Slipping Away

Summer is slipping away, but it has been wonderful.

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Kellen driving my old RC-10T and keeping it mostly on the track

Both of our sons with their families visited us this summer.  We made good memories and I took pictures.  This is the second year my grandson, Kellen, has been driving radio control cars.  At age three, he’s improved quite a bit.  My two year old granddaughter, Sauvie, began her RC driving lessons during her visit this summer.

Click here to see Lincoln City with Robin & family (check out the sunsets).

At Brandon’s request, I sold both of his old Chevrolet’s this summer.  His ’62 Corvair was here for about 10 years, and his ’63 Nova for 15.

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The previous line up of collector cars in our shop

 

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He’s never cranked a car window?

The Corvair sold first, a father and son team bought it.  The son is 14, and hopes to be driving it when he gets his license.  He tried on the driver seat and steering wheel as he scanned the dashboard and interior.  Spotting the window crank on the open driver’s door, he pointed at it and asked, “What’s that?”

That sale created an empty space in the shop, but like digging a hole in wet sand; it began filling in right away.  The Nova sold about a month later, and with two empty bays, it may actually take a few weeks for the shop’s gravitational pull to fill those spaces.

2017 09 08_9884bMy brother, Loren, rode his new Street Glide to Newberg for our Dressel Family Reunion.  I put red lights on the garage floor – not so much as a guide to the landing/parking area, but as a Welcome.

He brought his new electric RC Truck.  We were running two lap races on my back yard dirt track Sunday morning before church; I had the home field advantage, but – he beat me five races in a row!

2017-09-09_9826bWe also got to run our cars on the indoor AstroTurf track in Salem, RC Plus.  That was fun, and while there I drove for the first time, my new Losi 3.0 buggy (thanks, Jason).  I have two bodies for it, and the one I like best features my granddaughter’s likeness.  When I told her dad how quick that car can get around the track, he indicated that was fitting – quick like Sauvie.  He asked if it also jumps a lot.  Actually the car does jump a lot, how did he know that?

I may have taken some of my best pictures this summer.  The years of pictures I have taken of my kids and the pictures I am taking of my grandkids will always be my most treasured.  Other than family, my favorite photo opportunity is an event called “I Dragged The Gut (in downtown McMinnville),” or sometimes called “Dragging The Gut Festival.”  I love taking pictures there, and I have developed a style I call Dream Shots (that’s easier to say than low light exposure with slow shutter blurring that makes a still picture indicate motion).  Click here to see more.

2017-IDTG_9249bAlso from this year, possibly my best car show pictures, and I was very happy with these fireworks pictures (some in this album taken earlier).

I saw the heart doctor to follow up on the EKG and stress test.  He found nothing serious, and suggested I improve my diet, lose weight, get into better shape, and come back later for another look.

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Boot & Brace

I saw the foot doctor.  I don’t know why it hurt, but I waited weeks for the tendon above my heel to get better, but it got worse, so – doctor – foot doctor – x-rays – MRI – Achilles Tendinitis – special boot and physical therapy.  It’s getting better.

I saw the belly doctor.  My sticking out belly button was getting worse.  It seemed I was constantly holding or pushing it back in, and sometimes it didn’t want to go back in, and one time after a reluctant push-in, there appeared red spots near it.  So – doctor – belly doctor – Ultrasound – bowel in the button – surgery (scheduled for October)!

The air boot helps if you don’t mind clunking around wearing one extra large ski boot, and the Lumbar lower back brace support belt frees up the hand that would be pressing the hernia.

I saw the Oncologist, three terrific months had passed since my last visit, so – visit friends with needles (who draw blood) – tests – and my favorite test results: no change.  I can live with that.  I remain daily thankful to God.

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I love to see how our kids love their kids

Although our grandkids live far away, their parents generously include us in their lives through emails, pictures, videos, video chats, cards, finger paintings, and more. We get to peek into their activities and watch them grow. We get to celebrate achievements. I love to see the ways our kids love their kids.

I wondered out loud recently to my wife, if our kids, while enjoying a developmental milestone with their kids, ever realize that what they are feeling is the exact feeling we enjoyed again and again as we watched them grow from babies to children. “Will they realize through their kids, how much we loved and enjoyed them as our kids?” She answered, “No, why would they? Did you think about your parents when we were new parents?”

I grew up in a family that never said, never heard, never felt, “I love you.” I guess I shouldn’t say never. That day in 1962 when mom surrendered the five of us and transferred our custody to the Juvenile Detention Hall in Vancouver, Washington, she was crying when she said, “I love you,” and walked out the door. I’d heard of love, this is it? That was the beginning of another chapter in this life adventure. In a week, we were in a foster home, and in a couple more weeks we were in another where three of us served about a year. I would later brag that before graduating from high school, I lived in 27 houses including JDH and those two foster homes. That might be material for another posting.

I answered my wife, “Yes,” as a new parent in self training, “I actually thought about my parents once or twice.” I so loved our babies, I held, hugged and kissed, and told them so every day. It felt very natural to me, and caring for them became my highest priority. I would do anything to protect them. When I thought about my parents, I wondered why they didn’t feel the same.

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I love Christmas

I love my memories of Christmases past.  The ones when our boys were little are the ones I cherish most.  This Christmas, after a snow cancelled flight and driving a rental car through the night with friends we just made at the airport, Diane and I arrived for a week’s stay at our oldest son’s house in Michigan’s UP.  It was our first reunion with our grown up sons, their wives and kids (is it a re-union if it’s the first time?).

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One Christmas morning years ago, Diane gave me a 1957 Chevy (click here to read about that).  That’s a memory that’s hard to beat, but this year was our best Christmas yet.  Holding and interacting with our little grandchildren was priceless.  Witnessing how our sons love their wives and kids was rewarding.  Diane got to ski again after many years, and I got to take pictures with my new camera (shot hundreds, shoulda taken more).  We played in the house and we played in the snow.

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Robin took this shot through his phone, from the camera on the drone, before a take-off

My younger son, Robin, gave me a flying camera, a drone. My first flying lesson began by launching it from the ice covered snow in the garden.  I hope it’s a good memory for my three year old grandson, Kellen, when he hugged the gate for protection like I told him, as the nearly controlled drone buzzed over his head to awkwardly touchdown behind him in the back yard.

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Brandon made this ’57 Chevy on his computer

 

This Christmas could have only been better if, on top of being with our kids and grand kids, I received another classic Chevy.  Well, actually, my oldest son, Brandon, did give me a 57 Chevy he made with his computer and router.

I hope this gathering was a preview of Christmases future.

A few weeks after returning home, I was in Portland to help my brother, Mark, prepare to move.  Later, we drove over to see our brother Dan at his Alpha Stone Works shop.  While Dan was showing me the new stone cutter (he went to Germany to buy) he asked how I was, and if my cancer was gone now.  I explained that Multiple Myeloma doesn’t go away, but I’m doing okay right now, and that I get tested every three months to monitor the cancer.  I told him, “I expect to do that for the rest of my life…..  Get it?  For the rest of my life?” Because next time the cancer activates, or the time after that – one of those times will be the last time, and the following result will be my life ending.  Usually quite stoic, he let out a hearty chuckle.  He appreciated that dark humor enough to recount it later at the restaurant with the five of us at the table.  We all enjoyed a good laugh (though some politely tried to resist), not over the inevitable end of my life, but from stumbling upon a little sarcastic humor in the situation.

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On our last visit to the shore of Lake Superior, we were burning our bare feet on hot sand just a short walk from here.

I remain thankful to God for a life full of blessings.

 

A Riddle:

When is a crushed vertebra and severe arthritis good news?

Answer: When it’s not CANCER (Yea)!

We traveled to Florida at the end of July to meet our newest Grandchild, a sweet baby boy named Jory.  He’s our third grandchild, and what a joy to meet and hold him.  I’m not sure what a three week old can see, but I think he looked me right in the eyes.

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Here he is peaking over Diane’s shoulder, probably wondering if it’s almost time to eat again

Making our precious time there even better was exploring with Kellen (almost three now) in the jungle that is his yard.  I love seeing how our children love their children.

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Kellen in his Monster Hunting hat, ready to guide me through this tropical compound

Our son and daughter-in-law took us on a real nice Stern-wheeler cruise on the Barbara Lee, across Lake Monroe and up the St Johns River.

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We spent another day on New Smyrna Beach in Florida.  I was pulling Kellen across shallow wave water on a boogie board.  He was actually dragging on the sand, but we were both enjoying the experience.  I’m not in many pictures because I’m usually taking them, but today, my wife picked up the camera and took a few shots of Kellen and me.  I’m looking at one now.  I could paste it here, but I’d much rather draw a less shocking word picture.  Some things once seen – can’t be unseen.  There is Kellen, looking much like a Junior Surfer kid at his introduction to a boogie board, and at the high end of the board leash is an actual Snow Man, yes, right there in the shallow, warm, Atlantic salt water; an Oregon snow man, both in color and in build.  There’s more.  When I was a young man, I remember seeing an old man in a swimsuit.  I wondered how he could possibly be oblivious to the fact that he was wearing his suit inside out.  Now, here I am with my old, baggy suit twisted halfway around my waist and the pocket hanging inside out.  Note to self:  NEVER be seen publicly in a swim suit again.

Okay, I’ll post it:

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Before all that snow

Cliff Hanger?

My last low dose chemo shot was New Years Eve 2015. My Oncologist said to come back in three months for testing. Three months have passed. I went for tests on April 4th and anxiously waited for the results. I also saw my Urologist that same day, my five year and final appointment with him. His office called later to say my PSA (Prostate cancer indicator) was undetectable. I love that word. My three month test results for Multiple Myeloma, although reported mostly in Medical Greek, were finally posted to a web site I access.

This message was included with the report: “The serum protein electrophoresis exhibits a possible monoclonal immunoglobulin band in the gamma region. Serum immunofixation (IFE) for further identification of this band has been reflex ordered.” And this: “A reflex test is a laboratory test performed (and charged for) subsequent to an initially ordered and resulted test. Reflex testing occurs when an initial test result meets pre-determined criteria (e.g., positive or outside normal parameters), and the primary test result is inconclusive without the reflex or follow-up test. It is performed automatically without the intervention of the ordering physician.” That alone does not mean bad news, but it seems a step in that direction. My Oncologist said she would call me if there was anything we need to discuss; so far, no call.

In the meantime, there’s much to do as I remain among the living.  I finally connected the computer to the stereo, I continue organizing photos, and I actually think I spotted retirement way out there on the horizon.

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This is my second new Radio Control car, a Losi 22T with one of my favorite racing bodies from the old days.  For now, this is an indoor turf track only car .

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It’s fun to run it with friends at the RC Plus track in Salem, Oregon.

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My two year old grandson, Kellen, is learning to drive RC cars with an old RC10T.  He’s got tight circles pretty well figured out, and is very familiar with the transmitter’s on/off switch (it’s just fascinating!).

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I recently had another great visit with my brother, Loren, in Brookings, Oregon.

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The winter project on the Chevy this year was replacing the rear main seal.  Check that off the list!

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I’m not sure how this will play out, but my scalp has become consumed with “Revenge Of Chemo Hair.”

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I meant to include this picture, “taking time to smell the flowers,” with Kellen.

 

I’ve Graduated

The side effects aren’t nearly as strong as 50 shots ago. There’s much less itching, redness and tenderness around the injection site on my stomach. The chemouflage has faded. I rarely experience Bug Zapper syndrome anymore. These may be signs that my body has become accustomed to the Chemotherapy drug, Velcade. I went to the hospital this morning for the final blood draw and shot in my prescribed two year, bi-weekly series of low dose chemo infusions. The doctor, nurses, everyone was offering congratulations. There were hugs and well wishings. The fact that it was New Years Eve may have contributed to the feeling of a life chapter ending. When I was presented with my usual After Visit Summary printout, I felt I had just been handed a diploma confirming my graduation; a diploma representing a two year degree in Needle Injection Theory.

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My Grandson listening intently as I dispense another pearl of wisdom (Thanks for this picture, Robin)

What’s next? I will be tested every three months for as long as the cancer does not proceed. When it does (as I’m reminded that Myeloma always will) we will begin treatments with one or more new drugs that have just recently become available.

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