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Phone rang a few minutes ago. It was sister-in-law asking to come over to swap out a book. I turned on the outside lights and unlocked the patio door for her.

Her phone rang as she came in: my brother hadn't realized she'd left the house. He figured out that she's over here and asked her to bring back any tax forms that had come in for Daddy's estate.

Right behind SIL was younger niece, in bathrobe and slippers. She found Fish and carried him around upside down briefly (until he said enough), accepted the zebra-striped purse thingie that was the 'prize' for one level of fundraising at the Jazzerthon and which I will never ever use, looked at Daddy's Army fatigue jackets I decided to bring up here instead of donating in mild bewilderment (SIL fully understood the potential occasions for them), then moved on to her purpose: cake. We dug the remnants of the chocolate ice-cream cake from the freezer, warmed the fudge sauce, and she departed with all that on a paper plate after licking the spoon and custard cup I used for warming the sauce.

I re-locked the door and turned out the lights. It's about bedtime...
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Despite good intentions and firm resolutions, we (my brothers and I) haven't made a lot of progress in clearing out my father's house. He died in June, and the only serious work we'd managed was to move vast quantities of papers--personal files, genealogy research, family papers, memorabilia, you name it-- from the vacant house to his old office space, after first removing almost as vast quantities of paper from the office itself. notes on previous efforts, and detail on this past weekend behind the cut... )

We're going to try to make another weekend with at least me and my brothers in February--don't know if younger s-i-l and kids will come on that one or not. And it may not work out, as I have a weekend committed to my annual JazzerThon event for breast cancer research and older brother only had one weekend available by his work schedule. We'll see if those two conflict.
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A day of details....

Details, and other activites )
More details to be dealt with tomorrow, more relatives will arrive, then the visitation.

He's gone

Jun. 15th, 2009 10:12 pm
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My father passed away this morning about 5:30 am. My older brother was with him, and said it seemed peaceful. He had not responded to us since Saturday night when he would still open his eyes and perhaps try to say a word or two.

I can't put together the post I want to do about him as my father and the center of an extended family just now, so I'm just going to paste our 'public' obituary draft which will appear in the local newspaper. Behind the cut....

obit )


Jun. 12th, 2009 05:49 pm
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My father moved to hospice yesterday at VistaCare at Wesley Woods. He was losing ground to the infections even when on 2 antibiotics, hasn't been able to gain nutritionally in part because of the energy it takes to fight the infections, has right-side heart failure, fluid around the lungs, and on and on.

He's fairly comfortable, with occasional periods of agitation--some pain-related, some perhaps bad dreams. He is still recognizing us and speaking a few words, but he's sleeping more and more as is to be expected.

The doctor says probably hours to days.
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I made it into my office this morning for the first time in 2 weeks--I've been working a few hours each day from home then spending the afternoons at the hospital with my father. I whittled down my list of "things to do at the office", though not as far as I planned. Part the delay was for trading stories with two other people dealing with family health problems.

Chris, my supervisor, buried his brother yesterday after a battle with cancer that lasted over a year. Chris was the medical decision maker, I think, so he's been coping with things with more immediacy than you'd expect for an adult sibling's care.

Mike, who I've worked with both at USGS and earlier at the Georgia Geologic Survey (so, approaching 30 years, off and on), is dealing with his father's liver cancer--hospice care at this point, and he's no longer conscious so it won't be long. Mike and I particularly traded details, like local subacute care facilities, ICU delirium (his mother recovered from it after several weeks), and stuff like that.

So, we trade details, comment on the difficulty of making medical decisions, and (hopefully) share the load a little. Worthwhile use of that office time...
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I haven't been around LJ or Facebook much of late, nor really keeping up on piffle or the Bujold list--my father has had serious complications from his surgery on April 2 and is in the hospital. I've been trying to do a f-locked post with some of the details, but in the meantime we're keeping up a Caring Bridge site with updates on his condition.
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I think I last posted an update on my father's prostate cancer before the first specialist visit, so let's play catchup. Last Friday was the visit to the medical oncologist at Emory, Dr. Kucuk, where we expected the word to be "do hormone suppression therapy, which should slow this down enough for something else to kill you before it does". But surprise! (and I guess this is why you go see specialists), he said "you're healthy and strong--get this thing out of there". With a few hints of "it's an aggressive form of prostate cancer, and you really don't want it to spread to your bones...that would hurt. Badly."

So Dr. Kucuk consulted with his colleagues about the various removal options suitable to the patient, and the referred Daddy to Dr. Nieh, a urologist, for possible cryosurgery. We pleaded hardship for the travel back and forth to south Georgia, and got a double-booked appointment for today instead of one 2 weeks off. (And waited less time than we did with Dr. Kucuk.)

After hearing Dr. Nieh discuss how it would work, the chances for complications, and all that, the cryosurgery still seems the best option to remove the prostate and the cancer, though the TURP procedure that uncovered this cancer makes things a little more difficult. The possibility will remain for some cancer cells in the urethra, which is not touched by the freezing. Post-surgery monitoring will be hard, as this tumor is not producing much PSA (not all prostate cancers do, it seems). However, it seems like a good shot at eliminating the problem, without too many negative effects on Daddy's quality of life.

The surgery scheduler was out until Monday, but when she calls we'll be scheduling for sometime in April, to give time for things to heal completely from the TURP. Meanwhile I'll drive Daddy home tomorrow.

For those who want to get into serious TMI territory, here's an Emory page on cryoablation of the prostate. Avoid this if you have an aversion to needles, or are male. <g>
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My father is here this weekend, and my older brother should be arriving around midnight. (Daddy sees the oncologist tomorrow morning.) The cats find the various rearrangements at time interesting, other times frustrating.

The unfolded sofa bed behind me has kept Fish and Fred interested all evening.
The closed door to the 'guest wing' frustrates all of them, but especially Agatha when she bumps into an unexpected 'wall'.
Disruptions led Agatha to re-discover an old favorite spot--the cabinet under the bar sink in the laundry area, which stays toasty warm when the furnace is on thanks to the vent arrangement.
Luggage on the floor of both the guest room and the study--both fascinating (Fish and Fred) and a hindrance (Agatha).

Older brother just arrived...time to let him have the room.
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Actually, I got home Thursday--older brother is in Moultrie with Daddy until Sunday, when we hope he will feel OK about being on his own. The oncologist appointment has been set for January 30, and sister-in-law will probably make the down-and-back trip to bring Daddy up here for it. I must finally get the guest room cleaned up again....

I went in to the office on Friday morning for a meeting, postponed at my request from Tuesday when I was on my way to Moultrie. It should have taken about an hour--maybe less. But with the guy running it, it took 2 and a half hours, and ended without anyone having action items or any sort of timeline for the next steps. So glad this guy isn't my supervisor!

Today was much more fun. I Jazzercized this morning (boy, I'm going to have to work at getting back in shape....and the JazzerThon is next month), went to the grocery store, then called younger niece over and we made Triple Ginger Cookies. Ours spread out more than Heidi's and the first batch was a little underdone...but these are really good if you're a ginger lover. We're also working on the right amount of salt to sprinkle in with the turbinado sugar for the coating to get that little sweet/salty bite we both like.

Tomorrow niece will return to make her birthday cake, one of 3 she generally gets every year. There's the devil's food cake her grandma makes on or near the actual birthday (Dec. 30), while she's in Arizona visiting. Then there's a 'family' birthday cake, and a cake for her birthday party. Tomorrow's baking will be the family cake, but niece has chosen a pie: Grand Canyon Pie from Beranbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible. It's a chocolate cookie crumb crust, a layer of bittersweet ganache, a layer of fresh raspberries, a layer of chocolate chip whipped cream, all topped with cocoa meringue 'boulders'. Supposedly the effect will be the layers of the Grand Canyon. I just finished baking the cocoa meringue--the rest will be tackled tomorrow.
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Generally good news: Daddy's bone scan was negative, providing pretty good evidence that the prostate cancer has not spread. (Older brother says prostate cancers are most likely to spread to bone.) The post-procedure PSA dropped significantly from Daddy's routine check a few months ago, which could mean that most of the tumor was removed during the procedure or that the tumor is very undifferentiated (which is bad--more likely to spread) and not producing PSA.

The urologist wants to send him to an oncologist for treatment recommendations, and Daddy told him he'd prefer to go to Emory, a major teaching and research facility. (Emory is 10 minutes from me and my younger brother in Atlanta.) Urologist did not have a referral to hand for an Emory oncologist but said he would get one in a week. He also wants to get the actual tissue slides back from the pathology lab he uses (which is in Cleveland) so those can be taken to the oncologist at the consultation.

So, we wait on the referral, and also discuss needs for support here. Older brother is speculating that the treatment suggestions will be either "do nothing and watch" or a hormone-suppression therapy that involves a shot every 4 months. Neither of these would force a move to the Atlanta area where we could provide more constant support for trips back and forth to doctors, etc.

I'm headed back to Atlanta tomorrow, as planned.
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Gee, it's been a week since I posted...I'm shocked. Things remain rather upside-down-ish.

I drove back to Moultrie today after an extended weekend in Atlanta--I went home Friday afternoon when younger brother was well on his way to swap places. He stayed until today (he'd initially planned to come home Sunday or Monday) as Daddy didn't feel comfortable spending the night alone. Tomorrow is the appointment with the urologist to talk about options for treating the cancer, and older brother the doctor will be here in time to go with us. He (older brother) had to see patients today, so is catching a flight that will get him to Atlanta about now (9 PM) and then rent a car and drive down.

My weekend in Atlanta had lots of cat-snuggling time (but I'm still In Disgrace for leaving them repeatedly), only one Jazzercise session, lots of errands, some reduction of the accumulated home paperwork (but no work on the taxes--guess I'll have to make the January estimated payment just to be sure), a brief fit of nesting manifested as cookie-baking (Jay Lake's ginger chocolate chip cookies as spotted on [ profile] kristine_smith's LJ), some visiting time with sister-in-law and the kids including playing Can't Stop which just arrived from Thought Hammer, and a MiniLoisCon with [ profile] mbernardi, [ profile] filkferengi and spouse, [ profile] ann_mcn, Dawn and her mom, and Matt. [ profile] mbernardi was on this side of the pond for GaFilk, which I passed on in favor of all the aforementioned activities plus some good alone-time needed for this introvert's sanity.

I did make it to the office for almost a full day yesterday (left an hour early to do Jazzercise before the MiniLoisCon), and 3 hours today for a conference call. I also agreed to come in on Friday morning for a local database management meeting--I'm driving back to Atlanta Thursday as older brother will be here through Sunday, and given how little time I'm managing to put in, I think sacrificing part of my Fridays Off is OK.

Before I go I hope we can have a discussion about what help Daddy needs after Sunday and how to get it for him. The cancer treatment decisions will affect the "what help is needed", too, of course.
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I'm still in Moultrie helping my father, who still has a catheter as the result of a Dec. 19th procedure on his prostate. Today we went back to the doctor's office (we thought) to have the catheter removed. Instead the doctor gave us bad news: the pathology report shows cancer, and it's a very aggressive form. (Gleason 9, if you know the scale.) Daddy had prostate cancer 14 years ago which was treated successfully--this looks to be a very different beast.

We're still in the information gathering stage. Tomorrow we'll go out to the hospital so he can have a bone scan done, and at the doctor's office today they drew blood for a PSA. His last PSA wasn't elevated, and if it still isn't that reduces the treatment options. We see the doctor again in 2 weeks to discuss all those results. My older brother the doctor will try to get here for that appointment.

And just to add to the aggravations, the catheter doesn't come out until next week...
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Merry Christmas! Mine has been nice, but tiring. I got up at 5 to take the rib roast out of the fridge to take the chill off, but went back to bed. Back up at about 7, and since the nephew and nieces weren't stirring, I showered and got the roast browned and in the oven before they did the rush for their stocking gifts. I think the pig football older niece got (she's 15) was the biggest hit. Then it was breakfast, then presents--I had given lots of Disney stuff (natch) which seemed well received, and got several DVDs I wanted (GalaxyQuest, Finding Nemo) and books. Books generally get distributed all 'round in my family, and after the wrapping paper rustling dies down a look around the room will show everyone investigating their new books.

The rest of the morning was spent assembling Christmas dinner: orange-almond salad, prime rib, popovers, and broccoli with almond topping. Dessert was had the night before, the Duo-tone Chocolate Pots de Creme recipe I found in the paper. After the meal and clean-up, I packed up some stuff including items for the folks next door, and hit the road about 20 minutes behind s-i-l and the kids. My brother will spend the night and then drive up in time to join his family for the flight to visit s-i-l's parents in Phoenix, while I drive back down to stay at least a day or so past whenever my father has his catheter removed again (now scheduled for Monday).

Tonight: the laundry is going, one prescription refill (less urgent) has been ordered from the Internet pharmacy, the other (more urgent) has been discovered to have no refills left. I will have to call the drugstore tomorrow and beg for enough pills to last me through next week. I need to assess what additional clothes and other items to take with me, sweep up all the paper on the desk that contains bills and requests for donations not yet made, get to the drugstore, and get back on the road. My s-i-l seems to feel that my father needs someone there constantly--my assessment was that he will be fine if there's a 6 or 7 hour gap between my brother leaving and my return, even though he will have to get his own lunch. There's lots of easily accessible food in the fridge, and he's moving around the house OK--slowly, but OK. Nonetheless, I'll try to get off as quickly as I can. It's a 3-1/2 hour drive....

The cats are glad I'm home, but unaware that the (larger) suitcase that's now out is getting filled, not emptied. This one night stand is really cruel and unusual punishment for them, and the extended absence so soon after the Disney trip is..., well, let's just say I hate doing it to them, but that's the way it's got to be.
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I think I'm done with my shopping, mostly. Whoops, forgot the gift certificates for the god-child and his sibs....those can be sent email from Amazon. (adds note to to-do list...) One gift was shipped to Moultrie and will need to be wrapped when I get there--we had a change of plans and will go to my father instead of bringing him up here, as he had out-patient surgery on Friday and can't travel.

So, I'm packing clothes, cooking stuff (sent the rib roast ahead with my brother who left this morning--it will dry-age in the fridge a few days), presents, the bicycle and equipment, board games, etc. I'll work a few hours tomorrow morning, then will hit the road, I hope. Sister-in-law and the kids will go right after younger niece's orthodontist appt. at 9. We shall all converge, put up a tree, do some baking, and celebrate. Brother and sister-in-law will have to leave Christmas night, as they fly out the next day to go visit her parents. I'll stay until Boxing Day, and do the cleanup. And assess how my father is doing with his recovery....

The weather tonight is at least a little like December. With apologies to those of you not enjoying your recent snow, freezing rain, or other winter weather, we'd been having light rain and 70 degrees for the last few days. Today it cleared off and the wind blew, and we'll be down in the 20's overnight. Even Moultrie will be around freezing, but then it looks to warm back up into the high 70's down there for Christmas Day--must pack both a good jacket and some short-sleeved shirts.

Tonight was the first night of Hanukkah, so I went next door to eat latkes and watch the candle-lighting. Sister-in-law will have to haul her Hanukkah box along with the Christmas presents...part of the the mixed marriage challenges on years when Hanukkah overlaps Christmas.
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Posting Aunt Fan's caramel recipe triggered me looking for a particular photo of her that I thought might be in the Georgia Archives collection. Instead, I found this one of her family before she was born. That's my grandmother, age 2, in the photo. Family legend says the black child was a 'chaser'--hired to chase after a child and keep her out of trouble.

Pi Day

Mar. 14th, 2008 11:29 pm
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I took my younger niece out after dinner to buy a mini pie, in honor of Pi Day. Her older sister wanted to eat pie but wasn't willing to make the trip to get it, so will have to live with what came home (chocolate banana, from Whole Foods). Both parents declared that they had done all the driving they were willing to do for the day, so I agreed to make the trip.

And this brings to mind the Thanksgiving pies, all 6 or 7 or whatever it was, and how we taught my 8 y.o. nephew about pi using pie. We actually told him he couldn't eat pie until he knew about pi--he didn't seem to take this threat all that seriously, but still quickly memorized the definition, and 7 to 10 digits of the number. And we measured (sloppily) the circumference and diameter of several circular objects (including a pie), did the calculation and arrived at something in the vicinity of 3. He found this procedure disappointing when it didn't come out closer to 3.14159.

Ah, it appears it was only 5 pies at Thanksgiving, if you don't count the tartlets we made to use up the extra chess pie filling. The 4 in this picture, plus a black bottom that was still in the fridge. And the memory goes faster every year--what did we make? Deep dish apple, buttermilk chess, the dark chocolate thingy that wasn't as good as I'd hoped, and ____. Something else chocolate, perhaps? Maybe chocolate chess.
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Not new curtains at my place, but at my father's. We've been trying for months to get new curtains up in the dining room, where the old curtains literally were in shreds in places--the old fabric was disintegrating from time, sun, and dirt. Curtains: strike one, strike two, and....home run )

I've also cooked to re-stock the freezer with Chicken Kyoto and Beef in Wine (we had some of this for dinner, too), and will make a chicken with lemon and garlic tomorrow before leaving that will also leave leftovers. We've cleaned assorted ancient bottles from a corner of the closet. Manischewitz blackberry wine, anyone? How about the home-made 'red grape' wine, vintage 1983, from an acquaintance? The plum wine with a layer of sediment/other deposits? We tried the 1988 chardonnay, but poured it out after part of a glass. I threw out rancid olive and canola oil from the pantry and suspicious chicken bouillon powder before making the grocery store run. With the sporadic cooking that happens down here, periodic purges of the fridge and pantry are necessary.

As soon as the dishwasher finishes up, I'm setting up the coffee pot (on a timer--must have caffeine before any significant morning activity, like fully opening the eyes) and headed to bed.
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I trekked down to south Georgia last weekend to visit my father, and also to tackle any of various chores he wanted assistance with. The idea is that either I, or my brother and family, or all of us will try to get down there once a month or so to Do Stuff. Chores. You know, things that keep getting put off or that need an extra hand to get done. (Don't think all of our chores are done and we're looking for extra....but it's sometimes easier to do someone else's, y' know?)

So anyway, I drove down Friday morning wondering if Daddy would have anything for me to do. Not a problem--he had 4 pages of notes on Stuff To Do.

the list )
Here's the picture, just for fun: that's me in front, then younger brother (the one who lives next door), my father, older brother, and older sister (who died at age 18). My mother probably took the photo.
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I had a yikes! moment yesterday, somewhere between trips to finalize the adoption of the new cat. As: Yikes! I only have Sunday to get some of the Thanksgiving cooking done!

The plans, the menu, the lists... )

I work tomorrow, then am off until after Thanksgiving weekend. Tuesday morning will be full of errands and shopping, then I'll hit the road. The folks next door will leave after school is out Tuesday afternoon.


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