Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Holidays



Now that the cards are "in the mail", it's OK to post the card and letter on site - for those not on the list - and those who prefer to view the holiday greetings electronically.


Christmas 2011

It’s that time of year – time for the annual Crosson-Gisselquist Christmas missive. I’ve taken it to the limit this year, setting down to write this at 11:26 am on Christmas Eve.

What caused us to approach Christmas so late this year? We didn’t even get a tree until last Sunday when there were only 21 trees left on the lot. Our family actually starts the holiday season earlier than most I suspect with auditions for the Rosetown Playhouse holiday show the week before Halloween. Maybe by the time the show is over (2nd week of December) we are done with the holidays?

This year’s holiday show was The Ultimate Santa – a world premiere musical that asked what would happen if someone decided Santa was a tired, worn-out concept and then staged a reality TV to find his replacement – the new, ultimate Santa!. The kids and I had roles in the show, with Shana working behind the scenes selling tickets and other duties as a member of the Rosetown Board.

There was lots of drama this year – the theater kind – and music. The kind of sums it up, drama and music – with some school and work thrown in to keep us honest.

Maria (14 years) wrapped up 8th grade at the same school she had attended since kindergarten. Last summer she had a real (volunteer) job at the Children’s Museum of Minnesota – the kind you interview for and everything! She spent several weeks helping little kids navigate the museum. Every day it was something different – face painting, helping with art projects, and more.

Maria is adjusting well to high school. This fall, she landed a big role in the Roseville Area High School’s production of Urinetown: The Musical. She is enjoying high school and freshman life. Maria continues to sing with Project Opera’s Giovanni choir.

John-John, or J-J as he is testing out as a possible variation, turned 11 this year. He is in 6th grade at the Friends School of Minnesota. Rather than another year with the Minnesota Boy Choir, JJ auditioned for “Opera Choir” (the Ragazzi choir with the Minnesota Opera’s Project). Now we have two kids in Opera Choir which is fun for them, and makes chauffeuring logistics easier for Shana and me.

Shana said I didn’t have to write anything about her – so I won’t. That frees up more space for me and the kids.

In addition to the Rosetown holiday show, the kids and I had roles in the summer show – The Wizard of Oz. It was great fun – despite the weather – 90s and humid for most every show, held as usual outdoors at the Pavilion on Como Lake in St. Paul. We all played Munchkins – size was not a casting requirement for that role – in addition to other roles. JJ was Niko – the head monkey, the Wicked Witch’s henchman – a role he relished. Maria was a Scary, and a Winkie (those castle guards). In addition to my Munchkin role, I was also a Winkie – and part of the tornado. Yes, we had people in the role of the tornado – lots of fun, but I found it more challenging than my younger twister companions to spin round-in-circles on stage without falling over. Could it be age?

John (the Dad) continues to work at Thomson Reuters. In addition to Rosetown acting, John serves on the Roseville Planning Commission. He’s enjoyed it so much, that he has re-applied for another 3 year term. Cross your fingers – the Council votes in January.

Duke our Golden Retriever of indeterminate age is doing well – despite some nagging health problems. He has slowed a lot in the past year, forcing Shana and John to reconsider how they are going to get real exercise, as Duke walks SLOWLY – when he walks at all. Duke enjoys life with our three cats – Roscoe (the original), Patches (the short-term guest who has made herself a part of the family), and Reggie (the stray John found on a garbage can in the park). Many animals make for lots of fun.

We were shocked and saddened in early November when Shana’s uncle Bub passed away.

We all keep thinking of "one more thing" we will miss about Bub. Summers at the cabin won't be the same without him. Who else knows all the good fishing spots? Who will help me clean the fish we do catch? I'm no good at it - and a lot goes to waste. Bub was like my Uncle Ole - he could filet a fish in seconds, and not leave any of the good stuff behind.

Bub’s funeral provided several bittersweet moments, like the chance to visit the cabin in the off-season and pose for this family photo.

Happy New Year – John, Shana, Maria, and John-John

Blackberry, “Sampling”, and the Crud

Blackberry

I apologize for the lack of pictures. On Tuesday, I started to wash my Blackberry (it was in my coat pocket). I pulled it out of the pocket – but not in time for it to have got slightly wet. It still worked, but when I picked it up, water dripped out the bottom. I took it apart, wiped down the battery, and the main body, and submerged the pieces in rice. One web site recommended the parts should remain in the rice for 48 hours – we are at about 47 hours right now – so we will try again this morning.

Sampling

It’s time for some more “sampling” – and I’m not talking statistical sampling or sampling some music pieces. No this is the time of sampling where the Hobbled Runner walks around the yard holding a yogurt container waiting for Duke to hear nature’s call. When the old boy gets ready to pee, I stoop and hold the container “just so”. In the past this has involved more pee on me than in the container – but my technique has improved over time. Last time, I came out unscathed. Wish me luck this time!

This is a follow-up for the earlier urinary tract infection. He’s done the 10 days of antibiotics and it’s time to re-check for bacteria, etc in the urine. I think he’s recovered well – but you still need a sample.

The Crud Continues

A few days back I posted about Duke and his “new normal”. I think I’ve developed a new normal myself. It’s been three weeks since my odd malady, the viral arthritis. The doctor did warn it could take several weeks for the symptoms to go away, but I didn’t believe him. Now, I believe.

I’m not sick every day. The symptoms come and go – sometimes lasting only a few hours. One day it’s a stiff shoulder, the next stiff ankles or wrists. (The rash has never returned.) The latest is the red, sore throat and sore shoulder and knee (right side only). That’s been around almost 24 hours now.

Let’s give it another few days. At that point I may contact the doctor – though I don’t know what they would do.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Blown Away



Work continues on the Crosson-Gisselquist Christmas Card and letters. Don't worry, they will be in the mail tomorrow. I promise no better next year. Yes, it feels good to admit that. Our Christmas cards will seldom, if ever, arrive before Christmas. Our goal is to deliver them before New Years Day. I've stopped kicking myself for not getting them done sooner - and that makes all the difference in the world.

Walked to Kinko's to pick up copies of the Christmas letter this morning and decided to make a real walk of it - by taking the long way home. I snapped the picture above while leaning into a fierce SW wind whipping across the fields maintained by the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources. It's great living near the U Fields, kind of like having a farm in the city. When we first moved to Roseville in 2001, they U still kept some cattle in one field - but that's since been converted to a turf grass research site - boring, but less smelly.

In the end, I didn't blow away and I even saw a tumble-weed blow by - a post-Christmas first for me!

Spent the morning at home, doing laundry, addressing Christmas Cards, etc. In the afternoon, we were visiting with Auntie Amy (Shana's sister) and my nephew Max (age 2 1/2), who are in town for a few days. Tomorrow we have brunch with family friends, then hope to visit Como Zoo with Max.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Early Christmas



Pleasantly surprised to find a number of old Frank Sinatra Christmas songs on YouTube (thanks to following a couple of clicks from this post by An Affordable Wardrobe.) I've loved this song ever since purchasing Christmas with the Rat Pack several years ago. Can't find link to the version I have, it seems to change every year, but here you go - you get the idea. In the video, Old Blue Eyes describes this number as one of the "newer" holiday songs - this was 1957 after all.

Love that "living room" scene - my parents had drapes exactly like that.

Anyway - Shana and I finished up some Christmas shopping this morning and got some exercise at the same time. We walked over the Super Target - fearing bad traffic and a crowded parking lot. We observed neither. I've been trying to keep it local this season - but even shopping at the Super Target feels local as it is close to home and has a special place in many Minnesotans' hearts as Target Store #1 the original - from 1962 - I'm about 6 weeks older than the store.

For the record, here are the other local stores I've hit this year. Shana did the dirty work and went to the mall/big-stores for me (thank you very much!)

Grand Hand Gallery

Bibelot

Wet Paint

Minnesota Historical Society gift shop

Micawbers Bookstore

Friday, December 23, 2011

Duke and the New Normal

At a school choir event last night, a regular reader of the Hobbled Runner inquired about Duke. Thanks for your interest! Duke is fine. His Masticatory Myositis doesn’t seem to impact his quality of life. At least it doesn’t impact it more than his seizures, or thyroid conditions, or old age. The Myositis doesn’t seem to be spreading or getting worse, so it appears to be part of the “new normal” for Duke. Having said that I’ll spend more time petting Duke and checking other parts of his body for muscle atrophy, though I suspect that would make itself evident in difficulty walking and generally controlling his body.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Annual Piano Session



Things I do on vacation – play the piano – I the piano this time every year – Christmas Carols of course. Last night I played for about 45 minutes. I enjoy it, but I’ve decided that to really get good at piano, one must practice more than once a year.

Old Dog, New Trick



Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Duke taught himself this trick and has employed it two days running now. He needs to go out to pee late morning, and when I let him out he doesn't come back in - instead, he just lays down in the front yard and goes to sleep. Coming up on 90 minutes now.

Oh yeah - Patches wants out too. Except she doesn't - because once out she realizes it's December - despite the lack of snow - then starts yowling to get back in.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ohh Duke!



They love Duke at the Vet's. When you call and identify yourself, the person on the other end of the phone inevitably says, "Ohh Duke!" - in a sweet, rather high-pitched tone of voice - they love him so. When you arrive at the office, it's "Ohh Duke!" all over again. Ever since he came into our lives in September 2008, it's been one thing after another.

First it was the thryoid, then the seizures, then the "foreign object removal". Lately it's been a runny nose (possible fungal infection) that defies medication. Last week it was the urinary tract infection for which he's now on anti-biotics.

We just can't stay away. Today we decided to have the Vet take a look at his oddly bony head, and recessed right eyeball. Turns out it's most likely Masticatory Myositis.

His muscles around his skull and jaw have atrophied leaving a very bony skull. The right eye is recessed in his skull and often not pointing straight ahead. His visionn is probably OK (for such an old dog), but he probably has to rely more on the left eye than the right one.

Treatment - not much for now. He still chews his food just fine. He's bit slower at meals - but given the rapid pace of his eating this "slowing" would still appear to be fast for many dogs. Some dogs with Masticatory Myositis present with pain when eating, or in severe cases, the inability to open their mouths. If it impacts his ability to eat we may look into treatment options.

It's treated with high doses of prednisone or dexamethasone - which come with their own special side effects, like frequent water drinking and urination, not to mention their impact on the immune system as they greatly suppress immune system activity.

Wait and see. More fun ahead. Ohh Duke!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Duke and I – Health Updates

We noticed a rapid improvement for Duke after starting antibiotics. He is peeing “normally” – meaning not every 10 minutes – and is able to rest and sleep again without interruption. This is great for him – and us.

I continue to enjoy lingering symptoms of this viral arthritis thing. Stillsome aches and pains, with a scratchy throat and limited mobility in hands/wrists and shoulders. It is difficult (but not impossible) to pull on a jacket. My shoulders don’t reach back well. My feet are kind of sore – but nothing like last Thursday. Thanks to ibuprofen the pain is greatly reduced, but the stiffness and limited range of motion remains.

I’m back at work today. At first I didn’t think I could do it, but I’m in the groove now, but may leave early. Taking it hour-by-hour.

Farewell Ultimate Santa



The Ultimate Santa wrapped up yesterday. You can find lots of great pictures on the Rosetown Facebook page.

The second weekend saw three solid performances, with Saturday night’s being the best – at least for audience reaction/participation.

I may post more about this later – still need time to process it all - and whip this weird bug I have.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

An Aging Dog

Here are three photos of Duke. The first was taken in December 2008 a few months after he came into our lives.



The next photo is one year later - December 2009 - relaxing on the couch.



Jump ahead two years and here he is today. It's not a good day for Duke. He started going out to pee quite frequently yesterday so we called the Vet this morning. They asked us to bring in a urine sample. It wasn't hard to gather that - and even my untrained eye could see the blood.




The Vet found some some bacteria in the sample so Duke is on antibiotics for two weeks. Hope the meds kick in soon as the constant trips outside - and the accidents indoors - are no fun for anyone.

The constant in-and-out trips are interfering with his sleep. Poor old guy hasn't slept well in 2 days. He's even too tired to clean up his own runny nose. The runny nose is another issue - running for months - unresponsive to antibiotics. Probably a fungal infection, but the "cure" - putting him under to flush out his nose and sinuses is something that could be pretty hard on an old dog so we are waiting it out - for now.

BackStage at The Ultimate Santa



Here's an eerie but cool backstage photo from The Ultimate Santa with dancers (above) and orchestra in the pit (below) silhouetted againt the backdrop.

Friday's show went well - despite (or because of) the 4 days off since Sunday's show. I was feeling fairly healthy - thanks to two days on the couch and lots of ibuprofen. Once I was in the thick of things, I didn't think about the various aches and pains - but this morning I could sure feel it.

Two shows remain - tonight at 7:30 and Sunday at 2:00. Get your tickets now!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Spoke Too Soon

I jinxed myself by posting yesterday about feeling better.

When I woke up at 12:30 a.m. to let the dog out (same time two nights in a row - hmm), my wrists hurt. Figured maybe I had been sleeping on them - but didn't give it much thought.

This morning, I awoke at 6:15, my wrists still hurt, along with my ankles - and I was covered with some odd pin-point rash - complete coverage on arms and torso, going down to my legs. It was difficult to grip things - and my thumbs (especially my left one) didn't work well at all. Opposable thumbs are critical to one's morning routine - and most of life.

Decided to have the doctor check it out. He called it viral arthritis. We checked for strep - negative. While they were working under the hood so-to-speak, they decided to add a few more procedures, drawing blood to check my (low) vitamin D levels (awaiting a call and lecture about taking supplements), and of course they gave me a flu shot*.

Not much to do but treat the symptoms. I went to Rainbow for a few groceries and some benadryl. Lots of fun - as I hobbled around the store on my arthritic ankles. It seemed to be senior citizen morning at the store, and I fit right in. (Note to self - those self check-out lines are all open when the average of the shopper is 70!)

So now - 6 hours later, full of benadryl and ibuprofen, the rash has subsided some, the joints don't hurt, but they still don't work well. Napping on the couch, reading, blogging, etc.

*About the flu shot - I expect the side effects to kick in soon. Every time I get a flu shot, I come down with flu-like symptoms later in the day. I've stopped getting them when they are provided free at work because I always end up going home sick. The side-effects or symptoms are short lived - should pass by morning. I'm not looking forward to another weekend of Ultimate Santa at less than 100%.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

December Shadows



I’m back at work and feeling better – but not 100%.

Every time I recover from some malady, I’m struck by the fact that it probably started earlier than I realized. Looking back, I was probably “under the weather” by about Wednesday or Thursday last week. My day off Friday was less than productive – which should have been a clue – but the buzz of opening night kept most of my symptoms at bay. As I reported yesterday, I performed Saturday’s show with a splitting headache (should have taken more than 2 ibuprofen), and by Sunday I was Mr. Crabby.

After lunch today, I ventured out into the 18 sunny degrees only to find the sun already casting long shadows at 2:15 in the afternoon! Ah, December in Minnesota.
Many of my colleagues who walk at lunch are now walking indoors. The facilities folks have a web page with maps of the outdoor walking paths AND the indoor routes – with distances for each.

Please – indoor walking? I’m not a big fan of indoor exercise. This is Minnesota – I say, “Get used to it.” Besides it’s only December 6, and I enjoy the look some give me when they see me in my coat, hat, scarf, and gloves heading out to brave the elements. My rule is that you can’t legally complain about the long, cold winters until late February – or at least after Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no snow freak – no winter camping for me. But I cross country ski occasionally, ice skate (outdoors of course), and enjoy walking almost daily. Lately I’ve come to appreciate shoveling of all sorts. I find roof raking the best for upper body strength and conditioning. Winter in Minnesota – it’s like your own private fitness center, without the fees, and no lines at any of the machines.

Most days you can dress warm enough to fend off the elements. On even the bitterest days, I find that if you dress in layers (but you knew that), and cover your exposed skin, you can enjoy a bit of fresh air – and possibly some elusive winter sunshine. And watch your footing! A few years back I slipped on ice while walking the dog. The result was whiplash and two fractured vertebrae, but I don’t think I missed any dog-walks because of the injury – though they were pretty slow for about a week or so. I’m now as cautious as my 81 year old mother when I see ice.

Maybe if you can’t/won't go outside for over one-quarter of the year you should consider moving.

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Show Went On

Here’s an awful picture of me in the cafĂ© scene, mentioned in my last post. I look like some crabby, weird, old man – but since that's how I feel - it's OK.



More pictures - and other play related stuff can be found here.

The first weekend has come and gone, and the three shows went very well. Saturday night’s crowd was the smallest of the three due to snow, but they made up for their small numbers in enthusiasm – lots of laughs.

Now it’s Monday and I’m home sick. I’ve been fighting it for several days. While stretching my stiff neck on Friday I noticed my lymph glands were swollen. All through the Saturday show I had a splitting headache that ibuprofen would not help. On Sunday I was tired and a bit sluggish, but felt the show went well. But once home I became very crabby. Shana sent me to bed early and I slept from 8:30 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. this morning.

When all the sleep left me feeling no better, I knew it was time to throw in the towel. It was inevitable I would get sick. Many colleagues at work are sick, and the cast of The Ultimate Santa – oh boy! There were lots of germs being passed around at rehearsals – kids and adults both sniffling and coughing.

Now it’s time to rest on the couch.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Opening Night a Success!



Last night's opening and "world premiere" of Rosetown Playhouse's The Ultimate Santa was a success! Despite doubts earlier in the week, it all came together beautifully - as I knew it would.



One of my favorite scenes in the play is the cafe scene where I'm an extra. Unlike my scenes as Stocky (one of the Ultimate Santa contestants), I'm anonymous in the cafe and have no lines to speak. Instead I'm innocently sipping coffee with a woman at a small table. Slowly it dawns on us that celebrity "British" arts and entertainment critic Chelsea Eaton is seated at the table next to us. We have fun recognizing her and at one point I use my Blackberry to snap a picture of the famous Chelsea. The picture is ad-libbed but it seems to work. I figure celebs face that hassle all the time. In order to make it authentic, I'm taking real photos - a different one each night. Last night's turned out rather nicely - given the odd lighting - cross stage with a spotlight coming in from the upper right.

We had a big crowd last night - almost 200. Seats are still available for tonight at 7:30 and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. - as well as next week.

Performances

December 2, 3, 9 & 10 at 7:30 p.m.

December 4 & 11 at 2 p.m.

Tickets:
$12 Adults
$10 Seniors
$8 Students
$5 Children 5 and under
Buy Tickets Now!