Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On The Road Again!

Kevin decided he needed a vacation so he decided to visit the relatives and take the road less traveled.
First we drove through a 'wildlands fire' near Beaver, Utah.  We can't seem to get away from smoke!
We met Kevin's brother Alan and his wife Lynette in Moab, spent the night and went to see Arches National Park.  Here's Hillary and I in front of one of MANY arches...
Kevin enjoying a banana split appetizer while waiting for lunch.  Alan helped...
Next we drove to Canyonlands Park.  This is the Colorado River...
Hillary, Alan, and Kevin
The Brothers
The Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile spent the night at the Marriott Residence Inn with us in Glenwood Springs, CO. Hillary enjoying a once in a life time Nikon moment!
Target in Glenwood Springs, makes us feel at home, aah!
Not bad for an 'out the window of a moving car' photo.  This is the drive through the canyon following the Colorado River.  The aspens are turning, stunning!
Rain!  This is why we didn't get to ride bicycles through the canyon.  There they are on Alan's car in front of us.  Two on the back and three in the trunk, believe it or not!
Broomfield, CO.  This is the closest in the room Hillary stayed in.  My very talented sister in law transformed the closet into a little girl's dream dress up room.  Just imagine...
The guest room I stayed in, complete with a gift basket loaded with Colorado gifts, including water bottles, caps, chips, flag, and did I mention chocolate?  Lynette is the hostess with the mostest!
Part of the first decadent breakfast Lynette prepared for us.  She's really trying to fatten us up and it's working!
Alan with grandsons Tristan & Carson and of course Uncle Kevin!  They took a moonlight hike up the Flat Iron Mountains...
The brothers waiting outside the Celestial Seasoning's factory and gift shop!  Guess where we are?
A restaurant on the Boulder Walking mall.  BJ's, very yummy!
Bear Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park...Pristine!
Dale & Lynette on the walk around Bear Lake
Alan & Kevin on the other side of Bear Lake!
Hillary and I on our hike through Rocky Mountain Park.  The aspens are turning.  They are bright as sunshine to the eye!
We made the boys take us to a really cool rock shop.  I bought some really cool rocks!  Bonus!  There were two 'cow' elks and babies on the other side of a pond right outside of the rock shop!  Then the 'bull' elk showed himself on the other side!  We couldn't get too close though.  The boys saw that bull chase a lady around the pond when she got too close for her photo opp!  Seriously!
He knew we wanted a picture of him but he would not turn to face us!
I love rocks!  Kevin & Darrell often brought rocks home from their Boy Scout adventures, Kevin picked picked up a cobble on our trip to Germany and now I have a small pile of rocks bought in Colorado, collected from around the United States!  I will find a place for them in the garden.
The charming village of Estes, CO
The cousins trying mini sweet peppers for the first time!
Ehh...not so much.  But they gave it a good try!  Someday they are going to love them, I just know it!
Alan & Lynette put on a feast at home.  Our niece, Emily, Hillary, Tristan and Dale.  Carson was our photographer!
We stopped in Fort Collins, CO to visit with the beautiful Salanoa family who lived in Paso Robles for a year and we refuse to give them up!  Monty is there to get a Masters degree and then on to medical school!  We hope to get them back some day! 
Our niece Holly with her children, Gavin & Isabelle.  Her son Spencer is in Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City fighting an infection.  His dad Nate was there with him.  This morning he was getting better, please keep praying!
Cousin Becky and Uncle Kevin comparing 'porta-catheters'.  If he ever asks if you want to see his scar, just say no...
A fraction of the family gathering at Grandma Richards
More of the same...
Kevin, Aunt Nona, and his 'Mammy' Barbara
Kevin's brother Jeff, Mandy, Dale, the Lewis family, and Mason.  Jeff took us out to eat at a new hamburger restaurant opened by a ward member.  Good times! 
We were blessed to be able to visit Frank and Carrie Connolly in West Jordan.  Kevin was honored to give them both priesthood blessings assisted by two of their ward members.  They send their love to all in Paso Robles.
Did you know that Hillary discovered a herd of Elk right on our own hill?  By the time we got out with our camera's they had been herded away, so we did the next best thing...We took her to Cabela's to see one up close.  She's ready for action.  Our bull elk wasn't going to take any chances of ending up stuffed at Cabela's so he was smart enough to run!
That's it for now.  If you made it all the way to the end, I commend you.  Betsy, you asked for this, I hope you find the time to see ALL of it!

We are really enjoying our visit so far, but we miss our family and friends in Paso Robles!
Love, Dale

Monday, September 13, 2010

More to be Thankful For

I neglected to mention in the painting posts that DeCou Lumber in Atascadero donated all the lumber that was needed to make new shutters and replace all the rotted, twisted trim pieces.  Thank you Jay DeCou for supporting Conner's eagle project and helping to make our home beautiful!

Also, our friend Ron Hogeland arranged for all the paint to be donated by our local Sherwin Williams paint store.  Our house was VERY THIRSTY.  It had never been primed and was so badly weathered that most of the paint was actually gone on certain sides of the house.  We used a ton of paint ALL thanks to Matt Markowqski, Jesse Henriquez, and Steve Sanchez at our Paso Robles store.  I admit I had never used their paint before.  I've done many painting projects before from walls to furniture and I'm picky about my paint.  A paint job us only as good as the paint you use.  I am a Sherwin Williams convert.  The paint is excellent and we didn't even use the top of the line.  We didn't need to, but just imagine how nice that must be!

Thank you one and all! 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Pure Blood American

This year I actually got a flag up before 9/11.  I've had a hard time finding a flag to fit my pole.  Lovin' the red door.  I even have a perfume called 'Red Door'!  It was meant to be...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Good Eats!

When you are invited to a Griffith Family Barbecue you need to train much like an athlete trains for a marathon.  Only it requires reducing your calorie intake before and after the meal.  Fast Sunday the day before was a good start.  Minimal breakfast the day of and nothing else after the feast helps.   It would also help to engage in vigorous exercise after, as a Griffith meal is packed full of delicious calories!
When I got my camera out to take pictures of the spread before everyone descended on it, the camera told me the memory card was full!  Luckily, I had a spare.  However, by the time I got it switched the feeding frenzy had begun, so the photos aren't  as flattering.  But trust me it was a beautiful thing!
Larry cutting up his famous tri-tip as Matthew and Carrie congratulate him on his culinary skills.
Candice and Kevin dig in.  
The menu included, tri-tip, Kathy's famous potato salad, a beautiful garden salad, a decadent grape in sweetened sour cream 'salad', my cabbage salad, buttered grilled bread, lemon cupcakes iced with cream cheese and fresh raspberry frosting served with lemon ice-cream, apple pie a la mode, and pecan pie.  Did I leave anything out?  I did not eat everything, but I believe Kevin did!

Our beloved Dr. Jeffery Wolf.  He is an amazing man.  He packs more into a day then there are hours to spend.  And yet, he is always calm, cool, and collected.  He never rushes us.  Always visits with us about things that have nothing to do with medicine.  He's a great doctor and a really good man.  We are so blessed!  Dale

Es Kommt Nichts in Frage...

Let me explain the title by the following short story.  While in the mission field we taught a man by the name of H. J. Stammel.  He is a famous writer of western novels in Germany.  During one of our conversations he made the statement, "Es kommt nichts ins frage ob mann von idioten umgegen wird.  The einsige frage ist, vie grosse idioten sind die."  Which is translated to: "There's no doubt that we're surrounded by idiots.  The real question is, how big of idiots are they?"  Well, yesterday we made another trip to San Francisco to meet with my orthopedic surgeon and oncologist.  There we found out that the local radiologist that did my 6 MRIs over a month ago failed to send the MRIs to Dr Burch.  His office had to call just to get the report fax'd to them.  When he reviewed the report, then compared it to his x-rays, he stated that he disagreed with their report already but would suspend further judgment until seeing the MRIs.  So I don't know yet what exactly he wants to do about the remaining 4 collapsed vertebra.  There were rays of hope, however.  He did say that I'm ready for physical therapy, and that after 6 weeks of PT, he'd let me start pitching and putting.  No twisting of the spine allowed yet.  He also cleared me to ride a bicycle.  I also mentioned my love for backpacking, and he said he thought that I'd be able to do it again someday.  Just not soon.  I'll wait.
My brother Alan and his wife Lynette are going to meet Dale, Hillary and I in Moab on the 20th, and we're going to visit Arches and Canyonlands National Parks for a couple of days.  Just very short hiking there.  But then we're heading to Glenwood Springs, up in the Colorado Rockies for a ride along the river.  Then an 18 mile downhill ride from the top of Vail peak, into Vail, Colorado.  Dale and Hillary REALLY tried to get the doctors to say it wasn't a good idea for me, but both doctors said it was OK, if not a good idea.  It turns out that the doctors are outdoorsmen.  Suuweeet!
The whole "idiot" thing applied once again when I met with Dr. Wolf in the late afternoon. My local oncologists office failed to email my latest labs to him, even though I called them Friday and reminded them, and they said that they emailed them right them.  When they contacted the office and received them, they found that they weren't doing all of the right tests that he'd asked them to anyway.  So, I still don't know how my kidney level is.  It was perfect in the July tests, then  dropped "dramatically" in the August tests, according to the local Dr, but Dr Wolf had nothing to look at.  He'll just compare it to the results of the tests from yesterday, but, he said the other factors looked good, so he didn't see any reason to be too concerned.  Good news.  AND, he asked me to be a part of another study.  I'm part of the Revlimid daily pill instead of monthly infusion chemo study.  That will likely be for 2 years.  He and another doctor, Dr Brevin, head of the Orthopedic department, have gotten a grant to study the effects of multiple myloma (which eats bone) on the spine, and prophyllactic (preventative) means of minimizing spinal impact, which affects breathing as well.  What it means to me is that I'll receive more specialized care for my spine, and perhaps, more kyphoplasty, which is all right with me.  They are only having about 50 to 70 patients total in the study, which is just for one year.  However, they feel that it will bring good insight and dividends.  I'll go into more detail later.
Last, August 28th was the 1 year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis.  Sept. 11th for my 1st time going into the local ICU, and September 13th for my 1st visit to UCSFs ICU, etc.  So I made a bunch of decadent homemade cookies for the doctors & their staff, and twice as many that we delivered to the 11th and 14th floors of the hospital for the nurses.  We got to see a couple of my nurses.  One, Agnes, didn't even recognize me, but recognized Dale.  She had me at the beginning, before I was 85 lbs lighter and with my curly "poodlehead hair". When we got home we found that she'd left a message on our home phone apologizing for not recognizing us, but it came to her after we left.  That was fun.  I'm sure she ate a cookie anyway.
Well, both Doctors told me to hold tight until they call and speak to me either later this week or the beginning of next.  So I'll give ya'll an update at that time.  I might get a haircut next week.  Whatdaya think?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cancer Survivor

This is our friend Ron Hogeland.  When Kevin's cancer was diagnosed, Ron was at the end of his treatments for Lymphoma.  Ron had to go to Stanford for his all treatments.  It was a grueling week for him.  I think he had to be hooked up to his 'chemo cocktail' for 72 hours in the hospital.  Anyone who's spent any time in a hospital knows there is no rest there.  Someone is always taking your vitals, poking, or just asking you how you are doing.  No rest for the weary.  And yet, I don't think Ron missed a single Sunday at church.  He was always there and he usually looked pretty good.  You'd often find him sitting on the floor in the nursery with his grand daughter, helping her get over her separation anxiety from her mother.  We always worried about germs.  Children are germ factories.  He'd be careful, but he was always there.    

So when Kevin was diagnosed our connection with Ron and Barbara intensified.  We didn't even need to exchange words.  We just knew they knew.  They have been a great support and inspiration to us all along.  Ron oversaw the painting of our house the last time and spent even more time on it this time.  It's so great to see him looking so fit and healthy.  So normal.  You'd never know, but we do.  We are grateful to have them in our lives.  We've had many good times together and look forward many more.  Thank you Ron and Barbie!  We love you! Dale

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Spectacular Finish!

After last Saturday we had two more work parties Monday and Tuesday and a full day for me on Wednesday and the only thing left is one more coat of red on the door (when the weather is cooler) and some minor touch-ups.  It looks fabulous!  Better than it did when it was brand new.  It never got the TLC that it received this time.  How can we ever thank Conner, the Jorgensen's and all our wonderful friends?  The scaffolding left today.  It's finished!  Here are some photos of what was done this past week.  Thanks for the memories!
Crew left at the end of the day 8/28/10.  Ron, Matt, Tristin, Dale, Kevin, Jamie, Bailey, Arnie, Conner, Hanna, & Randy
Ron in full painting gear.  Pretty cute isn't he?
Kevin giving sage counsel to Mark and Matt our resident experts.
Randy & Conner, father and son, holding up their end of the bargain.
More Torque Mark!  The gutters were really a pain.  The 'professionals' that originally installed them did it ALL wrong.  Now it's done right.
They worked into the dark to finish the south side of the house Monday night.  After this we got out the super bright  shop light for them to finish with.  Then we had, guess what?  Leftover hamburgers and hot dogs in the house for a fashionably late dinner.
How many guys does it take to hang one very long gutter?  Margaret our resident 'ladder' expert supervises!
Ron and Conner driving a few more screws.  Conner was at every work detail we had.  He earned two or three Eagle projects if you ask me!
Mark, always the perfectionist, painting the metal flashing to match the gutters.  Mark, we can't thank you enough for your expertise, attention to detail, advice and countless hours into this project!  Darrell took this photo.  Awesome!
Matt the tool man making sparks fly.  Another cool photo by Darrell.
Matt's really not crazy about heights, but you'd never know it by all the work he did.  This photo doesn't really show the angle the ladder was leaning.  That's why the others were lending their support.  Good job Matt!  I had to brag to him the next day that I scaled the top level of the scaffolding to replace an attic vent, as well as the top of the pergola and the front porch roof to wash windows.  I knew Matt would give me warm fuzzies as he knows I hate heights too!

 This photo shows a slight uncertainty about the precarious position of the ladder.  If only there was a foot hold somewhere nearby!  Reminds us of Clark Griswald hanging Christmas lights in 'Christmas Vacation'!
Kevin made his famous dutch oven Chicken Pot Pie.  'A thing of beauty is a joy forever', at least until I can get on the treadmill and work it off!
Darrell took this photo of how amazing the Milky Way looks from our home.  We are truly blessed to be able to enjoy such beauty every day!
All done!  I still can't believe it's my house when I drive up!  We have the most awesome friends!  This blog doesn't even begin to show all the countless hours put into this project.
If only the inside looked as good as the outside!  To all our friends who were apart of this project in any way, we are truly grateful.  It's going to be a bit lonely around here without all of you.  We enjoyed working along side you.  Please invite us to help you on your own projects.  We enjoyed your company so much.  We loved every minute of it.  Now it's time to allow the bruises, cuts, scrapes, and arthritis to heal.  At least I'll try!

Conner, you really went the extra mile with this one.  It was a huge undertaking.  You all are apart of the very fiber of our home!  I will think of each of you every time I'm outside and look at my house, or see it from hwy 101, or put recycling away behind the house...

We feel the love of our Heavenly Father through all of you.  We love each of you and pray for you as you pray for us.  I just can't thank you enough.  We are so blessed!  Love, Dale