Monday, July 30, 2018

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A walk in the woods







Just the foothills behind Boulder.


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Ting Liang Zhang


Acupuncturist and trusted friend.


We discovered Ting so many years ago.  He’s really good with pain and inflammation.  He kept me playing catch with Matt when Matt was a kid, and tennis and racquetball later.


Now it has been twenty years since we’ve seen him.  With the remaining chest pain from surgery though (and our proximity to Boulder, CO) we thought of him again.  Some needles and Chinese massage might smooth it out some for me (and it has helped already).


Love this photo in his waiting room; it’s so relaxing.


He was glad to see us too.


Friday, July 27, 2018



I found one I could get closer to.



But not too close!


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Life on the road


It’s not all wilderness and state parks.  Sometimes the state parks are full on short notice.  Sometimes the state parks near big cities, like Denver, have room during the week, but all the weekends have been reserved for months ahead of time.


That’s where we are now on our unexpectedly extended trip; we’ve been able to make reservations for the next several weeks at St Vrain State Park, but we’re on our own for the weekends.  This weekend we’re at Boulder County Fairgrounds.



It’s not the wilderness, but we’re glad to have it as a backup spot!



Wednesday, July 25, 2018

I miss Al Franken


What a contradiction.  He champions women’s causes, then goes on to behave badly with women; not criminally, but badly.  What do politicians and public figures do when they get caught behaving badly?  Some of them accept responsibility, apologize, and resign.


Al Franken; funny as a comedy writer.  Surprisingly serious as a senator.  Always intelligent.  A pleasing combination of wit and wisdom.  I wonder if he can get rehabilitated; forgiven for his misbehavior, apology accepted, appreciated for his public service, and returned to public view.



Tuesday, July 24, 2018

I should get out more


I’ve hardly taken any bird pictures lately.


We’ll make today’s subject the Osprey.




And a resting inland gull


Of the ring-billed persuasion.



Monday, July 23, 2018

Another big deal for us


After almost two months, we’ve gotten the motorhome out of storage.


And moved it to St Vrain State Park on a cool rainy day.


Wow did that feel good.  We’re not going to leave Colorado yet; we’ll still be bouncing around follow-up appointments with doctors for weeks yet; but being back in the bus is the closest we’ve been to “home” in quite a while.  It *is* our home on the road.


Baby steps and milestones.  They all add up.  Now that I’m clear of the heart surgery, the kidney stones, and the ureter stent, there is nothing holding me back.  I feel good.  I have energy.  I have stamina.  I’m strong.  No more limits.  This is day one of “I’m back!”


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Wouldn’t it be cool to lose twenty pounds?


I could be the weight I was in college.  I could be the weight I want to be.


Well, I just lost twenty pounds, and it didn't come out like I expected.  I'm not stylishly thin.  I'm gaunt.  I've no muscle definition left.  The skin is just hanging off my arms.  My thighs are about the same diameter as my calves!


A few years ago my weight got as high as 180.  None of my shirts fit any more.  I had to lose some weight or buy all new clothes.  When I got my weight back into the 160s it was all better.  Now that I'm down in the 140s, my shirts don't fit again.  They all hang like hand-me-downs I haven't grown into yet.


We don't expect this weight loss to be a permanent thing.  Weight lost due to surgery tends to come roaring back at some point and will want to overshoot my starting point.  I don't want that either, and I'm on guard for it already even though that phase has yet to begin.  But it's funny how twenty pounds lighter doesn't feel at all like I expected it to.


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Friday was a big deal for us


It was our last invasive procedure for both the heart bypass and kidney stone.


We went to the surgery center and the urologist took the stent out.  The stent is a flexible foot-long swizzle stick with pig-tail coils on each end; one in the kidney and one in the bladder.  It’s supposed to be inconspicuous, but my body has been constantly aware of it and trying to reject it for the last month.


The urologist says most people just get the stent out in the office; it’s no big deal.  They just stick a piece of medical equipment in that hole that leads to your bladder, grab the south end of the stent, and pull it back out.  That’s what the last urologist said too, but he didn’t think to strap me down before he started.  The process went much more smoothly this time with me totally unconscious.  The relief from getting the stent out was immediate.


We’re very happy with this urologist.  He is the first one who has shown any interest in continuing past treating the symptoms and determining the cause for my kidney stones.  We’re going to hang around for as long as it takes to finish up the follow-through.


Friday, July 20, 2018

Heart bypass surgery


The recover from heart bypass surgery doesn’t always go smoothly.  Cousin Ed’s wife Diana went in for a stent last Friday and got scheduled for heart bypass surgery on Monday.  She has battled cancer recently and been through chemo and radiation.  She was already beat up by that before she got beat up again with heart surgery.  She lived for another four days and died today.


Our hearts to out to Ed and the entire large loving family.



Thursday, July 19, 2018

Six weeks since my heart surgery


We all know what that means:  Judy is no longer the boss of me!


Now everything can revert to just like it was before.  I can do anything I want any time I want.


As long as Judy agrees that it’s okay.



Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Extended family


Debby Thompson.


Becky’s teacher at Mountain Shadows Montessori over forty years ago.  Over the years she taught Becky, Matt, Taylor, Tony, Teigan, and Conner.  We’re proud to still be friends and in touch.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Little things


Signify a gradual return to a more normal life.


Like a walk in the park.



A stop for lunch.


Or being cleared to drive a car again for the first time in a month and a half!


Little things.  That mean a lot.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Our Daughter Becky


Tells us the upstairs bedroom window provides a fine view of Long’s Peak.


Looking out the window to the northwest though.


I think that view might have grown to be a seasonal event.


Friday, July 13, 2018

I reflect on my recent medical procedures


And am once again struck by how fortunate we are to be at this moment in time in all of human history.  Several situations which would surely have resulted in my death a generation or two ago have recently been resolved with relatively routine medical procedures.


I go beyond that to realize the good fortune of my birth; to be born in this country, to my family circumstance, and my access to education, employment, and health-care.  Just being at this day and age alone wouldn’t be enough.  It makes me wonder what happens to those less-fortunate.  Judy and I have excellent health insurance, but it is expensive.  The cost of a procedure never enters into our medical decisions.  What does a person who needs a heart bypass operation to stay alive, but has no medical insurance or is underinsured, do?  Do they get denied treatment and just die?  Do they get their symptoms treated at an emergency room and sent home with some nitroglycerine tablets?  Do they get fully treated and the cost forgiven, or do they get their lives extended only to be hounded for the rest of their days to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars they can never pay?


Judy and I are part of the fortunate few, so we don’t have to know the answers to these questions, but it feels like we should.  Do we live in our cocoon of security unconcerned about anyone outside that shell, or are we part of a larger community?



Thursday, July 12, 2018

Today, one less kidney stone!


It only took an hour to punch me in the left kidney stone 2,500 times.  I didn’t have to stay awake for it though.  Another hour in the waiting room for Judy.


I’m still feeling pretty good this afternoon.  They warned me I would be bruised and sore after.  I guess that part comes tomorrow.


Back home at Becky’s.  Glad to be here.



Wednesday, July 11, 2018



Judy has something to take care of besides me!  She has a house and yard she’s familiar with.  The dogs need feeding, emptying, and talking to.  The parakeets chatter all day.  The cats have to be found and fed regularly.  The goldfish in the pond; they’re just there.  The rats are a different issue.  Both Taylor and Teigan have rats.  The rats not only need food and water, they need lots of handling and loving.  The kids were kind enough to arrange for some neighbor friends to come over and totally take care of the rats for us.  (And when I say “us”, I mean Judy.  She does everything.  I take naps.)


This isn’t like a hotel room; not everything here is ours.  We have to find places for our stuff so it will be available for us to use, but not so scattered that we’ll have trouble finding everything again and collecting it when it’s time to move out.


I’m not much to take care of today anyway.  It’s a pre-surgical day and this time they want me totally empty.  No food all day except for some clear broth.  Lucky for me, I still don’t have much of an appetite after the previous procedures, so I’m not missing food all that much. 


Tomorrow, one less kidney stone!



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Candlewood Suites



Done.  They couldn’t have been better, but after four weeks, it’s good to move on.


We’ve moved on to Becky and Brian’s house.


They’ve gone to Hawaii for two weeks, so we’ve invaded (we’re housesitting) their house.



We get this whole place to ourselves.  Plus Hobbes.  And the birds.  And the fish.  And the cats.  And the rats.


Monday, July 9, 2018



The National Center for Atmospheric Research.


They have this wonderful campus right up against the foothills.

(Not my photo.)


With a huge parking lot open to the public as a trailhead.

(Not my photo.)


A short walk to the west produces views like this:


It has been one of my favorite places to be for 50 years.

Sunday, July 8, 2018



Antimatter sounds so science fiction, but there really is such a thing.  Antimatter is the exact opposite of matter; all the electrical charges are reversed.  Electrons, which as matter are always negatively charged, have a positive charge for antimatter.  Protons always have a positive charge as matter, but have a negative charge in antimatter.  Not that anything about antimatter is a big deal in our daily lives.  There isn't a bunch of antimatter floating around us (that we know of; although there should be a lot of it in our universe somewhere, we just don't know where).  Everything we see and know is matter.  Antimatter is a necessary ingredient in our laws of physics though.  Our calculations about the interchangeability between energy and matter require it, and in fact experimentalists have proven that it does exist, at least momentarily, by creating anti-protons and anti-electrons.  The biggest problem with creating antimatter though is that when matter and antimatter come in contact, they immediately annihilate each other and you're back to where you started, with a bunch of energy.  You can't create some antimatter and just stick it in a jar.


Anyway, I think there is general agreement that all the electrical laws of physics apply to antimatter in reverse, but there is another question to ask.  Do *all* the laws of physics apply to antimatter in reverse?  What about gravity?  How profound, and possibly hilarious, is that?  Does antimatter fall up?


That may seem like a silly question, does antimatter fall up, and we might think we know the answer, but you never really know the answer until you figure out a way to verify it.  So the current challenge is to create antimatter and figure out how to preserve it long enough that it's response to gravity can be verified.  (I hope it falls up.  😊)


Saturday, July 7, 2018

3D printers


It seems like only a couple years ago I was calling B.S. on what our brother David was telling us about 3D printing.  I thought it was a hoax; the stuff of science fiction.  I was wrong.  Now, if you want one, you can just go buy one for less than five hundred dollars.


It turns out, with all the computer stuff they do at the Alexander house, they really need one there:





Friday, July 6, 2018

A busy week of doctor’s appointments


We finished off with two today.  A pre-op meeting with the urologist; we're on schedule for one more procedure on Thursday.  If you ever wanted to know anything about Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy, here it is:


Meanwhile, we got Cardiac Rehab underway today too.  A half hour total of recumbent bike, stepper, and treadmill, plus some balance, stretching, and nutrition.  A good start.  We're down for three days a week.


Dinner out with Becky and family in honor of Conner's birthday.


Another full day.




Thursday, July 5, 2018

When I grow up


I think I need a monitor setup like my son-in-law’s.




(A good follow-up check-up with the cardiac surgeon today.  We’re right on track.)


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 4th of July!


An excellent mid-day meal.


Dogs galore.



A nap.


Fireworks from the Fairgrounds.




Happy 4th of July!


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

I didn’t get rehabilitated today


We went to the appointment.  It was an evaluation.  We did a few fitness exercises to establish a baseline.  They didn't make any declarations about my condition, but it seemed like a thorough thoughtful assessment.  I'm in for a series of visits.  The first one is Friday.


Tomorrow, a fourth of July picnic lunch at Brian's parents.  Nice place out in the country.  We've dropped out of the triple digits back into mid-eighties weather for a couple days.  It's very nice to be outside again.  I'll try to get in longer easier walks.


Oh, and I gained a pound back.  A pound isn't a big deal, but it reverses a trend that has been going on for four weeks.


Monday, July 2, 2018

What I get to do


I get to do anything I want, if Judy doesn’t say no.


Today I wanted to go check out my high-altitude stamina.  I said I wanted to go to Echo Lake.  Judy didn’t say no.  And she drove.


What we found:  Standing on level ground at 10,000 feet is a lot like running on a treadmill as fast as I can.  We spent an hour and a half there; exactly what I wanted to do.  Most of our time was spent at picnic tables and benches, just enjoying the scenery, but we walked around a little too.  By the time we headed back to the car I was really puffing.  This was a nice thing to do, but we probably won’t do it again right away.  If previous patterns hold, tomorrow will be a rest-up day after a big-exertion day today.


Judy did a great job and got us scheduled for all the medical appointments we need this week.  Tuesday is the evaluation for cardiac rehab.  Thursday is the four-week follow-up with the cardiac surgeon.  Friday is the pre-surgical consult for the next lithotripsy surgery the week after.  We’ll just keep hammering away at everything medical until we’re done.



Sunday, July 1, 2018

I wonder


I wonder what Henry thinks.  What happens when we get on an elevator?  Does he feel the motion moving us between floors?  Does he have any sense of altitude?  Or is an elevator just a magic box where the door closes and when it opens we’re somewhere else?


Henry stands on the bed on the fourth floor of the hotel and looks down at the people and things moving below.  Does he wonder how he got there?  He didn’t climb any hills.  Does he relate his elevation back to the sensation of the elevator?


Does he understand the physics of car rides?  Does he recognize the motion of riding in a car is the same thing he does when he’s running except 10 times faster?  Or is the car another kind of magic box where he gets in, a lot of stuff blurs by, and suddenly he’s somewhere else?