Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Short hike: Grandeur Peak

Yesterday I got a chance for a break from my care giving duties and decided to take a hike. My choice of destination was Grandeur Peak--or as far up the trail as I could go before my time limit expired. I chose that because I didn't want to find my spikes for snow hiking. I had a pair of micro spikes that I had found abandoned and slightly rusty at Lake Blanche a few years ago. I had never even looked at them since then and when I did, I found that they were extra large. I'm pretty sure I wear medium. Still, I threw them in the pack just in case. If any of you reading this are missing some,  and lost them at Blanche, if you can identify them, they are yours. Otherwise, I'd be willing to trade them with someone who bought mediums or large by mistake and need extra large.
This trail begins at the Church Fork Picnic area up in Millcreek Canyon. I started at about 8:30 from the main road that goes up the canyon, as this time of year, you can't drive into the actual picnic site where the trailhead parking is located.
The stream through the picnic area was rather pretty, so I took some shots of it as I leisurely followed it up the Church Fork drainage.




The trees didn't have their leaves yet ,but there was some green along the stream. I saw a lot of horse tail, what we used to call "snake grass". We used to make whistles out of it, and for the life of me, I can no longer figure out how we did it. If any of you know, I'd appreciate a head's up.
We used to call this "snake grass". Its real name is "horse tail"
If you know how to make whistles with the segments
I really want to know too.

I did a lot of stopping to take pics and that might have cost me my chance at summiting the peak itself, which rises just above 8200 feet. I needed to be home by noon though, and that's clear across the Salt Lake Valley, so I figured getting back to the 4runner at 11:30 was the plan. At around 9:55, I hit the final saddle before the final approach to the peak and there I reached a milestone. I actually caught an old guy in his seventies. I had no idea how far ahead of me he'd been on the trail from the time I began the hike, but it's pretty rare that I can catch one of these old mountain goats and pass them.
The way I figured it, I had been making great strides at the gym on the Stair Climber machine, having been doing around 36 minutes on the thing twice a week. I really think that helped my ascent on this trail. I don't have the exact figures, but it's around 1700-1800 feet in elevation gain to the saddle in around two miles. Usually that would be kicking my rear end, but this time I felt pretty strong the whole way--well except for the first part and I always struggle at first, until I get warmed up.
I looked around from the saddle. The cloudiness and general grayness of the overcast sky had not been relieved from the time I began until I reached the saddle, and I never saw the sun except through the clouds until I was most of the way back down. There's a nice view of the city and some great views of the surrounding peaks.
The sun was fighting valiantly to break through the cloud cover above the mountains to the southeast.

Looking down into the Salt Lake Valley.
The view from the saddle is excellent though and I would like to go back again, not only to scale the peak, one of the easier ones in the Wasatch Range, but to take in the views on a less gray day.
All in all it's a great little hike and pretty easy for anyone in decent shape. Since I have not done the last part, up to the top, I won't vouch for that, but the rest of it could be done, up and back in three hours, just like I did. The rest of the way up? That's another adventure for another day. I'll be up for it. Will you?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Kenny Rogers' "Lady" is a truly great love song

Kenny Rogers was once at or near the top of the popular music market. This is one of his greatest songs. I think my favorite line is You're the love of my life, you're my lady. Listen and enjoy.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

On writing my personal history

I have been working on my personal history for over a year off and on. I've written about forty pages as of today, and am only up to age 26--and that's leaving out the boring stuff! I will need to totally rewrite it when I'm done because I began by putting it in categories, such as school, friends, work, sports, etc., but find that as I've gone on, I've been going by locations where I've lived and included some of the same things as duplicates (most likely, as I haven't yet taken the time to go back and read through the other stuff). That's okay though, as long as I get all my events and thoughts about those events down, I can always edit it later.
It's been interesting going back and remembering. Things early on often are formative in a person's life later on. My main goal with it is to show my posterity why I was the way I was. I think it's nice to know who one's parents and grandparents really are, and I intend to give that gift to them, and in the process show them what my choices and desires in life materialized, show them what went into my decision-making process for major things I've done in my life, and to hopefully get them to forgive me for any harm I may have caused or caused from their perceptions.
After all, it's only a human life, filled with the same kinds of mistakes, loves, achievements or lack thereof, dreams, adventures, and challenges of any other human being. God never made us perfect, only with His characteristics, and the ability to become perfected through Him.
It is a struggle I work on every day of my life, and filling in the details of how that struggle happened, I think in the long run will be beneficial to my offspring and theirs, and in some way pay a penance for my own struggles in life, and a road map as to how my triumphs occurred when I was blessed enough to have them.
In the end it will be rather lengthy, but fascinating. At least, as a writer, I hope to make it so by the time my final draft is complete, and my final chapter written. I don't know how that last bit will turn out yet, and someone else may have to finish, but by the end, my children will know a whole lot more about me. And I think that's a good thing.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Barry White's classic "You're the First, You're the Last, My Everything" a great love song

Barry White isn't known for subtlety when it comes to love songs. This is one of his best. I hope you like it.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Circling the wagons: learning to prioritize as a caregiver

I've been a caregiver for several years now for my wife Ann. Just recently though, over the past few weeks, she has been basically bedridden. She has a desk chair which she keeps next to her recliner, so whenever she needs to use the bathroom, she stands up, turns around, and sits on the chair. Then she scoots it down the hall to the bathroom, where she stands up, walks two or three feet to the toilet and sits down. Then the whole process is repeated in reverse. Part of her challenge is a loss of stability on her feet. She is scared to do more because of it.
All of this has required me to do a lot of extra work. Before, she'd be folding laundry, doing some dishes, getting a lot of her own lunches and breakfasts, getting her own water when needed. Now, prior to leaving for work, I need to make sure she has extra underwear in the bathroom, bath towels stacked on the couch next to where she sits in her recliner, lunch in a small cooler, her water glass filled, and breakfast. Often when she used the bathoom, she needs my help, and when she gets brave enough to take showers (lately it has been once a week), she depends on me to help hold her up in the tub.
The time demand on me is huge. When in the past I was able to get out of the house for several hours every couple of weeks for much needed breaks, now I find myself chained to the house when I'm not at my job. I'm not complaining, just stating facts.
I've found that there are ways to deal with the extra load. I call it "circling the wagons" after the wagon train companies in the pioneer days who, when under attack, put their wagons in a circle and fought off their attackers from a less vulnerable position. To me, circling the wagons means reducing the things that need to be done to what needs to be done for survival.
The first thing on my list is my own health. If I go down, who is going to care for Ann? However, there were a few weeks there when even going to the gym was nearly impossible and it was beginning to take its toll on my health. Thankfully, for the past two weeks, I've been able to get to the gym three times each week, which is my bare minimum. During the time that I was relegated to one time per week to the gym, I did what I could to "circle the wagons" even further and I recognized that even if I couldn't make it to the gym, that didn't mean I had to stop eating healthy foods. I made it a point to keep eating my smoothies, or something else almost as healthy, such as oatmeal with blueberries, bananas, and Greek yogurt added each day. I have tried to avoid resorting to quick fixes like donuts or candy.
My own mental health is also a concern. Everyone who has been or is a caregiver, needs the occasional out. Skiing, hiking, a drive up the canyon, a picnic--anything to get away from a little of the stress. I've already had to cancel one ski trip for which I had already paid. During this extra stressful period, even going to church has been a luxury and I hadn't been able to go for weeks until last Sunday. It was such a relief to be able to go. I would like to be able to get to my discipleship group and associate with my friends there. In the old days, when the wagon trains were under attack, it became pretty stressful. They had to fight hard to survive and there was little reprieve until the attackers were defeated enough that they went away. Sometimes they came back, and sometimes they didn't. Honestly, I don't know what they did about the stress and the adrenaline rush they were having at the time. Probably just fought until it was over.
One thing I remember about the circled wagons was that it was always such a relief when the cavalry showed up. I'm still waiting for my personal cavalry.
Other ways I've found to circle the wagons have been to not fold the clothes. I hang the ones that need hanging, and fold the ones that need folding, but the ones that can go without folding, just go into the drawers unfolded, or stay in the baskets until needed. The floors are getting swept less often and the sinks, tub, and toilets are getting scrubbed less frequently. I am trying to make dinners that have leftovers.
And slowly, Ann is venturing with a few extra tentative steps. I caught her walking down the hall the other night, instead of rolling. Slow, and using a cane, she staggered along and made it back to the chair. I encourage her to do this, but sometimes it's just hard for her to take my advice.
Her rheumatologist has said that he doesn't want to provide any in-home physical therapy until after he sees her next (although he thinks it's a good idea), yet she's afraid to have to walk too far, like getting into a car, or a wheel chair, in order to make it in to see him. Her appointment is on the 23rd.
She has decided that she's not going to get the weight-reduction surgery. I personally think she's making a mistake in not seriously contemplating it, considering the amount of extra stress her weight is putting on her joints and lungs. But that's part of the battle too.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The trials continue

I posted in my other blog about what's happening with Ann and I. It can be found here: http://raspouses.blogspot.com/2017/01/life-can-be-tough-even-when-you-dont.html

Sunday, January 15, 2017

What a week!

Many of you know of the struggles Ann was going through this week. I spent the night with her Wednesday night at the Emergency Room at the University of Utah Hospital after she went in to have the pain in her legs checked out and the doctor found out her oxygen level was very low. I ended up getting two hours of sleep that night.
Ann only had to spend one night in the hospital and got some plans for fixing her oxygen troubles, but nothing for the original leg pain. I spoke to the doctor as I was waiting in front of the hospital for the transport people to bring her out. He initially didn't want to prescribe any kind of pain killers, because most of them relax the lungs and make it harder to get the oxygen you need. He finally said that he could prescribe Prednisone, and that if her regular pain remedies of Ibuprofen and Tylenol didn't help, to call him back in a couple of days. This was after hours on Thursday evening.
Later, after we were home, I told Ann about the conversation and she said that I should have told him that she needed it now, not a couple of days from now.
She called the doctor's office on Friday morning, talking to the assistant, and got mixed up and the prescription wasn't called in. Now, of course, it's the weekend and it's not going to happen until they get back into the office tomorrow--that is provided that they aren't taking off MLK Day.
She has still been in a lot of pain, but actually this morning, after I encouraged her to walk more (she has been scooting around on her desk chair), she walked down the hall from the bathroom to her chair in the living room. I was glad to see it. One thing I've noticed with injuries in the past is that if you baby them too much, your muscles begin to atrophy and it's that much more painful to get back to good health.
I'm hoping that this is the beginning of her being healed. Certainly I and others have said enough prayers. I plead with God last night that he would heal her and get her back to normal. Today became a day of praise after she decided to walk instead of scoot the chair. Finally, I think we are seeing some improvement.