Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Looking Up

After spending way too much time in the basement mopping and vacuuming up water, I enjoyed the view on a walk this morning.

We had water in the basement after Friday's torrential rains.  We got off easy with some water in the basement that required mopping and carpet disposal, and only a few branches down in the back yard.  One of our neighbors lost two large trees.  One hit her house with a major tree limb piercing her roof and into her kitchen ceiling.  Oh - and she had 6 inches of water in the basement.  We got off easy.

While I looked skyward and snapped that picture this thought came to me - it's about basements:  Humans were not meant to live in holes in ground. Holes are for hiding or storing food.  [Sigh]  OK, back to the basement.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It Was Our House

At 6:03 pm on June 8, old friend sent this Facebook message:https://www.facebook.com/john.gisselquist?hc_location=stream

There was a shooting in your old house in Richfield today. Watch the news tonight.

I was stunned.   It was a blessing our TV wasn't working and the dog needed a walk.  It gave me time to digest this news – before I actually tuned in to television coverage of another murder. 

But it wasn’t just “another” murder.  It was a murder in my childhood home.

[The old home - 1958 - with Friskie the cat on patrol.]

As I said on Facebook after the shooting,

An old friend called this to my attention - homicide in our old home in Richfield. Even without knowing the details - and I really don't care to know them - it's very disturbing. One could argue that it's just a house, but it's my childhood home and my parents lived there for 46 years, from when it was built in 1953 until they moved out in October 1999. I'm surprised how unsettled I feel about it. Good thing Mom passed away in January. She would feel responsible somehow for selling the house.

It was a real social media event.  My initial notice of the even came via Facebook, friends and family communicated with me about the event online, and one of the best sources for news was the Richfield Patch

Despite my initial reluctance, I did want to learn more.  Through various news sources I discovered that the victim had been shot multiple times and died in the kitchen of the house. 

The old kitchen was initially a breezeway connecting the house to the garage.  Breezeways were common in the neighborhood but as time went by my parents decided to remove the breezeway, and expand the kitchen – with labor provided by my Uncle Ole.

The police report stated the victim was lying in the southwest corner of the kitchen.  That was always the cold corner of the kitchen.  In the depths of winter, frost would form on the wall paneling where the house connected to the garage.  The southwest corner – a cold spot indeed.

2013 has been a difficult year - so far.  My mother passed away in January, a beloved uncle died a month later, it’s rained at least 40 days and 40 nights, and now we can add to that list images of a dead man on the floor of “our” kitchen.  

Rather than dwell on the bad images, as I feared I would, I've decided to take the advice of friends who responded to my Facebook post:

Wow, feels like my childhood home too . . .  this feels terrible! 
I'll only remember the good that occurred in this house. 
Sorry to hear about this, John. These stories always hit hardest when there is that personal connection, of course. Best to avoid reading anymore about it and remember your home for what it was---your childhood home
[Celebrating 10 years - in the kitchen - of course.]

And that’s how I've decided to leave it.  It was my childhood home.  I’ll keep the good memories. 

Blow out the candles!  Don’t forget to make a wish.

Monday, June 17, 2013

I Scored a Big Fat Zero

I had a CT Heart Scan this morning.  These scans are designed to detect calcium build-up in plaque along walls of the coronary arteries.    

[My heart]

How did I do?  Despite my “alarming” cholesterol (LDL – “bad” cholesterol – of 172), it turns out I have no plaque – 0% - the arteries are clean.  

You may ask, “Why was I even a candidate for such a procedure?”  That’s an interesting story. 

Every year at my annual physical my blood is drawn for a lipid profile – the test to determine your cholesterol score.  My total number is high, the LDL (bad) cholesterol is 172, my HDL (good) is 82 (also very high).  My primary care physician’s clinic requires treatment at 170.  She explained that it’s like standardized tests in schools.  It’s all about numbers.  She gets “dinged” when she doesn't treat people with certain numbers.  My number required treatment. 

I wasn't convinced I needed treatment.  My HDL was great, my Triglycerides are very good (66), so I dragged my feet, avoiding the meds.

During last year’s scare with dizzy spells – which was eventually diagnosed as Atrial Tachycardia, a cardiologist looked at my cholesterol numbers (LDL 191 at that time) and asked me – in a rather patronizing tone of voice, “Is there any reason you’re not treating this?” 

I should have pushed back – but felt like citing Wikipedia and other web sources would have been met with the usual medical scorn.

According to Wikipedia 

Research has found that statins are most effective for treating cardiovascular disease (CVD) as a secondary prevention strategy, with questionable benefit in those with elevated cholesterol levels but without previous CVD.[2][3] Statins have rare but severe adverse effects, particularly muscle damage, and some doctors believe they are overprescribed. 

In the end I caved and started taking Simvastatin.   Within a few days, the usual side effects appeared, aching muscles – so bad it was hard to sleep.  I called to report the side effects and the nurse cheerfully informed me that I could take a “Statin Holiday”, two weeks off the drugs to determine if the side effects would go away.  The side effects disappeared. 

Next we tried Pravastatin.  That was a bit better and a test showed my LDL went down (by over half to 91) – but then the side effects started again.  Rather than reporting the side effects and asking for the next drug, I just took myself off that medication without consulting the docs.

This year’s physical came – and low-and-behold – my LDL is still high, my 172 rating.  This time my doctor referred me to a new cardiologist.  He was a jolly fellow.  He recommended the heart scan, telling me that LDL alone is not indicative of plaque build-up in coronary arteries.  Some folks live long, healthy lives with LDL over 200, while others drop dead with LDL far below mine.  There are lots of factors; everyone’s body is different, etc. 

Now I am waiting to discuss my zero (0) score with the cardiologist.  Before the test he indicated that if the score was low enough, he would do nothing – and then run another scan in 10 years.

Hope my primary care doctor doesn't get “dinged” by the insurance companies or whoever dings doctors who don’t treat patients.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

7500 in the Rearview Mirror

Yesterday was a difficult day.  It was cool, gray, and damp – again.  In addition, we’ve finally sold my mother’s co-op apartment.  There was not a lot of ceremony.  Unfortunately I was not needed at the actual closing, having signed over the Certificate of Membership last week.  It’s unfortunate because I think being present would have helped provide some closure.  I would have liked to meet the person who will be living in my mother’s old apartment.  It would also have been nice to offer some feedback to the folks at 7500 York.

From the moment my mother died, we worked quickly to vacate the apartment.  As it was explained to us, the sale (or marketing) process would not begin until we signed a notice of vacancy, telling them we were done with the unit.  Then they would consult the list of folks who were looking for a unit that size – about 38 people I believe, out of hundreds on the building’s waiting list.  Staying in the unit didn't make sense; there was no need to continue to make monthly payments to the co-op association.

The “marketing” process – the sale of the unit – did not proceed as I imagined it would.  I’m sure it’s all detailed in the contracts my parents signed when they bought into the place in 1999, but now that I reflect on it, it’s a bum deal for the unit’s owners.  The management  at 7500 bears no financial risk in the marketing or sale of the unit.  Up until the closing with the new owner on June 4, the risk of ownership remained with us – despite the fact that we've submitted a notice of vacancy on March 5.  We continued to pay the monthly fee.  We continued to pay homeowners insurance.  But we could not help them sell the unit.  We could not speed up the minor repairs, replacement of carpet, painting of walls, etc that were part of the move out/in process.   It dragged on for three months, with us paying for the unit – and having no right to use it in any fashion. 

Maybe it didn't really “drag” on.  It sure felt that way.  Perhaps it’s hard to get the work done, or maybe some folks were shown the unit and turned it down, and they had to do multiple showings. 

What would make it better?  A more satisfactory solution would have permitted us to sell the unit back to the management at 7500.  We were done with the unit in early March.  It was vacant.  We had no further use for it.  If we could sell it back, then the management would bear the financial risks involved with the sale.

The sale of the unit feels like the end, or the beginning, depending on how you look at it.  It turned out to be a less momentous occasion than imagined.  

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Calendar

My Mom kept “the calendar”.  Not only did it have the dates of everyone’s birthday, anniversary, and so on, she also tracked certain dates using a special code that only insiders could crack.  Her calendars often included numbers preceded by a minus sign, like the “–120” seen on the calendar above on April 29.  That indicates that my Grandmother (my Dad’s mother) would have celebrated her 120th birthday that day.   She would often call me and say, “our Grandmother would have been 120 today,” – or something along those lines. 

Today is a significant date in the Gisselquist calendar.  Today would have been my mother’s 84th birthday.  I don’t keep a calendar like Mom’s.  Perhaps someone else has marked their calendar, “–84” today.  

I received two nice cards from those older relatives who are part of the “letter sending generation”.  It’s very thoughtful.  Maybe Facebook has a feature where you enter the dates that significant loved ones died, or their birthdays no longer celebrated, so that your Facebook friends can be prompted to send a message on those days.  (I’m sure there’s a way to do that – no need to send Facebook tips.)  

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Hanging It Out

[Yes, it's probably time for a real clothes line, but using the Rainbow Play apparatus and several local trees gives it that hillbilly redneck look.]

Duke and I were up early, doing laundry and hanging it out to dry, trying to beat the rain.  Yes, you read that correctly:  “hanging it out to dry.”   We still haven’t purchased a new dryer.  Up to now, hanging laundry on the line, and quick trips to Josie’s are covering our needs.  I’m probably just an old fart but I’m not impressed with the expected lifespan of the new washer dryers.   They tell us 5 to 7 years.  The ones we have now came with the house, and were certainly not new when we moved in 13 years ago.  I bet they are (or “were” in the case of the dryer) 20 years old.  Add to that, the problems people report with front loading washers – and the long washing time, all the bells and whistles added in the name of efficiency, I’m tempted to go out and buy the cheap, old-fashioned kind.   Yep – I’m an old-fart laundry guy.

Lots of reasons to hope for dry weather today:  The laundry is one, and the First Rosetown Playhouse picnic at Central Park is another