Jump to content
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

About this blog

Gizmo's,Gadgets and other musings

Entries in this blog


Well after my pacemaker implant healed up and now works fine, I also had a heart ablation. The pacemaker keeps the low resting pulse good and the ablation keeps the high pulse steady without meds. So, we are now on the road again heading ultimately for Alaska. We left Tennessee the 4th of May and are now in central Montana for a few days. Lesley’s mum is handling the trip very well, the motorhome is performing great and all is good here now. A few days here in a town called White Sulphur Springs, MT at the base of the Little Belt mountains and we will be moving on to Shelby, MT and then on to Banff, Alberta, Canada for a week.


after that on to Jasper, Alberta for a few days, and then a few weeks of roaming around British Columbia. After that, on to the Yukon and finally Alaska for a month or so. Then a slow return South on a path yet to be determined but will likely include a trip across southern Canada thru Winnepeg and maybe a stop where we used to live in Northern Minnesota. Should be back in Tennessee sometime in August.



we had talked about this trip for many years but never seemed to get it done. Then when Lesley’s mum came to live with us it was decided. She and her late husband had always wanted to ride the rails across British Columbia thru the mountains, but never were able to do it. Lesley and I had planned to see the Canadian Maritimes, Nova Scotia and some other provinces this spring and go to Alaska and British Columbia next year, but now that mum is living with us we just flipped the trips and will do the Maritimes next year so we can fulfill mum’s dream with our motorhome this year.


so we are blessed with good health, a wonderful 95 year old mother to travel with, and the opportunity to do so. I have nothing to complain about, life is very, very good to me at the moment. Yes I had a stroke, yes I still have some deficits and still take a few meds, but all in all life is being good to us.


time for a tea.


Good news

Some of you know that Lesley’s 95 yr old mum has come from New Zealand to live with us in TN. The day after Christmas we got a most welcome surprise, her Green Card has been approved and she is now a permanent US resident.we are all ecstatic to say the least. Although we expected it to go thru, it was still in the back of our minds, what if.... but now, all is well on that front. Having her here is such a joy and blessing to us all.


this may change our travel plans with the motorhome. Mum dearly loves to travel in it and see the USA. She is so bright and asks a million questions about everything she sees. On a recent trip to Branson,MO for vets week as we were coming back she saw cotton fields being harvested in Mississippi. We stopped and got her some fresh cotton. She considered it a real prize. We also passed by some catfish farm ponds which she found interesting. Never a dull moment with her and Lesley around!


our planned winter trip to Texas got canceled because I started to have uncontrolled afib. Off to a cardiologist and then two weeks of a heart monitor and then told I needed a pacemaker. A few days later it was in and done. I must admit I feel and look better afterwords. In a few more weeks the healing should be finished and we may reschedule some sort of RV trip. Mum and I are now healthy, but Lesley may need a knee replacement so all is on hold pending where that goes.


so that is a quick catch up on our life here in TN. Got to go now, a cup of tea is calling........


Life with mum

Lesley's mum now is settling in with us. She is accepting her new life here in TN, a big change from 94 years of living in New Zealand. We can detect some homesickness, but she knows that moving here was her only alternative other than a NZ nursing home. She is very bright, mentally amazingly sharp, no memory issues, and still able to get around with a cane and walker. A few naps during the day and she is refreshed and active all day. Amazing.


We just completed a month long trip in our motorhome with mum. When she got here I put a chair lift in the motorhome for her use. Amazingly she seldom needs it. Lesley and I get on each end of the stairs into the motorhome and she gets up or down the stairs with one of us pushing and one gently pulling.


our trip was up to Wisconsin for a week with friends, then on to Iowa for some work on the RV at the factory. We then went to the wonderful town of Amana. Lots of things to see no do. A planned day stop turned nto several days. We then went thru Illinois to Shipshewanna, Indiana. A planned three day stop became almost two weeks. I grew up nearby in the Elkhart, IN area and was able to show mum where I lived, worked and played. We stopped by the grade school I went to for four years and asked if they had anything on classes in the early 1950's. The lady said no, but after thinking about it she came up with some PTA meeting minutes. My mother was mentioned in them a few times. What a neat trip down memory lane!

I was also able to show mum where I lived as a five year old in a house trailer and walked 10 blocks alone everyday to and from kindergarten. The school and trailer park are still there. I felt pretty good about my memory still being able to find these places considering I was five and that was 67 years ago!



we then drove back home over two days, stopping in Kentucky for the night. Lesley drove about 1/2 the time and did her share of dumping the tanks, and hooking up the water and electric. All in all, an really memorable trip. That is the essence of traveling in an RV, creating memories. It is not going from point A to point B via the fastest route. We avoid interstates when we can, seldom go thru any large cities, and stick to US and State highways. So much more to see and do. Lesley has learned to navigate well and between us we get it done. Often times we have no plan as to where we will stay that night, but we always find somewhere!


Mum is always agreeable to whatever we do. Our last day in Shipshewanna, Indiana, Lesley asked me if she should wake mum up from her nap and take her to town again, I told her I thought mum just needed a day of rest. So Lesley went on her own, I think she also needed a day alone. When mum awoke she and I had some good mother-in-law/son-in-law time. Another irreplaceable memory created.


we expect to be home now until November when we are planning a week in Branson,Mo which is veterans week. Then back home and not sure after that. We had planned three weeks in Corpus Christi, TX over Christmas but the hurricane hitting there a few weeks ago may change that. We will find somewhere.


well, my coffee cup is empty so time to go.


Lesley's mum is now here and settling into life in North East Tennessee. She handled the long flight from New Zealand to Los Angles very well. She and Lesley spent 5 days there resting and spending time with relatives. A 5 hour flight here and all is now going very well. The paperwork and medical exam are in the hands of the immigration lawyer and mum's health is good. She has a nanny nap once or twice a day and awakes bright and cheerful


What a joy it is to have her with us at this time in her life! Lesley has been taking her all over the local shops and we have been spoiling her every day. We spent last weekend in Atlanta with some relatives and she was the center of attention. Lesley and mum are sharing many special mother/daughter hours together everyday. I rather stay out of the way and do as I am told. I have never eaten better!


Before she arrived I put a short hand rail by the only two steps in our house and they have worked out well. It is all she needs to get up and down them without assistance. We just hover nearby. This week I will be putting the seat lift in the motorhome so she will not have to deal with stairs getting in and out of it. She is excited and cannot wait for us to get on the road again soon. We plan to be traveling in late June for a month or so, depending how she handles it.


the dogs have become very protective of her and are always nearby.


well, I must go now, just a quick update here.


Lesley is preparing to go back to New Zealand next week, April 3. She will be there three weeks. Then, surprise, surprise, she will be selling the house and bringing mum back to live with is permanently! Mum has initiated the conversation this time all by herself. She is now lonely and feels deserted. The two great grand daughters have both passed thru her house on short term stays in the past 8 months and both are busy living their lives. One is 20, the other 18. So, school, jobs, boys, etc are more important than spending much time with nana.

The pace of the life of the young ones has left her puzzled, wishing for days gone by, and most of all lonely for someone just to spend an evening with her. The grandson is also living his life with a new girlfriend and job, band, etc.

thus she has opted to come spend her last days (she is 94)with us. She still lives in a three bedroom house alone, fixes her own meals and with a walker gets around pretty well. Her mind is sharp as a tack. We had noticed in the past few months she was becoming somewhat despondent in her daily call from Lesley. Now since making the decision to come here her voice is full of excitement and hope that had bee lacking for awhile.

i have been in contact wil an immigration lawyer, and all is set up there to get her permanent residence status and health insurance. That process should take 6 months or so.

She did travel with us in the motorhome before when Lesley was a full time travel nurse about 12 years ago. Mum loves to travel and is already talking about doing so again. I am putting an electric lift in the motorhome to give her easy access and so she and us will not have to worry about steps. Exactly where we will go is now up in the air since she cannot go out of the USA while her permanent resident status is being finalized. So the trip to the Canadian Maritimes we had planned this fall is on hold for a year or two. She has always wanted to see the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, so as soon as we can do that with her, that will be the next big trip outside the USA.

So, that is our big news. Lesley is off with a girlfriend getting her hair pretty for the trip to NZ next week Since I do not have that need, I am home with the dogs watching the blue birds nest in the new birdhouse I just put up. We now have three bird houses up just the right size for bluebirds, and all have a lot of activity today as spring is son coming here.

my coffee/tea cup is empty, so bye for now....



Back on track

Well the MRI is done and all is well. The spot on the liver is harmless according to the dr. Just a broken blood vessel. So all the travel plans have been reset and modified. We are now leaving the day after the Super Bowl. Lesley has reset her driving lesson and rebooked the campground for us. It is sooooo nice to have her helping to do such details without me having to do it all. She is now more computer literate than I am in some areas. The trip had to be shortened to three weeks because Lesley has an aunt in California who turns 90 early in March. We will be back then so she can fly to the party for her aunt. The dogs and I will hold the fort here. Because of the shortened trip we will be only going to Huntsville, AL to see the NASA. Space Center there and then on to visit some friends in Louisiana. Not sure how we will come back to TN yet but we will find a way.


Some good friends of ours are looking at leaving where they live in SC. The nest is now empty, both are retired and the house that has worked for them for many years no longer seems to fit. They are looking to maybe leave SC and move to TN or NC. Naturally we hope they willl wind up in our area but are trying to give them information without being to biased and talk them into something that will not work for them. They also want to get an RV and travel. Since we live in TN and also RV and love both, we want to make sure we just give them facts and not try to sway them just because we want them to come here.


Lesley has booked a trip to see her mum in New Zealand in May. Mum will be 95 in Sept, still lives alone, no longer drives but is still active and bright.


We have become stand in grandparents for a 11 year old girl and 9 year old boy. They are the children of a couple we know in MN. Lesley and the young girl talk nearly every day and spend an hour or so on skype knitting and sharing time together. I have also helped the young girl with her math homework. They are both being home schooled and she has a bit of trouble with math, which just happened to be something I was fairly good at many years ago. I will say that asking me to look back and help her with things I learned 48 years ago is a challenge! I just this week sent the boy a complete Erector set made in the 1950's. he is into Lego and has done most of them so it seemed good to give him s construction toy that is not limited to one model but can become whatever he wants. The girl just got a horse, so Lesley has been helping her buy bridles and such. She is also helping her make and sell knit and crocheted items online. Wow, neat!


A few days ago a neighbor saw me working under the motorhome and came over and asked if he could help me. I said, "be careful what you wish for or I'll have you up on the roof soon". Soon he was in fact up on the roof since I no longer wish to get up there. I and Lesley much appreciated it. We do live in a very nice area. I tell Lesley people around here must take "nice pills" everyday. They are nice.


Well time to go now, my tea cup is empty.


One phone call

My oh my how one phone call can change things. Last week I had an ultra sound of my liver. The local va has been watching a spot on my liver for almost two years now. This last six month check showed it has grown a bit. My doc called 4 hours after the test and said he wanted an mri to be sure. He does not feel it is serious but wants the mri to see exactly what is going on. It is scheduled for January 18th.


Soooo, all the travel plans due to start this week are out the window. The driving lesson for Lesley in the motorhome has been postponed as well. Looks like Christmas will be her in TN and not FL as planned. We called some friends we are to meet up with in January in FL to let them know we will be delayed a few weeks. Turns out they are going to be as well. Sometimes things just work out after all.


We were initially upset, but now have settled down and are actually looking forward to having nothing particular to do the next few weeks. Read books too long on the shelf, do some small honey do's that have been put off too long, get to know my bride a bit better, etc.


A brief catch up on the quick trip we took to MN in October. Great trip and reunion with friends, some late season fishing, and watching football on the outdoor TV in our motorhome with Lake Superior in the background. Lesley drove some on the trip and was getting pretty confident by the time we got back. We are getting used to how everything works in the motorhome and love it more each time we use it. BTW, the dental work for Lesley cost all of $650 in MN instead of the $14000 quoted here in TN. Hmmmm.


Health wise except for this liver spot which does not appear to be serious, most everything is good. I do get more frequent visits from various aches and pains, but all is basically OK.


Anyway, life goes on, Lesley is cooking some great smelling stuff I will be partaking of soon, I woke up breathing today and the sun rose in the East this morning. Life is OK here, and i will soon have a cup of tea instead of coffee. Lesley has converted me.


Yesterday I sold my 1991 Alfa Romeo Spider convertible I once posted pics of here. It just did not fit our new much travel lifestyle. Sitting here in the garage only used a few times a year made no sense, so I sold it. I really did not feel sorrow watching it go down the driveway for the last time. Our plans now include so much travel in our motor home that I will not have much time to miss it. Lesley threw a hissy fit at first when I put it on the market, but she has come around now realizing it was the right thing to do after all.


Speaking of Lesley, she is still in New Zealand visiting her mum. She will be back here Sept 26. We then will be packing fast for an unexpected trip North back to Minnesota for a few weeks, leaving here Sept 28. The motivating factor for the sudden trip was that we got a shock at a local dentist a few weeks ago. Lesley went for a routine clean and checkup. They supposedly found $14,000 worth of needed work. Right. I said "that's not going to happen" as we walked out. She frantically called our old dentist in Minnesota who had been maintaining her teeth for 10 years. The dentist there was horrified and said there is no way you need that much work. We sent her the proposal we had just received. She said you MIGHT need one crown and possibly a filling. I wish you were still here so I could do it for you. So we talked about it and we do have a motor home and always looking for an excuse to use it, so off we go. The thing that really set me off was when Lesley told me the pictures were taken before the teeth were cleaned, not after. I immediately smelled a rat!


Our plans after leaving there about mid Oct are uncertain. We have no particular place to go and no compelling reason to race back here to TN. We will spend a few days with good friends in Northern WI, and then meander around gradually heading South. While she is gone I have been doing upgrades to the motor home. Some easy, some very hard, but getting it done anyway.


I was happy to get one job on the motor home. It was installing a suspension modification to the rear axle. 6 of the bolts had to be tightened to 150lbs. Now for those that do not know what that means well it means you have to pull on a large wrench until the gauge tells you that you are now pulling at 150lbs of force. Considering I was laying on my back alone under the motor home, well let's just say it was all this 71 year old guy could do. I wound up with huge bruises on my biceps and shoulders where I had apparently popped some blood vessels which since I am on a blood thinner is easy to do. I will say though I did feel some satisfaction when it was done, to say nothing about the $250 I saved by doing it myself.


So Lesley can help me with the driving of the motor home,we are getting a private driving lesson for her in our motor home in Dec this year. Hopefully that will give her the confidence and knowledge to safely drive it and give me a break from time to time.


So, life goes on and our plans the next three years will keep us on the road 6-8 months a year hopefully. The clock is ticking so we want to get on with our bucket list.


Til next time....


I got a Bowflex exercise machine about six months before my stroke. For six months it made a nice clothes rack and one more thing to dust. Then my stroke in Dec 2006. As soon as I got home from the hospital and was able I started to use it. Just a little at first, then as I was able I used it more.


Now the good news. The roller seat no longer worked because of wear. The resistance rods also lost all their resistance and now sag uselessly. So a new seat has been installed and I turned the rods around to give them new life for a bit until I can buy new ones.


The really good news is that the machine gave me new life even as I am now giving it new life. Funny how we can get so happy over simple things. I am now remembering the somber thoughts I had when I first began the exercise program over nine years ago. How hopeless it seemed at the time. How I watched others in rehab more able than myself. How I selfishly wished I could do the same as they could. Now I am repairing one of the items that helped get me where I am today.


It has been a long road, hard at times, and I certainly did not do all I could have and should have done. But I was able to outlast my exercise machine!


Anyway, I guess I have gone on about a machine long enough.


A bit of really exciting news for me. I have been coaching a lady that has exactly the same type of colitis that I have. Less than two out of 100,000 people have it, so not a lot of help out there. We met on a Facebook page we both write on. She is new to the program that has healed me. She asked me for some help and I have been coaching her on the program. Today she reported to me she is well now and feeling better than she has in a long time, her stomach and intestine acting normally now with out pain. Yes, I shared the great moment of excitement with her. I have never met her and probably never will, but we have a common bond now.


Since it afternoon and I no longer drink coffee after noon and it is 1PM, my coffee cup will have to remain empty until tomorrow.


As I mentioned before I now have Colitis. The good news is that it is gone thru a diet our son found for me. As all things in life can be, it was a struggle, but Lesley and I have overcome it. My gut is now better than it has been in my adult life. I used to always have a Tums or Rolaid in my pocket, now we don't even have them in the house. We have both dropped 15 lb or so without even trying. The thought of selling the motorhome because I would no longer be able to use it has passed, and as I previously mentioned we now have a newer, bigger one and will put it on the road later this fall. I am reminded that when I stroked I was told that I may never carry my canoe again. Longtime readers will remember pics of me carrying it six months later. Three doc's told me this past year there is no cure for colitis, diet does not matter, and it can come back anytime. Well after going on this diet I have gone from a "flare" every two weeks to none in the past year. The point is we all are responsible to do the best we can and never give up!


Lesley is busy feathering her new nest inside the motorhome and I am busy doing the "man" things outside it. Our travel plans look like Jacksonville, FL over the holidays in Dec and then on to Pensacola for January, then I think TX coast for most of Feb, then back to TN I think.


We are now using the Alfa Romeo sports car I mentioned some time ago much more than we used to. I had put it up for sale since we did not seem to be using it much and Lesley threw a hissy fit. Seems like she enjoyed it as well as me. Awhile back we did a road here in TN called "The tail of the dragon". It has 318 curves in 11 miles and crosses the Western edge of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. What a blast! When I drive it I cannot wear my foot brace on the left leg because I cannot shift the clutch then. But it is worth it anyway. A quick Italian meal in the mountains of NC after the drive and a great day was complete.


For long time readers that might remember my blog about that darn comet dust, well it seems the young people have not solved the problem, every year when we go thru the cloud I notice a few more aches, pains and new members to my "family" of conditions and ailments.


Anyway, note that I woke up this morning and the sun rose in the East. It could be worse!


Lesley and I are realizing it is just the two of us in the end. I have no family to speak of. She is learning that her family is changing and our lives are changing so there is a divergence of wishes, thoughts, and goals. Her mum is soon 94 and her life revolves around the day she finds her self in. Her health is deteriorating some but she is still amazing. Living on her own but no longer driving. A great spirit still wells up and out of her. Our son just finished 6 months here in the States traveling with a friend also from New Zealand. Together they bought a old van and traveled from here in TN to FL and eventually all the way to Los Angles where his friend flew back to NZ and he drove back here to TN. Along the way they sang and played music, made friends, and had the time of their lives at open mike nights. The two grand daughters are both cutting their own path. One is currently in the UK and one still in NZ but living with a friend far from Auckland. The son is now back in NZ and has resumed work and has a new girlfriend.


So, Lesley and I are here really loving Tennessee. We did trade motor homes. The one we had proved too small for the type of camping we now do here. So we bought a 34' model and love it. We also tow a small car behind it for local transport. It has enough room for both of us to take our hobbies along. Lesley her sewing machine and quilting stuff and me my Erector sets.


I did luck out and find a new fishing buddy a few days ago. We have much in common and both like to fish out of a canoe rather than a boat. I had to hurry up and get my fishing license and tackle ready.


My health is better than it has been in a year. The colitis has been conquered. Three doc's all said no cure and diet does not matter it won't help. I am here to tell you it does. All my stomach and intestine issues are gone. Lesley as well has noticed she feels better and we both have lost about 10lb without trying.


Stroke related issues are about the same, balance is not what it used to be, some leg twitching, a few voice issues, etc, etc, but all in all very good.


The bottom line of all of this is that Lesley and I have realized life is short, I have had two shots across the bow so to speak health wise with the stroke and colitis, and Lesley has had pancreatis in the past year and a cyst in her chest removed that was not malignant but scary none the less. So if you see a 34' Itasca motor home with Tennessee plates coming at you wave. We are moving on!


So, that is it for now, life is good when you have a great partner to share it with!


Cya later


We are now well settled in our new home in Erwin, TN.My battle with colitis appears to be under control. Our son found a special diet that supposedly works to fix it. I always am skepical about such claims, I find they usually are just trying to sell you something. Refreshingly, this one is really about getting colitis and other stomach/intestinal sufferers better. The great news is that it works! The past month I have felt better than I have for the previous six months. I am even sleeping better and awake feeling well and ready to take on the day.


Lesley's mum in New Zealand has recovered well from her recent hospitalization. However she continues to have falls, and her overall health is obviously deteriorating. That is life's cycle I guess.


Now to the really neat stuff. We are settled here and so enjoyed the fall colors, driving our Alfa sports car thru the montains enjoying the colors. Wow, what a great time in our lives. We have made enough changes to the house that it is now ours so to speak.


Our son Stefan is visiting us from New Zealand for about six months. We have been showing him the area and just returned from 3 days in Nashville, TN. What a neat city. We know a singer song writer there, and he gave us the insiders tour of the city. Music is our son's passion, and he is working with a mate of his still in New Zealand about coming over while he is still here and the two of them chasing their dream in music.


I told him about the seasons in life, and now that his two daughters are on their own and he has no ties to NZ at the moment, the stars seem to be aligned for his and his mate to give it a try considering the contacts he now has in Nashville.


While there we had the honor of attending Whit Hill's launch of her first self written and played CD about her passion, which is metal detecting. What an amazing CD. While there we also met Lisa, another person who gave up her PHD in astrophysics to chase her dream of music. Imagine talking to a PHD in Astrophysics while listening to her self written Jazz CD. Wow, what a night.


Seeing how fleeting life and good health can be, having had a stroke and now colitis which is more serious that I first took it to be, Lesley and I are getting very serious about doing our RV travel plans. Fortunately because of the successful diet or son found me we can now travel again. Next fall New England and the Canain Maritimes are now planned. The next summer after that will be either Alaska or British Columbia, and the next summer whichever is left. Time to get on with it, good seasons do not last forever.


I guess my message is whatever is on your bucket list and you are able to do, get on with it. Our son is, and so are we.


Well, our son is fixing a chicken salad, and I love to eat, so off I go.


Longtime readers may remember that I lost my first wife of 28 years, 14 years ago. Since I made a terrible batchelor, I married Lesley 4 months later, but I digress from the point of the blog. My late wife's name was Joan. During the long battle with type I diabetes, cancer and a few other medical conditions, she had to put on more and more medical devices and aids to function.


In the last few years when we both knew we were not going to like the end but still needed a laugh, I started calling her my "Joanie Doll, some assembly required". Being a good spirited lady she took it well and all concerned had a short laugh.


Fast forward to now. Some of you may remember a few years ago when I listed my "family" of conditions. Well the family tree just keeps on growing and growing. Although I do not yet anyway need lots of devices other than an AFO (ooops I forgot the CPAP gizmo), before I can do nearly anything anymore I have to ask "do we have my (fill in the blank) meds, my glove for my cold left hand, extra water bottle, sweater or lite jacket even in summer. And the length of the family tree of ailments just keeps on growing.


One more Karma story I'll make as short as I can. Many years ago as my late father and I came back from a long days fishing with a few lake trout on the stringer, I dropped the stringer of fish into the. lake. Dad was not pleased.


Fast forward to summer three years ago. Lesley and I did our last canoe camping trip along the US/Canadian border. I caught a fish casting off the campsite and yelled for Lesley to bring the net. She skillfully netted the fish, then excitedly put the net on the flat ground to go get a camera. Any fisherman can guess how long it took for the fish to flip back into the water. I was not pleased.


Later that afternoon I took the canoe out and caught a couple of fish which I raced back to the campsite with the intention of eating them soon.. On the way I stopped in the middle of the lake to refill my water bottle and decided to put the fish back in the water for a minute. The stringer made a funny sound as it entered the water, then went silent. I soon found out why. I had already disconnected it from the canoe and off swam the fish.......


Is this what is called "Karma"?


Oh well, I woke up breathing this morning (I have decided the morning I wake up not breathing I probably won't bother to get out of bed), and the sun rose in the East again.


My coffee cup is empty and you all know what that means.


P.S. My Dr says my coffee cup should be empty more often..........


The good news is that Lesley will be back in a few days. Yea!! The bad news is that her mum responded well as previously reported to the band aids that worked in the hospital. Unfortunately now that she is home the bacterial infection is gone, but the fluid from the congestive heart failure is coming back. Her family doctor and personal friend stopped by a few days ago and said there is fluid in her lungs and around the heart.


The doctor told Lesley to go home now, and we will deal with mum when the time comes. Looking at the situation as the nurse she was for over 30 years, Lesley is not optimistic long term. So, we will see what the future holds.


Unfortunately the colitis I have has decided to flare up and life around here has not been pleasant. I am just hanging on til Lesley returns. The dogs will love to see her again.


Anyway, thats it for now, more later my coffee cup is empty.


Surprise ending

Well mum has surprised us again. She is now much better, back home again with a good prognosis at the moment. The blood bacterial infection is gone and the fluid around the heart and in the lungs also gone. She appears to be capable of assisted self care again. I will say New Zealand does a great job of keeping people in their homes rather than carting them off to a nursing home. A lot of daily and weekly care is provided at little or no cost to the recipient which helps greatly.


Looks like Lesley will be able to come home on her originally scheduled date of Sept 9th.


The dogs and I will love having her back for sure.


Anyway, just a quick update with some good news.


This entry is difficult to write and will not be the usual upbeat tone. Sadly Lesley's mum is likely not going to be with us very many more days. Lesley went to New Zealand last month for her annual visit. The first week went well, then mum got sick and wound up in the hospital. Mum is 92 so any hospital trips are always concerning. It appears her body is shutting down. As a nurse for over 30 years lesley knows the signs and is well aware of what is happening.


We all have our trite sayings we use at such times, myself included. Somehow when it is so close and personal the sayings "oh well, she lived a good long life", "I hope I live as long as she has", etc, etc, sound pretty hollow. Lesley and I agree she will die of a broken heart. The quick story is that mum lived for the two great grand daughters being part of her life. She only had Lesley, and Lesley only had one son who had the two girls. Lesley has lived in the USA over twenty years. The grand son is leaving NZ to travel the world for awhile. The oldest grand daughter as flown the coop so to speak and is far away on her own. The youngest grand daughter is moving to England in December. That will leave mum in Auckland alone and on her own.


According to those who were there when she found out the last grand daughter was leaving, one could see the will to live leave her. She will die of a broken heart physically and emotionally.


Lesley was due to come back in less than two weeks. Obviously that will change. She is adamant that I stay here and not come down. There really is nothing I could do other than be a comfort to Lesley. I don't travel well over long distances and she does not want to worry about me travelling along with everything else. So the dogs and I will be here in TN alone for awhile. The dogs seem to know something is going on. The Bichon is normally like a cat, doing her own thing and not paying much attention to me. Now she is like a second skin, never far away from me. She did the same thing after my stroke, always sleeping on or next to my affected side.


Lesley will have to stay and handle the estate. The only real asset is a paid for house which has been in Lesley's name for many years now. Her father insisted it be that way before he died. There will still be the unpleasant process of getting rid of a lifetime of stuff. Fortunately the son is there to help. He has quit his job in preparation for his planned overseas travel, so he can and will be very helpful Still going to be a tough time. So, that is our sad story here in TN.


My coffee cup is empty and I don't even care.


Settling in

We are now well settled in Tennessee. The house is now our new home, not just a house. We went back to Minnesota in June to pick up some stuff we left there, camo in our RV with some good friends, and of course fish some. Wow the fishing was fantastic! I caught more large in two weeks that I usually did in a whole season when we lived there. But now I think I have closure on that season in my life. Not sure if and when we will go back there. Maybe to camp with our dear friends there, but probably not just for me to fish.


I did learn that the several month layoff from exercising took it's toll physicaly. Carrying the canoe was more difficult than it used to be. So, now that we are back I have and have the equipment again, I have started my exercise regimen again. I feel better already. Speaking of feeling better the colitis I mentioned last entry is much improved. It can come back anytime according to the doc, but at the moment everytime is back to normal. I will carry the meds that control it from now on though, just in case.


We did trade our truck for a new smaller car that better suits our lifestyle here in TN.


We really enjoy sitting on the deck watching the birds and have many, many types visiting.


We both were having alot of trouble sleeping here because of the summertime heat. Turning the A/C down in the entire house just to cool the bedroom seemed like a waste. So we had a small wall type A/C in the family room that was not being used since we had cooling ducts put in. Since it was one of those inter units that did not go thru the wall, we had it moved to the bedroom. What a difference! Now the BR is nice and cool and the rest of the house can stay at it's usual setting. Us and the dogs are all sleeping fine now.


Anyway, my coffee cup is empty, so....


Those of you that have read my blogs for some time know I am usually upbeat. I must confess things are piling up such that it is increasingly hard to be upbeat. The move to TN has cost way, way more than was expected. We are recovering but it will be a year before I feel comfortable with the checkbook again. That being said, we love the area and are making friends sooner than expected.


The main reason for things piling up has been my medical issues. The new to me VA doc has ordered many tests just so he can get to know me. I am used to having medical tests and having normal, nothing found results. No however each test seems to find something. No life threatening stuff but annoying all the same.


Those that remember my blog about my "family" will remember all my aliments. To which now can be added colitis (no cure but treatable and manageable), hearing deficit, swollowing disorder, sleep disorder, degerative discs in the upper back and neck, and assorted aches and pains. Getting old (will turn 70 next week) is definitely not for sissies.


VA gave me a cpap machine for the sleep problem. I am normal height and weight, never smoked but wake up groggy and need an afternoon nap. My biggest concern from the sleep test was that my pulse ox dropped to 85. Many nights have long waking periods, but initially going to sleep is easy. It is the staying that way that is hard.


After four attempts at using the cpap, I am ready to toss it in the trash. I have the nostril fitting not a complete mask since I do not open my mouth when sleeping. Keeping the thing correctly positioned when I turn on my side which is my normal position is maddening. So far it has kept me awake more than it has helped me sleep. After about 1/2 hour I throw the thing off and quickly go to sleep. Sleeping on my back has it's own problems because of the afore mentioned neck issues causing my right hand to go numb after about one hour of on the back sleeping. UGH!


Anyway the only positive I can report other than we love the area here is that next week we are going back to MN and hopefully catch some of the fish I missed while living there.


My coffee cup is empty soooo.....


Sorry for the long gap in postings, life has been busy to say the least. The saying goes that old age is not for sissies. I can now say that moving across country is not for sissies either. As previously posted we were planning to move from MN to TN. The move is now done, new to us house and all furniture shipped and accounted for.


Nearly finished with the endless address changes, insurances, vehicle registrations, etc, etc. The new house is fine but as expected some changes needed to make it ours. The neighborhood is fine and friendly. weather is much nicer than Northern MN. Still settling in though, not knowing anybody or having local friends is a challenge.


Unfortunately the biggest issue has been medical for me. I picked up an intestinal bug over a month ago and while now some better, still not right. diarrhea 24/7, some nausea, etc. The local VA is swamped and while my provider is great and has done his best, the system is so busy he cannot get me what he really wants tested quickly. So, Monday (tomorrow) I am calling a local civilian provider and will use the Medicare system. I am just plain sick and tired of being sick and tired.


We are supposed to go back to MN in June for a few weeks to pick up some stuff and see old friends. Not yet sure how that will work out


Good news though, our son, Stefan, from New Zealand plans to visit us in September for awhile. Mum turns 93 this year in the fall, and Lesley plans a visit to NZ to see her then.


Wish I could make this post happier, but sometime things are a a problem.


Ny coffee cup is empty and you all know what that means


New direction

Well it has been awhile since I posted. Life has been extremely busy. The quick story is that we (Lesley and I) are selling our house and moving to Tennessee. We have been contemplating it for some time, but I was not ready to give up my fishing here in summer just yet.


We have been cutting our fall RV trip short because of the need to get back here (Northern MN) before winter sets in. All the winter activities that drew us here in the first place 10 years ago we no longer do. Living in such a remote area (125 miles to nearest Walmart!) gets tougher every year. It finally dawned on us that having a house here when we really only look forward to the short summer just doesn't make sense any longer. So when Lesley said she would drive our truck up here and we can stay in our RV for the summer and I can fish to my hearts content, I knew we were moving.


Why Tennessee? We spent 9 months in North Eastern TN when Lesley was a travel nurse. We really liked it. The climate is very moderate, not too hot in summer and just enough winter to have 4 seasons.


So in early Dec we advertised our house ourselves and got a contract on it three weeks later. Closing is scheduled for Jan 23, 2015 and we intend to be heading south later that day weather permitting.


Since it became known we are leaving but coming back for the summers, at last count 4 people have offered us a place to park our motorhome and not stay in the city campground. Others have volunteered to store our moose meat and venison. Another is storing our Alfa Romeo sports car and has offered to drive it to Tennessee once we get settled there, others are storing our canoes so we do not have to drag them all the way from TN to MN. People are sure kind.


So off we go. Lesley and I have been as busy as any two beavers could be the past month. Selling stuff, making plans, etc, etc.


Lesley has finally gotten over her bout of pancreatitis and is well now, but it really shook her up realizing that she is not immortal after all.


Well that is our short story, health wise I am doing fine, just the usual stuff that comes with being a stroke survivor and a senior citizen.


My coffee cup is empty......


Lesley, the dogs, and I just finished a 7,600 mile six week trip in our RV. We started here in MN, then went to ND, SD, WY, MT, ID and then back to MN. we spent the most time in Idaho and absolutely loved it. We started at the north end near Bonners Ferry and just zig zagged down to the southern part. 4 of the 6 weeks of the trip were spent in Idaho. We travelled every paved highway into the mountains and along every river to it's or the roads end.


We saw a rodeo in Boise and more fresh fruit locally grown than you can imagine just north of Boise. How about apples and pears growing alongside the road, just pick them up. Strawberries, plums, cherries, peaches, blueberries, and huckleberries all for sale at great prices. We just pigged out. Lesley also spotted some fresh picked onions falling from a farm produce truck and we still have a few left. Sweet and delicious.


Before we got to Idaho we went thru ND and stayed at Teddy Roosevelt National Park, both North & South units. Lesley was driving in the south unit when as we came around a curve there was a large herd of buffalo, mommys daddies and kids walking right toward us on the road. She asked me what should she do. I told her to stop the vehicle, put it in park, turn off the engine and enjoy the moment. She did.


We also saw the Black Hills of SD in detail, Devils Tower WY and more buffalo there, Custer's last stand memorial in MT, Glacier Nat Park, and more than I can remember in ID. We will be going back to ID and next time I will take my fishing stuff. Trout streams everywhere.


We parked for the nite on the top of a pass that was the border between MT and ID. Amazingly clear sky, nobody in sight. Lesley was able to get just enough internet with our portable antenna to call her mum in New Zealand. I set up the portable satellite for the TV. Life is good. On the trip we got 19MPG (diesel), our camping costs averaged $10 a night for the trip, and somehow the Visa we put all our expenses on at home or traveling was under what we budget for it normally when just at home. So the trip did not cost us anything more than we usually spend at home. I guess we spent less at Walmart since we were traveling. Still amazing to me, but that has now happened the last two long fall trips we have taken. I think Lesley's kitchen abilities had something to do with it.


Now back home and reality sets in. Seems like everything that can break or need attention has done so since we got back. Lesley spent a few more days in the hosp for abdominal pain again. She had pancreatis in the summer. We feared it had returned but fortunately not so. After many, many tests, the diagnosis is inflamation of the bowels and pancreatic duct. It is getting better slowly but surely.


Lets see what else has broken or needed fixing. The door on the deck. The ATV which is my primary snow clearing machine for our 1,000 ft driveway has been recalled with a warning not to drive it until it is fixed. I called the nearest dealer, which is in Duluth over 120 miles away and I have to get it there somehow, and the parts are on backorder until mid November. Great. How am I going to clear the drive if it snows? Snowblower I guess. The door opener on the new garage for the motorhome does not work, second time now and less than year old. I did get that fixed. Climbing up a ladder and being 14ft high over a concrete floor was not alot of fun. The siding on the lower part of the house had to be reinstalled. I just got that done. A squirrel got into the lean to where I store the ATV and tore up the insulation and made a general mess inside. Did I mention the kitchen range quit (now fixed)? Etc, etc,......


All of this and of course my spasisity flared up, not sleeping at night very well, leg twiches again and some other stuff.....


Anyway, I woke up breathing this morning, the sun came up in the East on schedule, the bills are paid, and the coffee is ready and my cup is empty so you know what that means.


Quick update

Just have time for a quick update. Summer is flying by as always up here. June was a blur as several cousins, etc came to FISH. The pressure was on to guide them to good fishing. I worried about all the usual things like will the weather allow it, will the bugs eat them alive, etc, etc. In the end it all went well, all caught fish including the 9 yr old boy. Both canoes in use stayed upright and dry, another worry of mine.


The 4th of July weekend we went to visit some friends in Wisconsin and entered our Alfa in a classic car show with 400 other cars. My friend and I had the only Alfa's in the show. Lesley walked 4 miles with a friend for some charity and had lots of fun as well.


Now some not so good news, Lesley recently spent 4 days in hospital with pancreatis. She is recovering but slowly. She also has some kind of yeast growing in her throat and esophagus. Not fun, but finally clearing.


Now I am getting ready to go with a friend for 6 days into the wilderness canoeing and backpacking/tent camping. And fishing of course.


After that Lesley and I are camping in our motorhome with some friends for several days. After that, we will be off in the motorhome for 2 months or so traveling out west in Montana, Idaho, and wherever else the road leads.


Whew! Just writing all of that tuckered me out!


Medically all is well, just finished another trip around the sun and still breathing, the sun rose in the East today, and life is good.


My coffee cup is empty....


blog-0859624001404150677.jpgWe have been so busy I just have not had time to even think about blogging, But here goes. First the frustration of trying to post a new gallery here. I have some pics I would like to post of our Alfa but could only get one to add to an existing album. So you may have to look at previously posted pics as well. I cannot make a new gallery, and I just don't have the time or mental energy to fight it now. I have never been able to easily add photo's here and I just do not know why. When I try to follow the steps in the help section I am told I do not have permission to do so. Excuse me, I give up!


Enough of the rant. This summer has been crazy busy with company, guess that is what we get for living in a resort area. We did get our 1991 Alfa Romeo convertible, maybe the pic posted, maybe not...... Company has been coming all summer so far all wanting to fish. 6 relatives came a week ago. Having 3 generations, grandpa, son, and grandson in one canoe with me solo in another watching was stressful to say the least The good news is that all stayed dry and safe, and all caught fish.


This past weekend more company, I had to stay home, I was just exhausted and being in a canoe did not seem like a good idea.


Nearly all the projects I spoke of this spring have been completed. The few that remain will wait for another day. The biggest one, the wainscoating paneling of the upstairs has been done. The only regret is that we should have done it long ago.


Lesley went to a old historic town on the Mississippi river last week with a girlfriend and had a ball for three days. Her husband and I shared some "guy" time here holding things together.


Looks like the tent camping trip planned with a buddy in August will not happen.He had back and toe surgery recently and will not be up to the trip. To tell the truth I don't mind. A break in the action is OK with me. Later this week we are going to take our Alfa to a car show in Wisconsin and show it along with some friends who have one as well. Lesley is also doing a 4 mile walk with the lady for charity. I passed on that!


I am noticing that age is creeping up on me and the afflictions of such and those the stroke added are becoming a bit more noticable. I will not bore you with the list, lets just say that at 69 the list is getting longer. Plus I have been fighting nasal conjestion and a sore throat now for about a week, so not in the best mood as of late.


I also notice the issue that Sue mentioned of others wanting you to do things for them and their organizations is appearing. I don't want to do anymore than I am at the moment. These people don't seem to understand that just because I maybe could do something does not mean I WANT to.


Anyway, enough of this gouchy blog, The sun rose in the East this morning and I am still breathing so life is good!




Reality check

The last blog entry I shared my dreams and fanticies. Now reality has set in. Lesley and I spent two days shoveling 3-4 ft of snow off our roof. The forecast of and additional 1-2 ft of heavy, wet snow sparked us into action. The snow we shoveled off the garage then had to be reshoveled from the door, or our car would have been trapped until spring whenever that may come. Our roof is about 2300 sq ft. I doubt we will do that again! We did save about $500 by doing it ourselves vs hiring it out. Not sure the four days it took to recover (think aches, pains, sore muscles, etc), made the money saved worth it. We then spent a third day after shoveling the roof plowing the driveway and shoveling out the satellite dish and the air inlet/outlet pipes to the furnace.


Now we are busy getting some remodeling done that we have talked about for several years. New carpet was installed a few days ago. Wow, what an improvement. Of course everything had to be moved, all wires disconnected, etc. We did pay the carpet layers to move the heavy stuff, but I had to do all the wires to the tv's, stereo, etc. This time I did get a little smarter and labeled all wires as to where they hooked up to. It did make rehooking everything easier. We left the furniture away from the walls because I am going to install wainscoating along all the walls in the house except the laundry and bathrooms. It is wood paneling about 30" high and should look very nice. This time I got smart again, and am having the wood prefinished and cut to the exact length I need. The small cost increase was well worth it since I dislike and am not very good at sanding and finishing wood. That part is what has kept me from doing this project long ago, but now that I found a place in Duluth that cuts to any length and prefinishes it, I am happy to do the rest.


Did I mention that next week we are having a new bed delivered? Our present one is old and very lumpy, so out it goes. The new one also has the neat feature of raising the head area of the mattress to any angle desired. Now when Lesley serves me breakfast in bed I will be able to eat it in comfort! lol. I suspect she will enjoy the same convenience.


Some new shelving is also in the near future for a storage area in the basement. When we are not clearing snow here in winter all these other projects get done. Lesley has just found some wooden stakes from oak barrels that are made into hanging pot racks. So, when they come in I will be mounting them over the kitchen window along with the new light fixture she just ordered for the sink area of the kitchen. Fortunately, the pot racks are also cut to length and finished as well.


I can't wait for spring so I can rest. But wait! I forgot the list of modifications to the motorhome that are to be done, not to mention all the things that will be hung on the walls and be stored in the new garage the motorhome rests in, all of which need shelves, racks, hooks, etc.


Then we go to Milwaukee, WI to pick up our Alfa Romeo in May although I just found another one here in MN also for sale. We will look at both when they are out of winter storage, buy one, and then hopefully can find time to play with it along with driving the motorhome a few places. We also have at least two tent camping trips planned into the wilderness with our canoe. Fishing, I almost forgot I MUST get in some fishing this summer, and we have three relatives coming from the South in June wanting to catch lots of fish.


Lesley is already planning her garden, and trips with a girlfriend in the motorhome and new (to us) Alfa.


I can't wait until next winter so maybe I can get some rest and attack the pile of books I have partially finished.


The good news is that my coffe cup is empty and I don't have much else to do today......



Musings, what if's, wondering what could have been, woulda, coulda, shoulda, maybe taking the other fork in the road...... WARNING, I have not a clue exactly where this is going, but here goes. Put on your helmet and goggles. A few nights ago Lesley and I went to a local concert put on by local musicians doing much of their own written music. Then the same feeling came on me that usually does at such events. I hate to say it but at such times I confess to having a touch of envy watching musicians play with such freedom and reckless abandon. I have always wished I could do the same, they just seem to so enjoy themselves.


I have zero musical talent. I am such a logical thinker, meticulous doing of anything, planner, etc, etc. Those traits kept me from ever becoming a really good golfer or bowler. I just think things through too much to be successful in such pursuits. Now set up a pool table or a chess board and I can play ok. Do not misunderstand, I am happy with myself just as imperfect as I am. I can't think of anyone I would trade places with. BUT just once I would like to be able to get together with some like minded folks pick up an instrument, any instrument, and jam the night away.


To experience the free, eclectic run of the spirit with no planning thoughts, or concern about logical results, well, that might just be fun sometime. So, Lesley being the one who wants to fix anything that needs fixing is suggesting I get an old guitar or some other string instrument since that is probably all this left (stroke) hand could do at all. She plays a dulcimer at the beginner level from time to time and now has dreams of the two of us jamming.


A different subject but along same line of thought, in my 10 years in Europe, including 4 in Italy I worked on and drove many Italian sports cars. Fiats, Alfa Romeo's Mazerati's, Ferraris, and a few others. Lesley has been after me for several years for us to get an older Fiat or Alfa convertible. A toy if you will. Where we live it would only be something to drive from May to September, but we ain't gettin' any younger. So in May we are buying a 25 year old Alfa Romeo convertible with a five speed manual shifter. Lesley already has dreams of her hair flying in the wind like Gina Lolla Brigida or somebody like that. Me, I am looking at the logic in doing this but find none. You know what? It doesn't matter, logical or not I think we are going to do it. This time I'm going to take the other fork in the road, the one less traveled. Maybe a guitar is in my future.


You may now take your helmet and goggles off.