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Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 2:37 pm

It’s time for another funny Ringo report.

I’ve noticed a slight stealthiness developing in Ringo since the addition in the family circle of dogs:  Ally’s “Maggie”  and “Bentley”, Karen’s four pound Yorkiepoo. It involves our crow’s nest, of all places.

To give you a short history on “the crow’s nest”—it’s the highest place in the house, remote and rarely frequented these days. It’s a of tower accessed by captain’s stairs and surrounded by a bench with pillows.  It’s mostly windows so the views are great. Brit and I used to go up there in the evening (back in the early days of the house) and have a drink in the evening…watch the sunset or catch a glimpse of the blinking light at the intersection of 156 and old highway 40.  When there was such a light.  We were often joined by friends and we loved our times up there.

Then grand kids came along and the tower was transformed into a library.  I used to read to Mackenzie by the hour…then Drew and Tyler joined ranks with us as we became surrounded by stacks of books accumulated in our “library”.

The library then naturally transformation into Mackenzie’s “school” for her cousins.  She had lessons and instructions for them that kept them captivated for hours on end.  When they tired of “school”, she transformed it into an office and they did a pretend mail order business, fast food and all their explosive minds could imagine.  They had all the bits and pieces of  paraphernalia a teacher/office manager could hope for.  They lived in the tower.

Then, Mackenzie went to Salina to live with her dad and the tower became a video game annex for Drew, Tyler and their friends.  Later the high school boys converged there to play poker and gin rummy.

The tower has been rather unused until recently when I’ve noticed that Ringo, of all peope, has been sneaking up there when he thinks I’m not noticing. He’s been very sneaky about it and it has raised my suspicions about what he is up to.  To get to the tower, he has to creep by the bridge and from my chair in the living room, I can see him trying to see me without me seeing him.  I think he made most of his trips up there when I was in the hospital.

The other day when Deneen was here, my curiosity got the best of me and I asked her to check to see what the heck he was up to.  This huge laugh came from her when she climbed up…with Ringo in hot pursuit…to check on his tower activities.  He has taken all of his toys up there…one by one…and laid them out on the bench.  Every last one of them. He carefully put all the bones on the floor and covered them with pillows in an obvious attempt to hide them from Maggie and Bentley.  He’s just plain tired of sharing his stuff with them anymore.  The last time Maggie was here, as a pup, she chewed up one of his favorite ducks….so now I understand.

Enough is enough.  The tower belongs to Ringo.

Thanks for tuning in…. (it’s good to be back…)


Filed under: prairie musings, friends — Peg Britton @ 1:58 pm


My young friend, Nick, bagged a tom on opening day. Yes, there are an abundance of turkeys in the county and they are better off in Nick’s sights than on a windshield.  Yes, he cleaned it with help from his uncle…and…I’m led to believe he’ll also be cooking it if he wants to eat it.  That’s the way it should be with hunters, don’t you think?  Neat kid, that Nick!


Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 1:27 pm

This week Kansas lost one very talented, classy lady when she was confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services for the Obama administration. The connections she and her staff will return to Kansans are limitless and priceless. She’s been an exceptionally, good Governor.

Had you stopped to think about the logistics this move of hers entailed?  It makes my head swim and I can only guess at what’s apparent on the surface of such a move. Deeper, you’ll find the devil in the details that we’ll never know.

The Governor has lived in “public housing” provided her by the State of Kansas since she was elected.  As far as I know, Cedar Crest is her only home.  It’s where all her “stuff” is located.  Her sons called it “home”.

So, picture her, if you will, sitting in the Senate “confirmation chair” knowing she’ll be homeless once they administer their approval for her appointment.

She didn’t have time to give thought to being homeless given the fact she immediately will oversee about 65,000 employees in several federal agencies, including FDA, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

She didn’t have time to give thought to her detractors who have long complained about her women’s rights stance and who will long complain the only reason she received confirmation was due to the emerging swine flu pandemic.  Those folk, few in number, are now after Sen. Sam Brownback for supporting her.  He did what was politically expedient for Sam, as always.

When she gets the nod she turns the reins for Kansas leadership over to Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson, then flies to Washington and takes her oath of office for HHS.  Did she even have time to pack a suitcase?  Certainly, she hasn’t had time to buy or rent a house in DC prior to her confirmation.   Where are she and her husband living?  Where is he going to live and work?  Who is packing all their possessions that are housed in Cedar Crest?  One doesn’t generally make that kind of move without a lot of attention given to minute detail.  She’s not had time for such trivial pursuits.

I don’t know of many women, other than Kathleen, who could take such steps in stride without glazed over eyes.  It’s dazzling to think about, but she is one unusual woman and she’ll make it work.  It would be interesting to know how it all transpired.  She was never one to take the easy, less-traveled road.

Meantime, on her first day in her new office, she’s faced with a near pandemic….

Congratulations, Kathleen.



Filed under: prairie musings, political musings — Peg Britton @ 11:20 am

Getting downstairs is a tad tricky these days, but navigating up the stairs is the big obstacle ahead of me since my legs…limbs…are like wet spaghetti noodles.  Oh well.  This too shall pass.  I’m not sure I’ll ever regain any muscle tone, but there are worse things others have with which to contend.

Mackenzie is on the prowl for a Dell laptop for me which will keep me better connected to the outside world. Once Todd claims the hand-carved chess set my friend, Ann Boyle, bought for him in Ghana about 50 years ago, I have a spot for it.  Things are getting better by the day.

Ally, Todd, Karen and I gathered at KCs for breakfast this morning and caught up on family activities for the week.  In recent years Brit and Ally enjoyed their exclusive Sunday morning biscuits and gravy breakfasts and it continues.  He’s very much part of our conversations, usually in a very funny way.

All manner of activities are whirling around the county that I’ve missed.  Dern.  My camera is at the ready, but I’m not there.  This weekend was the Ranch Rodeo which I hope was very well attended.  Yesterday they had the open house for the new art gallery and that was a fine gathering, according to to Meredith who stopped by to fill me in on those successes and to share cookies she baked for the event. She has been here on a regular basis keeping track of where she thinks I should be…in or out of the hospital.

Friday is a big night at the ECF and I’m looking forward to attending. There will be a spaghetti supper and three short plays put on by inmates.  The response from the public has been very good and it appears it will be well attended.  It’s Todd’s treat!

Swine flu outbreak is not good.  There are cases in Kansas and with air travel being what it is, novel strains of influenza can spread like wildfire.  This is one to take very seriously.  Wash your hands…wash your hands…wash your hands!!!

Sam Brownback is supporting the appointment of Kathleen Sebelius to head HHS despite her pro-choice stance and is in trouble with his own right wing extremist group. As my friend, Mousie Cat says, “Abortion is not the be-all and end-all of public policy. And in the last survey I saw, a majority of the public supports the right to choose. The tyranny of Operation Rescue and their ilk may be coming to an end, when even Sam Brownback fails to toe their line.”

The following comment from Arthur Bagyants is a keeper.  This comment is on gay marriage, but it applies to all the right wing talking points on judicial activism.

“One of the reasons we have courts is to dispassionately defend the rights existing in the constitution; to defend against the tyranny of the majority. We should never subject minority rights to majority vote. Wouldn’t that be like two wolves and a sheep voting on what to eat for dinner?”

Back later…at least that is my intention.  Raining….and tornado sirens are blaring…

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 1:24 pm

What a relief to be among the living again…and getting better.  I’m not completely in remission yet, but closing the gap.  Another month ought to see me fit as a fiddle once again.

Our local brilliant internist (a rare and treasured breed these days) has said that, generally speaking, what I have is “multiple mixed connective tissue disorder syndrome”.  It can’t be called exclusively Lupis but it probably contains part of it.  My blood tests yesterday indicated vast improvement.  My hemoglobin that was 4 something is back up to 14. My sed rate that was 118 is now back to 34. The other levels that were too far above the charts to even record are back in high normal range.

I’d just had a good physical with the same doctor five days before this hit me like a load of bricks and there was no indication of anything amiss.  It hit that fast.  Although they missed it in Salina, he knew immediately I was not having a heart attack nor did I have pneumonia.  Very bright man. Lupis related, he said.  And he was on the mark.

So, I’m tapering off steroids (what horrible stuff, but necessary to contain the problem) and should be off in a month without ballooning up like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. No more antibiotics.  Infection was never an issue but they had to make sure.  And, strangely enough, I’m on malaria treatment meds twice a day for the rest of my life.  The tricky thing will be to balance the malaria meds with my immune system (however that works) so my body doesn’t become a toxic waste dump yet has enough stuff to keep this from returning. The slightest thing….like a cold or flu shot…could trigger it again, so we’ll hope the malaria meds keep it under control.

So, enough of sick talk.  Other than the usual childhood illnesses and some surgical repair work, this is my real first experience at “being sick-sick” …and it could be much worse, so I’m not complaining. I’ve enjoyed excellent health all my life, so I expect it to continue. I’ve never broken anything, had any joint replacements, or artificial parts,  and have all my own teeth.  Hey…how good can life get?

Getting back to my daily routine of blogging will take a bit…but I do have lots to say.  After all, while I was flaked out in my blue chair in the living room I watched MSNBC and the food channel networks to pass the time.  I’ve missed my mail and all your nice messages.  I’ll catch up, but give me a little time.

It’s good to be back….now to sort through mail.  Mackenzie cleaned it up for me ..and blogged in my absence…and I thank her enormously.

Thanks again for staying tuned….I really, really do appreciate it.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:07 pm

*Phew* By now (almost 10PM) I think we should all have our taxes in :)

I just talked to grandma and she is doing better than a couple days ago but still has a long way to go.  The doctor told her exactly that… she has a long way to get all the way ‘better’ and once she does, it’s going to be a lot of work to maintain her health and know exaclty what medications will keep her in balance.  There is a specialist in Multiple Connective Tissue Disorder that she will be seeing in the next couple of weeks.  Basically right now they can’t tell if it is Lupus, M.S., Rhematoid Arthritis, etc.  The doctor is leaning towards Lupus but is not sure.  They are going to run more blood tests on Monday to check that theory out.

Otherwise she is just busy taking medication and staying rested.  For those of you that haven’t been to her house - her computer is located down a set of spiral stairs, and so getting down there would be a lot of effort… and she’s worried if she got down there she couldn’t get back up.  We’re in talks about a laptop or bringing her computer upstairs… will see which one makes more sense.

Tonight she had me go through her email as she was sure it was building up.  It was! She had over 600 messages… many of them “get well” messages that I read to her over the phone… she thanks everyone for the cards, messages, phone calls, emails, etc.

Her blood sugar is getting kind of crazy - this morning when she woke up it was 60-something which is near “passing out” state, then when I was talking to her on the phone tonight it was 600 which is again, near “passing out” state.  She called the hospital and told them it was so high and they said to wait an hour and check it again.  For the waking up with 60-something she’s probably going to have to start eating some crackers in the middle of the night when she wakes up.  She’s not too excited about that but will do what she needs to.

Tonight she said a lot of people around town have remarked that she spent so much time taking care of my dad and grandpa that all the stress of it must have come down on her.  I asked her if she realized that she got sick exactly 1 year to the day of grandpa getting sick.  She said she hadn’t made that connection and was pretty puzzled by it.  I hadn’t brought it up initially but it was painfully obvious to Luke and I.  March 21 was the 1 year anniversary of my dad’s funeral… and all through March we hit really hard landmarks (my dad’s bday, date of death, grandma & grandpa’s anniversary, funeral date) and we kept saying “we’ll be fine on the 22nd when this is all behind us!” So you can imagine my terror when we got the phone call on the 22nd that grandma was going to the hospital.

It is crazy how life takes us in circles and we never know where we’ll end up.

Anyway, sorry for the lack of posts - both Luke and I are down with bronchitis… we’re both on antibiodics now and I hope the bug leaves the house ASAP! This weekend we’re going to Austin for a Texas Young Democrats convention and we both hope we’ll feel better so we can participate in everything without feeling so yucky.

So - rest assured that grandma is doing fine and seems to be feeling better each day.  I knew she was feeling better when she wanted me to start going through mail and what-not.  It’s just a really slow process and until we get a computer upstairs for her, she’s off the grid.  She said today was kind of miserable because she didn’t even want to watch TV with all the Tea Protests… I’m with her there.  There was a protest in Rockwall and we saw LITTLE kids holding up protest signs along wth their parents.  Kids so little they probably can’t even read what is on the sign.  There are lots of things wrong with our nation but what hurt me most today was seeing those children.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:06 am

Just got off the phone with grandma and she says she feels (and sounded!) a lot better.  They just drained about a liter of fluid off her left lung.  Last night they did a CT to be sure there was not a blood clot in her lungs and it showed that everything was ok, just that there was fluid on both lungs - more on the left lung than the right.

The diagnosis for the moment seems to be Multiple Connective Tissue Disease - we’re not exactly sure what that means but it seems that she may have Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and other diseases.  They’ve started her on steroids.  And judging by the very cheerful tone in her voice she is also on some pain medication :) (Not that she’s not normally cheerful - this is just the cheer I usually only hear when our good friend, Grey Goose, has made a stop at her house) :)

So for now things are looking good - she will likely stay in the Ellsworth Hospital (not go to Salina).  And she hopes to get released tonight although there seemed to be a little discussion in the background about whether that was very likely.  I think once her happy juice wears off a bit she may be a little more sore than she realized.

For all intents and purposes the doctor thinks that once the lung problem has been resolved that things should be able to be kept under control… her blood sugar has gone crazy and he said they can get that back in line easily, but most of all he is surprised she is just now being diagnosed with this condition.  He said most people are younger (50s-60s) when they get it, and it makes aging very difficult with the crippling effects the arthritis has on joints.

The steroids will be an interesting adjustment, she said a side effect is that they may make her hyper, but she said that was ok and she could use some hyper in her life.  They also may make it harder for her to sleep but she’s sure her new mattress will cure that.  All in all she is very positive which is the most important thing of all, and we are all relieved that the diagnosis seems to be relatively managable considering the other scary things that could have come with the symptoms she was having.

I will update once there is more news.  Luke and I are keeping quiet this weekend and staying away from any Easter traffic.  We’ve both been really busy and have some catching up to do around the house.  Hope the Easter Bunny finds you all and brings your favorite treat.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 7:42 pm

Well, grandma is back in the hospital.  They got some of her tests back and the mystery disease is possibly rheumatoid arthritis.  Evidently it can attack any joint or organ in your body and she has the classic symptoms of it attacking her lungs.  So they have put her back in the hospital, tomorrow they will drain fluid from the space between her lung and body cavity again for comfort purposes, and do a CT amongst other things.  She got a new bed 3 days ago and said the 2 nights she had on it were wonderful, and now she’s stuck in a hospital bed - darn.  She said it seemed comfortable at first but as I talked to her she was squirming around saying it didn’t seem as comfortable as she thought… :)

I will keep you all updated.  The “card shower” is still on - I’m sure someone will be checking her mail so continue on - I picked up a card tonight and so did Luke.  :)


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 1:35 pm

Just talked to grandma on the phone and she is feeling worse today than yesterday, so this afternoon she’s going back to the doctor.  She said she gets up around 9:00AM and it takes her until about noon to “get ready” for the day.  Just too winded and tired to get things done quickly… not her style.

She appreciated hearing from everyone in the comments.

If you would like to send her a get well card, email me at and I’ll give you her PO Box.  If you don’t mind, give me a little blurb about how you know her or at least what your name is so I can make sure no one abuses this :) I think I know most of her regulars (Hi Cheryl, Sheryl, Linda, Janet, Cathy, Susan, Janis, Rose and many more!) and it will be fine :) Maybe we can “shower” her with get well cards… that would be nice for her to open since she can’t get to her email right now.  So those in Ellsworth who already know her address - shower her!

I would say stick to cards for now… talking is just really labored for her in that it makes her cough, so I’ve been keeping my conversations to a minimum… so I don’t want to offer 1,000 phone calls that becomes more tedious than helpful.

Thanks everyone - grandma is so lucky to have you all in her life!



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 3:00 pm

This is Mackenzie again.  Just talked to grandma and the other day she went to the hospital and they drained some fluid from her lung which helped her breathing a lot.  They ran cultures on the fluid but are stumped and said it is not pneumonia.  So now they are running lots and lots of extra tests on it to determine what it is.

She feels ‘ok’ but definitely not like her usual self.  Just walking across the room gets her out of breath and that is really frustrating for her.  She said she slept really well last night.  But talking is a problem - talking seems to irritate her throat or lungs or whatever and causes her to cough a lot - so she has to keep her conversations to a minimum.

She said to tell everyone hi and that she wishes she had the energy to get on and blog.  I told her that once we figure out what is going on, I may come move her computer upstairs so that she can get on it without braving stairs… but she said for now even if she was right in front of it she just doesn’t have the energy to be on it.

So keep your fingers crossed that we get some good news and it is something that can be wiped out via medication or whatnot, and leave comments to this message and I’ll pass them on to grandma over the phone.

Thanks everyone - and as always, thanks for your well wishes to grandma.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 7:19 pm


All is well with Maggie. Now that all the dogs are in place….Maggie, Sam, Haley, Teddy and Ringo…we can celebrate Ringo’s birthday!  What a great April Fools’ Day this has been.

Yes, Maggie does have quite a tongue!


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