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


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”. 

Many Saturday nights I tune in” to my friend Eric on his station to hear him count down Billboard’s On Air chart for the week, and of course, at the end of the year, Eric does the chart for the year. On New Year’s Eve I was tucked up in bed hearing that countdown, and it made me remember all of the other New Year’s Eve’s I spent listening to countdowns of pop songs in the past.

There’s something about a countdown which makes me forget all of of whatever negative is happening in my life. The dog has gone out for the last time and is hypnotized by the fire or lying beside me on his bed. Nothing matters for those hours except the music. Usually with my depression , I can hardly wait to end another day by going to bed early whenever possible. Some of you know this isn’t my usual pattern, as I’m a night owl when not depressed. Eric’s show starts at 9 central, and especially if I don’t play at church on Sunday, you’ll find me either with ear phones in by the fireplace or in bed with one of my new lights going.
Country music of today is like the rock and sometimes even pop of yesterday. Singers even mention rock bands I grew up hearing, as some of them are around my age. There are songs and singers Eric and I really like and others which are almost villains. We call one particular singer “Puke” because he isn’t as good to us as others make him out to be. We root for the songs and singers we love to move up the chart and groan when they don’t. It’s a little like watching a sports game I imagine, although I’m not a sports fan.
I’m always a little sad when the countdown is over, because then things start flooding back. It does help when it’s over it’s time for bed. I used to have that same feeling Sunday nights after the last weekly Countdown finished. I monitored three or four back then. But with the Malt Shop, Sunday is a work day for me and of course the last day Phil is home. There was a pop song with lyrics “Back to life. Back to reality”. That’s a little how I feel when a countdown ends. It’s nice to have something which can suspend reality for a couple hours as The American Music Country Countdown does for me.

To the Tune of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.

Lancer is my name. I’m not a Reindeer.

Dancer and Prancer are the two that rhyme.

I’m here to tell about the Kragnes year and to wish you happy Christmas time.
1. I’m told Phil was in a wheelchair, but soon came prosthetic feet.

At this time he is still waiting to have a doggy partner true and sweet.

I am glad to be a stand-in for the doggy in Phil’s life.

But I can’t decide what’s better, playing with Phil or working for his wife.

In the house there were some breakdowns, the dishwasher stove and dryer.

Good thing they pay for a repair plan,, keeps bills and blood pressures from going higher.

There had to be a conversion to a shower from a tub.

I tried to distract the workmen with begging for at least one belly rub.

We wish all our friends and family, whether far or oh so near,

Merry Christmas, happy holidays. We can’t forget a fantastic new year.

End of Summer Take 3.

I’ve had this blog written once, and then my app wiped it . So here goes attempt number 2.

Last time I wrote about things breaking down. This time we’ve replaced some of those things. The dryer and the tub conversion into a shower only took place last week. I was thankful the shower workmen were gone before the dryer came. It was a zoo around here with men coming and going, drop cloths, and lots of stuff everywhere. Lancer was on leash the majority of the time, because he had just gotten over being ill from eating a sock. I didn’t need him eating anything else.
Through all this chaos, Phil and I participated in an experiment in which we were to listen to guided meditations every day for two weeks. It probably helped lower the stress, but in our busy lives, it was just one more thing.
On the day we completed the experiment at the University campus, we’d planned to meet at a restaurant for lunch. It was closed, so I was dropped at Phil’s office. Phil ended up having a guy pull in front of him despite having the light to cross. The vehicle wasn’t to travel on that part of the street anyway. Phil’s cane was run over and broken. I’m very glad it wasn’t anymore serious, and Phil found someone willing to help him back to his office building. We ate at a restaurant in that building.
There’s still no word on when Phil goes for a dog. I dread those three weeks with him away, but know it’s for the best. Heck, I dread the three days he’ll be away in November at a conference doing a presentation. 
I felt recognized when I received a raise for my work playing piano for Masses and other things at church. I don’t contribute monetarily that much to the household, but even a little more helps me feel better.
All of the chaos plus now the fall loss of light is really triggering my depression. I used to be a night owl, but now I look forward to going to bed. That’s almost the goal of the day, because it means I’ve made it through another day. My therapist and psychiatrist are aware, and we’re doing all we can to combat it.
I am enjoying the cooler weather, and Lancer’s work is phenomenal for such a young dog. If we could just keep him out of stuff like socks, he’d be the perfect guide. Zane had an illness about a month after I had him, and it made me jumpy for a while. I’m experiencing this same jumpiness with Lancer whenever he gets up and goes somewhere else. Perhaps with the chaos settling down, my jumpiness will too.

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