Link to KansasPrairie.net

12/31/2005

THE CROWD IS GATHERING

Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends, Dane Britton — Peg Britton @ 4:15 pm

Kenz and Luke have returned from their trip to Atwood and made a downtown beer run. We need some cold beer to go with the hot Mexican food. Drew’s college roommate, Shawn, is on his way to join us. Stevie Ford might be here too. I just expect him whenever Tyler is around. Todd and Karen are putting the finishing touches on their part of the dinner. Brit is feeling better and is getting hungry. My part is done and ready to go. There will be plenty to share for another day. Ringo is so excited. Skunk is relegated to the bedroom.Dane can’t be here this evening but some of us will take a tray of food and have dinner with him. Lucretia brought him stir fry for lunch, which he loved. And he had a shower today. It was a big day for him, with Kenz, Luke and family close by.

ALLY’S GREEN CHILI

Filed under: recipes — Peg Britton @ 12:50 pm

Take a whole boneless pork loin, the big ones weighing about 8 pounds. Cut it into 3 or 4 pieces, put in large pan and cover with water. Add a lot of diced garlic, chicken soup base, and black pepper. Simmer it until it is fork tender. Cool. Shred.Reduce liquid from the pork, if necessary. If it’s fat, take some off. You’ll probably need a couple of quarts or more of liquid. Strain. Put in clean pan. Add 2 or more cans of Rotel tomatoes (I used 2 cans of the regular and 2 of the extra hot Rotel), lots more garlic, large T. of cumin, chopped onions, more chicken base if it needs it and hot pepper flakes, if it needs to be hotter. Simmer slowly until done and flavors have fused.

Add to pork. Mix well and heat in oven or on stove top. Oven takes less tending. Just before you are ready to serve it, add several cans of chopped green chilies (probably six 7 oz cans, or to taste).

We don’t measure around here when we cook…we go by looks and taste. That’s why we aren’t good with desserts. I suppose I use a 1/2 cup or more of diced garlic in the whole batch, two large onions, etc.

To make green chili burritos, roll mixture in large flour tortillas (warm) and use whatever toppings you like..chopped lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, ripe olives…or serve plain, or plain with salsa. Can use beans, too, in roll ups..pinto beans, soaked and cooked with onion, garlic and seasoned with salt after beans are done, then mashed. Or do it the real Mexican way and put nothing in the beans but salt and mash them in a skillet of grease. I keep the fat to a minimum.

Ally’s not here to make corrections. I hope I remembered everything.

KANSAS DIDN’T MAKE THE LIST

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 10:38 am

Citing claim statistics, auto insurer State Farm said that drivers in Pennsylvania experienced more deer collisions than any other state between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005. Coming in second and third were Michigan and Illinois, followed by Ohio and Georgia. Minnesota and Virginia ranked sixth and seventh respectively, while Indiana, Texas and Wisconsin rounded out the list at eighth, ninth and tenth.Kansas didn’t make the top 10.

Worst Ten States for Auto-Deer Collisions

CALVIN WOODWARD ON KANSAS

Filed under: print news — Peg Britton @ 9:03 am

A bicycle built for seeing America
Writer takes cross-country trip on two wheels

By Calvin Woodward
Associated Press
Friday, December 30, 2005; Posted: 11:10 a.m. EST (16:10 GMT)

KANSAS:
People of the High Plains ought to have as many words for wind as the Inuit have for snow.

It rules. It fools with you all day. At your back, it makes you sail. Coming at you, it’s like swimming upstream in molasses. Mostly it comes at me, out of the southwest.

The trees thin out rapidly after eastern Kansas, yielding to the otherworldly beauty of rolling grasslands. There and in the arid western Plains, services of any kind become infrequent. Hot howling headwinds slow progress to 7 mph. Temperatures are over 100 for days at a time, hitting 109 on a bank sign.

Brown fields after the harvest kick up waves of dirt that stream across the road. Tumbleweed skitters. The occasional stack of hay bales offers the only sliver of shade to be found for five miles, 10 miles, 20 miles.

Then there are the locusts, three swarms of them, each coating the pavement for two or three miles.

They jump waist-high when you come upon them, the ones you don’t crunch. When a cattle truck passes, bringing its own hot wind, they rise in a cloud, hit your face.

This is a land without adornment.

Even the rare gas station is unmanned and self-serve, like an ATM machine with nozzles — pay, pump, go.

No Big Gulps here.

On Route 96, there are always grain elevators on the horizon, ghostly white towers you can see 10 miles away. Some have soda machines. You pray they don’t eat your change.

A friend puts it best: “Kansas is purgatory rolled flat.”

Yet, other bikers, experiencing favorable winds and cooler days, count Kansas among their favorite states.

You can sense the mountains now, days before you see them. The pancake flatlands have a subtle upward tilt you wouldn’t notice in a car. And when you do go up a mild hill now, you don’t go down.

A 35-mile leg south to Garden City from Scott City brings the trip’s second encounter with heat exhaustion. Water in the bottles is hot, a passing relief only when I spray it on my head and the wind turns it briefly cool as it evaporates. I have the chills in 105-degree heat. I pass few houses, but stop at two for cold water.

I am riding past feedlots, dirt yards with troughs where cattle fatten by the tens of thousands for slaughter.

Gone is their curiosity back in the grasslands, where they all looked up at the passing bicyclist. Now they are dull-eyed.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE WOODWARD STORY ON CNN.COM The featured picture for Kansas is Ellsworth’s Insurance Building, future home of the Drovers Hall of Fame. That tells us something important, when Woodward selected this particular building as a signature building for Kansas. “A distinctive building in Ellsworth, Kansas, cries out for renovation.”

This a wonderful read…don’t miss it.

12/29/2005

milliondollarpage.com

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 7:49 pm

Click Here! Ally sent me this. It’s an unusual, all-encompassing website.Dangit. My sprayer hose on my kitchen sink came disconnected, again, and flooded underneath my sink cabinet. I was just finishing the green chili and had a sink full of dishes, pots and pans. I can’t get on the floor to clean it up. I just don’t bend that way anymore. My only recourse was to call Tall Boy. He was here in a jiff, cleaned it up and fixed my hose. I don’t know what I’d do without him. He is so willing and smiles through it all. He had pals at his house watching a movie, but he didn’t mind taking a break and helping out us old folks. What a kind guy. He will go far. I don’t ask him to do it for nothing, although he would and always argues about taking anything for it. But, the way I look at it, the alternative is the plumber and they are hard to get on a moment’s notice. He can always use pocket change and money for college.

The pork chili looks so good and there is a lot of it. It is going to be excellent! I’ll put it together on Saturday before we gather for dinner. There are somethings you can’t do with shortcuts, and this is one of them. Glenda and I should get together to compare tastes.

That’s all for tonight. I think!

DANE IS SETTLED IN AGAIN, AND HAPPY TO BE THERE.

Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends, Dane Britton — Peg Britton @ 6:08 pm

Satisfied that the pork loin wouldn’t simmer dry, I headed to Wilson with some salads and soup for Dane. The power was off at the home due to some power upgrades, so Dane had bottomed out in his bed and was lying there helplessly until Mike could hoist him out of his hole. When that bed deflates, it drops him down about 20″ like he were in a narrow bathtub…complete with the rim around it. It’s not comfortable. I asked him how he liked it otherwise and he replied, “I wouldn’t buy it!”. So Greg is looking around for something else, maybe a Roho mattress. He’s a very nice guy to work with and he’ll find something.I gathered up a sack full of DVACK stuff and made a dent in Dane’s room in the process. There is more. I have some around here as well, so it will all find a happy home in Salina, thanks to Mark’s excellent suggestion.

As I mentioned, Christmas was quiet and uneventful, the way I like it. I got a very nice card from Tall Boy that I cherish and, wouldn’t you know, Grey Goose from Luke and Mackenzie and ancient Glenmorangie single malt Burgundy Wood Finish from Ally and Ruby. The latter are things I’ve found useful in my old age with added responsibilities. Karen and her boys found me a jean jacket that I love. It fits perfectly and I’m already wearing the tail off it. Bev brought her English Toffee, the best in the west. It wouldn’t be Christmas without it. Our beautiful, traditional wreath from Cindy is in it’s place on the garage. And…there are other things too…like the book “ENNUI”, from Brit.

I didn’t make my Rom Pope that everyone counts on. Maybe I can make it next month with some help from Tall Boy. I don’t know how Todd and Mark Guilfoyle will manage New Year’s Eve without it…not to mention Cindy and Meredith. I’m very indebted to a lot of friends.

Brit thinks he’s some better, but too weak to take a shower, even with my help. He used to leap at such opportunities! I’m sure the pneumonia will pass and he’ll be his frisky self once again.

The pork loin is cooling so I can shred it. I needed a whole one and asked for it before Glenda arrived at the meat counter and needed one too. She asked if I wanted to split it, but half wouldn’t have been enough for our family. And, I promised to send some home with Kenz and Luke. I hope Glenda found what she needed as she was making green chili too, with the same ingredients. That woman knows how to cook. I can tell just by reading her recipes in the INDY. Cooks know those things. It takes years of experience, imo, to become a really good cook. And Glenda is one. I’m going to share some of her recipes on my blog.

Dave Brownback visited Dane last night. His visits are always most welcome. Dave knows Dane doesn’t “initiate” much, and he keeps the conversation going himself. He’s great for Dane and we thank him so much. Dane said that Kenz, Luke and Skunk were there too. He got the biggest grin on his face when he mentioned his cat had come all the way from Dallas to visit him. He loves that cat. And the nursing home staff members have all been in to welcome him back. They are so nice to him, and all the residents. Therapy will be in tomorrow, according to Patty Reutz who stopped in for an assessment. Things are moving along.

I left Wilson without stopping by the telephone company to get Dane’s phone hooked up again. Dern. I’ll call tomorrow and see if they will hook it up before the weekend. Dane wants his connection to the outside world back again, and that’s a good sign. He doesn’t have a credit card to order anything, so he can call all he wants with a phone card! The Scooter people haven’t arrived yet.

Dane wants a “walker” in the worst way. I don’t think he’s associated the fact he has to walk before he can use a walker. It’s hard to know what he is thinking, entirely, but I rather think he believes if he had a walker, he could walk. He mentioned it again to Patty today. She handled it beautifully and said they’d start him tomorrow back between the parallel bars.

Several have asked Dane about his head and if he wants to get the “hole” filled in. He tells them he could if he wanted to, in six months or so, but he doesn’t want to as it will only be one more foreign thing in his body to get infected. He doesn’t mind the way he looks and neither do we. He just needs to be careful of that part of his unprotected head. Skulls are there for a reason and he’s missing a big slab of his.

Thanks for tuning in.

12/28/2005

ASSORTED ITEMS

Filed under: prairie musings, Kanopolis Musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 8:57 pm

“Peg…You noted yesterday in your blog about all the items that the hospitals have sent home with Dane. It’s pretty clear why the cost of medical care continues to skyrocket. There is just SO MUCH WASTE on some areas! I could never figure out why a hospital couldn’t have someone who could spot the waste and direct the costs going to such waste, instead to areas needing improvement.You may or may not know this, but I traveled weekly as a field representative for Blue Beacon. This meant that three days a week I was in a hotel room stocked with the individual shampoo, conditioner, and soap items. I preferred some continuity in my hygiene products and always took my own products with me. However, after a few years, I got the idea of stocking up these complimentary items and donating them to DVACK here in Salina. Needless to say, in just a year I could build up a heck of a pile. Imagine that pile when I got 12 other reps to do the same thing. The ladies at DVACK were very grateful as this was perfect for their needs. I don’t know if the guys at Blue Beacon are still doing this today, but I’m sure that they could use any of those non-medical items.” Mark

I’m going to gather up all those things, with Mackenzie’s help, and take them to DVACK. What a great idea from a friend. I’ll have a good contribution to make. Maybe this will give others ideas too.

Mackenzie and Luke arrived this afternoon and headed to Wilson to spend time with Dane. They thought he looked really well, he was talking a lot and was very glad to see them. They, and Tyler, went back tonight to take Skunk for a visit. That was after we went to Orozco’s for a fix. I brought a burrito home for Brit and he ate a little of it. Hot peppers have healing qualities, I think.

Tomorrow I’m going to make a batch of green chili for burritos on Saturday night. Ally makes the best and I can’t always get the mix as perfect as hers, but I’ll give it a try. I’ll need a lwhole pork loin, onions, garlic, Rotel tomatoes, and green chilies. Probably some cumin and hot pepper flakes. And, I’ll put some pinto beans to soak. Drew will make some of his famous salsa, we’ll fix hominy casserole that everyone requests…and go from there. We’ll share with Dane as he’s been looking forward to it. I made a kettle of split pea soup today…I’ve perfected that for sure, after all these years of making it.

The Worst Towns in the USA by Maurice Crow is not a book you’ll want to buy or read. According to a reviewer: “Maurice Crow makes mention of using “spies”, “correspondents” and “researchers” to help compile the information. He of course never names these people (for monetary reasons I’m sure)and constantly refers to himself as “we”. The problem with this is, the entire book lacks any true insight.

There is barely any personal experience in the book, the third hand accounts are rephrased in his words and it often bleeds from third person to first person perspective even though he admits to not visiting the town himself. Any hope of true insight and a feel for the actual town is lost in the translation.”

“…countless typos and misplaced words and modifiers, my favorite quote for Phoenix, Arizona: “Today, Arizona is America’s eight largest city.” That’s the spelling on page 49, I kid not.”

He lists Ellsworth as the worst town in Kansas. Enough to make your blood boil, eh? I still think he got the idea from the Pitch article.

It’s nice to have the college kids back in town. They always bring lots of new thoughts and ideas with them. The weather has been so warm and nice, everyone is out and about, having fun.

Brit has headed to bed with Ringo in tow. I hope he feels better tomorrow. He’s a weak guy and his cough just doesn’t want to go away.

Thanks for tuning in.

12/27/2005

WHATTA DAY

Filed under: prairie musings, family, Dane Britton, Wilson Musings — Peg Britton @ 7:16 pm

Todd and I got Dane’s personal things back in his room at the Wilson Nursing Home. He has three chests of drawers and a closet to hang his sweats, shorts and shirts. No shelves or hangers.It’s not a simple move. We need to weed out all the “pure cornstarch” talc, lotions and salves of every description and all those odds and ends of tape, dressings, swabs, shaving lotion, tooth paste and the like. Every time we leave a hospital, they send all that stuff with us, and, after a year of such visits, we have mounds of everything to supply the county forever. I can’t throw it away, but I don’t see how anyone could use it all. If cornstarch will make wheat grow, I know where to sprinkle it.

Dane arrived in the afternoon amid a lot of cheers and waves and “welcome back’s” from the Wilson staff. He was very glad to be back in his room with those he knows surrounding him. He just seemed more talkative and happier. He was right on target about everything. And he looked so great to me in his Swish ball cap that Pete gave him and Wesley hospital gown! He had no clothes with him.

Greg from Unimed spent the day showing us how to work the controls on Dane’s fancy mattress. I hope it is set right now. It’s a fancy dude, probably close to two feet thick. We’ll let him try it out as long as he likes so that when we do order a bed, it’s the one he likes best. The present mattress is too narrow and too short, so we take note of those things. Maybe his body is stretching!

Todd and I went to Made From Scratch for lunch at 12:30, since we were waiting for Greg and Dane to arrive, and we were hungry. It took an hour to get our hamburgers, which is too long to wait for a hamburger, but they were good once they arrived. It’s the best thing on her menu, imo. The place was full and we arrived at the wrong time. Or maybe the right time, but the people who were already there were not availing themselves of the Mexican noon buffet, and also ordered hamburgers.

As they were checking Dane in, going through all the various checks, they weighed him. He’s down to 219.6# and that’s good. He looks so much better than when he left Wilson and he feels much better. He’s such a dear man, and so patient and kind. I have yet to hear him complain about anything.

Brit went to the doctor today and has a good case of pneumonia. I wasn’t here to take him and he had trouble staying on the road coming home due to a shot they gave him, he said. He went up over the curb on the road from the hospital, but then got it together to drive the 500 yards back home. He also got $150 of scripts and is now sitting by the fire gulping water and coughing. Karen came over and fixed him soup for dinner and brought him some new flannel pj’s, to make him feel better. I needed to be here, but needed to be in Wilson too. Had I known now what I now know, I would have let Todd handle Wilson. We’re spread pretty thin during illnesses. I have such a wonderful supportive family. We’re all in this together.

Ally got home from Wichita and was very tired after her duty with Dane. No one knows how very tiring it is until you go through it. When I wave my flag, someone comes to my rescue just as Ally did. Meredith and I commiserate as she’s staying with her mom every day, from 10 to 7, at SRMC. Her sister relieves her on weekends. She agrees that everyone…absolutely needs an advocate. Well, we agree that if you can walk, talk, yell and throw, you might manage on your own.

Ally said the first thing she did when she got home was take all her clothes and run them through the hottest wash she could with enough bleach to kill all the germs. It’s exactly what I do. Hospitals are where you go to get well, but they are full of every germ known to man and you have to be very careful. And, trust me, if the last year has taught me anything at all it is that if you have a loved one in the hospital, you need to be with them most of the time.

Mackenzie and Luke left Victoria TX at 7 am and were caught in wild fires that were throughout southern OK. They closed I-35 causing detours and hours of delays. They will be very late getting in here. They are bringing Dane’s cat, Skunk. Dane will be so happy to see all of them. I wish they were here now.

Thanks for tuning in! It’s so nice to have Dane back in Wilson where he is more comfortable and is surrounded by friends and family. Makes me feel better as well.

P.S. Last night I was settled in under my feathers and thought I had a good Tom Cruise movie to watch. He’s okay, and has been pretty good in a few movies so I thought the movie would at least be along the line of his other movies and tolerable. I had no idea what it was, since, like all other movies, I never get in on the first of them. Well, it just got weirder and weirder and finally after it was all over, they played the theme song, Vanilla Sky. No wonder. My granddaughter told me when it came out I wouldn’t like it. She was right. She knows. I’m glad I didn’t pay good money to see it.

IT’S A BRIGHT AND SUNNY DAY

Filed under: prairie musings, Dane Britton, Wilson Musings — Peg Britton @ 11:06 am

Dane’s on a roll! The EMTs are picking him up at 12:30 and taking him to Wilson. Ally has him psyched up to get with it with his therapy.His CAT scan this morning was “the best ever”, according to Laura Yapp, Dr. Gorecki’s PA. That is the best New Year’s news we could get.

All his records and reports are coming with him.

Todd has loaded my car with his gear and we’re heading to Wilson to get his room ready.

Greg is arriving with his bed at 1:30.

Other things are falling in place.

Mackenzie and Luke are heading north and are “outside Waco”.

We’re moving ahead.

12/26/2005

AS I MENTIONED, NICE THINGS CONTINUE TO HAPPEN. HERE’S ANOTHER.

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 5:03 pm

Dear Peg -We’ve only met once or twice, very briefly, but I worked with Dane following my mother’s death, getting the stock portfolio in her estate in order. Also, Dane and I were on the Board of the Community Theatre together (we miss him). Our meeting, yours and mine, was because I was on the committee, with you, putting on The Vagina Monologues, at the time of Dane’s stroke.

Even though we don’t know each other, I do keep up with you and Dane through your blog. There are times when it gets away from me and then I take time to sit down and devour the days I’ve missed. Because of that, today, you are directly responsible for my seeing a wondrous thing.

My husband and I were talking about having a late lunch somewhere “fun” today and I had just read about your soup-n-salad at the Charcoal Room. We have only had dinner there once, and decided we’d do that. When we got there, about 2.00 pm, there were only a couple of fellows sitting at the bar, obviously not together, and we were the only others in the restaurant. We ordered the soup and salad (which was yummy, thank you!) and the first guy paid his check and left. Shortly a couple of gals, probably in their late 50s came in and asked to see the party rooms. They were, they said, planning a party for their parents in February. It would be their 60th anniversary and while the siblings were home for Christmas, they wanted to get the plans made. The gals were shown the rooms and while they were out of the room, owner Bob Berthelson came back into the dining room. The young man, who was still seated at the bar, called him over and asked him how much the room charge would be for the party. Bob said there would not be a charge for the room since they were having a party with him. Then the young man asked how much the party would cost. Bob said he had no idea. The gals were talking about having about 20 attend and they were having dinner. The young man insisted and Bob said it would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $500. This fellow then peeled 5 one hundred dollar bills off and handed them to Bob and said, “Tell them I said Happy Anniversary,” and he left the restaurant. He got into a black Corvette and drove away. The car had temporary paper tags and the waiter said the young man was from South Beach, Florida, and was here for Christmas and was headed back to Florida.

Wow, what a very cool thing. Bob went back in and told the gals what had happened, and they were floored. And we get to tell the story over and over, ’cause we saw it happen! Interestingly enough, our 35th wedding anniversary is this Thursday, the 29th, but I feel like I’ve already been given a gift, just seeing that fabulous gesture of one stranger to another.

Isn’t it a wonder how the ripples we send out impact others?! You send out some of the best. If it hadn’t been for you telling about your lunch there, we wouldn’t have been witness to this act. So thank you, both for the recommendation and the wonderful gift of yourself.

Very sincerely,

Ann

STANDSTILL

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 4:20 pm

Things are at a standstill at Wesley. They are working with a skeleton crew, so to speak, today and not much is going on. So far as we know, they are still planning on moving Dane tomorrow to Wilson, but we don’t know when.First, they are going to do a CAT scan. That only takes 5 minutes, but it takes time to deliver Dane downstairs to the area where all that equipment is found then one falls in at the end of the line of gurneys and waits. Ally is packing his toothbrush and razor in preparation.

Brit is down for the count and feels terrible. A train hit him last night and he’s barely moving around. His cough seems a bit better than it did during the night.

It’s absolutely beautiful outside today and strange shirtsleeve weather for December in Kansas.

I opened my mail today, the stack that has been growing for over a month during my absence. It was nice to read the Christmas letters and greetings. Buried in the stack was a party invitation I would have loved attending, but I sure missed it. I’ve been so busy that I can’t feel guilty about not sending out cards or keeping in contact with friends during the past year, as ordinarily I would. Some things just have to be put off for awhile and good friends understand.

Friends from Denver are moving back to Ellsworth and building a house out on the Black property. How wonderful. Vera would be so happy to know that.

Tomorrow will be a long, hard day. Todd and Tyler are going to move all of Dane’s things back to the nursing home. Every time Dane leaves there, we have to bring everything in his room to our house, and it’s a large pile of “stuff” that helps made his room more homey. When we have a bed, mattress and wheel chair to deal with as well, I’m not sure what we’ll do with it all. There is a downside to everything. We need a Morton Building for storage.

Thanks for tuning it.

12/24/2005

PEACE AND GOOD WILL TO ALL…

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 7:50 pm


MOVIN’ HOME

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 12:53 pm

Ally called this morning with the news that doctors agree the danger of infection is too great to put in another shunt so Dane will head to Wilson on Tuesday. So far, he is managing without a shunt, but there are no assurances how long he can go without one. It will be a wait and see thing while we watch for “signs” and try to keep infection under control.Dane’s anxious to get back this way and we’re eager to be here too. As wonderful as everyone at Wesley has been to us, it’s still difficult being away from home. Lying there anticipating what the next surgeon is going to do is not a way for him to relax. I hope he can regain some of the strength he’s lost during the past two months before anything else needs tending to.

This morning opened the door for tomorrow. We take things one day at a time around here. Since the refrigerator was empty, I went to the store and bought some beautiful KC strip steaks for dinner tomorrow for the eight of us who will be home. When I told Brit how much they cost, his reply was, “I remember when we could buy a whole cow for that!” And that’s true. We’re old after all and some memories remain true. But, it’s a special occasion and we’re happy to have everyone here who can be here.

Dane is going to have company for dinner tonight and they are going to feast on Chinese food from the Great Wall, which is across the street from the hospital. It’s good carry out food and it always tastes better to him than hospital food, which has gotten very tiresome despite their wonderful attempt to please him. After so long….well, you know.

Karen is making taco soup for tonight to share. That will taste good to me, since I’m still mending but almost well!

So, instead of repacking to return to Wichita, as I started to do this morning, I’m unpacking. At least for awhile. And I’ll get to see Mackenzie and Luke who will be heading this way on Tuesday. Things always have a way of working out. Life is like that, in general….things work out for the best, if you help it along.

And, it is truly gift-giving time, in some corners of the world. Dane’s NEW bed that we’ve haggled over for a year will be there on Tuesday when he arrives. Not THE bed, but a similar mattress and a similar bed to the one he’s getting. We just want to be sure he’s comfortable on the mattress and it fits him. His will have all the bells and whistles he deserves and will arrive within a week after we say “GO!” FINALLY!!!

Tall Boy is here helping me. What would I do without that kid?

12/23/2005

GOOD THINGS ALWAYS HAPPEN

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 7:36 pm

There are always good things that happen and you don’t have to look far to find them.Today, I received two boxes of assorted personal surprises from a very good friend…home grown things from her garden, like basil and bay leaves and other special things that mean so much. Then there were a boxes of paper shell pecans and some of my favorite Christmas music that, fortunately, didn’t sound like Christmas. And, there were assortments of DVDs that will provide diversion for me. All, were so welcome and very much appreciated. She’s a friend of long standing and so nice to have hovering around me. It was all so welcome and will be enjoyed for a long time. I appreciate my friends so very much.

Then, I had a long visit with my friend, Ann, in England, on IM. She’s been here to visit, and I’ve been there, but we have little time to visit these days. Today was different and we caught up with our family activities and other things of interest.

And, Brit fixed some of his famous spaghetti for dinner. I could not function in the kitchen and felt little like eating, so he cooked and fixed me a plate. It tasted good and I feel better for eating it.

Mackenzie called from Victoria, in south TX, and needed some help with a couple of recipes she and Luke wanted to fix for his family for Christmas. She’s getting the hang of cooking, now that she has to, and I’m more than happy to help her out with the flavors of dishes she’s grown up with. She’s a love.

Scott Moore stopped by the hospital to see Dane and Ally. They had a good visit, and best of all, Scott is happy with his work as assistant city administrator in Wichita. Scott is such a fine man.

And, Cheryl and Steve noticed I was home, and wrote. That was so nice.

And, KU just scored against Houston. How about that? Now they are ahead 14 to 3. Opps, 14 to 10. They are going to have to get busy.

There is always so much brightness around us, for which I am very grateful.

LINDA MCCOWAN’S CHEESE SOUP

Filed under: recipes — Peg Britton @ 3:53 pm

Linda collects her favorite recipes of the year and shares them. This is one from 2005 that I thought sounded really good.Cook till tender: 1 cup diced celery, 1 cup diced onion, 1 tsp each chives and parsley flakes.

Stir in 2 1/2 cups of precooked diced potatos, 1 head of cauliflower flowerets, and 1# broccoli flowerets. Add 4 cups water and cook slightly (don’t over cook the cauliflower and broccoli).

Add 1 container velveeta and 2 cans cream of chicken soup (undiluted). Add whole milk to desired consistency.

I would add some chicken base to pep it up a bit. And fresh ground pepper.

I’m not sure what a “container” of Velveeta is, but I think you can go by the taste of how much you want. I made a couple of small changes, so I hope she doesn’t mind.

NOTABLE PERSONALITIES FROM A YEAR IN GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 11:17 am

Associated PressSome notable figures in Kansas politics and government in 2005:

_ JOHN CALVERT: A retired Lake Quivira attorney, he helped found the Intelligent Design Network and became a spokesman for intelligent design advocates as they sought new public school science standards questioning evolution. Critics of the standards contend he was a key influence on the board.

_ BOB CORKINS: Hired as the state’s new education commissioner in October, he quickly had the board considering school choice initiatives. He had never run a school or school district, and his appointment upset many educators.

_ TERRY FOX: He was a leader of efforts to win approval of an amendment to the state constitution to ban gay marriage and prevent the state from recognizing civil unions for same-sex couples. He is senior pastor at Wichita’s Immanuel Baptist Church.

_ SUE GAMBLE: A Shawnee Republican, she is part of the State Board of Education’s four-member anti-Corkins, pro-evolution minority.

_ PHILL KLINE: The Republican attorney general continued to inspire strong feelings - both loyalty and loathing. His fight with two abortion clinics over access to patient records became public, bringing him national attention.

_ MATTHEW LIMON: The 23-year-old began serving a 17-year sentence in 2000 for performing a sex act on a 14-year-old boy, when a sex act with a girl would have resulted in a maximum sentence of 15 months. The Supreme Court declared that disparate treatment unconstitutional in an appeal watched by national groups on both sides of the gay rights debate.

_ DOUG MAYS: As Kansas House speaker, the Topeka Republican often opposed Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ policies, and in May, he announced that he would seek the GOP nomination for governor in 2006. But he dropped out of the race in November.

_ PAUL MIRECKI: As chairman of the University of Kansas religious studies program, he received national attention for planning a class for the spring semester aimed at debunking intelligent design. After Internet messages from him mocking Christian fundamentalists became public, the university canceled the class. He eventually stepped down as the program’s director.

_ JERRY MORAN: Just as in 2001, most of his fellow Republicans were waiting on the 1st District congressman to decide whether he would run for governor the following year. He said no in April, reconsidered in June and dropped out of the race for good in August.

_ CONNIE MORRIS: The St. Francis Republican is a member of the State Board of Education’s conservative bloc - and perhaps its biggest lightning rod. In one newsletter, she called evolution “an age-old fairy tale.” Criticism of her for attending a conference in Florida at state expense led her to reimburse the state nearly $2,900 in expenses.

_ PAUL MORRISON: The longtime Johnson County district attorney announced in October that he was switching parties to run against Kline.

_ TIFFANY MULLER: She was a leader of efforts against the proposed constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage, having played a key role in blocking its passage last year. Appointed to the Topeka City Council, she defeated a vocally anti-gay candidate in the primary but lost her seat in April.

_ KRISHNA RAJANNA: The doctor maintained that scrutiny of his Kansas City, Kan., abortion clinic was political, but abortion opponents said questionable conditions there showed the need for stronger clinic regulation. The Board of Healing Arts suspended his medical license in March, shutting down his clinic, and revoked it in June.

_ ALAN RUPE: The Wichita attorney represents parents and administrators in Dodge City and Salina who sued the state in 1999 over education funding. That lawsuit led to Kansas Supreme Court rulings this year that forced legislators to increase spending by $290 million, or more than 10 percent.

_ KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: The Democratic governor was finishing her third year in office in a relatively strong political position, even in a traditionally GOP state. Prominent Republicans like Moran are avoiding next year’s race, when she is expected to seek a second term, and Time magazine named her one of the five best governors in the nation. Critics suggested her administration showed more spin than substance.

_ JOE WRIGHT: He was another key leader of the efforts to win passage of the marriage amendment. He is senior pastor at Central Christian Church in Wichita.

I JUST WORE OUT!

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:49 am

Remember the guy I complained about who came in the Wesley patient resource room where I use the computer? They guy with the cough from hell? Well, guess what? I couldn’t get out of that room fast enough but he still sprayed his germs all over me and I got his crud. So, I’m home. Ally is with Dane now and I came home to sleep…or try. I just didn’t want him to get what I had, and I needed some rest desperately. My body just wore out on me. I recover pretty fast, thanks to Airborne and Zicam, and easily so I hope this is only a temporary blip. I already feel 100% better after getting some sleep.Eddie Jilka rode down with Ally (she’s taking over the Dane Watch for awhile) yesterday to Wichita (and home with me) to see Dane. They go back a long way to the time they first met at Boy Scout Camp Brown near Abilene when Dane was 12 and Eddie was 14 and they served on the staff together. Dane was always large for his age and all the other boys were 14 or older. When they found out he was only 12, no one wanted to tent with him. Then Eddie stepped forward and asked him to tent with him. That’s Eddie, who he still has the biggest heart in the world.

When I dropped Eddie off in Salina, his parents, Millie and Larry were home so we had a nice visit. It was fun seeing them again. We also go back a long way.

We still don’t know if Dane is going to need another VP Shunt, but may since he is accumulating fluid in his brain. It depends on how it affects him in other ways…disorientation, confusion, nausea, etc. So far, none of those symptoms are evident. If he could only go longer without it, he’d have some recovery time from his surgeries, and time to get stronger. As usual, my biggest concern is infection.

It was nice to get home last night and hug my main squeeze. He’d even gone to KCs and brought home for me a container of homemade chicken noodle soup that Karen had made. I didn’t feel like eating it last night, but it sounds very good now.

Tall Boy and Stix came by and unloaded my car. I’ve lived out of the back end of it for a month, so everything was in sacks and stacks and strewn around in piles I knew how to manage. Now to bleach a load of white clothes that turned that shade “drier blue” in the Wesley machine. I was grateful for the machines!

Everyone has been so good to Dane and me at Wesley. I know so many of them now that I can’t walk the halls without seeing someone from another wing where we’ve been. Even Debbie from Wesley Rehab recognized us as I was leaving yesterday and it was good to see her again.

But, one of the nicest surprises of all was meeting my cousin in the halls of Wesley, quite providentially. I was walking down a long corridor and this guy was suddenly just there and we looked at each other and I thought…hum, looks a lot like Pete Brungardt, then, a couple of strides later, I realized it was my long long cousin, Robin Harris, whom I’ve not seen in years. I turned around and said rather hesitantly…”Robin???” and he wheeled and recognized me too.

My letters to him came back in the mid 80s and I tried for years since then to find him. His brother and wife had died, his mother had died, a cousin from his side had moved and I couldn’t locate him, and I called and wrote every Robin Harris I could find on the internet. You’d be surprised how many of them were in Florida, and other places in the US at the time. I didn’t know where else to turn to find him. His band of many years, “The Wichita Linemen” had disbanded. I even had a friend in the medical field in Wichita look for him and she couldn’t find him. He sells medical devices to othopedic surgeons. So, it was a grand homecoming for us. And it turns out, he’s best friends of two of Dane’s doctors, Abel-Morgan and Rohlman. Neato! He had a very legitimate reason back then for not listing his phone number and just didn’t get around to changing it back. We were so happy to get together again.

Another very good piece of news, but not surprising, is that grandson Stix ended up with an A, two Bs and a C in his courses at K-State this semester, his first. I’m so very proud of him. He’ll be initiated into ATO Fraternity, just like is big bro and my dad. What a nice thing to have happen.

Now to work on the stack of stuff, mainly laundry. I don’t plan to be home long, so I need to get organized to throw things back in my car. Tall Boy is coming by shortly so I’ll see if he’ll run my car through the car wash and sweep it out on the inside. And, I’m going to run myself through my favorite shower upstairs. Dane’s room tub/shower was okay, and certainly was welcome, but I had to shower about 5 am each morning to avoid being in the midst of his health care folk who were constantly in his room.

Thanks to all of you who are hitting my website and blog. When I’m away from my own computer, I can’t access my daily hit list, but it was way up there, I noticed, this morning. 187 already today.

12/20/2005

HERE’S THE PLAN

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 5:49 pm

All the doctors have been in today, as they are every day. Some l.i.n.g.e.r. and talk; others flash in to size up their subject, check the charts and leave. They are nice and willing to answer questions, if I think of any. They all are pleased with Dane’s progress.Tomorrow at 9 am, the “plumber”, as the the urologist refers to himself, is going to insert the catheter directly into Dane’s bladder. That will be more comfortable for Dane and better than the present type of catheter, in the long run.

Then, it’s going to be wait and see about the brain fluid. So far, there is no need to put in another VP shunt; however, the last CT Scan indicated slightly more fluid than the previous one. We’re going to hang around here until Tuesday and sometime before then, they will take another CT Scan. We’ll head back northwest on Tuesday if things are still looking good.

None of us want him to have another shunt inserted. It will only become infected and have to be removed, if evaluations are correct. Let’s cross our fingers on that one.

Mackenzie is going with Luke to Victoria for Christmas. Other family Christmas plans will take place at our house with the remainder of the family and be simple but fun. On Tuesday, Mackenzie, Luke, Dane and I will converge back home in Ellsworth and Wilson and go from there with a family gathering.

At least, that’s the plan. I hope it works out that way. Dane and I don’t mind at all being here over Christmas. That would devastate a lot of people, but not us. We’ll manage just fine with the others who are here for the holidays. Things are a lot worse for a lot of people and we’re doing very well.

Santa and Mrs. Claus were here today with an armload of Christmas cheer. They brought a Christmas tree, all nicely decorated, and lots of fun surprises. I have a year of “Bushisms” on a daily calendar to share with everyone and you know how much I’ll enjoy that. Dane has a new ball cap, some homemade candy, crossword puzzles and microwave popcorn. We had a good visit with the Claus’s.

Things are going well. Dane looks good. He’s pretty weak but he sat on the side of the bed for about 15 minutes today. He needs to get up and around, but it’s really hard after being down for so long. It takes a week to recuperate from every day one is inactive in bed, so I’ve been told.

So, keep your fingers crossed that things continue to go well for Dane. Another week should see the end of our stay here…and we are very grateful for the care we’ve received here.

Time to retreat to the 4th floor and see that Dane gets some help with his dinner. And, after a rather sleepless night, I’m hitting my cot early tonight. Those b.l.o.o.d.-sucking troglodytes that emerge from the bowels of Wesley every morning about 4:00 looking for victims cannot do their work quietly. And they are relentless. If the first one can’t hit a v.e.i.n., a second one appears, and a third…this morning there were four before a merciful one hit her mark. The PICC lines around here are good for administering IVs, but are worthless for drawing b.l.o.o.d. It’s a bummer for Dane.

Thanks for tuning in.

12/19/2005

MAIL BOX

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 3:19 pm


Classicnet says I have a max of 25,600 Kb’s of space available. One day’s mail, where there are attachments, fills it up then they they stop delivering my mail. I can’t do anything about this from here, but if you wouldn’t send pictures, jokes, attachments etc. it would be very helpful. I want to get messages from you, but I’m stymied on this computer and very limited. So, it would be very helpful if you’d limit your letters to short messages. It’s a pain the rear to deal with these limitations and when I get home, I might change servers because of it. Thanks.

BACK ON LINE

Filed under: prairie musings, Dane Britton — Peg Britton @ 2:30 pm

The Wesley computer is fixed, for the time being. I sat here and watched the guy fire it up again. It has been down for several days so I was glad to have it up and running again.Let’s see. They did another CAT scan of Dane’s head this morning, to see about the pressure that might be there. We won’t hear anything on that officially for another day or two. Depending on the results, we should find out whether or not he will need another VP Shunt.

Dr. Rohlman said Dane had another infection in his bladder. It’s constant. She suggested we talk to a urologist and get something resolved about it. So, only moments later the “plumber”, as he referred to himself, arrived and in short order Dane decided to have him insert a super pubic catheter that should be a big help in warding off bladder infections. He’s had a Foley in for over a year now and we see no prospect of having it removed in the near future, so this seemed to be a good alternative. Surgery is scheduled for Wednesday morning. It’s a rather simple, short procedure that should go very smoothly.

We moved out of SICU Friday night and back to Tower room 411. I moved back in with him but spent a miserable night on a camp cot, the likes of which I haven’t seen since my G.I.R.L. Scout days when I weighed about 88 pounds. It was like sleeping on a short 2 x 4. The next morning, I spied a larger roll away in the hall and quickly confiscated it. It’s a dandy and I sleep like a box of rocks on it, especially since Dane has lost all his hoses, except for the vanco drip, so people aren’t coming in every hour announcing their arrival with bull horns.

They pulled the ventriculoscopy ? hose since it wasn’t doing any good anyway. He has a small bandage on that. And, they stopped giving him fluids since he was drinking plenty of fluids anyway. They restapled part of his incision where they removed the bone flap as it was splitting back open. So, the only invasive thing he has going is his PICC line. It’s a good thing to get rid of hoses.

Dane is ready to get back home again. Home being the Wilson Nursing Home. He wants to be back with family and friends.

I’ve avoided all the germs hospitals have to share for a year…and feel very lucky about that. I’ve not had a sign of a cold or anything. But, right now, some young man came in with a cold to end all colds and I’m cutting out of here. He sounds horrible and says I should hear his wife, who is in ICU with the same thing. I bought some Airborn just in case so I’m going to drag it out.

More later when the atmosphere is healthier. First…thank you for the many e-mails and Christmas cards. Dane is reading and enjoying them.

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