Thursday, March 11, 2021

Light shines upon the hard path





You may remember this young lady, my cousin Elisa. We share a birthday. She has Cystic Fibrosis. She was three years old when I participated in a CF hike out in Salem, Oregon, where she lives. Many of you kind readers supported the DF research cause, and your thoughts, prayers, and dollars made a real difference. Many lives have been and continue to be improved and blessed with promise.


Elisa is seven now!


The 5K hike you readers and I participated in was fun and cool. On July 10 it will be time for me and other hikers to embark on an adventure in an effort to bring awareness and dollars to the ongoing battle against CF. The Oregon CFF Chapter has challenged us with an Xtreme hike. Can I do 30 miles in one day across the Wildwood Trail in Portland?

Why yes. Yes I can.

I've started training. I'm Team Elisa. The team may expand to include other hikers; it's a work in progress and we're just getting started. I'll post more details here I continue the adventure.

##########

In the movie The Shootist John Wayne's character J.B. Books takes a small town tram ride on a sunny and warm January morning. "It's what we call a false spring," he remarks to a bubbly young girl on the tram.

According to the calendar and more significantly to the Earth's location in her solar orbit it's still winter and will be until 0337 Juliet (Tango/MDT) on Saturday, March 20.

When it's winter in this part of the world we often experience very nice weather days. Warm sunshine, balmy air temperatures, and little if any wind. Delightful hints of the springtime sure to follow and ultimately the season of easy living.

But these nice weather days are what J.B. Books was talking about.

False spring.


Of course it's not really false spring. It's early March. The days are getting longer, which means the sun has more time to warm the air mass and warm the ground. As the sun shines down and we are enveloped in late-winter warmth, it becomes popsicle weather. Kind of.


Nature responds with a slow waking of grasses and forbs. You have to look beneath the prairie's shaggy coat of dried leaves and stems, but when you do the greening blades of future cow food are evident. Therefore, what would have been false spring on a January day is now in March a neonatal spring day. Lovely and well worth the effort to embrace and enjoy.


There's more cold and snow in store for us. The weather man correctly predicted a return of freezing air temps, snow, and cutting wind. A slow moving weather system has been spitting snow and returning s morning skim of ice to Tommy and Nona's water dish. The next car in the weather train is predicted to bless us with a winter storm this weekend.

This is all as it should be. I relish excursions into false spring, but I also relish winter's return and even winter's unavoidable encroachment into calendar/celestial spring.

##########

I am in a very odd place. Odd but good.
NAS Oceana SH-3G on the ramp at Cecil. I learned hard and beautiful lessons in this pig.

I'm not the only one.

Pri-Fly, USS Midway. Smell that?

SH-3A/D, USS Midway Museum, June 2017

SH-3A/D, USS Midway Museum, June 2017. This one flew Apollo recoveries.

Countless hours spent in a treatment room just like this one on Midway.

This ladder-bottom pharmacy on Midway instantly made me think of HMC Roundtree. Really old dude, pushing 40 as I recall. His morning routine was to power-slam two pots of coffee while simultaneously smoking two cigarettes and chewing two pieces of nicorette. He was a cool cat after that, but woe betide the sailor who even glanced at him before.

I used to could sneak up this ladder and steal cereal and toast or bread when it was too busy to justify standing in a chow line. On Coral sea of course; this is Midway.

Main entry to sick bay was/is down this second deck ladder. Medical was on the third deck to keep it a little more protected. On later carriers they put medical on the second deck.

Emergency medical supply chest or locker. Whenever I wanted to firetruck off for a few hours I'd grab a clipboard and pen and "Inventory" these things.

There was always a medical locker needing inventoried near the gedunk.

Knee-knocker, yay!

Queer. Yes, it's a queer. Sometimes (but rarely) called the EA-6B Prowler.

She looked good back in 2017. Probably covered in wuhandromeda today.

A great deal of life happened for me here. What a strong connection to livin' a warship represents to a sailor.
##########

I can't get Post Malone's Circles out of my head.


If you have to have a song stuck in there, Circles might be the best option. Love the song, love the video, don't know why.

##########

We're at the seven month mark. Over the last 30 days the acute shock of the thing has faded. It feels like the shock was a roaring, consuming flame. The flame has guttered out now, having burned all there is to burn. So what remains of me? Am I nothing more than a burned out husk? While that certainly could have happened, it didn't. With God's help and my conscious decision to actively live life the flame forged rather than destroyed, What remains is clean and spare and case hardened. The forging process continues though, for as the shock departs it is replaced with a more complete understanding  of how utterly smashed I am.

Smashed, exploded, strewn across a metaphorical/metaphysical landscape.

The clean me that's left can look at the devastation, accept it, and soldier on.

It feels... good. Right and proper. I suspect that doesn't make much sense.

Over the years I've learned through trial and error and hard, hard lessons that the best path is the hard path, that actively living and walking with God is the proper place to inhabit. In that place the choice to give up and quit is ever present. The hard and proper thing is to eschew quitting, stand tall, and soldier on. Which is impossible, save for the power and grace of God.

So I go on. I've left the furnace behind now, and as a fundamentally changed man I have a life to actively live. On with the show.

##########

Kind reader Tom shared this with me, written by his son. It's a good read. It's a good read to be read and re-read, considered, and savored. I don't and can't know the whys and hows of this life-adventure. I do know that God's grace shines on me when I walk the spiritual path, and that path is heaven on earth.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.



 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Radio check






Gratitude list:

God's grace works in and through me when I seek it and allow it.
Unconditional love.
Children.
Family.
Friends.
I am alive and livin' rather than existing. I live in physical, cognitive, and spiritual reality.
I am and have always been dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with unalienable natural rights.
I can hate the cold and love it at the same time.
Hard things suck but they are also challenges, and challenges are good; being able to live is the antithesis of victimhood.

I got not much else today. It's busy and there is stuff. Here's a recycled CC. It's one of my faves.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.



 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Blasted (updated!)





Z-Man, holding his pirate hook-knife, tells us why boys don't wear lipstick.

The Pirate Queen is not impressed with his argument.

What's better than a heart smile?

##########

Blasted. Here in the southwest corner of the Nebraska Panhandle and much of the surrounding area we're being blasted by an invasion of very cold Arctic air.


Now why do I say we're being blasted? The term blasted connotes a sharp increase in kinetic energy, as in an explosion. What we're experiencing is actually a reduction in kinetic energy. When air temperatures fall what actually happens is the molecular components of the local atmosphere slow down. All of those O2's and N2's and gaseous H2O's and CO2's and other bits of molecular gas zipping around and bumping into each other and everything else lose some of their zip and sloooow down.

That's the opposite of an explosion, the opposite of being blasted.

So why did I say blasted? Why did I title this post Blasted?

In truth it's the first thing that popped into my mind when I thought about this invasion of cold air. I think it's because the warm winter we were experiencing suddenly changed to hard cold. In the jumbled thinking of my mind the sudden change feels kinetic, even though by definition the actual change is completely the opposite.

Does that make any sense? Yeah, it kind of baffles me too.

##########

How do you count stuff? Not you you, mind, but you in general, as in we, as in us. How do we count stuff? And why?

Kind of a goofy question, no?  So what do I mean?

On Sunday, sometime after noon locally, Spaceship Earth arrived at the place in its orbit which was precisely opposite of the place it was when Alex died on August 10. That moment marked 182-and-a-half days, or six months. Yesterday (Monday, February 8) marked the 26th Monday, or half of a 52-week year, which is also six months. Tomorrow, February 10, is the sixth 10th of the month, yet again six months. So I can precisely measure six months three different ways over a spread of 96 hours. Kinda goofy, eh?

Tomorrow's my birthday too.

I don't know why the counting seems important. I worry that there's too much me-me-me going on. I don't know precisely how I feel about hitting the six month mark. My emotions are all over the place. I think that's exactly where I'm supposed to be.

##########

How about a back update?

The last week has sucked for the most part. I got an extra large dose of steroid injected on both sides a week ago. The injection of so much fluid into such narrow confines caused enough tissue trauma and inflammation to make the nerves very unhappy indeed. I understood what was going on and was reasonably confident that once the tissue healed and the inflammation went away I'd feel much better. Other than crawling around under my house to fix a busted pipe I've been taking it very, very easy.

Yesterday I went back to building widgets. The first 90 minutes was kind of awful. I gave serious consideration to pulling the loud handle and doing the nylon GCA to home plate. But I was kind of sick of home plate, and I wanted to stay at work if I could do so with tolerable pain. As a last ditch I went to the break room and stretched, which I was pretty sure wouldn't help, but which I also hypothesized could possibly work. I didn't think about in percentage terms at the time, but if I had I'd have pegged the possibility of relief from stretching at one percent or less.

So after 15 seconds of stretching the pain went away, and it hasn't been back. I still have some soreness in and around the injection sites, and a good bit of old-guy stiffness when I sit for more than an hour, but the radiculopathy pain is gone.

What a blessing. It's hard to (perhaps impossible) describe how wonderful the absence of pain feels. It's like emerging from darkness or something.

Another nice thing is that we've now appeased the insurance gods and allowed enough career bureaucrats to pad their nests that we can move forward toward a permanent (for certain values of permanent, obviously) surgical fix. More imaging and a nerve conduction test is in the works. A description of the modern surgical wonders available is fairly making my mouth water. The dream of returning to full physical soundness and ability might actually be within reach.

I'm old enough and experienced enough to know that it might not come to fruition. If it doesn't it'll be what it will be and I'll be okay. But things do look brighter than they did a week ago, so there's that. It's all part of the big adventure.

##########

Hold the phone, here's an update.

The kids found this series on u2b. I don't know how they found it, despite the fact that they were sitting on my lap watching kids videos on my phone at the time. Maybe someday they'll tell me. Regardless, I think the videos are quite clever and enjoyable, particularly this one. YMMV.

 

##########

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.



 

Monday, February 8, 2021

New snow; hard is good





This one is from the morning of February 7
February 6.

It's a beautiful snowy February morning here in the southwest corner of the Nebraska Panhandle. Fifteen degrees American, light fluffy snow, just a touch of a northeast breeze. Now that's normal winter weather for the area. Looks like Punxsutawney Phil was right. He saw his shadow on Groundhog Day and predicted six more weeks of winter.

That particular philnomenon brings -- or should bring -- a big question to the forefront of the ape-lizard mind. Does reality match up with the claims of the philverse?

As a useful tool, Phil's prediction is rife with problems. As far as we can tell he doesn't actually predict anything. His people posse interprets his behavior and decides whether he sees his shadow or not and, by extension, what it means or doesn't mean. At times the Punxsutawney Phil People Posse's prediction might be correlated with real world weather conditions. At times the prediction will not be at all similar to nature's weather work. Most often the prediction turns out to be null, neither right nor wrong by any objective measurement or comparison. In 2021 -- and indeed for many decades now --  the whole thing is entertainment. Theater. Circus for the masses. A great many people are told by the tee-vee what the prediction is and then suddenly "remember" that they predicted the result long before the Posse roused Phil for his February 2 appearance.

It's one among countless curious twenty-first century ape-lizard symptoms.

So anyway, one point seven five inches of new snow yesterday. When I melted it out in my snow gauge it yielded a full quarter inch of liquid water!


It's nice to get the snow. It's very dry here after a half-year of scant precipitation and the quarter inch of water will mostly make its way into the soil. Moisture in the soil makes the green stuff grow. Some of the solid phase water (ice and snow) will sublimate back into the atmosphere and some of it will evaporate between melting and soaking in to the thirsty ground. But the part that does get into the soil will be beneficial.

It's a reality thing. In the real physical world the water cycle and the carbon cycle team up to make life on Earth possible. It's basic sixth grade science.

One of the things I find interesting and more than occasionally vexing is the vast number of people who know with complete certainty that the real physical word doesn't exist. It's just an opinion. And not much of an opinion. Real and important opinions are in the tee-vee, presented by talking tits and slick people posses. Everybody knows that the more important opinion is that bad people have stolen almost all of the planet's water and we're running out and the bad people are producing carbon in bad-people death labs to kill us all with wuhandromeda. It's a remarkable thing to observe. I predict a bumpy path ahead. I watch precious children at play and can't help but wonder why so many millions of grownups are casually willing and even happy to so savagely abuse them; to steal their birthright and set in motion a nightmare which today's little ones will have to try to fix.

On the other hand, I watch precious children at play and see their innate problem solving abilities and their tough mindedness. They'll have the ability to right the wrongs of the present crop of failed ape-lizards. Their historians will not treat us kindly though!

What is a principled ape-lizard to do? More specifically, what am I to do? It mostly comes down to sticking to principles, and that path requires the hand of God for successful navigation. God says "Trust  God" and take not the counsel of your fears. Where there is life, there is hope. Livin' life includes loving and embracing and enjoying. Trying to own or operate or manipulate fellow ape-lizards is and will always be a failure.

Moments of frustration...


In the midst of troubles and hard challenges there are constant moments of joy and wonder and love. The little one isn't supposed to say "shut up." When she arrives at that place where she is trying to exert her will on the big, big, world, she sometimes decides to say "shut up." What does a grown ape-lizard do? It's a livin' thing. There's no one-size-fits-all answer. The correct answer falls under the aegis of love. Lovin' is livin', and livin' is a wonderful gift.


##########

February 7.

More snow yesterday, three-quarters of an inch which yielded an astonishing quarter-inch of liquid. That's a half-inch in two days. A blessing and help to address the less than optimal level of moisture in the soil. Out on the prairie dry, dormant grass will hold the snow while the sun's warming radiation will tease some (hopefully most) of it into the ground.

It was cold and clear this morning, with almost no wind.


The no-wind thing is a joy on cold, clear mornings.


I had and continue to have lots of physical pain this morning. The pain sucks but I'm not going to give in.

Isn't it cute when old people act all tough and everything?


##########

February 8.

Overnight air temps tumbled to minus 3 degrees American. That's minus 19.4 yourapeein for those keeping score at home. It's a beautiful and cold February morning. The Arctic air mass is predicted to stick around for a week or more. This, as well as the recent snowfall, may offer indication that nature's precipitation constipation may be clearing up. Time will tell.

##########

For the last couple of years I've been splattered by a local application of the great societal illness of egocentrism. The new rule is that others are not actually people, they are objects or tools to be used and manipulated. The reverse doesn't apply; self-anointed masters of the universe have only rights and an enormous sense of victimhood. Not a responsibility in sight. Responsibilities are for the objects and tools, and those responsibilities are completely centered in the rights of the important victims.

One can only abide so much splattering, particularly when allowing the splattering to continue will only ever enable the special ones to continue down a self destructive path.

It ain't easy being an ape-lizard. That's okay though, because hard is good, hard is growth.

Yesterday included golden hours of family and love. How can one person be so blessed?

##########

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.



 


Friday, February 5, 2021

The wonder of Tommy Tutone Troubles





Tommy came into our lives in June. He was in a bad situation and Alex rescued him. She named him after her heartthrob actor Tom Hardy.

Alex liked this picture of Tom Hardy as Bane. She had a bunch of posters of the fellow. I never saw the attraction, but then I could never understand how she could possibly be attracted to me.

Tommy the dog is a Heinz-57 and appears to have some Lab, Border Collie, and trailer-trash pit bull in him. He's happy and energetic, very strong, and likes to chew on stuff and explore. Alex got a bit cross with me when I started calling him Tommy Tutone in honor of an 80's band I still admire. She wasn't a fan and wasn't inclined to become one. I don't understand that, either. I mean, c'mon, 867-5309?


Tommy managed to pull some of the skirting loose on my trailer house overnight and got underneath where he promptly rambunctioused the main water supply line. What a mess. It was 27 degrees outside and I didn't like the prospect of having to fix the pipe while crawling around in a freezing swamp under the house. I could envision myself as a misplaced tunnel rat from veet-jam, only different.

Firetrucking dog!

Of course it's not his fault he's a dog, or that he does dog stuff. The mess and its solution is my responsibility. And besides, he loves me the way dogs love their people. He never fails to put a smile on my face, even this morning.

I had to climb down through a manhole to get to the main water valve; fortunately I'm skinny enough to do that these days. Also I'm fortunate to have had the back injections recently which made all the crawling far less painful than it could be.

The water lines are old school pvc and the local hardware store doesn't stock it anymore. They are however small-town and extremely helpful, so it wasn't much of a chore to get parts that would make a fix that would work.

Sooooooooo, guess what? All I had to do was crawl under the house and into a freezing mud puddle, take off the old fittings, put on the new fittings, and hey-presto, Bob's your uncle. It was a pain in the ass but a fairly simple chore. The tight confines, cold, and mud sucked, but they also provided an incentive to work quickly and well. The hard, yucky part took only about 10 minutes. That was after a couple of exploratory mud crawls and the staging of tools. No shortage of mud and yuck!

Fixing (for certain values of fixing) the skirting was a relatively quick job too. Which is nice considering the temps are falling, the wind is picking up, and the weatherman is predicting snow.

As I was fixing the skirting I noticed that Tommy has been chewing on the internet coax. Out of the blue (it seems) the internet provider called and said they had noticed some "anomalies" between street and modem and would I like to schedule a repair?

Why yes, yes I would.

Sometimes I wonder why, but as usual, why is a question without a complete answer and a complete answer would do me no good anyway. I'm just happy to be so blessed and to be able to smile at the wonder that abounds in my life.

I was going to try to take pictures during the repair but it was too dirty and messy.

When I finished I was freezing, soaked, and absolutely coated with mud. I stripped off and threw my clothes into the washer. Looking at myself I was amazed at how much mud had gotten through my clothes. I looked like I'd been squirming around under a house trailer in a mud puddle!

The shower felt great. Running water, what a concept!

I only had to wash my muddy clothes twice.

I imagine it seems a very goofy thing but I got a lot of joy out of fixing that busted pipe. Alexzandra was very close as I worked, offering loving encouragement and gently teasing me for letting Tommy get the best of me. Yep, batshit crazy.

##########

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.




Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Wonder everywhere






I lost a safety detent spring while changing the peestil greep on a reefle. I lost it back in late Octobler, before Halloween. I'd temporarily forgotten that the damme things are cleverly held in by the body of the greep, so when I pulled the old one off, sprong went the spring. I looked and looked and looked. I moved all of the furniture out of the room and carefully combed the entire floor with my hands. No luck. The spring had spronged into an interdimensional wormhole and was lost forever.

I wanted to, well, use the tool the other day. I'd actually planned ahead and bought a new spring kit, so the evening before I was going to, er, well, hammer with the tool, I prepared to install a new spring. But before I could get started I noticed the above pictured spring laying on the floor right in the middle of the room. Somehow the interdimensional wormhole had puked the thing back into existence. So I put it back where it belonged and the hammer hammered just fine the next day.

There's wonder everywhere, and we don't always have to understand exactly how it happens. Seeing and enjoying and appreciating can be enough.

##########

Here's a recycled CC, perhaps appropriate to yesterday's big celebration of rodent prognostication and to my present struggles with physical and emotional infirmities.

##########

At 0515 BIL D and I hit a tanker and struck out north for Scottsbluff and my date with big needles.

BIL D is my brother-in-law and is driving. I'm required by the medical establishment to have a post-needle driver. It's one of those nanny dictates where a somewhat reasonable precaution is applied to everyone. It's a top-down thing generated by desk bound bureaucrats, and it strikes a supremely discordant note in the song of medicine. The argument is a spin on the "if it saves one life" argument. Let me stipulate for the record that it is indeed possible for a patient who has received back injections to lose control of their legs while driving home and crash into a school bus filled with nuns, killing everyone, including the entire staff of a baby milk factory. It's just not a very likely outcome, and the decision to nix driving home should, in a proper medical context, rest with the patient and medical team. Bureaucratic intrusion is a stain on and an impediment to the practice of medicine. Doctor and patient should arrive at a considered and informed decision regarding how to proceed, but that can't happen so long as faceless and uninformed, uncountable parasites dictate practices from on high.

Is that a shocking concept? It shouldn't be. Not for ape-lizards who continue to be out-of-the-closet sapient homos. Cognition. What a concept!

I hope that doesn't come across as a rant, because it's not meant to be.

The wonder of the thing is that excellent medicine can still be practiced by medicoes who are willing to suck it up and drive on in the face of parasitic impediment. And by patients who are willing to do the same. By patients and medical staff who see the parasitism for what it is and choose to do proper medicine in the face of the unnecessary and necrotic gauntlets thrown down by a self-proclaimed master class. Make no mistake, persevering in the face of perversity is nothing less than a wonder. Ape-lizards who choose to do the best things for the best reasons to the best of their abilities -- especially when it's hard work -- are beings who practice wonder every day.

More wonder. Family who unhesitatingly provide so very much support -- including driver services -- and fill my life with blessings anew each and every day.

Now where was I? Oh yeah. What's all this about hitting a tanker? It's just goofy naval aviation talk for getting gas. BIL D and I wheel into one of the local convenience stores, the one I worked at a couple of winters ago and which I've only rarely visited since. I always get gas at the other, locally owned place. They have zero ethanol gasoline. It's not a big deal, just my habit. Anyway, the "tanker" is nearly "sour" as "fuel transfer rate" is terrible. It takes 15 minutes to transfer 13.5 gallons. SMH, so much for brand x. We do get the fuel though, and we're on our way. We'll make the 0630 show time with no problem. Unless an unanticipated problem crops up. Which it probably won't.

As we drive north we have a great flowing conversation, much of it about Alex. It's good therapy for us to talk about her, our much loved but gone from us wife and sister in law. We're part of a family crushed by Alex's death and navigating the path forward is unspeakably hard. Difficult as it is, the talking helps.

This day and this excursion is doubly hard for me. Precisely six months (183 days) ago Alex was my driver when I received the first targeted injections. But she was far more than my driver that day, she was my soulmate and my betrothed and she was flowing loving support at me in a way I had never before experienced. It was such a beautiful day, perhaps the most beautiful day of my life. Next Wednesday will mark both my birthday and the six month mark since she died. Ah shit. The loss and longing are nearly impossible to bear. Surely impossible for a Shaun without the love and grace of God. As BIL D and I drive and talk I recognize how very blessed I am. It makes no human sense to the hurting, egocentric part of me, but there it is. In the face of the impossible, possible. I am blessed.

I am blessed also to be heading for care where the practitioners choose to suck it up and drive on and deliver actual medical care despite the roadblocks thrown up because reasons. The wonder of steroid injections is something I feel I need very badly. The last two weeks have been awful pain weeks, and constant pain tends to grind at my soul. I guarantee that if it were not for the grace of God I would allow the pain to twist me into a savage beast. I am so blessed to have God grant me peace and a walk in the sunlight of the spirit, however gimpy my stride may be.

We arrive on time and check in, where the priorities include the wuhandromeda dance, the driver dance, the insurance dance, and then "have a seat and the nurse will come get you."

While we wait BIL D hits the coffee station. I do not, as I am "NPO after midnight" -- no food or drink to ensure an empty belly just in case something goes bad and I need to be intubated. This is a completely medicine-driven precaution which makes perfect sense. It's not driven by the imagined peril of a school bus full of nuns and the baby milk makers. The possibility that I might need intubation is so small as to be essentially nil, yet it makes sense to stack the deck in our favor should an emergency somehow arise. It's an exercise in real world risk management, and that's a very different thing than justification-driven parasitic fiat. The first is real, the second is in the tee-vee. Cognition? Huh?

I'm on a roll today, no?

BIL D hits the coffee shack and notices a sign of the times. It's amusing enough that I get a picture.

You can have coffee, but you can only consume it in the confines of the tiny coffee shack area, which is simply a coffee maker equipped counter in a short seven-foot passageway. A perfect solution for life-saving social distancing during these wuhandromeda times. Is the irony of the situation enough to reveal the difference between real reality and tee-vee fantasy/mass psychosis? I feel like it should be.

There I go again!

While BIL D slurped coffee sans mask in the wuhandromeda concentration slash coffee shack, Nurse Sabrina came to fetch me. In only minutes I was stripped and gowned and getting my vitals taken. My blood pressure was very high, a combination of pain, anticipation, and an inability to control my autonomic nervous system. There was a bit of appropriate medical concern, but the consensus was that it wasn't a big enough deal to change the plan for shoving big needles into my back.

The OR nurse claimed me from the staging area and soon I was face down on the table having my back swabbed with betadine or whatever magic potion they use these days. The surgical team was the same crew I'd had in August and October, and they remarked on how well my summer tan is still holding up. It's good to have fans who will stab you in the back. If only Joe Walsh knew.

The Doc came in and did the great big needle thing. He injected both sides, and injected the max-ish (+25%) dose into each space. There was no pain from the procedure other than a tiny stick and burn from the initial injection of local anesthetic. When the steroid cocktail went in I felt a good bit of pressure, and when he injected the "bad" spot which had been causing the most pain it felt wonderful; an immediate reduction in pain.

Because we maxed out the injections there was initially a lot more pressure on the nerves. This meant a temporary replacement of one quality of pain with another. The pressure of injected medicine also impinged on motor nerves, something I haven't experienced before. The result was a feeling of profound weakness in both legs, and a good bit of reduced proprioception in my locomotion. I could still walk fine and steadily, and my feet and legs worked perfectly, but they felt weak and unsteady. It was odd and disquieting but I understood what was going on. I knew that the motor nerve impingement would ease as the medicine was absorbed, and that the steroid bath would reduce tissue inflammation and quiet the screaming sensory nerves.

Sabrina checked my blood pressure again and it was back to normal. I got dressed and taxied to the cat where the final checkers blessed me and the shooter genuflected me into the early morning air.

It was 0730 and we were headed home. There's a good dose of wonder right there. The entire process from check in to heading home took exactly an hour. A routine application of some of the best medical intervention mankind has ever known, executed by a team of principled doctors and nurses who have taken up the gauntlet and decided to suck it up and drive on, to persist in the face of perverse roadblocks and tee-vee driven psychosis. There's a good lesson in livin' there, hidden in the plain sight of reality.

The balance of the day was rest. The new pain and leg weakness eased over the hours. Not as quickly as I wanted but I was able to muster up patience and acceptance. I spent some time reading with the little ones and that helped a lot. I went to bed and slept comfortably and well for the first time since before Christmas. Wonder. Blessing.

When I woke this morning I had my legs back and the pain was entirely absent. Wonder. Blessing.

##########

Six months of impossibly hard. Six months of proof, day in and day out, that the impossibly hard is navigable so long as I do best things for best reasons to the best of my ability and walk the path with God. As I look back there is a big part of me which honestly can't believe that I've survived. The heart and soul of this ape-lizard knows why I've survived. More wonder. More blessings.

How 'bout some fun? Morning play...


And... Pirates!


And... Playing outside on a beautiful February morning.

Wonder and blessings are everywhere.

Except in the tee-vee.

That is all.

##########

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.




Monday, February 1, 2021

Slogging the winter doldrums





Alexzandra Lee Trujillo

This is a crazy hodgepodge of a post.

January 18.

I've run into the winter doldrums and I'm not well pleased. I'm wrestling with inertia on several fronts. Physical pain continues to be a challenge as does emotional pain. We're a month into winter, and with 60 long days to go before calendar spring arrives I'm impatient for warmer, longer days. Last year was quite dry and so far we've had a warm and dry winter, so I'm concerned about grass production and grazing in 2021. There are various other vexing irritations piled up as well.

The answer, as always, is to do what I can and let God handle the stuff that's out of my control. Simple. Not always easy. Sometimes it's a slog. Hewing to foundational principles is very hard work.

This morning I'm not doing what I can for myself and I'm not letting God do the rest. It's an ugly, selfish place to be. I'm feeling put upon by my perception of the motivations of other people, by nature's magnificent cycle of seasons, by my mortal body's physical infirmities, and by my inability to master and control my emotions.

There, I've done something! I've written (keyed) out a base set of my selfish complaints. It's a start.

Plan: Pray instead of intending to pray. Make a gratitude list. Wear shorts to work even though "it's too cold, waaahhh." Run some steps, do some pushups, build some widgets with the intent to give full and proper return for my wages.

It's a start. When I come back to this I shall report on my progress.

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January 19.

As Dugout Doug said, "I have returned. Now what?"

It's already time to go to work. 

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January 20. Perhaps January 21.

Day three. Or perhaps four. This is taking forever to write. Fits and starts.

It was bath time for the littles. Like most little kids they like to play in the bathtub. Scrubbies and washies intermingle with splashies and squirties and flights of delightful imagination. Summarines and paceships and mermaids and pure delight.

"I'm gonna be a big boy," says the four year old. We talk about being a big boy, what it all means. He's filled to bursting with the possibilities. He wants to go to school like his big brother, and he's excited about that. He's also got some hesitation lurking in there, wondering what it will be like to have a new experience on his own, away from the familiar comfort of home.

"Sissy can't be a big boy," he says with an enormous smile.

"Why not?"

"She's a girl!"

"Can she be a big girl?"

"No!"

"Why not?"

"She's little!"

"But she can grow up like you, right?"

His face scrunches up in concentration. He grabs a plastic drinking glass floating nearby. "Vroom-vroom," he says as he motors it around the tub. He points the glass at me. "My summarine is shooting you!"

Sissy growing up is a big new thing to wrap his mind around. He needs to think and ponder, so he's changed the subject. It's exactly what a four year old should do. He'll figure it out. If he needs help he'll ask. What he doesn't need right this minute is grownsplaining.

"You got me!"

While the big boy/big girl discussion is going on Sissy is busy with another plastic cup, thoroughly rinsing her dolly's hair. She's working hard and concentrating fiercely. When I've recovered from being gunned by a summarine she looks at me.

"If you die," she says, "I won't have my Shaun."

Well.

There are moments of clarity in this life, at least for me. In this moment shifting pieces of reality stuff snap into place and I get to see clearly. Not only with my mind, but with my heart and soul. The jumble of my own personal/selfish stuff is pushed aside and I get the full force of loss-grief-uncertainty as experienced by these two precious human beings. It's hard to bear, but it's a good hard, a necessary hard, a centering hard.

Bath water begins to cool and it's time to dry off and get dressed. Auntie and I assist and soon the little ones are roaring around at full throttle doing the stuff they get paid for. I sit back and watch for a moment. At a fundamental level I have changed. I've learned. I've grown. It's a livin' thing. I am so very blessed.

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January 23.

It's evening and I have a function to attend, but I also have time before supper to watch a couple of videos with the little ones. They pile into my lap and we're soon watching "cocomelon sick song." It's a thing. I marvel at how much I love Alex's kids and her family. It's an extension of the unconditional love I have for Alex. This love is a state of being in a place which I had never visited or even imagined could exist before Alex created it by accepting my unconditional love. I don't know if that makes sense; I don't know any words which adequately describe this place of pure love.

After a few videos we've maxed out our screen time for the day. The four year old is off like a shot to hang out with his big brother and do guy stuff. The little one is clingy and unsettled. She just wants to be held. I ask her a few questions about her day, but she chooses not to answer and hums to herself.

"Are you feeling okay?"

"Shut up," she replies.

I'm shocked. Why? Again, it's hard to describe emotion in mere words. When I was a kid there were few -- if any -- things worse than a child saying "shut up" to an adult. I can't say why or how, but it's a thing imprinted deeply in me.

In my childhood days yelling at unacceptable behavior was the norm, and whacking was far from uncommon. I can't imagine yelling at these children, and whacking is so far out of the question it's not even a part of the universe I inhabit. I'm grown, for certain values of grown, and I have word tools and love. These children are human beings just like me, and I treat them as I would be treated. My duty is to guide, to help them learn, to protect, to love. Duty is indeed heavier than a mountain.

"Can you think of a nicer way to say that?"

She pauses for a moment, then says, "Please shut up."

Another transcendent moment. Her response strikes hard at my funny bone and arrows deep into my heart. Alex is here with us, right here, right now. Joy and love and laughter bubble out of a place in me that didn't exist before Alex built it.

"You silly goose," I laugh, "I love you so much little one." I hug her and she wraps her arms around my neck and snuggles her face next to mine. She sighs and some of the unsettledness seems to leave her.

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January 24.


If you're old enough to remember the old countrytime lemonade commercial you'll perhaps remember the two old duffers sitting on the porch quaffing glasses of the instant beverage and talking about the pending arrival of spring with the vernal equinox. One of the fellows remarked that he'd known Vernal and was surprised that he'd made something of himself.

Not everyone gets it. Might be an 80's thing.

As I began this on January 18 I was in a funk. Sixty-one days until calendar spring would arrive on March 20, and in this part of the country calendar spring generally means another thirty days until it begins to warm up. Actually it begins warming as soon as the sun begins to move north again, but it's a gradual process to heat all of that air mass. We (and by that I mean I) don't notice or appreciate the gradual warming. And therein lies the answer to part of my funk -- I wanted it to be warm and to be warm right now! I was forgetting that the secret to livin' is to live all of it, to cherish and embrace the winter I have rather than whine about the spring yet to come. The herd of funk-inducing elephants in the room is that other crushing thing. I was wallowing in cold and grief and refusing to do the one thing that would help.

Beaten by myself into a state of reasonableness, I began to pray.

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Blooger/burgle update. I got traction on the issues I was facing and we'll see how things play out over the next little while. The bright sparks leading the crusade against my existence tried really hard yesterday but burgle actually came through on their promise and I was only inconvenienced for a few minutes. 

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January 25.

I keep adding stuff to this post and not finishing.

I'm slammed for time and my thinking has been impacted by lots of emotion over the last week or 10 days. It's very hard to explain, in large part because I can't find a way to understand the turmoil. I can say and intellectually understand that "the grief process is incredibly complex" but swimming in that ocean is challenging. Hard. It's an experience unlike anything I ever imagined; anything I could ever have imagined. I keep trying to "get it" and understand, as if knowledge of exactly what and why will grant me the ability to do the impossible, to control that which cannot be controlled. I keep doing the same thing over and over, and I keep expecting a different result.

I feel bad that at times I've been bludgeoning you kind readers with fragments of my exploding experience. My hope, my sincere hope, is that some of this will somehow prove useful to someone, somehow. It's good therapy for me to write this stuff, and I hope it's somehow helpful to others.

On with the show, except it's already time to go to work! Argh!

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January 26.

It's snowing. Not very much, which is inconvenient for me personally. It's been a very dry winter with almost no snow, following on a year in which annual precipitation totalled 5.45 inches less than the 128 year average of 16.77 inches. Soil moisture, which is the driver for grass production, is very low. If we don't get snow to melt and adequate spring rains the grass will not grow, and no grass equals no grazing equals no grazing income. It's a potential storm which we ranching ape-lizards can weather, but we always prefer to not have to weather it. We can do it, just as nature does it. Grasslands go partially dormant in drought years, and we can too. We need only be humble enough to use our superior cognition to work with nature rather than try to impose our will on her. Are we smart enough to do so, should the pending drought not-rain on our parade? I have my doubts. There are people in the mix who are wholly in the tee-vee. They know with absolute certainty that guidance from the talking tits has superseded all non tee-vee reality.

I do not want to be too close when they crash and splatter. Getting that caustic stuff on me would be a terrible experience. 

In 1969 there was a new and "novel" strain of flu going around. As is always the case, it sickened many people. Healthy people survived while many unhealthy, infirm, and elderly people succumbed to complications associated with influenza infection. We all remember the flu panic of 1969, don't we? The way the government had to shut down the nation and destroy the economy. We all remember that the Mets couldn't win the world series that year what with baseball being cancelled, and the way Apollo 11 couldn't land on the moon. As best we can tell, considering the way 2020-2021 morbidity and mortality numbers have been manipulated, far more people died in 1969. In total and as a percentage of the population.

Now hold on, Shaun, you can't just say that the numbers have been manipulated. You have to show some evidence!

That's right, but it's a bit tricky just now. Especially in public places like this, where anonymous ape-lizards can denounce people for impure thoughts and writings.

Nevertheless, and this is anecdote rather than evidence, I have seen three death certificates citing wuhandromeda as the cause of death in cases where it certainly was not the cause of death. In two of those cases terminal illness was in play; liver disease and lung cancer. In a third, death came from trauma in a motor vehicle accident. All three had tested positive for wuhandromeda though, so that was listed as the cause of death. The physicians who signed the death certificates are not bad people, but they have chosen to do bad things. So they should be punished, right? But what about all the people who choose to believe the narrative even though they see every single day that the narrative is completely false? They also choose to do bad things, day in and day out. They should be punished too. Right? Never fear, they are all punishing themselves. In some locked closet of their mind and heart they know it. When the locked door bursts open, as it certainly will, it will suck to be them.

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January 28.

This is an experiment. An accidental experiment. I've written it in dribs and drabs, adding new stuff as I find time but not hitting the publish button.

Yesterday was a grand day, a day in which very good and nice things happened. It was rather a yucky pain day for me personally, but that didn't diminish the beauty of the good stuff.

The little ones and I sit on the couch playing with cars and watching Little Angel videos on the television. The four year old is such a happy guy and bursting with imagination. He gets so excited as he tries to flow his visions into play. I think he gets frustrated that others can't see exactly what he envisions, can't experience all the cool and exciting stuff going on. But he's so happy and filled with the joy and wonder of it all that he doesn't let frustration take over. He just forges ahead and does his very best to explain and include his slow-poke playmates.

The two year old is in a two year old mood. There's a reason they call it the terrible twos. She's trying to control her world and it isn't working out for her. People, places, and things simply refuse to fall in line and cooperate fully with her desires. This makes her angry, and the world must know of her displeasure and feel the depth of her wrath. But that's not the only thing going on. She's learning and growing and tinkering, figuring out how to navigate her ever expanding life. She has a towering rage going on, but she's also a happy little girl who has an imagination every bit as big as her brothers. She loves to play and have fun; she delights in the magic of interacting with others.

Thirty-five years ago today STS 51L went in the water.
Front from L: Mike Smith, Francis R. “Dick” Scobee, Ron McNair. Back from L: Ellison “El” Onizuka, Teacher-in-Space Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith “JR” Resnik.

I wonder what those seven souls would think about the American (and indeed global) zeitgeist of 2021?

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January 29.

I planned to write a bunch of stuff. Didn't happen. I worked. I spent precious hours with family.

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January 30-31. Last weekend of January.

I did a lot of writing. I cleaned house and did laundry. I helped a young fellow sight in the rifle I built for him.

Some things are falling into place. Others are not.

One thing that's not falling into place is finger tats.

I had what I considered good reason to acquire the finger tats. Some people I love far more than life itself shared their perspective with me, and my reasons just up and faded away. Like the smoke from that torpedo!


I like the song a lot, and I like the sequels more. Things have changed a lot since 1986, but things have also stayed the same a lot.

This life thing is quite an awesome gig.

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February 1.

I'll be off to work soon. Up early as usual I've been working on the novel and making some good progress.

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day, and I rather expect Punxsutawney Phil to see his shadow. If I remember correctly that will mean an early spring. If I read the local climate trends correctly I don't really need a rodent report from Gobbler's Knob to tell me what the weather is likely to do. Experience tells me that the stars are lining up for a dry year. Experience also tells me that while the past is good at rhyming, it never repeats. Within the concept of that phrase lies a nugget of wisdom and a key to unlocking part of the wonder of this whole life gig. There are a lot of keys out there hidden in plain sight. None of them are in the tee-vee. Just in case anyone was wondering.

Tomorrow is also the day I get more injections. I'm very much looking forward to the experience. I'll get some temporary pain relief if nothing else. We'll also move a step closer to finding out if a permanent-ish fix is possible. As the days go by I've been learning by trial and error how to live more optimally with this infirmity. My body continues to do amazing things to adjust, and the wonder of this part of the journey takes my breath away when I look at it for what it is.

As I sit here writing I realize that I'm in many ways more batshit crazy than I've ever been. At the same time much of the trauma fog is clearing. I'm in a hard but interesting place. Both of those things are good. Time to finally push the firetrucking publish button.

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Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.