Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Holidays almost over

I just spent three days at the new townhouse and now I'm back in Westcliffe.  I probably won't be going back up there until January 18, moving day.

I was able to locate my mailbox and discovered I had a lot of mail.  Christmas cards and bills, etc.

When I got back here I had a letter from VA approving a check for burial expenses, so I will have another check coming.  Then I think I will be pretty much done with the VA.  The only thing left is the grave marker.  And that could take until springtime to get.

The next few weeks are going to be hectic so unless something really noteworthy happens I won't be blogging for a little while.

Marshall's birthday is February 1 -- he would have been 70 -- so that will be another sad day.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Some of Marshall's Favorite Things

Marshall's grandson, TJ, holding a photo of Marshall on his motorcycle.  I don't know why some of these pictures are all screwy.  I tried to fix them but finally gave up.

An enlarged photo of the motorcycle:

Marshall and his sister Audrey:

Marshall with me and my boss Fred at a Dumb Friends League fundraiser:

Another picture with the eagle:

The handler has a trick that makes the eagle spread his wings -- isn't it gorgeous? Marshall was thrilled.

Part of his gnome collection -- they resemble him, yes?

Marshall's cousin Janice and her son Bill in Chicago:

Marshall with his daughter Tanya and grandkids Alexis, TJ and Brandon (taken at nursing home last January) -- you can see that Brandon has a sense of humor...I couldn't get him to be serious!

This is a small representation of some of his favorite things and people. I've stopped going through photos, it was too emotional.

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Christmas Day

First thing this morning I went down to the neighbor's house to feed Joseph and Solomon and go for a mile-long walk. When we got back to their house, Joe and Sol sat real pretty in anticipation of the biscuit they knew was coming:

Then I fixed a "Marshall" breakfast: Two eggs over-medium (true-to-form they came out over-hard just like they always do when I make them -- Marshall would have expected that), 2 pieces of whole wheat toast -- buttered liberally, some Colby cheese, and, also true-to-form, I had some ham to go with that and forgot to get it out. Marshall would have expected that, too. (I can hear him now: "Uh, honey, didn't you say we had some ham?"). But I ate it and it tasted good to me

Late morning it started snowing like crazy and there was 4 inches of snow in a short amount of time. Then it quit suddenly.

I went out and swept a path out to Marshall's tree (yes, the snow was just powder and easily swept). I got the spot all ready to scatter the ashes. And then came in and got everything together. I took the flag I was presented with out to the spot, along with a cup of coffee, since he would sit out there for a hours drinking coffee and looking at the view.

While I was outside getting ready to scatter ashes, I got a call from Marshall's cousin Janice and her son Bill in Chicago, two very dear people. They couldn't have called at a better time -- they stayed on the line while I spread the ashes. That was special. Here are the photos:

The ashes:

I wanted Coco out there with me, but when he got out in the snow he decided he didn't want to be part of this ceremony so I brought him back in (and I have no idea why this photo decided to take over the screen!):

The "Wyco Holler" tree:

The memorial flag and a cup of coffee sitting on Marshall's chair. The photo I put in the flag frame was Marshall's absolute favorite photo. It was taken at a Dumb Friends League fundraiser at Fred & Jana's house and they had a rescue group there who did a demonstration with Eagles. They took this photo of Marshall with one of their Eagles on his shoulder (the "handler" is actually holding the eagle and she is ducked down behind Marshall.)

The view that reminded him so much of West Virginia:

I feel Marshall's presence everywhere. I have had a few crying spells, but mostly I am having such a nice Christmas. I figure I'll fix the hodge-podge meal around 4:30.

Love from Marilyn, Coco, Jerry and Okie:

In memory of Marshall:

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Thursday, December 24, 2015


More views I will really miss. These were on my way to town this morning to get the mail.

This buck and doe were in my front yard.

These were taken from my road.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sold the ATV

Over the weekend I sold Marshall's last trailer and this morning I sold the ATV, so all of the big items are now gone. I'm glad that's done, but as his things disappear it gets kind of sad. It's like he didn't exist ... hard to explain.

One of the most important things in his life was his military buddies. For the past 10 years we went to every single military reunion and he planned for it all year long. Well, today I got a Christmas card from one of those guys with an absolutely lovely message for me about Marshall. But it made me realize that this guy -- so far -- is the ONLY one of the several hundred military buddies who has bothered to send their sympathies. That brought tears to my eyes. Marshall would be so disappointed. He would have done just about anything for those guys. You just never know, do you?

This morning it occurred to me that I should make sure all the animals are up to date on shots and vet visits so that when we move I won't have to worry about that for a while. So I called Julie, the vet here in town, and she made a special trip in to the office for me. I took the cats in and they got their shots and their checkup. And Okie got microchipped. The other two were already chipped. Coco has a different vet and I'll have to get an appointment for him after the holiday. He has many old-age problems and I want to be sure all is well with him before the move.

I had a large carrier and I put Okie and Jerry in there together. It was very reassuring to see that they didn't fuss or cry or anything, they just cuddled together and handled the whole vet thing like big boys. I hope that is a precursor to how they will handle the trip up to Thornton when the time comes. I've been a bit worried about that (yes, if there is something to worry about, I will worry about it).

Jerry weighs 17 pounds -- he is definitely a big boy!

I'm getting ready for spreading some of Marshall's ashes on Friday. Here's a picture of his favorite spot -- you can't really see it, but the sign on the tree says Wyco Holler (I always teased him about his pronunciation of "Hollow") -- this is where Coco and I will spread some ashes and reminisce on Friday.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

118 boxes

Yes, I am now up to 118 boxes.  I'm getting there.

Today I went to the store and bought all of Marshall's favorite foods.  So for Christmas dinner, I'm going to play Christmas songs and fix ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, potato salad, green beans casserole, dressing, macaroni and cheese, coconut cream pie, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.  (Too bad his sister isn't here to make her special "Marshall" dishes.). I should have enough leftovers to last for weeks!

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Since I am going to be here for Christmas, I offered to watch my neighbor Jim's dogs while they visit family for the holidays.

It's kind of fun because, first of all, I love animals, and second, I plan to walk them every day and I haven't walked around here in a long time. When we first moved here I loved to hike and walk around our property but a few years ago the Department of Wildlife started putting out some warnings about an aggressive mountain lion as well as being careful to never position yourself between a mama bear and her cubs. So little by little I quit walking.

Well, Jim's dogs are big guys and I feel comfortable walking with them so it is especially nice to be able to do some walking in these scenic mountain areas during these last months of living here.

Here they are -- Joseph and Solomon:

They took off running and hit an icy spot and Solomon hit the ground...

After the walk I decided to try to take a selfie with the dogs, but it was hard trying to get both of them and me in the same picture. Here's me and Solomon:

You can see that the perfect selfie just isn't going to happen:

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Friday, December 18, 2015


Went up to Thornton with Coco this past Monday through Wednesday. Monday turned out to be a monstrous blizzard and when I opened my front door Tuesday morning a foot of snow blew in. There's a Walmart two blocks away so I went down to Walmart and bought a snow shovel.

The storm didn't stop the garage door opener guy, though, so by early afternoon I had a garage door opener.

On Wednesday I had cable, Internet and phone installed. And Coco and I came home Wednesday afternoon. It looks like the washer and dryer are going to have to wait until next year.

Tony came by with his friend Troy and they are going to do some building up around the loft ledge so that the cats can't jump up on the ledge and slip and fall 15 feet. They are also going to install a gate on the stairway and a gate on the patio. And also storm doors.

Still no word from the VA on the after-death expenses or on the headstone.

I am staying here in the house for Christmas. Since it will be my last Christmas in this house where Marshall and I had so many good times, I want to be alone here with the boys (and Marshall's "spirit") for this holiday.

Marshall had a favorite spot on this property that he said reminded him of where he grew up in West Virginia and he loved to sit out there in that spot with his morning coffee (or his evening beer). I made a sign for him that I attached to the tree that said "Wyco Holler."

On Christmas Day I'm going to get bundled up and go out there with Coco and spread some of Marshall's ashes in that spot, along with the ashes of his beloved dog Marlee. Then I'll sit there with a cup of coffee and reminisce about good times past.

Next year the family will get together to spread the rest of Marshall's ashes in West Virginia and in Ohio.

The boys are being especially clingy. I guess that's because I've left them alone so often in recent weeks. Thank goodness for my neighbor Cathy who comes over and checks on them. Jerry usually hides from visitors but he loves Cathy. This week she left me some YUMMY Christmas cookies! And Cathy's husband Dave made sure my road was plowed so that when I got back here on Wednesday I could get to the house okay.

Anyway, the cats are unbelievably clingy. Jerry -- who is the big cat weighing in at 17 pounds -- is constantly on my lap, which is unusual, and even sleeps with me, which he doesn't usually do. As I am typing this Jerry is plastered to my side and trying to lay on my iPad -- see photo.

It will be interesting to see how they handle the big move.

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Another trip to Thornton

Well, I changed my moving date to January 18 and 19 so there's a little more breathing room

I still haven't heard from the VA with the burial expenses I am entitled to but I did get a letter from the VA that they are working on the claim and I should hear soon.

I'm going up to Thornton on Monday (taking Coco) to be there for an appointment on Tuesday (getting a garage door opener installed) and an appointment on Wednesday (getting cable, internet and telephone).  And my friend Tony is going to bring his contractor friend over to see what can be done to "cat-proof" the ledge around the loft.

Things are moving along.

But I'm having more and more Afib episodes and that's getting me down.  My next appointment with the cardiologist is February 1 and I believe the medication will need to be adjusted.  I am just not ready for surgery yet.

Monday, December 7, 2015

More packing

Well, I packed 8 more boxes today and I still can't see much progress.  I have now packed 106 boxes. I actually know why I'm not seeing any progress -- it's because I've been emptying cabinets and drawers so of course that's not immediately obvious.

Still, it would do my motivation good to actually see a reduction in "stuff."

When I went up to the townhouse over the weekend I took Marshall's motorcycle vest and his favorite hat and I have them hanging in the closet so that Marshall is now up there with me, too.

Today I tried to make an appointment for a garage door opener company to meet me next week at the townhouse to get a garage door opener installed.  Well, the woman asked me so many foreign questions:  "Do you want Liftmaster or Genie?  Is your garage door 7 feet or 8 feet? Do you want chain or belt?  Do you want battery backup or not? Do you want an upgraded motor?"  My goodness, I sure miss Marshall.

I called a friend in Denver (Tony) and he's going to call the woman tomorrow and answer all the questions and then I can make the appointment.  Thank goodness.  Tony told me that shortly before Marshall died he talked to Tony and asked him to watch over me.  Boy, am I taking advantage of that promise!

My next purchase will be a washer/dryer and the choices are ENDLESS!  Marshall made it all look so effortless.  I feel like throwing a dart...

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Spent the weekend in new house

On Thursday I went back to the dentist and this time he discovered an infection.  So I am now on antibiotics and pain free.  I am so relieved.

On Friday, Coco and I drove up to Thornton to spend the weekend in my new townhouse.  We hung some cheap temporary curtains and shower curtain and other small things.  It was so weird hearing traffic noises all night long -- I haven't heard traffic noises in 12 years.  And I'll bet I went up and down the stairs about 100 times. Good exercise.

Saturday night I went to our firm's Christmas party and had a wonderful time.  It was so nice seeing people I haven't seen in a long time.  And I left Coco alone in the new place for 5 hours while I went to the party and he handled it very well.

I got back to Westcliffe this evening. The real estate agent called and said there is some interest in my house.  We'll see where that goes in the next day or so.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


I forgot to report that I got another letter from Medicare addressed to the Estate of Marshall Mullins and to the University of Coloado Hospital.  They have now approved that charge.  Good news.

I am falling apart...

I was able to get in to see my doctor today (a miracle in itself) and talked to him about my three problems.

1.  My thinning hair.  He says that it could be stress related coming from the past four years and that it may slowly start growing back.  He advises patience and a good vitamin regimen (he recommends zinc, magnesium, Vitamin D and the B vitamins).

2.  My shaking hands.  For the past year or so I've had trouble with trembling hands that I can't control.  He says that is actually a condition in older people called "intentional tremors," which is a dumb name, don't you think?  He said there is no cure for it and it probably won't get any worse.  He said it isn't Parkinson's because in Parkinson's when the hands tremble they kind of clench and when mine tremble that doesn't happen.

3.  The tooth/face pain.  All day today I haven't had any pain whatsoever and I chewed, I ate ice cream and I drank a hot liquid.  No pain whatsoever.  There is no rhyme or reason to this.  Dr. Bliss says that it is very possibly trigeminal neuralgia.  He said it could be caused by shingles.  I told him I have had shingles on that side of the face (way back in the 80s) and he said there is a SLIGHT chance that could be connected.  He also doesn't think TN can be caused by stress, but anything is possible.  I told him I was seeing the dentist again on Thursday and Dr. Bliss said that if the dentist doesn't figure it out I will need to see a neurologist.

I told him I was using Oil of Cloves whenever there was pain and the oil really killed the pain.  He said that the oil of cloves has a numbing effect and it can numb the nerves as well as numb a toothache.

So now let's see if I stay pain free until Thursday.  And I hope to get some answers.  But I am definitely falling apart (ha).

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Yesterday I had to go to Canon City and there was a bit of snow on the ground. When I came home I decided to take the back way (on Oak Creek Grade) which can be scary at times. But with the trees covered with snow it was just gorgeous:

Today it was still snowing a little bit but not enough to get out of hand. I send thanks to my neighbor Dave for plowing out my road!!

I packed 8 boxes today and I still don't see any progress.

This weekend is my firm's Christmas party so I'm going to take Coco with me up to the townhouse and spend the weekend -- I want him to start to get used to his new home. The party is Saturday night. I will be leaving Coco alone for four hours and hope he doesn't alienate my new neighbors by his "separation anxiety" barking. It wil be a good test. My wonderful neighbor Cathy will look in on the cats while I'm gone.

And yesterday I used Oil of Clove on my toothache and that stuff is like a miracle. I applied it every time the pain came back and it worked wonders. Then today I got up and did not have a toothache at all. Right now it's late in the day and still no toothache. I am very puzzled.

This weekend when I go up to the townhouse I'm going to take a few of Marshall's things that I held onto so that his presence will be there with me. That may sound pretty silly and I'm sure the day will come when I will join the world again without missing him so much. The hospice people told me that would take a year.

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Location:Beautiful scenery

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What ... A ... Day ..

Well, I am now the proud owner of a townhouse in Thornton.  I left the house at 7:00 this morning to get to Denver by 11:00 so I could rent a storage unit for a few months while I sort things out.

Then I went to the townhouse and met the builder and had my walk-through.

Then I found my way to the title company for the closing and the closing took about 3 hours.

Then I went back to the townhouse to unload some things from the truck that I had brought with me (towels, cleaning supplies, coffee pot, etc.).  When I got to the townhouse the front door was standing wide open.  That was kind of unnerving.  I tried to reach the builder but he was long gone.  Nothing seemed to be bothered so I guess he just didn't pull the door closed good after the walk-through.  Then I had trouble getting the garage door open.  But I finally got everything unloaded and hit the road to come back home only to find that I-25 was bumper-to-bumper for miles and miles.  Thanksgiving traffic.  It took forever to get home.  I am so grateful to my neighbor Cathy -- she came over to check on the animals twice today.  Otherwise I would have really been worried because I was gone for 15 hours!

I really missed Marshall today.  He would have driven the title company guy nuts.  Whenever we bought anything that needed paperwork signed, Marshall would always read every single sentence and he would ask tons of questions.

Anyway, now I own two houses.  Yikes.

And I still have a toothache.  The dentist couldn't find anything wrong so he says to stick it out through the holiday because maybe it's a sinus issue that will go away on its own.  Great.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Closing date

My closing date has been set for Tuesday, November 24, at 1:30.  And I've got one heck of a toothache.  So hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get in to see the dentist before I have to drive up to Denver for the closing.  I hope some day things calm down.

Yesterday I heard from the VA and they are now starting to pay some of my pharmacy claims.  That was great news.

Still waiting for the headstone to be done, as well as the military grave marker.

Today is the 4-month anniversary of Marshall's death.  Hard to believe, isn't it?

Monday, November 16, 2015


I try to pack up at least 4 or 5 boxes every day and I swear it seems like I haven't done a thing.  It is overwhelming.

I have to tell you that as I'm packing, I am finding myself constantly picking something up and saying, "Honey, do you think you'll need this at the new house?"  And then feeling so sad -- and dumb.  I just cannot accept that he's gone.

The finance people called me today to tell me that the VA has finally come through with some of the remaining paperwork for my loan.  So I imagine the loan closing date will be set pretty soon.  Then I can get busy with window coverings, garage door opener, and other things on my list.  And start getting used to a big mortgage payment.

There's going to be a blizzard tonight up north.  Winter is here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Old Photo

I have purposely not looked at photo albums since Marshall's death because I knew it would be emotional.

But I was going through a drawer this evening and for some reason this photo was there.  It's from 1998.  I sure wish we could go back to that time.  Look at how happy we were.


Now I'm getting worried.  Over the past month I've been getting letters from Medicare addressed to The Estate of Marshall Mullins.  I didn't understand any of them but it just sounded like they were reviewing some charges and there would be futher communication later.

Today I got a 6-page letter from Medicare (again addressed to the Estate) saying that a bunch of charges were being denied.  The letter was very legalistic and I read it three times and don't understand it.  The only part I understood was the part that said "our decision is unfavorable to the Estate."  I don't see any amounts mentioned and I'm really not sure what to do.  But this is all I need, a bunch of bills to pay that I wasn't expecting.  I'm going to just wait and see if I get anything further.  My funds are quickly disappearing and this is scary.  I will report when I hear anything else.

Today I met with the moving company and because of the holiday season schedule, we have scheduled my move for January 4 and 5.  My closing is tentatively set for November 30.  So I will have the month of December to get things done in the townhouse before the furniture arrives (like internet setup, phone, electricity, installation of garage door opener, etc. etc.).  It's nice to have a few things settling into place.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Some good news today

Marshall had three trailers that I've been trying to sell.  One of them went quickly.  The second one -- which is an enclosed trailer he used for the motorcycle -- has a buyer, but when I got the title out I saw that the title was in Marshall's name and mine isn't on there.  So I called the courthouse today and I need to go in tomorrow and go through the paperwork required to put the trailer in my name so that I can then sell it.  So it's a little convoluted but at least I'll be able to do it.  Then I'll just have one trailer left to sell.

I found a possible buyer for our fancy ATV (which they tell me is actually a UTV).

And today -- glory be -- I received my VA pharmacy card in the mail.  Now if they just start actually paying the claims, life will be good.

But the best news of all is that I found a moving company that specializes in mountain moves.  In fact, he tells me that's their specialty.  He will be coming out on Wednesday to look around and give me a quote.  That just made my day.

I got quite a bit of packing done today, too.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

My bank

I'm at a point now where I kind of thought all of the after-death stuff had been taken care of.  But no....

I have been noticing that every time I go to the bank to deposiit my paycheck there seems to be a lot of confusion and supervisors brought into play.  So finally I asked if there was a problem.

It turns out that if the deceased's bank account had any kind of direct deposits (Social Security, VA, annuity, pension, etc.), there is a hold put on those accounts -- FOR ONE YEAR -- with regard to deposits, not wthdrawals.  That's in case the VA or Social Security misses the notification that the person has died (or, even worse, doesn't get notified at all) and keeps on making monthly deposits and the spouse keeps the money without notifying anyone.  It makes sense, but it sure was a surprise to find out that I had to get deposits approved.

And I got really worried because I am basically going to be wiping out that account to take money to the closing at the end of the month.  I've been assured that there won't be any problem at all with withdrawing funds.

Every day is another learning experience.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

An emotional day

A very sweet dog showed up at my neighbor's house several days ago and has been sticking around. An older dog, a black lab, rolled over for belly rubs when anyone approached him, no collar. We called the sheriff and the local veterinarians and we posted his picture on the Custer County Facebook Animal Page. But no one came forward.  Jim couldn't keep the dog (he travels for work and is gone a lot).  I sure wanted to keep him but my life is in turmoil right now and I just couldn't indoctrinate a new animal into my household right now.   It just broke my heart.

So I called my fellow Pet Project volunteer, Glenn, and he said he would take the dog even though he already has three dogs. So I went down to Jim's and the dog was gone. So now of course I am worried about him but I am telling myself that he simply found his way back to a loving home.

Then today I got a Facebook message from a woman I've never met but who evidently met Marshall at some point during his illness (I remember him telling me about this encounter).  Anyway, here's the message (and it just tore me up):

Good morning, Marilyn. 
I wanted to share a story with you I thought you might enjoy. My husband (well, we've actually never made it official) and I moved here four years ago. Sometime after (I think it was - maybe - three years ago) we went to Eduardos to eat. 
We were sitting there, and noticed this very friendly looking man sitting at a table by himself. I smiled and said hello, and before you knew it, the three of us got into a lengthy conversation about ... well ... everything!
He shared stories about the love for his family, cancer (I lost my best friend to cancer 3/7/14), Westcliffe, politics, and the list went on and on. 
He really touched us -- just such a genuinely nice guy. What a special treat to meet him. 
I hope you're doing well -- maybe we'll meet one of these days.

How sweet of her to reach out to me at this time. I am having a very emotional day. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

THREE Men & A Truck

After my trip to Denver yesterday and seeing quite a few of the trucks for Two Men and A Truck, I felt pretty comfortable that those trucks could get to my house easily (they resemble UPS trucks and the UPS guy gets up here with no problem - he doesn't particularly like coming up here but he does it).  So I called them today.  And they said YES, they would come up my road but they would send three men instead of two.  Fine with me!  So she took all my information and when I know for sure when the closing date will be I can call them back and get it all scheduled.  And they will bring me boxes and other packing materials.  Boy, was that good news.

It's going to cost $147 an hour from door-to-door and an extra $100 for two large screen TVs but it will be worth it.  I haven't tried to do the math yet, but it's 4 hours to get here and 4 hours to get to Thornton and then, I guess, however many hours for them to get back to their base (GULP) and then however long it takes for them to load and unload the truck.  I need to start saving money.

And oops, I may have spoken too soon -- as I was typing this, they called me back and they are having second thoughts.  So stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Today was the walkthrough -- I am exhausted!

Had to take Coco with me because the dogsitter wasn't available. We left home at 7:00A and drove the four hours to Thornton. Had to stop for Coco a bunch of times.

Got to Thornton around 11:30 so my real estate agent took me to lunch. The walkthrough was at 1:00. The place is looking really good. Here's some pictures (I'm starting to get a little excited and sure wish Marshall could be here to see it).

Living Room (Coco is checking it out)

Dining area and looking at kitchen. Refrigerator not installed yet.

Entry area - coat closet on right, powder room on left.

Entryway (coat closet on the right, powder room on left)

Living Room -- i love the floor.


Master Bath

Powder room on main level.



While I was up there I located a storage place and I went ahead and rented a storage unit so I can slowly bring stuff up whenever I come to Denver and put it in the storage unit until I actually move in. And I can also store things that I'm not sure I even want to keep but it will give me time to think about it.

They estimate the closing may be the end of November.

Now it's bedtime. Coco and I are absolutely drained.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Lift Chair

Early on in Marshall's diagnosis, when both the disease and the treatmen were making him weak and very fatigued, he bought a really nice lift chair. It did a great job of lifting him up and helping him sit back down. But I absolutely hated that chair because it made him lazy. I wanted him to try to use his legs and his arms to push himself out of a chair so that his muscles would get stronger and help protect his bones. But I lost that battle.

Anyway, I was trying to find someplace to donate the chair that would please him and I know he would prefer that it go to a veteran. So I called the nursing home where he stayed earlier this year and the woman I talked to said they would love to have it. So I went down the road to the cabin where the couple were closing up for the winter and they were still there. So Tony came up and helped me get the chair out of the house (that involved removing the front door to make room and then putting the door back on) and then getting the chair into the back of my truck (that involved removing he tonneau cover on the truck). It took about an hour.

I drove to the nursing home and went in to get someone to come out and unload the chair and the guy said they wouldn't take the chair because -- guess why? -- they didn't want their residents relying on the chair and losing leg strength. Well, after everything I went through this morning to get that chair out there, I told this guy that I was not taking that chair back home. One way or another it was going to stay at the nursing home. I suggested that he just unplug the chair and let one of the residents simply use it as a chair. They agreed to that and the chair is now at the nursing home. Marshall would like that.

Last week when I got those new glasses, I hated them so I went back and picked out different ones with Tricia helping me on Facetime. They came in today and I like them SOOOO much better.

Tomorrow I have to drive up to Denver for a walk-through. I guess it's the first of many upcoming walk-throughs. But the place should be further along by now and I can get better pictures. It will be a long day and I'm already tired. I'm going to try to find a storage facility while I'm there and if I find one I like I'll go ahead and get it rented so I can start bringing stuff up when I go and just put it in storage until I'm ready for it.

All of a sudden I'm having a little trouble at the bank with my joint account with Marshall. Every time I make a deposit I have to get supervisor approval. I guess I need to get his name off of the account. I sure didn't want to do that. So that's on my list of things to figure out.

I have to take Coco to Denver with me tomorrow because the dogsitter isn't available and Coco can't be left alone for very long. That will make the day a little more tiring, but he's my baby..... Can you believe he's almost 15 years old?

When we get back tomorrow night, I don't have anything on my calendar for the next week, so I can get back to packing. And napping. I'm tired.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Finished the Yoga Workshop

Today was much better.  The whole thing kind of came together for me today.  All of the writing we did yesterday came together and we all kind of figured ourselves out (if that makes any sense).  We each ended up with something called a Dharma Code which is a positive statement that we should invoke every day to encourage good things in our lives.  Then we did some meditations.  It all felt pretty good.  And might be of some help in dealing with these periodic attacks of grief.

Then I came home and said goodbye to two of my neighbors who own a cabin down the road and who only come up when the weather is good.  They close their cabin down in October and don't come back until April, so I will probably be gone by then so they came up to say goodbye.  That was really sad for me.  I really like this couple.  However, they live in Denver and I may see them up there.

The weather is getting colder and it's the time of year when Marshall would have been using the wood burning stove for heat.  I have never felt comfortable with that stove (fire kind of scares me), so I will probably just use the furnace and pay the higher propane bill.  He would not be happy with me.  :(

Saturday, October 24, 2015

My sister-in-law talked to the monument people yesterday and they gave her the rough draft of what Marshall's headstone will look like (below).  I think it looks very nice.  The upper part of the picture is the back of the headstone and it says "Father of Tanya and Stephen."  The military marker -- whenever we get it -- will go on that back part.  We decided to put my name on here, too.  The headstone probably won't be ready for another three or four months, so the scattering of the ashes is now put off for sure until spring.  I'm kind of glad.  I like having the ashes here in the house.

Now on to the Yoga Workshop.  Last night was fun and all the yoga felt good.  But today they were doing less yoga and more "mind" things and writing out our thoughts and feelings and that's just not me, so today was less fun.  They also did a lot of chanting and I didn't understand it, so I just listened.  But still it was a wonderful group of gals and it was located in a beautiful area of the mountains -- the scenery was breathtaking --  and we had fun.  Tomorrow is the last day and it goes from 9:00 to 4:00.  There will be more writing.

The whole time I was there I wanted to call Marshall and tell him how awful I was doing.  He was always my best listener.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Update:  I called the VA to discuss my ChampVA health insurance.  The line was busy for about two hours and when I finally got through I was on hold for 30 minutes.  (Oh, Marshall, why didn't I realize how great it was that you made all these kinds of phone calls?)

My expectations were not very high but the guy I ended up talking to was very helpful and took a lot of time with me.  He found my paperwork (evidently it all gets scanned in when it is received so it is accessible to the VA but it isn't considered "filed" until it is processed) and he said that the VA was running about 4 months behind in processing paperwork but when he has someone on the line like me they can expedite things.  So he says he expedited my paperwork and that by Monday I should be in the system.

It will still take 21 days for me to get my pharmacy card.  He told me to call back if I don't get it.  But he found my first claim and said he was expediting that, too.  I will believe it when I see it, but I got the feeling that everything was being taken care of. Yay!

And I got to thinking tbat there MUST be a moving company in a state like Colorado that is capable of doing a mountain move.  I'm going to make a few more phone calls.  But not today.

This weekend I signed up for a yoga retreat.  I hope it is as calming and meditative as I want it to be.

Today is phone call day

I hate making phone calls.  Marshall always handled that.  So I got a little behind and decided to get caught up today.  Yuk.

But first of all, I went to see the Veterans Service Officer because he learned that the VA will give me one more benefit -- burial expenses -- even though there wasn't a burial.  This benefit is a one-time limited amount payment to help the family of a deceased veteran handle whatever end-of-life costs may arise.  So we filled out the paperwork for that today.  He also said the family is entitled to some sort of tribute letter from the President so I filled out the paperwork to get three of those letters (one for me, one for his sister Audrey and one for daughter Tanya).

Then I came home and started the phone calls.  The first call was to the monument company to check on the status of the headstone.  They told me that the reason it is taking so long is because I ordered a special kind.  I didn't realize that.  It will probably be another month or two.  I also asked him about the military marker and he told me to fill the forms out again and he would submit them to the VA again and we'll see what happens.

Then I called ChampVA -- my free VA supplemental health insurance -- to find out why I still haven't received my card and why they aren't honoring my claims.  They told me it's because according to their records I still have health insuance with another company.  I told them that I hadn't had other insurance since Marshall died and I have filed the proper forms with the VA twice now advising them of that.  They told me I needed to argue that point direcly with the VA itself.  They gave me a number to call and I've been trying to call for the past two hours and there's always a busy signal.  If I can't get this straightened out in the next month I'm going to go ahead and buy separate health insurance. I don't have the patience level for this.  But I will continue to try to call the VA.

So then I started calling moving companies to get a quote on hiring movers to move me to Thornton when the time comes.  And guess what?  No one will come up here where I am.  It's too remote and the roads are too narrow and rough.  That means I will have to move myself.  It's not like I haven't done it before, but....ugh.

I called U-Haul and the only truck they've got that I would feel comfortable driving is about 16 feet.  The cost is 90 cents a mile (that would be about $400) and $30 a day.  So for a weekend trip that would be about $500.  Remember the old days when you would just get a bunch of friends together and buy pizza and beer?  Ha.  But this is doable.  I'm not crazy about it, but it's doable.  I think I'm going to have plenty of time to get moved while my present house sits on the market so if I can afford it, I can rent the truck several weekends in a row and make it a slow move.  I can get a few Westcliffe friends to help me load the truck and a few Denver friends to help me unload (you know who you are....)  :)

I've been thinking about Marshall all day today and the tears have been flowing.  I guess that will happen periodically, especially when I am planning to move away from our favorite home.

No more phone calls today.  Time to pack more boxes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I almost forgot...

Marshall's patient advocate at the University -- Wendy -- just bought herself a motorcyce (see photo -- a CanAm, a 3-wheeler wih the two wheels in front). As soon as she takes her safety riding courses, she and I will meet for rides. And once I have moved, we can get together often. How fun! Marshall would be tickled to death about this. He knew Wendy was looking for a motorcycle and he had really wanted to still be alive when she got one.

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Today I saw the electrophysiologist.  This visit wasn't what I wanted it to be.

He went over everything with me and basically said he agreed with my first doctor and that the medication I'm on is what he would prescribe as well.  But he clearly  favored surgery.  He said I was a good candidate for the ablation surgery because my Afib is not advanced yet.  My episodes are short-lived and don't come often.  As time goes on, the chance of success with ablation starts diminishing.

However he said my risk for stroke is about 3% which sounds small but he said that is significant.  He thinks I should think about being on Eliquis (an anticoagulant) instead of aspirin but we will talk about that in January.  He told me that he does about 25 to 30 of these ablation surgeries every year and he's been doing it for about 8 years, so he does have a good amount of experience.  He also said the cryogenic surgery(freezing) is better than the radiofrequency (burning) one.

I told him that coffee was one of my triggers and he said he seriously doubted it.  Supposedly there is a large body of research that proves that not only is coffee not a trigger but that it actually protects from excessive episodes.  (Since I love coffee so much and hated like heck to give it up, I decided to test his "proof" and when I left his office I went to lunch and had coffee with my lunch -- and so far so good.  I would be ecstatic if I could have coffee again; however, I am pretty sure that it is a trigger for me.  But maybe it was the sweet roll -- and accompanying adrenaline rush that comes with it -- I had to have with the coffee!  We'll see...)

So for those of you who are caregivers, I strongly advise that you keep up with your doctor appointments.  It is hard to do -- you don't want to leave the side of your loved one, you almost feel guilty -- but it is so important to your life later on to keep your health up to date.  The doctor agreed with me today when I asked if this Afib could have come to life because of stress.  You want to avoid something like that happening to you.

Anyway, at one point in my time with the doctor he started telling me he had other patients waiting and that we were actually encroaching on another patient's time.  I didn't appreciate that.  It got me nervous and I forgot some of the questions I wanted to ask.

So now I am even more confused than I was.  Why can't life be a little simpler?

After I left the doctor I went back to the ophthalmologist's office because I hate my new glasses.  They are too dark and too big.  But it is very hard to pick out new glasses when you are too blind to see what you look like with the new glasses.  So they said I could pick out new frames.  I emailed Tricia and she called me with Facetime and I walked around the store putting glasses on so Tricia could see them and we picked out a good pair.  I should have them next week.  (Thanks, Tricia!)

Tomorrow the real estate agent is supposed to come over and take a look at the house so he can see what all the new upgrades look like (paint job, decks stripped and restained, new windows, new front door, paint touched up on the inside, etc.).  Then the house should be officially on the market by the end of this week.  I have been steadily packing boxes, there's no rush but every little bit helps.  But I am tired and am looking forward to a few days with absolutely nothing on the schedule.

Still having trouble with ChampVA paying my pharmacy bills.  So far I haven't heard anything about the doctor appointments I've had so i am cautiously assuming that those got paid.  I'm a little nervous about that.  I don't want these bills to build up into something I can't handle.  I guess I'll try to call them tomorrow and see what they say.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Dermatology appointment

I'm trying to catch up with all my health issues/doctor visits that I ignored pretty much for the past three years.

I've been using the chemotherapy cream on three areas (hand, arm, leg) for the past three weeks and today was my followup visit with the dermatologist.  The spot on the leg hadn't changed at all and she said that meant it definitely wasn't cancer so no further treatment was necessary there.  The one on my hand she wasn't sure about and wants me to continue the cream for another week at least.

But the one on my arm did all kinds of weird stuff this past three weeks.  It got inflamed and grew and then calmed down.  She said that meant it was definitely cancer but she said it went through its steps and does not need further treatment. Now I need to put steroid cream on it for a week to calm it down.  I go back in three months for a final exam.

On the way home I had a sad moment -- when I turned onto County Road 255 close to home I was thinking, "I wonder what Marshall wants for dinner," and then immediately was jolted to reality.  I really miss him.  I still can't believe he's gone.

Tomorrow is my appointment with the electrophysiologist so I can get a specialist's opinion on the whole atrial fibrillation thing.  I still get episodes periodically and it will be interesting to see what he has to say about my present medication schedule.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A rewarding day

Late yesterday, the Town Man from the town of Silver Cliff called me (in my capacity as a member of the Board of Pet Project). He had a stray dog that he had been holding for 7 days to see if the owner would claim the dog. Well, the owner didn't come forward after 7 days so the dog needed to go to a shelter. Pet Project doesn't actually have a shelter -- we are too small -- but we partner with other shelters.

So I agreed to take the dog to Denver (another long trip to Denver) and I picked him up this morning and headed to the Dumb Friends League. Look at this selfie. Isn't he adorable? And he was so darn sweet. He made the trip to Denver very well, so he's a good traveler.

Anyway, I got up to the Dumb Friends League and brought Doggie into the Intake Center. There were two people ahead of me so I was holding onto this highly energetic dog with all the strength I had (he needs some leash training, that's for sure). The two people in front of me were commenting on how pretty this dog was and I explained that the dog was a stray and I was relinquishing him to the Dumb Friends League.

Well, the woman that was ahead of me (Shelly) was there to have her dog (who was very old and very sick) put down. She said she was worried about how her two kids were going to handle it when she came home and didn't have their dog. She really took to this dog and asked if she could have him. (Interestingly, the other person in line -- a man -- said if Shelly hadn't asked for this dog, he was going to!)

I asked the Intake lady if it was okay if I gave the dog to this lady and she said sure, as long as I hadn't filled out any paperwork and as long as I did it off their premises. They did come out and check to see if the dog had a microchip and he didn't.

So I took Doggie outside and waited for Shelly to come out. She was crying a little but she perked up when Doggie ran up to her and licked her hand. I chatted with her for 20 or 30 minutes to get a comfort level that I was leaving this dog in good hands. She said she had a huge yard and two kids who loved dogs. She said she and her husband were big dog lovers and they would give this dog a good home.

While we were chatting, Doggie was sitting next to us nice and sweet, but a rabbit ran by and Doggie went crazy. He must have some hound in him.

I left there feeling really good. But these trips to Denver are zonking me!

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Contract got signed today

Another long trip to Denver today but the contract is all signed and I got to spend a few hours in the unit measuring and taking pictures and daydreaming.
I wore my "cremation" necklace today -- the one with some of Marshall's ashes -- so he could be there with me while I signed the contract.  More tomorrow.  Time for bed.