Sunday, September 16, 2012

Honors For An Honorable Man

Saturday the Hospice folks at the nursing home where my dad lives had a wonderful little celebration for him to thank him for his 20 years of service to his country. After he mentioned that he loved photography, they wanted to have a display of some of his photos. I printed up several photos, which they displayed at the celebration.
Here's the table with the display of photos. One of the Hospice ladies asked him about the photo of the dinosaur which was taken several years ago at Powell Gardens. Dad said to her: "You don't see many of those nowadays.." Even with his dementia, he still has a sense of humor!
Family members present L to R: My cousins Glen Cogan, Sandy Cogan (Tim's wife), Tim Cogan, My aunt Esther (Shelley) Cogan, Carl Shelley (Dad), my wife, Jolene.
Dad with some of the staff at the nursing home. Dad always had a way with the ladies - the rascal! Apparently he still does! LOL! I'm proud of him - 93 and still going....
Dad served for 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. He enlisted back when it was the Army Air Corps; before there was an Air Force. He took part in the China-Burma Theatre in WW2 - his unit flew materials over the Himalayas to resupply Chinese forces and U.S. forces stationed in China after the Japanese closed the Burma Road. His unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt; the first non-combat unit ever to receive this award.

Dad was presented an award to honor him for his long service to our country.
Here I am with him - My Dad, My Hero. It was him that inspired me to pick up a camera. I still remember the first time I went with him to the photography hobby shop - I think it was at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma - and watched him develop and print black & white photos in the darkroom. From that moment I was hooked.
Dad gets a big smooch from Jolene!

It was a moving and excellent day! At 93, his memory is pretty well gone - some days he's fairly lucid, and some days he's just way off.. He still seems to recognize most of his family; most of the time. I hope the memory of this day stays with him till the end of his days.

Once again, I'm going to try and update this blog on a more regular basis. Between work (I'm on day shift now..... YAY!), family stuff, Renderosity, Facebook, and this blog, I've got a bit of stuff to keep me busy!

I'm now working on page 13 of my "Girls From T.N.A." series which appears on Renderosity, and my website (which I'm also in the process of updating).

That's it for now! *waves*
Rod

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Little Update

Just a short note tonight...

Things seem to be calming down with my dad. I think he has finally come to accept that he will be in the nursing home from now on.

He had a fall a couple weeks ago, and spent a few nights in the hospital. I think that's what finally convinced him he needed to be someplace where he has around the clock care. He is just too weak to stand and walk any longer. The Hospice folks have provided him with a wheelchair, so he is able to get around a little bit.

My cousin's wife is a manager at the nursing home, and she looks after him very well. We've been to visit him a couple times, and he's in pretty good spirits most of the time. He's eating a little better, now, and seems to have mellowed out.

Things seem to be calming down in that regard.

At work, it's just the opposite - things seem to be ramping up. We're pretty much running full-tilt from the time we step in the door until time to leave at 10:30. I have two more weeks on this evening shift, the I'll be on days for two months.

I'm keeping this short tonight; I'm tired and I have several things to do before bed.

Namarie* for now...

*Elvish for 'Farewell'

Sunday, July 22, 2012

And The Beat Goes On...

When Jo's mom passed away in February, we felt sorrow, of course - even when you know it's coming, it is still a sad event. But there is also a feeling of relief - and as I understand, it's normal to feel this way. Your loved one is no longer hurting, or suffering. You no longer have to worry if she or he is OK. You don't get that feeling in the pit of your stomach when they don't answer the phone when you call them. And you don't bolt out of bed when the phone goes off at 2 in the morning. And you get your life back.

For a while.

One of the things I was afraid would happen has..... I had a feeling that we were going to only begin to be able to take a breath, and let the healing begin only to have everything ramp up again with my dad. We barely get through one crisis before we get hit with another.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my Aunt Esther (his sister, who he appointed Durable Power of Attorney) tried moving him in with her a few weeks ago. She quickly realized it was going to be far more than she could handle. She's not much younger than he is (he's 93). My dad's dementia is getting worse almost by the day. After several days of his not knowing where he is, or even who she is, she made the wise decision to place him in a nearby nursing home. In the past he's made no secret of the fact he wants nothing to do with a nursing home, but she somehow convinced him to go last Friday. During a fairly lucid few hours, it seemed to make sense to him, and he agreed to go. And there is actually a family member who works there. Her daughter-in-law is a nurse there.

Apparently my dad is what they call a "sundowner." Meaning he is more lucid and reasonable early in the day, then it goes downhill towards afternoon and evening. When I got home from work Friday, Jo told me that the nursing home had called about 8:00PM; my dad wanted to talk to me. But I'm on evening shift at present. By the time I got home it was far too late to call. And I pretty much knew what the conversation would be: a demand to come and get him.

They called again this afternoon (Sunday) - Jo was on the phone with a friend, but my Xfinity voicemail answered and they left a message - my dad wanted to talk with me. I actually dreaded calling (I knew what it would be about), but I did. As expected, as soon as he got on the phone, he started in: "I need you to come up here and get me out of here!!" Although he had no idea where "here" was. I told him I was planning on coming up to see him soon, but I couldn't tonight. "We'll see you in the morning then?" And he kept on and on, getting more demanding all the time. I was planning on going to see him Thursday morning. He wanted to know what day today was. When I told him, he exclaimed "And you can't get here 'till Thursday??!! You're not much help!!" I said "Dad, I'm sorry, but I can't sign you out of there.." He just got mad, and said he was going to call my aunt, which he did.

I called and spoke with my Aunt shortly afterwards, and she told me he was just as belligerent with her - something he usually doesn't do. He'll be grumpy and demanding as hell with me, and turn around and be as sweet as sugar with her - until today.

My aunt said it might be a better idea to wait a bit longer before going to visit him, in the hope that he will eventually accept that he will be there from now on. So I probably won't go Thursday.

It breaks my heart to see him going this way, but both Grandma Shelley, and his other sister, Aunt Lois went the same way..  I love my dad, and I miss the man he used to be. And I'll miss him when he's gone. But I almost wish the Lord would just call him home some night while he's sleeping and end the suffering.... For him, and for us all.

Until then, it's going to be a long and rocky road.

Again.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Playing with speech recognition

I am sitting here At 1:00 AM Like an idiot, talking to my computer with this little desktop microphone.  I'm experimenting with the speech recognition feature in Windows 7.  I thought this might speed up commenting that I do in my friends' galleries on Renderosity.

I am not entirely sure that this is any faster than typing even though I am a two fingered typist.  For instance, it took me four tries to get the part about being a two fingered typist right.  There are certain words that I cannot say or the software misinterprets what I am saying.  For instance if I say the word 'correct,' the software tries to correct the word that I just typed.  And it just took six tries too 'type' the previous sentence.

I still have to go back and correct several errors in spelling and grammar such as the word 'too' in the last sentence.  I do not think that speech recognition is going to be of much use as the technology stands now.

I may try Dragon Naturally Speaking at some point.  Hopefully, it is a little better at recognizing speech than this feature built into Windows.  Going back to repeatedly correct errors just takes far too much time.  And that is what I am trying to get away from.

I am typing from this point....

It took me about 5 minutes to get through the paragraph above where I mentioned Dragon Naturally Speaking. The computer simply could not recognize words like 'what,' 'that,' 'is,' 'be,' 'type,' and so on. I'm not sure if Dragon's speech algorithms are any more efficient than the recognition built into Windows. The "Home" package has a MSRP of $99.99, and Office Max has it for $89.99, but I don't want to spend 90 - 100 bucks for it and not be able to take it back if it doesn't work. I need a tool to simplify my life, not add to my stress! I have plenty of that, already.....

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Last Week on Nights..

Tonight begins my last week on night shift for a while. To say I'm glad is a bit like saying water is wet.

I'll be going on mid-shift (2:30PM - 10:30PM) after that - which isn't much better, but at least I'll be able to sleep when it's dark!

I spoke with my Aunt yesterday; my dad has been staying with her in Oak Grove since Thursday. As it stands now, she's planning on moving him in to her place permanently. I hope it works out well - for both of them. She says he's very mellow and pleasant when he's around her; he's not grumpy and disagreeable at all like he is around me. I'm not sure why this is - I'm certainly no psychologist - but I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that I'm his son. In his subconscious he may still be looking at me as a kid. It's hard to tell with the way he is mentally, now. So sad. But at least he'll have constant company, which is what he craves. And it's not that far for me to go and visit. So maybe things are working out for the best.

I'm hoping things will calm down a bit, now.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Situation Normal - Chaos....

Well, I'm a week and a half into my month of night shift. I'm pretty much out of the reptilian stage, and just beginning to enter the zombie stage. By the time I get somewhat used to this shift, and become reasonably normal it'll be time to change shifts again....

What's ironic is this: The main reason I've stayed in this copier field service industry for so long is because I had a job with regular, 8 to 5 hours Monday to Friday, and didn't have to deal with working in some freaking factory on all kinds of wierd shifts. What the hell happened?? :-P

The situation with my dad continues to decline and intensify on an almost daily basis. He has called me 7 times today (so far) wanting my aunt's phone number, my phone number (the one he just dialed), or he just rambles. I get calls from people at his apartment facility just to tell me how messed up he is. I can't seem to get anything done, now.

I don't know if it's dementia or Alzheimer's - or maybe a combination of both.

His sister has Durable Power of Attorney, so it's pretty much up to her how he's handled (at this point, I'm kind of glad it's in her hands - I have enough to deal with at the moment, but I know it's hard on her, too..). She and I do confer frequently regarding dad's situation and care. She's now looking into getting Hospice for him - I really think he needs to be in a nursing home.

It really kills me to see him going like this - he was always such a well-mannered and intelligent man - it's a real heartbreaker. At the risk of sounding horrible, it will be a blessing for him when the Lord finally calls him home. And for us, too.

Hopefully, one day I'll be able to post something more positive....

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Little Calm...

After last Thursday's chaos, it was refreshing to have a relatively calm weekend. I managed to get my HP computer booted up, finally, so I could do some work on my "Girls From T.N.A." series, and some other artwork.

I've also been playing with Vue 10 a little more, and wound up with some decent landscapes. I need to get back to playing with Hexagon a little more, also. I was starting to get to a point where I could created some decent (simple) 3D models with it.

I'm hoping to jar loose some time to work on my website, too. I want to put up some of my newer art and photography - the stuff that's there now is pretty old. I'll probably set up a separate section in my gallery for older stuff, but I'll  be emphasizing my newer work.

This will be my last week on Day shift for a while (around 3 months). I'll get to spend most of the summer working nights. Next week I'll start the late shift (10:30PM - 06:30AM) for a month. I absolutely HATE this shift! Not only do the hours suck, but most of the press operators are a pain in the butt, and they keep you running constantly from the time you get in the door until you leave.

Mid-shift is better as far as the operators go, but the hours are a pain: 2:30PM - 10:30PM. It just punches a big hole right in the middle of your day..... I have a really hard time getting anything done.

Well, enough whining... It's time to head for bed as I have to get up at 05:00 to make it to work at 06:30. Bummer!

Later!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

A Gut-Wrenching Day....

Today was a very stressful and gut-wrenching day.

My dad has been going steadily downhill as far as his mental state is concerned. His body is in relatively good shape for a man of 93; but his mind is a different set of paintings altogether.

I usually visit him on Thursday after work, and today Jo went with me. Today was the worst I've ever seen him. In addition to being extremely confused, he was argumentive, abrasive, and just unbearable to be around. We took him over to the Rehab Center of Independence - at his insistence - to visit his lady friend who is there for a few days. He repaid the favor by cursing Jolene out, and being extremely disagreeable with both of us.

I just don't know if I can deal with this anymore.... The man has reached a point where I cannot follow. He will hate it, but he's going to have to go into a nursing home - soon.

Then, after we got home, my wonderful HP computer (the one I use for Poser Pro 2012) decided it didn't want to boot up properly. It has a habit of screwing up on boot-up at least once out of every 5 or 6 times I start it up. I've just been leaving it on most of the time. Of course Microsoft keeps putting out updates, and every now and then an update requires a reboot.

I put Farstone Drive Clone on it some time ago, and I have a feeling that may be the culprit. Much as I hate doing it, I'll probably end up doing a format/reload on it sometime soon. I'm also going to swear off HP computers. I like their printers and scanners, but both this computer and my HP laptop have screwy issues. I've heard the same from others who have owned HP computers.

Aside from all that, my new Comcast HS internet/phone service is working smoothly. At least something is.

Hopefully one of these days my life will calm down a little bit, and I can work a little faster on updating my website.

Out for now....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Changes....

Today, I signed up for the Comcast Xfinity Triple-Play package, adding phone service and high-speed internet service. Comcast is scheduled to be out Friday afternoon to get everything installed.

I have had DSL from AT&T for several years (it was originally through Yahoo, until Yahoo sold out to AT&T). The service from AT&T has continued to go downhill, and the prices continue to go up. For the last several months, they have bumped the DSL fee up every month a buck or so at a time. The internet connection frequently 'drops out' and the speeds aren't much better than dial-up, lately. And calling thier 'Tech Support' is a joke. Not to offend anyone in another country, but when I pay American money to an American company (AT&T is AMERICAN Telephone & Telegraph - or at least it used to be...), I expect to be able to speak with an American when I need help - not some guy in India that I can barely understand.

Anyway, this will also save me about 50 bucks a month, which is always a good thing. And the connection speeds promise to be much, much faster. With all the stuff I do on line - and all the stuff I'm planning on doing, I need something faster and more reliable. I hope Comcast lives up to its promise....

I'm working on a lot of different things in the continuing meager free time I have. New content on my website, a couple on-line stores, and more fun things. Hopefully, as more time becomes available, I'll be updating this blog on a more regular basis (just in case anyone actually reads it..).

I'll keep this short, as we are going to a memorial service this evening by the Kansas City Hospice folks. They do this once a year as a memorial to all the victims of cancer over the past year. As mentioned in an earlier post, Jolene's Mom passed away in February after a 6 year battle with this insideous desease.

More to come...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

March 24, 2012

The last entry to my blog was made a few hours after Jo's mom passed away. Since then, a lot has transpired, and a lot remains to be done. Things have been insanely busy and a bit stressful at times.

Along with Jo's brother and his wife, and their daughters and their husbands,  we have been working our butts off every weekend to get the house cleared out, repainted, needed repairs done, so we can get it on the market. We've hauled out van-loads of clothes, furniture, and.....well, stuff that's been stashed away in that house for decades. Right now our house is in such disarray, it's unbelievable. The place resembles a warehouse. It's complete chaos. The photos give a hint of what the rest of the place looks like:

 "Spare" Room

 Dining Room

 Garage

I am working the 'mid shift' now (2:30 - 10:30 PM), which makes it a pain to try and get anything done beyond the daily errands, settling of the estate, paperwork, and more paperwork, and so on.

It also seems that relations between Jo's brother's family and us are degrading - again. We've never really been very close to them; not because we haven't tried. It could just be me, but I get the impression that the whole bunch of them (they're church-going Christians, you know..) regard us as little more than 'white trash.' I could be wrong, but that's the vibration I pick up every time we're around them.

On top of all this, my dad's declining mental state continues to deteriorate. He still remembers who I am, and who Jo is, and he also remembers his remaining siblings, and friends at the Fountains where he lives. But he cannot remember what day it is, or what hours I'm working. He consistently calls my house (he remembers my phone number) to talk to me while I'm at work.

Last Saturday he called me all upset because his phone bill was $72.00. He didn't understand why it was so expensive. Of course, he's been paying that for months - he had DSL, and that's about $30 a month. He said he didn't use it anymore, and he wanted me to help him cancel it. I told him I'd come over Monday and get it taken care of.

I helped him get the DSL canceled, and he said I might as well take his computer with me, as he doesn't use it anymore. I brought it and the computer desk here - I needed a good XP machine anyway; all my others are Windows 7, except the HP laptop, which is Vista.

Anyway, in a nutshell this is pretty much what my life has been like since the beginning of February. I hope things start to settle down before long, but I don't see much hope of it for the foreseeable future.

I have very little time for my 3D artwork, photography, or work in my shop. I'm trying - in the few minutes scattered in between all the chaos - to learn a lot of new software. DAZ 3D has been giving away some awesome software for the past couple of months. DAZ Studio 4 Pro, Bryce 7 Pro, and Hexagon 2.5 are all free to download until the end of March. That's about $800 worth of software! Right now, I'm concentrating on learning how to use Hexagon - it's a 3D modeling application that allows you to make all kinds of things - from vehicles to buildings, even clothes for 3D figures; anything you can imagine, if you know how to use the software.

It's something I think I might be able to make a little money with - creating props and such to sell in CG art marketplaces like Renderosity. But I have to be able to use the software effectively first.

I'm also trying as best I can to keep going with my CG art. It's been too long since I've posted anything in my gallery on Renderosity - but I keep plugging away when I have a few moments. I also need to update my website with some of my current artwork and photography. So many things, so little time!

A few months ago, I upgraded from Poser 8 to Poser Pro 2012 - it's completely awesome! I'm planning more as well... I've been saving up, and I will very soon be adding Vue 10 Complete to my CG toolbox. This is an amazing application that - if you know what you're doing with it - allows you to create photorealistic environments. That's not really a description that does it justice, though. If you've seen Avatar, or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the sweeping jungle scenes in those films were created with Vue.

So, that's pretty much my life such as it is up to this point. I'm hoping things settle down a little once we are done with Jo's mom's stuff. I'm pretty sure we'll be going through all this with my dad before long, sadly. But this has been a long post, and if you've read through all of it, I thnk you for letting me vent a bit.

Hopefully, my posts will be more frequent and less depressing in the very near future!

Rod

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Farewell

Today,at 12:25 PM, my Mother in Law, Marilyn Traskowsky passed peacefully into God's Realm to join her beloved husband Bob, who preceeded her in 2006.

After a long, brave battle with cancer, she is now at peace, and suffers no longer. We will miss her, but her memory lives in our hearts.

I want to thank the wonderful staff at Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care (www.kansascityhospice.org) for making her as comfortable as possible during her last days. They were truly a Godsend.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Update 01-31-12

My mother-in-law has been in the Hospice House for a little over a week, now. She's still hanging in there, but I think it's not going to be much longer. She is sleeping most of the time, and there is no response to voices.

She is now in that nether world, somewhere between this life and whatever waits beyond. It is only a matter of time, now.

The doctor at Hospice says there are different stages they go through, and the number and length varies with each individual. She is in the second stage, now, I think. I hope she isn't in any pain, and I hope the Lord calls her home to be with her husband Bob, who we lost 6 years ago. She has suffered enough.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Rocky Road Ahead...

We stopped by Sonic on the way home from the hospice center to pick up dinner. We no sooner got home, and the phone went off. Jo's mom having problems, according to Pam (Jo's sister in law). I had just enough time to inhale a cheeseburger, and jump back in the van.

We're back at the hospice center now (about 7:45PM), and I have no idea how long we'll be here. It's going to be a rough road ahead......

Just spoke with one of the nurses here - she said it was a bit of nausea, but nothing like breathing or heart issues. She said it was part of the disease process, and they had a lot of things they can do to ease the nausea.

This is not going to be a good month for anyone involved.

A Sad Time

I am typing this from the lobby at the Kansas City Hospice Home. Jo's mom has just been transferred her from St. Joseph's Medical Center. Sadly, this will be her last home. Our doctor says she has about a month left.

It's a hard thing to deal with, even when you know it's going to happen - and we have for the past 6 years or so.

I'm hoping once everything settles down to be able to do more with this blog, my website, and the other things I've tried to keep afloat throughout all this.

Until later...