Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a special day set aside to commemorate U.S. soldiers who died while in military service.  The Memorial Day speech has became an occasion for veterans, politicians and ministers to commemorate the war. Speeches have always been a mix of politics, religion and history, but provided a platform for Americans to understand the sacrifices taken to build a better nation.  There has been much criticism over President Obama not attending the Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington.  No, he is not the first president to not attend the ceremony, and although I am not an Obama supporter, I believe this has been blown out of proportion.  I am tired of the hate, anger and mistruths form both the left and the right, and it is american people who are the losers caught in the middle of all of this. Thirty years ago democrats and republicans could get along, in spite of their differences, because they loved this country.  I'm not so sure that this feeling exists anymore with the current crop of politicians.  I hope I am wrong.

My RA and OA have both been bothering me this last week.  It hurt just to move yesterday, didn't matter what I did, sit, stand, walk, squat, it all hurt the same yesterday.  Oh, and it was also one of those days where I couldn't hang on to anything.  I got a good nights rest and my pain is back down to a 4 or 5 this morning.  I am going to take it easy today, plan to mow and put in an air conditioner unit, and my next 2 days off I'm just going to rest.  

I hope everyone has a safe Memorial Day, and stop for a moment to give thanks to all who have helped keep us a free nation.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

No RA Pain Today

After settling back into my work routine, once we got back home from our mini vacation, it didn't take long to start hurting again. I didn't realize until then ... my RA was on vacation with me. I was worried about my reaction with the heat and sun and my RA meds, but everything was fine. I was so busy enjoying myself, that it didn't really sink in on me that I wasn't hurting while on vacation. That is until my first day back to work. Soon, my feet, right hip, knees and ankles were hurting. So much, in fact, that the very first day back I had to hit the Tylenol Arthritis in my toolbox. I made it a little better the next 2 days of my work week and then had to fight with my mower to get my yard mowed on my first day off. My mower is 11 years old and getting cranky about being used once a week. I am either going to have to do some major work on it this winter, or shoot it.

I met Race and Randall this morning to ride. I unloaded, got my gear on and headed up the road to where they had parked. We all head out together and I did something that I haven't done in a long time. No, I didn't crash, I was stung by a bee. I am highly allergic to bee and wasp stings, and by the time I got my bike stopped, my back pack loosened and jacket unzipped, I had a red place 3" in diameter with a small bloody spot in the center. I wanted so badly to go on and ride, but I also knew better. By the time I rode back to the truck, my chest was hurting. In a freak instance, the bee hit the vents in the front part of my helmet, shot up and hit my nose, then fell down. No problem, it happens from time to time. However, when the bee fell, it dropped in between my jacket and my jersey. Then after a few seconds of being down there decided it was in his best interest to sting me.

By the time I loaded up and drove home, I was slightly nauseous and had a bump raised up where I had been stung. I wasn't sure how being stung would react with my RA and meds, but it does not seem to have had any adverse effects. Donna mixed up a paste and gave me some Benadryl (it's nice to have an RN at home) and it doesn't hurt to bad tonight. The good thing about it is ... my RA pain didn't bother me today. The bee sting pain trumped my RA pain.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Nice Little Getaway

Life at our house is pretty hectic ... there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done, so the next day you are already starting behind from catching up with the balance from the previous day.  This is a vicious cycle that just continues to put you further behind, leaves you feeling like you can't accomplish anything and at times, even depresses you.  And we (at least I am) are content to play this game to the point you start asking yourself, why should I bother even getting out of bed today?  It's simply life in the present day that we live in. Still, you shouldn't feel overwhelmed at just trying to work, pay bills and keep your home looking nice.

Donna and I took a break from all of that last week.  We flew down to Fort Lauderdale and Donna had found a great place to stay right on the beach.  Our room was 100 feet from the ocean and had a huge, private balcony that overlooked the beach with a private stairway down to the beach.  We took three days and did nothing except lay on the beach and enjoy the ocean from our balcony.  It was the most relaxing vacation that I have ever been on.  The people there were so nice and laid back, it was almost like stepping back in time 30 or 40 years.  No one was in a hurry, everyone spoke and took time to talk with you.  We ate at a seafood restaurant named Aruba's that had live Jamaican music then walked out to the end of the pier and watched ships going out and coming in.  Our last night, we stayed out on the beach til 10 pm, then decided to push the two lounges together on the balcony, grabbed the comforter and slept outside on the balcony listening to the waves crash in on the beach. On our way back to the airport the next afternoon, we found a lighthouse that we had kept seeing the beacon from and drove through Pompano Beach.  I'm not sure what these people do for a living, but I'm pretty sure it's illegal!! 
Two years ago, I had to go to the ER due to sun and heat exposure reaction with my RA meds.  I used SPF 40 liberally.  I was pretty red after the first day, but managed to stay out of the hospital and have a nice brown tan now.  This was a real concern for me going down there, I didn't want to get to the beach and have to stay inside the room.  Even though it was in the mid 80's, the spray off of the ocean kept the temperature cooled down.  In fact, we left the sliding glass door (to the balcony) open almost the entire time we were there.  The temperature was perfect.

We got back home Monday night at 9 pm and by 9:30 pm I had my bike and gear loaded up to go ride.  Randall and I didn't know where we going, but wound up riding a cool little (160 miles) loop that included stopping by an abandoned  iron truss bridge for my other blog.  Randall rode almost half way across before he realized how bad shape it was in. 
I called him Evil Knievel the rest of the day.  Speaking of Evil, one of my favorite quotes he made was something to the effect of  "I've been in a treatment center for drinkin'. I stayed for two days, then escaped." There will never be another Evil.  We rode on into a little town to grab a snack and ran across two older gentlemen on Harley's.  After talking with them a few minutes, I asked them, "where are you headed to?" One of them looked at me and replied "I don't know".  I said "that's what's great about riding, it doesn't matter just as long as you're riding" and before I could finish the other one said exactly.  They were best friends and had been riding together most of their life ... kinda like Randall and I.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Storm Predictions

It was a wild night for a little while.  There were 16 tornadoes last night in Oklahoma.  The storm had tracked in a straight line east, from Oklahoma City toward our front door, there was a tornado on the ground 50 miles out and another at 30 miles west of us.  This morning there are six confirmed dead and a ton of damage in Oklahoma. 

As I sit here this morning, I am amazed at the system now in place for alerts and warnings ahead of time compared to when I was growing up.  When I was growing up, everyone was basically on their own.  My dad was always on top of any severe weather, he had been in a tornado when he was young.  We had a storm cellar and used it frequently while I was growing up.  

As a teenager, I was playing baseball one night in Springdale.  The game was called due to lightning moving in.  On the way home, dad was listening to the radio and there was no mention of storms.  By the time we arrived home, across town in Springdale, a tornado had leveled 5 blocks of homes and businesses.  This was only a mile from the ball field where I had just been playing.
I applaud the efforts of everyone involved for being able to detect and predict storms ahead of time now.  I heard about the threat of severe storms moving in Monday, on Saturday's weather forecast.  That is 2 full days advance warning that something might happen. Not to try to scare people, just letting them know to keep an eye out Monday ... something could happen.  And it did.   Last night I was watching live radar feeds on the internet, watching tv reports and had my scanner set to the weather spotters frequency.  For a while it looked like we were going to take the storm head on, but thankfully it turned and just went north of us.  

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tornadoes and A Doggie Door

There is a saying in Arkansas where I grew up that says "If you don't like the weather, stick around ... it will change".   In the last week we have had overnight lows down in to 38, highs ranging from 53 one day to 92 the next day, while experiencing everything from straight line winds over 60 mph, fog, hail and tornadoes that dropped just to our east  after passing over us.  This morning I had a ride planned, but awoke to 51 degrees with a 15 mph east wind ... and storms moving into the area that I was heading to ride at today.  Over the years, Mike, Randall and I have been caught out several times in severe storms and, it may be hard to believe but, a motorcycle in the woods is not very high on the list of safe places to be.  

So, since I was sitting around the house with nothing to do, I opted (a guy always has to have a back up plan) to install a doggie door for our two menaces.  Misty and Maggie, although they look sweet, can get on your last nerve somedays.  They never need to go to potty at the same time.  Oh, don't get me wrong, when one goes out, the other goes also .... just following the other one around.  Then when they both come back inside and everyone gets settled back down, in about twenty minutes, the other one decides that she needs to go potty now.  They can play this game for hours!  All went pretty well considering you are sitting there starring at a $250 storm door asking yourself, "do I really want to take my drill and sabre saw to this door?"  The dogs are using it already and Maggie actually loves it.  Misty is a little more timid about new things, but she will get used to it.  As you can see from the photos below, they don't walk through it ... they both jump through it.
My RA is starting to behave better now, after 7 months of Orencia.  It is an odd development, I am by no means pain free, but I do feel better than I did this time last year.  However, there are some things that hurt me more than they did last year.  I am working out with weights, but feel weaker than I did last year.  It hurts me to ride my motorcycle on rough trail now (my favorite terrain), it hurts more to use a weedeater this year and I am having more trouble walking down stairs.  I'm not complaining, it's just the latest update on how RA is constantly changing my life.  We all experience it, we all know that our life we try to live will deteriorate from RA, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with as it is unfolding before you.  Perhaps Mike summed it up best on his last post,  "My jackass friend RA is still hanging around".

Oh, by the way, it is 8 pm and we are waiting on more storms coming our way tonight.  There is a tornado on the ground 50 miles west of us now.  Looks like another stormy night.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


My work week last week was both physically and mentally exhausting.  I had both ups and downs last week, the ups involved catching a mistake that another crew had made setting a job up (and after being approved by 2 supervisors), fortunately we only ran 4 rolls into a 25 roll run when I caught the error.  Each printed roll (approx 15,000 linear feet) is valued at $10,000 after being printed and coated.  My downs centered around working long hours with RA.  By the last half of the last day, my OA in my right knee was kicking my butt.  My knee was swollen and I could barely walk.  I limped home, applied my Voltaren Gel, grabbed a quick bite and went to bed.

I woke up Monday, my first day off this week, and after walking out to the shop, realized my knee was not hurting at all.  I had told Randall that I hurt too bad to ride this week, so it was too late to catch him ... he was already gone.  I loaded my bike and gear up and headed out for a leisurely, solo,  35-40 mile ride.  Riding is my therapy.  No bosses around, no cell phone, just you and your bike out in the woods, the dirt roads, wherever you decide to ride.  I rode across Poteau Mountain and when I reached Bates, I turned and rode a short stretch of asphalt for a different look to get where I had in mind.  I hit 6 miles of some prime single track trail and found myself back out to a dirt road, more trail, asphalt, trail, then more dirt road.  I started back toward the truck and looked down at my odometer.  81 miles!  I was still 30 minutes from the truck, and had one more short single track trail to hit.  Perhaps ill advised (I know better than to listen to myself ... not the first time I have got myself in trouble, won't be the last either), but I rode on.  I dropped off of the road onto a fast little section, turn the bike left while brake sliding and light the throttle up on the 525.  Not a rock on this trail and it is fast, yet tight.  I navigate the trail, weaving in and out of trees, with a big smile on my face.  Almost at race speeds everything was going fine, then the front end washed out with no warning.  BAM!  The ground wasn't near as hard as you'd think for not having hardly any rain this spring.  After picking myself and my bike up, I jumped back on, fired it up and rode out.  The last 150 feet of this trail is awesome, it gets tight, has a rock ledge you cross, then about 40 feet after riding across the ledge, you hit a 20 foot tall bank that twists to the left and has a tree limb at the top that you have to ride over.  Not too hard, but not a beginner trail either.  I made that part just fine.  In fact, I was disgusted with myself for crashing in an easy section, so I rode back down the road and rode the trail out again, this time without crashing.  Didn't want to load up with a crash being the last thing I did for the day.  Went out to ride 35 miles, loaded up with 97 and felt great.

I also made a new friend Monday night.  His name is Guilty and well, ... it fits him.  This dog is so spastic!  He is one of my daughters friends dog and we went down to her apartment, knocked on the door and when Kay opened the door out charges Guilty.  He doesn't stop, he heads straight for the stairway.  He flies down them, runs through the parking lot and straight into someone else's apartment that had left their door temporarily open.  He was a live wire, but is so lovable when you can get his attention.  Oh well, at least I don't have to keep up with Guilty!