SATURDAY — learning and eating

Starting this week with Saturday, picking up from going to a Celtic music performance while John was sending a report to the blog last week.  I told you then it was planned, but I was writing it on Friday night.  I went with a couple from my music group to the Teanaway Grange to hear Prairie Spring’s concert.  This was my first time to hear the three of them play their own stuff.  As individuals, they are sometimes members of our fiddlers and friends group.  As a trio they perform Celtic music and it is superb.  One woman is on the fiddle, another is on the Auto Harp and Drum, and there is a fellow on the guitar.  They do instrumentals and some vocals.  There was one song where they had audience participation on the chorus.  The audience was incredible too.  They were stomping the floor and clapping and giving vocal appreciation calls. (Those have a name but I missed what it was called).  I took a Costco Fruit Cake all cut up in pieces to the potluck.  It was well received.  Later we found a fruit cake in our local grocery store, for 7.98/pound.  The Costco one was only 3.72/pound.  The quality of what we got was excellent.  It was so full of fruit and nuts it was difficult to cut.  It was not mostly cake and in fact we couldn’t find any cake even though the ingredients mentioned flour!  Next time we are at Costco we will be buying more and freezing them to use throughout the year.  They do freeze well, but you have to age them 4 weeks before storing them.  We found information on the web.

Sunday, John and I worked in the morning on chores, his being all outside in the cold.   He has put a tarp over the top of our old Motor Home, because last year it leaked from a vent on the roof.  After lunch we went to our friends southeast of town to get a couple of hearts from their beef that was butchered in the morning.  John wants to dissect them and see what they look like (after hearing and learning all about the valves in my heart over the past year and a half).   They have some extra “ tenderloin” their butcher called it, and he said it wouldn’t age well in the hanging process for aging, and that he would just toss it.  John determined from a web search that it is really called hanger steak.  Here is what Wikipedia describes it as: “   A hanger steak is a cut of beef steak prized for its flavor. Derived from the diaphragm of a steer, it typically weighs about 1 to 1.5 lbs (450 to 675g).   In the past it was sometimes known as “butcher’s steak” because butchers would often keep it for themselves rather than offer it for sale.”  John is cooking it for our dinner on Tuesday of this week.  Check below for our assessment.

The taize’ service Sunday night was different from previous times.  We had a snow storm, and the students cancelled their coming.  We only had two violins for the music.  The minister was not there because she went to the Philippines to be with her family for Thanksgiving.  One of our former musicians will lead the communion and another will read the scriptures.  Few people came to the service from the community.  It was, however, a nice one.  And, the supper was thick potato & leek soup – with the consistency of mashed potatoes.  There was Vanilla Diet Pepsi to drink, and many desserts left over from a previous service in the day.  Good tea cakes (which I always called shorties).  Mostly just butter and sugar and nuts, rolled in powdered sugar.  I drove home in a raging snow storm at 20 mph because I couldn’t see out the windshield and the road was not clearly visible for the center line nor the sides and where the berm existed or dropped off into a ditch.

Monday found us on the road to our family physician in Cle Elum (35 miles away) for working on the ear wax filling John’s right ear and keeping him from hearing, and for lab tests (and blood draw) for Nancy. The Doc claims that ear grunge almost always occurs in only one ear.  Why?   [The “over the counter” remedy didn’t work, thus the trip to the pro.]  On the way up, it was not snowing, but it started as we pulled into town, and continued, all the way home.

Tuesday was a slow day, except I used all morning to organize the play list for our upcoming performance of our music group.  We will try it out tomorrow at the Hearthstone facility in town.  After that is over, we will go to the Community Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s always fun.  One of the women in my exercise class is cooking one of the several turkeys they provided at the center for volunteers.

Winter has arrived.  We have about 8 inches of snow from the last two days of its snowing hard.  John has been doing lots of chores getting ready, and it’s a good thing.  Today he put black sunflower seeds in a bird feeder and hung it up in a walnut tree to keep it out of reach of the deer.  The quail found it amazingly fast.  There were juncos and starlings (we think), in our mountain ash tree eating berries.  The starlings were all puffed up and sitting on the branches.  We only saw one or two moving around eating.  Maybe the others were full and resting.  Later in the day, they were joined by Flickers.  Before long, ALL the berries were gone.

Report on Tuesday’s dinner.  John fixed that Hanger Steak mentioned above in Sunday’s report.  He cut it across the grain, and the flavor was great, but it was still tough.  We had it in a nice gravy with onions & mushrooms, served over mashed cheese potatoes.  We had green sugar snap peas with it.  We will follow tonight with Marion berry pie and ice cream.

Wednesday will be even colder than today. Tonight it is supposed to drop to single digits and possibly go below zero; they’re calling for minus 4.  Last night here it went to 15, but friends in town said it was down to 10 at their house.    It is 7 now at the airport at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday.

Okay, Wednesday . . . [Too cold, – 8 here.  Lower in the valley it was -12.] . . . is here and I went to town in John’s Subaru (his has gasoline and I didn’t want to have to stand in the cold filling mine).  We played music with a lot of Christmas songs added to some of our regular repertoire of old time music.  We were a hit and everyone enjoyed singing along and thanking us afterwards.  It makes it worthwhile.  I visited with a 92 year old lady who came up especially to tell me thank you and how much she enjoys us, but then she said, “You are looking so much better than before.”  I was happy to tell her I no longer have any infection.  She smiled and gave me a hug.  The residents there love us as family.  Before we started, I was talking with a woman in a wheel chair.  She looked up and saw the silver necklace I had on, on top of a black long sleeve “tee” shirt.  It is of a lone wolf, baying at the moon.  She said, “Is that a wolf around your neck ?”  I answered yes it was and told her where it came from in northern Idaho.  (given to me by friends, after they visited the wolf sanctuary there – 50 miles NE of Spokane, WA).

She said, “You need to come to my room and see all my wolf stuff.  I just love the creatures.  I once had a wolf from a “pup” in Alaska.”  So we visited a little longer and she told me all about him.  Then it was time for us to start playing music so I had to leave the conversation.

Then off to Rite Aid to buy some Alcohol Swabs for my neighbor.  Then on to the Community Thanksgiving Dinner.  My music group had already gotten there but I was able to join them at the table.  We were served a plate full:  Turkey, potatoes and dressing, with gravy, a veggie medley of cut up carrots, corn, and peas, a roll and butter, cranberry sauce on the table, but I cannot have that with the Coumadin I take, and it ended with a piece of pumpkin pie.  Now tomorrow I will have another meal with turkey.  [Coumadin and vitamin K intake have to be consistent.  Thus, foods with K, such as cranberries, can be eaten but overall the same quantity has to be eaten each day.  Keeping track of the details and then eating some everyday is so difficult that most folks just don’t eat any of the things on the list of high Vitamin K foods.]

Thursday, Happy Thanksgiving.  We were up early with a 7:30 a.m. phone call from a friend wishing us a Happy Thanksgiving.  We left the house at 12:30 to go to our neighbors.  I helped with peeling carrots and putting relishes into a serving dish: homemade pickles, prunes, and canned olives.  There was quite the feast.  One of the daughters-in-law baked and brought the turkey, dressing and gravy.  Her daughter made rolls and a Jell-O/pear salad.  John made Blueberry/grated apples pie and an apple pie.  We brought home enough of both to cut and fit half of each into a pan to freeze for me to take to a potluck Dec 3rd at the senior center where I will play Christmas music with an accordionist (just the two of us).  The lady of the house today, made a large pumpkin pie that was superb.  Also, she made yams, mashed potatoes, and a cranberry/marshmallow dish.  Another neighbor brought a green bean casserole.  There was enough food for an army.  We enjoyed the company and stayed till almost dark, needing to get home for John to feed the horses.  Our dogs were good while we were away, and ready to go outside when we got home.  It is too cold to leave the window (doggy door) open now.  That limits the time we can stay away.

I came home and worked on transposing more music for our clarinet player.  I have done 12 small songs for the Taize’ service next week, Dec. 5th.  I have about that many left.  I’m learning how to use the program, and getting better at it.  Remember, I have to do it with the computer, clicking note by note, one whole note above the one written on the music I’m transposing from.  The program knows how to change the key to one appropriate for a B flat clarinet.  This procedure was written up in last week’s blog.

Friday will be a slow day.  Maybe I will get some bills paid and tax receipts filed.  (I didn’t, but I did transpose some more Taize’ music for the clarinet.)  There is no exercise class because the senior center is closed for Thanksgiving.  We don’t really have any reason to go to town.  John needed to do the chores with horses, birds, and giving apples to the deer.  I can help with the dogs and sighting the deer… as they come to the back fence to beg.  The buck (4 points on each side) came to the back fence, and John threw him some apples.  He let John walk out and take pictures as he was eating them.  Sorry we cannot put pictures in this blog.  If you want to see him, let us know and we will send to your email address (be sure we have it).  Send your request to please.

John dissected a beef heart we got from our friends when they butchered their cows (mentioned above on Sunday).  I took pictures while he cut through and examined various portions and tried to match parts with drawings.   John looked for photos on the web but there are only drawings of not much use for his intent.  Also, the hearts we had were sliced off at the top and sliced into the chambers to let them drain.  Still, we could see quite a lot. The nerve fibers for electrical signaling inside the heart were all there.  This suggested link is a bit technical, but still useful:

The bands for closing the valves (chordae tendinae)

were mostly there but some damage had been done by the person removing the heart so that was disappointing.  The surface arteries were there but the major veins and arteries to and from the lungs and elsewhere were all nearly gone.  So if you want to try this, ask for a more complete specimen.

Saturday was a slow day, but we did go to town shopping and to deliver some apples.  I spent a lot of time in the afternoon transposing the rest of the Taize’ music for my friend who plays the clarinet.  John did all the normal chores with the animals, including feeding apples to the deer and sunflower seeds to the birds, who knock them out of the feeder (up in the walnut tree) on the ground and the deer eat them too.  He hangs it way up in the tree to keep the deer from raiding the bird feeder, as we have had happen in the past.  Somewhere we have a picture of a large buck standing on back legs eating from the feeder.

I guess I should stop this and get it to John to put on the blog tonight.   Sunday will be pretty much the same as last week.  Nothing special is planned.

We hope your Thanksgiving was as good as ours, and that next week will be a good one for you.

Ours will be full of events… and we’ll tell you next blog.  Till then, our best regards to you and thanks for reading our news.   We are so happy to be able to report good health news, instead of what’s been filling most of this blog since last Dec 4th, when John began doing the reports.


SATURDAY — playing with notes

Starting again this week with Sunday,

This taize’ service was fewer in number of musicians.  We had a piano, two violins, a viola, and a flute.  Next week we are going to be without our pianist, and I hope they can find someone to step in.  Our viola player will be gone for 3 weeks.  We did have a good time and went downstairs for pizza, salad, and cookies.  We had a nice visit with the people who attended.

Monday morning John left at 10:15 to pick apples from across the valley at a friends’ orchard.  They donate to us and other trail rider club members each year.  They let us pick for ourselves and we also pick for the Food Bank and the Senior Center.  I have not participated in the picking, but I was at the senior center today, when 3 boxes were brought in by two members, who live down the road from us about 5 miles.  They said John had picked all those apples (and more), so I got bags for the people in my exercise class and told them they were Cameo apples and where they came from.  They were very happy and probably half of the class did not have access to apples and took a bag home.

John spent time sorting what he brought home and sharing with friends and neighbors.  When state and national numbers are compiled China is the largest producer followed by the European Union and then the USA.  Within the US about 55% of the marketed apples come from Washington State. Many tons of apples are picked by local folk and are not in the official statistics.  There is an amazing amount of wasted apples that end on the ground.  John brought a couple of 3 gallon buckets home for the deer and horses but because of a worm or bruise or a bird bite they don’t keep very well so there is no sense in trying to salvage very many.  Last year he picked a box from a road-side tree just a mile away from home.  This year the fruit trees on the north side of the valley (our side) took two hits of freezing temps during the first week of April. Our walnut trees (two types) lost all their leaves but still came back and produced a few nuts. Ours and the neighbors apples, cherries, and pears had no fruit. Ouch!

I spent much of Monday on the computer, and answering the phone, making doctor’s appointments and other things that go on in our lives.  I had to straighten out some things with my medications and get an order in for refills.  That is now a constant in life.

Tuesday’s  trip today to Yakima Memorial was LONG. This was the day Annie and Meghan decided to take a longer trip across the creek and through the swamp on the back and west side of our house.  John was pretty ticked at them, but they came back while he was changing clothes.  I kept going out and yelling and whistling out the back door–but with wind gusts to 35 they probably weren’t hearing me.
It was surely nice when we saw them coming around through the front pasture… and we got on the road by 9:05.  Got down there and was on time for my 10:00 a.m. check in.  Then there were several emergencies in the hospital including a “code blue”  ( ) as they were prepping me.  I’m so glad John stayed with me so he wasn’t out in the waiting room worrying why I had not reappeared on time.  First we waited 45 minutes for the IV Therapy person to come and put an IV in my arm.  She was in ER taking care of needs there.  Then we had to wait for our doctor who was to do the TEE (Transesophageal Echocardiogram) test.  It was scheduled for 11:00, but he too was busy in ER, with another CODE Blue.  We must have heard 5 code calls the first 1.5 hours there.  The doctor didn’t make it in till after 11:30, and then had to call the Yakima Heart Center for details of my last (August) TEE test results.   Eventually John was asked to leave the room and they started the procedure.  There was a sonographer helping, and the doctor was poking the probe down my esophagus.  Finally it was over about 12:10, and they buzzed John to come back to the room.  We waited another half hour while the doctor dictated his notes and then he came back in and reported to John and me what he had found.  That was really nice.  The results are that no infection was found and all the insides of my heart and valves are in good shape (for the shape they’re in), including the artificial one.  Great news.  I hope this is the last time I have to go in the hospital. He also suggested that the anemia, the cause of which seemed so elusive, could have come from the shut-down of red blood cell production with the infection.  Normal wear and tear and loss of red cells goes on but new ones are few and far between – thus a slowly developing anemia.  That sounds like a good assessment and, if it is the case, will mean I don’t have to swallow a camera any time soon. I soo… looked forward to that too.  Yeah, right!

Finally I could leave, but John had to park a couple of blocks away.  I walked it, and got my exercise today.  Then we went to Costco.  There were no power chairs available, so I walked around… and got more exercise.  That was good.  Finally we finished and as we were leaving I saw a very good friend sitting there eating with a friend of hers I had never met, but had heard lots about.  So, while John was checking out with $231 of groceries (included two bags of dog food at $25 each almost)– I talked to them and decided we would stay for lunch.. as I had not had anything since 7:00 last night.  We each had a Polish Sausage (YUM), and I bought a Berry Sundae, which is a large cup (16 ounce perhaps) of soft serve vanilla poured all around wonderful strawberries.  It was so yummy.  I shared it with John, but I think I ate more than half of it.  Thus ended Tuesday’s happenings.

It was a small exercise class turnout Wednesday and I had a little less stamina from the procedure hangovers of chemicals in my body and probes into my esophagus from the day before.  However, I made it through and got home to rest up for the last night meeting of the WA Geology lecture series.  It was on the Geology of the Kittitas Valley and was very interesting.

Thursday was a play-date for our Fiddlers and Friends at a retirement community called Dry Creek.  Our secretary from years ago is a resident there and was on the front row singing along and enjoying our performance.  She was the Geography Department secretary for 28 years!  We had quite a good interaction with the audience today, and they really enjoyed having us there.  We enjoy being there when we are so much appreciated by the folks attending.  The room was full.  Afterwards they come forward and thank us.  Today there was a lovely lady who decided that she would ask the facility to offer us rooms there so they could have music any time they wanted it.  I told her thanks for the offer, but my husband and 4 dogs and the horses, would not appreciate my leaving them.  She said, well, you could have your dogs here, but I don’t think there is room for the horses.

Friday was a day of eating.  Breakfast was not large, thank goodness, because lunch found me in with the scholarship luncheon group eating a pulled pork sandwich and salad (with all sorts of toppings), chocolate cheese cake for dessert, and for snacks, some pretzels dipped in white chocolate.  Then off to exercise class, which was hard on a full stomach.  We got more of a work-out than usual today.  Finally home to copy some music to take to the potluck, and try my hand at transposing violin music to another key for our clarinet player.  I have a 30-day usable software for testing program that is meant to do this and print out a score of sheet music.  The only problem is that each note has to be entered separately, and the note’s type must be chosen (such as whole, half, quarter, etc.).  Because I’m transposing to the key for the B flat Clarinet to play, I have to click in a note one whole note above the one on my music.  So, if there is an A on my sheet, I have to click in a B note on the computer.  I just used the program for the first time today and haven’t been through the tutorials that come with the software yet.  I was using the Graphical User Interface, and winging it.  There are more things I need to use, but now that I have done two lines of a song, the instructions will probably make more sense and be helpful.  I hope I will learn to write music relatively fast.  Certainly I will improve over what I was doing this afternoon. (John says: Am I the only one that reads the manual first?)

We ended the day with going to the potluck with the music group at the house of one of the members, and then having a jam session.  We practiced some Christmas music because we will need to do that in the next several outings.  While I was in town earlier, John had cooked our offering tonight, that turned out to be the only meat present.  It was a pork loin roast that he cooked with cherries, and spices, such as cloves.  He also cooked a large cast iron roaster with some apples with two types of cherries (cherry pie filling and some of the cherries frozen from our orchard a couple of years ago).

What food was at the potluck?  Let’s see if I can remember.  Beans, two types of potato salad, green salad with shrimp (guess there was another meat), purple corn chips with dip, and two types of cookies (chocolate chip and chocolate chocolate chip.  Yummy.   And drinks:  water, coffee, and hot apple cider.

Saturday will be a busy evening, and because John will likely put this blog out on Saturday night, I will end it now, with a description of what will happen that evening.  There is a potluck and music program at the Teanaway Grange (about 30 minutes away), and I’m driving up with the friends who hosted the potluck tonight.

The musicians playing are from Ellensburg, and often play with our group, but they have their own group, called Prairie Spring, and they do Celtic, folk, and other music as professional musicians.  Tomorrow night’s performance costs $5.00 / person.  I’m taking a Costco Fruit Cake for my entry to the potluck.  I hope there is some left for us to enjoy.

Okay — that’s about it for the short week.  I will close and send to John to put out on the blog.  We hope you had a nice week, and we wish you a fine next week.  We started getting some snow tonight and it likely will build over the weekend.  Good thing John has finished getting his yard, pasture, and barn work done.  Yesterday, he moved about a ton of hay to the interior of the barn, from the side, which he has opened up for the horses to get shelter if they wish.


SATURDAY — events of a mundane sort

Starting again this week with Sunday, because the last blog date of publication was Saturday.  This taize’ service had two more musicians join.  We had a piano, two violins, a viola, a flute, and a recorder.

[from John:  I have to look things up, thus, learning a recorder is a type of medieval flute revived in the 20th century, partly in the pursuit of historically informed performance of early music, but also because of its suitability as a simple instrument for teaching . . .   The name comes from at least as far back as the mid-1300s when one meaning of the word “record” meant to practice a piece of music.]

Next week we are going to add even more music to the service.  It went for ½ hour and we went downstairs for homemade lasagna, like you have never had.  It was made by a gentleman in their church, and had these unusual ingredients, but it was awesome:  pumpkin, walnuts, pine nuts, cheese and whole wheat lasagna noodles.  There were at least two different types of really good cookies, and my favorite was peanut butter with peanuts.  Also there were chocolate chip ones.

Monday brought a trip to my family physician—just a 6-week check-up from the last visit.  It was a nice visit with no call for a follow-up in a month.  He listened to my heart and didn’t even hear a murmur.  My blood pressure and heart rate were right on, and I’m up on my weight to 150 (with clothes on).  All my lab work is good for red blood count, % iron, and other things.  He was so happy to see me back to good health.  Now I need to stay that way.

The mail brought my MedicAlert bracelet today.  I’m happy with it too.  It is a sports band with musical notes around it.   I’m in a database with all my medical information.   There is a 1-800 number on it to call in an emergency.  They had not listed my “allergy” to Heparin, so I called them and they will add it and make me a new bracelet. [remember HIT?]

I also went to my exercise class in town today, and by the grocery store on the way home.  So, while I was away, John worked on the barn, opening up a side of it for the horses to be able to have a place under shelter if they desire.  The deer (mamma and two small ones) hung around all day.  In the morning they were in the orchard, and in the afternoon they were in the pasture with the horses. (cont.  Sat.)

Also got a phone call this afternoon to fill a slot at Yakima Memorial hospital for a TEE.  I passed on this one because I already have two major things happening this Wed., and one of them was scheduled by the same organization, the Yakima Heart Center.  They should realize there is only so much time in one day, and a patient should not have to do two procedures in two different cities, in the same 7 hours (not to mention the travel time to Yakima).

I cannot drive myself and have to have a driver, so that means John has to be available all that time too.

Another frustration.  I received a bill from a lab in Sandy, UT but with the headquarters in Michigan.  This was from my last stay in ICU at Yakima in August.  It appears that Medicare paid part of a bill I had never seen, and they sent me the remainder I owed, with a nasty note that it was overdue and being the second notice.  I NEVER received the first, and they obviously have not billed my secondary provider of insurance, Group Health.  (John says “Get used to it.”) Tomorrow morning I will notify them to do so.

Finally–Tuesday morning came and I made several phone calls, not the least of which was about the bill mentioned previously.  I had a very nice person on the other end of the line, which was a pleasant surprise.  She checked my records and said she needed to contact Medicare again to pay more of the bill, and once she heard from them, she would bill Group Health for the remainder.  Meanwhile, she is removing the warnings so I will not get nasty notes about not paying my bills, automatically sent by their computer in the “snail” mail, USPS regular delivery.  She asked if I would like to switch to on-line payment, but I told her, while I was capable of such, I didn’t wish to because I wanted a paper trail of my bills and what was paid by whom.  (needed for tax purposes)

The other major accomplishment of the day was getting the Biotronix device checker set up next to where I sleep.  It has to be connected to a phone line of the old fashioned variety and also to a power source.  John ran a telephone extension cord connector line up around the room for access.  At 2:00 in the morning it automatically senses my ICD and reads the report therein, sends it across the land to a company computer for analysis, and sends that to my doctor’s office in Yakima, WA.

If there is a decided change in anything that should not be, bells ring at Biotronix headquarters and around the world, they will notify my doctor, and I get a call suggesting I get by butt into his office, pronto.

I must be within 2 meters of the device for this to work.  We did a connection test and the unit is functioning properly.  If I’m awake at 2:00 a.m. I will look at the lights on the unit to see if it is connecting and operating.  I’m not supposed to feel this transfer.  I suppose if I awake near 2:00 and need to potty, I will have to wait till the thing is through transmitting, because I would be farther than 2 meters from the base station.  Isn’t technology amazing?  What I am concerned about is when I travel, and have to take this unit along with me and all the wires to hook into a phone line.  That might be a challenge.

Today we got our first snow.  It probably left an inch or more on the ground but was followed by rain, so we have none on the ground.

This was the first day we didn’t have any reason to go to town.  Nice for a change, although I planned to cut John’s hair and we never got around to it.  (Please don’t send me any round TUITs).

I did write a few more thank you cards/letters, but that has also been a slow process.

The next paragraph talks about a Pulmonary Function Test, which is defined in the medical dictionary as:

PFT: Pulmonary function test, a test designed to measure how well the lungs are working. PFTs gauge how the lungs are doing their jobs — of expanding and contracting (when a person inhales and exhales) and of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide efficiently between the air (or other gases) within the lungs and the blood.

For example, one PFT calls for the patient to breathe into a machine called a spirometer. It is a mechanical device that records the changes in lung size as air is inhaled and exhaled and the time it takes for the patient to do this task.

Wednesday I went to the hospital early (10:00 a.m.) for a Pulmonary Function Test, ordered by my cardiologist at the last appointment in Yakima.   Interesting that the entire test was transferred electronically to my doctors, at the end of the test.  No waiting around for curriers and putting on a disk or print out to send.  The technician explained as much as he could to me about my results, but mentioned that my cardiologist has to read all the parameters and evaluate in light of my whole medical picture of everything since last November, 2009.  I was in the “low” range when compared to my reference group (age, sex, height, weight), but apparently improved when given an inhaled drug to relax the bronchial muscles that might have been stiffening my lungs.  It was an added test at the end of the normal set of things to measure my breathing.  On the report are those figures (mentioned below) and the numbers for Lung Volume, Diffusing Capacity and Resistance.  It was an interesting test.  I await the results.  The reason for it was that I’m taking a drug called Amiodarone to control my Atrial Fibrillations.  It has lots of side effects, the worst of which is damage to the lungs.

Here are some of the several items they tested on me:

FVC – Forced Vital Capacity, which is the volume of air that can forcibly be blow out after taking a deep full breath, measured in liters.  Mine was 71% when compared to a reference group.  They’d like it to be over 80%.

FEF – Forced Expiratory Flow, the flow or speed of air coming out of the lungs during the middle portion of a forced expiration.

TLC – Total Lung Capacity is the maximum volume of air present in the lungs.

There were many measurements and the last thing that happened was I was given 2.5 mg Albuterol/NS for a brochiodilator.  Almost all my parameters increased.  It is a mist inhaled that relaxes the bronchial muscles around the lungs, mentioned above.

Exercise class was in the afternoon, and I’m doing better each time.  We had the 5th in the series of 6 Washington Geology lectures during the evening.  The topic was Lava Flows and Floods in the PNW.  Next week is on the Geology of the Kittitas Valley, where we live.  It is the last in this fall series of community lectures.

Thursday was play day at the Rehab center.  We had a good turnout and enjoyed our time together.

Friday we got ready for the potluck and jam session in the evening.  We both spent a fair amount of time on the computer in the morning, and I consulted with my cardiologist’s nurse in Yakima and the device technician as well.  Results:  the device technician reported that the device is sending information well, in the middle of the night, to describe what my heart is doing.

The nurse reported that my Cardiologist, had reviewed all the parameters from Wednesday’s PFT, and decided I was good to stay on Amiodarone and needed to have another PFT in 9 months.  That’s good news.

I cut John’s hair before we ate lunch.  It had been awhile–since a few days after my birthday in early September.

John put pork ribs (two large pieces—Baby back ribs) in the oven at 1:00 p.m. and went out and worked in the yard till 4:30 when he came in to open the top and put on BBQ sauce.

My exercise class had been cancelled so I spent much of the afternoon working on music for the jam session, and burning copies of a CD of Jimmie Rodgers – 24 blues songs, to give to the people in the music group.  We had a great meal and then a fantastic time afterwards playing music.

Saturday we played at Briarwood Retirement Community.  You have heard this before, but they always sing along and fix us a late lunch (or early dinner).  This will be no exception, EXCEPT, I need to print out some words for some of our songs, at the request of the audience, so they can sing along.  Gives me something else to keep me busy on the computer in the morning before going to play.  I got it done, and they treated us to homemade potato soup with bacon that is more like clam chowder.  They had a table full of crackers and cheese spreads, Fritos, and yummy cookies for dessert.  They copied the words I took along and passed them out among the group.  They were delighted and sang along really well, on such songs as Side by Side, Jambalaya, I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, 5-foot’2, and Yes Sir, That’s my Baby.

I will close and send to John to put out on the blog.

[from John: the CWU equestrian team hosted a riding show today and I went for a couple of hours as I was curious whether or not some of the young ladies could ride our horses – they get local horse owners to bring in horses so the out-of-town ones don’t have to bring their own.  I learned that, even when well trained, our horses won’t be a good fit as they are gaited horses and the show expects the traditional movements of walk, trot, lope, and canter.  Still, it was interesting.  In the afternoon, while Nancy was doing music, I directed my problem horse, Jazz, into the round-pen and set about rasping his hoofs. When the hoofs get too long the back hoofs will hit the front ones (forging) and the front ones don’t “break over” soon enough and his movement suffers.  All went well except when four deer (incl. one small buck) came out of the brush and walked up to the pen to see what was going on.  I wish they wouldn’t do that when I’ve got one leg of a thousand pound animal in my possession.  I tried to chase them away with little success.  Jazz and I got the job done despite the audience and they were still around when I turned him loose.]

We wish you a nice next week, and hope you are staying healthy. Okay — that’s about it for this week.


SATURDAY — Fall things, winter approaches

Guess we will start with Halloween Sunday because we sent the last one out on Saturday night before the scary day.

Today we had a blast going to a friend’s house on the other side of the valley.  He and John talked wood, picked apples, and watched deer while I visited with his wife, inside the house.  We have never had a sit down talk for such a long time.  I found out all sorts of things I did not know about her, her family, and her job here at CWU.  She retired 1994.  Wow.. so long ago, and I did not realize that.  Before we left, they gave us a box of beautiful tomatoes, a bag of magnum-size onions, half of a huge squash, and about a hundred pounds of apples.
Then we went by Rhu’s house and enjoyed seeing the kids dressed up for Halloween.  We had chili and cornbread with them and left before they left to take the kids trick or treating.  We took Ritz crackers and grated cheddar cheese to put on the chili.  Yum.   Rhu greeted us as long lost buddies, but he is settling fine in his new home.  He has been going running with each of the parents separately, and going off lead, but staying around.  That is good.  I’m surprised because I would not trust his mom or dad to stick around.
Monday was exercise class for me, and cutting wood (while the sun shined) for John.  Then the rest of the day was miserable for outside work.

Tuesday, John got up early to get to the dentist’s office for a teeth cleaning, and then he went shopping and to get tires put on his Subaru.  The stock tires did not last long – about 27,000 miles – but the new ones are supposed to last 70K.  We’ll see.  Now he is out doing something with a chain saw and the sun is still shining.  I’m inside on the computer, but ready to stop and write some more thank you notes for the retirement celebration.

I had to change our Kittitas Valley Fiddlers & Friends performance at Hearthstone this month, because it would be on Thanksgiving Day.  We will go instead the day before, and then to the community dinner (free) at the Moose Lounge.  It used to be at the Adult Activity Center, but they have moved it and they run buses every half hour from there, if people want to get a ride over from the Senior Center.  There is also a potluck with hamburgers and hotdogs at the Sr. Ctr. this Friday to celebrate Veterans’ Day.

Wednesday – busy day.  John worked in the yard all day on various chores besides the normal ones.  I left and went to town mid-day to shop and go to my exercise class and the post office.  Then home and John was still out.  He came in and helped me with something on his computer & printer, and then took a very short nap.  We went back to town for the WA Geology lecture, tonight on Mt. Rainier, titled, ”Mt. Rainier: Past, Present, & Future.”  As usual, it was an excellent presentation.  If we owned property in Orting, Puyallup, Enumclaw, or some other places over near Puget Sound, built on ancient mud flows from Mt. Rainier, we would be selling our property before the mountain starts rumbling.  A mud flow would wipe out a lot of people and built-up area.  It will happen.

Thursday was a day of music and lecture in the afternoon.  Morning was rather short, because I slept in, after a restless night.  I did finish all my notes of thanks to my colleagues to take in to the lecture today.  John stayed home to move sections of tree trunk to under a large cottonwood (for shade) where he can cut it and split it later.  We have a free-standing wood stove but we prefer not to have the smoke, ash, and mess in the house.  But it is there if we need it.  Most of the trees come from the neighbor’s property and they get most of it.  They like having the fire.  We don’t.  John has a heavy splitting maul [ ] and gets lots of exercise in the making of fire wood.  He sometimes sells some of the dried wood to pay for the gas, oil, and wear and tear on saw and truck.

Before music, I stopped by an old gentleman’s house who is in the trail riders club, to pick up an article about poisonous plants he wanted John to have for the newsletter he is constructing to mail out this Saturday.  Then on to Royal Vista nursing home.  Seven of us showed up to play for the residents of the nursing home, but we had to compete with noise on the roof, from a re-roofing project.  That brought back memories of our own re-roofing “noise” this spring.  We are very happy with our new roof for the winter season and fall rains.

After that, we visited a bit with the residents and then I took off for the university to hear a visiting professor, who has moved into my old office, give a talk on Mt. Rainier, Perceptions of Climbers to the peak.  It was very interesting, and had beautiful photography, along with the report of his research findings.  He interviewed climbers on the top of the mountain, before and after their climb, about their perceptions of risks and hazards associated with the visit.  He classified them into groups of novice, intermediate, and advanced climbers.  His results and stories were enlightening.

Here we are already–Friday, and I’m not even working, but still have the “TGIF” feeling. Is that odd, or what?  Today was a cool day.  It started out slowly, but I was out of here headed to town at 11:00 a.m. for a music play session for a Veterans’ Day Picnic Potluck.  Actually the potluck, I joined before the music started.  The Senior Center provided the grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, and people brought side dishes.  The Veterans there (including one nurse, female) were given a nice card with a little HERO badge to wear.  It was quite nicely done and we applauded them all.  There were several ladies from my exercise class (which followed, at 1:30), and we sat together and visited and ate.  At noon a lady from the community came in with her accordion, and music & words for all the people there, and we sang patriotic songs.  I dressed up in my white blouse, white shoes, blue pants, and a neat red and blue vest.  I played my violin with the accordionist, and we sang the songs together, and all the audience sang along really well.  I did not know all of the songs, but most of them, and I played along a background on those I didn’t really know.

John spent the end of the week, and finally tonight, finishing his newsletter for the trail riders club.  It’s a nice one, although shorter than usual.  He has come down with another sneezy cold.  I don’t know where we are catching these bugs, but he says he read that you are more likely to get cold viruses from shaking hands with someone than being in their sneeze.  Interesting.  I hope I don’t catch it this time, as I did last.  My nose has been runny, but I don’t think I have a cold, yet.  I just got over the last one.

Saturday.. morning early I dressed and got to the music building on campus for a free workshop by Geoffrey Castle, an incredible musician and technician.  He gave a concert last night at the Univ., and sadly I did not go.  Next time he is in town I will be there.  He gave a two-hour workshop today to explain what it is he does, how he composes and improvises and how he plays an electric 6-string fiddle (violin).  He was trained as a classical musician, but he has immersed himself in all types of music including Celtic, country, blues, jazz, rock, pop, middle eastern music, and just about anything you can imagine.

You can find more about him on his web site: Go visit it and be sure to listen to his rendition on video of Orange Blossom Special.

OH, one last message.  I received a phone call tonight from a fellow who farms and hunts here in the valley.  He has a pup (liver and white female) from our recent litter.  Quail season opened Oct 5th, and before that he had started running her in his fields.  Now he has been hunting with her and he is thrilled to report that she is birdy, showed hunting instincts very early, and is pointing and retrieving to him.  He has shot 33 quail over her this season.  She is just 5 months old.  It was very nice to get his phone call tonight and hear about how happy he and she are.  He had had a dog from us 14 years ago, who died early this year.  So this makes it even more special.

I think I will end here this week, and pick up with Sunday in next week’s blog.  Have a nice week, and we’ll see you back soon.


SATURDAY — spirits, harmful and harmless

This weekend ought to bring out spirits of all types.  So get in your costume, don your mask, and hide from the bad guys.

Sunday night I participated again in the music for the Taizé service at the Episcopal church in town.  This week we had different musicians:  a pianist, two violins, and a flute to play the background instrumentals for people to sing along.  Afterwards we were served Lasagna and bread.

The past couple of days I have worked on the order for a “musical notes bracelet” with a Medic Alert on it for me.  It has a 1-800 number with contact to a data base with all my medical information.  It only costs $20 for the bracelet and $39.95 plus handling to get established in the data base.  The continuing cost will be $30/year.  That’s not bad for the purpose it serves, and I will be able to get rid of the red plastic band Allergy warning to Heparin that I have had on my wrist for the past 10 months.

Monday I went back to the dental hygienist for a teeth cleaning after 1.5 years.  I was concerned because that’s what started all this medical stuff April of 2009.  I took a high dose of antibiotics, and still was on the tail end of the 5-day antibiotic for my sinus infection.  The plaque build-up was not as bad as everyone feared.

I wrote a letter to my infectious disease specialist and my family physician to ask when I should go for a culture again after this to be sure no bacteria were introduced to my blood stream.  It seems I’m susceptible more so than others to endocarditis and we want to catch it sooner than the last two times.

While I was going to town, John helped more with chores around the farm of our neighbors across the street.  Today he is cutting wood again in the upper part of the neighbor’s land.

It’s a rest day for me to catch up more on thank you notes and emails, filing receipts, and paying bills.  John is going to a meeting tonight on the use of State lands. With a push from the Feds, the State fish and wildlife folks have to respond to any use that might directly or “incidentally” harm/take/kill plants or animals deemed threatened or endangered.  This meeting is intended to explain the process.  Being dog and horse owners and belonging to clubs that might be impacted, John and some others from the Trail Riders club are going as a team.

Wednesday was the start of a busy day to get us ready for an even busier day the next.   I took care of email and some stuff in the morning and then went to my SAIL (Stay Active and Independent for Life) exercise class again… this time paying my quarterly fee of 3 bucks.  Heck of a price for an hour’s exercise MWF each week, with a knowledgeable leader.  I wasn’t able to participate in the time several weeks after August’s event, but now I’m back to okay… and everyone was happy to see me back.  I’m not quite 100%, but really am better than I was the last time they saw me.  That evening John and I attended a Washington geology talk —  The topic was the potential for massive earthquakes just off of Washington’s coastline. It is well attended from the community and well done.

Thursday brought all sorts of activities.  I actually slept in a little more than usual, and then we got to Kittitas to Curley’s in time for Taco Thursday specials and to meet 8 people who rode their horses down the John Wayne Pioneer Trail from the Fairgrounds at Ellensburg.  It’s about 6 miles.  There were at least 8 others from the club who met there and had lunch.  From there John took me to Hearthstone Cottages, where we entertained a good group of people who appreciate our music and will sing along.  John and I left a few minutes early to go to a great lecture at CWU Geography, on field work in Mexico and Peru.  Then we picked up my Subaru we had left last night to be worked on today; just an oil change and lube.

There are no close yard sales Friday, so we will stay home in the morning and hope to install the unit to send my ICD readings up at 2:00 a.m. in the morning from beside my bed.  Perhaps I can make some more inroads into cleaning out spaces to hang the new clothes, and get down to more of the old to take to friends who can use them.  I am down enough on my weight that I can fit into some Medium shirts; however,  I’m still better with L.  Nowhere near the previous 2XL and some 22W sizes.  Not the way to lose weight, but it’s very nice to be able to exercise with less weight to move around.  I’m sure my horse will appreciate having me aboard once I get there too.

Noon Friday was a scholarship luncheon at CWU in the CWU Theatre department.  After that was my exercise class at the Senior Center (oops, more properly called the Adult Activity Center for political correctness).  There was a Halloween Bingo party there in the evening, and I went with my neighbor.  Neither one of us won a single game.  They had some good prizes too, so that was disappointing.

It rained most of the night and started again Saturday morning.  We thought about not going but decided to go to a garage sale 6 miles away from us.  It was a nice trip through the countryside, in the rain, but nothing grabbed our fancy there.  We have empty boxes in the back of the car for use tomorrow at our friend’s house who has offered us some garden vegetables and to pick some apples.  Could be Halloween evening I will go to town to visit the family with the puppy Rhu we kept for so long.  They are fixing chili and invited us in to share in the Halloween fun with their kids (2 and 4 yr old boys).

We’ll be back next week on the blog with any news.  It’s probably going to be a lighter week but who knows?

SATURDAY — Music, Music, . . .

Last Sunday night I did go to a music service at the Episcopal church — at the north of B Street.  Turns out it was much more than I realized and is the first of a Taizé for our town – an ecumenical service with scriptures, silence (meditation), music, prayers, communion, and more music mixed into the entire service.  There are several denominations involved:  (alphabetically, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and me, the one lone Baptist). We had a pianist, two violins, and a guitar to play the background instrumentals for people to sing along on 5 song-like chants.

That night I missed seeing flyers for a lost Brittany puppy, that turns out was “our” Rhu.  Little Rhu went out of his yard/garage door, on the south end of B Street and, luckily, was picked up by the police almost immediately and taken to the pound for two nights.  Making contact with the pound care-givers over the weekend wasn’t happening, so it wasn’t until Monday morning his owners found him and he is back home with the family.  The reason I mentioned the location of the church on B Street is that there were flyers for the lost puppy at places I was before getting to the church.   I was at the grocery and on all the roads where flyers were posted all around B and other streets. Had I seen one of the posters I might be back in the ICU.

Monday was a slow day.  I managed to get an order from my doctor to the hospital so I could have the PICC line removed.  I spent the rest of the day and the day before, getting the lyrics to songs we will sing and perform later this week.  More music.

Finally, Tuesday morning we succeeded and went to town for the removal of the PICC line.  I was so tired from dreaming all night and not sleeping well, that I rested / napped in the afternoon.  Then I went in to play more music at the Royal Vista Nursing home (with The Connections—a different religious group who sings to the audience and also sings along with them on old church anthems they know from their younger days.  It is simply amazing to watch even the Alzheimer patients sing along.  It’s really rather remarkable and enjoyable to view.

The rest of the week has been fun but mostly normal fare.  Wednesday I was still sick with a cold and stayed close to home until we went to Ellensburg for the Geology lecture on Tsunamis in WA & OR coasts from offshore underwater large (> 9) magnitude earthquakes.  Thursday, was play day for music at the Dry Creek facility and we practiced for our playing Friday night in a fundraising benefit dinner for the Cascade Land Conservancy, to get money to pay for protection, preservation, and enhancement within the 22-mile stretch of the Yakima River Canyon for a Scenic By-way.  This is along Hwy 821 from Ellensburg to Yakima, WA and is very picturesque, with all sorts of vegetation and cactus and river scenes, basalt cliffs, and this is a classic “catch & release” stream as well.  Fly fisherman come in from around the world.  Sightings of Big Horn Sheep, elk deer, Ospreys, and other wildlife are possible.

Friday and Saturday mornings, we went to several yard sales.  One was a rummage sale at a church and for $3 we got a bag with neat stuff in it: vest, jeans for John, sweaters, blouses, skirt, making the items cost less than 50 cents each.  They are all new-like condition.  Before stopping there, we went to a “guy’s” sale in the rural area and I found a CD of 24 songs of the blues, by Jimmie Rodgers.  We sing at least two of his songs in our music group – 1929, “Waitin’ for a Train”, and “T for Texas” so I was thrilled and picked up some other blues and guitar CDs and vocalists I didn’t know–but for a quarter each, it seemed like a fantastic deal.  I’m still happy with my newly found music.  Saturday morning we found some more good deals, again, blouses, shirts, and jackets for a quarter, with two at fifty cents, which are in excellent condition and probably originally were very expensive.  John found the fancy jackets that were marked $1, but I bargained and got them for less.  He has a good eye for such things, so it’s nice having him along but he hates asking for a price reduction when the stuff is almost free anyway.

Now I still need to spend time cleaning out closets to have a place to put this stuff.  And, I also need to sort out the large sized things I have not yet given away and get them to my friends or another appropriate destination.  At the sales, I found a couple of items that I can gift to some friends, who are collectors.  John found some straw placemats that he plans to use as window shades.  Clever guy.  The lady of the house was willing to give the 4 to us for a buck.  One of the neatest things about sales in a relatively small town, is you see people you know and can visit.  One wants to say “Small World” but it is just a small town.  This happens every time we go out and about, including to the grocery store, the bank, or whatever.  The hospital is a bit different in that I now know half the folks that work there.

Well, the week started with music and will end with music tomorrow, but we are going to try to get this on the blog on Saturday night.

We’ll be back next week.


SUNDAY — There is a time . . .

Nancy writing each day:

Sunday was a light day mainly used for resting from the week previous and all the exciting things that happened.

Monday found us going in for a blood culture draw and for other blood lab tests to check on the existence of bacteria or if they had all been eliminated by the two antibiotics.  We won’t know the culture results for a few days.

Tuesday found us on the road to Yakima for almost the whole day, leaving at 8:45 a.m. for a 10 a.m. appointment to have my ICD (device) checked.  That was over in 12 minutes, but we had to wait around to see the cardiologist at 11:15 a.m.   We were late getting in to see him and then he spent over an hour with us, reviewing all that had happened since the last visit (July 21st).  Lots surely had transpired.  He was very thorough as usual and dictated facts and all his opinions of which we will get a copy.  We didn’t get home (ate a lunch there), till 3:30 p.m.   Then I went by myself to play music at 6:30 p.m. at one of the nursing homes.  Came home to a dinner cooked by John for me.  I’m eating again, finally, so that’s made him very happy.

Wednesday – we decided to make some Chocolate Chip cookies, but only made one cookie sheet and put the dough in the frig to cool down for more during the evening.  Our main chore of the day was to figure out some of the TIAA-CREF paperwork that never got completed in April.  We needed to process the papers to get our money invested there transferred to Vanguard where we have an investment counselor to help us get some income into our checking account for our retirement.  There is no “pension” from the university*, but they matched part of our contributions to mutual

[* from John : Years ago we were given the opportunity to opt out of the WA State Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) and, instead, our retirement dollars were directed to retirement plans sponsored by TIAA-CREF, Vanguard, and Fidelity.  We were warned that once we signed out we would be stuck with our decision.  We signed out and never looked back.  Nation-wide many state and local plans are now under funded.  Can you say “Taxes will go up.”]

funds and stocks, over the years.

Even when John taught part-time, he was able to put a few thousand aside in a retirement fund.  We had an appointment in the afternoon with our helper at the CWU Human Resources department and we saw her to get the forms we had filled in, notarized*, and to check to see we had the correct ones.

[* from JohnThe State of WA assumes a 50-50 split of retirement funds between spouses so a paper has to be signed by the spouse giving consent to move money out of the CWU Plan and the signature has to be witnessed by the plan representative or a notary.]

On the way home we stopped at a nursery and bought 4 small bushes, Rose of Sharon (or Althea, as Nancy remembers it from her childhood in Atlanta). Two are good to 5 below and the others to 10 below.  John is going to put them out by the road because he has a vision of a different gate entrance in the future for our home.

In the evening we took off for town again, after a bite of dinner, and heard a geology lecture for the community by a CWU Instructor, titled: “The geology of Mt. Stuart: A closer look.” Washington is a jumble of parts that came from elsewhere. They arrived from who knows where and got plastered onto others and the edge of the old North American Plate.  Mt. Stuart is a 93 million year old granitic mountain of unknown origin.

Thursday will be the normal music at the Rehabilitation Center where I spent 6 weeks getting back on my feet–January and February.  It is good to go back now that I can walk again.  We sneaked out of the music early to get to the University by 3:05 to hear our newest faculty member, a biogeographer, talk on paleo-ecology found in cores (mud) of lake beds.  It was a fascinating lecture.  She has done work on lagoons and lakes in Belize and will be doing research here in Washington.  She also has cored many lakes in Oregon.  After her talk, I went to Out Patient Services at the hospital for a dressing change and flush on my PICC line, and we took some of the cookies to the group of nurses.  John and I both went to the Trail Riding club meeting tonight.  A busy day.

Friday. The fast-test for bacteria was negative and today, after extended culture time, none showed their ugly tell-tail presence.  Hurrah!  We’ll schedule a PICC removal celebration for early next week.

We have a potluck/jam session with the music group to practice for our “gig” next Friday night.  We’ve been asked to play music for a fund raiser in the Yakima Canyon for the Scenic By-Way.  That’s a 22-mile stretch of Nature’s beauty down the Yakima Canyon Road between Ellensburg, WA and Yakima, WA.  There are many basalt cliffs, a few Ponderosa pines, black cottonwood, cactus, and big horn sheep occasionally within view.  The Yakima River (catch & release) runs the entire stretch along side of the road.  It is a very scenic place.

John spent most of the day planting Rose of Sharon (Althea) trees (small) we bought a day or so ago.   He’s planting them near the road and the entrance to our driveway, with the hopes getting some pretty flowering trees up there for color.  He’s also been cooking pork ribs all afternoon for the potluck tonight.  It’s his specialty and everyone loves them.

Saturday brings more music.  The Kittitas Valley Fiddlers and Friends entertained at Briarwood, a retirement community.  This is the place where they provide us food after we play and sing.  It’s a nice group of people and they normally sing along and some get up and dance.  They had sandwich makings today and desserts.  There were several types of meat, tomatoes, lettuce, 4 different cheeses and two kinds of bread.

This morning we hit a couple of yard sales and the bank. There they counted our piggy-bank-change – actually a plastic gallon bear – and converted it into cash for us.  A few weeks ago John accidentally hit the bear in the nose and the thin plastic shattered and spilled coins onto the dresser and the floor.  The time had come to gather the coins and count them.  [Ecclesiastes 3]

Sunday; nothing is planned, except I will go to the Grace Episcopal Church for another music program, to play along with one of my friends.


SATURDAY (eve.) — TW3 ]

What a week this has been, full of fun things and no new medical issues.  I’m also feeling better and doing more.

Sunday was spent recovering from the week before and the day of celebration before.  You have heard some of the things about the retirement party, but things kept changing as I tried to reconstruct the people there from memory.  I finally stopped, thinking I was done, but I should have waited to see the pictures that the new geographer at CWU (Megan) took for us.  She even took movies of the beginning speakers, including a short little piece from me, about how we got interested and involved in the geography of wine.  But, there are lots of pictures and there I was reminded of some people I knew were there and others I did not see.  The time was filled (after the talks) with greeting folks from my past.  I may still not be through with the list, but I now have a count of 109 people who were there.  The oldest friends there were from 1974 and our job at the Univ. of Idaho in Geography.   One of them was a total surprise.  As already mentioned, some of the students from my first quarter here (1988) came over to celebrate (from the west side of WA).  Many past students from the 1990s were there, and a number in this Century, plus their parents in one case.  Everyone there was a special highlight of my day.

Thanks also to all the donors who gave to the scholarship fund in my name.  Few could believe the total that it reached, $2535.  I received names and addresses so that I may send a thank you card, but I’m only told the total amount donated to the fund, not any individual amounts.  So when I get thank you notes out, I will be responding only to the thought and not the amount.  I will say, the advancement officer in charge of the College of the Sciences funding was surprised at the turnout at the celebration and also at how many $$ would be generated for the special award, The Distinguished Service Award, for students in Geography and the graduate Resource Management program.

All-in-all, the retirement fling went amazingly well – others did all the work, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves at the party.  I certainly did.  Turns out the potted flower I couldn’t identify last blog we picked up at school and found it is a Calla Lily.  It is so beautiful (big yellow blooms), and we have searched the web and found how to care for them, and to winter them.  I think we will leave in a sunny window as a potted plant as long as possible, and then hopefully plant it in the spring.

Monday was the time set aside with an appointment to take Rhu, the 19-week old puppy we have been raising, to the vet for his Rabies shot, another puppy vaccine, and for his blood work for a titer to see if he had immunity from Parvovirus.  He passed the test, but we didn’t know the results until the next afternoon.  We had set up delivery of him to his new home after we knew he was cleared.

Monday afternoon, I was walking down the hall and heard a sound coming in the bedroom window.  It was a meow.  John went to look and said it was a little orange kitty.  John had heard a similar sound out near the barn.  We don’t know if there was a litter there and the owls or coyotes picked all but him off or what.  But, John came back in the house to get gloves in case he was “wild.”  He went back out and he was no longer under the window (inside the backyard).  A little later John heard him again, and found him on the outside of the fence headed toward the compost pile but still missed a catch, but about an hour later — success. Once picked up he is a quiet kitty.  We think he was close to starvation.

He wasn’t taking a drink or food at first, but he has a full set of teeth.  He cannot be more than 8 weeks old, and maybe less.   We put a towel and papers in a crate and put it in our washroom on top of the washer where we can talk to him and feed and water him.  We started with milk and finally pushed his face into it, and he began drinking.  We only had a can of Tuna in the house, but he was happy to eat that.  However, we bought some cat food Wednesday, kitten food Thursday, and he absolutely loves the moist kitten food (turkey).  He has a full tummy now.  We have named him Sunshine, and are calling him Sunny, or sweetie, or kitty.

Tuesday’s big excitement was packing Rhu in a crate, carrying his baggage containing his food, milk bone treats (large and small), his “bone”, his “Rhu’s Shoe”, and his “Big Mac” squeaky toy.  It was a great meeting, a little rocky at first because it was a new and strange environment with two little boys and a big black (female) dog in the house.  He was nervous and shy at first, but as the time went by, and we moved to the backyard, he began to warm up and play with the kids, and to sit in new laps.  They invited us for supper, and we stayed.  By the time we left, puppy Rhu was adjusting quite well.

Wednesday’s events were going to CWU Geography to pick up some flowers left there Saturday after the party, and to pick up the memory book Marilyn compiled with emailed comments before the party and then some entered by hand at the party.  There were some wonderful stories from each person who contributed, and it will bring joy (and maybe tears) in the future re-reads of them.  I have read them all once thus far.   If you are reading this blog, and were one to send or write an entry, please accept my thanks.

Thursday brought our normal playing at the nursing home, followed by a trip to the hospital, Out Patient Services, for a changing of the dressing and flushing of my PICC line.  I have to do that weekly until it is removed.  Next Monday is the time for blood lab draws and a blood culture to see if the bacteria are all gone.

Friday.   We moved kitty Sunny to the front porch and yard.  He ate a big serving of kitten food and then departed.  We did not see where he went and he has not returned.  It rained starting at 2:00 a.m. last night, and the temps didn’t get too cold, only 55, but he has not returned.  We hope he will when he gets hungry again.  It’s now Saturday, and he is still not in sight.  I have some pictures of him on John’s shoulder.. a favorite place he had found.

Afternoon Friday found us traveling in the ’89 Ford truck to west of Yakima to friends taking some 6 x 6’ chain link panels for their new Golden puppy they get Sunday.  They invited us for dinner (great), and I was pleased to be able to eat a full meal with friends, finally after all these months.  Then we listened to a surround sound music system and saw a DVD of the reuniting of The Eagles (Hell Freezes Over – 1994).  We’re old enough to have enjoyed them in the 1970s.

Saturday – and no kitty in sight.  We keep hoping he will return.  Otherwise we have a new bag of kitty food, and three cans of the special stuff.

Saturday morning we finished up stamping. folding and taping the Kittitas Valley Trail Riders Newsletter that John cobbles together each month.  We are up to 50 households, so it is a major undertaking.  He has been writing and working on it a little for the past several days, and gathering information from members and the President.

Friday and Saturday mornings we hit some garage sales, not many, but we got some good stuff.  We ran into friends and visited as well.  This is getting to be addictive.   We got nice men’s shirts for 25¢, and a pipe wrench for a buck, some socks and a pillow for 10 cents each and a nice pillow for 50¢, that goes in my passenger seat of John’s car, nicely and comfortably.  We found a special gift for a friend, a nice wooden Scandinavian horse napkin holder from Poulsbo, WA.  I got a new CD holder for the other car (John’s) to put the CDs we have gotten at yard sales recently:  Shelby Lynne, Trisha Yearwood, and Leanne Rimes.  They have remained in his car for playing.   Then another place I found a vest and a nice shirt for me for a quarter each.  The last sale we attended was not too far from our house, and we bought a HUGE umbrella for a buck.  It came into use at a potluck Saturday afternoon, for the Resource Management welcoming one, at our Geography Chair’s house.

For the party, he fixed a smoked turkey, grilled garden veggies, and everyone brought side dishes.  Another geography faculty member brought his apple press, and people brought apples, which were cleaned, chopped, and pressed into fresh juice.  A little was consumed there and much went home with the guests. A good time was had by all, despite the intermittent rain that kept bees and yellow jackets away.  It did not dampen our spirits.  A couple of students made homemade fresh tomato salsa, and was that ever good, both of them.   Someone brought a peach cobbler to die for, and another brought yummy “brownies” made of toll house cookie dough.  There was plenty of potato salad, chicken salad, and macaroni salad to add to a plate, with the smoked turkey, grilled brats, and grilled veggies. Yum.

Sunday is likely to be cool and wet, so a lazy day for us, but maybe a day to catch up on dirty dishes and clothes.  I still have all my thank you notes to write.

We will try to post this Saturday night, because nothing is on the schedule for Sunday and I’m out of things to say.  John will think this is much too long, but I had a lot to tell you all.

Best to all who continue to follow the blog, and thanks to John for continuing to post it.

SUNDAY — Slow week, nice party

(Nancy writing – day by day.)

Sunday was an easy going day, after we sent in the blog Saturday night late.  Nothing to report there.

Monday has provided some changes to the schedule.  Instead of December for a preliminary visit with the doctor of Gastroenterology in Yakima we will visit this Thursday a.m. to contemplate a photographic adventure.   That  being the swallowing of a camera (Canon or Nikon, maybe) that will careen through my intestinal tract and send Technicolor video to the whole world.  Just kidding — it is the size of a large pill and at the moment that is all we know. The visit is scheduled for only ½ hr but there is paperwork and explanation and releases to sign for when “IT” will happen (and that has not yet been scheduled).  This whole medical system is fraught with time being spent by the patient that seems unnecessary.

Nothing else on the calendar today except the penultimate infusion of Rocephin.

And, something else got on the schedule, with a call from a lady whose yard sale we were at last Saturday.  She had a large lumber pine headboard for a home-made bed. This was where we got the two nice shirts (John wore his blue/yellow one yesterday and looked quite fancy).  He was so happy that he only paid $1 for a “new” Wrangler shirt.   She tried to give the headboard to John, even saying she would deliver it, but we left and told her if she could give it away to do so, if not give us a call.  We really don’t have a place for it.  However, she called midday today (we left our phone) and said it was ours if we still wanted it.   We had to drive the old truck down for it because the newer one wouldn’t start.  Guess John needs to fix that before Saturday and using it to carry in the cases of wine for the retirement celebration.

John had a hard time lifting the heavy piece of furniture, but he said there is probably $80 worth of wood in it, so he is happy.

Tuesday.   The day was mostly spent with John retrieving cases of wine from the crawl space under the kitchen for the retirement “party” this Saturday.  Many partial boxes had to be sorted and combined.  I worked much of the morning on the slide show for the event.  We went in for the last infusion and was that a memorable occasion.  We will see them again on Thursday to change the dressing and flush the PICC line.

We dropped by the Geography Department on the way home and had a great visit with the people there.  It was good to see them all and have them see me looking better than the last time I was in.  We made some final plans for Saturday with the powers that be.

I dropped off a few old 35mm slides for one of my former students to scan for me for the show I’m making.  That was kind of him to offer to do that.

Tomorrow we won’t know what to do with ourselves, not having to go to the hospital, so we will probably do some shopping.  Mostly we need to get a new battery for the truck that has to be used to deliver the wine to the Saturday event.

Wednesday.  Started early without much sleep not going to bed till 12:30.  The puppy and an older dog wanted to go out at 4:30 a.m.  After that episode, I didn’t  sleep well– kept having dreams about arriving late to my retirement party.  When I got up early this morning, there were two does and their young deer in our driveway.  They looked healthy with good coats, so maybe they will be fine for our winter that is expected to be colder than usual.  A robin was eating fat berries from our Mountain Ash tree out front.  The sun is up, but it is cold–still 43 degrees.  The heater came on in the house this morning.  Puppy Rhu is back in bed after romping around both yards and checking out the deer.  He gets to see coveys of quail running/flying around the yard too, but he hasn’t been allowed to venture outside the fence because we are being extra cautious about the parvo threat.

We got ourselves together to take the truck and its charged battery to town, buy puppy chow and other groceries for us, get some donuts.  I drove John’s car and he took the truck, figuring we might have to leave it an hour to be fixed.  However, the first stop for the battery showed the charge he had put on it was fine, and the 5-year old battery did not need replacing.  It must have a slow electron leak called “parasitic draw” by the auto guys.  So we drove to our mechanics to see if they could have a look-see, yet they said it should just not be left sitting for a couple weeks and to clean the connections and replace the bolts.  That’s going to take John’s time, but cheaper than a new battery. We stopped at Bi-Mart after parking the truck at the grocery, and got some doggie bones and cashews on sale.  Then back to grocery shopping.  I walked around both places for my exercise.

Home and I was tired, so after a little to eat (apple fritter and donut) I told John I would lay down awhile to rest and get up for a late lunch.  That never happened, as I guess I was really very tired from the long night, and I slept the afternoon through John’s nap, the puppy going back outside after his nap, and John picking me some wonderful tomatoes that now I will have with dinner.  He also put a “roast” in and it cooked all afternoon while I slept.  Now John also put in a bunch of time mowing the grass/weeds under the trees on the east side of the house.  And, he fed the horses and took 2 dogs for a run.  They had to dodge deer who were sharing the space–5 with a cute and pretty baby.  Then for the mail and papers, and they all are back.

Good I got all rested, and hope I can sleep tonight.  Tomorrow a.m. brings a trip to Yakima to visit the Gastroenterology doctor at 10:45 a.m.  Thursday is also play time with the Fiddlers and Friends at the nursing home behind where I spent all my time in January and February.   When I was in Rehab, John would roll me over in my wheel chair to participate with the group there.

Thursday.  Well it turned into a jam-packed day.  We got to the Yakima Gastroenterology office in time for a huge amount of paperwork about my health history.  I filled most of it out before being called into the office to wait for the doctor.  Finished the rest of it in there, and he came in after awhile.  We had a very nice talk with him and he mentioned about the capsule and camera and how it would not necessarily be done if my anemia has cleared up.  We will test Oct. 11th particularly the iron in my system and consider putting me on iron pills if needed.   Then we will check again in 3 months, before deciding to go through with the procedure.  There are potential concerns, in my case with a defibrillator.  No research has been done, but there is the uninvestigated opportunity for an interaction of the ICD with the camera in the capsule.  The doctor also noted there is a possibility of the camera getting stuck, which doesn’t happen often but requires abdominal surgery if it does.  In my case, they would do this over an 8 hour period in the hospital telemetry unit where my vital signs could be observed the entire time it is in my system.  I keep them on their toes!

We picked up a fast lunch in Yakima because we were noon getting out of the doctor’s office.  Then we rushed home to pick up my fiddle so we could go back to town for me to play.  There were only two fiddles, a banjo, accordion, and 3 guitars, and we had a good time.  Then we went to the hospital for my dressing to be changed on my PICC line, and for it to be flushed with saline solution.  That has to be done once a week till it is removed.  I still have several draws necessary for upcoming appointments with my cardiologist and family physician and my normal INR check.

After that, we went by school to pick up some scanned slides for the “show” on Saturday, from a wonderful grad student who did them for me.

Friday.  Not much on tap.  There are only two yard sales, but we need to go to town anyway, so why not hit them?  We found a nice jacket for me at one and some sweaters / vest for John and a nice cowboy hat for me, plus some great sweaters for me and some night sleeping clothes (flannel pjs and a gown).  I think I need to get rid of more of the older larger clothes to make room for all this.  At the sale with the hat I also got John 6 books (some hardback) for a quarter each.  All the prices were less than the hat at $2.  Amazing, and it’s quality stuff.

Saturday – the day of my retirement reception.  I have remembered the names of 100 people.  Maybe more, but have to check the memory book for additions.  A couple of colleagues, now Emeriti Profs, and several students got up and gave some incredible talks about what I had meant to them.  It was awesome and almost overwhelming, but I didn’t tear up.  I gave lots of hugs and visited the rest of the entire time, 2:30 to 5:00, and stayed after and watched a bit of the clean-up while visiting with the last of the guests.

I received many cards, several gifts, and many well wishes.  The new biogeographer took pictures.  That was really nice.  We carried in about 22 cases of wine but some were not standard size, some cases were not full and thus an exact count is not possible.  The guests drank some, took some home, and there are about 10 cases left for the department for any upcoming events as they wish.
I was surprised at some of the students who came that I wasn’t expecting.  Several went back to the “beginning”… when I started in 1988.  One couple came who were in my physical geography class taught my first quarter there, and then they took other courses as well.  They were not married then and their oldest daughter is 12, youngest is 3.  However, 1988 was eclipsed by 1974’s “first academic acquaintances” from the University of Idaho.
Food:  fruit, cheeses, sliced meats and the like, and tomatoes/with/garlic (made by one of the faculty members), strawberries and a fondue chocolate dip, other chocolates I didn’t see all of but heard there were lots that other faculty brought.  There were grapes rolled in some sort of sugar.  I did have some of those and some fromage.  There was coffee and tea and ice water for those who don’t drink wine.
Marilyn picked a bunch of grape leaves from her yard and brought grapes she had grown, and decorated all the tables with flowers, weeds, and grasses (from her yard) in vases.
I don’t have the book of memories yet because the entries people made on paper yesterday will be added to the book, after holes are punched in them.  We left some of the flowers people brought.  There is a beautiful yellow flower I don’t know what is.  We will have to check– it’s still at school.  We brought home a little pink rose bush and a yellow potted plant something like a chrysanthemum, but no card, so don’t know who brought that.
It was really a great event.   Thanks to all who came.  And to all the others we’ve heard from.


SATURDAY (late) — rare events

[Written over several days this week.]

The infusions via the PICC will cease after Tuesday.  It would be nice to have a way of preventing infective endocarditis (IE) by these bacteria because of the damage they cause and because the treatment is long, involved, and a pain in the arm.  Having dental work, even flossing, is a risk factor and while there are antibiotics and oral rinses (Now using Chlorhexidine gluconate 0.12%.), The American Dental Association thinks that “. . . only an extremely small number of cases of IE might be prevented by antibiotic prophylaxis for dental procedures even if such prophylactic therapy were 100 percent effective.”  That’s not highly reassuring!

After Tuesday we wait two weeks and have blood drawn and cultured.  If Nancy’s blood is free of the bacteria, the PICC will be removed.  So while IE may be rare in the overall population, Nancy has had it twice.  Our response is going to be extreme vigilance, being on the watch for any of the signs of IE that we are now (unfortunately) too familiar with.

And speaking of rare events.  Last Sunday a storm cell hit Ellensburg just seconds after we entered Dean Hall on the CWU campus  — thunder, lightning, hail and wind, the storm swept right over the campus where we were going to the memorial service.  They took me in an hour early at the hospital for my infusion, and I was able to make it to the campus in better time, and got in the building right before the “bottom dropped out”.  Luckily, the major storm cell was 10 miles south of our house and the puppy and his dad, out in separate yards, were not exposed to the bad part.

We had gotten there early, so we stopped at Hebeler, a building two down from Dean where we were going, to clean out my locker from several years of teaching there in a computer lab.  We didn’t have a big enough box or a cart to carry away all the stuff, so we will have to return one of these days.  We loaded a small box, and two plastic bags, with books, paper, and things.

Then on to the other building, with huge drops of rain (and we had no umbrella), but we parked right behind it and went in the door before getting soaked.  We watched the storm from the 3rd floor of Dean Hall, and we could see the other end of the valley north, and realized our house was not really in the storm.  In 30 minutes it had blown on to the east and the rest of the afternoon was exceptionally nice.  Many years ago we lived in places where summer thunder storms are common.  Not so here.

Monday found us on the road to Yakima to Costco, as we were out of lots of things we need.  Then Tuesday, visited my doctor, family physician.  I’m in much better shape than when I last saw him, in August.  We also got our flu shots, both of us, this visit.  Normal afternoon visit for antibiotic infusion.  Tuesday night I went and played music with “The Connections”.  They were all happy to see me back among the living.

Wednesday… was another busy day.  Had to be at the hospital for an Echocardiogram at 12:45.  There wasn’t time and I didn’t feel like starting my exercise class, so we went to lunch.  Ate well.  Then dropped by my class at the end to say hello and let them know I was alive, and in better shape than when I last saw them in August.  I wanted to thank them for the cards they sent to ICU Yakima in mid August.  On from there to the hospital for an infusion, after an ice cream cone for each of us.  McDonald’s has a good deal of a 50 cent soft serve cone, and I get it in a cup with a spoon.

Thursday.  Time to go play music, but all morning was spent either with the puppy or on the computer putting together a slide show of my students in action over the past couple of years, for showing at the retirement “party”, Saturday, Oct 2nd, afternoon.  Then after music at Hearthstone, we went to the hospital and then home.  Today (Thurs.) was the day for the PICC line dressing change (once a week).  John is busy now, making a pecan pie and another for a scholarship luncheon tomorrow at CWU, Friday.

The Scholarship luncheon is a group at CWU of mostly staff members, who get together and someone fixes lunch.  Then the money for lunch goes into a scholarship fund at the Foundation, and is distributed to needy students.  I have been in this group since 1988, and a few of the people from the beginning are still there.    Now it is Friday, and we went and had a great garden salad and rolls.  The garden salad was all from Ruth’s garden, i.e., tomatoes, corn, (doubt she grew the black beans), onions, and a slaw of grated cabbage and carrots.  Yum.  On the way home, we hit a couple of yard sales.  At one, John found a Wrangler shirt in new condition, for $1, in the blue and yellow colors of Sweden. (Many web sites render the yellow incorrectly but the shirt gets if right.) I found a lovely western shirt for a buck, as well.  Then we came on back home, but on the way saw a long time friend in his yard splitting wood, so we stopped and visited for a nice visit, before getting home for a stop before going back for an infusion.

Saturday, brings more music at Briarwood (a retirement community).  They provide us with a free lunch for playing and singing.  This time, they are planning to feed us cabbage rolls.  I checked today, and will go a little late to my infusion, so I can participate.  I did and we had a great time.

John and I hit some garage sales this morning.  We didn’t get as much as usual, but did get some good things and deals.  John did not bargain on his major purchase, a set of 5 unopened packages of cedar wood thin pieces.  (John, please elaborate.  Okay – glue on panel replacement, 3.5 inches wide and a fraction thick.)  He also found a stuffed horse (2 ft. high) for $2.  At the same place I bought a brass giraffe and baby on a small stand.  It is for me to give to one of my nurses who loves giraffes.  It was only $1 and is about 6 inches high.  Then another place I found some moccasins that fit for $1.  I found a stack of various kinds of greeting cards to replace the stash I used the last of recently.  All plus some other stationery / cards for a quarter.  We did walk through some sales that had nothing to offer, or whose prices were out of line.  Another sale made us question, “Why bother?”  There was so little stuff.  At least I got some exercise walking around them.

Sunday, nothing is planned… to my knowledge, except for the infusion again.

The other thing I have been working on all week is a slide show (mostly of recent students and other things) to show in the conference room of Dean Hall during the retirement party.  It will just revolve through them without intervention.  I’m cleaning my computer and snagging smaller pictures of my students in action – for the past couple of years.  I have pictures of them presenting their map projects and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) projects in 3 different classes at the end of a quarter, in a University Poster session in the Science Building.  I have done that for at least 10 years.  I also have had my Urban Geography class do posters on their final term project.  As well, I have pictures from some of our Wine: A Geographical Appreciation class field trips.  There are pictures from different award banquets that I have nominated students for over the years.  Pictures of events during classes, such as orienteering on campus, or visiting the Map Library to learn about maps and research in Government Documents.  I have fun pictures, as well, of a Halloween pumpkin carving contest one year, when we shared a building with geology and physics.  Now we share a building with anthropology.

That’s it for the week.  Hope yours was good.  Stay tuned for next weekend, hopefully not before.