News, updates, and happenings with the Kragnes family: Phil, our Seeing Eye Dogs, and (me) Rebecca.

When last I blogged, Phil was coming home from Seeing Eye. He arrived home Wednesday and not a moment too soon. Wednesday night I went to a church musician gathering, and Phil called to ask me to get home as soon as possible to help him get ready to go to the ER. My friend Denny from church who picked me up and brought me home agreed to drive Phil to the ER, so we didn’t have to call a cab or ambulance. He was in pretty bad shape, and they kept him Wednesday night through Sunday. There was definitely something viral plus Pneumonia involved. A heart value raised for a little while, so Phil will probably have heart tests after training. He’s being released from the hospital today sounding stronger, but he’s lost a lot of endurance. Depending on when a trainer can get out here with Blake, Phil may try to go back to work, although not right away.
In the meantime, Lancer and I have been doing our normal things, especially this weekend playing at church twice and at the Malt Shop. I’m glad our time alone is coming to an end, although Phil’s limited endurance and eventually home training may bring other challenges. I’m not sure how long the trainer will expect Phil to keep Blake on leash with him, but that may mean I do things I normally wouldn’t do. It would be hard to do much in our small kitchen with a dog on leash, for example. As my grandma used to say, “I’m getting behind on my worrying”.
The thing I’m looking forward to is introducing the two dogs. Twice this week we have run into other dogs one of whom wasn’t very friendly-sounding. Nevertheless, Lancer made these half groaning half whining noises which almost sounded like a human yearning to get close to those dogs. I predict Lancer will welcome Blake, although he may have a little trouble sharing Phil at first. He’s so accustomed to having Phil all to himself when Phil’s home. Phil is the pied piper of dogs, and when he walks through that door Lancer’s attention focuses on mostly him for a while. there will be an adjustment period for everyone involved. I just hope it goes smoothly. First, we have to make sure Phil is strong and well enough to manage training and life. 

Bad News

 Phil is coming home tomorrow without Blake, because Phil is too sick to train right now. He has some sort of virus he caught on the plane. A trainer will bring Blake out to him in a week or so to finish the training here. Even though this is only a temporary setback, Phil is pretty devastated to have to say goodbye to his new friend so soon after meeting him. He’s worked so hard, and things were going so well in training until Phil got sick. Lancer and I will be here for him during this tough time, There’s not much anyone can do to make it better. It’s just going to take time for Phil to get better and ready to work with Blake again.

I promised I would write when I knew something about Phil’s dog. I know very little, but here it is. Blake is a black German Shepherd with “dirty blond” paws which means blond paws with black streaks. Phil wanted a Shepherd and loves the color black. He doesn’t have height and weight, but made some physical comparisons to his last dog Garron. Phil estimates Blake is 2 to 3 inches shorter and 10 to 15 pounds lighter. The only other thing Phil said is that Blake was a “Sweetheart”. There. Now you know everything I do at this moment.
Lancer had another bout of Diarrhea Monday night, so I had to make bland diet with chicken and white rice. Only problem … I didn’t have enough white rice. I couldn’t find any friends to pick up rice for me on such short notice, so I logged onto the app NextDoor and asked if anyone would be able to go to a store and pick up plain white rice. I got several offers and got the rice in plenty of time to make it with canned chicken for Lancer’s next meal. I’d never made it start to finish myself, but read up on it and remembered how Phil did it. Phil told me where the pan was which we use to cook rice in the microwave, and otherwise, I handled it myself including using the electric can opener for the first time.
Today I went to the bank and had a friend pick up a few things for me at Target. I had McDonald’s for lunch since I was out. Now I’m listening to the radio and writing this post. I should do laundry, but that may wait until tomorrow or even Friday. 
I’m going to do my Blessing Blend show tonight just in case anyone cares to listen. http://www.radioforlife.info at 8 Eastern, 7 PM central.

 

Phil’s gone

I had a post written last night, but it sounded too whiny, so I’m trying again. Phil left this morning for The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ. He’ll meet his dog sometime Wednesday morning, and I’ll probably learn a little about the dog like name and Phil’s approximation of height and weight. They learn the official stats a little later in class.
If everything is going to schedule, Phil is probably either in the airport or in the car on the way to Seeing Eye. Not sure if they still use Limo service. That may have been eliminated with the cost cuts. Anyway, for those who have never been to a guide dog school, he’ll get there, meet his trainer, go to his room, unpack and likely get something to eat in the dining room. I imagine the first lecture will be tonight with more to follow tomorrow. Most of the first days are spent assessing students to determine which dog is appropriate for them. Phil’s dog has already been chosen, but one never knows if something they see might change the dog. He’s pretty sure he’s getting a German Shepherd. I think there’s a wine and cheese party one of the first evenings. Even though Phil’s dog has been chosen, he wanted to arrive with the rest of his class to make sure he understood the building and any changes which have taken place since he was last there. The school offered to have him come later but Phil said no in order to make sure he knew the building. (He also wanted to do things just like the rest of his classmates and be there for his birthday tomorrow.)
Phil packed as one of his last activities of yesterday. I stayed home from the Malt Shop, because Lancer has had Diarrhea. I didn’t want to take any chances with an accident in the restaurant. I also stayed home just to be with Phil and enjoy his presence for the last time in a while. Perhaps that sounds a little melodramatic, but I really am going to miss him. He left lots of good eats in the freezer and took the time to make his famous spinach lasagna, shredded salsa chicken, and a chicken vegetable stir fry medley thing. That’s how he spent the majority of yesterday.
The days won’t feel so unusual, but the nights will be long. I have a few plans with a reader and friends to break up the alone time. This time will give Lancer and me a time of bonding without Phil the pied Piper of dogs. There’s no way to prepare Lancer for the fact that he won’t be the only dog in the center of our universe.
I have an app on my phone called Next Door, and it’s been highlighting a lot of the crime in our neighborhood. Just two days ago, a man’s dog was stolen right from his house just one block west of us. You can be sure my doors are locked! I feel more vulnerable without my man here and will be extra careful these next two and a half weeks. I’ll stop before I go anymore into whine mode. I’ll probably write again sometime Wednesday or Thursday with the few details of the dog I’ll learn.

Ralph

I should be doing something productive right now like washing clothes, but since getting the email this morning that Phil’s cousin Ralph died Sunday, I have been reflecting on the time I knew him.
I first met Ralph when he gave me a ride to visit Phil here in Minneapolis before we were married. I’d say I really got to know him and his wife Grace when they brought us to the apartment the day after we were married.
Ralph was a good-natured, mild-mannered man who lived out his beliefs quietly, accept if you happened to agree with him politically. Phil and I did, so during the dinners once or twice a year with him and Grace, we often talked politics, and Ralph could become quite passionate in his discussion. Despite agreeing with him, I always came away with a new perspective on why I agreed with one party and disagreed with the other. He did more than reenforce our beliefs. I learned from him.

 He was a biology professor,. I suspect he wasn’t the popular, charismatic type, but if one was open to learning something from him, one definitely would.
Ralph was relatively quiet, so when he had something to say, we listened. He often couched his observations of the world in dry humor. I wish I could think of an example, but I can’t right now. No doubt as soon as I send this, something will come to mind. It was humor like that — a little dig, a little sarcasm, and perhaps a little self deprecation for good measure.
Ralph and I had something else in common. Phil and Grace are morning people. Ralph and I … not so much.  

Probably my favorite side to Ralph was the love he had for our dogs and the love they returned. I can hear him now quietly saying, “Yes, yes, yes, yes,” as he doled out affection for our dogs. If my first Tanner hadn’t died prematurely and if he had been amenable, I would have retired Tanner with Ralph. All of the dogs responded, but perhaps because Tanner was my first, I always felt a special connection between Tanner and Ralph.
When I told Phil of Ralph’s death, his reaction was that it was quick. He just started having cognitive issues last year and had to go to a nursing home early this year or late last year. I can’t quite remember. We didn’t see him with cognitive issues, so my memories will always be of his sharp mind. I can’t help thinking that he would be disturbed by many of the political stories of today, and perhaps God was protecting him from knowing some of this stuff. In a Christmas letter, Grace told us in one of his lucid moments, Ralph said a certain person winning an election was “a bummer.” In the end, Parkinson’s Disease took his cognition and eventually his life.
We won’t be able to attend his funeral, as it’s quite a drive away, but I felt I had to do something to reflect on my knowing him. 

April Update

for lunch I had Phil’s leftovers from Wok in the Park where we ate last night for my birthday. I ordered the slayer stir fry with all kinds of garlic, along with the usual stir fry stuff. I had key lime pie for dessert. The owners weren’t there to sing happy birthday in their three part harmony the way they had other years, but the food was just as delicious, and our dinner companions were fun.
Phil gave me some rainbow kaleidoscope glasses, several pieces of light-up jewelry, and some water proof colored lights for the shower.
When Phil’s family was going through his mother’s things, Phil requested that I be given her sand dollar necklace. Either it broke or couldn’t be found. Phil’s sister Kathy saw some silver sand dollar Christmas ornaments and bought one which says “Forever remembered, Forever loved” and put it on a silvaer chain. I wore it to dinner and received compliments. I plan to wear some of the light-up jewelry and the rainbow kaleidoscope glasses at the Malt shop. I’ve already showered with the lights and can’t wait until they are more visible hung.
Speaking of hanging things, my parents came fora surprise visit and hung the jewelry tree with lights and velvety back ground I remember being at our house as a child. It was hung there at Christmas, but will be hung here all year round.
I’m on some meds which are helping my depression, although I suspect the days of staying up late may be over. I’m still doing Blessing Blend on Wednesdays at http://www.radioforlife.info, but my shows on http://www.ninthfloorradio.com are going to be a lot more irregular. I was getting warn out doing two shows a week every week. So I’m going to do special shows for Ninth Floor only. My first will be a Stevie Wonder show on May 12, the day before his birthday.
My next blog entry will probably be when we know the name and a few qualities about Phil’s next dog at the end of May or beginning of June. He was in the hospital last week for a day and at the ER for another for an infected leg. He’s back to work now although trying to stay off the prosthetic a little to let it heal more. He wants to be sure he’s ready for training with his new dog.

Update take 2.

I’m sitting out on my deck writing this trying to soak up some sun and energy. I have stuff I need to do but can’t seem to get started on it. So I thought I’d do an update blog entry.
The winter was long, and although I feel some improvement on some days, today isn’t one of those days. Meanwhile, Phil has been in severe pain from his thumb. He sees the hand surgeon Friday, after intervention from his primary doctor. He was scheduled for April 21, which was the soonest they could get him in, when he called. Sometimes going through the right channels is fruitful.
I’m looking forward to my birthday later this month, and I know Phil is looking forward to his in late May. He is supposed to get a birthday present with four legs, and fur, which comes with a leash and harness. I’m not looking forward to the almost three weeks alone and may ask friends to check on me from time to time.
Im feeling a little more vulnerable, because we’ve had a couple incidents to our property. Just yesterday, a text to Phil said a package was delivered to our house, but no package could be found. We had our reader double check before alerting the police. They came out to take a detailed report of the items in the package to turn over to an investigator who will see if our incident fits a pattern of crime in the area.
Sometime in late February our garage was tagged by gang members. For those unfamiliar with that term, gang members sprayed their symbols adding graffiti to our garage. We made the mistake of reporting the graffiti to the city. Officials sent us a letter giving us a deadline for getting rid of the graffiti. Luckily they were nicer by phone extending the deadline and giving us the number of a company which paints over graffiti as a big part of their business. They gave us a reasonable price to do the job, and as far as we know, our garage is back to normal again.
This winter Phil used Christmas money to buy more tools for his shop. He rearranged things to make it even more of a shop area. I can’t remember if I wrote about his hospitalization in late January due to his thumb and likely an infection in it, but he was motivated to get out by the arrival of his table saw. He had an appointment with electricians to put in another line, so the table saw wouldn’t turn off all the circuits as it did when we first got it.
Around this same time, we found new house cleaners which has been a real joy to have again. Having eyes on our place every couple weeks pays off. Just this past week, they disposed of a dead mouse we smelled but couldn’t find. We thought it was in the walls, but it was plainly visible near a vent. We just had new friends over for dinner and hope they didn’t spot the offending creature. I’m also glad Lancer left it alone, because I wouldn’t want him ingesting whatever poison our pest control used to kill them.
Lancer is doing well at work, and the home behavior is improving with a lot of diligence on our part. Paper towels have to be hidden, as do socks and gloves. I am unsure how he will react to another furry member of the family. He’s used to getting all of Phil’s attention right now, but his puppy raisers told me he likes other dogs. When I’ve had other dogs over, he doesn’t play with them, so I haven’t seen a lot of evidence of this thus far. We’re assuming Phil will get another German Shepherd, and Lancer had at least one good friend of that breed. 

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