Thursday, January 31, 2008

An Intersection (and Mama and Duncan)


The Portland streetcar turns left off NW 23rd at Lovejoy, in front of the US Bank branch that is closest to our apartment. The green leaves on the trees tell you that I took this photo earlier in the year, May in fact.

I like this intersection. Besides the streetcar, there's the #15 bus that travels NW 23rd. Then you've got loads and loads of vehicles--cars, pickup trucks, delivery trucks, SUVs, trash trucks. And let's not leave out pedestrians. NW 23rd is one of Portland's busiest street for shopping, eating, strolling, no matter the day of the week or the time of day. I left pedestrians out of this particular shot because I wanted to focus on the intersection itself.

Mama made a pretzel today during therapy, in addition to exercising. She didn't eat it after it was baked in the oven, though, because she's not a pretzel gal. When I saw her this evening, she looked pretty good but somewhat fragile--understandable, given what she's been through. Leland visited, too, completing some of his math homework while Mama ate a bit of the deli food I brought from Zupan's. We put the rest of it into the frig in the dining room, with her name on it, for tomorrow.

Duncan is still at the vet's. I'm hoping that he'll be able to come home after work tomorrow. On Saturday I'd like to take him and our Scrabble game to Mt. Tabor for some together time with Mama.

I slept about five hours in a row last night, then went back to sleep for another hour or so. Hooray!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

ABC Wednesday: B is for Beads of Moisture


In October the hedges to the left of our building's front door caught numerous falling leaves. Those leaves provided the perfect landing spot for moisture, gathered and shaped into beads--hanging tenaciously, giving gravity what for.

Tenacious--persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired, according to Merriam-Webster online. Sounds like us.

I hope you're enjoying some of my older photos because I'm hard-pressed to get to take many right now.

Here's the latest:

Mama made it OK through a busy day--PT, a shower including washing her hair, and the trip to the neurologist. Lamont and Lindsay met her there. The man was new to us--the hospital neurologist, as we understand it, doesn't see patients anywhere but the hospital, so this doctor is her counterpart. Anyway, he checked her out thoroughly, Lamont told me, and told her he thought she was doing pretty well, to continue with her physical therapy and come back to see him in a month. That's when Mama asked him, "Do you mean I have to stay there for a month?" And the doctor replied, "You'll be better off if you do." Mama told me she guessed she'd just have to accept that. Her voice sounded convinced, not breaking or wavering. Lamont told me that doctor doesn't really know his grandmother and what she just might be able to do. I'd like to believe that myself, but with the messy weather and the dog's diarrhea and work and laundry and needing to rest, I haven't laid eyes on her since Saturday; she's been extremely understanding and supportive. Her voice is good on the phone; she doesn't sound confused; she's remembering things and telling them to my Aunt Baker on the phone, then later on when she talks to me, she tells me the same stuff. I'm more hopeful than I've been in weeks.

I finally got through to the vet's this morning around 8:30 a.m. and asked how's Duncan. I was told he's ready to go. I asked if he's over his diarrhea. I was told for the most part. I told the woman that I'd come after work. For the most part? What's that mean? My brother said is that like being sort of pregnant? Anyway, after work I got in the car and drove the 12 miles to the vet. That little guy was as happy to see me as I was to see him. The woman said that his poop was firming up, that I should give him a quarter tablet of a 2 mg. immodium two times a day, then I paid, got his coats on him and took him outside for a walk before we got into the car. It was snowing great big wet snowflakes which was really pretty. What wasn't pretty was the diarrhea Duncan had after he peed. So, I put him into the car and went back inside to ask for written proof that he's not contagious so that I could look for a doggie day care in my own neighborhood--it's 15 miles to the vet; we've kept going there because we started there, we took out the wellness plan which has saved us a great deal of money, and we like the people there. The vet said that no where would take Duncan with his diarrhea eventhough he's not contagious and offered to keep him there again tonight.

I sat in the car talking with Mama, snow falling all around but not sticking right then. We decided that I'd drive towards her building and that I'd call again as I got closer. The snow kept up for some miles, then turned into snowy rain or rainy snow. Still, she told me to go on home and get some rest. That's just what I'm going to do in a little while. I had to go to the grocery store then drive around for a while, looking for a parking space. Thankfully I found one half a block from the door! I ate supper, washed the dishes, put some sweet potatoes and Yukon golds in the oven to bake, took some ham slices out of the freezer--I'm trying to eat normally, not just peanut butter sandwiches--and sat down to work on the blog for a bit.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hen and Chicks


Christmas Day snow sprinkles this pink pot filled with a hen and her chicks, resting on its side on Lindsay's Aunt Laura's deck in Lake Oswego. I decided to post this photo not only because of the obvious connection to Mama and Howard and me, to me and Lamont and Leland, but also because I saw a sprinkling of snow outside this morning.

Here's the latest:

Mama's first Monday at Mt. Tabor went pretty well. She had PT and occupational therapy, too. One is for her legs and one is for her arms, she explained to me over the phone. So far she hasn't had much good to say about the food which causes me some concern. I'm going to check into my bringing her supper several times a week--if I can have permission to do that. Tomorrow afternoon she has an appointment at the neurologist's office. The wheelchair van will transport her, and Lamont will either go with her or meet her there. I really need to go to work.

I had to take today off because Duncan has had diarrhea since Saturday, not too long after we left the vet's office. He's spending the night there tonight, under observation for a tiny dosage of Immodium. I've spent the last two nights sleeping on the couch with him on my chest so that I could feel him move. I certainly didn't want diarrhea anywhere in the apartment, so I made him a diaper of sorts from a store brand adult diaper. I used duct tape to hold it together, and as long as he rested on me, he didn't move around and shove it off. OK, I know you're are trying really hard right now not to fall out laughing at such a sight--I would be too if I'd had enough sleep the last two nights--ha, ha! He really is the sweetest little guy! I'm going to sleep in my bed tonight--hooray!

Thanks again for every prayer, visit and comment, from all of us.

Monday, January 28, 2008

These days will come again.

Mama and Duncan at Cannon Beach, May, 2007. This is what the two of them want, to be together again, enjoying what life brings. Naturally I'm in there, too, because I took the picture!

Mama started physical therapy today at Mt. Tabor. She calls it PT and where she's staying Tabor House. Hey, six of one, half a dozen of the other, right? She said to tell y'all thanks again for thinking of her and that she's doing her best to get better so that she can come home to our apartment. I second all of that!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Promise of the Rose Buds


I look at these exquisitely tight buds, at their perfection and their portent of future perfection as represented by the blossom. I think of Mama's future, of Duncan's future, and mine. All we ever really have is the semblance, the idea, of a promise. That's enough, isn't it?

Along with this photo of the What a Peach rose that I took in May, 2007, here for you--our CDPBer friends--is the e-mail I sent to our family and friends on Saturday:

The physical therapist and doctors consulted and decided Mama was ready to return to Mt. Tabor Skilled Nursing Facility so that she could be closely monitored as she works on regaining her strength and mobility. Since she has steadily improved since late Wednesday afternoon, that's good news because I believe this time that she has a real chance to accomplish that goal. She's in a different room, in the bed near the door, but with a more interesting view of the sky. At least I think it's more interesting--with the rain today, the sky was a uniform light gray for the most part. There is a lady named Pat in the other bed--she's either a couple of years older than Mama or a couple of years younger--almost to the day since her birthday was Jan. 17--but I cannot remember which right now.

Fatigue sets in once one becomes still. Today was a very long and involved day for me, starting with bathing Duncan before our trip to the vet. He needed his nails trimmed, and I wanted to him to be checked for a possible reason why he's been losing weight since Mama went into the hospital. I had quite a scare when the vet felt a lump beneath his left ear and surmised it was a swollen lymph gland--maybe an infection, maybe cancer. I spent a couple of hours wondering if he had cancer and how in the world would I tell Mama. His blood test and fecal test didn't show anything out of the ordinary. Also, all three vets checked the lump and came to the conclusion that it is a salivary gland. The vet sat down beside me and said, "I'm wondering, since this started happening when your mother went into the hospital, if she wasn't sneaking him treats, and now that he's not getting them, he's losing weight." I looked at her and smiled slowly. "My Mama wouldn't sneak this dog treats, no way. She's a straight, narrow, arrow. Just ask my two sons who are now grown men how straight she is about such things. They'll tell you. Besides, she doesn't want him weighing too much because it could hurt is long spine. No, that's not it." Poor girl was several shades of pink/scarlet/red, taking it all in stride. So, the plan is to increase the amount of food he gets at his two meals and to come back in three weeks to see if he's gained any weight. If he hasn't, then they'll dig deeper for a cause. Y'all dog people out there, should I have advocated for more now? I'm tired and overloaded. I'm cautiously optimistic about this, but somewhat alarmed, too.

I forgot to tell you that after I bathed him, I rolled him up in a towel to help him dry as he napped for a bit. I was busy getting Mama's clothes, etc., back into the suitcase and/or bag. When I realized he was not all the way dry, I got my brand new hair dryer with a diffuser and blew him dry. The little cutie took it very well. Then I put on his black houndstooth coat with the collar and his new water repellant coat with the reflective stripes. That way he was double wrapped against the cold and rain. He looked right at home in Portland where everyone layers.

After we left the vet, we headed for Mt. Tabor and Mama. She was some kind of glad to see the little guy, as he was to see her. I put him down beside her right side where he cuddled up at her armpit, his little head resting on her upper arm. It did my heart a great deal of good to see the two of them together. We stayed a couple of hours--he napped while I put her things away and the two of us talked. The difference in how Mama was after her first arrival at Mt. Tabor on Jan. 17 and today was unreal to the real good side! I told Mama that if it does snow, or even threatens snow, I won't be over on Sunday. She certainly understands that. Her facility is closing in on the 600 foot elevation, while the apartment is probably at 350-400 feet. For a week (until today when warmer air--mid 40s--blew up from California, bringing the rain) we've had lows around 25 and highs around 33-37 degrees. So, who knows, Portland itself could be ripe for snow. TriMet has already put chains on 50 buses that go up into the hills where the elevations range from 700-1000 feet.

Now Duncan is curled up beside me on the couch, asleep. I've got my computer on a lap desk that Lindsay and Lamont gave to Mama for either Christmas 2006 or her 81st birthday--I can't remember which. I don't think that I'll stay alert after I send this e-mail and finish with my Portland Oregon Daily Photo entry. It was good day, though.

Thank you for your comments and your prayers, for sharing our hope.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Jump for joy with a red-headed boy!


Water, an irresistible force where boys are concerned. Standing there for several minutes, I snapped photo after photo, my mind flooded with memories of my own two sons and water play. And I can tell you that if Mama physically could jump like this red-headed boy, she'd be right there with him, in the fountain at the Rose Garden Arena. She's had another good day. Who knows--she might end up there with him, and is already there in spirit.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Everything's coming up roses, we hope and pray


Last May I took this photo of a Tuscan Sun Rose at Portland's Rose Garden. I thought it illustrated very well how today went, in a totally unexpected way.

This is entirely random, out of time sequence, whatever--sorry.

OK, here's what happened. Mama's symptoms of nausea and the feeling that her eyes were floating in a pan of water were so much better today that the neurologists consulted with the cardiovascular surgeon and afterwards, they made the decision to postpone the surgery, to see if this continues.

Naturally I asked postpone for how long. What if she wakes up tomorrow nauseous and vomiting, what then? The answer from the cardiovascular surgeon--medicine for that and wait and watch to see if it comes back on Saturday morning--not in those exact terms, but that is what he meant. He said that he'd be around all weekend if need be but he really didn't think he'd be needed because he believes that the steroids that Mama's been taking since late Sunday afternoon have finally had the proper impact on her inner ear nerve which, if this is what's really happening, is no longer inflamed.

The neurologists said she is to have physical therapy again tomorrow, and over the weekend we will do things with her. Today, before I had left work to head over there, Lamont and Lindsay got her into a wheelchair and took her up and down the hallway, asking her to read signs and look at photographs, etc. decorating the walls. None of this bothered her equilibrium or made her feel dizzy.

After I'd been there for a while, taking all of this in, she said, "I feel like I've been let out of a cage." Lamont kept saying, "I can't believe what I'm seeing," after having seen her yesterday for a couple of hours before going to work at 1 p.m. She was lying curled up in the bed, not wanting to focus her eyes on anything. He'd ask Lindsay, "Are you as amazed as I am?" "Yes," she'd say and grin real big.

About 1:45 p.m. the cardiovascular surgeon called and told us that he wanted to delay and that he'd come later to formally tell us why and to answer questions. Naturally Mama was hungry--she'd had nothing since applesauce the night before around 10 p.m. So, we asked her nurse if she could have something, jello even. She said she'd have to check for doctor's orders. Lamont told her that he'd just called, etc. so she said she'd believe us and get some. She never came back. In the meantime, Lamont and LIndsay were getting very hungry--they'd been there since right before noon. So I told them that I had four homemade turkey wraps in my lunch bag and they could have one each if they liked. They declined and when down to the cafeteria to find something more to their liking. All of a sudden Mama said, "Give me on of those turkey rollups." So I did, and she ate the whole thing! Slowly, along with sips of water. Then Lamont and Lindsay came back with a cup of sliced canned peaches for her which she ate, bite by bite. As she looked down at the cup of peaches and fished one out with her spoon, she said, "I couldn't have done this two days ago, I would have been feeling awful." I ate a turkey wrap with her, and the kids ate their food. We talked and kept looking at each other like what is going on here? Is this a false better brought on by medicines?

Leland came from school, hungry. I offered him the last two turkey wraps but they were too plain for him, so he went down to the cafeteria salad bar and got some shredded cheese and also added mustard from a packet that Lamont had. He ate both of them. We had a picnic in the hospital.

I helped Mama walk into the bathroom which she had not done since she first got to Mt. Tabor, last Thursday afternoon. She wasn't dizzy or wobbly. Her blood pressure was more normal, too. Her nurse and two student nurses are supposed to give her a shower this evening at 10 p.m. which is when she requested it. At 8 p.m. she's supposed to get a grilled cheese, some peaches, vanilla wafers and milk.

Right before we left, her medical doctors arrived. Both of them were pleased with how she looked. One said he felt cautiously optimistic which is a plain and effective way to put it. Mama feels like that herself, as do all of the rest of us.

So, thanks from the bottom of our hearts for all of your prayers and positive thoughts and kind words and wishes.

I'm about to sit on the couch with my little dog.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A bank of pay phones, an alternative mode of communication


Just after midnight Friday, on the wall outside a gate at PDX, I found these. I consider them relics, well-maintained, but relics nevertheless. Mostly I was so glad to have something to photograph while I waited for Howard's plane.

Mama felt a little more normal part of today. She got several birthday cards; the kids gave her a pretty balloon, and we all visited. Marsha from my work came to see her, too. She walked several blocks to do that, and it's mighty cold outside. Wasn't that sweet?

Thursday when we know something about Mama's procedure, I'm so thankful that I won't have to call everyone who cares about her on a pay phone. Whew! I think I'm sort of tired now. Can you imagine how exhausted I'd be if I had to make hundreds of phone calls? I can, and it's not a pretty picture. I am so thankful for the Internet, Gmail, and all of y'all!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

ABC Wednesday - A is for All Service Musical Electronics Repair--one fine neon sign--and some new news, finally


At SE 6th and Morrison, this sign has long caught my eye as I happened to drive by. Luckily one day I had a chance to take some photos, especially for ABC Wednesday.

I also think this is fitting because, so to speak, we finally got some "service" and just might get a "repair" later this week, "all" for my little Mama.

Now for the new news:

Mama will have right subclavian bypass surgery on Thursday afternoon, some time after 2:30 p.m. ,Portland time, probably. Dr. Douville, the cardiovascular surgeon, put it to us--Mama, me, Howard and Lamont--like this. There's a 5 in 100 chance that she'll die, have a heart attack or stroke, during the surgery. There's a 50-50 chance that the surgery will get rid of her nausea, but it should allow her blood pressure to stabilize in her body so that if the surgery doesn't fix the problem, there should be a chance to work on it with medications.

Mama said to him that all she wanted was a chance to not feel like her eyes were floating in a pot of water. Right now that's not happening as often, but she's taking an anti-nausea med as needed.

So, she said to say thanks so much to everyone for your prayers and positive thoughts. We thank you, too.

Howard had to stay over a day because he felt so rotten, and he was very glad to be in the meeting today, to meet the surgeon and hear the answers to all of our questions. His plane takes off at 6 a.m. tomorrow, and I'm going to work tomorrow and half of Thursday. Lamont doesn't work on Thursdays, neither does Lindsay. Leland has class until over in the afternoon, but I'm sure he'll head to the hospital then, just like he did today.

I have not succumbed to the virus, thankfully. I am sleeping plenty, except for rising early to take Duncan out and then fooling around with my hair--gotta look presentable, don't you know? Thank goodness I got it cut two weeks ago, earlier in the day that Mama was first admitted tot he hospital. With the hair products that I purchased, I'm looking presentable each and every day.

Of course, all of this depends upon nothing else out of the ordinary happening.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Under construction, sort of like things around here

There used to be a vacant lot here, used for parking. Now it's the site of a new high rise office building a couple of blocks from the Willamette River. That the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge in the distance.

No real news on the Mama front other than she's not regressed, thank goodness. There is a chance that we will get to have a risk/benefit conversation with the cardiovascular surgeon about this work that needs to be done on her carotid arteries and the bypass surgery. We might find out tonight, but more likely in the morning--if the stars are a-lined.

We've got other problems, short-lived ones, we hope. My brother woke up with a virus which has caused him grief all day, and now he's exhausted and has been dozing on the couch with Duncan. I do not feel very well myownself. Also, Portland's experiencing extremely cold temperatures which makes us even more susceptible to feeling poorly. I got us some popsicles and crackers and Gatorade earlier, so we're ready for anything.

Thanks for your continued prayers and kind comments.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Rolling fields, lone tree, plus the latest on Mama


The fields alongside Helvetia Road, between Highway 26 and the Helvetia Tavern, are beautiful to me. I took this photo on Jan. 12 after I had been out there for lunch and a break from the hospital. Leland cooked it and served me--sweet.

Mama's anti-nausea medicine seems to be helping a great deal, finally. She said it has been wonderful not to feel so bad most of today. She managed to eat a bite or two of toast for breakfast and a little bit of canned peaches and fresh watermelon around lunch time. A physical therapist evaluated her and encouraged her to walk using a walker. My brother rolled her wheel chair right behind her and I rolled the IV pole in front of her as she made her way slowly for maybe a total of 15 feet, with a rest stop in the middle, sitting in the wheel chair.

One other wrinkle--the neurologist visited, and after Mama mentioned again that her left ear still hurt some, she decided to give Mama some steroids today and tomorrow, to see if the inner ear nerve is inflamed. Wouldn't if be great if she could be helped that simply.

Thank you for your continued prayers and thoughts.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Flat Stanley and a Mama Setback


Flat Stanley heard that it snowed back home in Mississippi, so he wanted me to go ahead and post this photo I took one morning this week, about 7:30 a.m. It's not snow, though; it's frost on the roof of the Buick.

Friday morning when Mama woke up at Mt. Tabor, she was nauseous and vomiting. It was a few hours before they could get an order for compazine for that, so she spent quite a bit of time being miserable. However, over in the late afternoon she was letting ice chips melt in her mouth and didn't appear to be dehydrated. This morning her condition was the same, even after a second compazine, and her blood pressure quite high. I asked the nurse to call her doctor, and the neurologist was the one she got in contact with by phone. That doctor told Mt. Tabor to send Mama back to the hospital which they did. She's been admitted again and is a hundred percent miserable at best. In the ER she kept saying that her eyes were swimming around in her head, and even after two doses of one nausea med and two doses of another nausea med, she felt no better.

My brother Howard and I are in her room now, waiting to see a doctor, we hope. His plane landed about 12:20 a.m. this morning, I made one wrong turn on the way back to the apartment but corrected our route quickly and got us over to the guys for a short visit with Lamont and Lindsay--Leland was sound asleep. Lindsay herself didn't feel well, and threw up,off and on all night but did feel some better about 3:30 p.m. today.

Before all of this happened, Howard, Lamont, Leland had planned to eat brunch at the Bijou Cafe, one of mine and Mama's favorite places to eat which we discovered with the help of the guys back in the summer of 2004. I made the decision that we ought to eat there and then to to the ER because otherwise we could be in a real bind, energy-wise. Thank goodness I did because we ate around 11:15 a.m. and it's now eight hours later. We're talking about supper out at the Helvetia Tavern, after we see the doctor. That meal we had at the Bijou was as good as it always is. I don't know exactly what they had, but I had a short stack of buttermilk pancakes and some apple pear compote with whipped cream. I needed that great tasting comfort food, let me tell you. Plus, Howard and I walked from the apartment to the cafe, through mist, rain, small hail and mist again--all in a mile and a third. It felt splendid to be walking, especially with my brother!

Speaking of the doctor, when Mama was being transported into her room, I saw Dr. Kendall, her primary medical doctor from her other admission. He was surprised and sad to see her back so quickly and in such a state. He said maybe we would have to go with one or both of the other procedures on her blood vessels. He said that he would make sure whoever would take care of her over the weekend would know all about her.

Just now another young doctor came in to ask some questions and check her out. She told us that she had talked with the partner of the cardiovascular surgeon who had consulted with the other doctors for the last two weeks. It appears at this time that Mama will have something done with her carotids, then the bypass. I don't know myself how her little body will take all of this, but as she is right now, totally miserable, she would say "Go for it" if she felt like talking. This doctor had no specific time frame, but she said that more than likely someone from cardiovascular would see her tomorrow. I'm hoping that the man who did the left subclavian stent will see her tomorrow, too. That way maybe they could do this on Monday. Who knows.

All of her stuff that I took to Mt. Tabor, clothes, toiletries, framed photos, etc. is being kept there until I can get it tomorrow. Thank goodness. I can go get it while Howard is here with Mama, waiting for doctors to appear out of the mist. Sorry, but it does seem to take an awful long time for them to appear sometimes.

Anyway, we're going to eat supper. Time passed--we ate well at Helvetia Tavern--Duncan's been walked and bathed. He and Howard are dozing on the couch. We're all going to bed after the weather forecast. Oh, my,it's predicted to be 20 degrees Monday night. On another channel, it's predicted to be 25 degrees Monday night. Either way, it sounds cold.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Mama's Settled In and Good-bye Crud!

That sweet little lady, my Mama, is a champ. She's ready to do whatever she possibly can for however long it takes to get back to her life--that's the message I got from her today as we moved her into her room at Mt. Tabor. Physical therapy begins tomorrow. I predict it will be one of the hardest things she's ever done, but I'm doggone proud of her attitude. Lamont, Lindsay and Leland came by to visit Grandma just as her dinner arrived. We talked and laughed a bit as she ate some of it despite being so tired from her busy day that included a shower as well as the ride in a wheelchair ambulance. After Mama got settled back in bed, hoping she'd stay awake for "Wheel of Fortune," we hugged and kissed on her, saying good-bye until tomorrow. It wasn't easy on any of us, but each of us believes in what she's about to undertake and in our ability to support her and to help make good things happen for her as she rehabilitates.

In between conversations with Mama, we'd talked about food and how hungry each of us was. We decided to meet at the Savoy Tavern & Bistro at SE Clinton and 25th.

On the drink menu, I saw "Viva La Cruda," a margarita. Besides the fact that I really like a good margarita, the word crud in cruda sparked my imagination. Merriam-Webster defines crud as something disagreeable. My ricochet brain took me from crud to what's been going on with Mama is cruddy, as in "It's absolutely cruddy that she's not able to come home and sit in her recliner and enjoy Duncan, her crossword puzzles, and being together after I get home from work or on the weekends." So, I thought, I'll have a Viva La Cruda and drink that crud right outta mine and Mama's lives!

And that's just what I did, after Lindsay and I took photos, naturally.

I took this one without the flash.
I took this one with the flash.
Lindsay, my guest photographer,took this one without the flash and from an entirely different angle.

Which one is your favorite? And, no, I didn't drink three Viva La Crudas--just two. I also ate a fine tasting hamburger and French fries. Really good food and drink, being with those three young adults, the hope of our future--I'm saying "Hasta la vista crud!"

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Afternoon delight and Mama news

From my work windows. Remember the hole in the clouds I posted Oct. 13? The photos are of the same area; you can see the tower at the top edge of the treeline.

I've never seen clouds like these. Have you?

Mama sat up in her wooden high-backed, padded chair with arms for one hour this afternoon. When I went to visit after work today, her supper arrived--a grilled cheese sandwich, canned peach slices, vanilla wafers, strawberry sorbet, and milk. She ate with more gusto than I've seen since she became ill, I'm happy to report. She also told me that she stayed awake better, too, and felt less dizzy now and then. Tomorrow's the big day. I'll let y'all know how it goes. Pray for strength, stamina and patience--for me! Ha! Pray for Mama above and beyone me, please. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

ABC Wednesday - Z is for zebra stripes, over and again (and a Mama update, over and over again, too)

I took these two photos on Oct. 21, after work, as I wandered around downtown looking for ABC photo opportunities. I walked along beside a gallery window on the first floor of the building catty-cornered (sort of) from the Veritable Quandary, my ABC Wednesday V post. When I stopped to look at some pottery in one window, I thought to myself, "I suppose I'll go to the zoo to get a photo of a zebra for Z." Three steps to the left and there was my zebra! Ecstatic, I took several photos, trying to keep down the glare and/or reflection.
"Zebra," acrylic giclee by Norma Piper. Look, there in the lower right corner. "It's me, it's me, it's Ernest T," said Ernest T. Bass. Oops, I mean it's me and my camera!

Satisfied, I walked half a dozen more steps to the left, still enjoying the art in the windows. My mouth dropped wide open when I saw this second painting--more zebra stripes, of a sort.
"Inspired by Music II," oil by Joe Cotter.

And get this, upstairs in the same building is one of the county jails. They don't wear stripes these days, but isn't that a strange coincidence?

Now for Mama. We found out today that the doctors who would do either of the procedures--surgical bypass for the blocked right subclavian and/or the angiogram stent or cleaning out of one or both carotids--are not comfortable yet with her condition in relation to such procedures. So, they and her neurologist and the regular doctors have decided that she needs to go to a skilled nursing facility for a period of physical and occupational therapy. She's taking this very well, I must say. All of this news hit the rest of us sideways because we thought she'd be here at the hospital doing physical therapy the rest of the week. So, Lamont and Lindsay rode their bicycles over to check out a couple of them for me so that I wouldn't lose any time at work. Plus my sister-in-law in Mississippi checked out the same ones through her connections--she's the director of the Mississippi nursing home owners association and knows all the ropes for this sort of thing, hallelujah. Turns out the one the kids thought better, so did she. It's easy for them to get to and me, either in the car or on the bus. That means that barring any unforeseen surprises, Mama should go there on Thursday for an unspecified number of days. She says she really doesn't know exactly what to think about this but that she will try to do whatever they ask her to do, except if it's to eat a lot. "I haven't felt hungry," she says about her little appetite. My brother Howard is flying up here for a few days at the end of the week which will be a good thing for all of us.

Duncan and I are adjusting to being at the apartment by ourselves while Mama gets better. After his evening walk and meal, we settle down on the couch beneath an afghan and promptly doze off in front of the TV. Then right before we get up to go to bed for the night, we go outside for one more walk. We sleep well, through the night, then gett up to start it all over again. My being able to go to work has given this week a more normal feel, to be sure. Since we have some entirely sunny days forecast soon, I imagine I'll even ride the bus instead of driving the Buick.

Thank you to everyone for your continued thoughts and prayers. I wish I had time/energy to look at all of your blogs--when I can, rest assured that I shall do so and without doubt thoroughly enjoy myself.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Public art on the MAX and today's Mama update

I took these photos on that cold Saturday in December when I walked and walked, taking photos all along the river between the Broadway and Morrison Bridges. I had such a good time.

Here you have some of the public art on the Interstate MAX Yellow Line that runs from the City Center to the Expo Center, which is "The Portland Metropolitan Exposition Center is a multi-purpose facility that has served for more than 30 years as the region's primary destination for consumer public shows, trade shows and public events. This 60-acre campus includes a complex of five inter-connected buildings comprising 330,000 square feet of multi-use exhibition space, 11 meeting rooms, a full-service kitchen and parking for 2,200 vehicles. The facility hosts nearly 100 events annually, attracting in excess of 500,000 attendees."

From Artwork at every stop along the MAX Yellow Line draws from the history and culture of the area to create a unique identity for each station. With over 40 local artists contributing artwork and 75 community members participating in forums and committees, the art along MAX Yellow Line is a proud reflection of a historically rich and vital part of Portland.

This particular art is at the Interstate/Rose Quarter Station in front of the home of the Portland Trail Blazers, our professional basketball team.

From Brian Borrello presents a three-part metaphor for displacement and change.

* Illuminated metal trees generate their own electricity from solar panels.
* A virtual campfire flickers with light at night, surrounded by stainless steel stump seats.
* Light filtering through colored glass on shelter roofs simulates the dappled light of a forest.
* Concrete tree rings in the platform symbolize the forest once abundant on the site.
* Custom guardrails feature branching tree limbs and roots.


That's the home of the Trail Blazers in the background.

Here you're looking towards the Willamette River. All of this, the basketball arena and the streets and mass transit, etc., is practically on the east bank of the river. Sorry I only got photos of the metal trees, but to tell you the truth, they stood out so beautifully against the blue, blue sky that I got distracted from even looking for the other parts of the art at this stop. Maybe a shot or two for another time, eh?

Here's the latest on Mama--sorry that I ramble so much, but my brain's going several directions at once.

She's still having problems with her blood pressure, not only being higher that the doctors want, but also dropping more than they want when it's taken lying down, sitting up, then standing up. The man who did the angiogram and put in the stent last Thursday told the kids today that he wanted to re-evaluate her on this coming Friday, so there won't be any new procedure or surgery right away, if at all.

Also, the doctors have decided to have her evaluated by physical and occupational therapy because they want her sitting up more and walking some, with a walker that has wheels on the front two legs. She's now calling for the nurse, then using the walker to go to the actual bathroom, which is a step in the right direction. If some of this blood pressure problem is due to her having been flat on her back (or nearly so) for over a week now, then the movement they've prescribed just might help her blood pressure get under control better.

Mama is trying to do what is asked of her because she wants to get better, but she is pretty weak. I'm hoping that the increased activity, even in small amounts, will help her regain a bit of strength. All of that ought to help, don't you think?

Lamont, Lindsay and Leland came over today. Leland stayed until he needed to head for school. Lamont and Lindsay stayed until I got here after work. It's now a little after 8 p.m. and I'm about to head home to a lonely little dog.

Thank you for your continued prayers, well wishes and kind thoughts. They mean so very much to all of us.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The 3 Ls who're helping this one L with Gee-Ma, 'cause they love both of us so very much


Mama's doing a tad better, as she puts it. We're so thankful for that, even if her blood pressure remains too high. The doctor said they're still working on controlling it with medicine. Hopefully tomorrow we'll know what is next for her.

I took this photo on Dec. 6 after we'd been to the Bagdad to see "The Bourne Ultimatum." That's Lamont, Lindsay and Leland. Don't they look grand, standing at the Bike Parking Oasis on the corner of SE 38th and Hawthorne?

Those three young people have played a big part in keeping me sane this week, helping out so very much with Mama. Besides taking Mama to the ER, twice (Leland) and coming to the ER to check on Grandma as soon as they got off work last Sunday night (Lamont and Lindsay); visiting repeatedly (all three); asking pertinent questions and remembering the answers(all three); loving both of us immensely (all three), there's also this-- Leland has been driving our car part of the time, Lindsay's car the rest of the time, back and forth to work and school since the middle of November. Now that I need the car to get quickly from home or work to the hospital, Lindsay's letting him use her car as often as he needs it. She's riding one of Leland's bicyles or her own bicycle to work and to the hospital to visit Grandma. Lamont does that, too. Leland rides his other bike to the hospital. They're amazing, flat out amazing.

The Bike Parking Oasis is one of several around the city, offering covered bike parking on a newly widened sidewalk, in a space the size of one and one half automobile parking spaces. Where to people park their bicycles in your city?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mama Update #6, and a really tall building

Mama finally made it to a semi-private room this evening, over 24 hours after we thought she would be moved. The hospital was so busy that there wasn't a room available until then. She's better with the dizziness but cannot get up off the bed without help, very tired, and regaining her appetite bit by bit. Her biggest problem all night and until around 8:30 p.m. our time was her blood pressure--it's been way too high. Several different meds finally brought it down; I hope that lasts. My biggest hope is that tomorrow the doctors tell us what the next step is.

Speaking of big, how about the US Bancorp Tower, popularly known as the Big Pink! I took this picture of its north side from several blocks north.


Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it, including how it got its nickname:

"The US Bancorp Tower is the second tallest skyscraper in Portland, Oregon. It stands at 536 feet (163 m) with 43 floors (42 floors excluding the missing 13th floor). The building has nearly 1.1 million square feet (69,000 m²) of office space inside, making it the largest office building in Oregon in terms of volume, and the second tallest building in Oregon, with only the Wells Fargo Center exceeding its height.

Construction of the building was undertaken by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) with Pietro Belluschi as a consultant. The tower opened in 1983, serving first as the national headquarters of U.S. Bancorp, then the regional headquarters of that organization after a 1997 merger moved the corporate offices to Minneapolis, Minnesota. U.S. Bancorp has 480,000 square feet leased until 2015.

Perhaps the most unusual features of the building are its shape and color. Pietro Belluschi was most concerned about the play of light and shadows on its surface; meanwhile, the SOM team had to work with a uniquely shaped lot due to the street grid. The meshing of these two concerns led to what has been called Portland's most dynamic building. Because of the street grid, the tower features no right angles in its parallelogram footprint. This, in turn, makes it look either extremely slender or wide depending upon your viewing angle. Belluschi carefully selected the glass and granite for the exterior facing. The windows can absorb or reflect light depending upon how much light is upon them, while the surrounding granite may appear darker or lighter than the window pieces depending upon the time of day. The building can be described as being pink, orange, purple, or even gray all in the same day. The unusual pinkish color earned the building the nickname "Big Pink", after an album by The Band.

Since a $4 million renovation in 2002, the 30th floor of the tower has been occupied by the Portland City Grill, Portland's top-grossing restaurant. It is often cited as the restaurant with the best view in Portland.

The building was purchased by JPMorgan Asset Management in August 2006 for a price of $286 million. It was previously owned by Unico who purchased it in 2000 for a price of $165 million. Currently, 92% of the building is occupied."

The first time we visited Portland, both of my sons worked at the Portland City Grill. We never did get a chance to eat there, but we did get a tour of the whole place one morning before it opened. While the whole place fascinated Mama and me, it was the views that overwhelmed us.

Thank you so much for your visits, comments and good wishes and prayers for us.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mama Update #5, and an easily understood sign, or is it?

Mama's cadre of doctors want her to recuperate over the weekend while they evaluate her problem(s) and the possible solution(s). She's a bit less dizzy, pretty weak, slowly getting back her appetite, and ready to do whatever they tell her to do so that she can eventually get back the life that she had. We're all proud of her and her attitude. She's getting really good care at Providence Hospital on NE Glisan.


"Stop Here Until Door Closes." Straightforward wording for a rather large sign. For some reason, though, I'm getting another message from it. I'm not sure but I'll just bet there's a garage at the other end of that ramp, a garage in a high-priced condo building. I do know for sure that the building is in the Portland's Pearl District which is a high-priced part of the city, from all aspects. Anyway, I think the sign's there to make whoever has the "key" to the door stop at that point to prevent any other vehicles' piggy-backing into the private garage. For some reason the sign also says to me "If you don't have the key, you can't get in." This raises two questions in my mind. One, do you have to "get in" to feel successful? And second, why in the world am I having such a deep sort of thought? It must be the exhaustion. Or is it that I'm 60 now and may be more prone to deep thoughts?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mama Update #4, and recently the Buick needed fixing, too

Dr. Lukacs explained what went on today to me by drawing a diagram of sorts. I'll do my best to explain. Mama's angiogram went well, revealing this and fixing that. First, there is stuff as hard as concrete, as he put it, completely blocking her right subclavian artery. They tried to break it, coming at it from both ends, to no avail. On the left subclavian artery, there are deposits narrowing it, but they were able to insert a stent there which has greatly improved the blood flow. She's in Cardiac Intensive Care, probably for overnight only, to be closely monitored. She's awake, aware and being a good girl, as she put it, because she wants to get fixed. Dr. Luckas said that there is the possibility she will need another procedure to take care of some blockage in her left carotid artery and/or also they will be evaluating her for the possibility of a by-pass of the 100% blocked right subclavian artery. We might find out a time frame tomorrow. Thanks again for all of your thoughts and prayers.

Now for the Buick and then I'm off to bed.

December 29 I drove to Andy's Auto Supply & Repair at SE 21st and SE Powell. The check engine light had come on and stayed on. The man hooked up some sort of boxy computer/reader thing to the car, said it was probably a glitch and if it came on again, return for further checking.

After that I asked if they'd check the serpentine belt because Jiffy Lube had mentioned that it needed replacing. I prefer to do things like that with locals instead of chains, know what I mean? The only reason I go to Jiffy Lube for the oil change is just that, the jiffy.

Even my untrained eye could see the crack and nicks in just one easily visible section of the belt, so I asked them to fix it. Anyway, Flat Stanley wanted to watch, naturally. The car went up, the man replaced the serpentine belt, the car came down, and the Buick was fixed. Flat Stanley smiled wider than ever! Me, too.

As an extra tidbit, here's the building to the left of Andy's front door. The man at Andy's told me the place used to be called the Two by Six and when the lease ran out, the name got changed to Lots A Luck, so the neon sign got reworked. Turned out right well, didn't it?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Branches (and Mama Update #3)


It was the massive green limbs that first caught my eye. When I downloaded the photo, I felt astounded at the shapes and directions of the naked limbs, down to the narrowest ones. It looks as if the winds have influenced these trees in downtown Portland much more that one would realize from seeing them filled out spring, summer and fall. It's inspirational to see beneath what we take for granted, the greens and golds, to realize that the beauty of it all extends year round. Much like my dear Mama's strong little body and the vessels that supply it with life-maintaining blood. So, for me, this is the perfect photo for Thursday's post.

Here's the text of the e-mail that I've sent on Wednesday evening, to the family and friends who regularly read my other blog:

Hey, Y'all,

I'm going to try to explain what we understand and what the doctors are planning to do. The neurologists and the doctor that performs the angiogram and the cardiovascular surgeon all think that the subclavian steal syndrome is Mama's problem. This has nothing to do with either one of her carotid arteries, the ones that run up each side of your neck, carrying blood to the front of the brain. Instead, it has to do with one of the two subclavian arteries that runs up the back of the neck, carrying blood to the back of the brain. That's the part of the brain that deals with balance; one doctor told us that they're called vertebral arteries once they leave the collarbone area. Instead of the blood going up to the brain, it goes into the arm that has the blockage on its subclavian artery, therefore the "steal" in the name of the problem.

Thursday at some point, the doctors will do an angiogram, using a dye to take images of the arteries as they leave Mama's heart, of both carotid arteries and of both subclavians. The cardiovascular surgeon told us it is Mama's right one that is too narrow. I must have been mixed up about which side since Monday when we first started hearing about this. What they'll do is insert the catheter in from either the left or right, down near where her leg connects to her body. They'll snake it up to where they want it to go and inject dye so that they can make the images. Once they see whatever, they'll know if a stent (a self-expanding tube according to Wikipedia) will do what they want it to do or if the cardiovascular surgeon will have to come in and do a bypass.

They have a procedure scheduled for 8 a.m. and one for 9:30 a.m., then Mama. The problem is that the 9:30 a.m. one could take from 2 to 6 hours, so we don't know what time she'll be taken to the procedure. She cannot have anything by mouth after midnight; he told her to order herself a milkshake at 10 p.m., so she's already done that.

It didn't register with her, or if it did she didn't say anything, but the surgeon said there is a chance that her vertigo is not caused by this subclavian steal syndome. I do hope that is not the case because she would like to wake up from this with plenty of blood going to her brain and not dizziness or nausea.

I'll end with what she said last night and tonight as all of this sunk in: Last night she told me, "There's no telling how good I'll be when they get this done." Tonight she told one of the doctors, "Dr. Yutan (her regular doctor) told me that he figures I've got 10 more good years, and I intend to go after them."

From all of us, thanks to for your continued prayers.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

ABC Wednesday: Y is for Yellow (and Mama Update #2)

Mama Update#2: We still haven't gotten to talk with the surgeon, but it appears that we will be able to tomorrow afternoon. Mama's less dizzy and nauseous, thank goodness, but still cannot get up out of the bed alone. We're keeping in touch with my brother and my aunt by cell phone--thank goodness for modern technology. When my husband was ill all those years ago, 1983, keeping enough quarters on hand was a challenge some days. Thanks to everyone for your good wishes for Mama. Oh, by the way, I still cannot get into my Gmail here at the hospital, and I'm relatively exhausted when I get back to the apartment so that all I seem to be able to do is take care of Duncan and fall into bed. Eventually, I'll be looking at your posts, I promise.

Here's my ABC Wednesday post which thankfully I am able to do at the hospital--otherwise I'd go bonkers sitting there for hours.

Yellow t-shirts top the members of the One More Time Around Again Marching Band at the Concert in the Park, June 8, 2007, at PGE Park, a few blocks from our apartment. You can read a bit of history about the band here as well as their plans for that evening's concert. At one point, two band members danced out front to "Take the A Train." You can easily see them in the photo--they're wearing black and are standing a couple of rows back, directly across from the director's right hand. At the point that I snapped this particular photo, the OMTAAMB had been joined on the field by all of the high school marching bands. All told, there were seven bands on the field for the finale. They're just about to burst into a fan-tab-ulous rendition of "Everything's Coming Up Roses."

Earlier when "Take the A Train" started, the couple walked along slowly at opposite ends of the massed band members, pretending they were at the train station. When they saw each other, they ran together joyously.


Then the couple danced right through the Merriam-Webster definition of jitterbug: a jazz variation of the two-step in which couples swing, balance, and twirl in standardized patterns and often with vigorous acrobatics.










Everyone on the field and in the stands thoroughly enjoyed this musical and dance performance! Hope you did, too.

The concert opened with the Navy Leapfrog Parachuters. I posted about them on my other blog, in case you like to see talented parachuters in action, sort of in action since they're still photos.

For those who missed it, here's Mama Update #1: Mama was admitted to the hospital about midnight Sunday night, after several hours in the ER, a CT scan, and some nausea/vertigo meds. Today she's had an MRI and an ultrasound of one carotid artery--it just so happened that she had the test scheduled for 2 p.m. today, so they went ahead and did it as an in-patient procedure. The neurologists' think what's going on is something called a subclavian steal syndrome which, as I understand it, means that the left side blood vessel's narrower than it should be, for some reason, and then it takes blood from where it's supposed to go from the right side's blood vessel. All of this adds up to not enough blood to her brain which is causing the vertigo and nausea. So, she's looking at surgery--we don't know when yet because we haven't seen the surgeon yet. She's feeling better with the help of anti-nausea drugs right now and is in decent spirits. She's absolutely amazing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Mama Update, and Flat Stanley Enjoys the Stump Art

Mama was admitted to the hospital about midnight, after several hours in the ER, a CT scan, and some nausea/vertigo meds. Today she's had an MRI and an ultrasound of one carotid artery--it just so happened that she had the test scheduled for 2 p.m. today, so they went ahead and did it as an in-patient procedure. The neurologists' think what's going on is something called a subclavian steal syndrome which, as I understand it, means that the left side blood vessel's narrower than it should be, for some reason, and then it takes blood from where it's supposed to go from the right side's blood vessel. All of this adds up to not enough blood to her brain which is causing the vertigo and nausea. So, she's looking at surgery--we don't know when yet because we haven't seen the surgeon yet. She's feeling better with the help of anti-nausea drugs right now and is in decent spirits. She's absolutely amazing.

On December 29, I happened to remember that Flat Stanley hadn't seen the stump art yet, so I made it a point to drive through Ladd's Addition even though it was raining softly. You can tell by the big grin on his face how excited he was to see all of those little toys rounded up on the stump. I'm glad I was able to hold him up high for this photo.

I don't know all of these toys' identification; neither did Flat Stanley. We do like the photo below with someone I think might be the Hunchback of Notre Dame holding up the baby to that individual with the white wings. In those other photos from September, on yesterday's post, there was a blue bird on the nest instead--I believe it's now on the stump to the left of the winged individual. We talked about the change from a bird to a baby and decided that it must have something to do with Christmas and the baby Jesus.

You can tell how much rain we'd been getting from this photo--just look at that mud all around the stump! By the way, do you think I'm being accurate in calling this a stump? Or is it too tall?
I can't say how long that "Please Don't Park Here" sign has been attached to the tree, although I do remember seeing it at some point earlier in 2007. Both times I saw it there, a vehicle had parked at the curb, either not seeing or choosing to ignore its entreaty.

Flat Stanley thought the ladder as well as the climbing toy make the whole thing even more interesting. I took this close-up of the climbing toy from the sidewalk, wanting to avoid getting squishy gray/black mud in the grooves of my birthday shoes, a swell-fitting pair of black Keens. When I downloaded the photo, I was tickled to see the nail in the tree and the drops of water on the toy. That nail makes me wonder what had been there, now long gone.

Remember the nun in the September '06 photos--she's standing over that fireman with the saw cutting through the tree limb on top of the pirate. How creative is that! Anyway, as you can tell in the photo below, the nun has ended up in the mud beside the tree trunk and some discarded holly branches. I couldn't step close enough to get a better photo than this. I hope the next time I get a chance to stop that the nun has been restored to her former position--I think I can still see the fireman in the last photo.

Don't you agree with me that you can see the fireman's head and shoulders and part of his black coat with its yellow collar? And is that a scuba diver to the left of him, a turquoise blue scuba diver, complete with an air tank and a mask?

Flat Stanley and I have looked back and forth, at the September '06 photos, then at the December '07 ones. We've decided that the dinosaur got truly tired of that basketball player using his mouth as a basket and flicked that guy completely outta sight. Or they could be buried in the mud at the foot of the stump, for all we know. We promise to try to get by there at least one more time before Flat Stanley heads home to Mississippi at some point in February.

I'm at the hospital, using their dial up Internet. Thank goodness they have it! I cannot get my Gmail account to open, but I can do this which is a great big plus for me.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Stump Art, SE Portland

Mama's not feeling very well at all, so we're off to the ER in a bit--Leland is on his way to help again, bless him. Anyway, I wanted you to have this background on this stump art because of some new photos to come.

This is from Sept. 4, 2006, when we still lived in SE Portland. I posted it on Mama and Me from PDX. At that time, I did not know how to use Flickr and get my photos the size that I wanted them to be. Still and all, I hope you enjoy this. Be sure to notice the nun figure and where it is in these photos. I'll be back with an update on Mama when I have news. Thanks for all of your continuing good wishes for her recovery.

One sunny day, riding the #10 Harold bus home from work a few weeks ago, a glimpse of something like I'd never seen before flitted across my mind. I wondered, in fact, if I'd really seen what I thought I saw--toys on a stump on the side of Ladd Avenue, beneath the canopy of tall trees? That was a Thursday.

On Saturday, I rode slowly along Ladd Avenue in the Buick, looking on the west side of the street for what I had decided to call stump art. There it was, near one of the round-abouts that keep people from gunning their motors in this and many of the lovely, old neighborhoods in this city. I parked and got out, camera in hand.

Pictured below is what I saw, but you don't believe it any more than I did, right?

Children's toys arranged artfully, humorously and carefully atop a tree stump, standing between a busy sidewalk and a busy street, in front of a greenish-grayish painted, two-story house. How come no one walks off with the toys, I marvelled?

Here's what I think.

In the part of Portland I've been exposed to, folks let other people be. I suspect it's that way all across the city, the metropolitan area even. They let them be who they want to be, without consequence, without judgment.

That's a blanket statement, I realize, but you come up here, sit out front of a cafe or wait at a bus stop, and see if you don't pretty soon agree.

I believe this extends into letting artistic or creative expressions exist for the enjoyment of all, no matter how large or small, whether it's on a stump or a person's skin or hair or clothing.

It's really quite refreshing and encouraging to me. It's power-giving, too, in the sense that if you're left alone to be and therefore appreciated for whatever you've decided to be, then there's no holding you back.