Friday, July 29, 2016

Fair Time

Yesterday (Thursday), Paul, Max, Ellen and I, went to the Teton County Fair in Jackson. It had a midway, with the usual rides, games of skill/chance, fair food, etc., but it also had an evening event: pig-wrestling! The contest had four levels, kids, adolescents, men and women. Teams of four attempted to catch a wet, muddy pig, pick it up and drop it into a barrel. They had a minute, then a buzzer sounded, and they had to quit. The pigs varied in size, appropriate to the age level. Some teams wore costumes and there was a prize for best costume as well as best time. The women's teams did much better than the men's. Mostly, it was about people falling all over the place and getting very muddy from tip to toe. About 20% of the teams managed to get the pig in the barrel, and a handful did it under 30 seconds!

Max only lasted a half hour or so at the pig-wrestling, but he loved the games of skill/chance most of all, and won some trinkets. 

I'll have to say that a midway provides a lot of opportunity for colorful photos! 

        Max and Paul in the bear ride

       Down the slide at the fun-house

         Throwing darts at balloons

       Shooting at a target

       Fishing with a hook 

       Hoops over bottles 

      We did not go on the Ferris Wheel!

       Girls going after the pig!!

Trip to Boulder

Tomorrow, I am flying from Jackson Hole to Denver, so that I can be at a gathering Saturday afternoon which will be a celebration of Betsey's life by her friends and co-workers. I'll get the RDT bus from the airport to Boulder, and someone, probably Katie, will pick me up. I'll spend the night at the house, we'll have breakfast, and I'll get the bus around noon for a. 3:15pm return flight to Jackson Hole. A quick trip, but a special one for me. It will mean a lot to hear Betsey's co-workers share stories about her first-hand. Rob and Katie will leave Monday for a trip, starting at Rob's brother Neal's home in Eugene, OR. Ellen and I will leave Monday on our trip home, starting with Yellowstone, Bear Tooth Pass, and Red Lodge, MT.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Betsey's Obituary

Elizabeth Crockett "Betsey" Shay

BOULDER, CO.  Elizabeth Crockett “Betsey” Shay of Boulder, passed away at home, in Sunshine Canyon, on July 22 after a 19-month battle with glioblastoma (brain cancer).  Born in 1958, in Dummerston, Vt., her childhood years were spent in Providence, R.I., Penn Yan, N.Y., and Appleton, Wis.  
    She returned in 1972 to Dummerston for high school, graduated in the Class of 1976, and went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Wellesley College in 1980, later studying music composition at Bennington College.  She married Robert Shay, in Brattleboro, Vt., in 1986 and is survived by him and their daughter Katherine.  She also leaves behind her father Larrimore Crockett, stepmother Ellen Crockett, and brother John Crockett, all of Vermont.  Her mother, Shirley Harris Crockett, predeceased her in 1998.  
   Betsey and Robert came to Colorado in 2014, both to work at the University of Colorado Boulder.  Betsey was an assistant director of development in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.  Earlier in her career, she worked in international education at Youth for Understanding in Washington, D.C., and the Experiment in International Living in Putney, Vt.  She went on to work for over 20 years in non-profit fundraising, serving on the staffs of Lyon College in Batesville, Ark., Duke University in Durham, N.C., Wentworth Institute of Technology and the Celebrity Series in Boston, Mass., and Stephens College in Columbia, Mo.  
   Betsey was an avid choral singer, notably with the Blanche Moyse Chorale of Vermont and the choir of the Church of the Redeemer (Episcopal), in Chestnut Hill, Mass., where she also served as a member of the vestry.  Before her illness, she had recently developed a passion for running, completing a half marathon in New Orleans in February 2014.  
   In lieu of flowers, Betsey’s family invites contributions to the Betsey Crockett Shay Memorial Scholarship Fund, being established at the University of Colorado Boulder College of Music.  Funeral services will be held at a later time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Here we sit...

When we arrived in Alpine last Friday, it was obvious that we had a clutch problem. We could hear it, we could feel it, we could smell it. Monday, we managed to drive the car to the one local garage, Castle Rock Dodge. We considered having it trucked to Teton Motors in Jackson, the nearest Subaru dealer, but the logistics were just more than I could deal with. I am still feeling pretty fragile and vulnerable. So I opted for the simplest solution: we left the car there at Castle Rock, walked to the Coffee Cabin for breakfast, and then walked to the public library and hung out there for the day. I used WiFi to send out notices of Betsey's passing to friends, made some calls, and arranged for Betsey's obituary to be published in the Brattleboro Commons. It will appear today. We had a pizza at nearby Tootsie's. Jenny picked us up at 5:45pm., just before the library closed, on her way home from work. 

It turned out that the problem was the clutch throw-out bearing, as I suspected. But the clutch was burned, and we opted for a new clutch. It will cost us $1200 and I've got my fingers crossed that Castle Rock mechanics know what they are doing. I guess we'll find out on the way home!!!

So we're home-bound with no car yesterday and today. The car should be ready today. We'll pay by phone and pick it up tonight after hours. We've been taking it easy, reading and watching the convention. But we also realize that we are still pretty fragile. That has been manifested in several ways. We hope and expect that "this too will pass."

Bill's speech

Last night, at the Democratic Convention, Bill Clinton gave a very personal account of his relation with Hillary. It was a good speech, and I think he did an effective job of portraying Hillary as a "change-maker." But I think he missed an opportunity to make an even more profound impact. If I had been his speech-writer, here's how I would have ended the speech:

.... You know, when I was president, I did  some really stupid things...things I regret having done to this very day. What did Hillary do? She did not run away. She was tough ... Really tough. But she stood by me, and SHE CHANGED ME! She made me a better man, and I will always be grateful to her for that....

And let me tell you something ... Hillary will stand by you, because that's who she is ...

And she will help change this country for the better, because that's what she does ...

And future generations will look back and be grateful that Hillary Clinton was President of the United States of America!!!

Thank you, and God bless you! 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The long journey ended

My beloved daughter, Betsey, ended her 19-month long, courageous, and often inspiring journey with brain cancer (glioblastoma) on Friday evening, July 22nd, at a few minutes before 6p.m. in the evening. Her husband, Rob, and her daughter, Katie, were at her side. She had been in Hospice care since the beginning of July, and essentially unresponsive for a couple of days. Her final days were pain-free and her death was gentle and peaceful. Ellen and I were driving from Boise to Alpine at that time and our cell phone was out of range. We got the news about an hour after the fact when we came back into range, and just minutes before arriving at Paul and Jenny's, which was hard, but we managed to negotiate it.

However, we had spent over three weeks helping to take care of Betsey, with Ellen especially on the front line, experiencing many sleepless nights. We finally had to face our physical limits and withdrew to Alpine, and then Boise and Salem. 

Now I will return to Boulder this coming Sarurday for a celebration of Betsey's life, with a gathering of Boulder-based friends and co-workers. That will give me the opportunity to hear testimonies and remembrances of Betsey from her co-workers, which will be very moving. Just what will come after that for us is still to be determined. However, we know that Rob and Katie plan to take a two-week trip, starting with a few days with Rob's brother Neal and his wife, Sue, in Eugene, OR. A very well-deserved vacation, because they have been on the front line of care for Betsey, pretty much 24/7, for months and months and months. 

Eventually, I will have the opportunity to post Betsey's obituary and some of my favorite photos of her. I will need my computer for that, and I will need to get to the local library for WiFi. Meanwhile, I need to address a clutch problem with our Subaru. Lots of screeching and scraping when the clutch is disengaged. After some online research and tests with the car, it sounds like maybe our throw-out bearing needs to be replaced. We'll see tomorrow whether that can be done locally or whether we'll have to go to Jackson. This week, Max will be in science camp, so Ellen and I will have our days to ourselves. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Minto island growers

We had lunch today at our favorite place, a farm stand at an organic farm outside Salem where they serve very nice lunches. 

     Lunch area

       Sample organic veggies

    Roger and I wait for lunch

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Hard Time

This is a hard time. We heard from Rob that Betsey is now receiving two medications only: morphine and halopiderol, the former for pain, the latter to calm disturbing thoughts and visions. Betsey is now eating and drinking virtually nothing, and is sleeping much of the time. I am glad that she seems to be more at peace. She is in the good care of Rob, Katie and Emma, and the Hospice team. Ellen and I are in Salem, OR, with dear friends. It is difficult not being there. It is a time requiring great faith, a faithful, trusting, letting go.  I am very grateful for everything that has been done and that is being done now to help ease Betsey along this final journey. Again and again, I place her in God's loving hands.

Here in Salem, we are in the healing circle  of friends that care and understand. Today we went to Portland, where Roger and Bonnie spend Mondays caring for their grandson, Sidney, who is an adorable two year old. We spent a little time with them at Sidney's house, then we all had lunch at Laughing Planet, near the Reed College campus in the Woodstock neighborhood of Portland. Then we came back to Salem, and spent time with our friend, J. E., who is recuperating from surgery on her left ankle which she broke in three places in a hiking fall about a month ago. She is amazingly upbeat in the face of a very long recuperation.

We will be here another day anyway, probably head back midweek, stop in Boise on the way back, and be back in Alpine by week's end. Then we will assess everything anew.

Sidney with Bonnie and dinosaurs at Laughing Planet.

My Cobb Salad at Laughing Planet

         Reed College campus 

One of the roses in Bonnie and Roger's front yard. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

We 're ok

Ellen and I are in Boise, ID. But I need to go back. My last blog, I was in a little bungalow in Boulder with John. That was Monday, now it is Thursday. The basic story is that after 3 1/2 weeks of front line duty and sleepless nights, Ellen "hit the wall," and I wasn't far behind. She left Friday; I stayed long enough to see John onto the bus to the Denver airport Monday afternoon, and Ellen drove down from Alpine Monday and picked me up in Boulder Monday eve. By the way, the bungalow owner's daughter never materialized. The Nederland fire is gradually being brought under control, and I guess she did not need to evacuate.

John and I said our goodbyes to Betsey, Rob and Katie Monday noon. That was painful beyond words. 

Ellen and I spent Monday night in a motel in Ft. Collins. That did not work out well. The bed sagged and the AC was impossible to control. I slept very little. But Tuesdsy morning we happened on a wonderful restaurant, Vern's, in LaBlanc (I think that was the town ), we had a very good breakfast, and that lifted our spirits. Somehow, Ellen managed to drive us back to Alpine, and we got there close to 10pm. We both got a good night's sleep there Tuesday night. We would have stayed, but Paul and Jenny were hosting Jenny's aunt and her family for a couple of days starting Wednesday, so we took the offer of friends of the lovely loft here in Boise. A bit more driving, but it was actually a beautiful day, a lovely drive, I read aloud from a Masie Dobbs mystery much of the way, and the miles flew by.

So here we are. We trust Betsey is in good hands, with Rob, Katie, Emma, and the Hospice team all involved. We are taking it a day at a time. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Who sleeps there?

Our stay in the little bungalow made available to us has been a bit more checkered than expected. Initially, we were told that the tenant of a basement apartment was away and we would have the use of that apartment while she was gone, Then we got an email saying that the tenant was not comfortable with that, but we would have the use of a basement twin bedroom and the use of the upstairs while the owner was away for a few days. When John and I arrived, we were surprised to find the basement tenant still at home. She was kind enough to show us around, then disappeared. Soon, Rob's friend, Becky, showed up and gave us a full briefing. John decided a lovely, upstairs, closed-in porch looked great, lots of windows and fresh air, and he settled in there, while I moved into the downstairs bedroom. It turned out that I was allergic to something in that room, and was awake much of the night and miserable. It might have been the duvet, which might have been down-filled, and which i relegated to the closet during the night. But I also suspected mold. 

Oh, and both John and I were visited by raccoons during the night. One was nosing its way into my window (which is right at ground level) so I had to close it, and John had the whole family, including four cubs, piled up at his porch screen door! 

So last night, I decided to change venues. The porch had a very long bench covered with cushions. John only needed some of them for his bed, so I used the extras to make a bed in the living room. No duvet and no mold. 

The downstairs bed I used the first night and abandoned the second.  

My new bed created on cushions in the living room

That, however, was not the end of the story. Not long after I settled in, I got a text from Rob - his friend Becky had texted him that the owners daughter, who lives in Nederland, might have to evacuate her home because of the Nederland forest fire, and she and her husband could be coming in during the night to sleep in the master bedroom! And a bit after that, John decided that the porch was just too hot (it got into the 90's during the day) and he was moving downstairs. So there I was, wondering what the owners' daughter would think if she came in and found this strange man sleeping on the living-room floor! I began to rehearse in my mind just how I would handle that. Fortunately, I went to sleep, but was wide awake at 4:30am. Still uncomfortable with my location, I decided to get up and put the living-room back into good order and move to the porch, which was by now delightfully cool. I wasn't as quiet as I intended to be, and John heard some thumps, and came up to see if his dad was ok. I explained what I was up to, hope he was able to go back to sleep, and I am now happily ensconced on the porch. 

   The view from where I am lying now. 

If the daughter and her husband do have to evacuate their home and move in, they will be happy to know that we will not be spending another night here. With all the stress of being evacuees, they don't need to be dealing with strangers. I don't know what I would have done if I had decided to stay here another week, which I was seriously thinking of doing. But it will all work out. 

The restored living-room, a lovely room

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Moving on

Tomorrow, John will fly home to Vermont and Ellen will drive down and pick me up.  We are giving over the care of my beautiful and courageous Betsey to Rob, Katie, Emma, and Hospice. We have done what we can. May she be held ever so gently and find peace and comfort. 

Nederland fire

A big forest fire is going on not far from the Shays. It is just outside Nederland, where Ellen and I visited a couple of weeks ago. At least three homes have been destroyed so far, and over a thousand people evacuated. It covers almost 400 acres. It is still not under control. It has been hot and windy. Two campers who left their campfire (which is illegal) without properly dousing it have been arrested. 

A view of the fire from behind the Shay's house

      Zoom in 

       The Shay's house

A neighbor's house and its beautiful garden. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Dramatic changes

A great deal has happened in the past 26 hours or so. I'm not sure how to describe it all because I'm not sure I really understand it all. So I'll stick to the simple facts. John and I are at this moment in a lovely arts and crafts bungalow in Boulder, supplied through the auspices of  a friend of one of Rob's board members. Ellen is in Alpine with Paul & Jenny, having some restorative time. John will probably fly home Monday. Ellen will probably come get me Wednesday. John and I will say our goodbyes to Betsey, Rob and Katie Sunday. We are no longer needed there. It is all in far greater hands than mine.

                              Our little bungalow 

Friday, July 8, 2016

All's Quiet on the Western Front

Last night, Betsey had a peaceful, uninterrupted night. This morning, at about 6:30a.m., Ellen went in to see how she was doing, noticed that she was awake, and asked if she wanted some pain medication. Betsey said, "I'm ok." Yesterday, I think the pain meds were ticked up a bit, maybe just a bit more frequent, and that seems to have helped. Right now, it's just me, Ellen and Katie here. Yesterday, Rob decided things were going well enough that he could go to his conference at Aspen. So he left yesterday at about noon, and will be back this afternoon. We were glad he had a chance to get away. Right now, John is up in Gold Hill at his AirBnB. He had a wicked elevation headache yesterday - he went from 400 feet in Vermont to 9000 feet at Gold Hill within a 12-hour period - but he had quite a bit of time sitting with Betsey yesterday, reading to her, talking a little bit. He'll eat his breakfast at the AirBnB and then come down to join us mid-morning. Emma arrives at 9:30a.m., so things will pick up a bit a couple of hours from now, but right at the moment, it is very peaceful here, and for this we are grateful. I got pretty good night's sleep last night. That was great, because Wednesday night, I got very little, and yesterday, I was sort of a basket case. Ellen is not getting much sleep at all.

Betsey did not eat anything at all yesterday, and the only water she had was with her meds. She now likes to just suck on a swab dipped in water to ease a dry mouth. She is asleep much of the time, and with the pain meds a bit more regulated, seems to be at peace. We know from earlier conversations, especially with her Qi Gong healer, that she is ready to slip away, so we are just surrounding her with love and peace as much as we can. Last evening, for about a half-hour before she went to sleep for the night, I read aloud to her from Wind in the Willows, the wonderful chapter titled, "Dulce Domum." I know she loves that chapter - she and Rob had John read portions of it at their wedding - and it felt like a perfect thing to read right now.

John arrived on Wednesday, and late afternoon, a package was delivered to the house - it was an "Edible Arrangement." a bouquet of fruit arranged on little plastic stems in a vase, like a flower bouquet. It was from the Crockett clan in Illinois. We enjoyed it as a dessert after our supper, and finished it off yesterday for breakfast and lunch - we happened to have some delicious raspberry sorbet on hand that went well with the fruit.

Ketie and John contemplate the Edible Arrangement

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Another walk, more flowers

Yesterday, I took a walk on our favorite road early in the morning. It wasn't super early - maybe 8am. But it was still fairly cool. I noticed some wildflowers I hadn't seen on my walk a few days ago.

Sunshine School Road - a favorite walk
Here are some of the flowers I saw:

Some type of geranium - probably Pineywoods Geranium

Some type of Cinquefoil, I think
Some type of thistle - maybe Musk Thistle
Looks like Saxifrage to me

Last night was a difficult night. Betsey was confused and uncomfortable. The Hospice staff visit has not as yet produced the changes in pain management we had hoped for. The nurse comes back tomorrow - maybe then. But neither Ellen or I got much sleep. In two nights we will get a respite - we will be moving into a little apartment in Boulder. We should be able to catch up on sleep then. Rob has left for a conference in Aspen. It was originally going to be for three days, he has reduced it to one. He'll be back tomorrow. Tonight, it will be up to Ellen and Katie to hold the fort.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Special sing

This evening, Ellen and Katie managed to arrange a sing for Betsey via FaceTime by Peter and Mary Alice Amidon and Robin and Andy Davis. It was inspired by the fact that Betsey had asked to listen to Peter and Mary Alice's CD, Hymns and Ballads, and she asked to hear over and over, Track 3, Goin' Where Those Chilly Winds Don't Blow. Robin had told Ellen in an email that they wanted to sing for Betsey, so it happened, and the four sang Goin' (2x), and Bid You Goodnight. Betsey loved it, and it was followed by a very close, special time among the five of us here. John will join the circle tomorrow. So much love! 

The old and the new

This place has been a bee hive this morning! At about 8:30, a guy arrived with a new hospital bed supplied by Hospice. Yes, despite the fact that we already have a perfectly good hospital bed that Rob is renting, now that Betsey is under Hospice, it has to be their bed. Another little glimpse of the inefficiency of our health care system. Wouldn't it have been easier for Hospice to just take over that bed? Oh well. The new bed does have two advantages:  1) it has an air mattress, and 2) it raises and lowers electrically instead of with a crank.

At first, we thought Betsey would have to be gotten out of bed, but then we saw that the new bed could be assembled right next to the old bed, and we could just slide her over. That all went very smoothly, and then Rob disassembled the old bed, and it is now in the dining room and the rental company will pick it up tomorrow, 

                           The old bed awaits pickup 

But that wasn't all this morning. Weeks ago, Rob was using the weed whacker, and it threw a stone into the window next to the front door and shattered it. It was safety glass, like a windshield, so it shattered, but didn't come out. He taped it up with blue tape temporarily. Well, the glass repair guy chose to come this morning to replace it. So that has been going on too. 

     The old window out ....

                    .......the new one going in 

The other big news is that John is flying out tomorrow! He'll arrive at DIA at 11am,  and take the shuttle to Boulder, where I will pick him up at 1:11pm. The first three nights, we have an AirBnB for him in Gold Hill, just 10 minutes up the road. That will be sort of neat. Then on Saturday, he and Ellen and I will move into a free little apartment in Boulder that has been arranged for by one of Rob 's board members. We have the use of that for a month. That will ease up the bathroom situation here at the house, and the bed can be taken out of the living room - which is where Ellen and I have been sleeping.

                              The living room bed

A time of change in many respects! 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

A trip to The Farm

The Farm is a cannabis dispensary in Boulder. It looks sort of innocuous from the outside, but going in is something of an experience. Katie and I went there to get Betsey some cannabis-laced candy which really helps to calm her and helps with pain relief as well.

When you go in, you are greeted at a counter by a couple of friendly folks who ask for your ID. They scan your ID and schedule you for an appointment to go into the "real" store which is behind a locked door, which you cannot enter without being accompanied by a staff employee. I looked around. Quite a few customers. All 20-something's. I was by far the oldest guy in the room.

Meanwhile, you are free to browse the room you are in, which is full of all kinds of cannabis-related paraphernalia, most of which I had no idea as to its purpose. I did recognize some pipes and hookahs. There was one counter where we thought they were selling candy, but it turned out to be empty cartons. The real candy was behind that locked door. However, there were price lists, so you could get an idea of what they had and what it cost. I assume that the sales staff would have answered any questions I might have had, but this visit, I had none. There was also a little lounge area where you could just sit until your name was called. In the "carton counter" I saw a jar of whey protein powder. Maybe a quart at most, more likely 24 oz. Price? $100! 

I was with Katie - we were a party of 2 - and her name was called. Katie had decided on some orange chocolate squares for  her mom. We were ushered into the room, which was quite ordinary. Not sure what all the rigamarole is about. Legal requirements or theater? 

We ordered the chocolate and paid for it - cash sales only. 10 small squares cost $28. That includes a 22% sales tax! Not sure if that goes to the city, state, or both. Somebody is making out like a bandit! 

                           The Farm dispensary

                             Entrance to The Farm

Meanwhile, back at our farm, Rob fixed a great Eastern European meal of turkey sausage with bacon-laced sauerkraut, and fingerling potatoes, eaten on the patio, as usual. 

                       Ellen and Rob -   digging in

Last evening we had a nice meal on the patio also, featuring corn on the cob.

                              Rob and Katie waiting to dig in

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Moving Day 3

The deed is done! The mattress and springs have been installed upstairs, the old mattress and springs are temporarily installed in the dining room, and the truck has been returned.

                             Katie returns the truck 

 I just got a little nap, Rob is grilling steak and fish. We all spent time with Betsey this afternoon, who woke out of sleep and said she was "slipping away." So many layers of change are happening!

Moving Day 2

Well, that wasn't too bad! Rob drove the truck to the storage unit while Katie and I followed in her car. The unit is in N. Boulder. We left the house at about 11am, and the truck was unloaded by 12:30pm! Pretty good! It's now 1pm and we're back at the house. We still have one big job: getting Katie's box spring and mattress upstairs and the one up there now down and out. That will not be easy. Then the truck can be returned. Katie said that was enough moving for a while. I can't believe that at 83 I can still lug stuff. But I can!

                                    Unloading the van

The biggest job at the storage unit was Katie's ultra-violet light box. This is a large, heavy contraption she got to treat her cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Right now she is also being treated for acne, and her dermatologist suggested a topical cream instead of the light for a while. So into storage it had to go. We had to tilt it to get it out of the truck, then slide it down the ramp, set it up again and roll it into the unit. It has multiple, long,  light tubes, easily broken. But we did it without incident. 

               The light box safely in storage

            Everything is out for the storage unit

                        Full, but not too full

Moving Day

Katie arrived last evening with a U-Haul truck from Columbia, MO, loaded with all the stuff left behind there last fall when she dropped out of school to come home to take care of her mom. Today's task is to unload most of it into a storage unit, with just a few items, e. g., a mattress and springs, coming here to the house. Stay tuned.