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

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. 

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. 

President-Elect Trump:
I’ve decided to write this open letter today, not out of protest the way others have done. Unless some evidence is found that the Russians tampered with the election, it appears you have won fair and square. I wasn’t a person out calling you names after the election, because I knew it would only reflect badly on me. I didn’t vote for you, but you will be just as much my President as you will for those who voted for you. You are blunt, so I’m going to be just as blunt. I’m scared!!!
I am not a rich, able-bodied white male, so I’m asking myself if you really care about me. I have a disability blindness and a mental illness depression. I’m female and not the ideal body type by any stretch of the imagination. I haven’t agreed with other Presidents, but I have always had the sense that if I stepped up to shake their hands, they would be civil and at least act like they cared about me as a citizen. Could you stand to shake the hand of someone like me without muttering something later about me? 
I should clarify that I am not fearful that you’re going to take benefits away from me. Although I don’t have a full time job, my husband does. I bring in a little extra from playing music, and we are well above the poverty line. This doesn’t mean we don’t have struggles as middle class people with disabilities. You’d probably love my blind, double amputee husband, because like Hillary, he’s a stubborn fighter. I haven’t forgotten you said you admired the quality of never quitting. He doesn’t profess to be a Christian, so that may be a strike against him.
By the way, I do profess to be a Christian, although a liberal one. I go to Mass with many undocumented immigrants and see they are trying to do the best they can for themselves and their children. I empathized with the children of these people, as they were in tears the day after you were elected.
If I could ask you one question, it would probably be something like this. What qualities must a person have to be respected by you? Do you have to earn a certain amount of money, profess to be a Christian, or be a certain body type? From comments you’ve made in the past, I get the impression the answer to at least one of these requirements may be yes. I am not asking for sympathy but simply that you keep in mind the majority of your citizenry who are not white, able-bodied and rich as you make decisions about the direction of this country. You are going to be making decisions affecting more than a company or a small group of people. How you conduct yourself and your administration will reflect on this country as a whole, but it will also affect many individuals and families which comprise your constituency. Finally, I will pray for you and hope you can respect the diversity of people which make up these United states. 

Phil reminded me I neglected to talk about ‘one of my Christmas presence and probably the one I’ll use most often. My husband’s body temperature runs hot, and I often feel cold. I’m in a sweater, and he … let’s just say he wears as few clothes as possible. I have blankets but nothing seemed to do the trick. Phil had me try a microwavable wrap around my neck and shoulders. Although the temp felt good,, the weight on my neck and shoulders. didn’t.
Now I own a chocolate brown down throw under which I can bury myself when I get cold. Lancer seems to be attracted to the down, because up to this point, he’s never climbed in my chair where the throw hangs. I’ve had to chase him off the chair a couple times now, and I hope he never destroys my down throw. When the sun shines in or the fire is going, I’m OK temperature wise, but now I finally have something to help me through the rest of the time while sitting in my chair. 

It’s a common enough question when we meet someone after Christmas to ask how our Christmas was. Despite my depression the short answer is I received some neat colored lights from my husband. Two out of three are controlled by my phone., and I’m still learning how to work them. One bulb is in my Tiffany Lamp, so I’m relieved to be able to turn it on white for normal use. Phil gave me an Architect’s Lamp and mounted it on the head of our bed. I didn’t know there was such a lamp which is so flexible in pretty much every direction. This light bulb in the Architect’s Lamp not only changes color but it also has a speaker in it. I can have the light on a solid color and listen to a book, or if music is playing through the speaker, an “auto” setting puts on a colored light show as I listen. One of the most unexpected things about the Architect Lamp light is how bright its white setting is. Sometimes when feeling really down, I bring the lamp as close to my face as possible and just let that white light shine in my eye. It’s not set-up to be an official light box for treatment of depression, but it does seem to help. With all the colors it can put out, I’m wondering if its close to full spectrum.
The third light I received is portable and rechargable. It has a wonderful setting for colors, but it also has three different levels of white brightness. That will be great for being on the deck after dark — particularly for our sighted friends.
Every year Phil seems to come up with new colored lights for me. I can’t imagine he can continue this forever, and am amazed when he finds more. This was the year of the “smart light bulb”. 

Tag Cloud