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

Wow! so much to write,But it might help to set the scene. I’m in front of a fire in the gas fireplace with a cup of mandarin Orange Spiced tea with lots of sugar just the way I like it. I just put a new scent wax cube called spiced grapefruit in the warmer. Phil’s at dialysis, and although it will be wonderful to see him, I don’t think either one of us is going to be in the mood to stay up all night. I know Phil has a special workshop tomorrow, so he’ll want to be ready for that. If everything goes as I think it will, it will be a quiet but peaceful Valentine’s Day.

I remember this time last year, I was pretty discouraged, because Phil didn’t seem to want to do anything. We learned in a month it was because his kidney was failing. It wasn’t that I was mad at him. I just knew that something was very wrong. He was seeing doctors, and no one could seem to get to the bottom of it, until we had the hospitalization marathon of March and April, 2011.

Though on dialysis, this year is a little different for him. He is not only surviving but living. He started a kettle bell class on Monday nights a couple weeks ago. Kettle bells are a Russian exercise tool where the individual swings and does other movements using them. He’s doing this instead of the lifting Phil did before his amputation. He comes home from that very jazzed. He bought his own set and is doing a thirty to forty-five minute workout in the basement on every other day. His pup Garron gets the down side of it. Phil doesn’t want me or puppies around when he’s working out, because 25, 35, or 45 pounds of kettle bell could injure or kill one of us while in motion. Garron tolerates it better than I thought he would, because Garron still knows where Phil is at least. Even though Phil’s a little sore the next day, I think it’s really improved his mood and attitude.

This year I am the one who is tired. I’ve been fighting this thing for the past week. Usually, a sore throat means automatic bronchitis, and I get it between two and three times a year. My doctor has been nice enough to let me have her info, so I told her immediately when the sore throat started. She got me started on some nasal spray which has kept the coughing at bay. Phil asked me to go in yesterday for a strep test, because the sore throat has persisted. The strep test was negative. The only other symptom is just extreme exhaustion. Walking to the next room and back has been difficult, and finally today I left a message for our cleaning guy that I just needed to reschedule. I went to bed after midnight last night and slept all night. Phil got me up for breakfast, and I went back to bed about seven thirty. I was up again at noon to get Zane out and then right back in bed until five. I fed and got Zane out again. I had just enough energy to take dishes out and put them in the dishwasher and get a shower. Now unless it’s to eat, drink, or get puppies out, I probably won’t move again until bed time which will be early!

Before I move away from Valentine’s day, I want to highlight a post from a blog for which I plan to have a permanent link when I can figure out where it should go and how to do it. I really wish that when I was a single adult, someone had given me the advice Marvelyne Engle gives in her post

its valentines day love it or

.

I’ve noticed in the pre-Valentine’s day commercials, the guys really are under pressure! Jewelry stores stay open later, so the guy can get his valentine the perfect gift. Frankly, very few commercials target women getting there guys something. Maybe it’s because something from the home improvement or hardware store just isn’t very romantic, but it is what they want. We occasionally do something out of the ordinary for Valentine’s Day, and I really don’t expect it. Last week I offered to look at his mail for some reason, and he asked me not to look, because there was a surprise he didn’t want me to see. He’s disappointed, because he ordered it mid-January. There’s been a shipping screw-up, so I won’t see it today. He did just call to tell me he was bringing home a sub from Jimmy John’s for supper. The first year we were married, I asked Phil to pick up a CD I really wanted, because I wasn’t that familiar with how to get to the record store yet. (perhaps it should have stayed that way, and now with music online, it’s so much worse!) The year before on Valentine’s day 1996, he surprised me by proposing to me on Valentine’s day. My friends and professors had it all planned about who would provide transportation to my dorm etc. It’s a memory we’ll always cherish. Then ten years later and six years ago on Tuesday the 14th, 2006, we closed on the house. I was really ambivalent about it, or maybe it’s closer to the truth to say I was kicking and screaming. But we both continue to love where we live. I remember another memorable Valentine’s Day when we went out to eat at an Irish pub/restaurant we both love called the Local.

Like Marvelyne says in her blog post, , I feel such gratitude to have a love every day — not just on Valentine’s Day. Although I was joking earlier about the home improvement and hardware stores, Phil still surprises me with things just because. After my last post about drinking vessels, I wondered if I should have written part two when he said he finally ordered three sets of six mugs of all different colors. At first I was taken aback thinking we probably didn’t need to be spending the money, but then I saw them! They are 15 OZ mugs which means that even a ten OZ drink still leaves room at the top. In combination with Phil’s tremors, our ten OZ mugs were the cause for splashing hot liquid. Apparently, he, too, was getting tired of me consistently breaking the ceramic mugs hung by their mouths on the old mug trees. Each set of mugs came with it’s own tree with six hooks, and the mugs hang from the handles which means more stability. I soon took Phil’s suggestion and divided the mug trees into two colors. On the left are Phil’s and my favorite colors — blue and green respectively. The blue is between a teal and cornflower blue with some gray undertones for a little diffusion — very pretty. The green is a beautiful, bright, shiny mint green. The middle tree has bright yellow and orange mugs. And appropriately just as in politics, on the right are the pink and dark red mugs.

I can’t end without saying a word about how affected I have been by the death of Whitney Houston. I’m sure whether it was directly or indirectly, the drugs contributed to her dying so young. She was one of my favorite female singers from the eighties and nineties, and I definitely hear her influence in singers I enjoy today in both Christian and secular music — many of whom I follow on Twitter. There was an immediate outcry of shocked tweets about her death, that of Edda James, and the suicide of Don Cornelius of Soul Train fame. Edda was older/ill, and I had the sense she’d been at peace with her life. I wonder if either Whiteny or Don knew how much they were loved/valued when they were alive. Suicide and drugs are signs of such unhappiness, and it’s very sad to me that the tributes are more prevalent now that they are gone. I wonder if showing more love might have kept them alive to die more peacefully and naturally.

Finally, there is the dad shooting his daughter Hannah’s lap top in a Youtube video called Facebook Parenting for the Troubled Teen. I’ve read so many opinions about this, and my opinion is kind of a mix. First, there’s whether this shooting should have been put out publicly. My answer is no, although I guess many people support it including those who want to give the dad his own TV show. Granted, just like this blog, the facebook post was public information. In my opinion, teenagers will be teenagers, and at least if they’re writing it, it may be better than other ways in which they could rebel. I was lucky enough growing up that I could write whatever I wanted in Braille, and my parents didn’t know it. I was glad I had the outlet of writing to get rid of some of that nastiness from inside of me. I expect Hannah will find other computers to use for her facebook wall writing. But If Hannah’s writing option is taken away, I expect Hannah will find ways to act out in more destructive ways. I hope the parents are ready for the real rollercoaster ride coming. The dad said on the youtube video that it was going to get a lot worse for Hannah, but I think it will probably get a lot worse for the parents too.

Although I don’t agree with some of the psycho-babble about devaluing kids, I do agree that parents’ using a gun or some other means of destroying kids’ property is a power trip and a lack of self control. What are they going to do when there isn’t an object to shoot? Are they going to shoot the kid next? What kind of behavior does this model for the kid? If she doesn’t like something, she can just destroy the object symbolizing it, and it’s perfectly OK. I wonder if she’s even safe in that home. Rebecca Kragnes and Zane (Black Labrador and Seeing Eye Dog)
E-Mail: rebeccak
Twitter: RebeccaKragnes
http://www.rebeccak.com

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