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Wow!  I remembered to update the page!  Actually the six day job of doing the last update was deterrent enough to further procrastinations on my part.  I just need to carry this forward to the "Funnies" of which I have about sixty or seventy to go through and assemble.  Perhaps after I am done with this update.  I also have all of the astro images to update on my astronomy pages.  Seems it never ends, I started it so I must keep it going as my beloved says.  Speaking of my beloved bride, she was in line to get a new calico kitten from a new litter.  Karen has always wanted a calico since we have been married and it has just never came through for her.  So we came back from the last stint to Colorado with my mom and the new kitten is only a week or two away from being weaned and Karen gets a call from her parents.  They have decided to move in with their son Dave and they need a home for their cat.  So Karen reluctantly agrees to take the cat.  Then she lets the people with the kitten know she won't be able to take the kitten after all, no problem as there were several folks waiting for such an opportunity.  Two days later Karen's mother calls, and informs her that they won't be moving for about a year.  Karen is now kind of heartbroken as she lost the calico kitten.  I stupidly suggest some form of replacement.  I guess that was all that was needed, as Karen and the Dork were tearing into the paper like a puppy left alone.  And since I mentioned puppy, guess what they decided would be a good replacement?  A Chihuahua puppy.   Arghhhhhhh!  Not an SBP dog!   You know, Shake - Bark - Pee, dog.  On Tuesday which was Cameron's first day of school the two plotted to drive to North Carolina and "look" at a couple of puppies.  So after they picked the Rat up from his first day of school, they all three headed out on a dog hunting mission across state lines.  They returned sometime after eight PM with a new addition to the family.  A seven week old smooth haired Chihuahua puppy which she named Mystic Tinker-Belle Fairywings.  Tink weighs in at two and one half pounds.  In contrast Bronco and Ninya went to the vet on Saturday and weighed in at 90 lbs and 80 lbs respectively.  They all seem to get along just fine, Bronco tries to play, and he is trying to scale his rough housing with Ninya down to the tiny one, but he still has to be watched carefully.  

My mom is doing OK after her surgery and has been moved down a couple of floors to be closer to the physical therapists.  I have been phoning here often and she does sound a little better each day.  I hope all remains positive and she hits this radiation treatment harder than it will hit her.  I do believe she will survive and come out on top.  As she does with most everything else she endeavors.

Cameron really enjoyed getting ready for his first day of school and had a nice time.  He didn't start in with the tears until the second and third days.  He was really happy when we told him that on Saturday and Sunday he did not have to go back to school until Monday!  We have been working real hard to convince him that school is a fun and good place.

Cameron all dressed up for his first day at school.

Dork (now down 93 #) with the Rat on the first day of school.

Mystic Tinker-Belle Fairywings  AKA  Tink, Dink, Stink, etc.

Bronco and Tink after a hard play.


On Saturday evening the 19th of August I received a frantic call from my sister that they were rushing my mom to the hospital in Pueblo.  They didn't know if she had experience a stroke or what.  A couple of hours later they confirmed it was not a stroke but some form of tumor or lesion on the rear lobe of the brain causing pressure on the brain.  The Pueblo doctors decided that the best thing to do was to transfer her to another hospital near Denver.  So she rode by ambulance to the Swedish Medical Center on the Southern edge of Denver with a good horse friend Kathy as Rhonda stayed behind to find someone to look after the horses.  On Sunday they whisked her through a battery of quick tests to see how serious the problem was.  They managed to stabilize her condition enough so that they could have a little time to figure out what was the best route.  Karen and I flew out on Tuesday to be there.  We met with the Neurologist and wanted to perform a full MRI and and a full PET scan to check for more cancer that might be lurking in her elsewhere.  The tests would take a couple days to be done so Karen and I made the 200 mile drive from my sister's house in Erie to the ranch in Westcliffe.  

We were amazed at how all of her friends and neighbors came together to help feed the sixty plus head of horses residing on the ranch.  We dug around in my mom's papers and found living will that dictates how she is to be handled in the case she is incapacitated, a necessity required by the hospital center along with a bunch of other important folders and papers.  We spent the night and managed to get back to the hospital Thursday to see how the test went and to meet again with the doctors.  The results were pretty good, the PET scan showed no other cancer lurking and the MRI showed two walnut sized tumors in an operable area of the brain.  Thursday just happened to be my sister Rhonda's 50th birthday as well.  Not much cause for celebration, we dinned on home grown white corn and Domino's Pizza.  Friday we visited with mom at the hospital and made a long list of things that should be brought back to Denver, her surgery was to be performed sometime Monday .   When our visit was over we again made the trek to Westcliffe, at least we were already on the Southern edge of Denver so we avoided a great deal of traffic.  We stayed overnight in Westcliffe after unearthing things and collecting them in the truck.  We also watched as a bunch of horses were taken to winter pasture and others were loaded up bound for friends houses, unfortunately the majority of the horses remained.  Late Saturday we drove back to the hospital and met with mom until late that evening.  Sunday we spent the entire day at the hospital reassuring mom and preparing her mentally for the surgery. Finally mom kicked us out of her room so she could get a shower before the big day.  Karen and I still had to pack up as our plane was to leave Monday afternoon.

Monday morning Karen and I drove down and visited with mom for about an hour or so before we had to drive back up to my sister's house and then go to the airport.  Everyone was nervous about the surgery.  Our flight left Denver at 2:49 PM, delayed of course so we did not get in the air until after 3:20 PM.  The first leg put us at the Dallas/ Fort Worth airport.  I called mom on the cell phone and she seemed in good spirits still awaiting her prep for the surgery.  She sounded good and not quite as scared as before.  We were well into our second leg when she went in for her surgery.  By the time we landed in Norfolk we had good messages on our cell phones.  She made it through the operation without a hitch and the little buggers were sent off for biopsy, the results of which would not be available for several days.  The three days waiting for the biopsy results were very long ones indeed.  Rhonda called me early Friday the first of September and gave me the bad news.  The tumors were malignant and had not originated in the brain, most likely they migrated from the previous cancer that she fought in 2004.  

Her treatment options were limited, only three really.  One was to do nothing, the third was to undergo a "Gamma Knife" where they expose her to a very high dose of gamma radiation but to an area just around where the tumors were.  And the third option was to undergo an aggressive whole head radiation at much lower levels to prevent cancer from spreading elsewhere in her head.  The doctors recommended the third option.  However it has always been my mom's wishes to avoid radiation treatment.  I did point out to her on the telephone that if she might have endured radiation treatment in 2005 these tumors might not have gained a foot (head) hold.  Anyway, her decision so far is to have pursue the third recommended course.  This will require about three or four weeks of daily radiation doses.  And then a period of time for recovery.  It was evident before the surgery that she would not be spending this winter up on the ranch.  She will probably spend some months with my sister at her house in Denver and perhaps an extended visit with us for a month or two.  That means another drive to Colorado as she won't fly.

I have a list of all of her email pals whom I have been sending emails to keep everyone up to date on her condition.  If you have not been receiving any emails then you are not on my list.  If you would like to be included please send me an email with your email address to  This whole ordeal would have been impossible to handle without the help of her good friends Kathy & Dan Sankey, Margaret Lewis  & Doug as well as Mike Stewart and especially Dean Rusk for feeding the horses.  A big thanks to Darrel Geroux for providing pasture.  A big thanks as well to all her friends who have called and helped as best they could.

Mary, my mom a few days after her cataract surgery.


Wow!  This page is still here!  After so long I almost expected it to have disappeared!  The old snowball affect kind of took over as the job to update the page grew and grew as time went on.  So now it has been nearly five months and I am finally "melting" the snowball.

Through the ensuing five months quite a lot has happened in our family and I will do my best to chronologically describe them.

The Dork's gut surgery has been paying off big time!  She has lost a total of ninety three pounds and is really looking like a new person in the short six months since her surgery.  She has to continuously buy new clothes to keep up, imagine the horror of a woman who "has" to shop.

Cameron is getting bigger and bigger and is heading off for his first day of school tomorrow.  The Dork and Grammy are planning on attending the big day as well and recording it for posterity.

 The following are a spattering of images captured during the last five months, I hope you enjoy them along with whatever little bit of commentary comes to mind as I plug them in to the web page.

Cameron learning to jump things with his bike.

The Dork still playing with her mother!

Air conditioning the new trailer.

Karen is none to pleased with my Redneck Engineered air conditioning system powered by a portable Honda generator.

The "Little Guy" camping trailer ready for the trek

After the fun with the window a/c unit I buckled down and added a real heating and air conditioning system to the trailer.  The unit is usually set upon the ground below the tray it is resting on here in the image.  The trailer is small, but big inside as it affords the sleeping area of a king sized bed.  There is a door on either side with a sliding screened window for air.  The back area lifts up and there is an area to set up camp stoves for cooking.  We had to use the heating function several times while in Colorado.  We also added a small 7" drop down screen TV with DVD player inside.

A Sunday trip to Jamestown was enjoyed the night before Karen ended up in the hospital with another intestinal blockage which took another week to heal up and get Karen back on her feet.  The Jamestown settlement will be 400 years old next year so we decided to visit before the big celebration.  Good timing as it rained nearly the whole day.

One of the tall ships.

Three rain soaked pirates!

The Dork communicating with a dead coyote.

Inside a hut taking a respite from the rain.

The big trip to Colorado to help feed the horses while my mom recovered from cataract surgery lasted just over three weeks.  Karen took a couple weeks off from work without pay and drove with me out to Colorado with a bunch of telescope equipment packed into our new teardrop style camping trailer.  The back of the Honda Pilot was reserved for Bronco who made the trek with us.  The trip out took a day longer than we expected due to our more southerly route.  This was primarily because we were pulling a trailer and could not run at 85+ and perhaps a little because of Bronco.  The first day Bronco barked at everything that we passed or passed us.  He usually barked right behind the front passenger seat's head rest.  I was glad to drive most of the day while Karen endured the constant barrage.  The second day wasn't so bad as Bronco only barked at red and black semi-trucks and every motorcycle.  By the fourth day he was only barking at motorcycles.  Our rout started with going West on route 58 until we encountered I85 South, which we followed down to I40 where we headed West until we found Amarillo Texas.  From Amarillo we took some back roads all the way up to Raton New Mexico.  From Raton we went North on I25 until we hit Walsenburg Colorado.  Then it was back roads again from Walsenburg through Gardner and finally Westcliffe.  Mom's cataract surgery was that Friday so we had a few days to learn her chore schedule.  Karen was a good chore girl, Bronco was not so good.  He just wanted to play with the big animals and had no fear that they could kick his brains out.  It wasn't until the last week or so that Bronco "helped" with the horse feeding.  The surgery went well and mom regained the use of her right eye so much so that she was continuously exclaiming things like "I haven't seen the trees on Goat Creek in twenty years".  We took with us no less than four telescopes.  The big Orion 12" Dobsonian for visual observing, the Solarmax solar scope for looking at the sun, and the portable imaging rig with a six inch Newtonian and an 80mm refractor for imaging.  Now this would make the third extended trip to Colorado with a bunch of telescope gear.  The first two trips met with poor weather and wind.  I was hoping that the third time would be a charm, a charm all right, a charm for the ranchers growing hay perhaps but not for budding astronomers.  You guessed it, it was cloudy and rained every night but one.  And that night was "iffy" to begin with.  That night was the second night we spent there and the local Sangre Stargazers were having a group observing session at one of the member's observatories.  For the sake of brevity, I will say that we had a very good time and enjoyed views through a nice 12" Meade SCT.  To read more of that adventure follow this link:

On page 5 there is a full story on the observing session.  My sister and her family whom we have not really seen in many years showed up for a couple of days.  We did a lot of catching up and drove around the valley one day with her now nearly full grown kids and visited some places that were "near & dear" to our hearts.  Such as the Bull Domingo mine where during one of the "kegger" parties we attended someone caught the mine buildings on fire and they burned to the ground.  The trip was successful and we were very sad to leave, and somewhat amazed that my mom who is seventy two was doing so much work with the horses, her only real complaint was being a little short of breath now and then and having some weird headaches that gave her a psychedelic light show at times.  The trip back was only three days as we took the shortest route, I70 Eastbound to I64 Eastbound and then take the second Greenbrier exit.

My mom the day after the cataract surgery

Bronco trying to get a colt to play with him.

Bronco has never been around any animals other than dogs or cats and was quite taken with the horses.  He just could not understand why they would not play with him.  Bronco would "sneak" over to the horse traps and try to get them to play.  He is lucky that none of them kicked him.  He was also very interested in the chickens but did not go to chasing them.  One time when one of the chickens were surprised and took off running, clucking and flapping her wings Bronco did take chase, Bronco was apprehended prior to the actual confrontation.  My mom was leery of him, but by the end of the trip she had learned that Rottweilers were just like most dogs, happy and playful until they have been showed otherwise.  Bronco also worked together with mom's dog Sally to dig out a ground hog and kill it.  I hid the dead rodent from Bronco as I didn't want him to eat it.  Later Sally managed to get a hold of it for a quick snack.

The colt is still not sure if this is play.

Bronco protecting the hay.

Ready for our first night up on the ranch, those clouds will go away?  Right?

Good morning Karen!

One of three baby bird nests on the patio.

Mom with Sally after her cataract surgery.

Karen relaxing with her book after chores.

Josh and Cristen Cleland

My sister and her family enjoyed a day running around the valley while we reminisced our childhood.  They were pretty good sports listening to all of our shenanigans and visiting several of our weird old haunts.

Josh and Cristen make some memories of their own.

What can I say, weird activities run in the two families and must be passed on through the genes of the parents.  It is a good thing Josh and Cristen were not holding hands.  Sarah, their sister, along with Cristen's boyfriend looked on in horror while us adults just took it in as another precious family moment.

Karen and my sister Rhonda resting on our nature hike.

Bob Moose's house.

This is an image of "Moosecliffe" my friend and fellow astronomer's house and hill.  Bob held a star party for the local astronomy club to view through his 12" telescope.  Bob's observatory is on the top of the right hand hump in the hill.  It was quite a hike up there, but the views were great.

An image of Gibbs peak early in the morning.

The mountains behind the ranch are named The Sangre De Cristo Mountains.  Sangre De Cristo is Spanish for the blood of Christ.  The mountains were named this because of their deep red tint as the morning sun begins to creep over them.  This image does not even come close to the actual hues one enjoys as the sun rises. 

Spread Eagle on the left and Gibbs Peak, 13,800+ foot high.

Karen and Bronco in the feed truck a 1974 Toyota 2x2.

There is probably not an accurate record of miles on these ranch vehicles, however miles should not be the standard of measure, the measure should be feedings!  The tire on the front passenger passenger side has worn through it's sidewall about 80% and all that is holding the retread in place is a few seemingly scraps of nylon here and there.  The wager is how many more months the recap will stay on.  Speed is not an issue as this truck hasn't been out of second gear in a year of Sundays.

Chuck hopeful for a clear night of imaging with the 6" Newtonian.

Once again plagued by poor weather and clouds.  I am wondering if I will ever get to take an astro image out here!  I did get about four hours of visual work before the clouds poured in one night, it was raining by the time I had the 12" Orion put away.  But the views during those precious few hours made me consume many more flying insects than I cared to with my jaw constantly dropping wide open.

Karen and my mom just before we drove home.

The little darlings reunited at last.

Upon our return from Colorado we enjoyed Cameron's fifth birthday, which Cheryl held at the local roller skating rink.  Many of Cameron's friends along with cousins showed up and had a great time.  Even the Dork roller skated.

Cameron skating.

Who will skate with me?

This is Shanisty, she received Cameron's first kiss!

Great Grandma says NO to skating.

Great Grandpa says no to skating as well.

Party session in full swing.

Blow those five candles out!

Dork woofing down some cake!

Brian enjoying the party.

Cammie opening his presents.

The Dork on Wheels!

Sarah looking to the Dork for help!

Thank you mommy for such a fun party!

Karen opens her ( GRAND ) Mother's Day gift


Karen's father Frank continues to improve and is actually starting to put some weight back on and his incisions are healing.  I just wish Carol would stop smoking to help Frank stay smoke free.  But I guess she wants to be "next".

My mom is doing very well after her bout with breast cancer, she is expecting to have cataract surgery in June and I am planning on driving out to help her.  I know I will be taking telescopes, I might even take my dog Bronco if I can acquire a little trailer before I go.  Karen won't be able to join me on this trip as she has used most of her days off already for hospital visits.  We are all anxiously awaiting the first crop of foals from my mom's super-high caliber stud Peppy!

Our grass is green, the dog run is brown and yellow from the dirt and old straw, I need to rake up the straw and put down new straw for the mutts. They really like to play out there, they just can't differentiate very well between playing on straw, mud or dog poop. Makes it interesting to wipe them off when they come in from outside, especially after a rain.  Actually I need to rake all of the rear lawn and drop new grass seed as well as redo my little stone paths to the dog run and the observatory.

I had to visit the endocrinologist for my diabetes. It used to be the mild Type II that was very controllable and predictable. It has since turned into an ugly beast that must be whipped back into shape, it is still Type II, but now requires additional medications. It also affects some other bodily functions such as my bad carbohydrate level, triglycerides and even my thyroid hormone production as my body is now converting them almost to pure glucose which I can't absorb. The doctor spent about an hour and a half with me telling me what I needed to do. I have to cut way back on all starches and carbohydrates. No bread, no chips, no potatoes, no corn etc. I can still eat meat & eggs - as I have normal blood pressure and only a slightly elevated cholesterol (if you don't count the triglycerides) level. The good cereal I have been eating isn't that good any more as it is too high in carbohydrates, so it is back to multi-grain Cheerios. That is OK, seven years of eating the same cereal was getting a little boring.  The biggest change is the addition of Insulin to my regimen. I have this pen-like device that takes cartridges of basil insulin, a slow release type, which I screw on these little tiny needles to. I dial up how many units I am supposed to have and then find a nice plump part on my gut, not to hard to find, and then poke it in and then push down on a small thumb activated plunger, then wait ten seconds and yank it out. With this type of insulin I don't have to continuously monitor and inject. I take one shot every morning or evening and that is it.

Cheryl is doing well with her weight loss, she has lost nearly fifty pounds since the procedure. She continues to eat like a bird, she fill up so quickly it is funny. Cameron is doing well. Haven't heard a peep from Katrina or the girls, don't even have an address to send them a card or anything. Their idiot father, my son, is back in jail. He convinced his probation officer to put him back in jail supposedly so he could become eligible for some special drug rehab program crap. That might be part of it, I think that he had him self incarcerated because it is easier than living on his own. He refused to work because he can't drive to work, he won't ride the public transit - he thinks he is too good for it. If there was a bus that dropped me off at work and could pick me up and take me home or close to it I would do it in a heart beat with gas prices like they are. So he has no money, he was staying with the assholes who STOLE the appliances from the trailer. Whom the Chesapeake police arrested for the crime, finally.  Now convince me Mike or Katrina wasn't somehow involved with that crime, one of them probably detailed what was there and when to get it. The idiots will probably get a very minimal suspended sentence and that will be that. We will get no restitution at all as they are quite indigent.

We are probably going to sell Karen's motorcycle, she has no more interest in riding and she wants to put the money toward buying me a bigger telescope!  If you believe that, I have some land on Europa I would like to talk to you about!  Actually, she is wanting to fix our kitchen up a little add some counter space and acquire new cabinets.  I have no intention of selling my little bike, despite the fact it is twenty years old now.

1986 Harley Davidson Softail, a bit modified...


Once again it is time for an update. Dork is well, Karen is well, Cameron is well, my mom is well and surprisingly Frank is much better.  We are about seven inches below for our rain average for the year despite our inch plus rain storm yesterday.  I managed to get the front lawn done and a little bit of the backyard before the sky cut loose.  Then it rained hard, over a half inch in less than an hour, that is more than we received during the month of March.  So maybe the deficit will start to shrink.  You would think with the lack of rain there would have been a plethora of nights for astronomical viewing.  But that was not the case, we had plenty of storms with plenty of clouds, just no rainfall.  Kind of like cracking open an empty egg at breakfast time.

Frank has taken a strong turn up and has actually been sent home to recuperate, about a month early from all of the families estimates.  I think the hospital just wanted to get him home as the family was there constantly, except Brian, monitoring everything the nurses and staff did.  Some questionable things occurred and were brought to the administration's attention.  Things like the staff overmedicating the patients so they were easier to deal with, kind of like the Virginia school system and their overuse of Riddlin and similar drugs.  They would medicate the hell out of Frank, not paying attention to the fact that in a few hours he would be having some kind of test of his mental faculties.  On those times he would do very poorly.  My guess it was standard practice for the staff to medicate the patients to the maximum amount allowed in their charts so they would not have to deal with unruly patients or patients who did not want to be there.  The more tests the patients fail, for whatever reason - be it the overmedication or whatever - the longer they stayed and the more Medicare/Medicaid dollars received.  That is my opinion, an we all know about opinions.

Had to buy new batteries for both motorcycles.  I installed the one for my motorcycle, but have not yet installed Karen's.  I am pretty sure we are going to sell Karen's bike this spring so I need to get it cleaned up and running like a top.  She rode it two or three times last summer and has expressed no interest in it at all since.

Cheryl is doing well with her stomach reduction surgery.  So far she has lost over thirty pounds and she sticks to her diet quite well, I have seen no excursions yet.  The pups, Bronco and Ninya went through a bout of stomach flu or something.  For several days we would fine mushy pooh on various rugs in the house and I believe everyone except Cameron managed to step in one and feel the joy of pooh squishing between their toes...  I am very glad that is over and out of their systems.

The East Coast Star party is the week after next and I am busy trying to get a portable imaging rig set up and ready for the event.  I am almost there, I just need a couple more little things for it.  I ordered a very good focuser for the little six inch scope, the focuser is probably worth as much as the actual scope tube is worth, but hey, you can't get decent images if you can't attain focus.  I also need a 1x sight to help sight in stars and such.  Other than that I am good to go I believe.

My mom is wanting to have her cataract surgery towards the end of June, I will probably drive out and help her through the chores and such.  I will "have" to take my portable imaging rig for sure to enjoy those dark skies.


Since the last update The Dork has had her gut surgery, Karen spent a week in the hospital again, Frank is doing a little better and ha been moved to a rehabilitative hospital, we sold the trailer, the trailer was robbed before we sold it, Katrina and the girls have returned to Nebraska. and Mike is out of jail and my mom's mammogram says she gets to keep her other boob.  Ok that's it talk to all'ya'all in a couple of weeks...

 Ok where do I start...  Katrina left on Tuesday the 22nd and took the girls with her back to Nebraska to be around her mother and family. I went over Tuesday night and found that she had cleaned the trailer very well, sold most of the furniture and items, she wanted to sell the washer, dryer, range and fridge but I told her they were to stay with the trailer.  I placed a crude For-Sale sign in the front window and pulled all of the curtains so no one could see in and see the new appliances and such.  A lady who is the cousin of the maintenance man at the trailer park ended up buying the trailer for a little less than what we had been thinking we would ask for it, but hey she is a single mom with three kids working two jobs so we gave her a break.  She gave us a deposit on Thursday evening, I promised to replace all of the light switch and electrical outlet covers as Katrina had taken them all of in anticipation of painting, who knows what she did with them.  Karen and I went to the trailer on Saturday morning to replace the electrical covers and shore up the entry steps, when we entered the trailer we were appalled to find the new range, washer and dryer missing!  We immediately called the cops and while waiting for the police to show Karen put on her investigator's hat and went around to the neighbors and found out that one woman say two white men with a red pickup truck loading the appliances the day before.  Karen also found out that a guy named Jeff who was friends with Mike and Katrina usually drove a red pickup truck and fit the description given by the lady who watched the men moving the appliances.  Upon talking to the Dork, she informed us that the second guy's description sounded a lot like a fellow named Bubba, who hangs around with this Jeff fellow.  We acquired Jeff's cell phone number and his last name which we gave to the crack Chesapeake criminal investigation department.

The next night, Sunday night, Karen is not feeling well and having severe intestinal pain.  Up to the doctor we go, they send us to Chesapeake General Emergency room.  We arrived at the emergency room around 8:15 PM.  We had to wait, while Karen is doubling over in pain, yet we waited and waited.  We watched as they removed a splinter from some little girl's finger, while Karen was in tears with pain.  Finally around 10:20 they get all of the stuffy noses, sore throats and splinters that were clogging the emergency room taken care of so the folks with broken bones and severe intestinal pain can see the doctor.  The doctor gives her a quick checkup and they start her on some pain medicine finally around 11:00 PM.  By midnight she has had been given this barium rich liquid to drink so that she can have a CAT scan.  She managed to drink about half before I kicked the tray and spilled the rest of it.  As I was cleaning it up Karen starts making puking sounds so I hurry to get a container, too late.  She power puked the barium stuff all over the floor.  I started to clean it up and the nurse said for me not to do it.  After the CAT scan they decided that she needed an NG tube inserted to empty her stomach and intestines.  She was awake for this procedure.  I had to assist as they were short handed or something.  let me just say, I would not want my worst freaking enemy, or even Michael, to go through that procedure awake.  They admitted her to the hospital about 6:10 Monday morning.  They kept for five days of observation and took x-rays often to keep an eye on the blockage which was more than likely caused by her eating a bunch of peanuts earlier in the day.  They let her go home Friday around noon.

Saturday Karen had to go back to work while I finalized the sale of the trailer with the lady.  Since the trailer no longer had a nearly new washer, dryer and range we agreed on knocking a thousand dollars off the original price.  So now we are down a thousand bucks for that.  Friday morning before picking up Karen I had to go down to the mobile home park to square up with them, I figured Mike and Katrina were a month in arrears and I might have to pay a prorated amount for four days of March.  What I found was that the two little idiot lovebirds were over $1,900.00 in the whole for paying the rent and the compounding of late fees.  Boy was I mad!  The lady made me pay it all or she would not accept the new lady's application.  Talk about another damn end-run by the little bastard, damn!  I can't call him a bastard, we were married for both his conception and birth, Can't call him a Son of a Bitch either, I guess just Asshole will have to suffice.  So now we are trailer less and minus another three grand because of the love-birds.  I ma 100% certain that Michael and/or Katrina told the guy Jeff & Bubba to help themselves to the appliances, hell the love-birds probably went ahead and sold them to them anyway. 

Cheryl had her stomach reduction Surgery the following Wednesday and was out of the hospital a few days later.  She was a bit sore and uncomfortable but she is doing well and sticking to her diet.  I think she will carry on smartly and become a success story.  She doesn't get to start on real food until later this week or the next.  

Frank, Karen's father, continues to make slow progress.  They ended up having to give him a tracheotomy so he is unable to speak at all.  This week is the first week he has been out of sedation since his major surgery.  He was doing well enough that they transferred him to the Lake Taylor Rehabilitation Hospital in Norfolk.  It is tough seeing him laid up like that, but his kids and his wife visit often to keep his spirits up, I visited last night and he seems to be improving.  they may modify his tracheotomy tube so he can exhale through his throat and talk this week.  I hope so as it is hard to try and read his lips.  

The Rotten-Weillers have managed to nearly dismantle our sixteen year old fence trying to get at the neighbor's rat dogs. The first repair effort involved me stapling, with fence staples, iron mesh on our side of the fence to keep the beasts in our yard.  Then I found that they could still push the old boards off and stick their heads through the fence to do battle.  So off to the home improvement store I went and bought more pressure treated lumber screws and such.  I ended up re-nailing about a hundred fence boards in place.  Then I put up eight foot lengths of pressure treated one by fours the length of the dog run area on both the top and bottom of the fence, these boards will sandwich the fence boards.  I used two and a half inch wood screws to attach the lateral boards so the beast should not be able to push any boards loose.  Maybe next year we can do a new fence.  I need to get the neighbors to help pay as it is of benefit to both of us.

The Dork, Cameron and I went and launched model rockets Saturday morning.  We had a load of fun and only lost one.  Too big of an engine and too much wind.  I took my camera but forgot to take it out of manual control so all of the pictures were way over exposed.  So no pictures this time!  Sorry.


I really meant to update this page earlier, but extracurricular activities have overcome.  First, since the last posting Karen's father Frank has become quite ill.  Frank had received six chemo treatments that were pretty severe in nature.  It seemed to me that they were a bit overkill for a case of cancer on his cheek, but hey, I am an Electronics Technician - not an oncologist.  The chemo treatments had been causing a quite a bit of irritation in the back of Frank's throat, so much so that he had pretty much given up on eating.  We had dinner at their house two days after his last chemo treatment to feast on home made stew.  Frank only ate two bites and nothing else.  All in all, Frank has gone from nearly three hundred pounds down to 210.  In that he was not eating, he was getting weaker and weaker as every day passed.  On two occasions he had fallen in their apartment and could not get up, he relied upon his boys coming over to help him.  The next time he had difficulties Carol finally called 911 and Frank was taken to the hospital.  After a couple of days he stabilized enough to be released to go home.  All this time he was complaining about severe pain in his back, spine and abdominal areas as well as his throat.  The next day after returning home he fell again, with no chance of Carol being able to help him, she again called 911 and Frank was taken to the hospital where they checked him out and kept him for a couple more days.  Finally the hospital arranged for him to be transferred to a temporary care facility about two blocks away from their apartment so that he could get 24 hour care while he regained strength.  All the while he was complaining about his extreme pain.  He was receiving pain medication, but it was not as strong as the pain medicine he was receiving in the hospital.  Frank also didn't much care for the facility, he was sure it was a retirement home and he was being dumped there to just wait until the end came.  After being there less than a week, one morning he had gotten up in the wee hours to use the restroom.  While seated on the throne attempting the mother of all bowel movements he said he felt something burst inside and his pain immediately escalated.  He called for the staff and they were wise enough to understand that something serious had happened so they summoned an ambulance to take him back to the hospital.  Ten hours and a few barium tests later the doctors came to the conclusion that his colon must have ruptured and surgery was being scheduled for four in the afternoon.  

At first the doctors did not paint a very rosy picture, he was weak from malnutrition brought on by not eating for so long, his heart was weak from the stress, they did not know how severe the rupture was or how much intestinal matter had been discharged into his abdominal cavity.  the doctors cautioned that any one of these factors could be fatal during the surgery and they were making no promises.  With that Frank was whisked off to the operating room.  Carol his wife was nearly inconsolable, his kids Karen, David and Brian were optimistically hopeful.  I pointed out that it was going to be at least three hours before the surgery was complete and that everyone should just get out of there for a little while, so we went for dinner at an Italian place less than a mile from the hospital.  The hospital had cell phone numbers for all in case something turned for the worse.  A nice light dinner was enjoyed where everyone pretty much got their wits back about them and had a few moments to calm down.  When dinner was over the caravan made their way back to the hospital waiting room.  As we rode the elevator up to the waiting room David's cell phone barked, it was the hospital informing him that the surgery was nearly over and the surgeon would soon speak with the family.  He painted a very guarded picture.  Frank made it through the surgery fine, despite consuming three units of blood.  His heart had remained stable and his breathing was good.  They found the perforated section of his colon and removed about ten inches.  As I said, he was guarded in his optimism about recovery.  Frank could have a heart attack at any time and because of the medications he was already on, little could be done to thwart a heart attack, if one occurred, Frank would just have to ride it out and hope for the best.  The surgery was last Thursday and Frank is doing better.  He is still being kept heavily sedated to lessen his discomfort with all of the tubes and hoses and IVs that are attached to him.  But he is responding to peoples voices and enjoys the continuous visits from family and friends.  While not 100% "out of the woods" each day is a significant step in that direction.  The nurses predict he will probably be in the hospital recovering for about a month.  Let's just keep our fingers crossed for the tough old bird.

Here is a picture of Frank and Carol making sure my new bike was safe for Karen.

While I was searching for that picture, I ran across a couple other pictures of interest.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Chuck, David, Brian, Frank, Carol, Virginia and Karen  1978

Chuck was always searching for subjects to photograph!

The Mare Island Gang 1977
Robbins, Root, Rodriguez, Karen, Chuck, Lori, Atencio & Brian

Karen circa 1982.

The Dork is doing OK, she is going into the hospital for an elective surgery to staple/reduce her stomach this Wednesday.  So two of the family will be hospitalized at once.  Cameron is growing and growing like a weed.  He likes to "dance" or put on little shows for us when he can convince us to watch.  They are entertaining and usually funny watching his idea of a performance.

As far as the love-birds, they are heading towards splittsville it seems.  Katrina is supposed to depart Tuesday to go live in Nebraska with the two girls, I guess after so many years even she can't put up with his shit.  Then to make matters worse Michael was caught driving again on a suspended license for the fifth or sixth time.  he called us at 1:30 AM Friday morning wanting me to come bail him out of jail, again.  This time I simply explained that I would not be falling for his "I'll pay you back tomorrow" crap.  I am still waiting on about a thousand dollars of "I'll pay you back" instances.  In fact I am figuring the judge will be a little miffed that Michael failed to get his license this last time after all of the continuances and excuses and will lock him up for a good while.  In the meantime I am not going to maintain his trailer lot payments for him.  When Katrina leaves, I will serve Michael with a written notice to vacate. Then after thirty days, I will be stuck paying for one month's lot payment, the trailer will be sold and the contents disposed of.  I will probably inventory the contents so he can't say I disposed of a $10,000 television or some crap like that.  Then I will take the proceeds and pay back Frank & Carol for the washer/dryer & range that they bought for them.  Then I guess the rest will go in savings.  Maybe Michael will learn a lesson, but I doubt it.  It is just a matter of time before he screws something else up and has to do even more time or worse.  It sounds pretty harsh for a father to speak of his son in this manner, but if you had the time to waste, you could look back through these six year's of Ramblings and understand it a little better I suppose.  I know in my heart that Karen and I are not responsible for his behavior.

Between the hospital visits and weather very little observing time has been expended.  My bride did allow me to acquire a wireless weather station as my anniversary gift.  It monitors temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction and rainfall.  This information is then transmitted to the base station in the house.  The computer is connected to the base station and publishes the information as a graphical image which is then uploaded to the Jagow Rest Stop for all to view.  I have not yet connected into the Weather Underground, a network of weather sites not connected with the government.  I will probably do so in the future though.  My weather station shares the name of my observatory, Rott'n Paws Observatory.

The Rotten Paw's Observatory

Bronco is getting bigger and bigger, I have no idea what the beast weighs now but he has to hunker down now to walk under my computer desk.  

Bronco likes to stand on the floor and give hugs.

Ninya has stopped growing in the vertical sense, but may have put on a little weight.  We have to watch her like a hawk when we go to the dog park as she has become very protective of us and Bronco.  If too many dogs crowd around us or start playing too much with Bronco, Ninya will jump in and start some shit.  So now when we go to the park, Ninya gets to stay on her leash most of the time until I see how she is doing that day.  I also put the electronic collar on her, which helps if I can anticipate the skirmish before it occurs.  Poor Ninya, she spent over ten months locked in a kennel before we found her, it will just take time and repetitive trips to the park to bring her around.

Karen and I celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary on January 21st.  In honor of which I offer this...

My Bride and I, January 1978


The first posting of the new year finds me at the tail end of a cold, my bride Karen without a cold, Cheryl the Dork and her son Cameron fighting colds coming and going.  The King and Queen, the rottweilers Bronco and Ninya, are still running the cats Scout and Tessa like they were their very own toys.  one of these days those toys are going to bloody the hell out of their hecklers.

Two days before Christmas, I received an email which appeared to be an email trail between my supervisors and the personnel department at CDSA Dam neck.  I had to read back through the email several posts before it dawned on me what the email was about and why in hell it was sent to me.  The email was about a technician level NT-4 being promoted to technician level NT-5 and I was the one being promoted.  About a year ago my then department head, Andy Harrell and acting branch head Tom Sides took me aside and told me they were putting me in for a promotion.  As the course of the year progressed, Tom Sides who had been acting as branch head for quite some time, learned that he was not the person ultimately chosen for the job.  And then about a month after that, our Department head Andy Harrell announced his resignation from the government to pursue his music career.   At that point I figured the afore discussed promotion was now a whisper amongst ghosts.  During the course of the year I had managed to make myself a thorn in the side of the facilities maintenance office at my work concerning some malfunctioning heating & A/C equipment.  When bonus time came around I was somewhat disappointed and figured it was due to my complaining about the heating & A/C situation.  I am sure that I voiced my opinion concerning upper management and how I thought they were acting a bit petty concerning the bonus and I was sure it was because of my loud mouth.  So when I learned of the promotion I was genuinely surprised.  And it was in my supervisor Michael Stopper's, true fashion to let me know about it via the email trail just two days before Christmas.  Now over the Christmas break period I had some time to put "two & two" together.  The disappointing bonus had nothing to do with my barking about the heating & A/C.  It had to do with the fact that there was a promotion in the works for me and nothing else.  So as it was, I was the one being petty and paranoid.  Boy, this damn crow is tough and needs a lot of pepper...

I had to tell you that story so I could tell you this one.  That is called pulling an "Alice's Restaurant" on you.  If you don't understand the reference, go listen to the ballad of Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie.  I suggested to my bride that we take the family out to dinner in celebration of my promotion.  I even suggested the establishment, Shogun's, in Virginia Beach.  Shogun's is a Japanese steak house where the cook prepares your food on a large grill right in front of you as they put on a show with much fanfare.  It had been several years since we had all been to Shogun's, 2003 to be exact when we took our friend Dick Celley out for dinner on his 60th birthday.  The prices for their main entrees then was in the $12-$14 neighborhood.  This time the clan counted fourteen, nine adults and five children.  Karen, The Dork Cameron and I, Karen's parents Frank & Carol, Karen's oldest brother David and his wife Laurie and son John and Karen's other brother Brian with his wife Barbara and their three daughters Amanda, Lauren and Brianna.  Noticeably missing was my son Michael and his girl friend Katrina and their two daughters Raegan and Sabrina.  They have no phone and had been laying low as they had borrowed some money on New Years eve with a promise to repay it on the following Monday.  We still haven't heard from them, as soon as something breaks or they need something more, we will hear from them.  Anyway...  Back to the dinner, we all sat down and managed to get our drink order in as we began perusing the menus.  As soon as I found the selection I was looking for, chicken and sirloin with fried rice, I began noticing the prices on the rest of the menu.  YIKES!  They must have really become popular as now the median price for an entree was $22!  My expectation of a dinner bill under a couple of hundred dollars was quickly fading.  The dinner was good and very filling, the chef's show was median at best.  The most interesting thing we learned was that he had gone to high school with the dork.  The bill came and with tip it was at least twice what I had been anticipating.  Oh, well.  Since this is likely the last promotion I will ever see, it will be the last time I feed the whole brood out at a restaurant.

The promotion has meant a great deal to me personally.  My last promotion was when I was in the Navy back in 1982 when I was promoted to Data Systems Technician First Class when I was stationed on the submarine USS Baltimore SSN-704.  

A beardless svelte, Chuck showing off his new DS1 crow!

I had been selected for Chief Petty officer in 1987, but I was discharged before that promotion was executed.  I had managed to wrangle more money and better job titles as I moved between defense contractors, but I was never recognized and promoted until now.  I do not take the promotion lightly as in my opinion, there are several folks who quickly come to my mind that probably deserve the same promotion more.  Now I just have to get busy and return the favor.

The observatory has been complete for over two months now, and I have still not been able to make connections with a clear sky.  this weekend was supposed to have nice clear skies Sunday night.  I went out and aligned up my cameras and got ready to try and shoot images of a galaxy and as soon as I was done aligning the clouds rolled in.  I set my alarm for 2:30 in the morning hoping it would clear.  It did not, it was still cloudy so I dozed back off.  The dogs wanted out at 3:50 AM and the sky was still murky with big halos around the bright moon.  Then about 6:10 the dogs wanted out as well as the cat wanting in, guess what?  The skies were nearly crystal clear.  By the time I went in the house to dress and then managed to get the scope fired up it was too light to image.  I am really getting discouraged by this weather!  But soon, I will get a chance, the weather guessers are calling for clear skies this Friday night and the moon won't be so bright, just maybe it will work out!  Saturday will probably be clear, dark and dry with perfect seeing and transparency.  I am 100% certain of this as it will be our 28th wedding anniversary...

Jagow's Rest Stop