We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Snow. Soup. Go.

Written By: Charles - Mar• 14•19

Imbolc                                                                            Recovery Moon

20190314_050257

Steps up to the loft this morning

Wow. Bombogenesis! As the weather guys said, “We achieved bombogenesis.” I think they may be a bit too close to this whole thing. Anyhow this storm socked us in. 18 inches or so. Wet snow. Heavy. In fact the power lines sag under its weight and as a result the snowplows can’t work the mountain roads. Black Mountain Drive, usually cleared many times during a big storm saw no plows, no scraping along the asphalt. Nothing. Just snow and the very occasional pickup truck. Even our plow guy had trouble moving around so he could clear driveways. I told him it was ok if he came this morning. We weren’t going anywhere yesterday.

It puzzles me how snow discombobulates Coloradans. Sagging powerlines that might electrocute a driver or take out power to a whole neighborhood are one thing, but our pulmonologist’s office called last night late and said the practice was closing today due to inclement weather. They are in Littleton which got, as near as I can tell right now, about 8″.

Snow totals aren’t the whole story. The winds created blizzard conditions. We couldn’t see Eduardo and Holly’s house just across Black Mountain Drive. Drifts. Snow slides. Avalanches. These last not so much around here, but further into the Rockies. We’ve had over 2,000 avalanches this year, several deaths.

In terms of degrees below zero and general misery Colorado winters are wimpy compared to Minnesota, especially this Minnesota winter. Throw in the mountains however and the difficulties multiply quickly.

Two favorite tools

Two favorite tools

It was a perfect day to make soup. My entry for the CBE CNS competition is in the frig, flavors blending. The competition is on St. Patrick’s Day. I have to be there at 3:30 with my soup and my instant pot. Plus a ladle. Wish me luck.

We need Sgt. Preston of they Yukon. Remember him? He delivered medicine to the Eskimos by dog sled. Well, Kate’s on her last bag of tpn nutrition. The delivery was due yesterday. Didn’t make it. They have until 4 pm today or Kate’s gonna have to start eating her meals rather than having them pumped in.

While making the soup, I watched several episodes of Formula 1: Drive to Survive. It was a recap of the 2018 season, timed appropriately since the 2019 season begins, as Formula 1 always does, in Australia. This weekend is the first race of 21. I’ve been a fan, off and on, since I was young. Getting back into it over the last couple of years.

This a sport that requires millions, for the big teams like Mercedes and Ferrari, hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Each team has hundreds, in the larger cases, thousands, of employees. Yet the total number of seats, literally seats in F1 cars, is only 20. Each team has two drivers. Ten teams. That means the competition is intense at all levels and the stakes in each of the 21 races high.

F1I suppose it was growing up in Indiana. We supplied many things to Detroit, lights, batteries, and alternators in the instance of Guide Lamp and Delco near Alexandria. These two factories alone employed 25,000 when I was growing up and most of my friend’s fathers worked at one or the other. Then every May, the greatest spectacle in racing: The Indianapolis 500. Cars and racing were prominent.

My subscriptions to Road and Track and Sports Car Magazine have long lapsed, but during middle school and high school I followed motor sports closely. Yes, as you can tell, my interests lay somewhat askew of the Indy 500, leaning more toward European cars and races. F1 is my interest now.

Looking forward to the Australian Grand Prix.

 

 

CNS. Bombogenesis.

Written By: Charles - Mar• 13•19

Imbolc                                                                                   Recovery Moon

I’m ready for my third recovery in a month and a half. Looking forward to it. Not yet. Buddy Tom Crane should be on the road to recovery under the recovery moon, too. Kate’s gaining weight. Maybe a trifecta here.

cns challengeToday is chicken soup day. I have a simple truth organic chicken thawed in the refrigerator. It comes out to warm up to room temp. All the ingredients are here. I had to go buy some peas yesterday since I used the original pack in the fried rice I made. Friend Bill Schmidt looked up the Gold’n Plump Chicken soup recipe. It was there, floating out in the internet’s wide reach. It’s simple. Much as I do it now though I’ve added a tweek or two. Some garlic. Deglazing with white wine. Paul Prudhomme’s Chicken Magic. Kate had the bright idea of making our matzo balls green since the CBE competition is on St. Patrick’s Day. I’ll offer green matzo balls and egg noodles as additives.

A great day to make soup. Gonna be a big storm, already underway. Maybe 6-12 inches. Record low barometer readings. One reading in Kansas is lower than any data point in 140 years. Bombogenesis* may happen here. It’s been a good year for the snow pack with all watersheds reporting at least 127% of median years. The all important Colorado River basin is at 136%. Hoping this storm adds to those percentages.

Still generally demotivated except for home, Kate, and dogs. This will lift.

20190312_083623Mary, she persevered. Sister Mary. When my father died, she insisted that he had a portion of an oil well that should come down to herself, Mark, and me. It took her some time and some legal work, but I got in the mail this week three letters from Roan Resources detailing how we make our claim legitimate.

This oil well is in Canadian County, Oklahoma and I have no idea how Dad became a part owner. He and his siblings were all on it. I remember very well our first check, it folded out seven times, was from Sinclair Oil, and was for fifteen cents. Dad cashed it and gave the money to us kids for bubble gum. Of course, we’re now dividing his share into three, leaving us each with what Roan say is a 0.00015625 percent interest in the well. Probably not gonna get rich.

This means we own land in Texas and have oil well shares. I’m not heading over to the Cadillac dealer quite yet.

 

*”Bombogenesis, a popular term used by meteorologists, occurs when a midlatitude cyclone rapidly intensifies, dropping at least 24 millibars over 24 hours. A millibar measures atmospheric pressure. This can happen when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass, such as air over warm ocean waters. The formation of this rapidly strengthening weather system is a process called bombogenesis, which creates what is known as a bomb cyclone.”  NOAA

Kate

Written By: Charles - Mar• 12•19

Imbolc                                                                      Recovery Moon

A cold. Just to round things out, make sure I don’t miss any chance to boost my immune system. Kate, “Clusters of illnesses are common.” “Is that because the immune system is temporarily compromised?” “Yes.” Sigh. Not terrible, sneezing and such, mild malaise.  But. Enough already. Canceled my new workout appointments because I don’t feel well and don’t want to expose others. Next week.

tpn packKate will go to a 16 hour feeding schedule on Thursday. That will give her 8 hours of freedom from the nutrition bag and the pump. If she continues on with the tpn, next week she’ll go to 12 hours feeding, 12 off. That’s the final stepdown, I believe. Carrying her tpn pack with the nutrition bag, which is heavy, and trailing the tubing that connects it to her picc line, is made more complicated by the tubing that connects her to the oxygen concentrator. A fall hazard for sure. 8 hours of not having to juggle all that stuff will be great for her.

We saw her rheumatologist yesterday. A hell of nice guy, sweet. He told a funny 20190311_100818story. His teenage son took his cell phone and created a ringtone using rap music. He didn’t know. He was in with a patient, he said, when all of a sudden, “Then the motherfucker did this, and the motherfucker did that…” started coming from his phone. He’s a good enough guy to see the humor.

This fellow was on his windowsill.

Kate commented yesterday on how tiring it is to be sick. All the doctor visits. Schlepping the tpn bag, the portable oxygen concentrator, using the rollator. And, I added, the anxiety that each visit might bring bad news. This is in addition to the actual illness, the Sjogren’s, the malnourishment and weight loss, whatever lung issues she may have. This has been her life, acutely now since September 28th, and at a more chronic level for almost 18 months. It takes a strong spirit to stay centered, keep a positive attitude. And she’s done that. Most of the time.

On Thursday we see Dr. Gupta, the pulmonologist. He will have the results of the pulmonary function test she took last Thursday and his reading of the CT scan from her pneumothorax hospitalization. Two key and very important learnings for us will happen in that visit.

lungFirst, is Kate strong enough to withstand the surgery that would place the j-tube? My lay opinion is that she is, based largely on how she handled the hemicolectomy (removal of part of her right bowel) under the stress of all that had come prior to that with the bleed. Still, I do see Edwin Smith’s point that killing her to cure her is not the best course of action, so knowing her lung capacity is crucial. Gupta will tell us.

Second, and just as important for her future, is his reading of the CT scan. Does she have an interstitial lung disease? The pulmonologist at Swedish who ordered the CT thought there might be indications of it. I’m not sure what this means long term, but it could mean that there is a treatment for her breathing issues. Her rheumatologist said, “If there’s interstitial lung disease, I can treat that.”

So, no pressure.

The j-tube will improve the whole feeding process since it requires none of the sterile procedures of the tpn and uses gravity to move the nutrition.

Friend Tom Crane says his pneumonia has begun to ratchet down. Hallelujah.

 

When Will It Ever End?

Written By: Charles - Mar• 11•19

Imbolc                                                                            Recovery Moon

Going to On the Move Fitness to pick up a new workout on Tuesday. Then, back on Thursday to make sure I have the exercises down. This will be a gradual ramp up back to where I was before the month that shall not be named. Buddy Tom Crane, in a surprising show of solidarity, chose to have pneumonia over his birthday, too. Which is today. Not necessary, Tom.

instant potI’ve been using the Instant Pot. Made a wonderful chuck roast, shredded easily, tasted great. On Saturday I made rice. Turns out three cups of dry rice makes a lot of cooked rice. It cooked for 1 minute. Sort of. There’s a learning curve for guys like me. First, the instant pot, a pressure cooker with bells and a literal whistle, has to heat up to the temperature required to produce the right pressure. That can take a while, maybe 5-10 minutes. Then, it cooks for 1 minute in the instance of rice. Fast, right? Well, yes. But, with foods like rice that have liquid and plump up after cooking, you do what the instant pot cook books call natural release. In essence that means you wait until the pressure cooker depressurizes on its own. 10 minutes. So, to cook 1 minute takes around 20 minutes in real time. Has some resonance with DST.

Before I start posting here I look at my favorite comic, Questionable Content. You have to go back several months to get the drift. Then, I often move on to Ancientrails and begin to write. But, just as often, I think, “I wonder what the idiot did now?” That means turning to the NYT. He almost never disappoints. Like cutting social programs, plumping up the military, and cutting 8.6 billion dollars out of the total budget to build this shibboleth. Team Trump is one heroic gutted, long red tied, obsessive ideologue trying to do something he doesn’t understand, using tools he doesn’t understand. When will it ever end, as the 1972 song by the Awakening asked.

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And Big Foot’s gone even further into the mountains.

There was a time, not that long ago in historical terms, when being in the Rockies, living on a mountain peak as Kate and I do, would have been an effective shield against the current chaos and cruelty that passes for the U.S. Executive Branch. Not today. The elk, the mule deer, the bears, the mountain lions, moose, bobcats, fox, fishers, and martins still live here, but even these wild inhabitants cower before the Trump. He appoints people like Ray Zinke to watch over the great public lands of the West. He dismantles clean air regulations. He loosens the rules governing hard rock mining. He opens those same public lands to oil drilling, uranium mining, and industrial forestry. When. Will. It. Ever. End.

Even the mythical, or semi-mythical creatures of the Rockies are under siege, too.

 

Demotivation

Written By: Charles - Mar• 10•19

Imbolc                                                                          Recovery Moon

daylight saving timeYou may not feel like I do. That’s ok. But, I hate daylight saving time. To have the clocks change on our 29th anniversary is a cruel poke in the eye. Well, that may be extreme, but it certainly irritates me. So it’s 7:30 am when it used to be 6:30 am. I’m sensing from different articles I’ve read that I’m not alone. Maybe, just maybe, somebody will have pity on us dstphobes and allow one time to rule us all. Please.

The sun is up, no grass has riz. I know where the flowers is. Comfortably beneath the snow. We’re 10 days away from the vernal equinox and there are patches of bare ground in the back, which faces north and tends to remain snow covered. However. We got back to (Minnesota, oops. No) Colorado in mid-April 2016 after Joe and SeoAh’s wedding. The day before we plucked the Rav4 out of long term parking Conifer received 4 feet, that’s right, 48 inches, of snow. This is the time of heavy wet snowstorms. They can take out power lines, precipitate heart attacks, and give us the moisture our aquifers and forests and rivers need. Go, snow.

eatingKate’s now on a 20 hour feeding cycle with her tpn. That means 4 hours free of carrying around the satchel that contains the pump and the now much heavier nutrition bag. With oxygen tubing a constant the addition of the tpn has made moving around a balletic exercise. And, it gets old. Both do things she needs and needs badly, even so. So the 4 hours are wonderful. If we go into the next phase of the tpn, not assured because of medicare, she’ll shift to a 12 hour on, 12 hour off cycle. This rhythm, first 24 hours, then 20, then 12 is to prevent refeeding syndrome.*

Talking with Kate yesterday about demotivation. The stress of her illnesses, hospitalizations, and very slow recovery, coupled with the domestic chores like dog care, cooking, picking up, laundry takes up most of my juice. Though I’m back from pneumonia I’m still fatigued by the afternoon. Don’t feel like doing anything creative. Not yet anyhow.

camelsBrother Mark reports on his walks around Arar in northern Saudia Arabia. He’s been living there since last September, teaching English as a second language. He observed this: “I took a walk, behind the bus station, past the police station, and up into a desert area next to a development. I met a camel herd. One young male camel was going in circles, foaming at the mouth. This means he is in a period of sexual excitement. He was literally going around in circles, freaking out, poor lad. He may have been tethered to a post.” Wrote him back and said this comment reminded me of high school.

More later. Like always.

 

 

“Refeeding syndrome is a syndrome consisting of metabolic disturbances that occur as a result of reinstitution of nutrition to patients who are starved, severely malnourished or metabolically stressed due to severe illness. When too much food and/or liquid nutrition supplement is consumed during the initial four to seven days of refeeding, this triggers synthesis of glycogen, fat and protein in cells, to the detriment of serum (blood) concentrations of potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.[1][2] Cardiac, pulmonary and neurological symptoms can be signs of refeeding syndrome. The low serum minerals, if severe enough, can be fatal. wiki, op cit

 

29 years ago

Written By: Charles - Mar• 09•19

Imbolc                                                                         Recovery Moon

kate and me in time29 years ago tomorrow Kate and I stepped on a glass* in Federal Court Chambers, the Landmark Building, Rice Park, St. Paul. The next day, just to show how long ago 29 years is, we flew Pan Am to Rome. We wrote thank you notes on the plane and mailed them from the Vatican Post Office. Probably wouldn’t make that decision today, but then it seemed sorta cool. Cousin Diane Keaton was my best person.

The honeymoon followed spring north in Europe proceeding from Rome to Venice, Vienna, Paris, London, Inverness, Edinburgh, and London again. We also made it to Florence, Salzburg, and Bath. Along the way we discovered what it meant to be together.

Pompeii was a revelation about humanity in the face of catastrophe. The Uffizi a revelation about the human creative spirit. Venice showed the adaptive capacity of our species. Vienna. We arrived at 10 pm, hungry after a foodless train ride that passed through the Dolomites from Venice. Wiener schnitzel in a small restaurant with red table cloths. Paulaner non-alcoholic beer. Later Andean musicians played the pan pipes under our balcony at the Hotel Astoria on the ringstrasse. Paris. Of course the Louvre. The Rodin museum. Life as a graceful and elegant soiree. Crossing the English Channel by ferry. Before the Chunnel. London. The Basil Street Hotel had a women’s club like the better known men’s clubs for which England is famous. From there to Inverness where we walked hand in hand along the Ness river at night, fog rolling off it, spilling over the sidewalk. We ate breakfast at the Station Hotel in a large ballroom with a carpeted corner they used for dining. Then, Edinburgh where we ordered room service and stayed in bed watching movies on tv. Back to London. At the Reject China shop where we bought our Portemerion dinner ware the clerk suggested I might like to go to a pub while Kate shopped. I visited antique stores instead. Then, home.

Astoria SignThe last 29 years have seen other adventures. Cruising the Mediterranean. Twice the Panama Canal. Once almost all the way around Latin America. Hawai’i several times. Korea for the wedding. Singapore. New York, of course. New Orleans. Chicago. Other places, too.

Those are frosting on the life we created 29 years ago. The life itself, that’s the cake. We’ve moved three times. Once into the house on Edgcumbe Boulevard in St. Paul. The one with the pool. Where we lived with our first Irish Wolfhounds, Celt and Sorsha. Where Joseph played baseball with the Hasidic kids next door. After that, Andover. 20 years of exurban life. Flower gardens. Vegetable gardens. Bees. An orchard. A firepit. The lives and deaths of many dogs. Joe finishing high school. Jon off to Colorado to teach. Then Joe off to Breckenridge to work and ski for three years before he joined the Air Force. And now, Shadow Mountain. Seeing the grandkids often, the many insults life has thrown us, even so, just life. Joe married. SeoAh in our lives. Congregation Beth Evergreen. A Colorado finish to a life begun at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, an easy stroll to the Landmark Center. Will we stay here on Shadow Mountain? Don’t know. TBD.

20190127_163835I love the arc of our life together, the suffering and the joy. No life has only one or the other. The key factor of our love has been this: support each other in living our best life. We’ve mostly succeeded. Kids, grandkids, dogs, gardening together, harvesting honey together, traveling together. Kate sewing, me writing. The MIA. Music, jazz and classical. Seeing the world. Living in the mountains. Life now in its third phase.

I love her still, always. I know her better, she knows me better, and yet we’re together. That’s proof of the broken glass moment. Till death do us part. And beyond even that.

 

 

*”The fragility of glass suggests the frailty of human relationships. Since even the strongest love is subject to disintegration, the glass is broken as a kind of incantation: “As this glass shatters, so may our marriage never break.” For more interpretations: myjewishlearning.

Nightmare Number Three

Written By: Charles - Mar• 09•19

Imbolc                                                                              Recovery Moon

Friend Tom Crane found this very, very strange Steven Vincent Benet poem, Nightmare Number Three. You can find the whole poem here.

Made me think of the Charlie Chaplin movie, Modern Times.

Modern Times“We had expected everything but revolt
And I kind of wonder myself when they started thinking–
But there’s no dice in that now.
I’ve heard fellow say
They must have planned it for years and maybe they did.
Looking back, you can find little incidents here and there,
Like the concrete-mixer in Jersey eating the wop
Or the roto press that printed “Fiddle-dee-dee!”
In a three-color process all over Senator Sloop,
Just as he was making a speech.  The thing about that
Was, how could it walk upstairs?  But it was upstairs,
Clicking and mumbling in the Senate Chamber.
They had to knock out the wall to take it away
And the wrecking-crew said it grinned.
It was only the best
Machines, of course, the superhuman machines,
The ones we’d built to be better than flesh and bone,
But the cars were in it, of course . . .”

The Shadow of an Autocrat

Written By: Charles - Mar• 09•19

Imbolc                                                                          Recovery Moon

Been meaning to post this for a while. I have a stack of books (surprise) next to my reading chair. When I turn on the lights in the loft, this is the shadow they project on the wall under the south facing windows.

Is it his true shadow? Manifest on Shadow Mountain. If I move the books, will his shadow leave him? Anyhow. Weird, I thought.

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This, That

Written By: Charles - Mar• 08•19

Imbolc                                                                    Recovery Moon

Dave and Deb

Dave and Deb

My recovery is going well. Scheduled two sessions with my personal trainers for next week. Gotta get back to working out. Important for both Kate and me. Still need to improve my stamina and these workouts will do that.

Kate’s pleased. She’s gained a bit of weight, up to 81.6 and these new nutrition bags have about a third more calories in them. Hopefully they’ll bump her up some more. So far medicare has relented and agreed to pay. We’ve got seven more days of the tpn for sure. Hope they agree to keep it up until she can have her j-tube placement.

When we see Gupta next Thursday, he will review the pulmonary function test she had yesterday and the ct scan from her pneumothorax incident a couple of weeks ago. He’ll make a determination then about her surgery risks.

Minnesota has had and is having a brutal winter from both a cold and snow perspective. I feel ya, guys.

grocery deliveryThird grocery delivery today. Won’t keep this up forever, but for right now, with my recovery still young and home chores, medical visits, it’s an errand I don’t need. Glad the option exists.

Asked Gupta about moving. He said it’s not urgent and not necessary if using oxygen is ok with Kate, and me. I suspected that was the case. He did say, too, that we’d feel better if we moved down the hill and even better if we moved to sea level. So, a judgment call. Kate’s to make. I’m all right here though by definition I would benefit, too.

Alan and Tara

Alan and Tara

We’ve been absent for a little over a month from CBE. Feels weird. Lots of social support there, e-mails, phone calls. But seeing folks in person, being part of the regular ebb and flow is important. Missing it. Next week is the chicken soup cookoff. I’ve entered. Kate loves my chicken soup. The recipe is straight off a Golden Plump chicken. Golden Plump was formerly owned by the Helgeson’s, including my friend Stefan. Lost the recipe a long time ago, but I’ve got it down now. I like the frisson of entering my Minnesota chicken soup in a contest with the folks who talk about CNS as the Jewish penicillin. Gonna have Kate make the matzo balls.

Today is a travel day here. R&R. Get the groceries put away. Cook something. Read. Relax.

Breathe

Written By: Charles - Mar• 07•19

Imbolc                                                                              Recovery Moon

Black Mtn. Drive, toward Evergreen

Black Mtn. Drive, toward Evergreen

Black Mountain has the early sun, golden, on last night’s wet snow. Stolid. Present. Vishnu to the winds’ Shiva.

While making the instant pot chuck roast on Monday, I took all the spices and herbs out of the cabinet, spread them out on the counter. Gonna put’em back in an order that makes sense to me. But. We’ve been so busy that they’re still there. This afternoon or tomorrow for sure. Most used are going to go in the door rack, then I’m thinking alphabetical for the first two shelves, storage on the top. An undone chore.

Back to the pulmonologist today for a full pulmonary function test for Kate. That plus the ct from her pneumothorax will determine whether she’s fit to have the j-tube placed. I liked Gupta, the pulmonologist. Clear, straight, no bullshit.

We got another shipment of styrofoam containers with supplies for Kate’s tpn. More nutrition bags, bigger this time. She’s going to 20 hours, down from 24, of feeding. Not sure why the bags are bigger for less time, but I’m sure there’s a good reason. These folks seem to know their business.

These last few days have felt hectic, like we’re moving faster than our energy level allows. That’s ok for a bit, but at some point we need what Kate and I call a travel day. On our honeymoon we decided to give ourselves a quiet day after travel to each new city. Catch up from the hassle and fatigue of travel. Stayed in our vocabulary.

I’m feeling good. Pretty much back to normal.