Friday, March 30, 2007

Go Take a Hike

Saturday morning was very busy for Dale. He was admitted to the hospital and subjected to a grueling regiment of testing. He didn’t want us sitting around the hospital, and told us to “take a hike or something”. After making certain that our presence wasn’t needed, we followed his advice.

Wolf knew just where to go. We piled into his Element and headed for the hills (or mountains, in this case). The drive was beautiful. If you are ever in the Denver/Broomfield area, just hop on um, er, well, the road that leads to Boulder. Then take a turn or two or three and you will find yourself at the head of a beautiful hiking trail (aren’t you glad I’m not your navigator?).

The parking lot was full, so we parked about ¼ of a mile from it and climbed down to the trail. Ok, some of us climbed down; others (who shall remain nameless) slipped on the rocks and slid down on our bums.

We started up the trail, marveling at the beauty around us. Kay hadn’t spent much time in the Boulder area, so she was quite enthralled with the ruggedness of the mountains and the geology of the outcroppings. All of us were, to be honest. It was a wonderful break and exactly what we needed.

We walked for several miles. People on mountain bikes whizzed by; narrowly missing us several times. The sights and sounds and smells were intoxicating. We all agreed that we felt more alive and more relaxed than we had in a very long time. By the time we left, we felt ready to help Dale fight the battle of a lifetime.

Below are more photos from the trip.

Old bridge pilings.

A tiny waterfall.

I was liken the blue lichen.

Just pretty clouds and neat peaks.

I'd really like to learn to do that!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Music to Grow Cells By

With all of the yucky business this weekend, I wasn’t able to tell you all about the wonderful time we had taking Dale out on the town the night before he went into the hospital. So now, with most of the unpleasantness behind me (hopefully), I want to share that with you.

It was Dale’s last night of freedom in a minimum of 3 months so we wanted to make it special. Kay, Wolf and I picked Dan and Dale up at the hotel and went to a Mexican restaurant Dale had been eyeing since his arrival in town.

We sat at a large table near the back and laughed and talked about old times, carefully avoiding discussion of the reason we were all in Denver. Dale ate his fill (and then some) of the delicious food and we went back to the motel. Dan wanted to turn in for the night so Wolf, Kay and I decided to kidnap Dale and take him out on the town. It didn’t take much to convince Dale to leave his fate in our hands for the night.

Off we went.

Since Dale was scheduled to have 2 days of intensive chemotherapy followed by 4 days of very strong radiation therapy, twice per day, he needed something to occupy his mind. Dale has always been a music fan. For the last 20 or so years he has amassed a huge collection of Jazz. He is also very knowledgeable about the artists and the history. He asked if we might find a place to purchase some music for his collection and to listen to while he was undergoing radiation (the part that scared him the most).

Wolf knew just where to take him and we headed downtown to the Virgin Records Megastore. Dale had never been to Denver before and he was very excited to have the opportunity to see the sights. Downtown Denver is quite beautiful at night and we all gawked like the tourists we were. We parked in a parking lot right on the edge of “everything” and started walking towards the store.

It was obvious that the sights and sounds were very exciting to Dale. It was Friday night and there were thousands of people walking in the warm night air. Horse drawn carriages traveled along the cobblestone and jazz music could be heard far off in the distance. Dale stopped walking and I asked if he was okay.

“Yeah, just taking it all in.” he said, with tears in his eyes and a big smile on his face. We stood with him until he was ready to move on.

Our first stop was the record store. As we approached the massive building, Dale’s eyes lit up. The look was priceless and one I’ll never forget. It was as if every dream he’d ever had was coming true. I felt such joy seeing his face; I can’t begin to describe the feeling. I looked at Wolf and he looked back at me. We both had tears in our eyes.

When we walked through the door, Dale let out an audible gasp. I asked if he was okay and he just smiled.

“I could never have imagined it this big,” he said, sticking his tongue out at me.

Wolf located the Jazz section and led Dale over to the Miles Davis records. Dale’s eyes lit up as he saw the huge collection of his favorite artist’s CD’s. He started flipping through them and was astounded to discover the diversity available to him. It didn’t take long for him to find the exact CD he was looking for; “Sketches of Spain”. He had the album at home, but hadn’t brought it with him.

Dale beamed at Wolf and Wolf beamed back. Kay and I looked at each other and grinned. What a happy, joyful time.

Kay and I continued to browse while Dale told Wolf some of the history of Miles Davis’ career. Dale told him about Red Garland, a pianist in the Miles Davis quartet who had eventually formed his own group. He said he’d love to get his hands on a CD of his, “At the Prelude”. It was at that moment that Dale noticed the display he’d been standing next to.

I’ve never seen that look on his face before. It was as if, at that moment, he knew everything was going to be alright. He picked up the CD and held it in his hand.

“This,” he said, “is music to grow cells by”.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Laurie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Today was not a very good day.

When I went out to get in my car to go to the hospital, I discovered that the driver's side front window had been smashed in and my stereo and other items had been "liberated". A vehicle next to mine had the same type of damage and there was a card on my console from a Broomfield Police Department officer, asking me to call. I placed the call and was told he wasn't in, but I could leave a voicemail if I wanted. That was hours ago. Still no return call. I called my insurance company and they said that an adjuster would contact me within 48 hours.

Honestly, I was pretty unnerved. I called my son who offered comforting words and told me it happened all the time and to call the cops and my insurance company.

I called my brother and he suggested that I could probably have the glass replaced sooner if I didn't go through the insurance company. He looked up several glass replacement companies and sent me their phone numbers. I finally found one that was open and they said they would come over tomorrow and put in a new window.

Being a woman of action (and a woman afraid of another rainstorm like yesterday's) I walked to the nearest box store to pick up some plastic for the window and gloves to clean the glass out of the car.

I found the items I needed and picked up some duct tape to help with the repair. I paid for the items and left the store, walking toward Wolf's apartment. As I neared home I caught sight of a man walking behind me. I stepped up the pace a bit and crossed the street. He did the same. I'm fairly tall and can walk pretty fast, so I picked up the pace again. I glanced around and he was still there. Remembering that I often have trouble with the lock on the apartment door, I decided not to go to there. I think my reaction had to do with the fight or flight response (obviously I picked flight), I won't kid you, I was scared shitless.

I walked at top speed for several blocks, and he fell further behind. I saw a group of people gathered around a church and walked toward them. He slowed, then stopped and finally turned around. I hovered on the edge of the crowd until I could be sure he was out of sight and high-tailed it to the apartment. My heart was beating a mile a minute by the time I managed to unlock the door and step inside. My hands were shaking so much I could barely lock the door behind me. I looked around the apartment to be sure I was alone and made certain the windows were locked. I had been planning to take the bus to the hospital, but fear over-ruled desire and I decided not to go.

To be honest, I was pretty shaken up. I have camped and hiked alone in the mountains of Montana and Wyoming, dozens of times, without fear. I have driven all over, alone, and nothing but my own driving and lack of direction, has frightened me. This, however, scared the hell out of me. I felt violated.

It took almost an hour to get up the nerve to go outside and put the plastic over my shattered window. As I knelt on the ground cleaning the glass from the seat and floor, I started to cry. Probably a dozen people walked through the parking lot and saw me and not one single person said a word to me. Not one.

At that point, all I wanted to do was to say f*ck screw goodbye Denver and go back to my small town and curl up with my kitties. If there hadn't been a gaping hole in my window, I might have gone inside, gathered up my things and headed for home. But I would have regretted my decision and turned around and come back. Being here isn't about me, it's about Dale.

And now, hours later, after being comforted by family (thanks, Mike and Wolf) and dear friends (thanks, you know who you are) and a cheap bottle of wine (or two), I am once again feeling secure enough to open the window and let in the warm Colorado breeze.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


I don't have time to put together much of a post today. But I will say that Dale is doing better than expected. He's got a lot of heart and determination.

We've spent a lot of time talking about our lives and what we'd do differently if given the chance. We've talked about how much his illness has changed us all, making us stronger and more willing to give and receive love.

He wanted to me to tell you all how much he appreciates being in your thoughts and prayers.

Right now, he is longing for home. I guess everyone longs for something. I know I do.

Friday, March 23, 2007

More Adventures

Once Wolf had led us safely to his apartment, we hauled our things up and settled in. Tired from the trip, but still giggly and silly, we all talked non-stop for several hours; then went to bed. We awoke the next morning to blue skies and birds chirping. Wolf went to work and Cousin Kay and I puttered around the apartment, waiting for word from the boy cousins. We went walking twice (and yes, we got lost both times), to the store (don’t ask) and I introduced Kay to blogging.

Around 6 pm we finally heard from the boy cousins. Their day had been a busy one; doctor’s appointments and running around town picking up the items Dale would need for his long hospital stay. They were tired and had decided to order in dinner and stay close to the room. We were disappointed, to say the least, but understood their need to relax. After Wolf got off of work, he took us shopping and out to dinner.

Wolf took Friday off, which was great fun. Dan wanted to take Dale to his appointments, so Wolf took us to downtown Denver to look around. Kay is a huge fan of Starbucks, so Wolf made sure to take her to the Starbucks that is across the street from a Starbucks.

Yeah, I know I cut off the rbuc...

I thought Wolf was teasing when he said they were right across the street from each other, but it's true! I stood in the same spot and took both of these photos.

This is the capital building. I love the dome.

The park across from the capital was full of squirrels. Probably because all of the politicans are nuts...

This little guy wasn't at all afraid of me or my camera...

I always have to take one shot from the middle of the street. At least this time no one tried to run over me.

And that concludes my tour of downtown Denver. Later tonight, or tomorrow if time permits, I will share with you the story of what happened the night before Cousin Dale went into the hospital.

Until then, take care everyone. Please keep my Cousin Dale in your thoughts and prayers as the next several days are critical for him.

Please remember to hug the people you care about today and tell them you love them. Life is short and time is precious. Always remember that.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Last Lost Adventure (we can only hope)

As some of you may have noticed, I occasionally lose my way in conditions of heavy traffic or in unfamiliar territory. There have even been times when I’ve taken a misstep or two in somewhat recognizable areas. Okay, and maybe once or twice I’ve gotten lost in my own home, but come on people, who among us hasn’t lost our way going from the kitchen to the living room?

It has been pointed out (a time or two) that there are devices out there for people with my particular disability and some people have even suggested I look into procuring such an apparatus. With that in mind, I did a bit of research.

There are many wonderful navigational devices available for purchase.

There’s a Garmin hand-held device.

And there’s a Garmin navigational system that is mounted in the car. I see Mr. Garmin was able to locate High Street

One can purchase a Magellan Road Mate,

or even a TOM TOM GO.

I seriously, and I do mean SERIOUSLY considered purchasing something along these lines or trading in my car for something equipped with Onstar.

However, because I have the world’s most incredible son, I no longer have to worry about getting lost!

Presenting for your viewing pleasure…

Not only can this device be used to take photos and make phone calls, this marvelous invention comes complete with VZ Navigator, including My Places, Local Search, and HELP! The help feature seemed especially appealing to my son. I’m not sure why.

All I have to do is type in (or do a search for) the destination address and this incredible piece of technology plots a course. It warns me when a turn is coming, even telling me what lane to be in! It suggests, in a sweet voice, that I should stay in the right lane and prepare for a right hand turn. A little gauge on the screen indicates how far, in feet, it is to the next turn-off and a large arrow points in the correct direction, just in case I mistake right for left (not that it could happen, this feature is for other folks...yea that’s right).

Anyway, I’ve been to the hospital numerous times. I’ve gone to Walmart, Target, Krogers and several other places in this bustling metropolis and I have yet to get lost to the point that my Navigator Lady can’t direct me home. Sure, there have been times I’ve tried her patience; “Please make the next available legal U-Turn” and “Recalculating Route” seem to be her favorite phrases, but for the most part we get along just fine.

Now if she could just make the traffic go away...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Lewis and Clark, the Lost Episodes, Part XXII.V

My dear son, a.k.a. Help Desk, Tech Support and Mr. Google Earth, tried to put together a Google Map for me to post that showed the path we took trying to find the hospital. He spent quite a bit of time on it and finally threw up his hands in disgust because they would only let him plot out 10 stops. We had many, many, many, many, many, many, many more than that. Hence I will just attempt to explain it to you.

Here's how it went. Kay had been to Children's Hospital several times for varying reasons. I imagine she will mention it on her blog (which you really must check out) some day, so I won't talk about it here. Anyway, she had been to that location many times and thought she had a pretty good idea how to get there.

We drove down um, er, well, "I Don't Know Street" and then turned on to "What the Heck Avenue". We followed that for several miles until we came to "The Street Named after a President". Kay said to turn "right", which I did, however, apparently her right and my right are two different directions, so I had to make the loop around again. I turned left (a.k.a. Kay's right) and we followed "The Street Named after Yet Another President" until we came to…..drum roll please….THE HOSPITAL!

We were home free! We had directions, sent to us by the kind folks at the hospital, which would take us directly to the hotel! I can tell you, we were feeling pretty confident at this point. Giggling and laughing, we said things like "all roads lead to the hotel" and "nothing but net" (I did mention we were exhausted at this point, didn't I?).

We circled the hospital looking for High Street; no success. We tried it from a different direction, still nothing. We went one more time around the hospital and still nada (by that time I was starting to think that whoever put the map together was probably high).

Around and around and around we went, searching "high" and low for High Street. Every time we passed the entrance to the hospital I'd say "Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament", giggling uncontrollably (did I mention that I get extremely silly when I’m tired?). By about the tenth pass I was nearly hysterical, and I'm pretty sure Kay was concerned for my mental health. She kept muttering something about the psych ward...

We finally abandoned the map altogether and (men, cover your eyes and ears here, I don’t want to offend your sensibilities) decided to ask for directions. We saw a very friendly looking woman talking on her cell phone in front of a house a few blocks from Parliament (see, it still cracks me up). She was very friendly and gave us directions to the hotel, which was about 5 miles away. She said to take a right at the next intersection and follow that street to Quebec Street.

Woohoo!! We were “on the road again”.

We took the appropriate turn and started driving. The very nice blonde woman said we couldn’t miss Quebec Street. We drove and we drove and we drove and we….well you get the picture. No Quebec Street. Eventually we came to Lafayette Street and Kay got very excited. “See,” she said, “we are in the French section now, Quebec should be right up here!” I got the giggles again. About 5 miles later, give or take, we abandoned yet another plan.

We finally called the Help Desk (my son) again for assistance. We told him our current location and he mapquested a route to the hotel for us. I was weak from a mixture of laughter and exhaustion, but finally, the Red Lion Central Denver came into view! We rubbed our hands in anticipation. I kept saying over and over, “The Holy Grail is within our grasp.” Kay giggled in delight.

And then the Grail slipped through our fingers. We missed the d&mn turnoff to the hotel and ended up on an off-ramp to I-70!


I won’t bore you with any more of our lost adventures. To sum it up, we called the boy cousins and they HAD found the hotel and were already settled in. We called my son, yet again, for directions to his house, and he suggested we meet him at his work instead. We (and I know this is going to shock you) missed the turn to his work and called him from a shopping center. Fortunately, he was just getting off of work and met us there. He took us out to dinner at a Chinese Restaurant in the shopping mall. I went to use the rest room, turned the wrong way coming out and ended up in the kitchen.

After dinner, my son had us follow him to his apartment.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lewis and Clark, the Lost Episodes, Part II

Cousin Danny was a bit nervous about driving in Denver. Realistically I don’t think he’d ever driven in a town larger than Billings, MT, population not-so-much (okay, maybe 100,000), so he called us to ask that we stop to gas up and discuss our strategy for finding the hotel and hospital.

We pulled in to the Little America Truck Stop in Cheyenne, Wyoming at around 2 pm. Having been to Denver many times, I knew that our window of opportunity for an easy trip through the city was already closed. It would be bumper to bumper, and in some cases, bumper in bumper traffic all the way. I warned Danny that we would have to try to stick together as best we could, and he agreed to stay on my tail all the way.

Things went pretty well at first. Danny followed so closely that I joked he was channeling me. I bobbed, he bobbed. I weaved, he weaved. The traffic got thicker and thicker. I bobbed, he weaved. YIKES! I slowed way down (easier said than done in 6 full lanes of traffic—I know I’m preaching to the choir here to all of you urban dwellers, but I’m a country chick with not a whole lot of city driving experience and Cousin Dan had even less), hoping that he would find his way to us. No sign of him. I was so busy watching the rear-view mirror that I missed our exit.


Kay grabbed my cell and tried to call. No answer.


The only thing we could do was go to the next exit and try to backtrack, hoping and praying that Dan and Dale were having better luck than us.

Backtracking…easier said than done for Lewis and Clark. Somehow our canoe got pointed the wrong way and we ended up at Denver International Airport. How, oh how, did we do that, you ask? Well, personally I’m blaming Mapquest. I mean, really, go south for .7 miles….if I knew which direction south was, I wouldn’t be lost now, would I? Have they ever heard of right and left? Apparently not! After visiting D.I.A., we had a nice drive-by of the Denver Zoo and the federal prison. We also found a rather nifty lake with rustic rest room facilities (which were badly needed).

After a really long time (I’m too embarrassed to say exactly how long) we gave up on finding the hotel and decided (to try to) find the hospital and then use the directions the hospital sent us to get to the hotel. How difficult could it be to find Presbyterian Saint Luke's Hospital? We knew what street it was on and Kay had been to the hospital across the street from it. Sounds relatively simple, doesn’t it?


To be continued…

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lewis and Clark, the Lost Episodes...

And so the saga continued...

Kay and I went into a gas station to ask the attendant how to get back on track. She told us we could either drive the 80 or so miles back to the Y that I had missed, or take a 2 lane highway from Gillette over to Douglas, Wyoming. We discussed it with the men-folk and chose the 2 lane road because it cut over 100 miles from the trip.

Once again, we took to the road, ladies in the front, boys behind, trying to keep up (did I mention I have a lead foot?).

We passed miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles of…..nothing, seeing zilch but flattened rabbits in the road. Kay and I, both animal lovers, were saddened by the carnage, but eventually tiredness and our inevitable silliness took over and we started calling them flat jacks. I know, I know…but to our tired little Norwegian pea brains, it was either laugh or cry about it, so we chose to laugh.

Kay and I giggled and laughed the whole way, so it seemed like only minutes to us, but probably days to the cousins behind us. A short (and I do mean SHORT) cell phone conversation confirmed that the guys wanted to have lunch, so as soon as we reached Douglas, I began looking for a restaurant. And guess what? (I know you are going to be shocked here) I got lost…in Douglas, Wyoming; population 5,288.

Round and round town we went, trying to find a place to eat. We drove down every single street (all five of them) and a couple of alleyways. By the time we found an eatery, Cousin Dale (a.k.a. Leukemia Boy—his words, not mine) had started calling us Lewis and Clark.

We had a quick bite to eat and headed toward Denver.

Really…I promise.

To be continued…

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I Must Hurry and Catch Up to Them, For I Am Their Leader

I started to write this Wednesday night. Things have been hectic here, to say the least, so the blog has been put on the back burner. I finally have a few spare minutes to finish it up, but don’t expect too much.

We arrived in
Denver without incident, but not for the lack of trying. But was it really without incident? I guess it would depend upon how you define the word. Wiktionary defines it as "a designed, sudden, and unfortunate event", and I can promise you that most of what happened yesterday was not designed. Some of it, however, was sudden and some might even think, unfortunate.

The adventure began at 4:00 am on Wednesday morning, when I staggered crawled out of bed to shower and load the car for the trip to Denver. Despite having gone to bed just a few hours before, I was looking forward to the day because it meant that I would be spending time with two of my favorite people; my cousins Kay (who has just started a blog that you MUST check out) and Dale.

After numerous trips in and out of the house, the car was loaded and I was ready to go. It was 5:00 am. The plan (which had finally been revealed to me around 11 pm the night before) was for me to meet Kay, Dale and Dale's brother Danny in a town around 80 miles from home. From there we would "convoy" to Denver; Dale and Danny in one car and Kay and I in the other.

Since Kay and I been to Denver many times before and neither Danny or Dale had driven the route, it was decided that Kay and I would take the lead and the boys would follow. Danny would do the driving so that Dale could relax in anticipation of his upcoming bone marrow transplant.

Previous posts have made mention of the fact that I am Norwegian. This set of cousins are also Norwegian, and as I told a good friend a few days ago, Norwegians are notoriously directionally impaired. Leif Erickson was looking for the Spice Islands when he discovered America and the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, at least not in this case.

We left Hardin and headed down I-90 toward Buffalo, WY. Kay and I had the music cranked and were talking and laughing. I checked the rear-view mirror frequently to be sure the cousins were behind us. We blazed by Sheridan and headed for Denver.

About an hour later, Kay announced that she needed to “rest”. I called Cousin Danny on the cell and arranged to take a short pit stop and gas up at Casper.

As we neared town, I said, out loud, “Are you sure this is Casper?” Kay assured me that it was. We missed the first couple of exits (don’t ask) and realized we were running out of “town”, so we pulled in to the last exit and headed back towards “Casper”. We fueled and grabbed some coffee and headed back toward the highway.

We hit the off-ramp and headed toward Denver. Or so we thought. The first highway sign we came to said “Moorcroft 15 miles”. Moorcroft I thought to myself. MOORCROFT? My mind reeled. I didn’t remember passing by Moorcroft on my way to Denver in August of ‘06. Was this a new city? Had it sprung up in the months since I’d last traveled to Denver? Obviously I was grasping at mental straws…

With my poor confused cousin Danny following behind, I took the next available exit and headed back the way we came. As we neared the city I spotted a sign that said “Welcome to Gillette”.


Somehow, about a hundred miles back, I had missed a Y in the road. Instead of being close to Colorado, we were actually nearly in South Dakota. For those of you not familiar with the geography of my part of the US…going from Montana to Denver through South Dakota is not a short cut. We were seriously off course.

Kay and Dale and I laughed hysterically, but to put it mildly, Cousin Danny was not amused.

To be continued…

And by the way, today is my one year blogversary. I'd have never imagined, just a year ago, that my little adventure in blogging would give me so much pleasure and introduce me to all of you. I feel truly blessed to be a part of this wonderful community.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Stuffies from the Land Down Under

A month or so ago, I wrote a story about my love for stuffed animals. My blogger friend Carol, from Australia, left a comment saying that she had some stuffies that she thought would like to come to America to live with me. After a series of email exchanges, she determined that I would be able to provide a good home for her beloved furries.

What follows is the story of their arrival in the USA.

Thank you Carol for entrusting me with your stuffies. I promise to take good care of them.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The What the H*ll is it Contest...

My last post was depressing, so I took it down. I'd like to thank all of the fine people that left lovely, supportive comments, but I'm on to brighter thoughts and wishes.

So I present to you the "What the H*ll is it contest".

First correct answer gets an all expense paid trip to beautiful Rosebud County Montana, or a $2 bill, whichever you prefer.

So ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! Remember to push the red button in front of you and give your answer in the form of a question.

Good luck!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Top Ten Fifteen Reasons I Don't Always Usually Make My Bed in the Morning...

Aside from numbers 1, 7 and 15, these are in no particular order. To be honest, I could make this the top fifty twenty reasons why, but I'm kind of pushed for time. I apologize for the quality of some of these photos (you'll know which ones). I had to leave the drapes open for the cats (because it really IS all about them) and it caused some glare.



12. 11.






5. 4. 3.


And the #1 reason why I don't always usually make my bed in the morning...

UPDATE: I would have liked to add several more blogs to this list, but I had to go to the office and ran out of time. You KNOW who you are!