Sunday, April 11, 2004
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by Melanie Lehtola
I still have every intention of starting a newsletter but I have been very busy working full time, taking care of the children and being Co-chairperson of the Family Readiness Group for the Army National Guard Unit my husband, Brian, belongs to. I'm also creator and editor of the Family Guard Matters newsletter for the unit. I'll send you the most recent copy that has an article in it from Brian.
Brian has been deployed since October 15th, 2003. He spent eight weeks at Ft. Stewart, GA, six weeks in Germany and arrived into Kosovo on February 3rd. He should be headed home sometime in late August or early September. I will be flying to Sofia, Bulgaria, the last week of May to see him. I'm excited to see him after being apart for so long ... but apprehensive about the flights there and back. I believe it's not safe to be an American anywhere in the world today.
Things got very exciting for him a couple weeks ago when riots broke out between Serbs and Albanians throughout Kosovo. He was called upon to be a personal bodyguard for a high ranking officer as he went off the military base to assess the situation. It was a tense couple weeks for me, but Brian was loving it! He did say the destruction he saw, caused by the hatred, was very sad and disheartening. Today in the mail I received a disk, from his digital camera, full of pictures from Kosovo.
I'm excited to look at the pictures but it's getting late, so will save that for tomorrow. 5 a.m. comes very early, I'd better get to bed! I'll send you a picture for The Bulletin ... when I can find a free moment :o)
Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo.
In the background is a mountain the soldiers call Big Duke.
Brian Lehtola in Kosovo
by Diana (Mellon) Martin
When we were visiting you folks in Missouri last summer, if you remember, we were experiencing a lot of trouble with our transmission in our camper van, and Russ talked to Don about it. Don asked if we would let him know should we ever figure it out.
So, I just wanted to let Don, or anyone else know, who might be driving a Dodge truck or van or motorhome, ours is a 1999 Pleasureway camper van, that we think we have finally gotten good advice and have solved the problem.
We were told that the problem was not in the tranny, itself, but in the tranny cooler ... the check valve was not working properly. Lo and behold, Russ took the van in this morning for a check-up on the problem, and it was found that, in fact, the check valve in the tranny cooler was defective and leaking. Besides replacing the valve, they also replaced some hoses, filters, did a flush of the system, and added ATF #4 fluid.
Russ said the improvement was immediate and almost astonishing ...both shifting and general response. We had, up to this time, only had trouble in the very hot weather, and/or if driving many miles at a time, but this was the first time we had started having trouble in the cool weather, so we knew we had a serious problem, and needed help. We called the Pleasureway manufacturer in Canada, once again, who said they had just received a bulletin from Chrysler on this subject, and that is how we found out what the problem was.
We had begun to think we would have to sell the van and try to afford something else if we couldn't get it fixed, but if this is the true "fix" we will be thrilled, and our van will once again be the pleasure we once thought it was. Tomorrow will be new tires all around ... the old ones are very worn and ready to be changed, so with all of that, we're looking forward to some fun travel and camping this summer ... the Lord willing.
We have a man-made pond at the front of our property, and between this morning and yesterday morning, our resident ducks and geese have returned ... a sure sign of spring!
Our sweet little Honey is out of bandages, now, but will never be able to use her leg normally. She saw the vet on Friday, and he confided in us that he was very concerned that she might lose her foot, so needless to say, he was thrilled to see how well she was doing. Just goes to show that the power of prayer, good medical care, and love can go a long way in the healing process! Even for dogs!
by Don and Dorothy
We have acquired a new member to our family. We don't usually name our cars -- like someone else we know -- but this one I will call "Wonderful." As you can see by the illustration when I call it a NEW car I am not referring to the date but the position in our family. It is a little larger than our Buick but it still fits in our little garage.
Tonight we took it out for a tour of our fine city and found it in all respects our kind of car; steady, smooth (as silk), quiet, and well able to carry the added load that my carrier puts on it. Come for a visit and we will give you a ride!
1997 Lincoln Town Car
A Short Story
illustration by Brianna Jordet
The greasy glass door whooshed shut behind me and the familiar thrift store smell rolled over me like a wave. Mildewed books and rancid tennis shoes are repugnant to some people, but to me, they smell like springtime at the marsh. I crept like an assassin through the record and book section, senses electric, rifling through the merchandise with the jaded expertise of a New York art collector. Nothing but the usual Herb Albert records and jelly-stained paperback copies of Go Ask Alice. A slow day at the Goodwill can be a very disheartening experience, one that may drive a person to the brink of shopping at Barnes and Noble, or worse yet, Media Play. Thank Goodness my sense always returns before I reach that point.
I rounded the corner by sporting goods and electric appliances and paused awhile by a garish black velvet painting of a sad looking brown haired little girl with oversized eyes. Lighten up, little girl, life is for living.
I almost turned and missed it, just then. But then I saw it.
It was magnificent.
If you've ever owned a sock monkey, you know of their mystical powers.
First of all, anything monkey-related is preferable, everyone knows that. Even the most sour of all life haters can't help but laugh the first time they are actually in physical proximity of a chimpanzee wearing disposable diapers. Of course, they remember themselves again instantly, and pull their grimace of self-pity back in place again, less someone notice that their mask has slipped.
I held up the remnant and appraised its age. It seemed to be a vintage Vietnam era sock monkey. I felt like Leaky, stumbling on the archeological find of the century.
A portly Goth rocker stepped up behind me, like a vulture sensing a fresh kill.
"Is that a real sock monkey?" I felt her breath in my ear.
"Ummmm..." I stalled. Got... to... think...
"Wow, I haven't seen one of those in years... Is it a real sock monkey?"
"Uh... no. It's a cheesy reissue. Probably originally sold at Dayton's." I lied, through a politician's smile. That was close.
It had been a long time.
Where ya' been, sockey, old boy? I remember my Grandmother whipping these babies out of thin air for our speculation and delight like they were standard issue survival equipment.
"What? Do you don't have a sock monkey?" I remember asking classmates, completely aghast at the negligence of the adults in their family unit. I thought everyone did.
I made it to the cash register without breaking into a run, a virtual portrait of composure. I paid the filthy lucre and hit the street running, waving my sock monkey in the air like a coveted tournament trophy.
Sure, I could have gone to Target and bought a brand new one. The new ones are a good indicator of society's subconscious wish to change, but they are just not the same.
In the same token, you can go to the art supply store and buy modeling clay, but it won't smell as good and bake up as impressively as the kind made with bread dough and egg dye in the kitchen on a rainy autumn day as the Parakeet warbles and WCCO crackles in the background.
I realize that owning a sock monkey at my age will probably raise some eyebrows and maybe even land me on a government list somewhere, but it is worth the risk. His smile is kind and his eyes betray a sublime wisdom that one normally associates with the Dalai Lama or Dick Cavett. One look into that inscrutable face and I am magically transported to the aforementioned kitchen, 4 years old and completely oblivious to the evil that men do. That's a lot of mileage out of one monkey.
The Bolivian Beat
I think I mentioned previously that the campesinos had captured the previously kicked-out officials in order to judge and punish them. After a week of daily meetings in the futbol field below, they decided that each prisoner would be returned to his/her community and would be required to work for the community three days per week for the number of years that had been served as a government official. So the frenzy of last week has been replaced by complete silence as the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of campesinos have returned to their homes. Now that transportation is normal again, it seems that half of Morochata has left as well. The hospital is empty, so I've been doing lots of reading and Quechua studying.
I'm a real teacher!!! I'm now "Profesora Kjirsten," and give classes three mornings per week in the local high school, one hour-and-a-half class to grades 7 and up. Though English is requisite in Bolivian high schools, Morochata hasn't had an English teacher since anyone can remember and my students know nothing. So this week we sang the alphabet, learned to count to ten, and practiced introducing ourselves. Seventh grade might kill me ... there are forty something students and several are the "difficult" sort. Sadly, the numbers dwindle significantly with each grade and the senior class numbers only 7. But I admit I'm thankful for manageable class sizes in the upper levels. I'm also teaching evening classes a couple of nights per week to community members. I've committed to the school until I go home this summer, but told them I'll consider coming back for next year. They'll need some notice, but I'm not going to make decisions until I see how it goes..
At this point I'm leaning towards spending another year in Morochata ... though the medical sorts of opportunities in Cochabamba are more interesting, I love life outside of the city... I feel like Morochata is a truly unique opportunity to experience Bolivian culture in the field and at such deep level if I stay another year... Cochabamba is a wonderful and tempting, but sometimes it's almost too comfortable. There I can converse in English with foreign friends; connect to the Internet for 40 cents per hour; shop in a grocery store if I'm so inclined (granted, there are only two); eat ice cream, pizza, and some selection of international foods when I need them; exercise in a gym; and go to the theater. I could live in an apartment and recoup some of the independence that Bolivians resist allowing me.
In contrast, Morochata challenges me. I struggle to understand Quechua; can't communicate with anyone outside of Bolivia; crave mangos and go without fresh fruit and veggies when I miscalculate my needs on market day; my only access to news of the outside world comes by word of mouth; I can't make them understand that I'm incapable of eating massive amounts of rice plus two potatoes at every meal; and sometimes it's just too quiet. But the landscapes are beautiful and the people even more so, and I've come to crave the tranquility of a world without television and more than a few buses per day. Plus I'll be a foosball master if I stay for any length of time :) We'll see.
So at the moment I'm in Cochabamba catching up on communication, hanging out with my Bolivian family and friends, and generally running errands. Tonight a group of friends and I will be going to the concert of one of Bolivia's best groups, and tomorrow early I return to Morochata. I'm planning to be there until I leave to cross a border... Kjirsten
Beaver's Shocking Experience
This all started back in July, when I went to the Red Cross Bloodmobile in Ashby to donate my usual pint. The nurse who checked my pulse said no blood giving for you today, go see your doctor. My doctor diagnosed atrial fibrillation, which means the two upper chambers of my heart were not beating. He put me on Coumadin to thin my blood, which reduces the danger of a clot leaving the idle part of the heart and causing mischief elsewhere, along with other pills to help convert my heart back into rhythm.
In September I had the first cardioversion. This is done with a machine similar to the defibrillator used by emergency medical personnel, but is more sophisticated, administering the shock at a certain time during the heartbeat to try to get the heart to beat correctly. The cardioversion was unsuccessful.
My doctor recommended that we make no further attempts, and manage the problem instead. He said that studies show that atrial fib, properly managed, will not cause a reduced life span, but a person will be shorter of breath, get cold more quickly, and will need to stay on Coumadin to prevent clots, as well as a beta blocker to regulate the heart rate.
After considerable urging from my wife, I went to Meritcare in Fargo for a second opinion. The cardiologist there recommended that I go through more testing and then go on a drug called Amiodorone (a heart rhythm regulator) to prepare for another cardioversion. I was somewhat apprehensive, as Amiodorone can cause some serious side effects, but the Meritcare doctors have used it enough that they are confident of their ability to monitor for side effects and manage any that do occur. Until recently, it was necessary to spend 5 days to a week in the hospital when first taking the drug -- I'm sure glad I didn't have to do that!
I had a "chemical stress test", which is done over 2 days. This involves a dye injection and spending some time in a machine that gave me claustrophobia. This test showed a possible blockage, so I needed an angiogram. It was fascinating to lie there watching the monitor as the dye from the probe raced through my heart and blood vessels! The angiogram showed that all my plumbing is in excellent shape; the problem is only with the electric wiring. After all this, I was ready for the Amiodorone, which I took for about six weeks before the big day arrived.
We drove to Fargo Tuesday night, staying at Wyatt and Jolene's so that we could be at Meritcare for my 7 a.m. appointment. At Meritcare, a nurse got us settled into a room to wait for the doctor and the anesthesiologist to show up. When they got there, the nurse had me all ready to go -- IV in place, about a dozen wires attached to various parts of my anatomy, and two large patches glued to my chest.
After a short conversation with the doctor about all the things that could go wrong, and a longer wait while they hunted for a missing lab report on my potassium level, the anesthesiologist told me that the anesthesia was flowing and I would soon be sleeping. She was right! After a nice little nap, I awakened to hear the best news possible -- the cardioversion had worked, and I was in rhythm.
When we got home, I looked in the mirror, and it looked like an octopus had attacked! Little round suction cup marks all over, as well as clear outlines of the two larger patches that administer the electricity. I also have some sore chest muscles -- suppose the shock stresses them?
I have an appointment in 6 weeks, and if all is going well, I may be able to start weaning off the Amiodorone. There are no guarantees that my heart won't revert back to atrial fib, but hopefully it will behave. If not, I suppose I'll be in for another shock!
This and That
by Elaine Wold
MOMENTS IN LIFE
There are moments in life when you miss someone
so much that you just want to pick them from
your dreams and hug them for real!
When the door of happiness closes, another opens;
but often times we look so long at the
closed door that we don't see the one,
which has been opened for us
Don't go for looks; they can deceive.
Don't go for wealth; even that fades away.
Go for someone who makes you smile,
because it takes only a smile to
make a dark day seem bright.
Find the one that makes your heart smile.
May you have enough happiness to make you sweet,
enough trials to make you strong,
enough sorrow to keep you human and
enough hope to make you happy
The happiest of people don't necessarily
have the best of everything;
they just make the most of
everything that comes along their way.
The brightest future will always
be based on a forgotten past;
you can't go forward in life until
you let go of your past failures and heartaches.
When you were born, you were crying
and everyone around you was smiling.
Live your life so at the end,
you're the one who is smiling and everyone
around you is crying.
Don't count the years -- count the memories.....
Celebrations & Observances
From the Files of 5
This Week's Birthdays:
Dorothy Anderson---April 9
Richard Johnson---April 9
Brenda Hill--- April 10
Lisa Anderson --- April 10
Mindy Miranowski--- April 15
More April birthdays:
Duane Miller---April 2
Meryl Hansey---April 4
Lorella Grob---April 5
Miss Kitty---April 23
Alyssa Lynn Freesemann---April 23
Troy Freesemann---April 25
Mia Nelson---April 25
Heidi Johnson---April 26
Peggy McNeill---April 27
Steve Rodriguez---April 27
I am happy to make others happy -- I received a nice Thank You from Meryl for his card and now I have a note from Dorothy that I should run -- after all she is my Boss! Here it is:
I want to thank you, Miss Hetty, for the nice card -- It looks like spring with those ice cream eaters on it. I do want you to let everyone know that I loved all the notes, cards, pictures.....and how many people get a magic carriage for their special day or who have a story dedicated to them!! I feel so privileged to receive all this loving care! Thank you all!
The Editor (Dorothy to some, Mom to others, Grandma to quite a few -- and a relative and friend to all the rest of you special people!)
+ LETTERS TO THE EDITORS?
We spent the weekend in Fort Lauderdale and as soon as I got back to Estero, I had to check on The Bulletin as I knew there would be one to read. We really enjoy The Bulletin and especially keeping up on the young folks and their schooling, trips, and jobs, etc.
Congratulations to Lori on her accomplishments. That's great. We have a lot of talented people on The Bulletin's Address List. The best part of it is that most of them are RELATED to ME. You all keep up the good work!! Thank You.
I will mention, we saw Steve and Marian Miller today in Fort Lauderdale, along with their son, daughter-in-law and little girl. Most of you would know them. Steve put forth extra effort to come over to talk to us while he had opportunity to do so. I found Marian outside the building later, holding her granddaughter, as grandmas so often do... Who would miss that chance?? (I think it is Mike and Susan, their names???? Jim's son.)
The Bulletin no. 95 came in on Sunday; it looks better every time. I will start on my article soon, but as it's not spring here in Holland, not all the plants are in the shop to give a good impression about the variety we have here.
Last week we had 3 days of higher temps, but after that it went downhill again. Now it's cold and until Easter it will stay that way. I have to work on Monday, 2nd Easter day. Will get double pay for that. But if it stays so cool it will not be busy; people don't work in the garden.
Ary ~ from the Netherlands
I get such a kick out of Jerrianne's photos; she has such an eye for composition! That Miss Kitty is quite photogenic, as well ~ Doug
Great Looking Car!!!!
Hope you enjoy your new car. It looks like you ordered it from the factory. Perfect!!!
Good Luck, Your loving son.
Happy Birthday, Mother Dear!
I wrote this "memory piece" especially for you (and The Bulletin) and Brianna illustrated it.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY: Be kind. Remember everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. --T. H. Thompson
EDITOR'S POLICY: If you wish to subscribe to The Bulletin, simply send me a statement of that fact. If you wish to keep receiving it I hope you will contribute to one of the columns that are running in this family epistle (at least occasionally!). My e-mail address is email@example.com
This Bulletin is copyright Dorothy M. Anderson; the contents are also copyrighted by the authors and photographers and used with their permission, and the contents are not to be used for any commercial purposes without the explicit consent of the creators.