06 February 2018

Getting Old and Tired...

Someday Death will approach me.  I will look him in the eye and ask, "What took you so long?"

24 November 2017

Life Flys By!

It's hard to believe that I retired almost 2 years ago.  Since then, it's been a blur of activity and it seems like my wife and I are busier now than when we were working!

We just returned from a Viking River Cruise.  It was the Grand European Cruise of 15 days.  It started in Amsterdam and ended in Budapest.  It was a great time and I made a lot of friends on that cruise.  The wife is already looking at other river cruises.

After the cruise ended, we flew home and then I turned around and flew to Honolulu.  I'm back watching my dad who has severe dementia.  His memory is about 3 to 5 seconds.  That is SECONDS!  He will ask a question, you answer, and he will forget it in that instant.  A second later he is asking you the same question.  Rinse-Lather-Repeat. 

I have to admit that there have been times I have had to step outside away from him.  I just answered that damn question for the umpteenth time and he's asking again.  It really isn't his fault but it sometimes just gets to me. He is also extremely paranoid that someone will break in and steal everything.  OMG!  That window is open slightly!  Someone is going to break in and steal everything!  Nevermind that it's broad daylight and we're sitting right here.  He will keep all the windows, doors, and curtains closed.  It gets stifling hot in the Hawaiian weather but he still gets into a panic if a window is open.

This is the second time I've come back to watch him and I think it's the last.  I really hate seeing him this way.  He used to be a dynamic, vibrant man that made his way.  He arrived in this country with $20 in his pocket and retired a millionaire.  But he doesn't remember any of that.  He's terrified that he has no money. When I try to tell him that he has a lot of money in the bank, he gets very angry and screams that I don't understand.  He now lives a pathetic life.

I have told my wife that if I develop dementia, I do not want to live this way.  I want to die. I don't want to stress my family.  What my dad is doing is not living.  He truly is better off dead.  He's already dead but just doesn't know it.  I hope my wife will find a way to let me escape should I go down this path.

So I will be here in Honolulu for another week.  I have scheduled some personal time here to relax after my time watching dad.  Truthfully, I really don't enjoy being in Honolulu anymore.  I remember the Honolulu of the 60s and 70s.  Seeing the city now with all the crowds, traffic, and other big city problems is like running into an old flame in a whorehouse.

20 August 2017

For years, I worked in a public relations office.  A good part of our duties included interacting with the public by telephone, email, or in person.  After a while, it got really tough dealing with some of the public in a polite or respectful way.  There really are a lot of kooks out there.

We literally got phone calls from people claiming that we were spying on them, putting thoughts in their minds by radio waves, spraying mind control chemicals into the air, and more.  We had to treat them with courtesy and seriousness.  Laughing at them was not allowed.  No, really...not allowed.  There were a few emails that I just had to shake my head afterwards because they really did believe the bizarre things that they were saying.

So where am I going with this?  I really don't want to join the tin foil hat crowd.  But I really am wondering if there is a move by the media to polarize the people of this country.  I wonder if they are trying to create fear and anxiety where none exists.  Or where none should exist.

In our local newspaper and on the TV news the other day, it was blaring headlines that 6 police officers had been shot with 1 confirmed killed.  My immediate thought was that there was a street war beginning and a temporary collapse of society. Were the streets on fire?  Were gangs roaming the streets pillaging and killing?  No.  2 officers were shot in PA and 4 in FL.  Yes, very tragic and sad.  But it's on the other side of the country from us.  Yet the news was making it sound like it was happening right here and now.

The recent demonstrations in Virginia where various white supremacist groups and counter-demonstrators clashed.  While I think the white supremacy groups are reprehensible, they do have a constitutional right to demonstrate and I read that they had applied for all required permits.  Those permits were approved so they were legal.

It was the counter-demonstrators that did not have permits and were illegal.  Having said that, if they stood on the side and protested peacefully, I would have no issue and really wouldn't care.

Where I'm going with this is that a very small group of (I read about 300) white supremacists marched.  They were opposed by about 500 counter-demonstrators.  So about 800 people from around the country gathered in one spot and clashed.  Out of a country of 300+ million people, 800 people clash and 1 person died.  And the news is making it sound like the country is about to collapse.  I really do wonder if the media is playing mind games on this country.
Summer is passing too quickly....

I guess I must be having fun because time is just flying by.

We're currently having some work done on our house so there have been a steady parade of workers passing thru our house.  I have to admit that I'm not very happy about having all these strangers coming into our house.  Perhaps I'm getting paranoid in my old age but I worry if any of them are part-time criminals.  These guys pretty much know the layout of our house and where my gun safe is located.

I don't have a lot or very expensive stuff but they don't know that.  Most criminals don't care.

Before this renovation began, the wife and I were joking about whether we would still be talking to each other by the end of it.  I have to admit that I've been pretty upset with her and not due to the renovations.  It has been other things that have been festering for a while.

Recently we celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary.  I remember thinking about how wonderful it would be to live under a bridge.  That struck me as a very odd thought but it really did seem appealing.  I'm not in danger of being homeless.  My house has been paid off for a while.  We have money in the bank and other than monthly bills, I have no debt.  We have been fortunate due to good luck and also carefully saving whenever we could.  So why do I feel like hitting the road?  I have a pickup truck with a cover over the bed.  The other day I lowered the tailgate, placed a pad in the bed, climbed in and fell asleep.  I had thought about buying a RV or camper top.  Maybe not needed.  I may buy a tent though.  The wife has stated that she will not sleep in a tent anymore.  She will not sleep in a truck bed.  Her idea of camping is a RV or better yet, Holiday Inn.  I guess I might just have to go without her.

01 July 2017

2017 is passing quickly.  I can't believe it's already July!  There are still so many things that I want to do but have not gotten around to it.  Summer will be gone before we know it.

I have been an avid firearms enthusiast since I was old enough to buy firearms.  I joined Junior ROTC in high school and part of the training involved shooting .22 caliber rifles.  When I got into college, I continued into Senior ROTC.  I fired the M-16A1 and was thrilled beyond words.

When I was old enough, I started buying firearms.  I have owned firearms since.

Along the way, I learned that reloading ammunition was a great way to save money.  Buying a box of ammo from the store could cost you $20.  But reloading the used brass would bring the cost of that box down to around $8.  Well, that is if you're not counting the cost of the reloading equipment and your time.  There are many advantages to reloading ammunition.  One major reason is that with care, you can produce better and more accurate ammunition than the generic factory stuff.

Anyway, where I'm going with this is that in the early 1990's, something happened and I just walked away from a lot of things that I used to do.  I was an avid hunter - I stopped. I was an avid fisherman - I quit. I shot high power rifle competition and handgun competition - I lost interest.  I stopped reloading.

My reloading equipment sat in the corner of my garage gathering dust.  But two months ago I started cleaning out that part of the garage.  I started dumping out a lot of old stuff.  I dusted off my reloading equipment and it still looked like it could work.  I started reloading to see if it still worked.  Within minutes, I felt like I had to relearn how to do it.  I started to spend hours at my reloading press.  I cleaned it up. I adjusted it.  I resized some brass and adjusted the press a bit more.  Lately it seems like I've been spending whatever free time I have at the reloading bench.  I started shooting my rifles again too.

So what am I saying??  That this manual process involving some thought, adjustment, and working with my hands just feels so good.  It's almost like working with wood but it's feeding my newly energized competition shooting.

14 May 2017

Visited Dad who has dementia...

I just got back from spending 2 weeks caring for Dad.  He lives in another state and has severe dementia.  His memory span is about 2 to 5 seconds, depending on how well rested he is.

His caretaker went on her annual vacation and the temporary caretaker backed out at the last minute so my sister put out a call for help.  Being that I'm retired, how can I say no?  I offered to stay for two weeks and then at which time a younger sister will take over until the caretaker returns.  So I flew in, rented a car, and drove over.

Dad is now 90 years old and we're fortunate that he's still physically healthy and mobile.  We're very fortunate that he's not suffering from incontinence.  While he is mobile, he is not a runner either.  He prefers to stay home and consistently refuses to leave his house even to walk the neighborhood that he has lived in for over 40 years.

I knew that being the sole caretaker would not be easy but have to admit that it was mentally exhausting. The daily activities such as preparing meals, cleaning, and other was the easy part.  It was his constant looping questions that was frustrating.  It was like "are we there yet?" with a toddler.  He would ask me the same question over and over until I could change the topic.  Then he would ask me another question over and over until I could change the topic.  Because he is mobile, he could follow me around the house.  At times, I would log on to the computer and tell him I was doing "homework".  He would often leave me alone for a bit but eventually approach, apologize for bothering me, and say he had to ask me just one question.  After I answered, he would say "ok", look away for second and then turn back to me, apologize for bothering me, and say he to ask me just one question.  Rinse - lather - repeat.

Because of his 2 to 5 second memory, he would ask the same question over and over.  I would remind him to eat his meal, he would thank me, and then wander away.

He also had a fear of catching cold.  So despite the 88 degree weather, he was wearing two light jackets and very afraid of getting wet.  So getting him to bath was difficult.  I finally got him in the shower and it was "the water is too hot/the water is too cold" until we finally hit it just right.  Then it was "hurry up before I catch cold".  

There were a couple times he woke me at 4 AM with a look of terror on his face.  He couldn't remember where he was.  He kept thinking that he was in a boarding house in his hometown.  He couldn't find his wallet, had no idea how much he had to pay to stay there, and was afraid of missing his flight home in the morning.  I would try to calm him down by telling him he was in his house that he had bought outright 40 years ago.  That he has plenty of money in the bank and food in the refrigerator.  He would calm down but was forgetting the answers almost as quickly as I gave them.  After a while, I was able to calm him down and urge him back to bed.

Long story short, it was very painful to see such a brilliant and hard working man reduced to living in fear and anxiety.  Constantly fretting over money, in fear when he couldn't remember where he was, or disappointed that his family does not visit him at all (we do but he doesn't remember).  He did not even realize that I was his son.  Even when he would call me by name and I think he knows who I am, he will ask me if I had ever met his wife or family.  I would explain who I am, there would be a flicker of recognition but it's gone within a few seconds.

Well, I have come to the conclusion that he is in Purgatory.  He is neither living or dead.  For myself, I do not want that.  I do not wish to inflict the difficulty and heartache of dementia on my wife and family.  I have told my wife and family in no uncertain terms that if so afflicted, let me go for a one-way hike in the mountains; let me nap in the snow; or let me accidentally take a bit too much of my medications. It would be a kindness to me.  I really hope if I should ever be diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's that I will be cognizant enough to take myself out so that my family will not be faced with the dilemma of what to do.

18 April 2017

Sleep Issues

As I've gotten into my late 50s and now early 60s, I find that I need less sleep at night.  Instead of 8 hours, I find 6 is plenty and often get 5 hours.  The nice thing about being retired is that I can take a nap when I want to (most times).

But I'm starting to have some sleep issues and I don't know yet if it's just a random passing thing or something serious.  Last night as I was sleeping, I must have moved rather violently.  I sleep with an APAP machine so I have a mask strapped to my face.  I recall waking as the APAP machine fell to the floor.  I sensed that I had somehow gotten tangled in the hose and yanked it.  This is the third time in 2 months I've done that.  I have very seldom gotten tangled in the hose before.  This time and in the last two times I pulled the machine off my night stand, I believe I was thrashing enough to yank it off.

I did ask the wife if she had noticed anything during the last two times but she is such a sound sleeper that she missed it.  I have to admit that I sometimes envy how she can sleep thru anything while I seem to wake for a variety of reasons.

I just picked up a FitBit Alta HR.  It's the first time I've owned a FitBit.  I'm trying very hard not to join the "Pound of the Month Club" and hope this will remind me to keep moving and exercising.  It does have a Sleep Quality tracker built in.  That tracker actually shows when I woke up a couple times last night.  I suspect one of those times was when I yanked the APAP machine.  I recall picking it up off of the floor, putting it back on the night stand, and then falling back asleep.

This FitBit is pretty nice.  I was thinking of getting an Apple Watch but this Alta HR is better suited for constant tracking heart rate and sleep patterns.   Kind of funny that I hate wearing jewelry like rings but have no issues with wearing watches or watch like devices on my wrist.  In Iraq and while hiking/camping, I will wear a watch on one wrist and a compass on the other.  I like being able to take a quick reading on direction.  It's synced to my iPhone so it's tracking my steps too.  I went out for a 2 mile walk yesterday and when the rain stops today, I want to go for another walk.

Funny how when I was still in the Army marching in the rain was not an issue but I despise it now.  It's one thing when you have no choice and have to do it; it's another when you can look out the window and decide to do it later.

11 April 2017

Another bucket list item checked off....

Just got back from another road trip.  This was not a pure road trip as the wife, youngest daughter, and I flew to Phoenix.  There we rented a car and drove it north and east.  We eventually ended up in Albuquerque, NM where we turned it in and flew home from there.

I really like this mode of car rental - the one way trip.  In the past, I would have rented a car out of Phoenix and eventually returned it there.  It was simpler and no additional fees.  But after a while, I realized that I could potentially see much more if I didn't have to backtrack.  It also created other possibilities, good and bad, but that is now all part of the fun.

While in Phoenix, the daughter wanted to go to the zoo.  Okay, done.  She had a good time and it is a pretty darn good zoo if you time it right.  Some of my friends in Phoenix were worried that it would be so hot that the animals would be hiding.  Some were but enough were out and about to make it a good day.

On Day 2, we drove north to Flagstaff.  Along the way we stopped at Montezuma's Castle, Well, and a nearby petroglyph site.  The Castle was a bit of let down because we couldn't get very close to it.  But Montezuma's Well was interesting and there was a park volunteer there with good stories.

After those visits, we continued north thru Sedona. Just as we left Sedona, it started to hail very hard.  It then turned to snow.  I was worried that our trip to the Grand Canyon would be rough.

Day 3 opened up a bit cloudy but the hotel clerk assured us that the road to the Grand Canyon was wide open and clear.  I had been to the Grand Canyon last year for the first time and that was a bucket list item for me.  This time, it was to check off the bucket list for the wife.  This was hers and the daughters first visit.  

As we left Flagstaff on West Bound I-40,  it started to snow.  Pretty hard too. I was getting a bit nervous.  I slowed down a little and traffic was very light.  It eventually faded out.  When I hit the town of Williams to head north, the road was dry and it was sunny.  When we arrived at the Grand Canyon, the skies were clear but there was a very cold light breeze blowing.

It was a good visit. I could tell the wife and youngest daughter were quite impressed.  They were quite cold due to the breeze but still enjoying it very much.  Though towards the end they did get tired and were happy to be heading back to Flagstaff.

Day 4 saw us heading for Gallup, NM.  Along the way, we stopped at the Meteor Crater, "Standin' on the Corner" Park in Winslow, AZ., and a petrified forest/painted desert NP.  

Day 5 we headed to Four Corners.  It's about a 2 hour drive north from Gallup but a very nice drive.  There is very little traffic and the highways are pretty good most of the way.  We were averaging 75 MPH most of the way.

Four Corners is one of those places that I'm glad I went but doubt I will ever go back.  There really isn't much there.  But fortunately we went during the off season and the crowds were low so getting pictures were not hard.  It would certainly be a zoo during the summer.  

Day 6 we  headed for Socorro.  We did take the back roads so it took us about 4 hours to get there.  When we arrived, our hotel room wasn't ready so youngest daughter asked if we could drive to Truth or Consequences, about an hour south.  So off we went.  I asked the wife to drive as I was feeling a bit tired.  After an hour of driving, we get there and the daughters asks, "Is this it?"  Yes, what were you expecting?  Needless to say, she was a bit disappointed.  We still stayed for a bit before heading back to Socorro.

Day 7 we rolled for the Trinity Site.  It's about a half hour drive to the SE from Socorro and on my bucket list.  Just in case you're not familiar with the Trinity Site, it's where they tested the first atom bomb.  The Army opens the site to the public 2X a year; first Saturday in April and in October.  The line to get in was amazing!  Holy cow!  We got there around 0930 and the line was over 2 miles long.  Within a half hour, it was out to the main highway behind us.  That is probably another 3 miles.

The wife and daughter were underwhelmed so we stayed just long enough for me to be satisfied and then we hit the road for Albuquerque.  

Day 8 we headed home.  Glad to be home but glad we got to do this trip.  

I keep debating whether to get a RV or camper.  Not sure what I want to do.

Hope everyone gets a chance to start working on their bucket list.  Take care.

08 March 2017

Do you have a Bucket List?

I mentioned often that something was on my Bucket List to do someday.  I would hear about something and make a mental note to myself that it would be a good thing to add to the Bucket List.  As time went by, quite a few things popped up and quite a few things were forgotten.  As my memory has gotten worse, even more things have slipped away.

I finally sat down and physically wrote out a Bucket List.  As I sat there looking at it, more things came back to me and the list kept growing.  I also noted the things I have already completed like Stonehenge and the Grand Canyon.  I struggle about whether I want to put something down that is very unrealistic like New Zealand.  It's not so much the cost but the very long and uncomfortable flight.  Part of me says, "Why not?  It's a wish list".  Another part of me says, "No, it's a priority list of things to do before I get too old".

Life is fragile and fleeting.  I just heard recently that two more of my high school classmates have crossed over just this year alone.  I still think about that good friend who passed away last October due to cancer.  He was 2 years younger than I. Another friend, also the same age, is also suffering from cancer and I don't know how long she will be around.

Three trips are planned already for this year.  Bucket List - Family - Bucket List.  I'll write more about the Bucket List trips after they happened and we have the results.  The Family trip will be to visit my 90 year old Dad.

If you're curious, I have 10 things on my Bucket List at this time.

18 February 2017

I also wanted to add that retirement so far has been everything that I hoped it would be.  Time has passed so quickly as it tends to do when you're having fun.