Travel

For those of you interested Only in TRAVEL, I (Jack) wrote the blog between March 2010 and October 2010 during our travels west. We saw the most beautiful places and had the best time in our big truck and little trailer. See Blog Archive below.

Nov 12, 2014

Hope Springs Eternal

I have some good news about pain. No, it's not gone, but it is becoming more and more tolerable. The lidocaine and steroids wore off so the good news is that it means that this ablation worked and is now taking effect unlike the last time. I still can't understand why burning or cutting the nerves is not immediate, but that's the way it works. My doctor is cautiously optimistic, just as I am. He is wonderful. I still take pain medication, but the difference is (I think) that it works on the muscle pain now that the SI joint pain appears to have responded to the ablation. Before just recently, it didn't seem to make any difference whether I took pain medication or not because it did nothing at all for the SI joint.  I may always have to take it, but I'm hoping as the muscles I haven't used for so long, start working, again, I'll be able to take less and less medication. He told Susan that he may prescribe another round of aqua therapy. She works with him a lot so he gets updates all the time and visa versa. :)

I have been to the mall to buy a sofa which is the first time I've "shopped" in the mall in four years. Rather than "walk" the mall as in "therapy", I try to walk to enjoy it. I stay on even ground, temporarily, because of balance problems. Sometimes, I push it too much, and then I back off and remember "baby steps".

I can grocery shop. I can clean house. Instead of vacuuming three feet at a time, I'm up to vacuuming the whole downstairs at once. Not without pain, but it's bearable pain. It seems to be a little less pain each day. I really didn't think the ablation worked so I was surprised with this turn of events. The doctor who did the ablation went in so many more times than the first and he said he was trying different approaches. He is a hero in my eyes. Even if I can get six months at a time out of ablations, I'll take what I can get. In most cases, the nerves eventually repair themselves.

Inside I feel like shouting from the roof tops, but I almost feel as though I don't want to jinx myself. Silly, I know. I feel so grateful just to be able to walk to the mailbox and back without pain. I can't walk Jack, yet, because I need to stay on level ground as I don't want to risk a fall. (Again, because my balance is still not great.) I met Susan for dinner the other night. I parked the truck far away sort of as a test for myself. I walked to the truck and back without even a twinge of pain. Those steps were the most pain free I've had in years (without lidocaine in the joint).

So! The trailer stays for now. I made reservations for Charleston in the spring with Susan. She can help me get Jack into the truck. I can't wait! I'm hoping that this time I can walk around more in the city. And now, a trip west isn't just a pipe dream for the future.

I hate writing about my pain, but if I can make one person aware of their SI joints and ablation and how it works, readers will just skip over if not interested.

Son, Michael, has his own back problems. Fortunately, while they are painful, they are not serious enough to require surgery. He loves cycling, but it irritates his back, so from my favorite state of Oregon, he ordered a recumbent bike.
There's definitely a learning curve, but knowing Michael he'll be past it in no  time. Naturally, I had to bite my lip--my instinct wanted to tell him to stay on the sidewalk. :)
Bogey--he gets so comfy!
You tawkin' to me???
Jack takes a snooze. Bogey follows him everywhere--especially in the back yard.
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Back to the Future, Maybe? That's my precious Lizzie by my chair, and of course a younger Jack.



Oct 22, 2014

Terror in Canada

My thoughts and heart go out to our neighbors to the north during this terrible time. I hope to hear that they catch the terrorists (cowards) before they can do more harm.


Finally! I Met Jim and Sandie Dixon!

I haven't blogged in a long time--not much of interest going on UNTIL yesterday! Jim and Sandie Dixon pulled in and they were as delightful as I knew they would be. Jack knows people who love dogs so he took to them right away. Lately he objects to me chatting with other people (even on the phone), but it didn't bother him a bit as Sandie, Jim, and I got to know each other.

I finally got to see those four huge eyes in person! Skittles and Skooter are darling and so well behaved. They stayed in the trailer--not a peep out of them. 

I wanted to have a nice dinner for my guests, but with my back I can't stand long enough to cook so I wasn't sure what I was going to do. Enter my wonderful daughter, Susan, who offered to save the day. She not only made a big dish of delicious lasagna, but she shopped for everything including the makings of a great salad for which she made the dressing. I can't thank you enough, Susan.

I sort of figured Jim was an apple pie al a mode kind of guy and I was right. He and I had big portions but Sandie made us look bad because she eats like a bird!!

They are off and on their way home. I had hoped they could stay longer, but they were set back a week and had to be on their way. I hope I will get to see them, again, one day. Their love and respect for one another is so obvious, it makes it a pleasure to be with them. Donna and Russ, your ears may have been burning. :)







Thank you, Sandy and Jim, for making my day. 

Aug 26, 2014

Never Say Can't

An Incredible Five Minute Video sent to me by a very dear friend.



Aug 10, 2014

Keely is Off to College!

Seems like yesterday she toddled around here...then, poof! Off to college. Here's Dad sending her off to a whole new wonderful world to bloom in. Between, email, text, Skype, selfies, kids today, don't really go away. :)


Dad surprised her by detailing and decorating a car for her to take to college. Of course, there had to be some pink!

Aug 8, 2014

Jack is 13!

Snoozing on His Birthday
Really, Nancy?

So Many Good Memories in 13 Short Years

I tried to upload a video of Susan and me singing Happy Birthday to Jack while he sniffed the cake she got him, but it wouldn't upload. I'll try a little shorter clip.

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Maybe I just didn't do it right.
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My Brother

About six years ago I got an email. It said, “I think your Mother was my Dad’s Mother.” He’s been searching for her for many years. I was stunned.

Paul and I spoke on the phone for several hours, and yes we decided it was true. There was no doubt. We had so many questions that couldn’t be answered because everyone who could answer them was gone. My sister's husband was ill so I waited a few days before I called her to tell her.

Paul and my sister flew to Atlanta and we had wonderful days filled with laughter. My daughter threw a welcome to our family party for him, cake and all. He was very happy. Later, he flew to New York to meet my sister’s family and was welcomed once again.

I took my trip west in 2010 to see him in Freemont, California. He moved to Phoenix to be near his kids about a year ago. I had always hoped that Judy and I could take the trailer and drive out to see him. It wasn’t to be.

I spoke to Paul a week or so ago and he was fine. We laughed about different things, as we always did. Last night, he called to say good bye—joking right to the end. He’s in hospice, today. I don’t know whether I’m crying more for him or for my Mother who I know longed for her first born for so many years—and we never knew why she was so sad at times. She took her grief to her grave leaving us wishing that she had told us so that we could tell her we loved her and that it made no difference to us. We might have been able to reunite them years ago. How sad.

I’m writing this several days later. I just spoke to Paul. He is gasping for breath even as he is joking. The doctors at hospice say his condition isn’t reflected in his demeanor. I think he is trying to make it easier on the people who loved him. He loves his kids very much—he told me so, often. How brave he is.

His kids have been at his bedside. He has five children. Two, Michelle and Guy have been wonderful about keeping Judy and me informed via text and phone through this difficult time for them--they are like their Dad. Judy and I are hoping to meet them one day along with Paul's other three children. We all agreed that we wished to stay in each other's lives.

Guy, his youngest son told me a story this morning that is "so Paul". Last night, after joking with him, Paul told him that he wanted a friend in the retirement home to have his scooter because he was starting to have trouble getting around. 

August 8, 2014
Paul passed away last night. Peace at last. He will be missed by so many.
   

Jul 28, 2014

Rich

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The more time passes, the more I miss you.
I Love You.

Jul 26, 2014

Jack's Update, Laura, Michael, and Bogey

I had a lovely visit with my long-time friend, Martha from Indiana. When we see each other it's as though no time has passed. Where are the pictures you ask? Martha asked me not to post any--didn't take many, anyway. She loves to go antiquing so we did a little of that each day. I could only walk for a couple of minutes so when I hit my limit, I'd find a place to sit so she could take her time and wander. We went up to Dahlonega one day, a town I've written about before. Again, no pictures. Because of the dogs, we only went for a couple of hours during the day. I missed her when she left.


Susan's off this week so we took Jack in for a recheck of his kidney function (blood test/urinalysis), yesterday. I've been dragging my feet worrying about taking him. The vet called with the results this morning. I'll leave the medical mumbo jumbo out...he's stayed the same! Whew!

I was told I had a couple of options; ultrasound to see if tumors have grown in his kidneys or do what I'm doing, now--let him relax and enjoy his life and let him take walks as long as he wants to go (he always wants to go). Thank goodness for Susan who can take him for me. There's no sense, in my mind, in putting him through a bunch of tests when, at his age, I won't do anything about whatever they find. My vet and I are in agreement regarding quality of life. He has slowed down, my forever puppy, but he's happy and comfortable, and the joy in my life.

My main concern has been that he will have an emergency and I won't be able to get him in my truck to get him to the vet so I asked about the symptoms I might see if his condition worsens before November when he has his next check. I was told that he most likely won't want to be around me (so hard for me to envision)*, that he will show little appetite, and he may start to vomit. I dread that day so for now I choose to celebrate every moment I have with him. He's a big old teddy bear. His wish is my command.

(*When Lizzie became sick she let me know when it was time to let her go. She went into corners or other hiding places. The vet said it was instinct. She knew she was vulnerable so she was leading predators away from her pack (Jack, me, and Susan)). I still miss her so much.
When he sleeps, he sleeps, and leaves a dog's worth of hair wherever he sleeps. My couches have suffered from all the dogs who have slept on them, but that's okay. They are comfortable. Who better to enjoy them?
Jack always sleeps some part of the night right here.

And, Part of his time, here.

On another subject, my son Michael is up in Sag Harbor, New York enjoying time with Laura and her family. They've got a whole week to enjoy each other. 

They are visiting Laura's Sister, Angela. Laura has another sister, Maria, who is just as pretty as her sisters. What a great family.

And, look who's visiting Jack and me. He goes right for his toy box when he comes in.
Bogey--still a puppy. This was when Michael dropped him off.
Bogey's right at home. :) Sometimes, he falls asleep with a ball or his kong in his mouth.
Bogey, like most in the Weimaraner breed, likes to be close (touching) to his humans. He sleeps between me and the back of the couch and never moves a muscle all night. This is the first thing I see in the morning. Scary, huh? What a character.


Jul 10, 2014

Will You Marry Me?

Missy and Sam
July 8, 2014


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Sam asked my son, John, for his daughter's hand in marriage. They are a beautiful couple--made for each other. Sam will be my first grand-son-inlaw. 

Jun 20, 2014

The Empty Chair is Gone

Rich and I ran our business from our basement. It was unfinished on one side and crudely finished on the side where our office was. He used to laugh about our "low overhead". Certainly no fancy digs! I think Rich kept every piece of paper we ever had. I cleaned out his desk immediately after he died and put his personal belongings in bins and put them upstairs. I rarely went down there after that.

When working, he'd sit at his desk and Lizzie would lay at my feet all day except for lunch time. Then, at the same time each day, she would go up the stairs and flip the toilet seat and let it down with a bang. That was usually her sign that her water bowl was empty, but at lunch time it meant, "Come upstairs, and let's go to lunch!" Whenever she did it, Rich would always smile and say to me, "Let's blow this place for a while." Then we'd laugh.

My desk was over near the stairs. When Jack came along, he would come running like a fool, down the stairs, stick his head between the railings, steal a pencil out of my pencil holder and run back upstairs. We laughed every time he did it. He had so much extra skin on him that as he leaned down it would cascade forward into wrinkles - he looked more like a blood hound than a Lab. Such a character. We had shelving filled with books and other office supplies. Sometimes, he would come down with a bone and remove books from a box, put the bone in, and cover it back up with books. Then he'd look around, suspiciously, to see if we had been watching. We were always guilty, in his eyes, so he'd take the books out, again, retrieve his bone, and go through the same ritual in another spot. This went on daily.

The basement being empty for over 9 years left me with a job I couldn't finish on my own. I've prepared the past several months by filling one garbage bag at a time. My back just couldn't handle more than that. I put a few things aside that my kids want. My granddaughter's boyfriend just bought a house so I saved the shovels, spades, pitch fork, pole digger, etc., for him. There are a few other things that my kids wanted, too.  I think I probably had 50 contractor bags of stuff. Some I could get to the street, others I couldn't. Then, of course, there were the tools, the file cabinets, the desk, etc. The kids, a couple of times a number of years ago, had straightened it up for me, but as time passed it became like a dungeon--spider webs and all. 

Just before the men left around noon, one of them asked me, "Does this go?" I hesitated and felt a catch in my throat as I touched his chair one last time, and then watched it go. There was no reason to keep it, but...I'm feeling like I want to see it, again. This will pass, too. Another milestone behind me.


Jack First Day Home

Jack One Year Old

Lizzie 1st Day Home-So Tiny and Precious

Lizzie--Her First Trip West

Jack Slowing Down
Jack's Time to Do as Little or as Much as He Wants

Rich/Lizzie on Mt. Hebo Where He Was Stationed

No More Running Up and Down the Stairs

Lizzie Vogel State Park


Jun 7, 2014

More About Back Pain

I've been putting off posting this, but since I've written as I've gone through surgery, etc., I feel obligated to let those few, who are interested because of their own back problems, know that the ablation did not work (for me). I was completely pain free for a week (the lidocaine). I tried to ignore the twinges, at first, because I didn't want to admit to myself that it didn't work. However, as in the past, the twinges became pain within two weeks. It's back with a vengeance. I so hoped it would work. The brace does not help. The doctor said she didn't hold out much hope for it but it was worth trying.

I'm out of options with the exception of pain medication and surgery. I don't need the medication unless the barometer starts moving up and down. That's when it will not quiet down when I sit or lie down which is usually a pain free time for me. I guess I'm fortunate that it's not the other way around.

The surgery does not have a good success rate. I don't fear the surgery itself, but that it will make things worse and cause the pain to continue while sitting or lying down so I will have NO periods of  relief. Not much else to say about it except that I just have to learn to live with it and not complain.

Jack is still such a comfort. He's slowing down little by little, but is still happy and pain free. He is the light in my life. He sure knows how to relax--still looks like a puppy at times, to me--he'll always be a puppy in my heart.


Sleeps Like a Baby






May 15, 2014

Yes, I Got to Go Again!!!I

Susie didn't have to go into work until 11 a.m., today, so she stopped by just to take me on a short walk down the street. I always have fun on walks with her, but I really, really like the nature center.

But, guess what???? Nancy took me this afternoon! Now, I know you're going to get bored because Nancy goes nuts with the camera. I almost lucked out--she had the same problem that Ms. Sherry had--the zoom wouldn't open, but Nancy fiddled and managed to get it to work, but it's on its last legs. That's a shame because she takes good care of it and it isn't that old.

Trust me, these are only a few of the pictures she took. She says she wants to show everyone what a handsome boy I am even though I'm going to be 13 in a couple of months.  There is one that I want to tell you about. After Rich went away, Nancy put a bench in the nature center. It had a plaque on it that had Rich's name in the middle and Lizzie's name to the right (that's where she always walked) and my name to the left (that's where I walked). Before Nancy hurt her back she put a couple of coats of varnish on it to try to preserve it.

As you know, she hasn't been able to get up to the nature center for quite a while, but Susie and others told her that the bench was starting to fall apart. Some nice person replaced the bad wood and though we can't read the sign any more, the bench looks good as new and is sturdy. Nancy sat on it for a while, today, and I sat next to her and we just enjoyed the cool breeze. We don't know who this person is that fixed our bench, but Nancy and I wish we could thank them.


Nancy yelled at me because I was eating dirt. I don't know what's in it but it tastes so good. She said she'd brain me if I wound up throwing up in the house.


This is on the way to the "swamp" part of the nature center. They work hard to make it really nice.

This is me by Rich's bench.

Look how handsome I am. (Um, Nancy made me say that)

I really, really wanted to go in that water. Nancy says she doesn't like me to go in because a lot of it is run off from the streets.



But, can't I go in the water just a little, Nancy?


This is something new and cool. School children come here and nice people teach them about nature. Isn't that nice? There's a whole half circle of them. See, even the trees that fell this winter have a use.


Oooh...something smells good.

Time to go home, I know.