Saturday, December 13, 2014


I've started to put my head up more than once here the past 6 weeks, but every time I can almost see over the edge of my burrow, it feels like someone takes a swing at it! Thus my reference to the arcade/midway game...

Healthwise, I'm doing OK; one small round of a bug and a different kind of round with a crown that decided it didn't like the molar it was on after 20+ years. It got pulled last week; stitch came out and all seems fine there as well.

The Christmas tree is up a bit earlier this year; though every year the promise is "smaller" the tree is once again larger-about 7' tall and about as wide, lol! It will be interesting to see Liam's face when he comes in the door and sees it...I know he already thinks we're crazy...and he's right!

We've gotten some wrapping done and the shopping is almost complete; perhaps it will really be a "soft landing" this year instead of the all night thrash it usually turns into! (Fingers crossed!!!)

I'm so saddened by much of the news of late; death in the streets everywhere, every day; men that think they have the right to rape, be it those in foreign lands or my childhood heroes...I've always been wary of idols because of the old proverb about their clay feet, but didn't really expect that one...

Then there's the old East Coast sausage grinder mincing bits of the EPA, campaign contribution laws and even part of the Apache Indian reservation (really, Mr. McCain?) to make an exotic premium variety for Wall Street. I might go figure out which den the groundhog is hiding in and wait to stick my head up again until he says there still is a sun, let alone that it might shine again someday!

Yes, I know it could be worse...I keep telling me that, yes I do! I guess that a calendar's whirl from 60 I'm just having trouble convincing me!

I am truly grateful though, to each who still find their way here! I hope the holidays find you surrounded by love and light and warmth and that the New Year brings each of you the smiles you've each brought me!

May the world be kind to each of you!


Monday, October 20, 2014

A bit "Spindletop"!

(meaning, forgive me if I gush a bit...)

We slipped away headed East after my last post. Originally we'd intended a fall trip to a cluster of museums around South Bend, IN. that were "on my list". But if we were traveling that far East we talked about extending a bit to see Niagara Falls (we'd driven by it for 36 years as we went to and fro on the Vermont trips). If we were going to get to western New York, there was another place on my bucket list in Eastern NY; getting there it would be a shame not to skip over the mountains into Vermont and see family again. The timing of all this hadn't even dawned on us until we started trying to book rooms (peak color season).

So South Bend went on hold, she changed the oil in my truck and we bought a portable oxygen concentrater of our own (because the O2 company lent me one last time cobbled from parts that didn't really provide enough to get me totally off of bottles, and this time said they didn't have one at all until late October and then only for a week).

We split the run to NY into two days because 8 is about all I can ride anymore and still have time to take my diuretics-the days of driving straight through to anywhere are long gone!

So our 3rd morning out we awoke a few minutes from Niagara Falls State Park. We went to the "Cave of the Winds", down an elevator shaft and along a shelf in the cliff face, then out onto a set of wooden walkways that lie alongside and partially under the Bridal Veil Falls.

(click on each photo to enlarge)

They gave us rain ponchos, sandals and plastic bags to put our shoes in. I was very glad we had bought a water resistant cover for my Nokia phone (the camera I'm using now, as I can't deal with the wheelchair, the oxygen and the Nikon). Though we didn't go up onto the "Hurricane Deck" we were as wet as we really wanted to get before we went back up to the main park!

We went back up (much work for Dottie, as my lungs don't allow me to do much to help propel my wheelchair) and ate some lunch as we dried out a bit, then she rolled me to the overlook of the American Falls. There is a new section of walkways they are completing that will get people much closer next year. I shot a few movies just to record the amazing sound of 150,000 gallons of water per second as it crashes onto the rocks below!

We made a loop around Goat Island on the Park Service trolley (equipped w/wheelchair lift, thankfully) then rode back past our intitial starting point to visit the overlook for the Horseshoe Falls, but it was much too long a "drop" to go down to actually see it (getting down would be easy enough, but there's no way Dottie could push me back up and it was much too far for me to walk, even with two bottles and cannula. I can do short distances that way, or flights of steps, but this would have been several footballs fields of long grade). My phone seems to do well until I zoom it past "medium" focal length, then it begins to distort, so I haven't included the photos of the Horseshoe Falls here. But if you ever get a chance to visit, it's sooooooo worth your time!

The next morning we were eastbound again for a little place south of Albany named Red Hook, NY-the home of the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. I'd first heard of it years ago when I saw Neil Armstrong visit there on a PBS series he did called "First Flights". Only a few minutes south of the route we usually take into Vermont, I'd never wanted to give up the family time to visit; it was always too precious and hard to get to spend it selfishly. 

Up early on Saturday we visited their museum hangars and the gift shop that lie across the road and up the hill from the main aerodrome. We got back to the grounds in time to get some lunch and get seats as they started flying at 2PM. The Saturday air show was pre-WWI to pre-WW2 aviation. One of the first things up, as it was a calm day was them flying an original Bleriot monoplane with original motor!

They only take her up about knee-high off the ground, as they don't want to take a chance on anything happening to her, but to listen to her as she taxis and see the ease with which she does take off makes her seem much younger than her 100 years!

Other pre-war aircraft flew, one taxied and gave control demonstrations of some of the early "less intuitive" systems that were in use before everyone settled on one. (Remember Beta vs. VHS? Try it when your life is in your hands!)

Another bit of loveliness for me is to be so cold to lovely old motors like the Curtiss OX-5 in the pusher above. Notice that the valves and rockers are all out in the breeze? Meaning their oil is as well? Motorcycles and early cars were the same old Harley or Indian will waterproof you nicely from the waist down! The early pilots wore goggles as much to keep the oil from their eyes as other debris...

Many cars, a few motorcycles, a WWI Renault tank...all running are among the other vehicles on display. The airshow on Saturday closed with a lovely Stearman biplane "wringing it out" for the crowd. Before and after the airshow there is a biplane offering rides over the countryside. I begged Dottie to go so she could come back and tell me about it, but she wouldn't because she said it wouldn't be fair. 

We actually had a sit down dinner that night instead of "road food", then a good night's sleep (after we bought wire ties to fix my wheelchair as it didn't like its off road experience). The next day, up early and back to visit the buildings and displays at the lower end by the airfield and talk to one of the owner/builder/pilots who was kind enough to take me "under the rope" and give me a personal tour of his DeHavilland biplane. (Built in a 2nd story Manhattan apartment!)

The airshow the 2nd day was the last one of the season for their WWI dogfights. But before they got to the Fokker Triplanes and Spads, they rolled out another icon, an original 1917 Curtiss "Jenny" complete with the original 1917 motor!

A lovely fall afternoon; the color growing more intense in the background each day; vintage aircraft on the ground and in the air-it was a truly wonderful afternoon!

I can't imagine being able to make wood do what they did for the fuselage in this lovely work of art in the frame above and again below here!

I left with hundreds of photos and dozens of movies, though I'm still learning my new system. I've also seen some "add on" lenses for it, though they require leaving the armor cover off it and I'm not sure I want to risk that!

Monday found us headed over the mountains to Vermont. The run through Bennington was very close to peak color, then things were greener again as we headed north towards Northfield where Dottie grew up. We visited one sister on the way up and headed out to try and catch sunset at a favorite spot before we went the rest of the way to Williston to our room.

As we roamed the state over the next week we were in and out of color as elevation and distance from rivers and streams changed. Every day there was some new brilliance and a lovely view, even when the weather wasn't what some would call "good".

Around the corner from one of the sister's houses was a haybale sculpture that was too cute not to catch a photo of. The "please don't touch" signs are chest high!

Finally the time came to turn West again. We left on a route we'd never taken. We crossed into New York on a bridge below where Lake Champlain narrows and cut across New York through the Adirondack State Park-one of the most beautiful drives I've ever had the pleasure of!

As we approached Hammonsport, NY (our next destination) we saw a lot of New York that was new to us. We crossed and then drove alonside several of the Fingerlakes and both rather fell in love with some territory we'd never thought we would.

Our last stop for the trip was at the Glenn Curtiss Museum at Hammondsport, NY. I truly didn't know that much about Curtiss, other than his patent wars and lawsuits with the Wright Brothers until the last few months. I've come to a new appreciation of him, not just for his feats in aviation...

Built it, rode it and set the world speed record on 136 m.p.h.!!! 

The more I think I know, the more I find to learn!

I picked up a cold somewhere in my travels that set in that evening and has had me pretty miserable since. Deep hacking cough that goes on for so long I lose my oxygen and my ribs ache. It slowly seems to be getting better, but in a day or so if it's not markedly so I'm going to have to call someone and may end up having to turn myself in to get some IV antibiotics. The idea of setting foot in a hospital and catching something worse is more frightening than anything I've been through to this point!

I hope life is being kind to each of you!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

When you know the right people...

wonderful things can happen! I've found so many of them through the years and the doors that have opened have amazed me!

One of those belongs to Anji (a link to one of her several blogs), who among her many interests, deals in antique postcards. I had purchased some beautiful sets she assembled and gave them to my daughter-in-law a few years ago; antique postcards of flowers made into arrangements that were wonderful pastels and and made a nice wall hanging for her.

Given the "rabbit hole" I've been in of late, I visited her a few weeks ago to see what I might find in early aviation postcards, thinking I might find one of Louis Bleriot's monoplane. Not only the builder and pilot of the first successful monoplane, he was also the first to fly across the English Channel. When you conside the state of aviation in 1909, the reliability of engines, etc., his fame is well deserved!

My search had my eyes misting as I not only found what I'd hoped, but also two pristine original postcards of Wilbur Wright's visit to France in 1908 (the upper two cards below). They tie in to my current reading (the rise and collapse of the Wright company).

The 3rd card is of Glenn Curtiss airborne over Hammondsport, NY. A motorcycle racer turned aircraft builder, among many things he's considered the "Father of Naval Aviation". The last frame belongs to Mr. Bleriot.

This hangs next to my side of the bed where I see it first thing each morning and last at night as well as numerous times through the day. Thank you, Anji!

I mentioned my mother-in-law recently and was asked to write more about her. There are so many things I wish I did know! I know she attended Cornell for part of her college, then moved to one closer to home. Given it was the Depression, I don't know whether it was due to financial issues or other things.

I know her favorite band was Artie Shaw; she told me of dancing not only to the Shaw band, but Miller, the Dorsey and the Goodman bands as well when they played college dates. You can imagine my envy of her getting to hear those in person! One late night in her kitchen in Vermont when I was playing some cassettes of Bunny Berigan with Goodman's band we were discussing the possiblity of traveling far enough into space to catch the AM radio waves and record the radio broadcasts of the period with modern recording techniques...I've been assured by my oldest, the astrophysicist that they would be distorted enough that it wouldn't be the same, but it's still a nice thing to dream about!

After the war she worked a few more years, then gave it up to settle down, marry and raise a family. She still did some projects from home; the girls remember being given a set of disposable razor handles that she designed injection molds for.

I know she didn't renew her licenses one year when my wife and her siblings were little. She and the girl's father were both working in a mill in Vermont full-time and still having a hard time making ends meet. At the time groceries and heat were more important. I've been there!

It wasn't long after we lost she and my Dad within a year of each other that I started making a point of asking my only surviving grandmother lots of things about her history; I learned a lot; part of it I got on cassettes I should be making a point of transcribing to disc before the oxide peels from the tapes. I wish I'd done that with my Mom's parents, my Dad and Marion as well! They say hindsight is 20/20. I sometimes think 20/10!

I had a couple of good doctor's appointments in the last 10 days; there has been a bit of improvement in my lung percentage. It's thought to be due to how long it's been since I had my last chemo. The cancer doctor said "keep doing what you're doing". I'll have a CT in November so they can really peek behind the scenes; until then I just have to ignore each ache and pain and quit worrying about them, and try and avoid the fall flu season! I went and got my shot the first day I saw them available.

I hope life is being kind to each of you!


Monday, August 11, 2014

Diving deeper...

and juggling multiple books and sources, I'm finding myself amazed at all the things that can play into/hinder rational decision making!

Concurrently reading a Packard history of non-automotive engines and hit their WW2 building of the Merlin (Rolls-Royce aircraft engine, most notably used in the P-51 Mustang) at the same time I got to them in a memoir by a Rolls-Royce engineer who was very involved in it. Mixing that in with some of the politics that I picked up at the Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri and the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas and reading a bit more on key players, I'm convinced we're lucky to have survived!

My "light reading" this past little while, among all the technical things, had been "Lost Horizon", the James Hilton novel from the 30's. I've seen bits of the movie, and love Ronald Coleman, but have always avoided the movie because I wanted to read the book first. I finished it a few days ago, and last evening, when my brain had been sufficiently "stretched" by all the "heavier" reading, I dug out one of the Will Rogers books I've picked up this summer "Letters of a Self-Made Diplomat to His President".

I saw the cancer doctor a few days ago. He said he heard nothing that caused him concern; he didn't mention scheduling any tests, just made sure I had prescriptions ahead for my antibiotics and prednisone to try and finish getting through this round of lung infection and another 2 for next time.

The only friend I have that goes back more than 30 years has moved back to Kansas and bought a farm, so we took a day trip on Saturday to visit him and meet his "new" wife and daughter. It looks as though life is finally smiling on him, and the day "in the country" was wonderful! I'm looking forward to a return visit soon!

Between sorting some plumbing issues here along with some other odds and ends as well as having my brain "picked" over the phone to troubleshoot some things, I'm feeling not quite so useless this last week or so. It's kind of nice to feel like I'm contributing something to the world instead of just watching it go by!

May the days be kind to each of you!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Down the rabbit hole!

When I came back from my trip to Dayton and Indianapolis with so many photos and books I planned on spending many hours going through them, researching the engines I'd never heard of, the configurations I'd never seen, etc.. I never dreamt I'd spend quite so many happy hours doing so, to the point of waking in the middle of the night to go read or re-read a certain piece, or look up some piece of information that suddenly "gelled" as my mind mulled things while the rest of me slept...

The ever-widening circle of information led me back into realms of engine theory I hadn't visited since my days riding and street racing Triumphs, the engineering I taught myself then just being a primer for the things I'm delving into now. A new pantheon of engineers and designers is taking shape in my "hall of heroes". It's an interesting trip! (Thus my title for this post.)

I was startled to find supercharged motors in the Air Force Museum that dated almost to the end of WWI. Having come home and devoured the "Packards at Speed" book I bought, along with a few other "lighter" things, I moved onto the Packard "Master Motor Builders" book. Also, unable to buy a book covering the Allison engines at the museum I visited in Indianapolis, I came home and found one on eBay-being sold by the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust (they operate that museum). Several transactions later, I'm now a member. The things I've learned as I tied all this together have added Henry Royce to that list I mentioned earlier.( I'd never considered the possibility of weighing the air/fuel charge in a cylinder to determine what the power output would be under a given set of circumstances...among the many things I'm learning!)

The "Master Motor Builders" book has me hunting down names and theory, scribbling notes and working a calculator, much to the amusement of my wife. I keep finding things that predate my ideas of when they began by decades! It seems Tesla wasn't the only engineer who was years ahead of his time; he was just more prolific...

All of this is making me miss my mother-in-law terribly as well. A mechanical engineer, descended from a long line of inventors and engineers, she graduated college just in time to work for Pratt and Whitney during WW2, laying out assembly lines and streamlining things, hiring to fill them, along with various design projects. She always had a way of reducing things into simplest terms, thus making "the little light bulb over my head" turn on. What it takes me two or three days to sort out by surfing the web or sorting through other books she would have settled in a few minutes. Somewhere I know she's smiling...

Curiouser and curiouser!

May the days be kind to each of you!


Friday, July 11, 2014


for dinner and fireworks. The most people we've had here at once in the 36 years we've been here! A bit worrisome as the day approached, because it is a small house, only one bathroom, etc.; all the things that make you "sweat" ahead of time.

But it came off well; Dottie had things planned out well; everyone brought food and my younger son grilled (I kind of stay away from the grill now, with my plastic O2 line and bomb of an O2 bottle). Last year I bought a good 3M respirator with charcoal filters that were rated for sulfur fumes (black powder) and slipped the O2 line from my concentrater out the door to my chair and under the mask. It worked well-a year ago I never figured I'd get a chance to use it twice!

Bill and Laura made it in from Colorado so I got to watch Liam as he watched his first fireworks; as wonderful a year as I've had to this point, that was among the highlights so far!

Now the weeks until school starts again are growing short, so we're trying to spend as much time as possible with the grandchildren here (though their schedules are still hectic). We've been making day trips with each of them as they've had time, and have perhaps time for one more round with each of them before their schedules get really busy.

If I'm still doing OK then, perhaps another cross-country trip before winter sets in...

May the weekend be kind to you all!


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Such a lovely high!

Home from some of the most wonderful 8 days of my life, never having thought I could string together so many in a row! Despite the logistics of my support systems, Dottie loaded up my oxygen concentrater, the compressor that refills some of my bottles, the CPAP, wheelchair, shower chair and a dozen non-refillable bottles in the new shell on the back of my pickup, and she drove (it's not that I can't, but since November, she insists) from here to Dayton. (After she changed the oil in it and did all the other things I always did before we set out on the road, plus mowed and caught all the laundry up!)

My older son and his wife set up rooms for our trip, and I allowed for 3 days at the National Museum of the Air Force, a day of rest, and then a day to visit some Wright Brothers sites that are there in Dayton as well. There are a group of "old-timers" I've chatted with off and on for years on a message board for veteran's who flew the B-36 who had told me it would take that long to do it justice, and since the admission was free, I planned accordingly. For years I've driven by it as we made the trip to Vermont to visit family, always intent on getting there and never taking time to do other things along the way. Last year, thinking it was my last chance, she suggested stopping for a day either going or coming home, but I knew that would only break my heart as I'd know how much I hadn't seen...

Being in the shape I'm in and dependent on others for mobility except for short distances, I knew I shouldn't be dragging my Nikon and lenses and a bag. When Nokia started offering a cell phone with Zeiss optics (Zeiss as in lenses like the Rolleiflex I shot years ago; like the good lens that was in my 4X5 Graphic, or on my Dad's Hasselblad) I started doing some research and liking what I read, got one. Though I miss my other lenses, I got by pretty well with my new Lumia and it's simple enough that Dottie can shoot it as well, and did a lot as she could shoot angles I couldn't, and get to places I couldn't in my chair.

Allowing the extra days at the Air Force Museum was the perfect call; we took 4 days and still didn't quite manage the whole thing! A million square feet of aircraft, engines, related systems, memorabilia...I didn't read every card, but probably 85% of them, photographed most so I could come home and look up more info on the ones I wanted, and we photographed almost every aircraft, missile, space capsule, engine...I was in mechanic's Heaven!

A plane I've loved since the first photo I saw at about 11, the Boeing P-26.
Divided into galleries by era, we spent the first day in the "Early Years" gallery; the 2nd in "Air Power" (the build up to WW2 and through it to it's conclusion). The 3rd day we started in the "Missile Gallery" (I finally understand the theory that makes geosynchronous orbit work!) and moved out into the "Cold War" because they were the furthest from the entrance, and I was feeling very guilty about Dottie wheeling me through this wonderful place. At the end of the 3rd day we came to the training mock-up of the Space Shuttle, and I told her to go ahead and go up by herself because I didn't want her pushing me up the ramps for it. It was late in the afternoon, and she said we'd see how she felt in the morning.

Notice, that was the end of the 3rd day, and my wonderful wife didn't even question whether we were coming back for a 4th!

So the next morning, she did take me up into the trainer. I was grateful for the 5 flat stops on the incline going up, though they didn't really lessen my guilt. After learning and talking to the two docents who were there, we went down the other side and on to the "Korean War and Southeast Asia" gallery, via a corridor filled with much info about the Berlin Airlift. I'd read much about it through the years and still learned things; Dottie was saddened by how much she didn't know, as it was just a footnote in her history class.

There is a very nice cafeteria there with reasonable prices where we ate each day, then went back to the motel so I could take my meds and refill my O2 bottles for the next day. I averaged 5-600 photos per day, and killed the battery in my phone 2 days out of 4 there. (I've since bought a battery bank for my next trip!)

That last day, we didn't get out quite in time to visit the 8th Air Force Control Tower and Nissen hut they have set up outside, a recreation of the ops centers from WW2 and an actual hut brought there from England.; it closed an hour before the Museum itself. We visited the aircraft they have stored outside, and called it a day.

The next day we were supposed to move to Indianapolis, but since it was only a 2 hour drive, Dottie loaded everything up again and we went to the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center in downtown Dayton. I thought I knew much of Wilbur and Orville, but had no idea of their connection to Paul Laurence Dunbar. (I have books of his poetry that belonged to my grandmother, along with ones of Countee Cullen.) Along with a museum dedicated to the history of the parachute (again, learning much I didn't know) we crossed over to the  "Wright Cycle Co." shop. Viewing their machinery with their creations in mind only heightens my respect for them.

The night before, as I was planning out our day, I ran across a note about Packard museum that was a few blocks from the Wright Cycle Co.. I have memories of being not much more than a toddler and my Dad working on a Packard at a distant relative's house (something Dad didn't do often; cars usually came to him) and what a beautiful car it was and his reverent tones when talking to the owner about it. With that and their history in aircraft and marine engines, I took a chance and asked her to take me there.

(I should mention at this point that my new phone also does navigation, and proved useful for times like this!)

We parked, she wheeled me across the street and then I had to step up into the showroom of the old dealership building-the real, original dealer's building-and was never so glad I clicked a link! Car after car; engines, a truck, a WWI Liberty aircraft engine (turns out that besides building them, Packard was in on the design), a WW2 PT boat engine...limos, was a wonderful afternoon!

We got to Indianapolis just before dark that evening and settled into our room with my head swirling with the images of the last 5 days and my heart smiling as I looked back through some of the photos, adding "favorites" to my phone and texting her ones she liked to add to hers.

The next day she took me to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where I had planned to visit the Hall of Fame Museum. As she paid our admission, they told her about a "behind the scenes" tour that was available. I told her no, that was OK, I didn't want to slow anyone down. They said their van was equipped with a chair lift, and she told me I was going...

And go we did! The grounds, the garages, past the medical facility I've seen so many drivers sent to; on to the "Pagoda", where all the reporters work from, the press conference room, timing and scoring then on up higher to the Hulman family suite (the owner's of the track). Then back down and to the podium, where the drivers receive their trophies (a bit of walking for that, but not much).

Finally, they took us down to the "yard of bricks", the finish line; the only remaining pavement that shows from "The Brickyard" of 1911.

From there it was back to the Museum where I spent the rest of my day among 75 or so of the cars that have won through the years, the Offenhauser engines my Dad used to think the most wonderful ever built, along with a special display of all the turbine cars that tested or ran (some with the same engine that was in my Navy helicopters). Again I was in "motorhead Heaven" and again I killed my camera battery.

Between Dayton and Indy, I'd seen a sign for the Model T Ford Club of America's Museum at Richmond, Indiana. It wasn't far from Indy, so the next morning found us heading east again. Again more delight, more learning, more smiles. At least the camera battery got to charge on the way back to town, because I'd read a blurb in the tourism booklet the night before about Rolls-Royce Heritage operating a museum of Allison engine things (what my helo engines were, among many others). We found it, and I spent the rest of my afternoon in bliss.

The next morning we were supposed to head home, but wanted to mail one last set of postcards with Indianapolis cancellation marks, so I found a Post Office and put it in my GPS. A familiar street name from some research I'd done came up and meant one more stop on our way back towards the freeway.

Though the Andretti Autosports shop wasn't doing tours at the moment, they were kind enough to let Dottie take me in and spend some time among the cars, get some photos, and some autographed photos.

I've been home and rested up some; I'm still picking through photos, because I keep reading up on more things as I do. I've also put away a book that came in while I was gone: "There's Not a Bathing Suit in Russia", a Will Rogers volume from 1927 I picked up. Written about his visit to Russia 9 years after their revolution, Will chiding Congress for letting Russia get ahead of us in aviation fit in nicely with this past few weeks!

I had a doctor's appointment on Monday. He thought I was doing wonderfully, and said keep doing what I'm doing. He also said something about no sign I was ready for hospice, which took me aback, as I wasn't really thinking about it, though I know it will come. He did say that any further chemo would be a real "Hail Mary" because I've already been through so many rounds. He is checking on the Pirfenidone that has finally been released for compassionate use to see if it might keep my lungs from slipping as quickly and not react with the cancer...

So I'm plotting out some day trips for now and getting ready for the 4th of July! A year ago I figured that was my last one, so I'm truly planning to enjoy this one! After that, perhaps another road trip...

May the week, the world, and life be very kind to each of you!


Friday, May 30, 2014

So far it's been a lovely spring!

I spent a few days recovering from the road, then my oldest and his wife came to visit for a week and a half with the "new" grandson. At 6 months, he's 95th percentile in everything except head size, and there he takes after my side of the family, so he's off the chart, but the doctors are finally not worried because he's been consistently there, lol!

They split days between here and her parents. On one of their trips there, they went and had some baby pics taken by a professional photographer that will soon be hanging all around the house. We got the family together once for my nephew's college graduation (a teacher-to-be, hurray) and again just so my sister got some extra time with her newest nephew.

Since Dottie quit work I've had the longest spell without catching anything that I've had since I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis 18 months ago. It seems she was right, that she really was bringing things home from work! I'd been trying to convince her it couldn't be that and that I'd end up being sick whether she was working in a nursing home or not...shows what I know!

Though I am knocking on my head as I write that!

After Bill and Laura went home, we picked up the John's youngest son and brought him home for a few days-since she's not working and he's out of school, we can do that on weekdays now! He's always very happy to come hang out, watch movies and play video games...the art museum we took him to yesterday wore on his patience a bit, though there were parts he seemed to enjoy.

 Dottie's returning him right now and I'm waiting to see if she comes home with our granddaughter...the one who's 13 and going on 24, I swear! Last fall she was still a little girl, and a few weeks ago she came around the corner with a towel wrapped around her head after a shower and it was like she totally grown up in just a few months.

I've finished 3 of the books I came home from Claremore with; one written by Will's great niece; one a history of the ranch where he grew up, but so much more a history of the land, the people, the territory...a sociological study...a time capsule...from when someone could ranch 60,000 acres and run 10,000 head of cattle and have other ranches almost as large in every direction, through the break up of the ranches into farms and statehood for what began as Indian Territory through the arrival of the railroads and the beginning of the citification of things.

The 3rd book was about a different Will I've always had an interest in-William F. Cody. Years ago I read a book written by Cody's sister that was reprinted with a forward by Zane Grey when Cody died; I'd bought several more about him since. This one was written by someone who formerly ran the Cody Museum in Colorado at his grave site, and besides having access to a lot of memorabilia and photos I'd never seen, he also had access to court documents and things that are making me rethink the stories I'd read until now (about how Cody ended up being buried in Colorado instead of Wyoming).

After the docents at the Will Rogers Memorial pointed me in the direction of some collections of Will's daily telegrams and weekly columns (cross indexed so they are searchable) I picked up the first volume of each of them to fill out the sets I've acquired, and picked up a few first editions of his books that lept from eBay into my mailbox as well. I unwrapped one from 1924 yesterday and it was so perfect that my eyes misted...when a sawbuck can bring a pristine first edition to my door, it's hard to pass up!

I'm plotting out a few more trips for this summer, hoping that my good fortune continues and life keeps letting me play!

May it be kind to each of you as well!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

My 2nd childhood...

I've had a lovely week, though it didn't really start out to be. I got my reading of the P.E.T. scan from the cancer doctor on Monday-after the 6 month gap since my last chemo treatment, the cancer is growing again. The tumor is up around 30%; the lymph nodes are showing activity, though not growth. He said it's too soon to start chemo again, that it would weaken more than the result would be worth.

So we decided to try to take a road trip. I couldn't get a portable concentrater, but got some extra bottles from the O2 company, took my machines from here so I could refill the 4 bottles they gave me with it, and we loaded up all of that stuff and my wheelchair and headed south.

I've been wanting to revisit the Will Rogers Memorial since I was a kid; Dad took us there in 1962 (I was 6) and I bought "The Autobiography of Will Rogers" and read it before I was much older, as well as numerous times since. You've all known me to quote him...he's been a big influence on me. Yet, vacations were always about visiting family and we never took them to go places  for "us".

But Dottie made a point of getting me there, and it was wonderful! They've almost doubled the square footage since I was there, very tastefully done architecturally, I might add; the exhibits are fantastic and they have several of his movies playing constantly. I spent far too long in the gift shop after, as well!

The next day we visited the J. M. Davis Firearms Museum (an amazing collection) and had dinner at a Claremore restaurant that was one of the best meals of my life. Friday we headed home, via Oolagah (the town closest to where Will was born) and visited the Will Rogers Ranch, where the house he was born in stands. It was moved uphill about a 1/4 mile to get it out of the area flooded by a lake they filled in the 60's and when I saw it back then it was still sitting on timbers and jacks from the move. Now it sits on a lovely homestead with a period correct barn and furnishings provided by his sisters, some original and some replacements, but correct.

I was very exhausted by the 3rd day, but had a great time. I slept 14 hours last night and I'm still tired, but so very glad we went!

I hope each of you are doing well!

May the week be kind to you all!


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Lovely weather we're having...

as thoughts of an old Louis Armstrong track play in the back of my mind...

The last few days have finally seen me winning my battle with that last round of pneumonia. 4 rounds of antibiotics and, after a visit to the cancer doctor last week, his suggestion of a taper dose of prednisone seems to given my body the "oomph" it needed to fight back...this time. As always, foreshadowings of what lies ahead linger, but it's warm outside and I can get out and about again (with assistance) and it's time to enjoy things for a while!

My sons both approach the mid-point of a "normal" life span this month; in their mid-30's, I couldn't be prouder of both of them or the choices they've made in life or their families. Next weekend (weather permitting) will be another of those family gatherings to celebrate their birthdays, along with a nephew who graduates college this year. The years seem to leap by now! My oldest grandson got his "learner's permit" to drive the other day and has been texting me all about the Porsche he has his eye on for his first car...a bit poignant for me because I'd planned last year to buy a set of frame rails and start building something I'd have been putting a body on this summer with his help. Instead I've sent my last stash of magazines and parts catalogs to him because they're a bit hard to look through. I'm still reading "Hot Rod Deluxe" (reprints of things from the "old days" and ones found from then) and a couple of aviation magazines, but much more "then" than "now" things. There is more than enough in the news for now and when I want a break the NASA channel is nice!

As I write, the Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach auction is playing; it always "knocks me out" to see the cars from the high school parking lot, that the neighbors drove or things that Dad and I worked on selling for multiples of what my house is worth!

Dottie gave her notice at work; partly because she's tired of bringing home "bugs" that may or may not be part of what have been "getting to" me as well as fear of bringing home one that really will; partly because there are probably 3 or 4 months of time left that I'll be able to do things before we won't be able to take enough oxygen for that and I become housebound, at which point I won't be able to stay alone anyway. If I can stay healthy we plan to have a fun summer until that time comes. We've bought a "shell" or "cap" for my pickup so we can load up all my accoutrements and perhaps slip away for a few days at a time; beyond that there's going to be as much family and grandkid time as we can manage!

I'm still going to pop in here from time to time, but with her home 24/7 and her "anti-social-media" stance, I'll be looking over my shoulder, lol!

Something that I came across the other day, as I was scanning things...

I'd been taking pictures of the boys and Dottie and she picked up my 35mm. She says I was making comments about her abilities with wouldn't surprise me, I guess!

I hope you each are having a wonderful spring and that summer is kind to all of you!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Finally! A hint of green outside!

I only wish my lungs weren't so jealous that they'd decided they needed a bit of green of their own! I'm in the 2nd week of a battle against a "mild" round of pneumonia they caught in a chest x-ray I had done two weeks ago tomorrow. Tomorrow I'm in for bloodwork and another x-ray and, since there's still a bit of color coming up, a refill on that antibiotic.

We had a few days of 70's last week, but then dropped back into the snowflakes yesterday. They're saying we finally have a warm weekend coming up so maybe we can finally get the front hub put in the Malibu and get it back on the road. The list of things I'm unable to just "go do" now rather irks me sometimes, not only because I can't, but because I have to ask others to, be it my wife or my son. I've had to concede though, because a few weeks ago when "we" put the car up to diagnose it, I got under it at one point (which was easy enough) and getting back up took about 15 minutes as I sat up and recovered, then turned over onto my hands and knees and recovered, then straightened up and recovered, then finally stood up and recovered before I managed to walk 4 feet back to the lawn chair.

So from here on I read the manuals and "supervise" and perhaps hand off a few tools, but my days on the creeper are done, lol! I now know how a turtle feels when he's on his back!

I finally got far enough ahead on last year's leftover medical bills to update the scanner software I needed to make it work with Windows 8 and have been scanning my way through the family archives these past few weeks, trying to get them digitized and backed up along with "cleaning up" a select few in Photoshop as I do. I'm starting with the slides because they're easier than the negatives-at least they're all a uniform size, though I do have some 6x6 ones running around somewhere after I finish the 35mm. Film will be fun when I get there-there's everything from 110 Instamatic stuff running around to 8x10 transparencies. I'm rather curious to see what the meg size on that one will be...

May life be kind to each of you!


Monday, March 03, 2014


I spent the weekend at one...sadly I wasn't smart enough to bring anything to "conjure" with.

I saw the radiologist on Friday. He seemed to think I was a great candidate for stereotactic radiation, though there was a "small" chance I might react to it, a slight chance that with them doing 5 doses because the tumor is behind my rib that the rib might become brittle and be easily broken or "cracked". I told him that life wasn't exactly easy right now, and that I couldn't imagine what it would be like if I lose any more lung capacity.

He said he would contact the pulmonologist this morning (her first morning back after a spring vacation) and would call me on Tuesday.

After telling both boys what was going on, I did a bit of research on line and found a case history of someone they tried this on in 2008 who was in the very early stages of IPF. He had been through chemo, his lungs were just beginning to show the scarring from the fibrosis and he seemed fine after they did their radiation treatment. When they did the follow up he had developed radiologically induced pneumonia and that kicked off the fibrosis; he went from not being on oxygen at all to where I am now.

So I didn't have a good feeling about it after reading all that!

This morning when the phone rang, Dottie was getting ready for work. I was still in bed, only vaguely noting the ring and that she had answered it. A few minutes later I heard her in the bedroom doorway as I turned over and snuggled back down under the blankets (it was below zero here this morning).

She said the phone call was the radiologist; he had called the pulmonary doctor and she told him "hell no he couldn't do radiation on my lungs", it would kill me.

So now their consensus is that I should go back in 3 months and have another P.E.T. scan so they can figure out if the cancer is spreading again or not.

Though life isn't "easy" at this point, I'm not really ready to "give up". I do dread where it all goes from here...

In the meantime, I've done what I need to this morning and I'm going to heat up some chili for lunch, then crawl under a blanket on the couch and watch a movie or play a video game. While I dealt with the first of the month stuff this morning I caught up on the latest on Ukraine/Crimea/Russia and it's time to escape for a while!

I hope each of you are warm, and that the week is kind!


Thursday, February 20, 2014

The pendulum keeps swinging...

Frozen weeks, then a few days of warm; good news, then not so good; the same with my days...good ones, then not so good. Sometimes it even breaks down into hours! Kind of like letting someone else pick your music...

I set up a Pandora account years ago but never really used it. The blue-ray player we bought is a "smart" one, so it will play that, along with NPR stuff and You Tube (been spending a lot of time in Jay Leno's garage lately). I set up a channel of swing stuff starting off with some Erskine Hawkins and it swings along nicely until they decide to throw in something in the same tempo but "urban". I'm not sure if they're just checking to see if I'm awake or what!

One of Dottie's sisters is flying in tonight and Bill, Laura and Liam are driving in from Colorado tomorrow because John and Noel are renewing their wedding vows this weekend for their 15th anniversary. They're also having the "big do" they didn't have a chance to back when they started out. I used to feel guilty when Dad and I were photographing those that Dottie hadn't had a chance at one, but she's assured me enough times through the years that she wouldn't have wanted one even if it was offered that I finally believe her. Our little ceremony in the judge's study in San Diego seems to have worked out pretty well!

I had my visit with the oncologist the other day. He said that with the tumor being the only thing active now, chemo would be too hard on me physically for what return there might be on it. If it wasn't for the fibrosis, they would do radiation to kill what's left of it and then wait to see if it comes back somewhere else.

There is some new technology that targets radiation to a very small area and he is going to discuss with the pulmonologist whether that would still be too much risk for what lungs I have left. The other option is doing nothing and scanning again in a few months to see what's changed.

So another round of doctor's visits while we all come to a concensus...

Meanwhile I keep peeking at the news and watching the Ukraine burn and Syria crumble while those who profess to run the world march to their own drummers! In the idealism of my youth I truly believed that when I got to this age people would have outgrown the idea of killing those they disagreed with...that talking would be something more than a strategic pause while you repositioned or resupplied or tried to gain some other advantage.

Meanwhile we're selling aircraft carriers for a penny for scrap and China's building new ones!

May life be kind to each of you!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014


2 weeks ago I finally saw the pulmonologist for the first time since August. When they tried to do their pulmonary function test my O2 numbers dropped so low they decided not to, and sent me directly in to see her. Since I hadn't heard from the oncologist about scheduling the cancer scan (that would also show the fibrosis in my lungs) she did it, along with an ultrasound EKG of my hear and an ultrasound of my legs to check for clots, which would account for the swelling in my legs and ankles.

She also started me on Lasix to clear the fluid from my system. That seems to have helped as the swelling is almost non-existent now, and though it hasn't helped my lungs (she had thought perhaps there was fluid putting pressure on them as well) it has made me feel better overall. I've also dropped some inches and some weight, so we're continuing with that. It takes about an hour to "kick in" once I take it and then I spend the next 4 or 5 hours running to the bathroom every 20-30 minutes, but life could be worse!

The P.E.T. scan shows that the tumor in my lung is still about the same size it was in the last scan and still active cancer, but it hasn't grown. The 3 lymph nodes no longer show any cancer at all!

She suggested I try and contact the oncologist and see what he plans at this point; perhaps a continuation of the chemo, but at a less frequent interval. He's out of town this week, so I'll be setting something up with him next week. If I continue with chemo that will mean getting a port implanted in my chest, as I can't do any more PICC lines because of the adhesive problems. The dermatitis I already had has been aggravated by the chemo to the point that even Neosporin blistered me last week-not from the antibiotic itself, but the "base" they mixed it into.

I see her again in two weeks to see how things are progressing.

When I saw her last, I wouldn't have bet money on making it through spring; I feel enough better at this point that I figure I'll make it through the F1 season and perhaps the football season as well (I'm still hoping for another Chiefs Super Bowl win before I "get out of here"), which means I'll make another holiday season as well. This last one was kind of hard, because I was pretty sure I wouldn't. I wrapped all of Liam's gifts myself, not that it would mean anything to him, but...

I also made a point of working my way through all my favorite holiday movies...shared a few of them with those who were passing through as well...spent lots of time with family for both the holidays and my birthday...

And then I hung onto the Christmas tree until last week, when I finally let Dottie take it down before we set the house on fire somehow. It was pretty brittle by then, though still green. A few years ago she found some things that I had actually made back in kindergarten and she's used them each year since; she had me write on the back of them this year, and we marked some of the others we've bought in our travels as to when and where we got them.

So that's about it from here for now...

I hope the New Year is being wonderful to each of you!