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

August Update

Today was supposed to be the day our concrete work got started after delaying the original date of Monday the 27th. We weren’t too impressed when nobody showed up or called until Phil left voice mail after ten this morning. Now the concrete work has been delayed until next Tuesday September 4. I can understand not wanting to start tomorrow and then leaving us with three days of lack of access to one of our exits. I just wish they’d called to let us know. The owner of the company did call and apologized which helped.

I haven’t written much here, because there just hasn’t been much beyond the norm of doing laundry during the week and busy weekends at church and the Malt Shop. My depression continues to plague me, and friends are noticing that I’m quieter than usual. I don’t laugh as readily and always seem to be tired.

We’re holding our breath and hope to make it through August without a hospitalization for Phil.. It will be the first since March with no hospitalizations. When Phil is hospitalized everything stops as I manage both dogs or look for someone to watch Blake while Lancer and I go do our work. Then there’s the stress of worrying about Phil and his care. Hospital doctors don’t always listen to him, and that has meant over-hydration and subsequent puffiness and weight gain. The fluids overwhelm the kidney.

Phil is having an angiogram on the 12th of October. There’s always a bit of risk to the kidney with this procedure, but doctors feel they can manage it OK

I’ve found myself receiving a lot of e-mail I just don’t need anymore. Almost every day for the last two weeks, I’ve unsubscribed from some list or other. I have no idea how I got on some of these lists, but I definitely want less e-mail in my life — particularly from lists.

The dogs are doing fine. Blake and Phil are riding with a friend to and from work, until Phil feels ready to walk the five blocks to the bus. At least hes able to do most things around the house now without being on his knees and wearing knee pads. For the first week home from his last hospitalization, knee pads were the norm. This is because the right prosthetic didn’t fit do to swelling.

Phil is taking some much deserved vacation, which he was hoping to use for being here for concrete work. He has had to take a lot of sick time the last few months so hasn’t felt taking vacation was worth getting even more behind at work. He maxes out on vacation often, but the sick time has been a lot between all of the hospitalizations and time home afterward.

The dogs are starting to sing their chorus which means it’s time to feed and relieve them. I’d better go take care of it.


It seems like I’ve been doing the same old, same old, so there hasn’t been too much to report, until now.

We’ve had an ongoing problem with neighbors parking their vehicles in our driveway. It becomes an issue when taking out garbage or recycles. Our hands are full, and we’re not using a cane or dog on our own property. Then Bam! We run into an unexpected parked vehicle. We’ve asked and asked people to move. What if we wanted to use our own space for friends who visit? This week Phil got a “No Parking” sign to put in our driveway. We didn’t get one that said we’d tow vehicles but I think it’s a logical next step if they ignore our sign.

I also learned that at the end of this month, the radio station on which I broadcast is shutting down. I’ve been getting tired of broadcasting when not many listen. I value those that do, and I was told by one listener that my shows would be missed. Although it was nice to hear, it doesn’t motivate me to apply at other stations. I think I need a long break if not a permanent exit from broadcasting. I mainly did it as a ministry anyway, and it’s difficult to persuade most stations to have another Christian program.

My music buying habits are changing with the Amazon Echo and it’s music service. I can now hear anything I want on the Echo or my phone, so I’m not buying that many albums anymore.

With Daylight Savings Time upon us, spring can’t be too far behind. I look forward to walking on sidewalks and not worrying about who has and has not shoveled. We have a friend who does a great job on ours. I wish everyone was as conscientious as he is about keeping ice and snow to a minimum.

With spring comes taxes, and we’re taking care of that this weekend. Phil has the day off Friday, so he took a vacation day Thursday to have a long weekend. He’s basically healthy, except he has this ongoing stomach issue. He knows what medication will fix it, but the doctors are insisting on a hydrogen test before they will prescribe the medicine. That test isn’t scheduled until April 27. In the meantime, Phil has all kinds of presentations at work, so hopefully the stomach issue won’t reek havoc with those.

I’m still playing at church and the Malt Shop on weekends. Right now I’m earning extra money doing the music for Stations of the Cross during Lent. During the week, I have laundry and other household things that keep me busy. I am trying to be more social by talking on the phone, and hopefully meeting people when the snow and ice goes away. The depression has resulted in social anxiety, so doing these things is a little harder than it sounds.

I’ve been reading lots of fabulous books both for the book club over the phone and just for myself. I am so grateful to live in a time where we have such great access to books both at the National Library Service and on Bookshare. Some people have Audible which is a paid service for audio books, but their prices are a little too steep for me.

To the Tune of In the Bleak Midwinter

We are Blake and Lancer,

Kragnes puppy guides.

When they call we answer,

Quickly by their sides.

Now we pause to tell you what occurred this year.

We’ll start with the big thing. Blake is finally here!

PHIL went to New Jersey, to meet Blake and train,

He was so ecstatic to put down his cane!

But within the first week, Phil got very sick.

He flew home without Blake. Had Pneumonia, ick!

After Phil recovered, was no longer ill.

On the 10th of July, Blake was brought to Phil.

They got reacquainted, through their work and play.

They became quite bonded, as they are today.

At the church and Malt Shop everyone would see,

Lancer by the piano where Rebecca’d be,.

She would play the songs people would recognize.

While she played the music, Lancer held their eyes.

It feels good to be a family of four.

As for Blake and Lancer, each other they ignore.

Still at the home Kragnes, its a peaceful scene.

Merry merry Christmas and Blessed 2018!

This is Lancer with a very important update to my post of yesterday. I spewed all that talk about opportunities on the floor and then missed a $500 snack. Phil found his hearing aid, so at least the humans aren’t worried about that.

This is lancer at the keyboard reporting the latest from the Kragnes house. Blake arrived yesterday, and although we could compete in the affection department, he wins hands down in the making noise race. I thought I was a good whiner, particularly last week when I unsuccessfully tried to tell Mom I had to make an emergency bathroom run because of diarrhea. Maybe if I’d whined like Blake, she would have gotten the message before I had an accident on the carpet. But these humans are so dumb sometimes. Phil didn’t realize he dropped a tin foil full of homemade lasagna, but I came home from the Malt Shop and knew immediately. Then Monday morning I had to throw up the works and breakfast too. Maybe I win the messiest dog competition, although Blake is far more liberal with the toy box, even getting inside of it and spreading toys all over the place.
Currently, Blake and Phil are downstairs using the clicker, and I’m salivating thinking of all those wonderful treats Blake is getting. That’s OK, because Phil filled his treat bag too full, and I collected the kibble that fell to the floor. Just because it’s on the floor doesn’t mean it should be wasted. On the contrary, there are many opportunities on the floor whether it’s the ground floor or a high floor in a skyscraper. Food, napkins, and paper often drop to the floor and just beg to be picked up by a smart dog such as Blake or myself. Blake doesn’t seem to understand the opportunities of the floor the way I do. Someone’s got to do this hard work.
Speaking of work, Blake is doing well, but I overheard he had some distractions from little kids that sent him jumping around and squeaking. Phil doesn’t encounter little kids that often, so with a little experience and maturity this should calm down. Otherwise he’s doing good work. But let’s not forget that after a year of being with Rebecca, I’ve done my own good work besides grasping the opportunities on the floor.
One very unfortunate thing happened during Phil’s first trip today with Blake. Phil has been using a pair of loaner hearing aids while his are fixed. He lost one of them to the tune of $500. He’s putting a post on our neighborhood site to see if anyone can find it.
Tomorrow Blake and Phil tackle their office and the Light Rail with their trainer. Rebecca hates the light rail, particularly finding and coming off of the platforms. Thursday and Friday there will be more campus work, and then Friday evening their trainer goes home to New Jersey. I don’t think we’ll have our first double work until probably Saturday night when we come home from the humans’ favorite Mexican restaurant. I’ve been in the lead when Phil used a cane, but word is that Blake and Phil move much faster and tend to pass anyone who doesn’t work that fast. Mom and I will be glad to bring up the rear. 

There have been times over the last months in which I’ve been tense about the purchases Phil makes from Amazon. Some stuff we definitely need like replacement razors when they break down, but there have been other things I’ve questioned whether we really needed. Our iPhones do so much for us that I couldn’t imagine why we needed an Amazon Echo Dot. It was on sale, so Phil bought it along with smart plugs and smart bulbs. Now all I have to do to turn on the dining room or exterior’ lights is ask Alexa to do so. The smart plugs are connected to some of my colored lights in the living room where the echo is. So she can turn them on and off as well. The Echo Dot is connected to the stereo which makes music sound great! We’re also trying Amazon unlimited, a music service in which we can ask Alexa to play a genre of music or a certain artist or group. As I’ve collected music digitally on the computer for my radio shows, I didn’t realize how much less I listen to music in the living room. Sometimes I’ll connect my phone to the stereo, but that’s only for digital copies of newer albums. A lot of my old favorites have languished on the computer or on CD’s we don’t use anymore. Now all I have to do is ask Alexa and many of my artist “friends” from the CD days are right there. Because I buy all my music from Amazon, it’s also right there on the Echo. I also couldn’t write this entry on the phone and listen to music without commercials at the same time without the Echo. The Internet Radio stations I listen to are also just a request to Alexa away.
Phil has been enjoying the music, but he also plays games about facts or asks for facts or vocabulary words. Alexa can tell jokes (even if they are corny), play nature sounds, and much more.
Sometimes I worry about being too materialistic. Some of the people I read and admire talk about living simply so others can simply live, and it needles at me. Are we robbing the poor when we spend money on frivolous things we don’t really need but find convenient? That’s a question Alexa can’t answer, and neither can I really. I know that I’ve missed having a music service like this ever since we gave up cable when we moved to the house from the apartment. Not only do I have access to old favorites and my new things, but I hear music in favorite genres I wouldn’t without it. Am I rationalizing my enjoyment of what is clearly a convenient toy? Probably, but Alexa and I will likely still become very good friends. 

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. 

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