Monday, August 25, 2008


I sent some folks notice last week that our college student daughter had suffered a rather severe break of her left forearm. The process of breaking an arm is relatively simple, just let gravity win and leverage have its way and there you have it. Repairing the break was considerably more involved and will have some long term effects on our young lady's life.

First and foremost, I am truly grateful that nothing more severe than a broken arm occurred. When you get a phone call at 1:30 in the morning from your kid's phone, it is almost never good and I am so very thankful that this call came in the manner that it did, and that the news it bore was as it was.
Brecca is surrounded by wonderful friends, and while she is only 45 minutes away from us in college, it was good to know that in the immediacy of her trauma she had good and caring frinds close by to care for her and help her get to the treatment she needed. May she always be so richly blessed with caring friends.

We got the status updates and knew that she was headed into surgery the next day so we kept contact with her friends and headed up to the hospital to greet her after the procedure. When we first arrived at the hospital, and asked for her room number, we were informed that she was still in recovery and would be headed to I.C.U. after getting out. ICU?!?! what exactly had happened here?? How does a broken arm lead to ICU? .. Well, we came to learn that the hospital was so completely filled up that the only bed available for her was in ICU and for her 'routine' stay it would serve.

We all saw the xrays and got a good look at the two new titanium plates and 14 screws that now bonded both her forearm bones together. They would serve as stabilizers until the bones mend, and will most likely stay there for her lifetime.
I'm glad the surgery went well, I'm thankful we live in a time where this type of injury will not lead to disfigurment and loss of use of the limb, and I'm glad she came through it with such flying colors! (well, despite some pretty serious post-operative pain).

She will no doubt be troubled by occasional aches or pain, and if the metal stays there, it will preclude MRIs who knows exactly what else, it's still pretty cool that it worked the way it did, that she was surrounded by supportive friends and that in the end it likely won't slow her down one bit.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Guess what we did Monday ...

On Monday morning we went to the RV America place and spent over two hours walking through the new Fifth-wheel with a very knowledgeable fellow named Levi. He had this down to a science and we got all our questions answered. I was advised to, and so I did, video the 'briefing' and when I ran out of tape I hoped I could retain what was left of our education.
Wow, there's a lot to this thing .. systems, balances, procedures. It's going to be like runinng ... umm ... a sailboat???

Well, we couldn't just do all that and not try to pull the thing around, so we hooked up and put Fordzilla through it's first paces with 36 plus feet of trailer behind it. The first place we went was non-stop to Johnson's Corner for lunch ... a distance all of about 6 blocks ... still, it was a 'first' so I felt accomplished to some degree. After luch we drove the whole rig onto the truck scales there and got weighed in, just so we had a feel for what we were pulling, and the truck and coach weighed in at (gulp) 21,580 pounds! Wow !! I'd not considered that there are bridges out there that will have to be circumnavigated if they can handle more than 10 ton of RV :)

We drove straight back to the house, circled the block and parked blocking two yards and a driveway and a half. We had to cut some tree branches down in order to get the front door open and before we even had things cleared out the neighbors came out to see the new house on wheels.
Now, this is a beautiful rig. It's impressive from the standpoint of live-ability and it is deceptively roomy inside for a pull-behind trailer.
I heard, without fail, "Oh my God" from each person that climbed aboard. It was cool.

After we did show-and-tell, Robin and I whimsically decided to spend the night aboard the coach and threw in some overnight stuff and pulled it down to a campground near the county fairgrounds. We found a spot and I managed to get us parked relatively parallel in our space. We got unhitched, hooked up, connected up, powered up and water-pressurized in about 30 or 40 minutes. Not bad for a first effort and the coach behaved nicely for us in all aspects. Later that evening we shared a little time with family and slept in our new bedroom.
I got chiily early in the morning so I set out to figure out how to light the furnace up. It came right on, but the odor of a brand-new furnace was overwhelming to Robin and just as I shut it down it set the smoke detector off. We let that one lie for the rest of the morning and will run it again later; longer to burn off the dust and packing goops and make it into a normal furnace some time later this week.

Tuesday morning we broke camp, buttoned up and had our first experience hitching up, draining and flushing various holding tanks into the dump pipe at the campground. All went pretty well for a first effort and we met some experienced campers from North Carolina who were readily sharing their own techniques with us.
It all worked great and we dropped the unit back up at the dealership for them to take a look at some stuff we noticed or had questions about.

I can't wait to get back up there and hook up again. We are thinking of spending a couple more night aboard locally, to keep learning and searching for things that might not be perfect. Then we hope to take off and travel for at least a few days. Better to shake it down here than to have something break while way far down the road.

This is going to be fun!

Friday, August 15, 2008

About that date...

Robin and I received official notification that our new reporting date to Miami is now (**drumroll**) October 26th, 2008.

This is significantly sooner that we'd originally been offered, and a great thing for us in the scheme of reporting to a new facility in time to bid for days off and vacation time.

While we are excited, very excited in fact, that we get to go earlier than the first date (in January '09) and enjoy the winter in Florida amongst the snowbirds we also now have a shorter deadline to accomplish the myriad of things required of us before we pull the plug on nearly 25 years of residency in the same town. Oh boy, there's a lot to get done! I was planning on a full month just to clean the garage! Now I have to schedule a weekend for it.

Well, stay tuned .. I gotta get to work! :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wanna see it?

Just got around to posting some selected photos of our new dwelling.

Just for fun, here's what 'downsizing' really means :)

Photo Album

Enjoy the tour.

We're going to do a "walk-through" and formally accept delivery of the coach in 5 more days. It's excitig and we hope to hook up and pull it around and practice backing up

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

About Hope

I have a lot to write has been an amazing couple of weeks, full of highs and lows, hopes and disappointment and miracles and loss.

About 4 weeks ago I travelled across the northwest pulling a trailer and stopped to visit family in three different cities along the way. One stop was in Spokane, where the majority of my side of the family resides and I spent some quality time with my mom, brothers, aunt, uncle and cousins. We had a great time visiting and catching up, even though I was on a pretty pressing schedule.

Shortly after I left my uncle became confused of mind and speech and was taken to the hospital for tests where it was discovered that a tennis ball sized tumor was residing in his frontal lobe, pressing against the brain and causing terrible trouble. This is called "Gleobalstoma"(or Glioblastoma) and it is brain cancer and was at stage IV, very bad. He was given about a week to live if there was no surgery and the prognosis was less than hopeful for a succesful outcome even with the surgery to remove the tumor. Dire predictions of post-operative coma or paralysis made it look pretty hopeless. I spoke with my relatives by phone daily to keep updated on the sitatuion and it was decided that they'd try the surgery and hope for the best. This really wasn't much of a decision, as the outcome of waiting would've been a very quick death for my uncle.

The family was in a lot of turmoil, and the worst of it is simply facing the unknown spectre of a worst-case scenario, but the clan is tough and resilient and determined so we gathered our prayers and set to work supporting my uncle through this ordeal.

The surgery, about 6 hours worth, came off without a hitch and Howard made it through the recovery portion and into ICU. I received reports (phone calls and text messages) the he was doing better than expected for such a massive surgery and the doctors were surprised by his post-op progress. He had come out if able to speak a few words, and within a few hours he was tracking with his eyes and responding to people. Soon he was without a feeding tube and was taking nourishment by mouth. This was all on Friday (8/1).

Saturday morning (8/2) I received a few more updates but was suddenly overcome with an urge to go see him; to be with my family and to see if there was anything at all I could do to lend support to the recovery process. I have no idea where this tug came from, it just slipped into my thinking while I was at work. I had toyed with the idea of flying up there, but airfares for the short-notice purchase were extremely high so I had written off getting to go back to Spokane in the near future, content to just keep praying and keep connected as best I could.

I told Robin about my desire to go, and she supported me completely, so we dropped everything, took off early from work (we do keep pretty much the same schedules) and prepared for my second drive up there in a month. We packed up, got a quick oil change for the car and drove pretty much all day to our stop in Billings, MT. The next day (Sunday, 8/3) we drove the breadth of Montana and through Idaho and to Spokane, arriving in the evening and proceeding straight to the hospital to see Howard in ICU.

There's something about the first sight of someone close to you in the hospital, connected to monitors, IVs, circulation trousers, and all. It's a surreal vision of someone you know, but it somehow doesn't seem possible that this is the same person. The huge incision in the skull was held together by innumerable staples, and his countenance showed that my uncle was obviously under a terrible strain from the surgery. It's a challenge to take it all in, yet it's family so whatever it looks like, it's still the man I know and care about.

We visited, Howard responded, we prodded for recognition and responses. He faded in and out of the pain medications and took minutes of rest follwed by short times of awareness and communication. We left and had dinner with our family, then Robin and I retired to a local motel to get some much needed rest.

Monday (8/4) we spent time with Howard and did what little we could to support my aunt and other family members. This day Howard was a little more talkative, and was able to take food on his own once a spoon was put in his hand. It appeared at first glance that his progress was way ahead of what was predicted, and that a recovery back to some semblance of normalcy might indeed be in the future. We all knew that this would be a hard road of recovery, and that the life we had known before might not ever be, but seeing his quick recovery thusfar was showing us that we shouldn't underestimate what God could do here. The hospital staff had decided that they could move him out of Intensive Care and up to a normal ward since he was doing so well.

There was a lot to celebrate here, and we took heart in the precious time that we got to spend with him there.

Tuesday morning (8/5) we visited again, and he was moved to his new room on a regular care floor. He was talking, eating, and moving better than the previous day, and the therapists got him out of bed and into a chair to let him sit up for a while.

Robin and I needed to leave and get back home and back to work so we bid farewell and set out for the house, stopping in Coeur D'Alene to briefly visit our daughter and grandkids.

The trip home was going well until about 10:00 P.M. when I received a text message, then a phone call that Howard had suddenly passed away, a suspected blood clot issue that had taken him from us in mere seconds. There was nothing anyone could've done. One moment he was sitting and eating and then he was gone.

The next hundred or so miles were pretty rough, and we considered turning back around since we were only 7 hours away, but there was little we could do so we proceeded home the next day and waited for the rest of the family to make further arrangements. What a sudden turn of events...all that hope, the excitement and anticipation suddenly yanked out from under us. It all seemed so unfair, in spite our openly affirming that we would only hope for God's will in this matter. Sometimes His will is hard. This was hard. There would never be a satisfactory answer to the 'why' question.

Robin and I flew back this last weekend (8/9 - 8/12) to attend the funeral. Uncle Howard was honored as a husband, father, friend and veteran of the U.S. Navy. He was given a beautiful service and a suitable resting place.

I just want you to know that I was honored and blessed to know him, I will miss him dearly, and it would take a day to tell everyone what a fine and honorable man he was. Our world will be different without him. There will be a hole in my heart forever.

I cannot discount the time that Robin and I got to see him and be with him after the surgery. I am so very thankful that we were allowed to spend time with this great man before he passed away. He was a wonderful fellow all the way through, you didn;t need to make any excuses for him anywhere because he was honorable and decent and strong in his beliefs. He was a great storyteller, a wonderful card player, and great friend and a role model.

Just ask anyone who knew him.