official ceremony that resembled a roast more than anything else. It also gave us a good excuse to drink too much and brag about how we were the best pilots Vietnam. Our motto was OUTLAWS RULE THE DELTA!  Included in the list of my heroic accomplishments as an Outlaw pilot was one of the last lines on the inscription which read,  "THE ONLY "P" TO USE A BARREL TO PRE-FLIGHT THE 42."
The "P" stands for "Peter-Pilot," a title assigned to all newly assigned pilots in the platoon. When I was a "P" one of my assignments on each aircraft pre-flight inspection was to check out the tail rotor gear assembly on the UH-1D helicopter (known as the "Huey"). The tail rotor gear shaft assembly was situated at the end of a drive shaft and was configured at a 42 degree angle from the horizontal shaft. In our lingo, that was simply, "the 42."

The 42 was situated about 8 feet or so above the ground and could best be inspected by standing on the "stinger" which was a metal rod extending out underneath the aircraft tail, designed to prevent the tail rotor from striking the ground if the ship approached the ground with too severe a "tail-down" attitude. When you have short legs like I do, standing on the stinger is not a problem. Getting up onto the stinger is another story. My solution was to grab the nearest empty 55 gallon drum, drums in plentiful supply around the revetments where our Hueys were parked, roll it over and under the stinger, climb up and stand on the drum and use it as a stepping stone to then stand on the stinger and perform the inspection.  I thought it was a brilliant solution. My platoon members thought it was humorous. I kind of agreed and got a kick out of their mentioning it on the plaque but in general I just thought it was an expedient solution to perform a task and that was that.

That may be true. Then again, maybe not. I never knew what was originally inside those empty 55 gallon drums.  Never gave it a second thought. Until the other day when I had my annual physical at the VA.  The VA physician was informed about my MDS diagnosis and had done extensive blood tests with results similar to the recent results my hematologist/oncologist had obtained. Knowing I was a Vietnam vet, the physician asked me if I had signed up for the Agent Orange Registry. It's possible my MDS was caused by agent orange. And here's an interesting note: agent orange got it's name from the fact that it was stored and transported in 55 gallon drums with an orange stripe painted on them. I don't remember seeing orange stripes on the drums I used for my 42 inspections but that was 40 years ago! You never know. I'm set up to go back to the VA next month for an exam for the Agent Orange Registry. It will not determine if agent orange caused my MDS. But it might help define my qualification for disability benefits.  We'll see what happens. In the meantime rest assured if I have reason to climb up on any 55 gallon drums I will make sure I know what was inside them before they became empty.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

MDS Numbers Update

Had my hematology/oncology appointment Thursday with blood work to see how my MDS is doing. White blood cell count up a little bit, red blood cell count down a little bit but even though both are lower than "normal" range they aren't moving much.  That's a good thing. Platelet counts dropped a bunch on this test but no clue why.  The doctor questioned me thoroughly on any signs of bruising or bleeding easily. Kind of hard to define "easily" so showed her a scraped knee and a recent scar on the back of my hand that I'd gotten from a dog's nails. Neither impressed her as anything to worry about and I wasn't overly concerned about them either. So the platelet count was low (65.0 vs normal range 140 - 400) but I still have no symptoms associated with MDS or anything else for that matter. My wife told the doctor that I nap a lot and that's true. Usually in front of the TV either in the afternoon or, more often, at night. But that's nothing new so, again, we're not looking at my occasional snoozes as being a sign of anything worse than just being a boring old guy who can nap at the drop of a hat.

So the game plan continues to be watch and wait for awhile. I go back in two months to check the numbers again.  And in the meantime, no restrictions beyond common sense (not always my strongest suit, but what the heck) and that means a green light for some upcoming travel and excursion plans.

Friday, April 15, 2011

THEY HAD ME AT 50%

YOU HAD ME AT WOOF by Julie Klam was my inspiration for the title of this posting. So sue me if you think I've plagiarised the concept. I thought it was cute and when I saw the book's cover at Borders I couldn't resist buying it. I looked at the face, glanced up at the title and I was hooked.
Can't look at this cover without cracking up!
I haven't read it yet so can't vouch for it but from the few paragraphs I browsed over it promises to be a good one. I'm hoping it'll rank right up there with Marley and The Art Of Racing In The Rain. But, as they say, you can't judge a book by it's cover. But you know what? They can say that all they want..I do it anyway. I have to! When you're a reading junkie like I am you have to judge books by their covers or you'd ending up buying every book you saw on the shelf!

I talked about my local Borders store closing last February. It's getting down to crunch time now with only a few days left before the doors close for good. I had mentioned then of my guilt for taking advantage of Borders' 50% discounts when offered  in email advertisements. I confessed, they did indeed have me at 50%. Now that they're clearing out the store (including the shelves!) the discounts are mounting toward irresistible levels...see for yourself:


I bought three other books besides WOOF at 70% and 80% off last weekend. Today I drove by while out doing some errands and my steering wheel, like a divining rod, forced the Sorento into the Borders parking lot and I bought three more. Dumb, I know, but it's tough to pass up bargains like this. For dopes like me anyway. So if anyone reading this post has a Borders store closing in their neighborhood, better get there fast.  Everything must go! If you happen to see me in the vicinity feel free to cut me off, block my Sorento from entering the parking lot, and throw me a hip check at the entrance.  Help me to help myself...I can't afford any more bargains.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sixty Six Plus Sixteen

Today marks a milestone for me as it is the sixteenth day after my sixty sixth birthday. The number has been on my mind for quite awhile, not so much as a goal but as a day of significance to me personally. I knew that if I woke up this morning, this sixteenth day after my sixty sixth birthday,  it would mean that I had outlived the duration of my father's life. He died on the fifteenth day following his sixty sixth birthday. It's been fairly easy for me to do the calculations of the formulas above because 1) I remember my father's birthday was March 11th, and 2) my father died on my birthday, March 26th, forty years ago.

The King ancestors I have descended from don't have too great a record in longevity, not the men, anyway. My father's father died when he was 59. His father died at 60 years of age. His father died when he was just 49 years old! And, finally, when we go back one more generation, my 3rd great grandfather somehow managed to survive to 107 years old!  Maybe he used up more than his share of the old age genes?  Here's hoping a few snuck through and are lodged somewhere within the epidermal layer of my internal timer. Only time will tell.

My father died of a heart attack. It was his third one in the last ten years or so of his life and the final one was severe. He hung on for weeks after suffering the attack, hospitalized in a town in Florida just a few miles from the small town where he was born and raised until he was about 15.  The doctors told us his heart was very weak and he would be "severely impaired" for quite some time if he survived. I sure couldn't correlate that diagnosis with his appearance and demeanor.  When I saw him he was tired and resting in his hospital bed but seemed alert, cheerful, and couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. He spent his 66th birthday in that hospital and as I've noted, fifteen days later he died. He wasn't very active physically in his job as a clergyman. I recall seeing him participate in a limited way in sports, more as a social endeavor than for physical conditioning. He would join me and my friends to shoot hoops on the basketball backboard mounted on our garage, but it meant he had to undo his tie and roll up the sleeves of his starched white dress shirt. And at church outings he would play baseball but, again, just in a limited way to share the socialization part of it all rather than to display any prowess. He loved the Red Sox and found business purposes requiring his presence in Boston from time to time, which wisely he combined with visits to Fenway Park. An althlete, he was not, but he was an intellectual superstar when it came to reading, researching, studying, and all the things related to supporting his ministerial duties. But physical exertion in the years I knew him, the 1950's and 1960's, wasn't part of many men's lives unless you count bowling and drinking beer. He did neither. So it's not surprising his heart didn't get the exercise it needed and gave out on him at 66 years of age.

I don't know the causes of death for any of our King ancestors. I have pictures of my grandfather and he looks pretty trim and fit. My father wasn't fat but he might have been mildly overweight. To my teenage eyes I classified him as fat.  In pictures I can see now that he wasn't fat at all.  Just inactive. I'm the one shaped like a pear with some serious love handles mushrooming around my waist. But I do stay active with stretching, weights, calisthenics, and walking. Occasionally I'll jog and have done a few 5k runs employing both walking and jogging. But my ankles and my back are quick to report back to me that walking is the preferred method of exercise.  And I try to listen to my body.  So far, my MDS hasn't contributed any symptoms to alert me of a problem. So at this point, myelodysplasia is just a theoretical infliction, making itself known through blood cell measurements but not affecting my day to day activities.  So far so good on that front.

I could have put these thoughts on my genealogy blog but I think it rightly belongs to my blahs...just spewing out nonsense about things on my mind. And lately, mortality is on my mind.  Not in a depressing or morose manner, just out there to be considered from time to time. Yup. Sixty Six big ones. And so far, still living. Think I'll try to stay on this path for awhile longer. I'm not putting a number on it. No goals. Just a lot more time.  I've got a few more things I want to hang around for.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bill Profiles

       
I like to practice taking nature photographs whenever I get the chance and the inspiration.  I want to hone my photography skills for an anticipated Alaska tour/cruise later this year. Just about every sunny day a group of turtles like to climb out of the pond behind our home to sun themselves on the grass bank. But they are sensitive to any noise or movement and are hard to capture with a camera because by the time I get close enough to take a picture they have scrambled back into the water. That leaves me with plenty of photo opportunities of ripples in the water but that's about it.  Today was different.  Different subject and different sensitivity. The spoonbill in these pictures was too busy spooning around in the muck to worry about me taking his picture. Even seemed to preen a little bit by circling around from time to time as he worked his way along the edge of the pond. That was just my imagination, I'm sure, but he did give me a variety of profiles to photograph.
OK, spoonbill pics completed. Bring on the whales! Bring on the seals! Bring on the bears...the small furry animals I can run away from if they look menacing.