Riley

Outside April

by grace on April 10, 2021

Last Saturday morning, April 3rd, Lovely bravely ventured out in the fenced yard. She’d done this with Kevin, but last Saturday she was so eager to get out that when I opened the door she screwed up all her courage to rush past me outside.

She was delighted to find the catnip plant which is getting bigger by the day.

Here’s a short video of Lovey, Sweetie and Riley.

Riley loves being outside the most.

Later in the day Kevin showed me the latest destruction down by the dock. Animals are always desperate to dig things up down there. Not sure what the animal was, but it must have been very strong to push the bricks out of the way. Maybe it was the mink? A mighty mink!

On Sunday morning we prepped the boat to launch it. This is the earliest we’ve ever put it in the water. First, Kevin had to take off the giant tarp and the structure that held it together. We’re quite pleased with the durability of the new cover and it was much easier to disassemble than it was to put it together last fall. It was easier for Kevin, that is, who did it all.

We then cleaned the boat, starting with waxing the pontoons. When we started I was grumbling in my mind, thinking that just the pontoon waxing would take hours. But Mom came over to help and it only took us an hour and a half, including cleaning the interior of the boat and I even went a little crazy and waxed the motor.

And then we launched it! Kevin expertly backed the truck up, unhooked the boat, then drove forward and quickly backed it to get the boat to glide free from the trailer. A family was picnicking and fishing there by the boat launch, and later Kevin told me that they all cheered when he’d successfully backed the boat into the water.

Mom and I motored back to our dock and Kevin was ther, waiting to jump on the boat for an inaugural ride. A great ride and it was interesting to see all the trees with their naked branches.

Kevin and I wore matching “Mutts” t-shirts, because why not? Such a beautiful day.

In the early evening I relaxed in the fenced yard. A truly lovely weekend.

Ok thenn,

Mrs. April Hughes.

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March Madness

by grace on March 30, 2021

Cerebral Volume Loss.

Not something you want to read about, re: the state of your brain.

But let me start at the beginning.

Last Wednesday, March 24th, I was messing around the house, doing the stuff I usually do. I’d played a game on my iPad while drinking my lapsang souchong tea, I worked out for a while in the bedroom, and then I was standing at the kitchen counter sending Amy a text.

But as I hit send I suddenly felt odd. I was pretty sure I was going to faint. There was no black tunnel or anything, just a strange feeling and I staggered over to the couch to sit down. So weird. I felt a little better sitting but wasn’t sure how to proceed. I wanted to tell Kevin, who was down in the basement, but I didn’t think I had the energy to call down to him. I settled back on the couch and figured he’d come up the stairs shortly. He did just that, and I told him I felt weird.

He quizzed me about my symptoms and I explained that I’d thought I was going to faint and felt light-headed and weird. He went to the bathroom to search for a thermometer while I decided to eat an apple and peanut butter because maybe I was just hungry.

I felt no better, and Kevin finally told me he couldn’t find a thermometer so I got up and found one, and then another one. Men just can’t find things, can they? I took my temp and it was normal. But still the weird feeling. Kevin took my blood pressure and it was much higher than it usually is, maybe 150/90. Kevin suggested that I call my doctor. I can’t just call my Dr. Yu’s office anymore because the medical system is now interconnected. But because my symptoms had some red flags, the main call center connected me with Dr. Yu’s nurse right away, and after I explained my situation she immediately asked the doctor what he thought.

He said I should go to the emergency room. The nurse said they would check up on me and when I went, I should say I had a “sudden onset” of feeling faint.

Now, I’ve taken people to the emergency room quite a few times and I knew I would probably be there a while no matter what, so I started hustling around, changing my clothes and gathering my phone and my iPad and my phone charger and another phone charger and my big blue water bottle which I’m never without. I also called my insurance company because our friends had just taken their 88 year-old dad to the ER at St. John’s Hospital and their experience reminded me that I didn’t want to go there, but I knew that in the past we didn’t have a choice, insurance-wise.

I told the person on the phone that my ER choices were St. Johns and Memorial, and could I go to either one? The woman put me on hold to check, as I wandered around the house looking for stuff to bring with me and feeling very out of breath and maybe I should try to hurry up since when you go to the ER you’re supposed to get out the door in a reasonable amount of time not wander around for a half hour or more. The woman came back on the phone and asked, “so you could go to Northwestern?’ which was funny because Northwestern is in four hours away in Chicago, and no, that wasn’t a good option, but then she assured me that I could go to whichever hospital I wanted to.

Finally we made it out the door and to the ER. When I checked in they took my temperature and gave me one of those flimsy light blue masks which had to swap with my superior dark blue mask. They told me that Kevin couldn’t wait with me until I got into a room.

So he sat in the truck while I waited, glad to find a separate waiting room that was partitioned off from the main one, and only one other person was in there. As far as I could tell, everybody was appropriately masked. It was kind of interesting to be out amongst people since I haven’t done that much in the past year except for going to the grocery store. Two cops were talking to a woman in the other waiting room. She was sitting next to a woman who looked like she was in bad shape, and they wheeled her away as the the other woman kept talking to the cops. Hmm, had that woman been in an accident? I worried that she’d been abused by somebody, because why else would cops be there? I try not to think about all the bad things happening to people all the time.

I only had to wait 25 minutes which seemed good to me because there were quite a few people in that main waiting room.

When they checked me in they weighed me and I didn’t even care that I didn’t take off my shoes, which is something I always normally insist on . They asked me lots of questions as they took my blood pressure which was still high. Then then put me into a very wide wheel chair and wheeled me back. It was funny to be wheeled around, something I also don’t recall ever doing.

The nurses’ station in the middle of the ER was surrounded by beds full of people. They wheeled me past a guy in a prion uniform and parked me on the far side of the nurses’ station. My nurse, a very nice guy named Michael, apologized that I’d have to stay in the hall for a while because all the beds upstairs were full, so people in the ER rooms couldn’t be moved out. This was fine with me. I was only a little bit worried about potential Covid germs in the air as all kinds of medical people hurried back and forth and all around. Michael hooked me up to an IV, explaining that I might be dehydrated which could have made me feel like fainting. I don’t know why I didn’t mention that I’m almost always overly-hydrated, but I wasn’t at my sharpest while lying there. I do recall that there were quite a few guys walking around with electric drills and stuff, were they remodeling?

Michael took some of my blood and a very nice doctor came over and talked to me, and then they wheeled me to a CT scan room and then an X-ray room, and a nurse put sticky things on me to do an EKG. The time passed and I was content to just lie there; I didn’t even feel like opening up my iPad, much less playing anything on it. I kept Kevin updated and after a couple of hours I started feeling bad that he was just sitting there in his truck, but I was also glad that he wasn’t out amongst all these people. I texted him that he should go get some coffee, or he could just go home and that I was fine.

Meanwhile, I suddenly remembered that this had happened to me before. Why hadn’t I thought of this? In 2010, Kevin, Mollie and I were out east, camping and traveling around, and we stopped to spend the night with his sweet aunt somewhere in Virginia. We went to dinner at his cousin’s restaurant, had a lovely meal, and then they gave us a tour of the place. While we walked around I suddenly felt like I was going to faint and his elderly aunt ended up driving us to an urgent care place in some tiny nearby town. I remember that the exam room at the hospital or whatever it was was also a closet, filled with mops and cleaning products and a ladder. I can’t recall what kinds of tests they did, but I know that the only thing they could find was that I was a low on potassium. We picked up some potassium at a Wal-Mart the next day and drove on to the Shenandoah National Park. I felt OK after that, a little weak the next day, but nothing came of it. We even hiked a little on the Appalachian Trail, so clearly there was nothing too wrong with me.

I flagged down Michael and told him about the incident, and I told the doctor. MIcheal said the low potassium could have caused the near-fainting, but my potassium today was OK.

I called Kevin and reminded him of the story and we both marveled that we’d forgotten all about that incident. He finally drove home at about 5:00 and the doctor came back and said the EKG showed that I have a “right branch bundle block,” and explained what that meant at least three times and I finally got the gist of it – at or near my heart, there are two branches of electrical impulses and the right one does a weird little thing, making the impulse ricochet over to the left branch, which is abnormal. She said that she didn’t think this had anything to do with me almost fainting, and that it was something that I might always have had.

She talked to Dr. Yu on the phone which I thought was good, and she came back to talk to me one more time. Basically, they didn’t know what happened to me. She said that I should make an appointment with Dr. Yu soon, and handed me a stack of the findings of all those tests and told me to give them to Dr. Yu. Nobody seemed concerned that my blood pressure was still pretty high, but they put some different sticky pads on me which hooked up to a Holter Monitor, which would read my heart rate for 24 hours. It was about the size of a small cell phone and attached to a lanyard, but the heart guy who hooked it up told me that I could detach it from the lanyard and stick it in my waistband.

I called Kevin, who had only been home long enough to feed the starving kitties, and he came back to get me. As we drove home I started leafing through the papers and stopped at the results of my CT scan. Mostly it was a bunch of “blah blah blah is not abnormal, No hydrocephalus, basilar cisterns are preserved, blah blah blah.”

But then something leapt out at me. “mild generalized age related cerebral volume loss.”

MY BRAIN IS SHRINKING.

Yeah, fine, it;s age-related and it’s mild, but still, SHRINKING. I haven’t been able to get that out of my mind. my shrinking mind. Can I do something to build it back up a little? Brain food, is there brain food? I must look into it.

When we got home Mom came over and I showed her how I was hooked up with the electrodes and she said that a long time ago a co-worker had to wear a Holter Monitor but it was huge, as big as a tape recorder, and in a big bag. At least things have gotten more compact.

I didn’t care for that Holter Monitor though; I somehow managed to unplug a couple of the sensors a few times. I turned it in the next evening and nobody called to say that my heart is completely out of whack, so that’s good.

I’m going to see Dr. Yu on Thursday and I bet he’ll tell me that this is something that randomly happens to me every eleven years.

I wonder, will I remember this incident when it happens in 2032? Almost certainly not. Think of how much my brain will have shrunk by then…

As I started writing this this morning I had to stop and I thought about one more thing I wanted to add. I’ve been trying to recall it ever since then, to no avail. shrinking shrinking shrinking…

Meanwhile…here’s a short little video of Lovey being brave and venturing out into the fenced yard with Kevin. She’s been inside our house during the entire pandemic, having come in late last March.

ok then,

mrs. cerebral volume loss hughes.

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So long, February!

by grace on March 3, 2021

This morning, March 3rd, the lake has finally thawed, it’s sunny, and might reach 60 degrees. Whoo hoo!

I thought maybe this would be my last post from February but then was a little dismayed to see that there are many photos I haven’t yet posted. What was I doing all month?

This is one thing that Riley was doing.

The snowfall on February 16th was pretty deep; see the mound there in back of the fence? That’s the tree stump, completely covered.

I realized a deer was standing at the shore looking up at me.

She quickly bounded away.

Meanwhile the geese seemed to be enjoying sleeping on the snow-covered lake. I didn’t hear them complaining, anyway.

The morning of February 18th, this deer was only slightly upset to see me watching her.

Later in the day, a couple more deer were wandering around in the yard and the one in the background is intently watching Riley who is lurking in the fenced yard.

Here’s a little video as Riley wishes I’d shoveled a clear path to the fence so he could get that deer.

After realizing that it’d be impossible to catch the deer that day, Riley sat under the swing on the one little patch of bare deck.

The next day he was content to lie on a cushion from the warmth of the plant-filled room.

On this same day Mom and I ventured out into the field.

Here’s a snowy wasteland video.

The snow ended up being deeper than we’d thought it was and it was quite a good workout to trudge along.

Glenn came over that day to do some cross-country skiing with Kevin, and on February 20th I joined them.

Mom was taking these pictures and I can’t remember what we all must have been doing here.

My turn at skiing only last for one turn around the circle. One of Kevin’s skis broke and I was happy to surrender mine so he and Glenn could head out into the field.

I heard Kevin tell Glenn that he hadn’t thought he could get me out to ski again after the last time and I was indignant. Quite a few years ago we went out for my first time of cross-country skiing and we went out into the back yard and naturally I had a deep fear of plunging out of control right down the hill and into the lake. So when I fell down while vainly attempting to turn around, Kevin suggested that I turn around while lying there on the ground.

Yes, I’m not graceful or good at any kind of skiing. But of course I did it again this year, and I’ll certainly try it again next year.

Meanwhile…thoughts of spring. Later today I’m going to chop down the tall grasses down by the lake so the new ones will have room to shoot up. I already made a pretty long list of “spring 2021” projects and I’ll be able to check that one off today, which will give me a sense of accomplishment.

And that’s it for today…

ok then,

mrs. h.

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mostly kitties in January

by grace on February 3, 2021

Early in the month as I packed up decorations, Les found this outdoor mat to be the most comfy place to lie down on. A couple of times Riley jumped up and sat on him and then they got into a little tussle, but mostly Lester just enjoyed the scratchy mat.

Another lovely evening down at the water. I haven’t been down to the dock at all yet in February, but then again, it’s only the 3rd. It’s actually expected to get up to 40 today so maybe i’ll stroll down there later. I might go running, too, but we’ll see. The temperature is going to plummet into the below zeros this weekend so I’d better get outside while it’s bearable.

Mutts had these cute stocking caps for sale before Christmas; they came in blue and grey and I wanted a blue one, and was going to order one for Kevin, but they were out of blue so I ordered him a gray one instead. On Christmas we found out that we’d both ordered them for each other, and because the blue ones were back in stock he then ordered me one of those. We were going to send my gray one back but we didn’t so now I have two. Both super cute. You can’t have too many Mutts creations is what I say.

Riley, a very stretchy kitty always struggling to relax.

Hmm, was he sleeping like this, with his head hanging out over the kitty condo? Maybe not.

So, I have this pile of stuff sitting in the room off the living room that we call the music room because we have a piano in there. I walk through many times a day and always wish I’d start going through it.

Monday, I did. I was going to spend a half hour but ended up working for an hour, also putting lots of stuff from the drawers of a cabinet into the recycle and the trash. I got out two cardboard boxes, one for things that could be taken to the Goodwill or sold somehow, and I guess the other one is for stuff to be thrown away but right now it’s still empty and I can’t quite remember what it’s for.

So now there’s a smaller pile on the floor, consisting of some things that I really, really don’t know what to do with, and the two boxes.

I guess progress was made, but also there are now more things on the floor.

But I’m hoping this cleaning rampage will inspire me to keep going with getting actual stuff done. I continue to be overwhelmed because there are so many things all over the house that need to be sorted and dealt with, but at least I started.

I also have a bunch of really old financial stuff that needs to be gone through, and I spent over an hour yesterday going through very very old documents so that’s a pretty big deal.

I’m a little bit fired up about making headway on that this morning, so maybe it’ll happen but I’m not making any promises to myself.

And that’s it for this gray Wednesday morning.

ok then,

Mrs. maybe about to get really inspired to get shit done or maybe not Hughes.

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Excitement in November…

January 16, 2021

…relatively speaking, of course. On November 17th I saw more than one boat out on the water and then I realized a lot of noise was coming from across the lake. I got out the binoculars and could sort of make out the activity on East Lake Drive. Mom came over and took a turn […]

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Way back in November 2020

January 14, 2021

i didn’t manage to post many photos in November, so here a few of them now. I got this picture while standing on a ladder outside a bedroom window. Kevin had been taking Riley for a walk, but then Riley likes to try to run amok, in a fairly gentle and sedate manner. I’d been […]

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happy kitties

January 10, 2021

I don’t know about you, but I could use some nice kitty pictures about now. So here they are. First – Kevin bought a cat grass kit, complete with darling little black and white kitty cup to plant the grass. They sprouted fairly quickly and all the cats enjoy chewing on them. Here’s Lovey, her […]

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happy…two days after Christmas…

December 27, 2020

yeah, it was a blur. too much waiting til the last minute, too much “this won’t take long” and so Christmas eve day and Christmas were nonstop cleaning/cooking/wrapping/other crazy xmas stuff. Yesterday I barely, just barely even got off the couch at all. I just looked through my photos and have some from november that […]

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running and painting near the end of October

November 4, 2020

first of all, Kevin replaced the second bearing on his truck yesterday. the first replacement took a day and a half and the second only four hours. soon he’ll be replacing the mysterious bearings all over the place. On my October 25th jog I decided to run out on the road and then cut back […]

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Mostly Riley in October

October 31, 2020

First, to clarify – my last post had a photo of Kevin on the sailboat wearing a lovely lavender t-shirt from bev and wrote that she got it for bowling. yesterday she informed me that she’d bought a bunch of them for a line-dancing performance she did last September, and had given Kevin and me […]

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