Wednesday, August 27, 2008


You met Mu yesterday when she said goodbye to me as I got ready to leave Mary and Jerry's. Here she is again. Mu and I discovered that we are Olympic-quality athletes when it comes to playing "chase-the-laser-red-dot." I held the pointer, slowly moving the bright red dot over the bed, the floor or the wall. Mu chased it, attacking and pouncing as needed, pausing frequently to assess the situation. Sometimes the dot cames to rest directly on her paw, which meant it's decision time -- is it proper to pounce on one's own body parts? or would it be better to just wait and stare, knowing that the dot will eventually move on? And so the game went, but somewhere along the way Mu seemed to develop an obsession -- she would return hours after the game ended to search the last area in which the dot was seen. She clawed under blankets and pillows to see if the dot had sunk through the cloth and still lurked underneath. She would then walk up to me, meow pointedly, and tap me with her paw. If the red dot didn't appear, she would disgustedly leave, tail high in the air. It was a gold medal performance!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm On The Move

With three weeks of my 6 week recovery period under my belt, I moved from Jerry and Mary's spare bedroom to the RV of my friend, John. I will miss Mary and Jerry's hospitality (and great cooking!), but in the rig I will be able to move around more and get outside more easily. Here are some photos Jerry took of the Big Move:

After packing up, ZoAnn says goodbye to Mu as she waits for JohnClick for Larger Image of ZoAnn and Mu on Bed
ZoAnn slides down the stairs from the spare bedroomClick for Larger Image of ZoAnn sliding down the stairs
ZoAnn getting into John's rigClick for Larger Image of ZoAnn getting into John's Rig
John and Mary outside John's rigClick for Larger Image of John and Mary next to John's Rig

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Home Alone and Look What Happens

The day was beautiful summer day -- warm, blue skies, and a light breeze. Not unusually, the weather forecast called for a chance of afternoon thunderstorms. Jerry and Mary had gone out to dinner, with the promise to bring me back a take-out dinner. I am exactly three weeks into my healing and still using a walker, so when I am alone I try to stay in one place to minimize the chance that I will fall or otherwise need help.

Click for Larger Image of TornadoI had just started talking on the phone to my friend, John (who will be here tomorrow), when Jerry's weather radio went off. I couldn't hear the alarm itself, but the local TV channel broke into their regular programming to report that a tornado warning had just been issued for this county. From my vantage point on the bed, I could only see blue sky and light clouds to the north-west, but there was a hint of dark sky to my right, the north-east, that was just on the edge of my field of view. So I shifted so I could see out the right side of the window, and saw.... a tornado!

Click for Larger Image of Storm on TV NewsI could only see the top of the tornado, the bottom being hidden by the house across the street. John, still on the phone, pulled up the radar image on his computer, and told me the tornado was moving away from me -- luckily, because otherwise I'd have to hobble down two flights of stairs to the basement! Not what I'd like to do by myself! Just then, the local TV station showed a live photo of the tornado, taken from their weather helicopter on the far side of the tornado. The house had blocked my view of the bottom of the tornado -- until then, I hadn't known that it had touched down. They also verified that the tornado was not heading my way.

Soon it began to rain in earnest and then changed to hail. I watched the tornado, still over the house, for about 10 minutes until it faded into the dark gray clouds. The neighbors in both houses across the street came out to watch the storm (see one in photo below - the black horizontal bar is part of my window) -- could they both have missed the fact that a tornado was hanging just outside their back window? I'd sure be looking towards that tornado if I knew it was there!

Click for Larger Image of Fading Tornado and Man Watching Storm

Friday, August 22, 2008

More Photo Restoration

Another original from Mary's family -- this is Charles.


Click for Larger Image of Original

Restored Black and White:

Click for Larger Image of Restored Black and White

Restored and colorized:

Click for Larger Image of Restored and Colorized

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Medical Update

The elevators worked flawlessly today, so I saw my doctor, had the staples removed, and now just have to wait about 4 more weeks until I can again put weight on my foot. I can remove the current dressing on Saturday, take showers then, and then put regular band-aids on the incisions until they are fully healed. I have to continue to wear the boot, but I'm getting used to that. Everything is going well, and after physical therapy I should have no residual difficulties from my ordeal. Yea!

Photo Restoration

With so much time on my hands, I thought I'd learn some more techniques of digital photo restoration. It's something I played with a bit when I scanned some of my own family's photos, but those are all in storage and not available to me. Mary gave me a scan her at age 4, probably taken at Lake Michigan at a 4th of July celebration. She is the one with the "me" arrow, and the other girl is her cousin. Here is the original (as usual, you can click for a larger image):Click for Larger Image of Original Scan

And here are the results -- one restored to black and white, and one colorized:

Click for Larger Image of Restored Black and White Photo Click for Larger Image of Restored Colorized Image

Mary has provided a few more images for me to work on. I'll post more as I work on them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Little Excitement

And by "little" I do mean little! But for someone who has only been out twice in the last 2 1/2 weeks, any events outside the window provide a measure of fun and excitement. Today, the street outside Mary and Jerry's house was paved -- and I had a ringside window seat!

Click for Larger Image of Paving TruckThe "Event" began yesterday when "No Parking" signs were put along the road. About 8 AM this morning, a street sweeper truck made a couple passes, and then nothing until 10 AM when a worker went door-to-door, ostensibly informing the residents of the paving. Soon the truck came, made three passes laying down the black top as they went, and then left the still closed street to cure for a few hours. Around 4 PM they removed the tape and barriers, and the street was again open to traffic. Wheee!!!!

Below is a close up photo of the guys on the truck:

Click for Larger Image of Paving Detail

I can't help but think that the guy in the red hat is saying, "Guys we have to stop -- I just dropped a contact lens down there!"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Doctor's UnReport

My second doctor's appointment, to remove the staples holding my incisions from separating, was scheduled for this afternoon. Sometimes things just don't work out as planned.

When I need to go to a doctor's appointment, it is a bit of a production. Since I only have a walker, and not crutches, getting down the fight of stairs from my bedroom to street-level is my first hurdle. I have to do that sitting down, then scoot across a couple feet of floor to two more steps, then scoot across a few more feet to the final three steps to the outside -- all the time holding my leg up. I can't see getting up and down repeatedly on the walker for those few feet of level floor between the steps, so I just stay down. Back to the walker for the distance from the back door to the car, where I sit sideways on the back seat. When we get to the doctor's office, I have someone go in and get a wheelchair for the time I'm there.

So, today, everything was going more or less to plan. I scooted down the stairs on my butt, got to the car, got in, and off Jerry, Mary, and I went. I even had lunch out -- admittedly, it was a Sonic, where they bring the food to your car, but it was still eating out! Then we left for the doctor's office. Mary went in to get the wheelchair, and it seemed to take a long time. Finally she came out with news instead of a chair -- both elevators in the building were out -- and my doctor is on the 5th floor. There was no way I could get up 5 flights of stairs, so my appointment was rescheduled for Thursday.

There are two bright sides to this:

  • I'm getting two rides this week! (I feel like the family doggie here, getting all excited about "goin' for a ride" only to find the vet is at the other end) and
  • At least I wasn't stuck on the 5th floor when the elevators went out, unable to get myself back down.
Assuming my appointment happens on Thursday, I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, back to my computer, my books (currently John Adams by David McCullough and The Disunited States by Harry Turtledove, the latter on my new Kindle) , and the Olympics, which have been a marvelous preoccupation to help pass the time.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

From the Vault, July 2008:

The Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States. It's vivid colors are created by mats of bacteria that live along the spring's edge. With a discharge of 560 gallons of 160 degree Fahrenheit water each minute, and a size of 250 x 300 feet, it is, indeed, grand. A view from above shows the enormity, and beauty, that the ground view just can't capture.

Here are some images of the Grand Prismatic Spring:

Click for Larger Image of the Grand Prismatic Spring
Click for Larger Image of the Grand Prismatic Spring
Click for Larger Image of the Grand Prismatic Spring
Click for Larger Image of the Grand Prismatic Spring

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Arches National Park

From the Vault:

Location: Near Moab, UT, May 2008

Click for Larger Image of Rocks in ArchesI was at Arches National Park for a single day in May with John, Ken and Pam. Since one day is not nearly enough to see the park, I had planned to return to the area after I left Colorado -- but my broken ankle made that plan evaporate. One of the arches I didn't see then I won't ever see -- on August 4th, the first full day I would have been in the park, the 12th largest arch in the park came tumbling down.

Arches National Park is composed of sandstone formations that take a variety of shapes: large standing rocks, hoodoos, walls of rock, and the famous arches. What is now high desert country was, millions of years ago, a huge salty sea. The sea eventually evaporated, leaving enormous salt flats that were subsequently covered by sand. The sand compressed over time into layers and layers of sandstone. The underlying salt layer was very unstable, and began to flow under the weight of the sandstone, causing buckling, shifting, thrusting, and creating cavities and vertical cracks.

Click for Larger Image of People Under ArchAs time went on, wind, water, and ice eroded the softer rock leaving fins scattered throughout the landscape. As the softer rock continued to break off and erode, openings were created in the fins, and these openings continued to expand until they became the arches we know today.

Mother Nature has not finished with Arches National Park -- new arches continue to form, and old arches collapse into rubble. Throughout the park, solid fins can still be seen, and also fins with small holes in their middle -- fins that are on their way to being the arches our descendants will come to see. Existing arches continue to erode, and, as happened August 4th, the arch will collapse when its thinness and cracks make the rock too fragile to support its enormous weight. The park will continue to have arches for a long time to come -- but the landscape will never look the same for very long.

Click for Larger Image of Delicate Arch Click for Larger Image of Moon Over Arch  Click for Larger Image of Pam and Ken at Arches Click for Larger Image of John, Pam And Ken 

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Cast Is Off

One week down, 5 to go:

Today was my first doctor's visit since my ankle surgery. It is still hard for me to get around, even with the walker, but I got down the stairs by sliding, one step at a time, on my butt. I was then able to use the walker to get to the car, where I sat in the backseat with both legs straight in front of me. After spending a week indoors, it really was wonderful to be out in the fresh air! Once I got to the doctor's office, I was able to use one of their wheelchairs to get around, and that made it so much easier.

Before now, I had a cast on my ankle, covered by ace bandages. The first thing the nurse did was remove these. The cast turned out to be more of a solid brace, open on the front and back of my leg, than what I typically think a cast is. I was apprehensive about what I would see when it was off -- I was expecting a Frankensteinian conglomeration of scars, bolts, and swelling, but instead I only had two incisions, one at each side of my ankle, several healing bruises, and a bit of swelling.

The doctor said I am doing well, re-wrapped the ankle, and gave me large, foam-and-velcro boot to wear instead of the cast. I am still not allowed to put weight on that foot, but I am supposed to take the boot off periodically and flex my ankle.

Here are some photos from today (the nurse told me that almost everyone wants photos, and she takes them on her cell phone for people who forget their cameras). The last photo below shows the path where I fell, although the actual location was further downhill, closer to the lake.

Click for Larger Image of Foot Without Cast Click for Larger Image of One Incision With Staples Click for Larger Image of Me and My Doctor Click for Larger Image of Location of Fall

Sunday, August 10, 2008

In Memorium

To my dear friend Peachie, who just passed away:

I met you in training class for our brand new jobs as Social Security Claims Representatives, and we have been friends ever since. We cross country skied through the cold white wonderlands of northern Michigan, sipping flasks of ginger brandy or peppermint schnapps even though the "experts" said we should not drink and ski -- but we were young and invincible. We tried on hats -- funky, yellow crocheted top hats years ago, turn-of-the-century bonnets last year in Greenfield Village. You taught me how to grow tomatoes, how to roast red peppers, and how to throw cheerios on the floor to keep dogs busy while the humans got out of the house. You impressed me with your painting, your ceramics, and all that artistic talent that you seemed amazed to discover in yourself, but that I always knew was there. Time was meaningless between us -- no matter how much of it had passed between our visits -- and, at times, it was way too much-- we picked up where we left off as if our last talk had been just yesterday.

I will always miss you and always love you.

Royslot, Sweetie, Royslot.

Click for Larger Image of Peachie in Her Greenfield Village Hat - August 2007

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Thank You

Thank you to everyone who has sent good wishes my way, either on this blog or by email. I appreciate them all, and they really raise my spirits.

I am getting used to inactivity, bit by bit, but I have to admit to having some dark moments of weepy sadness. It's at these times that I have to remember just how much worse this all could have been. I was near friends who have helped me; I had excellent medical care; I have lots to entertain me from books, to computers, to the Olympics; and this is only a broken ankle, it will heal, and I will be up and around.

I have a very dear friend who is now in the hospital, struggling to live. The prognosis is not good. She has had medical problems all her life, and never expected to live past middle age. She views every day as a gift, and never complains about the cards life dealt her. If only we all felt that way! When I start to feel sorry for myself, all I have to do is think of her, and my "problem" -- a 6 week rest with my books, my computer, my Olympics -- fades into nothingness. She is my hero, and perhaps my inability to travel now, to see her, is the biggest tragedy of my incapacitation. But I know she will understand. My thoughts, and my love, are with her always.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Devil's Tower

From the Vault:

Location: Devil's Tower, WY, June 2008

Click for Larger Image of Devil's TowerKiowa Legend

One day, seven little girls were playing at a distance from the village when they were chased by bears. They ran toward the village and the bears were just about to catch them when the girls jumped on a low rock, about three feet high. One of the girls prayed to the rock, “Rock take pity on us, rock save us!” The rock heard them and began to grow upwards, pushing the girls higher and higher. The bears jumped at the rock scratching it, but they could not climb it. The rock rose higher and higher, but the bears still jumped at the girls until they were pushed so high up into the sky that they became stars. These seven stars are the grouping we now call the Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters, and the marks left from the clawing of the bears is still visible on the rock.

Devil's Tower was actually caused by an intrusion of igneous (volcanic) rock into sedimentary rock. Hexagonal columns formed as the lava cooled, and the Tower, originally below the surface, was revealed as the surrounding soft rock eroded. As the hexagons weathered and broke apart, the "claw marks" were formed from the columns still attached to the Tower. The pieces of rock that have fallen can be seen piled high at the base of the Tower.

Click for Larger Image of Prayer BundleThe Tower remains a sacred place for many Native American tribes including the Arapaho, Crow, Lakota, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Shoshone, and Sioux. These tribes still conduct religious ceremonies at the Tower, and are allowed to leave small "prayer bundles" on the trees -- strips of cloth, often shaped in a vague human-like form. The bundles are never open or removed, so the contents remains unknown (they are, however, rumored to be sage and tobacco).

Click for Larger Image of Prayer Bundle

Devil's Tower is also a premier rock climbing location, and conflicts between the Native Americans and climbers have arisen. The Native Americans see the climbers and their bolts, ropes, and debris as sacrilegious; the climbers see the Tower as a National Monument that should be available to all the people. As a compromise, climbers are requested to avoid climbing Devil's Tower during the month of June, which is reserved for the most sacred of ceremonies.

Perhaps Devil's Tower most notable contemporary claim to fame is from the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" where it served as the location of the mother ship's landing site -- although the runway, supposedly located behind Devil's Tower, was actually filmed in an airplane hanger in Mobile, Alabama.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

My Luck Runs Out

Up until day before yesterday, my only broken bone was the very tip of one finger, which happened when I stupidly closed a patio door on it. The pain then was overwhelming for a few seconds, and then I had to fall to the floor to avoid fainting and retching. My finger turned purple, but there was not much else to be done -- you can't splint the end of a finger.

Two days ago, my luck ran out on a path around a lake created from a dammed river near Castle Rock, when I slipped on some ball bearing-like gravel on a small hill. What would otherwise have been a slow slide to my butt and a laugh about gracefulness became much much more serious when my left foot slipped to the side and my weight landed on it.

At first there was no pain, but when I looked at my ankle it was with a feeling of surreality -- the foot was no longer pointing forward, but was turned to the side at a right angle. Obviously not a good thing! I was about 40 feet down the hill, and it was way too steep for rescuers to easy get me out, but fortunately I was not alone. I had been hiking with Jerry and Mary, and they instantly got on the cell phone for help. Two fishermen were passing by, and they came down to help. We decided that it would be a good idea to get me part of the way up the hill, if possible, at least to the point where the ground flattened out and the EMTs could get a stretcher to me. It became quickly obvious that it was way to steep for me to hobble out on one leg, even with the fishermen's support. So one of them let me use his foot as a brace for my good leg, and I pushed myself up the hill on my butt a few feet at a time, keeping the bad leg elevated. The other fisherman helped me up the steeper places by pulling from under my arms. I had to stop frequently to rest, and could feel myself going into shock, but we finally made it far enough up.

The ambulance got there quickly, and I got a nice ride to the hospital accompanied by EMTs Tom and Matt, with Mary going along in the front seat. Oddly, the pain was not bad until the EMTs put an inflatable splint on it, and then it got bad, fast -- but they started an IV line and got pain meds in me quickly. Once I got the ER, the staff took X-Rays, an EKG, and who knows what else, and I was given sedation drugs while the dislocation was corrected. At least now my foot was now pointing in the right direction and I could no longer feel bones rubbing in my ankle, but I still had a fracture and three breaks left to go, and that surgery was scheduled for 8 PM that evening. I had to wait because I had eaten 2 handfuls of peanuts at noon. Note to self: postpone eating if unexpected surgery is expected!

So I am now in a cast, with screws and pins and who knows what other airport security alarm-inducing hardware holding my foot together, and I cannot put any weight on it for 6 weeks. I am staying with Mary and Jerry for the time being, and they are taking very good care of me. My friend John is on his way to help, too. The inactivity is already frustrating, but I'm trying to look at this as an opportunity to catch up on reading and all those little tasks I've put off. I won't be traveling around much for a while, but I will keep posting on this blog -- I'll tell you about my condition and how life changes when you must hobble around with a walker, plus I have a lot of past adventures that never made it into the blog, but will now.

My extreme thanks go out to Mary and Jerry, John and Sue, the EMT and medical staff, and the two good Samaritan fishermen whose names I unfortunately didn't get. You are all wonderful.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Rocky Mountain National Park

Location: Castle Rock, CO and the Rocky Mountain National Park

Click for Larger Image of Rockies

The driving route through Rocky Mountain National Park is on the highest major highway in North America -- starting in forests, soon crossing the tree-line, and spending many miles traversing the tundra. It tops out at 12,183 feet, where the thin oxygen is noticeable with each breath, the vegetation and flowers are tiny and cling to the ground, and the snow still lies in cirques and crevices -- even at the end of July when the temperature in Castle Rock was pushing 100 degrees. Here are some flora and fauna photos from our drive through the park:

Click for Larger Image of Flower Click for Larger Image of Flower Click for Larger Image of Bird and Squirrel Click for Larger Image of Flower Click for Larger Image of Flower Click for Larger Image of Flower Click for Larger Image of People Playing in Snow on July 31 Click for Larger Image of Flower Click for Larger Image of Flower Click for Larger Image of Flower

And, when we returned, we saw the most beautiful sunset over Castle Rock and Lowes!

Click for Larger Image of Sunset Over Lowes