Thursday, April 29, 2021

April Update - Birthday, Taxes, Doctor, Shots

 

Mom celebrated her 91st birthday this past weekend.  What she wanted the most, other than seeing her most favorite youngest son and his lovely wife...which unfortunately was not in the cards this year, was to have her Assisted Living Facility to lift restrictions due to COVID.  Well, she did get that wish as she can now have visitors, now have the ability to leave and return without quarantine, visit with others living in the facility other than passing them in the halls, and have "outings" where those who want can load up on a small bus and go visit a park, a mall, Walmart, etc. 

My older brother Jim and wife Carol drove out from San Antonio a few weeks ago, parked their small travel trailer in Arny & Sandy's backyard, and stayed at Sister Patti's house.  They visited mom many times, took her down to Elk Grove to visit her Sister Mary, and then visit Aunt Florence (Dad's brother's wife) ... Mom just ate it all up.  Wish we could have been there too Mom...perhaps for number 92!

Of course, April is TAX MAN time.  I did the taxes at the end of March, mailed them out in early April.  We pay quarterly taxes, and this time we overpaid by some $40. Now that I am 65, we will get another small adjustment on our taxes, so our quarterly went down just a bit.

Of course, the first quarter payment is due April 15th...and the first check was some $40 less than the rest will be since we overpaid last year.  Now I could have waited until May 15th this year...but the quarterly tax was still due April 15th, so I just did it all and sent them in.  In 1973 Dad taught me how to do my taxes (my first job was in 1972), and I have done them ever since until I married Marcia ten years ago.  There were some complicated tax issues that required a write off, so we used her CPA for the first six or seven years, and then I started doing them again.  With standard tax write-off, it really is just multiplication, and the new shorter form makes it even that much easier.

Now that I am on Medicare, we don't have to travel to Arkansas for my Doctor's Appointments.  I decided that Marcia's doctor would be a good fit for me, and during her last visit I asked her doctor if she ever takes care of spouses.  Her response was, "Yep, that's why it is called a 'family doctor'.  My visit went real well, although I have a nasty case of White Coat Hypertension...which is when your blood pressure shoots through the roof when at a medical facility.  

I have a Color Doctor wrist blood pressure monitor.  I take it a few times each week.  Last week all my scores were in the Green or Yellow.  The day before my exam they were Yellow and Red.  Of course, Red is bad.  At the Doctor's Office it was high...would have been in the Red on my monitor.  After I got home from the appointment and sat down, I took it within the hour...and it was in the Yellow, almost Green.  Go figure.  Just took it right now and it was 125 over 70...yellow but nearly in the green.

Since it was my first visit with her, she could not order blood tests until after my appointment.  Knowing that blood work would be needed, I did not eat that morning, and during my visit she ordered the test, and after seeing her I walked next door (same building...literally next door to her office) and had my blood drawn.

Do you see the bruise? (Yes, that is Indy in the upper background being a little nosy puppy.)  Well, there is a small amount of bruising today, but not much at all.  Test results came back, and well...I am alive.  The test is broken down into four categories, and they tested the following:

Hematology
WBC, RBC, HGB, HCT, MCV, MCH, MCHC, RDW, PLT, MPV, Segs, Lymphs, Mono, Eos, Baso, Neutrophil Abs, Lymph Abs, Monocyte Abs, Eosinophil Abs

General Chem
Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Carbon Dioxide, Glucose, BUN, Creatinine, BUN/Creat, Calcium, Total Protein, Albumin, Globulin, Alb/Glob, Total Bili, Alk Phos, ALT, AST, Anion Gap, eGFR

Lipids
Triglyceride, Cholesterol, HDL, LDL Calc, Risk Ratio, Lipid Interp

Special Chem
PSA YR, TSH 3rd Gen, Vitamin D 25 OH

ALL were within range except for...MCH, which was at 32.6 pg (High) and the range is suppose to be 26.0 pg - 32.0 pg.  This essentially is saying that I don't have enough vitamin B12 or folic acid...so I will add B12 to my morning assortment of vitamins and pills.  Of course, I do have high blood pressure, and she kept me on the same medications that I have been on.  FYI, my Cholesterol is 152, my PSA is .6 and for the first time my Vitamin D is at 32, just over the low in the low to high range...so I will continue to that a Vitamin D3 pill every day, and my glucose is within range, but the high end of the range.

Finally, today I got my first Pfizer COVID Vaccine shot.  And, after much contemplation and research, Marcia has decided to get the Vaccine too, and her first shot will be tomorrow.  We use Walgreens, and when I registered yesterday, I had eight or nine different time slots to choose from.  Today when I signed her up, all of the time slots were open.  They schedule three or four people for each time slot. Open time slots (those not taken when the day starts) are given to the younger crowd via an email to the next people on the waiting list, so nothing goes to waste.  I was out and in within 45 minutes, and that was with a 10-15 minute 'hang around' time period after the shot to be sure all is well before you leave.  And yes, out and in is what I said...it means "Out the door of the condo, drive there, register, get shot, hang around, drive back, into the condo again".  Walgreens throughout the country is administering around 1 million shots per week.  I figured that if I waited out the rush to get the shot, it would be easy...and it was.

Florida has averaged just over 50 deaths per day for the month of April...compared to 155 deaths per day for January and February.  Florida's first COVID death was early March of last year.  Four hundred days later, we have lost nearly 35,100 to COVID.  That is 88 people a day for 400 days. The bottom line is, the vaccine is working.  Although masks are still required in some counties, most do not require them ALTHOUGH, individual establishments can require them within their place of business.  I do most of our shopping at Winn-Dixie, which is just down the street.  It requires masks, but around 10% of the people don't have a mask on...they just treat them like anyone who has a mask is treated.  At Sam's Club, you must wear one, and they will give you one if you don't have one, but they will give exceptions for health reasons....99% of the people in Sam's have masks on, but about 10% don't wear them over their nose or let it fall to their chin.  I have never seen a customer say anything to another customer about their masks.  I have seen them say something to someone who cuts into a line because of the gap that the 6 feet limit makes...that is just rude...everyone knows about the 6 foot rule by now.  At least he didn't hit me.  😀


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

March Update - Finally Got My Camera Out

 

When I got my camera out, I found just a few pictures of our trip home still on the camera SD Card.  Here is Indy in the Motorhome looking at herself in the mirror.  This is the same type of behavior she still shows with the mirrors in the condo...but she does not interact with her reflective image nearly as much now as she did at first.  When I toss her ball or chew stick for her to fetch, she will watch the mirror to see if dad really threw it or not...she is a smart little dog for sure.  A few times I have seen her just looking at herself in the mirror...

Three weeks ago I grabbed my camera, got Indy, and we went over to the dog park.  Problem, no dogs there.  Waited about ten minutes and decided to tour the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, which are only a half mile away from the dog park.  Indy was fascinated with all the activity there (which is about 60% of what a normal Tuesday Winter Day is on the Docks in pre-Covid terms). 


As you can see, it was a nice, very nice, pre-Spring day at the docks.

Just off the main drag of the Sponge Docks is a side street where 5 Branches Brewery is located...this is where Marcia's son John works.  This brand new Brewery opened just as COVID was hitting last year.  However, they did takeout, added some food so they could sell beer-to-go, and made it through the worst of it all.  They won a silver medal at the 34th Annual Great American Beer Festival, and they also took home awards for “Very Small Brewing Company of the Year” and the “Very Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year.”  

"IF" you ever make it to Tarpon Springs, park your car at the Dog Park on Live Oak Street, just east of North Pinellas Ave (also known as Alt 19), walk to the Sponge Docks, and if you wish, you can catch one of these electric trolley cars which, for $5, you can ride all day long.  From Tarpon Springs it will take you through Palm Harbor, Dunedin, to Clearwater, including Clearwater Beach.

Just be sure to spend some time at the Tarpon Sponge Docks, and be sure to buy a REAL Gulf Natural Sponge...it will be the last sponge you will ever need in your lifetime as long as you rinse it out after each use...they really do last forever.


Back to the Dog Park and low and behold, still no dogs.  The white arrow is the bench that I normally sit on while Indy (Skruffy and Bubba before) would play.

Finally Nilla arrived and her and Indy played and played and played.  I got so busy talking with Nilla's mom and dad that I did not get very many pictures.  Indy plays with other dogs so well, I am happy for that.


I did get a few pictures of her looking at a dog in the large dog park, and he inspecting various parts of the dog park.  Unlike Skruffy, Indy never barks at the other dogs...for that we are very happy with that.  Indy and I returned to the Dog Park a few times since then, and this past Sunday we hit the jack pot with nine dogs there...boy, did she have fun...but I did not take my camera to capture it.

Today I took Indy over to our local Library, which we can nearly see from our backyard.  Here is the large pond that is between the Library and the street.  Indy, on leash, can wander around and enjoy the smells...enjoy the birds (although today they were lacking), and just get away from the boring backyard smells that she in inundated with daily.





Today there were only two birds...normally we see six to eight, and there have been a few times that there have been twenty or more.




Unfortunately there are a number of indigent and homeless people in the area.  I have seen six or seven people on the far side of the pond at one time, and noticed that many of them are the same people I see out along Highway 19 asking for food and money to survive on.  It is too bad that poverty exists, but it is also too bad that able bodied people are not working, while businesses along US-19 have "help wanted" signs in their windows.  (The bottom picture is the same guy laying on the grass walking with a friend headed for home). In another few months many of these people will not be out due to the Oppressive Heat and Humidity of Summer.  


Got this picture from sister Patti a few weeks ago.  They opened mom's assisted living facility up to where residents can go out, but visitors can not come in.  A week ago or so they lifted the visitor restrictions, so now, with appointment, up to two people at a time can visit as long as the visit is in her room.  So they can go out...but they can't go to a restaurant because those are still shut down...but she can go over to Sandy's for Liver and Onions, which I think is where Patti was taking her since Parker is on mom's lap.  Slowly but surely things are headed back to normal...and the "new normal" will be an ancient nightmare.



Sunday, February 28, 2021

Don't She Look Cute?

 

Thought I would do a short post about Indy's recovery.  About 2 hours after I published the last blog, her 'Recovery Suit' came, and I put it on her.  It only took a few minutes and she was already feeling better.  Her whole attitude changed.


She has been sleeping a lot, but also getting more and more active each few hours when she wakes up.  


Late last night she started watching TV again, and today her TV watching was nearly back to normal when she had her eyes open.  She is also having fun with her chew sticks, prancing around the place, stopping, chewing, prancing again.  We normally toss them and she brings them back to us, but we are trying to keep her running and jumping to a minimum.  This coming Thursday I take her back to the Vet for a quick follow-up exam and we will learn when we can take her out of her suit.

Note: on her rear the blue flaps that are on the red pad are Velcro, and you peel it back, exposing her rear area for her potty breaks.  

Patti sent this photo of mom holding Patti's dog Parker.  I am not sure where they were going, but I do know that on Saturday night Arny, Sandy, Patti and Mom went to Felipes Mexican Restaurant, one of Sandy and Arny's favorite local restaurants.  It was the first time they had been 'in' the restaurant for a few years due to Arny's mom and of course, COVID...they have had some takeout a few times though.  It is nice that mom can 'escape' the facility now to enjoy a meal out...wish we were there to take her.

PS: "Don't she look cute?"  Referring to mom of course, but you all thought I meant Indy...shame on you.



Friday, February 26, 2021

10th Anniversary, and what did we do???? Got Indy Spayed, of course!

 

Here we were, February 25, 2011.  We had ONLY met in person earlier in the month, but we both knew we wanted to be together.  It was a cold, windy day in Pine Bluff, and the only person there was a preacher, fellow Rotarian, Library Board Member, and Friend, Robert Thompson; who married us and took this picture.  Yes, in Arkansas, you don't need witnesses.

How did we meet???  Online, of course.  Dating Site???   Nope.  It was a gaming site, we both were playing a 'war game'...we were on the 'same team'.  The team would have Skype meetings, which at the time meant you can talk but not see due to the number of people in the Skype, but you could private message during the meeting, which is what we did from time to time.  One night everyone left the Skype room, so we started our own Skype room and actually saw each other.  One thing lead to another and we decided to get married...but thought we should at least meet each other in person first.  So Marcia came out to see me, and two weeks or so later she flew out again and we got married.  Gave my one year notice to the Library Board, and our RV part-time adventure began at the end of March 2012...as did this blog.

Yes, yesterday Indy was finally spayed.  Back in July the Vet in Citrus Heights would not do it because she was in heat...although she never did bleed.  In November, around Thanksgiving, she really went into heat.  I called our local Vet's office at the end of January, and the first appointment we could get was for February 8.  After a $47 new dog exam, we scheduled the spaying for February 25th, again, the earliest date they had available.  Unlike most businesses here in Florida, they won't let you in the door...you call when you get there, they come out and get her, they come out to talk to you and you sign papers, they do the exam, they come out and get your credit card, the Vet comes out and talks to you, they bring back your credit card and your dog and you drive away.  So personal, but as 'they' say, safe.

I dropped her off at the Vet at 8:00 am yesterday...but it was more like 8:15 when they came out to get her.  Of course, I had a few things to sign before I could leave.  WOW, that was a hard day...we both felt like something was missing.  When I picked up Indy at 4:30 she was a mess.  She knew me, was happy, but her face was sopping wet, she had this large, awkward, heavy plastic cone around her neck, she looked very tired and beat-up, and she SCREAMED when I picked her up to bring her inside the condo (my bad--need to pick her up at neck and butt for a few days).  We immediately took the cone off her, gave her a body wrap so she won't lick the incision (reason for cone in the first place), and put her on her bed next to me.  For the next hour she rotated, got down, moved from place to place trying to find anywhere where she could lay down comfortably.  Finally, she slept.  About 6:30 she wanted outside, did her business (both kinds) and came in and drank a lot of water.  She would not eat anything, and she was coming out of the daze.  Overall, she had a good nights sleep, and so did we.  We did wrap an additional Ace Bandage around her to be sure that the body wrap would stay in place, and so far this has worked well.  This morning she did eat, but only part of a hot dog.  She has what amounts to one hot dog per week normally as a 'treat'.  She would not eat any pork, her daily food is pork and dry food, so I gave her a little more hot dog and her pain pill...which knocked her out for most of the day.  We 'were' planning to have dinner at Mama Maria's with Marcia's brother Mike and wife Sandy for our anniversary, but Sandy got ill.  Looking back, that was all for the better because Indy, who would have stayed in the car while we ate, did much better being at home.  We did have Mama Maria's for dinner...to go though, and it was good, with lots of leftovers for tonight too!

In the next couple of hours we will get a delivery from Amazon which includes one of these 'Recovery Suit for Dogs/Cats After Surgery' to help keep her from licking the incision.  The back part comes off (Velcro) for potty breaks, and it also adds a little cushion when she lays down.  ANYTHING is better than the cone of shame.  Here it is 4:30, and it still says "Out for delivery, Now estimated 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM" from Amazon.


Wednesday, knowing she would not be able to go to the Dog Park for awhile, I took Indy there.  We make it over there at least once per week, normally on a Saturday or Sunday.  Last Saturday there were nine dogs in the small dog park area, and she had a ball...she was tied with another dog in speed and agility, and those two played and played and others joined in from time to time.  But on Wednesday, she was all alone until this dog arrived.  

'He' is 8 months old, weighs 10 pounds like Indy, and they both were equally fast and agile.  'He' had been neutered, so nothing to worry about (not that she was in heat anyways.)  Just as I was getting ready to leave, another two dogs arrived, so I took her leash off and let her play another 10 minutes or so.  As we were getting into the car, two more small dogs arrived, and as we were pulling out another one pulled up.  Well, she had her 40 minutes worth, so we continued on our way.


Marcia has now finished all her Doctor's appointments, and now it is my turn in late April.  I had been thinking about getting a Recumbent Exercise Bike for some time now, but since we are not home but three months or so, I have always used that as my 'not yet' excuse.  But last year, due to Ryan's wedding which was delayed by COVID (they married in a private service), we were here for six months, and this year, due to Ryan's hopeful Wedding Reenactment Celebration, we are here for at least six months.  So I talked to Marcia, and she agreed and encouraged me to get one, and it arrived last week.  What I like about it is that you sit in a chair, and not a bike seat.  I have used it each day, two to three times per day.  I feel my legs getting stronger, and don't over do it ... so far, my knees have held up fine to it.  A few times Indy wanted to help, so she jumped right up on my lap as I was peddling away.

So that has been our 'month', and no, I have not got the camera out just yet.  Still working on that one...

 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Passing of an ERA...Arny's Mother, Euleda, Dies at Age 98 Years Old

 

Euleda Funk Auernig - 1922-2020

I first met Euleda, Arny's (my brother-in-law) mother, back in the 1980's as a "Friend of Mom's".  Mom and Dad lived in a 55+ community, and Euleda lived in the same type of community which essentially was right next door.  My children were very young, and we were actually living in Utah while I attended college. On a visit to Sacramento, Euleda just happened to be at mom and dad's, or mom asked us to walk over to her place, when we first met.  First impression, "What a nice lady..."  Euleda just had this "Niceness" about her.  Nice smile, so friendly, and she told us how adorable my children were. 

Marcia and I started our travels in 2012, and for these last eight years I really got to know Euleda.  I did not take many pictures of her the first couple of years, especially when she was still in her right mind and was getting use to people seeing her without her wig on.  The first picture I could find of Euleda is on Mother's Day, 2015.  She would sit in the chair for 2 time periods each day, from 9 to 1, and 4 to 7.  A wheelchair would be used to move her from her bed to bathroom to her chair, to the bathroom and back to bed, twice each day.  When she weighed around 120 lbs, it would normally take two people.  When we were there, I would help Arny with moving her, getting her on and off the toilet, just about anything like that they needed.  Most weekdays they had a aide who helped...but they would not always be able to come for both morning and early afternoon shifts.  Sandy was there to help with the late afternoon and evening times, and for the weekends.  There was also periods of time that she was in Utah where her youngest son Mel and his wife and young children live...up until the final couple of years when travel just could not take place.

Above is one of the last pictures I had of her sitting up, taken in 2018.  Sister Patti (sitting next to our mom) and I would give Sandy and Arny a break a few times each year, allowing them to go to Reno for a weekend, or just out to dinner on a Friday or Saturday night.

By 2019 Euleda was confined to a bed, so Sandy and Arny found a hospital bed which was put into their family room.  For nearly two years she stayed in the bed 24 hours a day.  It was easier on those who were taking care of her because it did not require as much lifting...but we can only think that it was hell on Euleda.  By the time we saw here last year, she rarely gave any indication that she knew who we were.  It was hard to watch her in this steep decline...so when her time on earth ended, and after many prayers by those that loved her so much for the Lord to come and get her, she passed away peacefully Tuesday, December 29, 2020.  She was 98 years old.

Euleda was born December 10, 1922 as Euleda Funk.  She married very young to who would become Arny's biological dad by the name of Becker...a marriage which did not last very long (thank goodness for her and Arny's sake.)  in 1945 she graduated from a Beauty College in Salem Oregon, and went to work at a Salon in Pocatello.  The local newspaper in Aberdeen, where she grew up, had an article about it which they also ran in their "Looking Back" section on June 10, 2015.

Above is another "Looking Back" article which announced her marriage to her longtime husband, and a great father for Arny and biological father to Arny's brother Mel.  This article ran July 22, 1976 as a "30 years ago" and again on July 27, 2016 as a "70 years ago".  They were married on July 4, 1946.  For the most part Arny stayed in Aberdeen and was raised by his Euldea's parents, but he had a very close affection to his new father, and frankly had little to do with his biological father.

 


Little local newspapers had a habit of publishing any type of news they could get their hands on.  The above three articles each ran in 1955.  There were other articles like these three in the newspaper, but the above three provide a glimpse into Euleda's life back in 1955.

A very large and important part of Euleda's life was working for ZCMI, Zion's Co-operative Mercantile Institution.  ZCMI is a department store founded by Brigham Young in Salt Lake City back in 1868.  Euleda (Funk) was raised in the Mennonite Church.  In Aberdeen back then there were two churches, the Mennonites and the Mormons.  Working for ZCMI they saw something special in the young Mennonite Lady, and by 1967 she was the "Silver Buyer" for the entire store, along with being the buyer and most knowledgeable person as it came to Crystal items.  For the Mormon Church to have a non-Mormon is such an important position shows you what moral character Euleda had.  She would go on trips to Europe, to the Far East, anywhere she needed to go to find and procure Silver and Crystal for ZCMI.    

But her family was always her number one love.  In 1986 the Aberdeen newspaper ran an article on the birth of her great-granddaughter Brittany, who still lives in the Sacramento area.  Euleda had two boys, Arny had five boys, Mel did not have any children until late in life (he has a girl and boy both under 10 years old now), so in 1986 it was a big deal when the Great-Great-Granddaughter of Herman Funk, Great-Granddaughter of Euleda, Granddaughter of Arny was born to Arny's oldest son Rob and wife Coleen.  Fortunately for the Arny's family, his children and most of his grandchildren and even great-grandchildren were able to see Euleda in November and/or December.  During these COVID times, it just was not practical for Mel's young family to come out from Utah.  It is doubtful that Euleda even knew they were there.  But in previous years, she would light up like a light bulb being turned on whenever her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren came, and she knew her oldest great-great grandchild, and perhaps her second one too.


Here is 5 generations!  Behind Euleda is her Son Arny, Arny's son Rob, Rob's daughter Kelsey, Kelsey's daughter Brielle.  The other two lady's are Rob's mother and Rob's grandmother.  This was taken less than 2 years ago, and Euleda even had a smile on her face!

Sometimes when I had the opportunity to watch Euleda (when Arny and Sandy were away), I would talk to her about her life, places she went, people she met.  Instead of asking, "What countries have you been to?", I would ask her, "Have you ever been to France?"  Many times her face would light up, like when I asked her about Paris, London, Tokyo, places like that.  Occasionally she would say, "I don't know if I have ever been there...", like when I asked her about if she had been to Yellowstone.  When I pointed out that Aberdeen is in Yellowstone's backyard, she would smile and say, "You know, I think I have been there...yes, I know I have."

It is never fun to get old.  I just recently got on medicare...and I can feel it whenever a cold front blows through (like it did last night).  Marcia always tells me, "Don't get old David...its hell," at which point I reminder her that I am old...just not as old as her...and then I duck in case she throws something at me!  All of us who saw Euleda deteriorate these past 5-10 years all have the same feeling..."I don't want to live like that..."  She knew that I was in the bathroom holding her up as Arny or Sandy or Patti or a caregiver pulled her clothes down so that could set her on the toilet...it could not have been a pleasant experience for her.  But you know, she NEVER complained about it to me.  As I held her up my head would be along her head to where I could talk into her ear.  I would say, "You know, we have to stop meeting like this...", and she would laugh. By the time she was just laying in bed all day and night, and as she lost her ability to know what was going on around her, it was just sad. 

She was a real joy to get to know these past 8 years as we made our yearly visit out to California. Rest in Peace my dear lady ... and give Blacky (that is what she called Bubba) and Brownie (that is what she called Skruffy ... she had Macular Degeneration) a big hug for us...along with a great big hug to dad too.

Below are a few more pictures that my sister sent.  (She sent the opening blog picture which is in a frame, and the five generation picture also above.)





 Note:  Yes, it has been a month since she passed.  Don't know why I waited so long but I did.