Monday, December 31, 2007

New year

I went skiing for the first time this season today. I was going to say this year, but it's the last day of the year. Here is a photo I took as the sun goes down on 2007. Happy New Year. I'm glad to be getting beyond the last one.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Clean up your dog

Here is a sign at a school yard in Montana. I wonder if they hired an artist from the University to make this one?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A box of potato chips

I'm back home in Washington state now after spending four days looking after my mom in Montana who is recovering from her cancer surgery. It has been a difficult month for all. I've been away from home and work 17 days this month. Mom is doing well however and there is constant improvement. I've been cooking for her and there are many things she can't eat right now. So it was hard to prepare meals that would be good to eat. I ate the same food that she did. She couldn't have any greens but I did eat a few now and then. Today it was Christmas. I made a ham with red potatoes and boiled carrots. It was quite good if I do say so myself and she ate everything I gave her.

I went for a walks while she was resting. Used the walks to sort my thoughts out and get grounded. Yesterday I walked some of the routes I did when I was a kid.

While I was walking, snow flurries were blowing through. I walked down the train tracks to the ice rink. There used to be a local potato chip company that would put all of the reject potato chips out to be thrown away once each week. One of my friends, Russell, (who only had one leg) turned me on to this. We would go and stand there by these tracks and wait for a guy to come out and throw them away. We would wait for an hour or more. They were fine, just a little brown. We'd get a whole cardboard box of them each. It's that building on the left in this photo.
I've figured out how to trick my little Nikon cool pix into making the exposures I want. It's not an exact science however :)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Skating rink

Today I went for a walk in the neighborhood where I grew up as a kid. When you move away and then come back you see how some things change and some things stay the same. It seemed like winter lasted forever back when I was a kid. I remember it being dark and grey and my feet were always wet from walking in slush.

There was a skating rink down by the river next to a sawmill within walking distance from my house. Here is a photo I took of the rink today. Now it's a fishing pond and they don't allow skating. I think that's sad. It was too warm for skating today however. There was one kid down there throwing rocks out onto the ice. The sawmill used to be just beyond that hill which is actually a raised railroad track. Some kids would use the railroad to get to and from the rink from both sides of the river. We would play crack the whip and that sort of thing. The rink had a few lights on it and a warming hut with a wood stove inside. There used to be a different bridge going out to the island that was tall enough to skate under.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sad sappy sucker

Last night I went to a Christmas party. I wasn't sure how that would turn out as it's one of those things where you might end up standing around with nobody to talk to, but I figured if nothing else I would come away with something to think about or even write about. My highschool art teacher was there, George Gogas (see below) and I was able to talk to him for a while unlike at his art show. We had a nice conversation. Some guys who I've cycled and skied with in the past were there also, so I talked to each of them for a while, and I did flirt with one woman who was actually repsonding. (I think) She was wearing a hot little black dress but it wasn't enough to keep her warm. She wanted to stand next to this heater vent that was causing her dress to fill with air. I told her that this was making me perspire. I got a nice smile out of that line, but sadly I couldn't stay, and I thought I'd better leave before I got myself in over my head. All in all it wasn't a bad party. I'm not really a party going person though.

Today I took Lizzie out for some last minute shopping. We ended up going to a music store and I bought her a CD and I bougth a CD for my trip home. I got Modest Mouse sad sappy sucker. So we'll see about that. I saw those guys on TV once. I can't remember what she picked out.

Tonight I went for a late night walk. There was a skiff of snow on the ground and a cold wind blowing out of the canyon as I walked across the bridges over the river. Someone had recently been beaten up on one of the bridges here so I decided to take my maglite with me. I figured I'd just konk them on the head, but nobody was really out except for a few cyclists. This is the only place I know of where you would see so many people getting around on bikes in the winter. I'll try and get some photos.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The gift of carbon

Have you ever been at Christmas morning and eveyone is opening gifts and there's some old lady that wants you to be careful and collects and folds up all of the used wrapping paper? You just want to tear into that package and get at the George Foreman grill!

Well I've become that old lady. Tonight I wrapped up two presents with used wrapping paper from last year, and I didn't do a very good job either. I didn't use my hunting knife like I did last year to cut the paper, but at least I didn't use butcher paper. Like I said last year, that gave new meaning to cut and wrap... No this year I used second hand wrapping paper. I used used. And I give myself two carbon credits for that. :)

This year, give the gift of carbon. Scarf up on the used wrapping paper as people open their gifts!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My lights

I thought I'd show you my Christmas lights since I haven't been out taking photos of my neighbors lights. I put up one string of white lights over my fire place. I think it looks cool but you really can't tell by this photo. I also started my new pellet stove insert tonight for the first time. It works great. It was really cold in here before I started it and now it's quite warm. I bought this thing when it was 90 degrees out this summer so I got it for half price. I had one that konked out but this one is much more advanced. Still you have to adjust the air flow just like the old one. It gives you the warmth and feeling of a fire without all of the mess, it doesn't cost much to use it, and it burns very clean so I can use it when there are regular burning bans.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Not the subscriber

It's strange. I was kind of in a news vacuum every morning while I was in Montana. They are in Mountain time and I'm in Pacific time. You'd think that that one hour wouldn't make any difference but it does. By the time I got up any news that might have been on TV was over. Public radio over there is different too and that is a reliable source for national and local news for me here every morning, but over there I couldn't hook up with it. While I was in Montana it was like there was no news in the morning.

The paper wasn't any better. The Missoulian was like this little leaflet. I remember one day when I saw it I thought, Is this the paper? They make up for it on Sunday however and give you way more paper than you ever want to look at. I think it would be better if they gave you equal amounts of paper each day and not all of it on Sunday, but then I'm not the one who decides. I'm not the decider, and I'm not the subscriber. My mom is the subscriber. Each day I took her paper to her while she was in hospital. I found out that my mom doesn't really care about the national news in the paper. She glances at the regional news, but what she really takes the paper for is one puzzle. (?)

I hate puzzles. I don't mind problem solving, but don't want to do it without a good reason. I got most of my news on line while I was in Montana.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Over and over

I should be taking photos of Christmas lights and I will I promise. Just not tonight. I've never been too much in the Christmas spirit on any given year. If I were in politics, perhaps I'd introduce legislation to celebrate Christmas every four years like the Olympics or something. That would probably suck for our economy however. Gone are the days when we made things for our friends and family. (with some exceptions I know) But if we were all making things for eachother then I doubt the malls would be so crowded. If people started to make gifts for eachother, my 401k would probably tank.

One thing I always do on Christmas eve is watch the pope on TV. I'm not Catholic, so why do I do this? Well for one reason I really liked JP. He really did remind me of my dad. Benedict reminds me more of my grandmother. She was German too. While I was going to the hospital every day there was a quote in the elevator from Benedict. I can't remeber what it said despite reading it over and over.

Another thing I did over and over was drive into this underground parking lot at the hospital. Mom was released from the hospital BTW. Now she has people coming to stay with her while she fully recovers. I'll be staying with her this weekend and through Christmas. She will need another operation in a few weeks but it won't be so bad. So I'll be going back down into this parking lot in the near future again.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

When it snows

I just love it when it snows. When it snows you can ski, and when you can ski you are free. This morning I went to a nordic ski track in Idaho to ski cross country through the woods for a while. There wasn't much snow but I did get to skate a little. I had the whole place to myself. Had to take off my skis a couple of times to get over thin areas, but it was really nice out. Here is a picture I took today.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Inside out

I had to return home and leave my mom to be looked after by other family members and the hospital staff for now. It was hard to leave and I wish I was back there right now. They were going to release my mom from the hospital today but then she got sick so they kept her in. I took this photo while waiting for the elevator to take me down to the underground parking lot and my car. The window shows both inside the hospital and my direction home outside. I feel like I've been turned inside out. I'm sure my mom does too.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wood stove therapy

It's nice to have an old friend who can lift your spirits when things aren't going your way. Last night I hung out with my friend Curt in his garage out in the countryside in Montana. I can't tell you how nice it was to sit next to his wood stove and talk things over. It was good therapy for me, and I really needed it. Outside of his garage it was snowy and cold. I could smell the forest with every breath I took. Inside the country music and the steel guitar smoothed things out in my mind.

Curt has been writing about Grizzly bear encounters. He had an encounter with one while going back to pack out an elk he had shot a few years ago. I've also had encounters with bears. They haunt me and infiltrate my dreams. SEEING BEARS

I hope you don't mind me posting your picture Curt. Thank you for bringing me back down to earth. It's a very nice place there next to your wood stove.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

New cube

This is what my new cube looks like while I try and work from here. I removed the color from it as I feel like I'm in a different time and place. When I go outside everything is black white and grey with all of the snow and clouds.

This workstation is not very ergo. It forces me to sit up straight. I can hear my mom saying this to me in the back of my head, as I work at the same table I used to eat at as a kid.

In hospital

Sorry my blog has not been so active lately. I'm in the waiting room of the hospital floor as I write this. The nurse is doing something with my mom and so I left the room. She's improving but was sick this morning. Still having a few issues. But I see a positive trend overall.

It's been tough being in a different routine. I only wish I had brought my cat Spunky with me. I didn't realize how long I'd be here. I'll try and post a photo later today. There's a great view from this floor.


This picture doesn't do the view justice as it was only one direction. (it made the most interesting photo composition) This is the view from the waiting room. My mom's window is not quite half the way down the row of windows you see outside of the building.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Got nuts?

I'm always looking for a good bumper sticker or window decal. If you are not from snow country, then this means this guy goes up in the woods hunting or something in crazy places when there is snow. And if you've ever been in western Montana there are lots and lots of crazy places to take a truck.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

George Gogas

While I've been here, I was invited to go to an art show featuring my highschool art teacher George Gogas. I've considered him my most important teacher. He taught me how to work in pastel and to do portraits. It's something that isn't always taught now as not that many people really know how to do it. George is a master at it. So I've found it a great value in my life. His regular work is somewhat abstract however. The two paintings behind him have a western theme as you can see Charles Russell (famous Montana artist) in the one on the right and a cowboy in the one on the left if you look close, but most of the others are "just paint on a canvas" as he would say. It was nice to hear him speak about art again. That's George with the necktie.

Mom did better today BTW, but is still not ready to be released.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Good and bad

Today hasn't been a good day for mom. She's been sick to her stomach. They think it's the meds but nobody really knows. All of her signs are ok but she isn't eating well so they might put her back on an IV to keep her fed. They gave her something to make her sleepy and also take care of the upset stomach. So I came home and took a nap and I'm going back down in a little while.

Go to the hospital, come back. Go there come back. That's what I do these days. They keep changing ways to get around in the hospital by closing areas. There are two buildings hooked together. So I always have to find different routes. That makes it a little more interesting than they would be otherwise.

This place leaves a lot of impressions on me. I wouldn't mind living here actually. There's a sense of comunity here. The houses are close together. Lots of cool old turn of the century houses like this one I'm in. I just looked out the window and some people with a Toyota hybrid were taking some touring skis out of the back and had a Christmas tree tied to the roof. Bicycles everywhere. Every shape and kind. The downtown area is full of activity. Last night I went to an art show. I'll talk about that next.


It's late and I'm at the hospital. It's been a not so good day. I wish there were something I could do but there really isn't except sit here and help mom if she gets up and walks to the bathroom. Now she has to drag an IV stand with her. I guess I'll stay until midnight or so and go home. Perhaps she can sleep through the night. The hospital has a complimentary wireless but it's hard for me to work without a desk. Still having the internet is a bonus. So I stay up late and then first thing in the morning the phone at home starts to ring.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The good news

The good news is that my mom's cancer was stage 1 so it won't require chemo. That's a pretty big deal for us. So there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Here is a photo I took today in Idaho today on my way back to Montana. December cyber tree.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Do they fall apart?

My mom is doing very well considering. This has been a very difficult week both for her and for me. They moved her out of ICU yesterday and into a regular room. I came home today to get my paycheck, touch bases at work for a half a day and I'll return tomorrow.

I think this situation has lowered my defenses. Now I'm not strong enough to do battle at work the way I need/ needed to. I was so impressed by how the ICU nurse dealt with the most difficult of situations, and I thought I could emulate her composure. A few phone calls at work later, and I'm not so sure that this kind of understanding works in my world. But I want it. I want to be like that.

I have to wonder. How in the world do these nurses and doctors not let these life and death situations not get to them? I wonder if the calm place they reflect is merely a facade. Do they fall apart after they get off of work?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Beginning, middle

I think I understand why old people talk about their operations now. They really do leave an impression on you. This whole thing has left many impressions on me and it wasn't even my operation. It isn't even over yet.

I have to say that all of the people who have worked on my mom that I've met have been really nice. It's like they never have a bad day. If they have a bad day they don't show it. I'm afraid I could improve in that department. Something I can take away from this to work on. The day shift MICU nurse we have had has been so very nice and caring. Give it up for Sarah. I probably won't see her much now as they will probably move my mom to a different room tomorrow. So I thanked her at the end of her shift today. This is going to cost a pile of money but what Sarah has done was priceless alone. The've all been great.

What else... What other impression,..

It's like everything has a beginning, a middle and an end. (something I always think about) Like a song. Like a book or a movie. Like a trip or journey. Like a day, a week, a month, or even a life.

We got up really early and went down to the hospital to get checked in. Almost like taking someone to the airport and then waiting with them for their flight to depart. Other people arive, some have people sending them off and others are alone. But everyone waits. Then the ones going on the journey go through a door and you stay behind. I admired my mom's courage for going through that door the way she did. I had to wonder if she really knew what she was getting into.

That was the beginning. Pre-op was like an airplane hanger, with flights departing now and then. Recovery and MICU moved us into the middle. MICU stands for medical intensive care unit. I think. I took picture this while I was waiting for them to bring my mom out of recovery and into this MICU room. I had no idea what to expect. Now I know. It has a very nice view of the mountains BTW. The chairs look nice but aren't that great for sitting in any length of time.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The phone call

It has been a long day. My mom had her cancer surgery today. She did well and is in an ICU now for two days. The photo is of the phone on the wall of the waiting room. When they are done that phone rings and they tell you how it went. It didn't ring for hours. When it did I got up and answered it. It was for me. Then when I found out about my mom it rang again. I answered again as nobody else did. Then I called out to that person. I became the phone answering guy. Then our doctor came and we had a talk in person.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Carwash Christmas

I promised I'd show you some Christmas lights in my neighborhood. I love to drive around and look at the lights, but I suck at putting them up. When I was a kid we had one string of big blue lights that went down our porch railing. You could see our tree inside. Then one year someone came along and took all of our bulbs. :( The dirty skunk! We never had lights again after that.

Now I only put up one string of lights and I put it over my fireplace mantle they are all white. I think it looks cool.

Anway there are people good at putting up lights and people not so good, and it isn't always about how many lights they use. Of course the critic in me always comes out, and as I drive around looking, I get judgemental.

I'm going to show examples of both good and bad displays, but remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So I'll start with this one,.. the local car wash. Notice the string of lights on the top of the roof... Very nice,... The green thing in the middle says "happy hollidays". I really like this display for some reason. (the white spots are snowflakes caught by my flash) Kind of adds to the festive mood of the picture, don't you think?

Dashing through the snow,
to the carwash we will go,...
oh how fun it is to show
a spraying place tonight,..

What would you say,.. Good or bad display?