Friday, May 19, 2017

The Other Washington

Things here in the other Washington, couldn't be better.  We have birds chirping in the early morning and a promise of fairly nice Pacific Northwest weather for the next few days.

After completing all of my medical lab work and attending to my Angiography CT scan it is time to return to Gold Bar and wait for a call from the Neurosurgeon.
Most of the time was spent in the setup.  The actual scan took mere seconds.  The first trick for the attendant was to find a place to insert a needle for an IV while asking me a bunch of questions about allergies and things that might complicate the scan.  Then I was invited to lay down on a long narrow table near the device pictured above.  The table moved me into position inside the ring and the machine started up with a whirling noise.  Then the attendant gave me a small dose of a contrast material that made me warm with the feeling that I was wetting my pants.  It also left a metallic taste in my mouth.  None of these lasted for more than a few seconds and the whole procedure was done.  I sat for a few minutes while they observed me and I was off to the rest of my day.  I await the call from the Neurosurgeon's office for my appointment to find out the details of what will occur next.

Things back in the other Washington (DC) aren't so good.  We are retired and enjoying life here in the other Washington, though things are getting a little expensive around here.  With the exception of utilities, Washington State seems to have a higher cost of living than just about any other state in the Union and it doesn't appear that politicians have enough money as they continue to raise fees and taxes while giving themselves nice little annual raises.  I suppose we could move to the midwest but at 70 that isn't an option, I am willing to consider.  We will continue to live, travel and enjoy our lives with family and friends while we try to ignore the other Washington.

Here in this Washington, spring is arriving, finally.

Our building in the background getting new siding

Around our campus

Large open area

Plants coming alive with color

Great resident garden

Trees add color
I hope all is well in your part of the country.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sometime the Best Laid Plans

There are times when the best-laid plans of Mice and Ken don't work out the way Ken intended.  Mia and I went home Monday because I had an afternoon follow-up appointment with my Doctor concerning an aneurysm found during my little emergency a week earlier.  As far as appointments go, this one was fairly quick.  The doctor and I discussed what she had done while going over my charts. Apparently, she had a consult with a Neurosurgeon who asked her to set up an appointment with him after I go have some lab work done and another, apparently more involved CAT Scan.  Okay, I have no problem with that.

Mia and I planned to return to Gold Bar for another week and enjoy some time away while the construction continues at home.  I figured it would take some time to get the call about the CAT let alone actually get it done.  We all know how slow the medical field can be at times.  Two-thirds of the way to Gold Bar, I get a call from my health provider wanting to set up my appointment for the labs and the CAT scan.  While I figured I would be waiting a couple of weeks, the coordinator told be I could get in this coming Thursday.  Damn, if only they had called before we left home.

Now the plan is to go back home this afternoon so I can get the labs done early tomorrow morning and then go get my CAT scan Thursday morning.  If everything works out okay, we'll return to Gold Bar on Friday.

Life can be so much fun.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

National BBQ Month

May is supposedly the beginning of summer and time to cook (in some cases, burn) meat over a grill. Now is the time to dig out the grill, smoker or fire pit, clean them up and get to cooking some meat.  Some say grilling was discovered by Columbus who found natives grilling meat over fires using wooden grills.

There is an argument that meat on a grill isn't barbecue, that the only way to have true barbecue is to slow cook the meat over indirect heat with smoke or no smoke.  What does it really matter?  The flavors you get from grilling meat on a metal grill over direct heat are different, but in the end, the meat is cooked and has the added flavor from flame broiling.

Unless I am in a hurry, I love to smoke meat in a smoker.  To me, slow cooking is the way to go.  Most barbecue shops would agree.  The BBQ we had in Texas was done in a smoker and was the best that we have found in our travels.

So drag out the grill, smoker, or fire pit and start fixing some goodies.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Kentucky Fried Chicken and Mother's Day

KFC (the chicken people) have released a romance novella for Mother’s Day, “Tender Wings of Desire.”  Nothing says Mother’s Day, like a “$20 Fill-Up” meal and a steamy romance book.  “The only thing better than being swept away by the deliciousness of our Extra Crispy Chicken is being swept away by Harland Sanders himself.”

Apparently, Mother’s Day is the single biggest sales day in the world of Kentucky Fried Chicken. More KFC will be sold this coming Sunday than any other day of the year.  George Felix, director of advertising for KFC U.S., said in a statement.  “So this Mother’s Day, the bucket of chicken I get for my wife will come with a side of a steamy romance novel.

Said to be 96 pages it appears to follow a young Madeline who runs away without leaving a goodbye note for her mother.  She finds herself working in a tavern in a harbor town and falls in love with Harland, a customer who is “tall, dressed like a sailor with a striped linen shirt and a woolen pea coat crusted with sea salt.”

I could go on, but I feel some nausea coming on so I’d better stop here.  Needless the say, the Colonel is getting his money’s worth because the advertising campaign is working and here I am discussing it on my blog.  I love the fried chicken idea for the wife’s Mother’s Day celebration.  Just not sure I can celebrate the steamy novel that apparently comes with dinner.

That's my day, how is yours?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mother's Day

My mom passed away 35 years ago just after Mother's Day on May 12, 1982.  Mom was a tough nut but I don't think I would be the person I am today, if not for her.  She put herself in her cooking, baking and family.  Like most parents with the missing owners manual, she did the best that she could in spite of many physical and emotional roadblocks.  I miss her and often wish she was still here for consul.

Mom didn't like to have her picture taken.  In fact, she would do just about anything to keep me from getting her picture.  After repeated tries I gave up and didn't try anymore.  I wish I had because I have very few pictures of her and the most that I have are before I was around or she was married.  She was a very nice looking young lady in her day.

We won't be around a computer tomorrow or Sunday, so I wanted to make sure I included my mom before I leave for the country.

To all the mom's that have gone on ahead of us and those who are still with us, a very, very Happy Mother's Day.  And to my loving wife and mother of our children,

Hope all is well and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Who Knew?

Had nice morning ride to Tacoma to visit the Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist as suggested by the Emergency room personnel who dealt with my little incident last Friday morning.  While the CAT scan found nothing wrong with my throat they thought it would be a good idea for me to have a follow-up visit to make sure there wasn't something missed.  The sun was out and the view was spectacular from the third floor of the medical center.

After providing a description of the incident and all the details leading to it, the doctor took a look in both ears followed by a quick examination of my nose and throat.  Once he was done with those, he decided to do a little more looking.  He got out a bottle of what he called deadener and sprayed it in my nose.  He said it would taste bitter, and it did.  My nose and throat went numb in a matter of minutes.

He then pulled out a device with a tube on it and went on to explain how he was going to insert it down both sides of my nose and deep into the back of my throat to see if there are any problems.  He proceeded with very little warning, had me breathing, making noises and panting before pulling it out and announcing that everything looks great.

His diagnosis?  Phlegm. (Flem)  Apparently, he feels that a ball of phlegm from the drainage the night before was on the voice box and the combination of reclining in the warm bathtub and standing, created a blockage.  He is pretty sure it wasn't an asthma attack because untreated an asthma attack would have lasted much longer and would not have calmed down as quickly.

While I still have a lot of congestion, things seem to be getting better.  Now all I need to worry about is the next doctor appointment to see what we will be doing about the 4 mm aneurysm they discovered during the CAT scan.  So much fun, I can hardly wait until next Monday.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Second Go Around, Still no Replay of Life

Several years ago, I had an anaphylactic shock episode that nearly took me out.  I didn't see the replay of my entire life during that episode.

Yesterday afternoon I noticed that I had a scratchy throat and it felt like I might be coming down with a cold.  It bugged me all afternoon and when I went to bed last night I spent the night waking up every hour or so with a serious pain in the neck when I swallowed.  I figured I was under the weather.

At around 4:00 o'clock a.m., having woke up several times during the night, I was done and decided to get up.  I made a cup of coffee, drank it and still didn't feel like staying up so I went back to bed in our spare room.  I slept for a bit and around 6:00 o'clock a.m. I got up and decided to take a warm bath.  I laid in the tub for maybe ten minutes before standing up to get out.  As I toweled off, my breathing became labored.  I felt like my airway was closing and I couldn't get air to my lungs.  I literally panicked as I tried to Mia's attention in the next room.  My voice was unintelligible but she could tell I wasn't getting air.  She said my eyes were bugged out but I wasn't blue.  She called 911 and shortly after that the EMS arrived.  By the time they arrived, I had sat down on the bed and calmed down somewhat.  My breathing was labored but I was getting air while my voice was still not working.

The EMS guys did several tests and had me stand up but another much shorter episode occurred and my blood pressure shot way up so they had me sit down again.  Things calmed down again.

At this point, they felt it necessary to have Medic 6 continue to our house so they could evaluate me.

The medics did some further tests with nothing conclusive.  I was taken downstairs by a couple of ambulance attendants and shipped to the emergency room of our local hospital.  Once in the emergency room; doctors, nurses and attendants hooked me up to all kinds of equipment and took blood and gave me drugs.  After a CAT scan of my throat and airway there was nothing conclusive found and I have a follow up with an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist as soon as they can get me in.

There is a tale that says that your life, good and bad, runs before you when you are about to die.  Either it isn't true or it only happens when you are going to die cause I haven't seen it yet.  I am just hoping that the third time isn't the charm as stated in another old saying.

Needless to say I will be convalescing the remainder of this weekend.

That is how my day started.  I certainly hope yours was better.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Final Thoughts and Tons of Pictures

I certainly hope that I am not the bringer of doom and destruction.  Somehow, each time we take a road trip we manage to visit places that soon find themselves in peril.  Example, for the most recent trip, Missouri experiencing massive flood, while Texas is hit with tornadoes.  The last trip we took the bad weather was just a step behind us, this time we managed to stay ahead of the curve as well. 

After spending a night in Kansas City and visiting two states within a matter of minutes we head south to Lebanon, Missouri.   Kansas City is right on the border between Kansas and Missouri.  As you drive through Kansas you enter and leave both states more than once.  We made it to Lebanon and the next day spent the majority of the afternoon with my cousin and her family.  We had a great time finding her place outside of Falcon, Missouri and thoroughly enjoyed our visit with her and her family.
Mia and I with cousin Dorothy, her son and grandson.
Their homestead is amazing

The next day we moved on, heading further south with our destination, New Orleans.  Our route took us through Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.   We ended up spending several nights in downtown New Orleans.  Our hotel was within walking distance of the French Quarter as well as an easy trolley ride to other destinations.  In New Orleans, businesses are shut not closed.

While we enjoyed New Orleans but I think we both agree that we were there and we really don’t have any further need to go back.  We aren’t the party type folks who tend to frequent the city.  While everyone was friendly, there is something that just doesn’t seem right.  I never could put my finger on it.  Several of the folks we talked too, still bring up the flooding of the city, as though they still expect it to happen again.

We moved from New Orleans, west to Houston, Texas.   We spent a couple of days in Houston and went to the Houston Space Center, which we both enjoyed.  I said in an earlier blog that looking at all we have accomplished in space; I wonder why we can’t do more here on earth.

After Houston, we had one thing left on the agenda.  I wanted to visit a friend in Kingman, Arizona and after doing some research I found out that the longest remaining section of Old Route 66 goes from Seligman, Arizona to Kingman.  So, we stayed in Seligman and went to Kingman via Old Route 66.  Since the road has been preserved it isn’t a bad ride.  They have even install Burma Shave ads along the highway just outside of Seligman.  From Kingman, we started our trip home.

This trip started out with catching up with family while doing a little research into the history of the family and where we came from.  Many of my cousins, on my dad’s side of the family, share an interest in the same thing.  Originally we had intended to go to Chattanooga, Tennessee but after discussing the weather issues and the distance traveled, we chose to forgo that trip this time around.  As it is, the car is right at service time again.

I have to say, overall, that I do enjoy road trips.  When we had the RV, it was nice to have clothes, food and bed in one place.  Setting up and taking down the RV was a bit of a pain as you travel.  With going from motel to motel, living out of a suit case there are issues as well.  Packing and unpacking the car each time you stop to name one.  But, overall, I think motel to motel is much easier than campground to campground.  You always have clean towels and bedding, the rooms are, for the most part, clean, you still have a private bathroom and there is free breakfast most everywhere you go.  Some of the breakfast’s suck, while others are full of all kinds of good stuff. 

Both Mia and I managed to lose a couple of pounds during our trip.  After talking with one of our cousins we have decided to change our eating habits and cut down to two meals a day.  Breakfast and a big meal around mid-day and some health snacks later in the afternoon.

Our Subaru Forester performed impeccably.  I had it serviced before we left, checked the oil often and didn’t have a stitch of a problem with it mechanically.  On long drives, the Forester seating isn’t exactly comfortable for my 6’4” frame but I made do.  Unfortunately, it is in bad need of a detail since the back roads in North Dakota did a job on the interior with the fine dust that is common in farming areas and the bugs, some very large, committed bugicide on every front facing surface.  I suspect there will be a lot of elbow grease required to clean it up.

One final thought.  We decided to stick pretty close to a couple of hotel/motel chains during our trip.  One primary reason was the fact that many of the locations within the chains are dog friendly with a slight extra charge.  The charge isn’t uniform form state to state and some of the places didn’t even charge the fee or chose to charge less.  We were very happy with our stays and the Choice Hotel group as well as La Quinta inns.  Both provide rewards programs that allow you to use points for free night stays.  We used a couple during our trip.

As I said above, the hotel/motels were clean and usually priced under one hundred dollars.  It depends on where you are as to the amount being charged.  Rooms are comfortable with all the amenities you would expect to find at home.  WiFi is not generally protected so I suggest bringing your own hotspot.  Reservations are easy online and at most there was very little time required to check in.  Check out was easy as most just slipped the bill under the door at night.  We stayed and Sleep Inn, Comfort Inn, Quality Inn and EconoLodge within the Choice group and with the exception of the one stop at the EconoLodge we would recommend Choice group.  We would also recommend the La Quinta Inns as well, however, you should expect to pay a little more for your stay with this chain.

That is all for this trip.  Off to work on the family tree with some new information while I await further information (I hope) from the Dunn Center Historical Society.

Hope all is well.