St Croix River Road Ramblings

Welcome to River Road Ramblings.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Early Spring

I got my picture in the Minnesota Public Radio website where folks talk about changes with the early spring.  You can see it at
Early Spring Meanings

The Sterling Old Settlers Picnic committee got together this morning and planned the June 24th picnic and then started planning for the 75th picnic coming up in 2013.  We thought we might try to have some skits on the decades of history in Sterling starting from Native American days to settlement up to modern days by decades. My role will be getting the book finished.  I had a very early draft to get folks stimulated to contribute.  One of the nice things is that the cost of publishing is not a problem with the print-on-demand low cost printing available through  the book self-publishing route.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

At the Cabin

Had my 60 staples removed from the new knee surgery this morning.  Everything is coming along fine with it.  Scott has a bad cold, so I headed to the cabin at Cushing on my own, but not before seeing the first bluebird and first dandelion at Pine Island.

It is a little less green and maybe a little behind in spring up here than the 3 hours south to the Rochester area, but is nice up here too.  The maple trees are splendid in their green hanging blooms.  

Stopped at Mom's and she is better--the chiropractor seems to have helped loosen her knees and shoulder some.  She is anxious to plant some of her garden!

In Rochester and Pine Island, the gas price is $3.79 for regular with 10% ethanol.    At Stillwater, Hastings and Cannon Falls it was $3.65.  At Taylors Falls it was $3.63.  I read that we are lower than some of the rest of the country because we get a lot of Canadian crude oil cheaply.  As soon as the new pipeline gets approved and the Canadians can ship the crude directly to Texas, we will probably lose our lower prices.

No mice in the traps; no more burglars, just some dead flies to vacuum up in the cabin.  Looks ready for summer!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The St Croix River Road

The earliest settlers moved in along the River Road that enters Sterling at Wolf Creek and follows the creek northeast. When the township boundaries were first surveyed in 1847 it was listed as "road to the pineries" and "waggon road". Supplies from St Croix and Taylors Falls to the white pine areas north of Sterling had to travel by wagon or sled because the St Croix River had rapids up to Wolf Creek.

 The earliest loggers used oxen in the woods. They were slow, powerful and could live on the wild hay from the local marshes unlike horses who needed better feed. Almost everything in the logging camps had to be hauled up the River Road. The earliest Sterling farmers moved in along the River Road to meet the need for rest stops on the way. Every few miles was another pioneer providing food and shelter for man and beast.

 The area along Wolf Creek had hay marshes, prairie to the west and timber to the east making it ideal for quickly getting established as a farmer. The route probably followed old Indian trails.
Many accounts of traveling the route from St Croix to the white pine woods have been written in the early days. A few are excerpted below.

 The St Croix Union reporter from Stillwater wrote about his trip winter trip in March 6, 1855. “Arrived at Wolf Creek that evening. It is named so by reason of the continual howling of the wolves during the night. There is a kind of stopping place at the creek for the accommodation of teamsters and their horses. There being a number of teams there, as a matter of course, the evening passed off with all the hilarity imaginable [Wolf Creek has been associated with liquor sales all of its life so we can guess about the hilarity]. Next day, found that one of my friend’s horses gave out, and we were kindly invited to a seat in the sled of Hartwell Lowell, and gladly accepted of it . we determined to visit Lowell’s Camps on Wood River. The day was very cold, and we preferred using our trotters to sitting in the sled much of the time. We came into another species of timber. Half grown pine trees were abundant until we reached Trade River, a small but deep river about ten feet wide. After leaving Trade River, we went through alternately , pine openings until we left again for a by road when we commenced an uninterrupted series of mammoth pines until we reached Wood Lake, two miles in length.

“ Maggie Orr O’Neill rode up to her father’s logging camp from their home on the River Road. She was interviewed by Helen McCann White in 1955 for the Forest History Foundation about working in her father’s camp in the early 1880s. "Well, the first winters we had two ox teams and one four horse team. We took [the logging equipment] up mostly on wagons. The latest we ever went was the 15th of November. Then we went on sleds. We took loads of hay and loads of feed and paraphernalia for our camp and or the men's camp, and the big wanigan boxes, 6x8x8 size."

 Lucy Orr Johnson also of Sterling wrote many columns in the Inter-County Leader in the late 1930s. "This may seem to be too many stopping places and too close together, but it was neither. There was not enough stopping places and not enough barn room to take care of all of this woods traffic, and beds were often short. There were times when a woodsman with his whole outfit of horses and oxen, and crew of perhaps a hundred men would have to camp in the yard at some of these places. Hundreds of horses and oxen; lumberman and lumberjacks as well as river men just swarmed into these stopping places."

 Worthy Prentice of Osceola published a booklet "Reminiscences of Early Pioneer Days in Polk County". Mr. Prentice relates a story from his trip in the summer 1867 headed north to cut marsh hay for the winter logging camps. He says: "We started about the middle of July. It was very warm and we got as far as Wolf Creek, a distance of 18 miles. After leaving St Croix Falls, we were forced to fight flies, deer flies and big horse flies. The men had to walk on each side of the team and with large brushes of evergreens, we would brush the flies off the horses or they would not move. Mr. Godfrey made up his mind if we were going to make the trip, we would have to lay up days and travel nights, so we tried it and it worked fine. The roads were mere trails, used only to haul supplies for logging camps."

 Good roads made a difference then as they do now. Continuing Emil Florschutz's early history of Sterling "The settlement of the town did not increase very much for many years. A great many of the first settlers were not satisfied with the country, and they left, reducing the population to merely a handful. One great difficulty to newcomers was the fact that roads leading up river at that time passed through the sand barrens, which discourage nearly every stranger at first sight. About 10 years ago [1866] many people came here and went a few miles east from the road where they found the land was more encouraging - with the best of soil and timber. From that time, the town was settled quickly and now the hard timberland is all taken and dotted with fine farms. Even a great deal of the sandy pine land has been also settled, as both kinds of land have proven to be good.”

 In the early 1960s the River Road was black topped. My brother Everett was hired to walk up and down the road with five tine fork to pitch the beer cans from the road surface into the ditch so they wouldn't interfere with the pavement. He and Maurice Swenson spent several days on the "All Can" stretch north of the Wolf Creek bars.

This is an excerpt of a larger book that can be purchased at St Croix River Road
 Or you can read it free at St Croix River Road Ebook

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Mom called from Cushing and said that Chuck, who rents the farmland we have, had spread the huge piles of turkey manure on the fields yesterday and chisel plowed them all up. It is at least a month early for that to be underway! She had Everett get a few pails of manure to put on her garden. Looks like people are going to try some early farming this year.

Mom, at 90, is enthusiastic at getting into the garden this year. Hopefully the exercise will get her stiff knees loosened up a little. She has been chiropractering for a couple of weeks with some mild improvement.

I turned 65 in December, and so far in my first year of officially being a senior, my health been mostly on my mind. Yesterday was an 8-week check on my CPAP breathing machine. The machine has a built in computer to record everything that happens each night. The sleep experts at Mayo downloaded the data and studied it and then told me everything was fine, after a very mild lecture on being careful as I had adjusted the machine to different settings other than what they had prescribed. I had upped the pressure the machine runs at to try to bring down the sleep stops from 8 per night to under 3 (it seems to have worked). I don't go back unless there is a problem for a year. The machine tells the doctor how many hours I use it each night and how many days I use it (average of 6.5 hours a night and 7 nights per week). If I don't use it enough, Medicare will take it back unless I pay for it myself.

The machine costs almost $1500 with the attachments. Medicare pays $110 per month rental for a year, when, if I am still using it faithfully, the machine becomes mine (rent to own). I am using it faithfully, because it makes my life better. I sleep good; feel refreshed, and best of all have a lot of ambition to do stuff, that I had pretty much lost before getting on the machine. It is actually quite a miserable thing to wear this mask and be hooked to the machine each night, but the rewards are worth it.

As I strive for better health with breathing, knees, and gradual weight loss, the next thing I need to work on is stamina. I had limited my walking so much with the bad knee for 2 years, that I am pretty much out of shape. So my next few months will be getting outside and walking and doing things. Too many things all built up and forced me to address them this year, however, now I am on the upswing with hopes of much improvement. I have a huge amount of maintenance to catch up on, being responsible for Mom's farm (I bought it from her), my Pine Island home, and the cabin on the Lake. All have suffered from my lack of mobility and ambition. I think I will delay the work on ladders for a few months ;)

I have the Sterling Picnic 75th book roughed out, but am in need of more stories and photos from the 40s-70s. Friday the picnic committee meets to plan this year's picnic. Scott and I are headed to Cushing for a long weekend to go to this meeting and others. I started going to the picnic back in the 1950s; my first job there besides cleanup, was to sell the pop, bottles floating in a big tub of ice water at 10 cents each. The Luck History Society newsletter is almost complete: the Sterling newsletter is underway, and I am 30% finished with the book on the Alabama folks settling in Polk County. I am trying to finish these off while I am still laid up.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Great Day

For the first day in a couple of years, I am able to walk around almost normally. I can't quite straighten my new knee yet, but it is coming. It is still somewhat painful, but it sure looks like it is going to be an improvement.

I think it is time to take a trip to Cushing. The Sterling picnic committee meets on Friday, Brother Marv has his annual Easter egg hunt on Sunday, Monday is the Luck museum board meeting, the Polk Co Genealogical meeting and the first 2012 meeting of the local rock and mineral society (last 3 in Luck).

If I don't show up at the meetings it is an excuse to add me to all sorts of committees to do things this summer! It is a wonderful way to encourage attendance.

The staples come out on Thursday. The Doc said when I quit taking the special pain killers and my leg bends OK, I can start driving (2-3 weeks), which should be all ready by Friday. I am thrilled at how much better the leg feels now (14 days since the new knee) than it did before the surgery--leg is straight and I can walk without a cane, although they said keep the cane until your walking is normal--no limping around. Mostly it is just getting the knee more flexible and bending over a wider range.

After some of my previous knee surgeries, I never got the knee straightened out without finally having to sit on one chair with my heel on another and have Margo sit on my knee and bounce up and down until it got bent all the way. She is not back from West Bend with her Dad until Easter.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wasting Away

Back in December, when I turned 65, I set as my goal to lose 20 lbs before my next birthday. The reasons were many: my doctor was pushing hard; my clothes were getting too tight; I had to start using a CPAP machine (that somewhat is associated with being overweight); and in general I was feeling that deterioration had set in badly!

I had put on the 20 lbs in the previous two years after my fall breaking my leg and damaging my knee that limited my mobility--couldn't go for a walk anymore. With less activity and eating the same amount, I added 20 lbs.

I still am inactive, especially since the first knee surgery in December and the second one 13 days ago, so losing weight had to be purely be eating less, a very hard thing to do when you are sitting around bored much of the time! By the time I had the knee replacement I had lost 5 lbs. The hospital stay and the two weeks since have helped and I have lost another 5 lbs so am halfway to the 20 lbs goal! I expect to be able to walk around again normally in a month or so, and am planning to make that a part of my daily routine. Having had 2 years where walking was difficult, I sure am looking forward to enjoying it again!

Yesterday, I decided to try using a cane with the new knee instead of the crutches. It seems to work pretty good. The knee is stable and bends close to straight, although I can't lock it yet, and my balance seems fine. It still hurts all the time, but less intensely.

One of the nuisances of talking to older folks is that they want to bore you with their health, which always seems to be a problem. I hope I don't become fixated on my health and take to blogging about joints and such when I get old. You might tell me if that happens.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Stinging Nettle

Margo called from West Bend where she is helping her dad recover from bypass surgery (he is doing good) and reminded me I should mow off the big butterfly flowerbed before it gets started too much.
When we used to spend more time in Pine Island and less in Cushing, she had the yard filled with bright colored annuals. She converted them to perennials and lets them survive on their own for the summer--survial of the fittest.

The early flowers are Russell Lupines. They have spread all over the flower bed and are quite spectacular through May and into June. Then purple coneflowers, golden rod, joe-pye weed, and others fight with milkweeds, goldenrod and thistles for the attention of butterflies. Last year a gopher rummaged through throwing up mounds and making a mess that needed to be leveled a little, and the remnants of my raspberry and blackberries keep coming back to add to the tangle.

A good low scalping with the riding lawnmower does good to give everything an even start. So, this morning Scott and I went out and rolled out the 1999 Murray 40 mower (cheap tractor type). After airing the tires and checking the oil, we stuck on the charger-booster and after a few grunts, it started and ran roughly. After letting it warm a little, we shut it down.

The mower had been shaking too much--found loose motor mount bolts to tighten. Changed the oil, put in some more gas, changed the spark plug, greased it (Scott did the work and I supervised with the excuse of my knee hurting) and then took it for a spin. It seemed to work OK, so we ground off the flower bed (maybe 30x60 feet) cutting off some new shoots and noticing that many daffodils were budded out ready to burst into bloom (we avoided those).

"Doesn't have any power to go forward" noted Scott. I climbed on and working at it got my right knee bent back enough to run the foot pedal that controls forward and backward movement and speed. "Guess the main drive belt is loose," I commented while getting myself wedged between a couple of big landscaping railroad ties that Scott had to lift and maneuver the mower back out of.

Looking at the manual, there is no adjustment for the drive belt (which has never been replaced), so that looks like the next job--getting the mower deck off, raise in the air and crawling under and unbolting 3 idler pulleys to get the belt replaced. It costs from $12-25 when searched for on the Internet (lots of places to order it), but I will try a local shop first to see if I can get one without having to wait for the shipping.

The flower bed (it was at onetime our garden too), appears to be overrun with lush 2 inch tall nettle plants. I don't know of any bird or wildlife that uses the nettle; it has a rather poor bloom, so I think I need to get rid of it. I know that back to nature folks cook nettle greens in the spring and make nettle tea, but the plants are a real skin irritant if you brush against them and will crowd out most anything else around them. The Indians used the long tough nettle fibers for thread, so it is a useful plant, but not with the flowers. My plan is to get a spray bottle of Round-up and carefully try to spray just the nettles--way too many to hoe or pull. I want their death to be a lesson to other unwanted plants that might be lurking nearby.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Asian Beetles

Asian beetles look like our native ladybugs, but they are different in being much more of a nuisance.

Each of the nice days that I mostly sit in my recliner as my knee slowly recovers, I watch as the beetles that came in last fall migrate to the south screen on my open patio door, my view of the yard and the bird feeders.

Each evening, they leave the screen and work back to fluorescent light on the other side of the room, settling in there until I turn that off and then head towards the bathroom where I have a night light on.

Each morning, I find some on the floor; some near the light; some here and there to begin their push to the south windows again. On the windows and screen, they slowly crawl around trying to find an escape route to the outside, ending up along the casings and on the screen; where Scott brings out the vacuum and sucks up another bunch.

The vacuum has the aroma of dead beetles; a distinctive, acrid, bad smell, not something found with ladybugs.

I spent 4 hours concentrating on the bugs as they crawled around the screen and window. It appears that they pause at times and then continue crawling, exploring each crack and opening sort of randomly; repeating their failed searches. I suppose a few do get out, but it seems the likelihood is no more than having a room full of typing monkeys produce a book of good poetry (something that a nation full of poets rarely accomplishes).

Today, I am opening the screen with the hope that more go out than come back in. Being here in SE MN, surrounded by soybean fields; the summer host for most of the beetles, it is hard to be free of them. Maybe my legislators will put up 50 foot screen border wall to keep these illegal immigrants out.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dr.Otto Ravenholt dies

Click for photo and story Dr. Otto Ravenholt

Another link Dr. Otto Ravenholt dies

Otto was a brother to Eiler Ravnholt, who passed away two weeks ago.

Knee Weeak after Surgery

Just past a week since I had the knee replaced. The cut is healing fine; things seem to be coming along except the continuous dull pain that stays with me. Having fooled around with Tylenol and Tramadol, I find myself resorting to the oxycodone when it gets too bad.
Mostly I do a few sets of knee bends and straightens several times a day to try and keep it bending, otherwise mostly just try to distract myself with the computer, my TV and ROKU internet access or Netflix online. Very boring, but as everything is healing I just have to patiently wait it out.
Margo, taking care of her father after bypass a few weeks ago, has decided to stay there until April. He is coming along good, but is worried about being on his own yet.
Today's article in the Milwaukee Journal said that WI maple syrup producers were having their worst year in memory. In the article, Steve Anderson, of Cumberland, a syrup buyer and bottler, said that those with vacuum pipelines are doing much better than those with buckets. My nephew, Bryce, tapped some of our maples and in spite of the warm weather has been getting some sap and cooking some syrup.
Daffodils were blooming next to a house in Pine Island when we drove through yesterday. Tulips leaves were 3-4 inches tall. Last night's heavy rain here is starting to turn the lawn green.
My biggest problem is losing one of the several remote controls for the TV and other electronics down in the bottom of the recliner. I think I will tie them to strings hanging down from the ceiling near the chair! It is hard to control my small world without the remotes.
A week from Thursday I have the staples out of the knee and my first check on the progress. Before that, Monday, I have the first check after 7 weeks on the CPAP machine.
The breathing machine has a camera memory type chip that records everything each night--details of each breath and so on. The doctor will load in the data into his computer and study the results and decide if we need to reset any of the machine parameters. I am not supposed to know how to do this (the secret is holding two buttons down for 10 seconds to go into "doctor mode" where you can change anything.) After 3 weeks, I upped the pressure from 7 to 7.5 and then a couple of weeks later to 8 to try to drop the number of stop breathing episodes. It has worked, but the doc will probably give me a hard time for messing with the prescribed numbers he set orignally.
Chuck and Carol of Bone Lake WI stopped by with lunch for us today. They drove the 3.5 hours down here for a visit. It was nice to visit. They told us that Eiler Ravnholt's brother Otto passed away on his way back to Nevada from his brother's funeral up here. He spoke at the funeral in West Denmark just days earlier.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Oxycodone High

One of the medications of choice for folks with pain, like me with my knee, is oxycodone (Oxycontin is the time-release version-a 12 hour buzz in a single pill).

I almost immediately lost the bottle I brought home by accidentally brushing it into my waste basket and sending it off with the garbage. However, I had 20 tablets left from my December earlier knee surgery, so could use them if necessary. Alternatively, I had Tramadol and Tylenol, as I had said I preferred not to use the oxycodone unless it was really necessary (which in the hospital, at times had been).

Oxycodone is a drug that people steal to sell on the illegal market. It is quite interesting--it kills the pain wonderfully and adds euphoria and loquaciousness to those of us who otherwise are remarkably dull. The drugees want it for the euphoria.

I have to be careful when I take it as I might just burst out into singing "Zippity Do Dah... What a wonderful day." I am not kidding here, I actually posted that on facebook yesterday after a two pill dose in the morning, while sending lengthy optimistic cheerful emails to a bunch of my friends.

I don't like it for that reason so am sticking to the alternatives except
when the pain gets really bad--then I turn off the phone, disconnect from the internet and strap myself to the bed and let the bliss flow over me for the next 4 hours.

I have 15 pills left; trying to hoard them for really bad pain, or when Margo returns from helping her Dad and gives me a hard time for not following my knee therapy (bend it back and straighten it until you yell at 80 decibels).

Written while not on Oxycodone

Friday, March 16, 2012

Netflix online highly recommended

As a diversion this winter while I am down with the knee surgeries, I added $8 a month to my living costs by adding Netflix online. I already pay for dsl internet (about 60 a month for 15mb here in Pine Island) so the extra wasn't much. I bought a ROKU box for $50 for the TV and now can get some of the internet stuff on the tv.
It is very nice all the stuff that is available through the 8 Netflix subscription. I started watching a series of British detective stories -- Midsomer Murders that have something like 70 episodes of 1hr 45 minute shows. They are fun, there are no commercials and come in smoothly (we have an older smaller TV so don't know about high resolution--but they are good quality).
At the cabin, I turn on DSL for the summer (can put it on hold for the winter) and have it at about 3 Mb speed and it works fine there too. I can also watch it on my computer directly. Margo, Scott and I can all use it simultaneously, each watching something different with the same single subscription.
It is quite amazing what has happened in the past 20 years with the Internet! Actually, quite wonderful!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Russ gets a new knee

In the endless series of knee articles, here is one describing the surgery. If you like blood, gore and the smells of burning bone and flesh, you might enjoy this story.

A few weeks before the surgery, I had a swab test of my nose. It showed staph germs, so I was prescribed antibiotic salve to put in the nose twice a day for a week before the surgery. Infections are a worry with replacement joints that don’t get normal blood flow in them to clear up infections. Most noses are reservoirs for staph germs, waiting for the nose to let down its guard and enter the blood stream and make us sick. Careful nose picking –that removes the big goobers of coagulated germs but doesn’t cause bleeding is necessary to keep them under control during normal times. They had to be killed off before the surgery just in case.

The night before surgery I showered with special anti-bacterial soap; stopped eating in the evening and had another shower in the morning with the germicide. I had been eating a high fiber diet as suggested in preparation for possible constipation after the surgery.

I am leery of using anti-bacterial soap. The first line of defense of our bodies against all the dangers of the outside world are the vast colonies of bacteria living on our skin and in our orifices. We have adapted to them and they to us living in what biologists call a “symbiotic” relationship (a win-win situation). Get rid of them and their place might be taken by brand new more dangerous ones we aren’t able to cope with. As Margo has been away for several weeks down with her Dad after his bypass surgery, I prepared by not showering for a few weeks and not changing the sheets so after surgery I could come back home and repopulate my skin with my old friendly bacteria!

The day before surgery, I had a last visit with my surgeon. Mostly he wanted to make sure I didn’t have a cold or infection and a blood test to show my levels of everything were normal. ”It will be a complicated surgery, more like second knee replacement because of the damage you did to your knee two years ago in the fall. We may have to use a lower knee extension peg to hold it securely. It should turn out fine, but until we get in there, we won’t know for sure.” I think he was in his 30s, a nice friendly doctor who wanted to make sure I understood everything.

I called in Sunday night at 8:15 to get my Monday surgery report time—6;30 am. Scott drove me in and I hobbled to the Methodist hospital admissions desk. Many knee surgeries are done at St. Mary’s and some at Methodist, depends on the doctor. In the old days, Catholics picked St. Mary’s and Protestants chose Methodist. Now they are fully merged into Mayo and are both non-denominational. However, as a Lapsed Protestant, I felt more at home in Methodist.

After checking in, I was wheeled to a preparation room where I stripped and changed into the back snapping hospital gown and a robe. I watched a short video that emphasized falls are dangerous, so whatever you do, never try to get up or walk while you are in the hospital without calling a nurse to help. My clothes were bagged and a rolling bed and attendant picked me up and took me to the pre-surgery room.

An anesthesiologist came by and we discussed gas (full knockout) or spinal (awake but numb from below the waist). I chose spinal so I could give advice to the doctor; with my 25 years of working at Mayo I picked up some medical knowledge that I thought might be useful in a pinch. An IV port in my right hand was setup. I also took a pill; Celebrex that I think was for pain and an antibiotic.

Several other folks were lined up in beds awaiting surgery. Two were brand new knees, one was a 2nd replacement knee, one was a bone repair and one a hip. My surgeon stopped by and chatted and wrote his initials with a marker on the right thigh. Identification of the patient and where to cut is a very fussy process as hospitals have occasionally operated on the wrong limb. It comforted me that being awake during surgery, I could politely say “no doc, the other leg” if he started on the wrong one.

Every stop and every interaction with a nurse, doctor or other person during the whole stay was preceded by “Spell your last and first name; What is your date of birth” and a laser scan of my wrist band making sure I was the right patient. Hospitals still have problems with misidentification. I counted 372 times I spelled my name and gave my birth date “Hanson Russell 12/10/46” as they scanned the wrist ban and the medication bottle or bag to record it on the computer. Mayo is a completely electronic record place so everything including the x-rays are all on computers. (I think they only had to do a couple of the ctrl alt delete reboots during the surgery).

They stuck on some ECG (heart) electrodes, a finger oxygen monitor and something that tracked my breathing. I was surrounded by beeping machines—as a computer technical guy that made me feel comfortable that the machines were making sure I was doing well all of the time so I didn’t have to depend on nurses who might get to talking about their date Sunday night.

At about 9 am I was rolled into the surgery room where I shifted to the surgery table. The surgery room was brightly lit with lots of stainless steel and a whole group of hovering folks; the surgical team. On the wall were several large computer screens with different views of my knee. “Boy whoever that knee belongs to sure looks like he is in pain,” I commented to the group as I slid over to the operating table, getting a reward of laughter from the operators (I was the operatee).

First they had me roll on my side and stuck a needle in my back to give the spinal. Some “mental fogger” came through my IV as they extended my arms to side table wings and strapped them down. I thought I would get bothered being strapped down, but I was really mellow by that time, the pleasant fog obscuring everything else. When I said I couldn’t feel my legs anymore, they put a cloth vertical hanging screen over my chest so I couldn’t see my legs anymore.

On my end, the anesthesiologist stayed by me and we talked during much of the surgery. I told her what I did at Mayo in research and other stuff while below the screen, all sorts of sounds of electric saws, drills and pneumatic hammers were rattling away—sounded like a construction site. I wonder if they used DeWalt tools like I have at home.

The monitors beeped with each heart beat, the tone changing with the oxygen level indicating I should breathe more deeply. Many screens showed information as to my heart, oxygen and probably other things. The whole process was recorded so if I complained, they could replay the operation for the judge and jury.

The surgery was an 8 inch cut through skin and tissue down to the bone from a few inches above the knee all the way to a few inches below the knee, right on the front. Once in, they had to saw off the ends of the two big bones that make up the knee joint and remove the stuff in the knee joint. After getting two flat surfaces and reaming out the center of the bone, they glued and drove the new knee ends into each bone. There was no pain, but it felt like they were pounding with a hammer as hard as they could to drive the metal pegs into the middle of the bones. I think there were about 25 whacks with a 13 pound blacksmith hammer that shook me and the bed a great deal. I was fully aware of the sawing, drilling and hammering, amused that I knew what they were doing and could hear them talking, smell the flesh, blood and burning from the saw blade, but just floated along pleasantly through the whole thing.

Eventually, at about 11 am, they said “It’s all done. Looks great. No problems with it” and wheeled me into the recovery room for another two hours, still hooked up to monitoring computers.

As I had the spinal, I had to wait until my legs unthawed, with lots of measurements ongoing. Finally I was rolled to a nice private room on 9th floor with a large window overlooking the city, where for three days I was inconvenienced by blood suckers, probers and measurers while floating on oxycodone. It reminded me very much of the times I have been abducted by aliens who also treated me the same way.

Thursday, I am in less pain, getting around with crutches and doing pretty good. The worst thing is that right next to my recliner is a waste basket and then a tray table where I keep my drugs. It appears I bumped the table and rolled my 80 oxycoden pain killers into the garbage that Scott took out and burned in our burn barrel--so I am without them.

I am not really bothered as the Tylenol work just about as good without the mental buzz of oxycodone that irritates me--makes me feel sort of hyper rather than just my stodgy self. I think on the illegal drug market they would have sold for $5 each--so a real loss with 80 of them! I don't dare ask the doc or pharmacist for a refill or I would likely get on all sorts of police lists.

Feeling some pain, but walking around some too -- The River Road Crawler

We will continue with the hospital stay next time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Knee replaced!

About 50 staples in my knee. The blue lines are markers where the thigh bone connects to the knee bone and the knee bone connects to the leg bone!

They will be taken out in 2 weeks.
I am working on getting the knee to bend fully and to lock when straight. It is painful. I have oxycodone pain pills that work good except they make me stop breathing at night (even with the cpap), so I switch to Tylenol at night. It is amazing how quickly the whole knee replacement process was.

With the warm weather and Scott babysitting me and Margo babysitting her Dad, we decided to skip maple season for now. This may be the year that there is no maple sap run. It needs to be cooler for sap to run (freezing at night and thawing in the day). When the buds start, the sap gets an poor flavor. They may bud out quickly with the warmth.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Knee Surgery

Tuesday update: hobbled around a little with a walker and headed home tomorrow afternoon. Doctor was very proud of how well he did with my complicated leg and knee injuries and is going to give me an autographed x-ray!

Out of surgery after 2 hours with a brand new knee. No problems. First walk tomorrow, home on Thursday. Mayo Clinic does almost 1% of all knees replaced in the USA. Mayo has wireless so I am happy!

I go into Mayo at 6:30 Monday to have my new right knee put in. With luck, should have it in by afternoon. I will be home sometime Thursday if all goes well.
Margo's dad is home and starts rehab Monday after his bypass surgery. Margo plans to be there a few weeks.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Eiler Ravnholt, Luck WI passed away

Full Obituary at Click for Obituary

Update: Visitation Friday from 4 to 7. Funeral at 11:00 on Saturday at the West Denmark Church (West of Luck, WI on Hwy N about 1 mile then south 1/4 mile on 170th Street).

Got this note from Dan Beal of the Luck area:
"We just received notice that Eiler Ravnholt of Luck died during the night - last night. A service of remembrance will be held at the West Denmark Church on March 17th- next Saturday."

Chuck Adleman of Luck Historical society gives Eiler (right) a history award.

Eiler joined the Polk Men's group in Luck a couple of years ago. That is where I met him, and got to know him. We get together and learn about some new topic, reminisce or maybe talk about contemporary issues. and in general get acquainted. Mostly we are aging liberals, discouraged with the recent right wing attempt to dismantle the social safety net and remove the restraints on big business to take over our lives completely. We really don't talk much politics or religion much, as we agree on most things already.

Eiler was fascinating to listen to. He was a foot soldier in World War II with many experiences from the foxhole point of view. After the war, he went to college under the GI bill. He was recruited into MN Senator Hubert Humphrey's staff through his wife who already worked there. They went to Washington with the Humphries where he got to know most of the folks in government in the 60s-90s.

He showed us his autographed copy of "Profiles in Courage" that John Kennedy gave him, trying to encourage Eiler to vote for Kennedy in the 1960 presidential campaign--but Eiler said he supported Humphrey then.

Eiler worked for many years as an aide and speech writer for Hawaiian senator, Daniel Inouye. Eiler's stories about politics and politicians were entertaining and gave us a glimpse into what politicians were really like (mostly nice rational folks in the 60s-90s).

Eiler often wrote letters to the editor of the local newspapers in response to other opinions. As a liberal, he supported the folks in society who need help and was literate in his efforts to explain that the government does have a role in keeping its citizens protected from businesses out to make a profit at any expense. His letters were civil, reasoned and appealed to people's better nature. His last letter appeared in this week's Inter-County Leader where he responded to Republican Mark Pettis' call to tax the poor so the rich can be relieved of their heavy burdens helping out others. You can read it at this link: Leader March 7

Eiler was from a large poor family. His ancestors came from Denmark in the 1800s to West Denmark (Luck area of NW Wisconsin). His great grandmother was the first buttermaker at the first cooperative creamery in NW Wisconsin. In retirement, he returned to his hometown area and lived in Luck, leading an active life right up to his death.

The illness of his father in the early part of the Great Depression forced the family to go on charity care -- living for a winter at the old school house on Little Butternut Lake at West Denmark. He understood what it was to be poor and to worry about the next meal and never forgot this, concerned all his life with helping the less fortunate make it in society.

He and his brothers and sisters were a very determined group, most of them going on to college and making their way into America and prospering. He remembered the help his family got from the government in the Depression, from neighbors, from the West Denmark Church and his government paid college under the GI Bill His life was evidence that with a helping hand even dirt poor folks can be successful in America.

Eiler Ravnholt was a great supporter of the local area giving his time and money to charitable and cultural activities. With his wide range of friends, his activism in the community and his knowledge of local history and governmental history he was a fascinating person to know and talk to.

Last year, I helped Eiler prepare slides for his talk on the history of the Luck cooperative creamery--the one commemorated by the sign on Highway 35 at Luck. He was very well versed in local history and a valuable member of the Luck Area Historical Society. Eiler took the time to see what I was doing on the computer, wanting to learn how to do it himself. He was active on Facebook, and fascinated by the progess of the Internet in bringing knowledge and people together.

It has been a hard time for many of us this winter, losing our friends Eiler, Edwin Pedersen, Tim Carlson, Darrel Kittleson and Bernice Abrahamzon, all people who made our neighborhood better and more interesting for their presence, all active in improving things around them. Margo and I will miss our old friends greatly. One of the hardest parts of getting old is how many of your friends pass on. That they leave you a better person for having known them is some compensation.

In remembrance of Edwin and Eiler, consistent voices for moderation and support for those in our society who need help, especially in their letters to the editor of the Inter-County Leader, I fired off my own letter this morning. It wasn't as well reasoned, as literate, or as educational, or passionate but I did it feeling that voices of moderation do need to balance those of the extremes now predominating in the political discourse. With Edwin and Eiler moving on to their next adventures, others will have to step forward if moderation and balance is to be preserved.

If you have memories of Eiler, please click the word "comments" at the bottom of this posting and add them. The advantage of an online column/blog is that you can respond to what you have read and add your own views. Russ

Click to go to Ravnholt Family History Website
To read about the farm foreclosure click

From that website a brief biography


Born 21 February 1923, Ravnholt Farmstead, Milltown, Wisconsin
Educational History
Public schools, Milltown, West Denmark, and Luck, Wisconsin, 1929 41; Niagara University, Niagara Falls, New York (ASTP), 1943 44; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1946 48, B.S. . (education) 1948; University of Southampton, 1949 50.

Employment History

Farm hand: Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, until 1941; Shipyard worker, Bremerton, Washington, 1942; U.S. Army, 1943 46; 104th Infantry Division, European Theatre of Operations, 1944 45; High school teacher/principal, Dover, Minnesota, 1948 49; High school teacher/principal, St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, 1950 52; High School

In the photo of St Croix Falls teachers 1951, Eiler is seated third from the left. Click on the photo to make it bigger.

Teacher, Mankato High School, Mankato, Minnesota, 1952 62; Chairman, Blue Earth County Democratic Farmer Labor Party, 1960-62; Delegate, Democratic National Convention, 1960; Assistant to Hubert H. Humphrey, U.S. Senator, 1962 64, Vice President of the United States, 1964 68; Administrative Assistant to Daniel Inouye, U.S. Senator, 1969 80; Vice president and Washington representative, Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association, 1980-1995.


Married Edna Joyce Collis, 23 March 1947, West Denmark, Wisconsin. Children: Elizabeth Collis, b. 22 August 1948, Frederic, Wi; Ann Collis, b. 15 July 1951, Mankato, Mn; Margrethe Collis, b. 15 April 1954, Mankato, Mn;,Jane Collis, b. 6 December 1957, Mankato, Mn; Christopher Collis, b. 28 August 1964, Washington, D.C.

Ann m. Henry Bokelman Jr., 27 August 1970, children: Seth, Jessica.

Jane m. Gary Ellingson, 17 July 1981, children: Jana.

Margrethe, m. Christopher Hankin, 11 October 1981, children: Erik and Lars.

Elizabeth m. Michael Zipser, 8 May 1982.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cabin Break In -- A Picky Robber

   This morning I got up early and headed north from Pine Island, MN to the cabin at Cushing.   There was no snow south of Stillwater, and only a little north until I got up closer to St Croix Falls.   Driving up the river road, the St Croix still frozen over at St. Croix Falls, but just a few miles north, from Spanglers Bay to Nevers Dam, it was fully open.
Burglar Tracks leading to and from the Cabin

   The snow was melted down mostly at the cabin, so I unlocked the big gate and drove in.  The hillside and driveway were very icy, the melting snow of the previous day was mostly ice this morning.
   I got out my key and slid down my walkway to the cabin door and opening the screen door, found the main door broken open!   It is an old door I rescued from a sale at Almena 35 years ago when they had a sale on fixtures in a school that was being closed or remodeled.
   When I built the cabin, I was a school teacher and had absolutely no spare money so salvaged all sorts of used items to build.  The big interior door with half glass was quite attractive—nicely varnished.  However, 35 years of being exposed to the weather has given it more than a patina, sort of a rot-tina.   Years ago, it had been kicked in so my fix at that time was to put a padlock and hasp on the door and frame.  The breaker inner had kicked it and the screws came out showing lots of wet rot behind the crinkled veneer.
   I went in and looked around.  Every cabinet door open, most of the drawers in the kitchen and storage bins (high quality Wal-Mart plastic ones) all open; some of the smaller ones dumped on the table.
   I am pretty careful to never leave anything that would have any pawn shop value at the cabin, so after looking around and straightening up, the only loss I could find was my bowl of about $5 of quarters saved for the Laundromat.
   It appeared to be a person in search of something I didn’t have.  I doubt the person was after drugs, because my Ex-Lax, Tums, Bayers, and Preparation H were all untouched.  My computer was untouched!  Of course, it may be that because I hadn’t take the time to remove the $12 garage sale sticker from the big old tower case advertising XP 1.1 GHz 512mb and the big heavy CRT with the duct tape holding it together nor the 7 year old HP All-in-One printer/scanner with it’s own $3 garage sale sticker.
   The most valuable item, my 1957 paint-by-numbers maple syruping scene was still hanging on the wall, next to the new, but likely to be valuable someday,  painting of Atlas Lake by my neighbor,Ed Emerson.
   My large box of books including “History of Maple Syruping…” just out last month, was untouched; strange when one thinks of tremendous value for only $10 each at Anderson Maple near Cumblerland, WI.
   The tracks leading to the cabin showed the burglar had walked in from the road through the old cattle gate then to the driveway and to the cabin, and back out the same way.  The tracks were since the big snow, but before the big melt this week.
   I called the Sheriff’s office and after they found out I didn’t have a loss or damage, they unenthusiastically took my report and asked me to followup by phone if I found anything else missing.
   Incidentally, when I checked the phone messages (I have a vintage rotary dial beige table top phone put in 35 years ago with a garage sale message recorder) and I had two interesting messages.
   Local game warden, Jessie, had left a message that they had picked up a deer poacher in my neighborhood and found he had stolen some stuff from a hunting blind in my area or just north.   I don’t have any hunting blinds, although I do let my next door neighbor hunt there, so don’t know about that.  I have to check with the game warden and find out when he picked up the poacher and see if that fits with my robbery.   If the poacher has a pocket full of quarters it might be him.
     The other phone call was from a local newspaper reporter wanting to get together to do a story about maple syruping.  Normally I would be tapping this weekend, but with the new knee scheduled Monday, I was going to leave it to son Scott and let Margo baby me for a couple of weeks after the surgery.  Since she had to go to Milwaukee where her Dad is recovering from heart bypass surgery and will be there the rest of March, Scott will be my baby sitter for a week or two before we get around to tapping the maples, unless I am up and kicking quickly.  It is hard to think about giving up the fame of a newspaper article on maple syruping, but it does just not look like this year will be the one I finally get my 15 minutes of fame.
   As my break in was not very serious, I don’t really feel violated.  I guess mostly I am sort of disappointed that I don’t own anything that a burglar thinks would be worth stealing.  I guess that is a comment on my thriftness!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bill Nye biography

Have been reading some humor books by Bill Nye. He grew up in NW WI back in the 1800s and for a time lived at Grantsburg. Google has scanned his books and made them available to download for free to my book reader. I like his humor. Here is his biography.

My autobiography, written by myself.
Edgar Wilson Nye was born in Maine, in 1850, August 25th, but at two years of age he took his parents by the hand, and, telling them that Piscataquis county was no place for them, he boldly struck out for St.Croix county, Wisconsin, where the hardy young pioneer soon made a home for his parents.
The first year he drove the Indians out of the St. Croix Valley, and suggested to the North-Western Railroad that it would be a good idea to build to St. Paul as soon as the company could get a grant which would pay them two or three times the cost of construction.
The following year he adopted trousers, and made $175 from the sale of wolf scalps. He also cleared twenty-seven acres of land, and raised some watermelons.
In 1854 he established and endowed a district school in Pleasant Valley. It was at this time that he began to turn his attention to the abolition of slavery in the South, and to write articles for the press, signed "Veritas," in which he advocated the war of 1860, or as soon as the government could get around to it.
In 1855 he graduated from the farm and began the study of law. He did not advance very rapidly in this profession, failing several times in his examination, and giving bonds for his appearance at the next term of court.
He was, however, a close student of political economy, and studied personal economy at the same time, till he found that he could live on ten cents a day and his relatives, easily.
Mr. Nye now began to look about him for a new country to build up and foster, and, as Wisconsin had grown to be so thickly settled in the northwestern part of the State that neighbors were frequently found as near as five miles apart, he broke loose from all restraint and took emigrant rates for Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Here he engaged board at the Inter-Ocean Hotel, and began to look about him for a position in a bank. Not succeeding in this, he tried the law and journalism. He did not succeed in getting a job for some time, but finally hired as associate editor and janitor of the Laramie Sentinel. The salary was small, but his latitude great, and he was permitted to write anything that he thought would please the people, whether it was news or not.
By and by he had won every heart by his gentle, patient poverty and his delightful parsimony with regard to facts. With a hectic imagination and an order on a restaurant which advertised in the paper, he scarcely cared the livelong day whether school kept or not.
Thus he rose to justice of the peace, and finally to an income which is reported very large to everybody but the assessor.
He is the father of several very beautiful children by his first wife, who is still living. She is a Chicago girl, and loves her husband far more than he deserves. He is pleasant to the outside world, but a perfect brute in his home. He early learned that, in order to win the love of his wife, he should be erratic, and kick the stove over on the children when he came home. He therefore asserts himself in this way, and the family love and respect him, being awed by his greatness and gentle barbarism.
He eats plain food with both hands, conversing all the time pleasantly with any one who may be visiting at the house. If his children do not behave, he kicks them from beneath the table till they roar with pain, as he chats on with the guests with a bright and ever-flowing stream of bon mots, which please and delight those who visit him to that degree that they almost forget that they have had hardly anything to eat.
In conclusion, Mr. Nye is in every respect a lovely character. He feared that injustice might be done him, however, in this biographical sketch, and so he has written it himself. B. N.

Margo's dad better

Merlin, Margo's dad is improving after bypass surgery in Milwaukee. He is off the respirator and communicating including answering a series of questions right including "Who is the vice president?" He immediately replied "Biden" proving to the doctor his memory was fine. Margo thinks it will be a week before Merlin is released to home.
To check your memory this morning, answer this: Who was vice president under George Bush the first? A hint is "potatoe."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Knee closer to replacement!

The surgeon checked my knee out this morning and says it is ready for replacement next Monday! "It is complicated with all the old injuries, so it will be more like a second knee replacement than a first one" he said, warning me that the recovery will take a month or so if all goes well.
Surgery is Monday; I stay in Mayo until Thursday; the following week I start rehab. I am taking it at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Rochester where dance studio instructor, Bambi, will be personally taking on my care (provided Medicare OK's her personal care license and she doesn't get arrested in the mean time).

Margo's dad in serious condition

Friday, Margo's 86 year old father had quadruple bypass surgery at Frodert hospital in Milwaukee. Yesterday, he was in very serious condition, and put on a respirator, after having some problems following the surgery. He was better by evening, but is still in serious condition. They were planning to try to take the respirator off over night expecting he could breath on his own again. Merlin had been quite independent, living on his own and active until a week ago when he went into the hospital with chest pain.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Forty Years

Today Margo and I celebrate our 40th anniversary! Margo is in West Bend, WI where her father underwent successful quadruple bypass on Friday and she plans to stay for a few weeks until he is home and getting along independently again, and I am in Pine Island, getting ready for my new right knee surgery (final pre-check tomorrow, and surgery the 12th).
We got married in a snowstorm on March 4th 1972. Everyone was sure it must be a hurry up wedding being held on that date. It was, son Scott was born only 48 months later.
We plan to celebrate our anniversary on April 1st listening to Elvis sing "fools rush in where angels fear to tread..."
. Our honeymoon was a week off from work cleaning out my old efficiency apartment, and moving to a new bigger one that our two incomes could now afford. The efficiency seemed fine to me, but Margo balked at having the single sink doubling for the kitchen and bathroom.
The efficiency was a little awkward too, as we had to fold up the bed into a sofa when visitors came knocking at our door--seemed like the sofa was always in bed form that first month ;-).
Our wedding dance was a German polka band (Ellie Mae and the Klampets?). Margo's parents gave us a huge German wedding with a big wedding supper and dance. I mostly went along with the arrangements but when I found out that Margo and I had to do the first dance together by ourselves on the dance floor, I was scared badly. I was brought up to believe that dancing was a mortal sin and didn't know how nor want to show it in front of several hundred new relatives. A few beers helped me get through it, and most of the rest of the dance is lost in haze, except when we left early and had to get Margo's 68 Mustang jumped because the battery was dead.
Mom remembers the wedding mostly because they drove from Cushing to West Bend the day before in a huge snowstorm; determined to see their second son married. They always made a point of driving to visit us wherever we lived even taking the ferry out to Washington Island.
We got a lot of wedding presents--enough to set up a couple of homes! We got enough cash to go buy a brand new Zenith 19 inch color TV (a couple months salary in those days). That color TV still worked when I tried it last year, but unlike our marriage, the TV needed a visit to the repairman for rejuvenation, so I sent it to the recycler.
Margo and I both worked at the Samaritan Nursing Home (a county nursing home and mental hospital in West Bend) when we got married. We had worked there together for a year before getting married, so knew each other quite well before we started dating. We continued working there for our first year of marriage before moving to Madison for schooling.
Our real honeymoon was a month long camping trip where we borrowed a tent and equipment, took the back seat out of the Mustang and headed to Florida a year after we got married, in the beginning of April. We camped our way from Florida across the southern US along the ocean and Mexico (and into Mexico), then up the west coast to Washington and back to Wisconsin.
Margo had never camped before and worried about the alligator scratching on the tent in Florida, the rattle snakes in Texas, the bandidos in Mexico, the hippies in Mendicino, the posse comitatus in Washington and the bears in Yellowstone.
We stopped in Las Vegas where Margo was lucky and won $90 in quarters giving us money for an extra week on the road. Coming out of Mexico we had to unload the Mustang completely as the feds searched everything we had for drugs. All we brought back was a sombrero, chess set, and some leather goods, but it did give us a chance to totally clean out the car. I think they were bothered by the missing back seat that we had taken out to give more room for the camping stuff.
We were a little footloose for the first few years as teaching jobs took us to Washington Island, Goodman (near Iron Mountain MI where our son Scott was born) and Amery before settling down near Rochester MN for the long haul.
When Margo was pregnant with Scott, we built our summer cabin near Cushing--in 1975. Probably this summer we might get the building completed. We normally would be up there now doing maple syruping, but it looks like Scott will have to do it this year.
It has been a good 40 years! I wouldn't have missed it for anything! We were good friends before we started dating, and throughout our marriage, we have been each other's best friends all along. We haven't quite lost all that other mushy stuff that goes with being married either--although we haven't had to rush to fold up the sofa-bed lately.
Happy Anniversary Margo!
Love from Russ, your favorite husband.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Forty Winks

It has been 40 days since I started using a breathing machine to keep me from stopping and starting breathing at night. Forty days and nights, for those of us with religious upbringings, is a significant time --a good time to evaluate breathing with a machine.

According to my sleep study overnight at Mayo,40 days ago, I had severe sleep apnea, stopping breathing, waking, and starting again an average of once per minute all night long.

I was not really aware of this, but had been complaining of tiredness for nearly 15 years and not knowing what was wrong. My outlook on life, was one of resignation, looking forward to the end of all of my toils; life was a burden to get through with responsibilities that must be met, but not much to look forward to.

So what has changed 40 days later?
First: although the machine is a nuisance, it doesn't bother me much, because I fall asleep quickly with it on, and sleep soundly most of the night now. I am resigned to living with it for the rest of my life. Margo sleeps better too.

Second: I do find that I wake up refreshed and much more alert, ambitious and enjoy my days much more! It is wonderful to get a good night's sleep.

Third:, I had forgotten what dreaming at night was like. My tests showed that I never got into REM sleep, the dream stage, without the machine. Now I dream wildly, regularly and vividly. I had forgotten about dreaming, having not done it for what I estimate to be 10-15 years. Dreams are fascinating!

Fourth: I am rather impressed with my "new" doctor at Mayo. A year of so ago, I changed doctors when my old one retired. He was very much of the minimal testing type, more diagnosing based on listening and asking. My brand new one, fresh from medical school and residency, is test oriented--a basic health check and go have some tests. She, though her persistence in pushing me into heart, breathing, sleep, and other tests, got to the root of one of my major problems--not sleeping.

In summary, the sleep machine has changed my outlook on life to one that really looks forward to each day and the future. Before, I felt so tired that I lacked much of the drive I used to have, and probably looked ahead more with resignation than enthusiasm. Amazing what a good nights sleep can do for a person!

I downloaded some free software, called "Sleepyhead" that reads the sleep machine data (it has a computer that is tracking all sorts of details of each night's sleep) so I can look at the quality of each sleep. I have adjusted the machine to approach a goal of 3 or less sleep stops per night now, as compared to hundreds before. I like the technical aspects, the wonderful colored graphs, tables and scientific info that I find.

The sleep machine has been a wakeup call for me. With my new knee scheduled for the 12th, I am looking forward to another 20 years of agitating my friends and neighbors!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Margo heads South

Margo got a call from her dad, Merlin, who lives in West Bend WI. He had chest pain and went into the doctor who sent him to Frodert Hospital in Milwaukee. After several tests, he is headed for heart bypass surgery Friday with a possible valve replacement.

Margo thinks he will be in the hospital until later next week and then back to his condo in West Bend. She plans to stay until he is ready to be on his own again--probably 3 weeks or so.

She will miss our 40th wedding anniversary coming up on Sunday the 4th of March and probably my knee replacement on March 12th here at Mayo Clinic. Son Scott finishes his winter job at the ski resort on the 11th and plans to babysit me until I am walking on my own (2 nights in the hospital and then home with a walker or canes and walking on my own relatively soon).

With all the medical stuff, it looks like tapping the maples will wait until the weekend of the 17th, although if you look at the forecast for Cushing WI
Click to see Cushing 10 day forecast it shows some high 40s for next week! It is awful tempting to start tapping the maples already on Monday!

This week, being pretty much limited to hobbling around, I plan to get as much of the "75th Anniversary of the Sterling Old Settlers Picnic" book together as I can and continue working on the history of Alabama WI (ghost town between Cushing and Atlas settled by Civil War era Alabamians migrating to WI in 1860s).

Margo and I were reminiscing about our first date. We were working at the same place in West Bend, WI. I invited her to go to a movie in northern Milwaukee, where I was staying with my brother, Marv. After the movie, we came out and my 1967 Rambler Rogue was gone. "Kids joy riding," said the cop. I called Marv to take us home (Margo to the farm outside of West Bend) and on the way out of her driveway, he ran over Jack, her family's dog. Jack ran off yelping with his tail between his legs (a sore paw is all he got) and we drove off hoping Margo's parents would think it was someone else! The car was recovered undamaged the next day. That was in May of 1971--a first date to remember!