Monday, February 27, 2012


My son, Eric, has had a stroke.  It took me several days before I could actually say that.  I would say that he had a vertebral artery dissection (VAD).  That is true, but not the whole story.  He had a dissection, but then it led to a stroke.  I didn't want to admit that because strokes are scary.  My father-in-law had a stroke that paralyzed him completely on one side.  My mother had many mini-strokes that eventually destroyed her brain.  I did not want to admit that my 28 year old son had a stroke.  But he did.

On Friday, February 17, Eric woke up in the afternoon.  He works the night shift so he sleeps until mid-afternoon.  He woke up with a severe headache and the inability to walk in a straight line.  He kept veering to the right.  Eric has admitted to me that he doesn't have a primary care physician.  He just doesn't get sick or if he does, he just waits it out.  So I'm pretty sure that he didn't want to go to the ER.  But I'm also sure that he realized that this was not something that he could just wait out.  

The ER at Logan Regional Hospital gave him an MRI, which showed a VAD.  This is where the lining of the artery separates from the wall of the artery.  In Eric's case, the separation made a flap that slumped down and blocked off the blood flow, causing a stroke.  This is not a totally unheard of thing, but not real common.  It's usually caused by a sports injury or by a bad chiropractic treatment.  The doctors were able to diagnose this at Logan, but had never seen one themselves.  He was transferred to the U of U Neuro Critical Care Unit that same night. 

He spent almost a week at the U of U.  They stabilized his condition while he was there and assessed his condition.  It was a stroke doctor there that suggested that he had Wallenberg Syndrome (WS).  WS describes symptoms that patients who have experienced damage to the medulla.  Symptoms are so consistent in patients who have had strokes or damage to the medulla that it has its own syndrome named for it.

Eric is now in the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.  He is undergoing physical therapy there.  We hope that he won't be there much longer.  He is progressing, but it is going to be slow going.  They have basically confirmed that he has WS.  Eric has had all of these symptoms to one degree or another except one.  Some have been minor and have since disappeared.  Others have become less pronounced.  And still others are causing problems for him.  Some of the symptoms are:

Slurred speech (happily this is the one thing  he never had)
Difficulty swallowing
Drooping eyelid/numbness on one side of face
Double vision
Weakness in the side of the stroke (right side)
Loss of sensations to opposite side of injury

There are more but these are the basic ones.  Eric never had slurred speech or was paralyzed.  He never had anything go "wrong" with his thought processes.  He is a pharmacist at the Logan Hospital and to test his brain function, they would have him recite drugs that they used at the hospital and what their uses were.  He would start listing them and they would stop him because it was obvious that there was nothing wrong with his brain.  He has extreme vertigo, which is causing most of his problems.  He has a weakness in his right leg.  Between that and the vertigo, it is difficult for him to walk.  He has had hiccups pretty much constantly, but they aren't as strong or severe as they were in the beginning. 

One of his most interesting symptoms is the fact that he doesn't feel hot/cold or pain on his left side.  He feels pressure so he knows he is being touch, but not temperature or pain.  He thinks this has worked out okay because he doesn't feel the pain when they come to take his blood every morning.  Also, he hurt his knee several months ago, but the pain is gone from that now.

I have to say how impressed I have been by Eric and his wife Angela.  They have been the perfect examples of grace under fire.  Angela has been so strong in spite of some personal difficulties she is going through.  Eric has only been positive about everything.  Angela's family has been so great also.  Her parents drove through the night to be with her and her sister Jenny has taken Adam into her family and taken care of him as her own.  She is always ready to drive him to the hospital to see his parents.

So the prognosis?  We don't know.  Eric gives every indication that he will be able to recover from this.  We don't know how much damage will be permanent, but we have every hope that he will be able to conquer this.  It will take time.  That much we do know.  The doctors say that his brain will rewire itself to work around the damage.  But it takes time.  In the meantime, he will probably be going home at the end of this week.  He will do out-patient physical therapy from home.  The doctors say he will be off work for about three months.

Though this has been devastating, it could have been so much worse.  I have seen the hand of our Heavenly Father in our lives the last 10 days.  Everything has fallen into place so that Eric has received the best medical care possible to aid in his recovery.  We have had so many family members and friends offer to do anything to help.  Their prayers have been felt.  Sometimes that is the only thing anyone can do, but it helps.  I have felt their prayers.  Thank you everyone.  If anyone wants to fast for Eric and his family on March 4th, it would be greatly appreciated.

Adam with Eric

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

We Will Miss You, Robert

The best cat in the world died yesterday.  He suffered from feline leukemia for over a year.  He came to us as a stray so we don't know how old he was, but we had ten great years with him.  He was a friendly, loving, good bird/gopher catcher, and thought he was a dog kind of a guy.  He will be greatly missed.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Baby Chicks

As I said in an earlier post, we were experimenting with hatching eggs from an incubator and from brooding hens.  In our first experiment, we had six eggs under Josephine and 15 eggs in the incubator.  Well, that didn't work out too well.  Apparently, the incubator instructions were generic without taking into account the humidity (or lack of) in the West.  No eggs hatched from the incubator.  Josephine hatched three.  Janae named them Peter, Paul, and Larry.  They were about three weeks old when Larry escaped and the dogs tried to herd him back into the pen.  Chickens don't respond well to Australian Shepherds when they try to herd.  Larry is now fertilizing the garden.

Chickens also don't stand still for pictures.  Here is a picture of Peter and Paul with Atilla the Rooster and Josephine.  Peter (Petie) is the little white blob and Paul is the darker one.

Soon after the chicks hatched, we started eight eggs in the incubator, keeping careful watch on the humidity.  About a week later, Mary Ann started to go all broody so we put six eggs under her.  Three weeks later, three eggs hatched out.  Jim named them Festus, Cleophus, and Rufus (after people he knew growing up). 
This is Festus, right after he popped out.  Not quite the warm and fluffy surroundings that Mary Ann would have provided and not the cute fluffy chick he would be later.
A couple of days ago, Janae went out to check on things and found Festus dead.  We don't know what happened to him.  He is now fertilizing the garden also.  I say "him", but the truth is that we don't know the sex of any of our birds until they get older.  It seems that when we call them female names, they turn out to be male:  Atilla the Hen, Ginger, and Shaniqua I and Shaniqua II to name a few are all male.  The ducks on the other hand  (named Goose, Nigel (deceased), Elmer and Oscar) are all female.  We want more hens so most of the names are male.  We shall see.

Just before we left for Kansas City, Mary Ann's eggs started to hatch.  Three hatched.  Kristine and I were given the honor of naming these three: She named her's  Louise and Francesca and I named mine Paco.  We have come to the conclusion that Ginger is shooting blanks.  He has a gimpy leg and apparently infertility is common among gimpy-legged roosters.  It's possibly the stew pot for Ginger. We put all the incubator babies into the brooding pen with Mary Ann and her babies before we left.  When we came back, Mary Ann had adopted the older chicks as her own.  She takes good care of all five and is very protective of them.

Here's a who's who of baby chicks.  I'm sure you are interested because you wouldn't be reading my blog if you weren't (lol).  Rufus and Paco are the dark ones, Paco is smaller and younger.  Cleophus and Francesca are the reddish ones, Francesca is smaller.  And Louise is whitish.  Obviously, Francesca and Louise will be roosters.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kansas City National PTG Convention

We are in Kansas City for the National Piano Technician's  Convention.  The girls and I are just flitting about while Jim attends this convention.  We have relatives here that we hope to see tomorrow and today we are going to see the Church sites:  Independence, Liberty Jail, Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman.  We have been here twice before and have seen these things, but we like to go and feel the spirit of our heritage.

We are also proud of Jim for receiving a national award at the convention on Wednesday.  Here is their write-up and picture.

James Busby, RPT
Our first Member of Note award goes to Jim Busby, RPT, of the Utah Valley Chapter, for advancing our profession by teaching and training at chapter meetings from Alaska to Boston, at regional conventions, and in his apprenticeship program at Brigham Young University. Many can become experts in their field, but not everyone can turn around and teach their skills to others. Using damper action models he made himself, Jim has become known for his instructive classes on upright hammer hanging, grand dampers, tools and tips.
In addition to teaching and mentoring others, Jim Busby has served on the Institute Committee and also the College and University Technicians Committee, as well as in several capacities at the chapter level. His work with apprentices at BYU funnels many vibrant RPT members into the Utah Valley Chapter. Jim’s willingness to give back at every level of the organization has been a marvelous resource for The Piano Technicians Guild.
James Arthur Busby, on behalf of the members of the Piano Technicians Guild, we thank you for your continuing service and present to you a Crowl-Travis Member of Note Award.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Which came first: the chicken or the egg?

I'm a city girl, so living in rural Utah has sometimes come as a shock.  I have raised rabbits, goats, chickens, ducks, dogs and cats.  I have even given a goat a rectal exam (don't ask).  We have chickens right now.  We got them as part of our emergency preparedness plan.  The problem with this plan is that we just can't eat eggs as part of the plan.  We also have to raise them for meat too.  Jim is a farm boy from Arizona and knows all about animals, but it has been all new to me.

Last year we let one of the chickens brood.  Her name is Josephine and she is an excellent brooder and mother.  The problem we had last year is that she was not in a separate cage so she could be away from the other chickens.  They kept trying to get in the nest box with her and lay new eggs, stepping on and breaking the eggs she was brooding.  Once we separated her from the other chickens she was able to hatch out two chicks.  She was sitting on 12 eggs.  That's not very good odds.  We kept the two chicks who both turned out to be roosters and got rid of our other rooster.  He was mean and we didn't want him around Adam.

This year we are experimenting.  Josephine is brooding again.  We let her sit on some duck eggs until we had gathered enough eggs from all the other chickens.  We only have female ducks so it didn't matter.  She is now sitting on six eggs in her own special little pen.  She wasn't happy with me for coming into her space so she puffed herself up and made threatening chicken noises at me. 

We have also purchased an incubator with an automatic turner.  Who knew that you had to turn them all the time?  And keep the pointy end down?  And keep them at exactly 99.5 degrees?  And add water to the bottom of the incubator to keep them moist?  I don't think Josephine thinks about all of that. 
Here is our new technological "Josephine".  There are 15 eggs we are brooding in the incubator.  We should have some chicks around May 27th, from both brooders.  We are hoping that any chicks that we get from the incubator can then be transferred to Josephine to raise.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Panoramic Sugar Easter Eggs

I don't know what got into me, but I decided to make sugar eggs this year.  We used to get one every year for Easter when we were kids.  Connie and I can't remember who used to make them for us, but we loved them. So here is my version of the panoramic sugar Easter egg.

Sugar egg recipe:  3 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 slightly beaten egg white,  food coloring (if desired, I made mine white).

Press mixture into mold.  I got mine from Amazon.
Cut off tip of egg to make the viewing hole.
After letting egg dry for about an hour, dig out opening to keep it from hardening too much.
Let dry for 2 or 3 hours.  Dig out the inside and form the opening.  This is much easier to do at this point than after the eggs dries completely.

A few days earlier, I made flowers out of royal icing and let them harden.  I also made bunnies and birds.  If I lived in a more populated area where there are more choices of stores, I would have gotten some cute things to put inside my eggs.  But I don't so I had to get creative and make my own.  The bunnies were a little creepy and the birds were unidentifiable as to their species, except one did look like a puffin.  Oddly enough though, they seemed to work.
Fill the bottom half with whatever.  I used colored coconut for the grass and royal icing to hold everything in place.  That stuff sets up like glue.
Attach the two halves using royal icing.  Pipe icing along outside seam of egg and along opening.  Decorate top with flowers.  I found out that less is more on the top decorations, at least for my skills.  I have seen some eggs that are totally decorated and are beautiful.  But I'm not there yet.
And these are some of my finished eggs.

Royal icing recipe:  1 egg white,  1/4 tsp flavoring (vanilla, almond, lemon),  1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, food coloring.  Beat egg white until stiff, add flavoring and food coloring.  Add powdered sugar gradually.  1 1/4 sugar is an estimate.  Add just enough so that the frosting holds its shape. 

Everything on these eggs is edible.  I know some people worry about using raw egg whites in their frosting.  We have our own chickens so I know they don't have salmonella  or whatever.  You can get powdered meringue at some stores and use that for a substitute.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Junior Prom

 For those of you who are not familiar with North Sanpete High School and its junior prom, here is a short version of how it goes.
Junior Prom is held early in the season and lasts for two nights.  The first night is boys choice and the second night is girls choice.  But it doesn't matter if you have a date or not.  You can go to prom.  All the juniors who want to can participate in the promenade.  They are all paired off according to height.  It doesn't matter who your date is, you are paired with an escort.  You and your escort are introduced individually and then after everyone has been introduced, the class promenades.  They walk all over in formation so everyone gets to see all the kids.  Did I mention that the whole town goes and pays money to watch this?  After the promenade the juniors get to dance with their parents.  Then after the dance the "outsiders" are expected to leave and the kids have their traditional dance.  This happens both nights.
It actually works really well.  Speaking as a girl who didn't get asked to her own prom point of view, it's nice that all who want to can go. 
Janae and her escort being introduced. 
During the promenade. I loved all the colors in the dresses this year.
After the promenade is the parent's dance.  Janae's dad was in San Francisco at a convention so she was joined by some very handsome men for this portion of the dance.
The first night she danced with Adam, who you can see is extremely light on his feet and excellent at dipping.
And she also danced with her handsome brother, Eric.
Second night, her handsome brother-in-law, Todd.
Nathan and Janae
Riley, Alinea, Nathan and Janae.  And yes, I tell them that Jesus is going on their date with them.
Nathan and Janae
Alinea and Janae.
A good time was had by all.  Now I don't know what to do with all my time now that I don't have a prom dress to sew.