Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Things aren't bad...

Most of our intellectual and spiritual energy these days is directed towards helping my MIL who just moved to a nursing home. She is 88 and has osteoporosis and COPD - a lousy combination. (She as already told the hospice social worker that she'd like to die before Xmas!)

The good news is that she likes the nursing home. It isn't perfect but the people are nice and the food is good. Those are two really important things! And we agree! The nurses and other staff seem really nice. I sure couldn't do their job but they seem to be fine helping all those folks who cannot help themselves. I really admire the job they do. The cooks, hidden away in the bowels of the facility, also seem to be doing a great job. Every meal I've seen has been appetizing looking, smelled good and the MIL likes them too. What's not to like?

Tomorrow we have a 'Care Plan Meeting' when we get to talk about how things are supposed to work. Things like: comfort; not overdosing on drugs; usage of the electric wheelchair; leaving the facility and tons of more stuff. The nursing home is a cross between a hospital, a jail and a home. It's a tough act to get right but we are trying. Here's hoping for the best.

All I have to say is that this isn't the retirement I was looking forward to!

BTW - Happy Pearl Harbor Day to anyone who remembers!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Another Sad Day!

We had another sad week here. Last Wednesday we found a bed in a nursing home for my mother-in-law. It is something she certainly didn't want and we didn't want for her but her increasingly serious illness made necessary. Finally, early this week, she decided that she would be better off in a nursing home. She began telling us that when she woke up it was more difficult for her to breath; she was frightened; and it became even more difficult to breath. We learned that all this is typical of the disease. (She has COPD - Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - and isn't going to get better.) Then when she said she really wanted to be someplace where she could receive care around the clock, we had to act. We went looking for a bed in a facility that was relatively close to our home so we can spend more time with her. Much to our amazement, we found a place in the fourth place we visited! It is a nice place, clean and well rated. We like the people we have met there. She will be well cared for by them. But it is an institution and that's sad.

Hope you had a good week!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving Report

Well, Happy Late Thanksgiving to all. We had a very good one and hope everyone else did as well.

Daughter and her friend (male) brought the MIL. It must have been lots of fun: 3 people (him pretty large), wheelchair, 2 large oxygen bottles and a small bottle, some garlic dip, etc. all in a Ford Escort. We were waiting, all prepared with at least 2 minutes to spare! Yes, procrastination, thy name is Don.

Anyway, the MIL was installed in her wheelchair next to the table with the goodies and we talked a bit while waiting for Mr. Turkey to come out of the oven. Finally, he came out, the last minute things were prepared, I carved and we ate. Everything was pretty traditional and good. Most years my wife likes to try out some new recipe but this year I managed to get her to go simple. It was a very good choice and everything was delicious. Hopefully THAT is the start of a tradition! The wine was better than we expected and the male friend offered a toast to our daughter honoring her professional achievements in the last year. This guy isn't always that nice to the daughter so this was an excellent surprise. The MIL was really tired by the time we finished dinner so the whole lot loaded back into the Escort and went home by 16:00.

That gave us time to finish the open wine and call the appropriate relatives. Very, very nice. Once again, hope everyone had a great one!

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Had a good weekend. Some relatives who have an acreage keep our trailer on their property. This weekend they needed to take down a tree that had died. The problem was that when it came down, it needed to be across the road in front of their house. The good news is that it is a very quiet road but still it needed to be cleared as quickly as possible. So, we volunteered to help clean up the mess.

We went up on Friday afternoon, got set up in the trailer and took them out to dinner. Saturday morning the guy, my wife and myself went out to bring down the tree. His wife ACTUALLY went shopping! Couldn't believe it but there it was. Outside = his problem. Well, actually, it doesn't bother me since they seem to have a good relationship. It isn't what I want but what the hell: different drummers and all that.

We got the tree down and cleared in about three hours. He cut the tree down then removed limbs. I spent the entire time picking up limbs and carting them to the burn pile. My wife worked as hard as anyone. She used our electric chain saw to remove limbs part of the time and dragged limbs to the burn pile when she wanted a break. She was very proud of her work as was I. Here is this mid-50's woman, an ex-middle manager in a technical field, working as hard as any field hand. She did great.

We slept well that night! And came home today after a leisurely breakfast. What's not to like! Well, no nookie, but I don't need to set up a counter either. ;)

Monday, November 14, 2005


Today we went to an exhibit at the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry called Bodies. It is a facinating look at real human bodies. These people (they were all Chinese) died then the soft coverings of fat and tissue were removed then muscles, nerves, etc. were replaced with a polymer substance. You end up with a skeleton with, for example, the muscles shown. Each muscle of the leg is seen, where it attaches to the bone, where it attaches to the next bone.

On another body they had nerve fibers illustrated, on another the blood vessels. I said the fat and tissue were removed but that isn't strictly correct. They left skin where it helped illustrate something or make the display more human. For example, the head might have the skin on the left side then the nerves exposed on the left. Most of the bodies were male and the penis and the testicles were intact; it gave the teenagers who were visiting something to titter over. There were a few female bodies including one who had had breast cancer that was untreated. Yuck! I never knew what that would look like; now I know I don't like it. It was rather like a mole only it covered an area 8 inches by 12 inches and was 2 or 3 inches deep. Nasty!

Lungs were displayed, livers, the stomach, pretty much everything you can imagine. In some cases both normal and diseased organs were shown. Smoker's lungs, diseased livers, and gallstones were just some of the fun stuff. It was a very good, interesting and instructive show. Highly recommended if it comes to your area. Wish I could post a sample but I'm not that good a blogger! Email me if you'd like to see the advertising poster or check the museum's web site

Have a good one!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Nothing much....

I'm being pretty dull lately. Haven't updated this blog in 10 days or so. Somehow I've always got things to do; funny how that works.

My wife and I decided that it is time to diet and started yesterday. For me, dieting means smaller portions, fewer snacks and a lot less booze. It always leads to a big rant when we diet together because I lose more weight. It isn't a mystery to anyone but her: I exercise and she doesn't. I walk the dog for half an hour then do another half hour on the treadmill. That makes a big difference. But it isn't easy to get started on an exercise routine, I know that. When I was younger I could stop exercising for a month then start right up where I left off. Now, first of all it is much harder to get started again and secondly I have to go back to lighter weights and shorter durations or I'll pull something then HAVE to stop again. Well, at least I CAN exercise. There is so much pain in the world lately, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunami - you name it. It makes you want to just be thankful if you still have your family and friends.

The election in California was interesting. Here is a state that is way deep in debt and the people are simply refusing to stop spending. Of course the measures were going to cause pain to most all of the people who work for the state and all those who receive state assistance so I guess it shouldn't be too surprising that they lost. They may well be a majority! One thing I haven't seen so far is anything about the turnout. The number of people who can control an election is surprisingly small if you do the calculations, I hope that isn't what happened in this case. And I'm also hoping that somehow the state can turn itself around and not start defaulting on their loans!

France is also in pain. Night after night of violence caused by the pain and frustration of being second class, unemployed citizens is easy for me to understand. The social safety net of monetary and medical benefits keeps people from starving (in most cases) but you pay for those things with a lost of pride and self-esteem. I've been without a job and I sure didn't like it. Even a crapy job is better than none and in France unemployment is huge, over 10% of the population by US State Dept. estimate. (An aside. In Freakonomics the argument was made that inner city dope dealers don't even make enough money to live on but they want to do it because it is a possible escape from a place where there are no other jobs.) Here is another problem where I certainly don't see any easy fix. The traditional politician would try to turn the peoples attention outward and attack another country. Let's hope that doesn't come to pass here!

Well, hope I made your day cheerier but I bet I didn't. (Sorry about that!)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Bah Humbug!

Another wonderful day in the neighborhood. Well, actually it was fine. Wifie spent the day doing stuff on Quicken. I surfed more than my fair share but I also did some investment stuff, went to the store & got stuff for dinner, vacuumed the house and did most of 3 loads of clothes (wifie did take some stuff out of one load of the dryer). We shared doing dinner. It was much better than yesterday.

I'm not going to make this into a rant about my wife because it is as much my fault as hers. Sometimes we start drinking wine and just don't stop in time. We are both very responsible and somehow manage to take care of our obligations but there are other times when we drink to excess. Yesterday was one of those times. After a productive morning, we went out by the pool at lunch and got blitzed. That was just what happened. Then, after a short nap, life resumed. It bothers us both but it keeps us sane and keeps us going.

Life in the fast lane, huh!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Good bye Wilma!

The Tampa Bay area was lucky again and Wilma went down and hurt folks in South Florida. Thanks, Cinn, for your good thoughts. It makes you feel a little guilty at your good luck when the hurricane goes and hurts others. The disaster relief donations must be getting tough to get. It seems like the whole summer has been one thing after another. (Yes, it's still summer down here!) One of my neighbors is a cop and he is going down south to help with the policing effort. After all, the cops down there have families to care for just like everyone else.

We are having a lot of trouble dealing with my mother-in-laws illness. Last December she was still driving around in her little truck, going to bingo and the dog track. Now she is on 5 liters of oxygen, has 8 or 10 prescriptions including 2 for pain relief, and has hospice coming to see her almost every day. She is considering quitting taking the newspaper because the Sunday paper is too heavy for her to lift! She and my wife are both depressed and, of course, it is catching just like the flu. I spend more and more time on the net escaping. I'm hoping that the hospice councilor can help with the depression. For me, I'm going to go exercise. That always makes me feel better.

Have a good one!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

All the news that's fit to print

Well, hell! I'm not sure how to say this so I'm just going to dump it out here. Yesterday my wife took her mother to the doctor and after hearing about her condition he said he was ready to write her a prescription for Hospice care. This is the pulmonary specialist that she's been seeing for about a year. He's the one who put her on oxygen; he's the one who has been boosting the amount of oxygen that she gets from the machine; he's completely familiar with her case and is basically saying he's done all he can so now she is beyond further assistance.

We just didn't know what to say; either my wife at the doctor's office or me when she told me about it. We were certainly flabbergasted. Speechless, in fact. If you aren't familiar with Hospice, it is an organization that provides comfort to those who are considered terminally ill. Usually Hospice gets involved when the person is considered to have six months to live. That is the idea anyway. They got involved with my mother when she suddenly lost 10 pounds in a week. She then continued to live for another two and a half years. But they did contribute substantially to her comfort. They have special chairs for the wheel chair bound; beds; lots of equipment; but also counselors to assist the patient and the patient's family and even some medical assistants to, say, give the patient a massage.

In this case, the doctor was not saying that he believes the MIL is going to die in six months but rather that there is nothing more he can do to help her so having help to be comfortable in her own home is the best that can be done for her. Like many elderly people, she has a whole raft of illnesses, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and severe osteoporosis being a couple of the more serious. She is getting to the point that drugs used to treat one condition aggravate a different one. Not a good situation.

So anyway, within a month of my mother's death, my MIL is a candidate for Hospice. Could be an interesting year!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Asian Disaster

Today the news just keeps getting worse about the number of people killed in the earthquake in Pakistan. It makes our losses to Katrina and Rita seem small. Not that any loss of life is insignificant but 20,000 people! What a tragedy. Time to find more money for the Red Cross or some other relief effort.

All my good wishes and hopes go out to those poor people on this awful day.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

New Game

Heard of a new email tagging game today. Here's the email you receive: "Describe me in one word - just one.
Send it to me (only me), then forward this email to your friends and see how many strange things people think about you."

It's tough to describe someone in one word but kind of fun. Most of my life has been spent trying to think of MORE words to describe something. Adding MORE words to help reduce confusion and misunderstanding. Sometimes adding MORE just for it's own sake (unfortunately)! Needless to say I don't write haiku.

Things are a little tense around here because my wife is having a little trouble and will have a test on Friday. The doctor fears she might be afflicted with hemochromatosis. To quote from; "hemochromatosis is an inherited condition of abnormal iron metabolism; it is not a blood disease. Individuals with hemochromatosis absorb too much iron from the diet. Iron cannot be excreted therefore the metal can reach toxic levels in tissues of major organs such as the liver, heart, pituitary, thyroid, pancreas, and synovium (joints)." Needless to say, we are hoping that she doesn't have the disorder. Maybe next week we'll get some good news and can relax!


Monday, October 03, 2005

Another day

Turned 57 yesterday. Not much of a milestone but they can't all be great. Anyway, this one really turned out great. My wife, Judie, got me a Canon PowerShot S2! A great gift; just what I wanted. Now I have to read all 100 pages of the instruction manual to figure the thing out. (Yes, I really am male and, yes, I'm reading the manual. Yeah, I know it's hard to believe.) Anyway, I'm looking forward to more photographic adventures.

We had 2 couples over for dinner; both brought me booze. Must be my reputation. Anyway we had a good time. Everyone got a little sloshed and went home early; today being Monday.

Daughter is coming for her cat. The cat has been a real pleasure unlike my fears. It has hidden under a bed for most of it's visit but when you go in and play with it it's great. Very friendly and trusting. Nothing at all like her last cat which would walk across the room specifically to hit you with her claws. Guess we will have more cat sitting jobs in the future.

A quiet day; and we need a few after the last month. Wishing the same to all!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

More fun; no really!

Just before we left on our trip to Iowa the guys came to start the refinishing of our pool and deck. After a few years the old marsite pool finish was dying and we've hated the deck surface since we bought the house. Anyway, they said it would take the best part of the week to get the old deck surface off so we thought why not let them do it while we were gone. Well, it worked just fine.

Except that they didn't get it off! They were still working on it 9 calendar days after they started. The tile guys did come and put in part of the tile. Except that they put in the wrong tile and had to take it off again! Now they have replaced the cap tile and the deck guys have about half of the deck base coated. This is in the two weeks that we were quoted for the entire job. No one has touched the pool except to knock off some loose stuff. Hmmm. Wifie is getting aggrevated. Personally, I never believe a timeline given me by a salesman. Hah! I've been there; I've done that. Project estimates are always optimistic. These guys at least can claim that the weather on the edge of Hurricane Rita is slowing them down. And it's probably true. Anyway, if we get a properly completed pool in another two weeks, I'll be happy.

Today we went down to see the MIL. She got a new Medicade funded electric wheel chair today. She doesn't creak around very well any more and needs oxygen all the time and, well, you get the idea. Anyway, our government just paid over $4 grand for the wheelchair. It's great fun to drive; we all had a turn. Now if the MIL can just use it without pitching herself out onto the street in front of a car!

Tomorrow our daughter is coming over with her cat. She is off on a business trip and somehow we came to be the cat sitters. The fact that we've only seen this cat once in it's entire life is apparently irrelevent. And it has all it's claws. And it is 'frisky'. And - you know, I'm getting really negative here so I'll stop. I'm sure you'll hear more about the cat later.

Have a good one!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Home Again

Home looks pretty good after a week on the road!

After mom passed away we had a couple of days of running around getting things settled here then needed to go up to Iowa for the funeral. We thought of flying but decided to drive mostly because of the lack of hassle. People who travel between, say Seattle and Chicago, just hop on a plane. People who want to go to small towns in Iowa have at least 2 flights plus a rental car to consider. And considering the 'Bereavement Fare' isn't much of a deal; it makes driving sound better.

The actual funeral was excellent. It couldn't have gone better. We were concerned that mother might not look good but it turned out that she looked great. I don't know why it seemed important; it just did. Anyway, we were able to have the casket open. Mother had nieces and nephews in a three or four state area and many showed up. There were even a few folks from the local area who took the time to attend. We had a simple grave side service then went to a local restaurant to have coffee & cake. I got to talk with my cousins, one of whom said he last saw me when he fed me at age 1! Close family, huh? Anyway, the whole thing was excellent.

Driving home we came across something I've never seen before. It was a foggy morning just south of Nashville when we saw a car going the wrong way on I-24! He was going north in the southbound HOV lane. Scary! Fortunately, the HOV lane isn't much used that far out of town so he would have had a fair amount of time to figure out the error of his ways!

Now, having been home for a week, we are almost squared away. I'll try to add more of our adventures later.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


We got the call at 04:30 that my mother had died a few minutes earlier. She had a quiet and peaceful end. She was 93 and had been struggling with dementia for the last nine years. It's been several years since she has recognized either me or my wife. She is certainly in a better place now. We'll be off to Iowa tomorrow for the funeral.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Oh Shit!

Well, just after I talk about my mom being stable; she de-stablizes.

Since last Wednesday she has had only 450 cc of fluid. Apparently she has forgotten how to swallow. The aide spoons some honey-thick-liquid (food substitute) into her mouth then has to take it out again in a minute or two. She doesn't swallow it at all. With liquids it is slightly easier: it just drips out of the side of her mouth if she doesn't swallow it first. At this rate, she cannot last more than 3 or 4 weeks.

I'm getting ready to call the few family members are still alive to let them know that there may be a funeral soon. Happy days!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Another miss!

Probably everyone on the planet knows about Katrina; we here in Tampa Bay are all hoping that New Orleans isn't hit too hard though it looks bad as I write this. We aren't half way through Hurricane Season yet; sure wish the rest of them would stay out in the ocean!

Highlight of my week was going to my mother's Care Plan meeting. She was diagnosed with Dementia in 1996 shortly after I got her to move out of her house. (I am an only child so get to do all this fun stuff.) At first she could live in an Assisted Living situation; since 1999 she has been in a nursing home. Now she is totally incontinent; cannot walk; cannot eat normal food; hasn't spoken in perhaps 3 years. She is in a great nursing home; one of the top 5 in Florida. Every 3 months we (my wife and I) meet with the staff that work with mom to review the changes in her condition.

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot to say. She is physically very healthy; her quality of life does seem to leave something to be desired. We have chosen to have pain killing drugs administered to her so that she isn't in pain. We have chosen not to allow the insertion of a feeding tube should she ever stop eating. But nothing is happening with her except an incredibly gradual decline. This quarter she lost 3 pounds. That's it. She weighs 135. Every quarter it seems she is sleeping a little more; paying less attention to the various activities.

On my previous visit I went into one of the activities. There was a man playing an electronic piano with about 20 patients surrounding him in two arcing rows. Perhaps 3 of the people were awake and paying attention. Mom was sleeping in the back row. I got a chair and sat next to her. I touched her hand then rubbed her shoulder; there was no reaction to either touch. She just kept on sleeping.

If I didn't already think the President was an idiot; his position on stem cell research would have convinced me. Diseases like Dementia cost this nation BILLIONS of dollars plus the human costs: the people affected would almost certainly rather be dead; the families are caught in limbo dealing with the ill. We must do something to help these people and those of us who are going to contract these diseases as we age.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Tagged - But the questions aren't too tough!

OMG I've been tagged! Cinn got me!

1. What is the ratio of boxers to briefs currently in your possession? (Translated from the fancy pants to grannie pants that was for ladies.)

Mmmm, (embarrassed look) well, when I was wearing wool suits all the time I was a boxer guy. Now that I'm all retired & wear shorts, I usually don't wear underwear but I have a couple pair of kind of speedo things to wear when I really must (like if I'm buying clothes!).

2. Pretend you won one of those "make your dream come true" deals that Oprah is always giving away... what would you ask for?

A travel pass for two to go anywhere & do anything and always 1st class!

3. Describe your high school days in one word.


4. If you could shag any celebrity in the world, who would be your top three picks?

Do I know three? Hmmm...

Catherine Zeta-Jones - She is just too lovely. Don't have any idea what she is like in real life but at a skin-deep level she is very beautiful.

Cybill Shepherd - World famous model then movie & tv star. So I'm shallow; she's beautiful but I've got to say that her career ups and downs have been pretty amazing too.

If I can go back in time a bit: Elizabeth Taylor. No, not now that she is old and sick, but sometime in the late 1960's would be just fine!

5. If you had all the money in the world... more than you could ever spend in four lifetimes... would you eat some??

Huh? Mind if I quote from Cinn's answer? "Eat money? Actual US currency? There's less germs if I licked a public toilet seat."

Of course, I'd certainly spend a bunch on food. First would be one hell of an annual donation to feed people both in this country and overseas. And I'd follow them around being sure the money went for food for people too! Then I'd work on checking out truly fine chefs (and fine sommeliers!) all over the world.

6. Tag Three People...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Yet more dull!

We have just been working on the house a little and dealing with our mothers. Now that is dull! It is so hot & humid that I can only work outside for a couple of hours a day. It severely reduces the amount one can accomplish. Not to mention that I'm lazy to start with!

The MIL is back in the hospital again so we visit every day or two. She has been having a lot of back pain so they are testing the heck out of her. Now they are talking about some sort of back cement that holds the spine in one position. It's non-surgical and give immediate relief if it works. If it doesn't; well, I don't know! We need to talk to the doctors a bit more.

Just finished Freakonomics - good book. The guy has some different ideas but he is looking at things from a new perspective and I like that. He comes up with things like making abortion available has reduced the incidence of crime because the unwanted & unloved children who might have been born weren't so they aren't around to commit crimes. Would love to know how that theory lasts over the years!

Gotta go.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Two Misses!

We here in Tampa Bay are feeling really lucky these days. First Dennis went past about 100 miles offshore and only rained on us a little (and did 50 mph breezes). Then Emily goes off and hits Mexico. Ohhh, we do feel for those folks who are getting hit but we are still very greatful that it isn't us!

Otherwise, life is pretty normal. The grass really ought to be cut twice a week because it grows so fast but no one actually does that. Besides, cutting it when it is wet is it's own problem. Our a/c died Saturday so we spent the evening and this morning in 90 degree heat-90% humidity. It was only a small part but ended up costing $250; and we consider ourselves lucky. A/C makes life possible in Florida in the summer - except when the hurricane comes by and blows things away. Then you are in survival mode and just breathing satisfies you.

Have a good month or two!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Another day in ?????

Didn't do much today; just a little financial management. These days it's really tough for me to figure out where our investments should be placed. I guess you just take your best shot. After all, that's what the pros do!

Just finished 'blink' - excellent book! Talks about how we judge people and situations in an instant. The author says it is both good and bad that we (humans) can do this. Very cool book; it's an easy read but has a neat viewpoint and adds something to popular psychology bookshelves. Check it out.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Don In Florida

Don In FloridaRecently my MIL has been hospitalized for various things culminating in an operation about two weeks ago. She's been in the hospital for an entire month as of today. My wife is an only child so we are visiting at least every other day. Going to the hospital that much, driving through the 15 or so miles of traffic, being unsure of whether she is going to survive or not, sure takes it out of you. Our daughter complained the other day that it is all we can talk about any more. She's right. It overwhelms every other aspect of our lives. Fun and laughter are in really short supply around here these days.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Dull, Dull, Dull!!

Still hanging around home. Mother is still dementia bound. MIL has had surgery for various internal problems; isn't out of the woods yet. The rains have started a bit so the lawn looks better. If we'd do something to it we might have a nice place. Driving down to the hospital every other day does take something out of you. I'm admiring my Dad more than usual; he was fine until he went into the hospital & had the grace to die in about 2 days. I know my mother & MIL are thinking he did the right thing! I only wish I could have seen him one last time.