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

It’s true that I keep weird sleep hours, so around two Saturday afternoon, I was in bed. Phil came home from dialysis feeling sick, because too much fluid was taken off. Phil and I have an ongoing friendly debate. I strongly believe that with the advent of especially cell phones, even if you’re in the neighborhood, it’s only polite to pick up the phone and call ahead to see if you can come over. Phil still believes it’s OK to just drop by. Perhaps if dropping by means ringing the doorbell once and then leaving when no one answers, maybe I can understand. But at two this afternoon, not only did this person ring the bell, but came up on the porch and tapped on the door twice after ringing the bell. Of course this sent the dogs to investigate, so the person knew we were at home. I was not in the mood to be seen in my pajamas, and when Phil’s in bed, his prosthetic foot is off. Of course, by the time he got to the door, the person was gone. Phil thinks it’s nice that a certain person checks on us by dropping by. I find it to be a pain in the butt, and quite frankly, there’s something about this person I just don’t trust. Others have told me she steals from them, and I haven’t been comfortable letting her in the house since hearing this. We both think it was her at the door, because she habitually comes without calling despite my asking her several times to call first. Yes, we do have an intercom to see who’s at the door, but then it’s awkward when it is someone we know, but we aren’t dressed appropriately etc. I have also had solicitors who just refuse to go away, and although that’s annoying, I’m more annoyed by people who can’t respect my request to call first before coming.

Last week I had my six month dental appointment and my annual physical. I was ready for my doctor to yell at me for my weight, but she told me I actually lost twelve pounds from last year. I’ve been drinking water and iced tea when I felt like eating and having fewer desserts, although I need some. Strangely, it’s made me want to try harder. I have a feeling the cholesterol numbers aren’t going to be so great, but we’ll see.

This weight loss is especially encouraging since I had to give up my Y membership. It’s just not practical to swim with a dog who hates water. I’ve tried a number of things to make it work, and they just don’t. Some people feel OK leaving their dogs alone, but I really want my dog with me. I did leave it open to getting a one day pass in the event that it worked for someone to watch my dog while I swam.

turning 40 at my doctor’s office means my first mammogram which happens this week. I’m wimping out and taking paratransit there, because the building is connected to the hospital and is not in a very good area of town. The staff seem nice there, but I’m a little apprehensive. I think it’s probably a very individual experience, because I’ve heard everything from horror stories to a little discomfort to “it’s nothing”.

I am finally free from the board in which fighting took up the majority of our interaction time, and I’m glad I’ll be able to devote more energy to other things. I hope to do some organization of my digital files of music, books etc. in the next couple weeks. There’s also a ton of laundry which needs to be done. Then I can get down to my music.

Phil had our tandem worked on to add an eight speed hub on which the gear can be shifted with a hand. Before there was a two speed hub with a kick-back to shift between the two speeds. This is what caused Phil and his captain to wipe out on a hill and one of the reasons they haven’t taken the trailer and Garron. Garron’s absolutely miserable when Phil’s gone, and it’s hard to go up and down stairs with both dogs around. Now with this eight speed thing, Garron should be able to go along, and I think everyone will be happier.

Zane proved yesterday at church that he still has the stuff. He was hesitant as we were walking up the aisle and then made a couple of weird turns going clear across the aisle and taking me to the piano in a very different way than normal. People told me there were a lot of obstacles in the way we normally travel. Of all the dogs I’ve had, Zane is the one who has the most initiative to find an alternate route if we need to find one. The others could do it, but they weren’t quite as assertive. Most likely, they’d make eye contact with a sighted person who would see we were in trouble and come to help. I like Zane’s ability to literally think on his feet. All of my successful dogs have made great decisions, but Zane’s initiative really is different from the others.

I had an unexpected special treat at church yesterday. I enjoy working with all the canters at church, but one of the female canters forgot she’d switched with our only male. He and she co-cantered, and she harmonized. I harmonized with them in practice, and it reminded me of the days of singing with my sisters. Just as in this situation, one took melody, and the other harmonized. I figured out the harmony and filled in with a third part. they shared a mike, and I didn’t want to overwhelm, so I just accompanied them for Mass. It was so cool to hear them singing together praising God without it turning into a performance.

As Phil was ordering some adaptive technology for work, he came across something called the Pen Friend. I knew a blind woman who absolutely loved hers, but I didn’t really understand it’s abilities. It comes with stickers, When the record button is pushed and touched to a sticker, the recording is associated with that sticker. I can use Braille, but this is harder for Phil, and the Pen Friend is going to be especially good for distinguishing medication without having to open bottles. The stickers are on the caps, so we’ll just replace the caps on the bottles rather than having to use more stickers. He will also be able to record labels and cooking directions on boxes/bags of things we pop in the oven, and I can take on a little more of that kind of thing. Putting stuff in the oven is easy, but knowing what things feel like frozen and lack of cooking directions has been my main problem. The Pen Friend stickers can also be put on note cards and attached to things. There are machines which scan and read bar codes to identify products, but with our reader once a week and a significant cost difference, this Pen Friend looks like a better solution for us.
Rebecca Kragnes and Zane (Black Labrador and Seeing Eye Dog)
E-Mail: rebeccak
Twitter: RebeccaKragnes


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