A NEW EXPERIENCE FOR ME AND A BUG BITE ADDED


I have been undergoing a new experience for me. My body is retaining water and this is evident in my swollen legs. My doctor had prescribed a diuretic to deal with the leg swelling when he was first presented with my problem. When I returned for a  followup visit, he saw that my legs were not improved and he immediately put me into the hospital. He said he wanted to “dry me out” and run some tests. I informed my son, who had brought me to the doctor’s office, that we were undergoing a change in plans; we were going to the Lakewood Medical Center and I was going to be admitted as a patient and I was going to be ‘dried out’. After a short drive to the medical center, and the signing of many, many consent and acknowledgement forms, I was reintroduced to the ‘hospital gown’ and its drawbacks (pun intended), the joy of trying to find, by trial and error, a suitable location for the IV needle, and a pee bottle to measure my ‘output’. I quickly learned that ‘diuretic by IVee’ plus a Pee bottle plus a hospital gown equals big mess. Ballet it is not, but I learned some new moves in a short time and managed to avoid any major spills in so doing. Soon after we began this ‘drying out’ process, I noticed that the IV pump was very frequently signaling its ‘displeasure’ with the status of the IVee line (flex tubing) by making a loud, periodic, and irritating noise. The  noise seemed to be an alert , aimed at everyone in the vicinity of the IVee pump, that something was amiss and some action must be taken. The action finally taken was to relocate the IVee site to yet another place on my arm to minimize the chance of arm movement causing a IVee line kink and more alarms. Now I know why my wife Patty said she felt like a pin cushion when she was in the hospital.

While in the hospital I was put on a special diet that required low sodium  food preparation. That, and my age related loss of my ability to properly taste my food, meant you could have fed me cardboard and I would have been just as satisfied. Take away taste and one is left with presentation and texture (mouth feel?) as the remaining factors that allow me some satisfaction in eating my food. The food that I was served at Lakewood Medical Center was uniformly good; I cleaned my plate at each meal even though I could taste very little of what I ate. Loss of appetite was not my problem. The quality and consistency of these two food  factors are largely controlled by people and this demonstrates to me that LMC must have a very capable staff in their kitchen. 

In the hospital I was bitten on the back of my left hand by some kind of insect. I first noticed the bite while I was washing my hands and I  felt a sharp pain in my left hand. When I investigated I observed a rapidly increasing swelling on the back of my left hand. I showed my hand to the nurse and she drew a line round the area of the swelling with a felt pen. We watched in amazement as the swelling doubled in area as we watched. There was little pain. After a short while, my skin began to appear as though I had been bruised. Although several nurses were involved in the incident, no further mention of the bite was made by hospital personnel. Since I was experiencing no great discomfort, I did not pursue the matter and I was discharged from the Hospital. Since that time the discoloration has almost gone away and there has been no new swelling or pain. There is however a hard lump at the original site of the swelling. I do not know what I will do at this point except I will mention the episode to my doctor when I see him on Monday. I am moderately concerned about the possibility of future problems such as Lyme’s disease.

 

JUST THROW THEM AWAY!


Several years ago, as part of a garage cleaning frenzy (Parkinson’s has now  freed me of that particular malady), I had concluded that my practice of using Kodak slide carousels  for the purpose of long term storage of slides was not very smart. So, being a person who thinks of himself as being not ‘not smart’, I  transferred the slides to newly acquired storage boxes in anticipation of someday “doing something with my slides”. The remainder of my slides stayed in the familiar yellow Kodak boxes. I had been wondering what I was going to do with the now surplus carousels and I had concluded it would be a shame to deprive someone of the opportunity to own these ‘like new’ wonders of days past. I had what seemed a good idea – give them to the Goodwill store. I tried to do that without success. They informed me they had learned the hard way the truth of the matter – no one wanted Kodak carousels with the exception of the trashman. This is the point in my narrative where I confess to having vague fears of retribution action that would befall me if I did actually throw them away. The fears that I harbored turned out to be unjustified because nothing bad happened to me (that I know of – one never knows for sure) when I did throw them into the trash bin and they became somebody else’s problem.

Recently, I started the work associated with ‘doing something with my slides’. This ‘something’ entails transfering all my slides into archival storage boxes where they will await my scanning of each slide into a digital file where they will reside, in digital format,  for a long while. This enterprise frees up a lot of ‘useful’ yellow boxes that I will eventually have to deal with. Here is my problem: I am feeling the same vague fear of retribution that I experienced when I contemplated throwing away the carousels. Is this fear somehow related to the bad vibes I  feel when I use my digital camera? I hope this is not some kind of  universal, Kodak related, psychic backlash leftover from the loss of the film camera market because of  the advent of digital technology. But the bad vibes are easily dealt with by recounting to myself the many ways new, image related, tasks are accomplished with digital files. I have still yet to determine the fate of the yellow boxes. Its true, they are useful, so maybe I will find a good home for them.

FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF PATTY JOHNSON – LISTEN UP!


After much thought, I have decided that my wife, if she could, would probably, after a lot of discussion between us,  forgive me for going ahead with a plan  for a gathering of her friends and members of her family, in spite of her expressed desire that no great fuss be made. But I know that Patty and I were of like mind when it came to caring for the well being of our family and friends and I understand the importance to friends and family of saying goodbye to your loved ones. So, we came to the conclusion that we are going to have to make a fuss, a ‘party’ if you will, to allow people to demonstrate their love and respect for the life you led. Let’s make it a good one!

I have also consulted with my three sons and we have decided to host the ‘gathering of Patty’s  family and friends’ with the purpose of celebrating her life. 

Here is the status of our planning thus far:

  1. In order to give people plenty of advance notification of the event, we plan to set a date that is about six months from now. We will set the date ASAP.
  2. We need to have an estimate of how many may attend as we want to choose an appropriate place to hold the event. We do not want to overlook anyone and you can help us by telling us who in your circle may want to attend. It probably will be held indoors. I am considering the facility at the City of Lakewood Civic Center. 
  3. We will serve a buffet lunch.
  4. We want to plan a program which allows plenty of time for people to share their experiences knowing Patty. She was a ‘one-of-a-kind’ person and the program will reflect that.
  5.   We are planning for the showing of images of her life as recorded by the cameras wielded by family and friends. I hope this ‘slide show’ will serve as a reminder of your ‘Patty  experiences’ and will prompt you to share these with those attending. We encourage you to share in advance with us any images which we may want to include in the show. It is my hope that by gathering together and sharing our experiences as members of her family or as one of her many friends, we will become better able to accept her sudden passing from our lives. I  know how difficult this can be but it is important for those she loved so much to do so.   
  6. We welcome any suggestions you may want to offer us as we go forward.with our planning.

CONFRONTING THE UNKNOWN: SCANNING MY 35mm COLOR SLIDE ‘COLLECTION’


I started to amass my ‘collection’ of 35mm color slides in 1961; that is the year in which I bought my first 35mm SLR camera. It was a very basic Pentax H1a model and I soon added a 135 mm telephoto lens. I have since photographed my family, my extended family, friends, all manner of railroad subjects, my mountaineering activities, family vacation trips, museums and all manner of things that interested me. Other than a cursory showing of the slides after the film was developed, nothing was done with the color slides – they were put away in their familiar yellow Kodak boxes and essentially forgotten. I have come to the conclusion the benign storage of the slides, that was the result of this neglect, was the key favorable factor in now my finding the slides to be in very good condition, in spite of their age. I am eighty five years old and have Parkinson’s disease; age has not been as kind to me as my color slides. One year ago my wife died and and her death left me in a bad place with respect to my general health. I felt I needed some activity to direct my thoughts away from the loneliness that comes with the loss of one’s spouse. I am computer literate and I have a capable computer plus a 35 mm film scanner and several years ago I had embarked on a project to organize and scan my railroad slides into a digital format. This scanning project has expanded to include ALL of my slides. This is a time consuming project and that is good for me. This slide project has proven to be a good way for me to come closer to accepting my life as it is unfolding. In fact, the scanning of my slide collection has turned into an ‘ad hoc’ way of confronting the feeling of loneliness that has been with me since my wife died but I have no grand expectation this feeling of loneliness will change for the better any time soon. The best I can bring myself to hope for is a gradual improvement in my mood.The memories of the events of my life with Patty are refreshed by the viewing of images of long past events. It is amazing to me how much I remember of long ago events as I watch the memory-refreshing images reveal themselves on the computer screen. Just as amazing are the times that I have no memory of a particular event that is clearly a part of my life. I do not have a clue as to why my memory is so selective. The feelings that accompany the memory refreshing viewing of the images are of a bittersweet nature for me. These memories flood into my consciousness and they sometimes overwhelm me. However, the continued viewing of these slides remind me of how much I owe Patty for the many good things that have come my way during the life I have experienced so far. This viewing also has the unfortunate effect of reminding me how much I personally lost when she died – no words can adequately express the sense of loss that I feel, but I also believe having had Patty as my life partner for sixty six years has helped equip me with the strength to cope with my loneliness. Her positive attitude and demeanor, in particular during her final bout with breast cancer, left me with a profound sense of how fortunate I was to have been her husband for sixty six years.

I AM NOT SLEEPY RIGHT NOW SO I WILL WRITE SOMETHING TBD


It is a not uncommon circumstance with me these days, being wide awake at midnight. I take my Parkinson’s pills every  four hours and the last scheduled time in my twenty four hour pill cycle is two AM. If I happen to sleep through until my alarm wakes me at six AM, a price will be paid for this unplanned luxury as I will be very stiff and not wanting to move very fast even as my bladder is sending ‘better not wait’ messages. Because of this motivation, I seem to have become somewhat adjusted to this scenario and I sometimes wake up a little after midnight and I get up. This is too early for the two AM pills and, after a glass of milk, I usually go back to sleep until pill time at two. Tonight I went to bed knowing full well that I would be up at midnight and I would be shortly thereafter feasting on my stash of Girl Scout cookies. Feasting on Girl Scout Cookies has almost become an annual ritual. It started this time when the doorbell summoned me to the front door and I went and reluctantly opened the door a judicious little bit and peeped outside. I was fully prepared to tersely send the ‘sellers of something or another’ on their way, but a couple of days ago, when I went through this familiar drill, it was  familiar until I got to the peeping part. Because, there, on my porch, stood two Girl Scouts and nearby was their Mom with a child’s wagon loaded with GIRL SCOUT COOKIES! It was time again to indulge myself by gorging on the contents of these boxes of pure delight. Of course, I also knew the three as my neighbors of long standing – I first met their Mom and Dad before Mom and Dad were married. I quickly adjusted my demeanor to the highest welcoming ‘setting’ and invited them in where we could conclude what was certain to be a hefty sale of their cookies. I bought too many boxes by any standard of rational thought, but who is counting, I am certainly not but I am faced with the task of enjoying each and every cookie in those boxes.

The cookies were great and the milk was cold and I am now becoming sleepy, so – good night.

IT IS TIME FOR A POST


1964, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA , AT A BEACH CAMPGROUND NEAR FORT BRAGG

It has been a while since I last reported on how I am doing. The answer is I am just surviving, at the worst of times, and starting to look forward with anticipation of a better experience, at the best of times. Currently, I am busy organizing my ‘collection’ of color slides which date back to about 1962. This has been a rewarding enterprise for me as I am remembering events of long ago that I otherwise would not be thinking about. It is very much a trip down memory lane as I scan the slides so as to put the images into a digital format and the images can then be stored on my computer. I am planning to publish some images from time to time as my memory is refreshed and and as I gain confidence in my ability to select images without boring folks out of their minds. (How many train pictures do you want to see?)

Recently my lower legs, ankles and feet swelled up such that I almost could not put my shoes on. My cardiologist said I was reacting adversely to a change in my blood pressure medication. He changed me to another type of medication and it seems to be working as the swelling is almost gone. I am not driving at the present time and David (my son) is taking me where I need to go. My friends are taking me other places that are not on my list of ‘must go to’ destinations. These outings are very much appreciated by me as they are very pleasurable for me. David gets to take me to the doctor appointments and such – not very pleasurable – but very necessary.

The editor of the journal of the Union Pacific Historical Society ” The Streamliner”,  has contacted me and he raised the possibility of publishing my draft article about the 1868 UPRR Dale Creek Bridge. He is interested because the timely construction (1868) of the bridge was a vital part of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. The 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad occurs on May 10, 2019 and there will be a big party in ogden as there was fifty years ago. I am trying, with some success, to review the details of my research efforts of several years ago. I am planning to update the draft article to include the discovery of a Dale Creek bridge, forty foot long, span that today reposes on a Wyoming ranch. It is amazing that this span exists today. This  is true artifact of the beginning of the ‘age of steel’. 

 

 

THE ‘HOUND DOG’ CRUISE MISSILE


I have been scanning my old color slides to digitize them for storage on my computer. I found a good image of a North American Aviation built ‘Hound Dog’ missile. The missile used an Inertial Measuring Unit (IMU) developed and produced by NAA in Downey, California and I wanted to share the image with my  friends. Two of these missiles were carried under the wings of the B-52 bomber as part of its armaments.

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