July 2017

It has been a while since posting a monthly update. Part of the reason has been because I am learning to use this new web building product and the other part is because my procrastination gene has been kicked in to high gear, thus rendering my ability to sit down and focus as useless as it was when I was in high school. Thankfully over time, playing around with this software has improved my literacy with this program. Though I am far from being proficient I can muster up a sentence or two and get it to post correctly, which is a start. So, I guess one can say that I am headed in the right direction... maybe.

Though I am not as comfortable as with the other format that I used, I am confident enough to begin the processes of boring my readers with my useless trivial BS and warn my readers that I intend to keep everyone up to date with what's happening in the Christman world.

...and there's so much that has happened in my absence:


Below is a list of topics contained in this month's blog:

  • A BUCKLIST TRIP
  • DATES OF IMPORTANCE
  • THIS MONTH'S RANT: IT SUCKS TO GROW OLD
  • A HEALTH UPDATE
  • GRAND-DAUGHTER GRADUATED FROM SHERWOOD HIGH SCHOOL
  • GRAND-SON SAVES THE DAY
  • FATHER'S DAY PRIDE
  • A NEW GRAND-DAUGHTER: AVERY PAIGE
  • "A TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART"
  • CONNECTING WITH FRIENDS

A BUCKLIST TRIP

It only took me 64 years, 9 months and 26 days to finally take Hawaii off of my bucket list of visiting all 50 of our United States. There are 11 states left to complete this quest. Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Anyway, thanks to friends like Dr. Floyd and his wonderful wife Rose, Janice and I got the opportunity to spend 8 fantastic days with them on the island of Kaua'i. We walked every morning on the beach at Hanalei Bay, visited the gardens at Na 'Aina Kai, dined on the fabulous fish (locally known as ono) at Brennecke's Beach Broiler at Poipu Beach, toured the shops at Waimea Bay, surveyed the old sugar plantation properties at Kekaha and explored at Kalalau Lookout, where the island of Ni'ihau is visible most days.

From our host's condo in Princeville, we were able to see Mt. Wai'ale'ale where waterfalls are visible from a pretty great distance when the skies over the ridge are blue. I say that because Mt. Wai'ale'ale is the second wettest location in the world, where 452 inches of rain fall every year (and we think it rains a lot in Portland). Yet, with all of that water so close, (we were maybe 5 miles from the peak) the sun was out every day and the scenery of this island paradise was spectacular.

We had such a wonderful time that we plan on going with them next March, this time planning on extending our trip to include the big island.


DATES OF IMPORTANCE

We whizzed by many birthday and other personal dates since last posting updates.

  • Kiara (our grand-daughter) celebrated her 18th birthday on February 10th
  • Janice celebrated her birthday #$%^& (not supposed to tell) on February 19th
  • Kyle celebrated his 37th birthday on February 28th
  • Pauline (Janice's mom) passed away 5 years ago on March 28th
  • Mom (DaVee) passed away 9 years ago on April 4th
  • Dad (Ray) would have been 86 on April 21st
  • Mom & Dad would have celebrated their 62nd anniversary on April 22nd
  • Kaileigh (our grand-daughter) celebrated her 22nd birthday on April 29th
  • Dana (my brother) passed away 10 years ago on April 30th 
  • Jeff (my other brother) celebrated his 58th birthday on May 8th
  • I celebrated my 65th birthday on May 13th
  • Debbie (my sister) celebrated her 60th birthday on May 22nd
  • Kaiden (our grand-son) celebrated his 8th birthday on May 26th
  • Jenny (our daughter inlaw) celebrated her #$%^& (not supposed to tell) birthday on May 27th
  • Dad (Ray) passed away 16 years ago on June 1st
  • My brother Dana would have been 61 on June 15th
  • Avery Paige Christman (our 5th grandchild) was born to Ryan and Leda on June 24th
  • Mom (DaVee) would have been 83 on June 30th

This is what is upcoming in the not too distant future... 

  • Janice and I celebrate 33 years since our first date on July 9th
  • Pauline (Janice's mom) would be 98 on July 11th if she were still with us
  • Ryan (our son) celebrates his 40th birthday this coming August 5th
  • Total Solar Eclipse on August 21st at 10:17am in Keizer
  • Ryan and his wife Leda will celebrate their 6th wedding anniversary this August 27th
  • Janice and I will be celebrating our 31st wedding anniversary this coming August 30th

...and Janice and I plan on taking a driving trip / summer vacation to Southern California and places beyond late summer / early fall.


THIS MONTH'S RANT
"IT SUCKS TO GROW OLD"

As most of you know, in May, I turned the ripe old age of 65. WOW! And, other than for Medicare I wasn't a damn bit happy about it. How has the time flown by so quickly?

I look in the mirror these days and I see an aged old man complete with the wrinkly skin, age spots that mark by body and the loss of hair everywhere but in my ears. And speaking of ears... why is it that one's ears and nose get bigger and more pronounced when one ages, yet hearing and smelling deteriorate? Isn't that odd?

But, I digress. Let me continue my bitch about getting older...

I get up in the morning these days and I feel the body of an aged old man. I have a bit of neuropathy in a couple of my right toes, my back often aches from stresses and strains that resulted from a previous day's activities and my ability to move with any speed and agility has become that comparable to that of a sloth. I have the beginnings of arthritis in my hands, knobby knees that require inches of padding when I get down on them and an arm that once could throw a baseball 200 feet with velocity but now can't toss the damn thing 75 without throwing like a girl or maybe bouncing it along the grass. (Now this isn't a disrespect of women. I know many women that can toss a baseball better than most men... but the imagery here is perfect for a chuckle at the very least).

I used to be able to hit a golf ball 225-250 yards but struggle to put any distance over 150 without shanking or slicing. I can't roll a bowling ball with any speed or accuracy anymore, yet I used to average in the 180s. I can't run more than a city block, though I care not to anyway, and I have difficulty keeping my balance when I stoop or bend over.

I used to climb stairs two at a time, but now take each step up cautiously, avoiding tripping whenever possible. However... taking one stair-step at a time doesn't prevent the occasional slip up that results in a need to cling a rail to remain upright. Thus, I hold on to handrails if climbing stairs and look for the nearest escalator or elevator when more than one story of steps is required for me to negotiate in getting to where I need to go. Conversely, I also walk down stairways holding onto a wall or railing to keep my balance. And... speaking of escalators, my foot timing for getting onto escalators, especially those moving upward is a bit off too.

My eyesight is deteriorating rapidly. I need readers to make out details and strain to read signs at a distance. I find the perfect font for close reading being 20. My hearing is shot and I need naps every afternoon. I go to bed early, I get up early, I eat dinner early. I find myself hating the thought of being in a crowded environment. I want to go on trips and see the world but I want to be home in comfortable surroundings to do so. The weather is never good enough... summers are too hot (I find that as early as June, I yearn for the coolness that the upcoming fall will bring) and the winters are too cold (I find that the warmth of spring can't come fast enough, either).

This, from the too much information bureau...

I have found that after taking a shower, when standing to dress, I all of a sudden need to hold onto something to steady myself enough to raise my legs to get them through the pant-leg holes of my pants. What gives with that? And, if I am walking through the house in my bare feet and happen to step on a pebble of sand or a grain of salt that managed to make the floor, I am sent through the roof in pain and agony. A stray popcorn kernel under foot nearly requires a call to the paramedics.

Yes, I have become wussy and cantankerous in my old age. I have turned into Mr. Smith and I hate that! Who is Mr. Smith, you ask? Well Mr. Smith is that one old guy who kids grow a fond disliking for. Everyone has a Mr. Smith in their lives. For me, he was the backyard neighbor to the house I grew up in. He was old and crotchety and had a big fence that surrounded his precious little garden that we couldn't see because he had crappy vine plants growing up and over the wire fencing that separated our properties. Every day, he would be out in his backyard wearing his dirty old bib-overalls, watering whatever was growing in his planter beds while hiding under a huge floppy hat. He grumbled and talked to himself incessantly and yelled at us kids all of the time for either making too much noise or messing up his vegetation with a stray baseball that happened to land in his garden. Obviously, his meanness and our fear of reprisal escalated over the years to the point where he threatened to keep our balls (or whatever else of ours that strayed onto his property) thus resulted in us kids mocking and picking on him, which often resulted in his repeated threats on telling our parents or calling the cops on us.

What I guess I'm trying to say is that getting old is aging me. My body is ailing; failing me in the most peculiar ways. And my mind is losing its ability to recall things that recently happened.


A HEALTH UPDATE

A recent incident took place back in May, where I kind of woke up and didn't know where I was, yet I was in familiar surroundings during the middle of the day.

This little amnesia event only lasted a few seconds... and the story goes like this: I stood in place at a nearby garden nursery. I don't recall if I was walking or just standing before hand and that memory has never returned. I found myself looking down a pathway and seeing Janice who seemed rather terse. I looked around and saw lots of plants and several of those large, plastic, nursery greenhouses with lots of baskets inside. For a moment, I felt lost. I didn't recognize where I was and the only piece of familiarity was Janice walking up this pathway, coming towards me. For a period that I am guessing to be maybe 15-20 seconds (but it could have been much longer or shorter) there was zero recollection however, I began slowly recognizing my surroundings.

It was the oddest feeling that was very surreal. I did not panic, though I felt a bit uncertain, but I was a bit unnerved about not knowing where I was or how I got there. Often times, there's that sudden awakening that we experience when jolted out of a deep sleep. To best describe the sensation I was feeling right then, I would liken it to that feeling... yet, I was wide-awake and walking around. I was puzzled at not having a recollection of my whereabouts or how I got there and struggled internally to remember.

I struggled to remember and had to think hard for recent activities that  might clue me in. I looked down and found that I was holding a handle of a gardener's wagon with a few plants on them. Then things started coming back to me. I remember thinking to myself: "We are at a nursery... but which one?" It didn't look familiar. Then, came the realization that I had been there before. I struggled to remember the name but drew a blank until Janice reached me. I took her lead while fighting to recall anything about why we were there. At at one point when we were standing at the greenhouse where the register was I remember looking at the receipt that I was handed in hopes of reading the name of the nursery. Godfrey's Nursery was on the credit card receipt. We were at Godfrey's and then things started coming back very slowly.

On the way home, I kept asking myself if I had fallen asleep or something similar. Then that transitioned into wondering if I was experiencing the beginnings of dementia or Alzheimers and that worried me even more. So, I worried about my senior moment while remembering it to be the most peculiar sensation. It was like waking up suddenly in a hotel room and not knowing which city I was in. I'd had many a business trip morning where that had happened.

Anyway, moving along with the story...

I had my annual physical scheduled just a few days after my birthday (4 days after having the episode_) and I thought it prudent to mention the experience to my GP, just as an FYI when he asked if I'd I'd suffered from any unusual aches or pains. This seemed to peak his interest and as a precaution, he ordered some tests to see what may have caused this mini-bout of amnesia (which is what he called it). I scored well on this memory test that he gave me (though I was not perfect) and all of my blood work and other vitals were spot on "in the middle of the road" perfect. That being said, what they did find during my MRI and MRA tests was that my right carotid has blockage: "high-grade arterial stenosis of the carotid" is the technical term that was used. I am asymptomatic (in other words: I have no apparent symptoms of having blockage) other than for this one incident and they have nothing to link the amnesia episode I had to me having a mini-stroke or transient-ischemic-attack (aka: TIA). However, they did find two spots on my MRI that were of concern. Fortunately, they were later identified as blood vessels that were atrophying normally due to old age and not brain bleeds like my mother had.

I've been told by both my regular cardiologist and my pre-op cardiologist that though the event that I'd had may be due to a clogged carotid artery, it may not be related, as well. And that most likely they are not. Neither had ever heard of an amnesia event, such as what I had, triggered by restricted blood flow. Something would show up in my MRI if it had. This really worries me because it still doesn't answer why I had the episode if, in fact, it was not caused by a clogged artery.

On the 18th of June we saw a vascular surgeon to reconfirm the diagnosis with him and we are now in the midst of scheduling surgery for a carotid endarterectomy. Because I am asymptomatic and taking anti-platelet medications, the surgery won't happen until maybe late July or early August.

Surprisingly I feel fine even with all of this hub-bub going on, other than suffering from a few aches and pains that I previously mentioned and I am under -0- restrictions until the surgery other than I am advised not to run any marathons or do any heavy weightlifting. Its almost like there's nothing wrong, yet there is.

Yet, I still question... what caused me to have a minor amnesia event if it isn't the stenosis? We don't know, yet.

You can read more about my condition by using the highlighted and underlined text below:
US National Library of Medicine on High Grade Arterial Stenosis of the Carotid


GRAND-DAUGHTER GRADUATED FROM SHERWOOD HIGH SCHOOL

In celebration, our first grandchild graduated Sherwood High School. The graduation ceremony took place on June 9th with her graduation party following up a couple of days later.

Kiara at 1 and 18.png

Our Kiara

at age 1 and at age 18

Kiara Rose Myers is now moving onto early adulthood. She has graduated from high school and for the summer is taking on two jobs - one as a hostess for a restaurant in Lake Oswego working on weekends and also working with her step-dad who owns a sign / print company on Monday thru Wednesday.

Though accepted at Southern Oregon University, she is planning on taking early academics courses this fall at Portland Community College while determining her major and then transferring whatever she can to SOU at a later date. She is currently interested in veterinary medicine and behavioral counseling but has yet to chose a direction of study.

Kiara, being our first grandchild, has a special place in our hearts. For years, she was the apple of my eye. Of course, she had me wrapped around her finger. But of late, she talks quite a bit to grandma Janice, wishing to gain knowledge and to talk. She likens her grandpa (me) to that of Mayor Adam West's character on Family Guy. these days. I don't know whether to take that as a compliment or not. Regardless, "to the bat cave Robin!"

Kiara, myself and Janice on graduation night at Sherwood High School.

Kiara, myself and Janice on graduation night at Sherwood High School.


GRAND-SON SAVES THE DAY

Janice and I are obviously very proud grandparents and love all of our little babies with all of our hearts, no matter if they have grown or remain wee-ones. So, I guess that I would be remiss if I did not mention our 8 year old grandson, Kaiden in truly gloating fashion.

On June 14th Kaiden received honors from the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue unit based in West Linn for coming to the rescue of his dad who was choking, turning blue and unable to breathe. Kaiden took quick action by pounding Jason on his back with enough force to dislodge the food that he was choking on. His "quick to come to the rescue" effort earned Kaiden a Certificate of Commendation from TVF&R that was awarded to him during a school assembly that day. He was also interviewed by a reporter from the West Linn Tidings community newspaper.  

Of course, Janice and I along with his parents and his other grandmother Susan, all with tears in our eyes, as he was brought up in front of his classmates to accept his award.

West Linn Tidings newspaper article on Kaiden's award.

West Linn Tidings newspaper article on Kaiden's award.

Coincidentally, another classmate - fifth grader Holden Macom, came to the rescue of another 5th grader who was choking on a snack and turning blue during a 5th grade outing. Alden, like Kaiden, realized the danger and took immediate action. He first called out for help and then went to the aid of his friend, performing the Heimlich-maneuver with success, thus saving his from choking to death.

You know? As often as us older folks complain about how the kids now-a-days are soft, spoiled, self-centered and aloof to reality, every once in a while a few exhibit heart and gumption that give us old-timers pride. I was never more proud of Kaiden then I was on this day and I have been proud of that kid a whole bunch! His mom and dad have done exceptionally well in his upbringing.


FATHER'S DAY PRIDE

Speaking of pride... Father's Day was June 18th and all three of my boys took me out for a day at Bullwinkle's. Boy, was that fun! We spent the day playing laser-tag, racing at Daytona on simulators, hitting the bat cages, playing miniature golf and just hanging out.

Jason, Kyle, Kaiden, myself and Ryan (aka: the Christman Boys) playing miniature golf at Bullwinkle's in Wilsonville (or Discount Disneyland as Kyle calls it) on Father's Day 2017.

Jason, Kyle, Kaiden, myself and Ryan (aka: the Christman Boys) playing miniature golf at Bullwinkle's in Wilsonville (or Discount Disneyland as Kyle calls it) on Father's Day 2017.

As I mentioned earlier, I realized just how old and slow I have become during this most enjoyable day. At the batting cages, I was able to hit the balls rather consistently at the slo-pitch softball level though my hands were rather raw and my eyesight not nearly as keen as it used to be when I played softball back in the '70s. I stepped into the fast-pitch baseball cage after watching Kyle, Ryan and Jason swing their bats and it took 10 pitches before I was able to connect without fouling away. By the time the last baseball was tossed I was exhausted and maybe only connected 50% of the time, my hands hurt and I needed a moment to get my bearings. 70 mph is much faster than it used to be. I needed to find the fast pitch baseball cage that threw the ball at 55 mph and had a turn signal blinking.

"Thank heavens for benches and water." That's all I have to say.

Kaiden exhibited so much energy that day. He was ready to go and do just about anything and everything. I took pause a couple of times and remembered back to the day when I was a kid like him; 8 years old and full of piss and vinegar. The times maybe different by standards but the desire for Kaiden to play and enjoy is the same as it was for me 60 years ago. I just wish that I had the energy to keep up.

Though I hesitated about how much fun the day would bring when it was first mentioned that Bullwinkle's was the choice of venue in celebrating Father's Day, I couldn't have had a better, more joyous day than I did with the kids! I suffered from a few aches and pains the day after... but it was darn well worth it!


HEAR YE! OH, HEAR YE!

We're celebrating the birth of:

AVERY PAIGE CHRISTMAN
Grandchild #5

Born June 23, 2017 at 9:08pm
Weighing in at 8 lbs. 5 oz.
Sizing in at 20 inches
@ Legacy Meridian Park Hospital in Tualatin, OR

Little Avery Paige Christman just moments after being born. Such a wonderful blessing childbirth can be.

Little Avery Paige Christman just moments after being born. Such a wonderful blessing childbirth can be.

On June 23rd, we welcomed little Avery Paige Christman to our family. Mom and baby and daddy and both sisters are all doing well.

I think the most excited in welcoming Avery to the world was her sister Ariana.

I think the most excited in welcoming Avery to the world was her sister Ariana.

Avery becomes our fifth precious grandchild, our fourth fantastic grand-daughter and officially the youngest of the Christman clan.

Mom and dad are taking a little time off of work to recoup and bond.


"A TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART"

There will be a total solar eclipse happening here in Keizer, Oregon on August 21st with the beginning phase starting at 9:09am and ending at 11:41am with maximum totality expected at 10:22am and lasting only a few short minutes.

The last total solar eclipse where the totality was complete over the Portland (Oregon) area was back on February 26, 1979. I happened to experience the event and was amazed at how quick totality came and went. When the eclipse was at its peak, the darkness was not as great as what I had expected, it didn't seem any darker than a heavily clouded day, nor should it, I guess. Where I live now, (the Salem-Keizer area of Oregon), the 1979 event was only partial at 98%, being the cities we live in now were just south of the track where the entire sun was blocked from view by the moon.

The solar eclipse is truly an "event of a lifetime" experience, though I will have experienced two once this comes and goes. The next total solar eclipse in this region is not expected to return until August 5, 2108 with totality complete in Oregon only near Astoria. That isn't for another 91 years. The next total solar eclipse to occur over the Portland metropolitan area will not be until July 25, 2169, some 152 years from now.


CONNECTING WITH FRIENDS

Janice and I had the opportunity to reconnect with some dear friends that we made while living in Bend.

Doe and Bob have been traveling the continental Americas hauling and living in a travel trailer these past 15 months. They took off with the intent to see whatever they could see, whenever they could see it. They had no travel itinerary, no requirements to schedule and no idea of what they are doing other than having fun and visiting friends and family who have moved away.

Janice and I have been following their adventures on Facebook since wishing them bon voyage but other than commenting every now and again, had not had any real contact with them during their journeys. That was until this last Thursday.

Bob and Doe send cheers as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Bob and Doe send cheers as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

Their trip began in a loaded pickup which pulled a 45 year old 28 foot Airstream that they called Annabelle. They have since upgraded to a newer 36 foot triple slide-out trailer that has enough room to stretch out a bit and camp in a little more comfort. They belong to the Moose Lodge, which gives them parking privileges at lodge locations but their preference is staying on private country land that is rented out through an organization called Boondockers Welcome.

To learn more about Boondockers Welcome Guest RV click on the link below:

https://www.boondockerswelcome.com

Doe's sister Becca and her husband Marty just recently purchased a house outside of Dallas (Oregon), which is not but 20 miles away and as Doe and Bob are so honestly nice and helpful, they came running to the aid to help move her sister's family to their new abode, as well as, offer their expertise on remodeling decorating and landscaping, which is being done as we speak.

We love these people. They are wholesome, down to earth people who work hard and play even harder. Though it has been over a year since we last visited, it felt like 

After hours of reminiscing and catching up it looks like Janice and I will be joining them soon on an adventure around the Olympic Peninsula and then on into Victoria, British Columbia. I can't wait to go traveling with these free-spirited globe-trekkers. All we need is a Volkswagen Micro-bus, a tie-dyed t-shirt and a tambourine.