June 29, 2007

Past Rotary District Governor Clift and the ladies do back-up for Elvis, Elvis Sighted Again Standing next to Mom, Pretty Ladies and Elvis, and Pinetop Perkins the Blues Great (Click on any picture to enlarge it)

Mark was too ill to go to the Rotary Installation of Officers at Ralph and Penny Dellana's home and wouldn't you know it, Pinetop Perkins was a surprise guest and played the piano and Elvis sang. Past District Governor of Rotary Clift Price and the ladies gave the crowd a thrill with their back-up dance for Elvis.

Mark missed it all but he is now feeling much better and hopes to catch the next exciting sighting of Elvis or Pinetop. Mark is now taking pictures of wildlife, birds, deer and whatever he can sight off the deck, in the greenbelt behind the house. Will publish some of those pictures soon. He is thinking of doing some nature paintings in oils. Our neighbor accross the street is an artist and has offered to help Mark.

People have logged onto the blog from 58 countries now. Do you know that if you mouse over a flag, on the flag board in the right hand column on the blog, the name of the country of that flag will appear. The same is true of the circles below the flag board. The latest flags of counties where people logged on from are Haiti, Nigeria, Nepal and Iraq. People have logged on from: Austria, Afghanistan, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland, Chile, China, Cote D'Ivoire, Czech republic, Germany, Ghana, Haiti, Hungary, Spain, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Guam, Haiti, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, India, Italy, Israel, Japan, So Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Madagascar,Morocco, Myanmar, Northern Marianas Islands, Mexico, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Singapore, El Salvador, Thailand, Turkey, USA, Serbia, and So. Africa.

Thanks for telling friends and family to visit the blog - Please pass the URL out to anyone and everyone! We are working on getting 10,000 hits on it Where else can you get such exciting news as well as updates on Mark?

June 18, 2007

Pictures: Mark on Saturday at a viewing of friend Jerry's new film, Mark, Jerry, Dave, and Dorie (click on any picture to enlarge it)

Mark was feeling ill on Saturday, but he took a handsome picture. It was taken after a spaghetti diner with an excellent wine brought by Jerry followed by a showing of Jerry's cultural film about the pouring of a concrete roof on the three story house he and his wife are building in Pharping, Nepal overlooking the Kathmandu Valley. check this link to read about the film : a must see for engineers, architects, anthropologists,nuclear physicists, and curious minded people http://www.mojotoons.com/roof.html

Dave and Dorie came to the second or third running of the film this same night and brought a pie party (five different pies). Today (Monday) Mark has gotten his Mojo back and has downloaded songs onto an MP3 Player sent by his sister to challenge our technological skills.

Kitten in the neighborhood. A kitten appeared and hung around our neighborhood meowing like it was looking for its mother. One whole morning the kitty watched James work then neighbor Keith came home and took it into his spare bedroom so it would not be a snack for coyotes. This kitten may be the reincarnation of his recently deceased cat. Keith got very attached to the kitten but he could not keep it because he is moving. Our other neighbor Laurie found the kitty a good home with her friend Meghan and her children. They gave the kitty a flea bath and found out it is a boy. Later I learned the kitty's new name: "Tank." because the cat's new family predicts he will be a really big cat when he grows up.

June 13, 2007

Steph (middle) and Houston teachers at the Great Wall of China.

Big News From Mark's Sister Stephanie Mom paid a dollar at the University Rotary Club of Austin meeting to share that Stephanie was named Department of Defense District Teacher of the Year. She has taught first year Japanese and Honors English at Kinnick High School on the Yokosuka Navy Base in Japan for several years. A couple of years ago, she selected a young student to work with. and created with him and other students, the successful school improvement program "CSIjuniors" which is now being duplicated in a number of DoDs schools. And as if District Teacher of the Year was not enough excitement.....
Today Stephanie called to say she has taken a new job Those of you who bet money she would never leave Japan, have lost your money. Stephanie will living and working about an hour from London. If I understood her correctly, she will be working on school improvement for England and three other countries (Belgim, Behrain, Netherlands) and will travel a good bit.

Stephanie started a love affair with Japan as a Rotary exchange student to Japan. She was sponsored by the Jacksonville, Ilinois Rotary Club. Stephanie continued this love affair with Japan later as a participant in the Japanese Embassy Teacher (JET) program, then with the Department of Defense.

A Little Chuckle

Stephanie is a little concerned about my mother's antique and rare furniture making another sea voyage. although the Japanese will pack it for shipping far better than the bizarre crew who came in Houston to pack it up for the sea voyage to Japan. We had a good laugh when we stopped to think about the fact that this furniture has seen far more of the world than mother. My mother had agoraphobia and in her later years refused to leave her house except to see doctors or go to the hospital. In her younger years a big trip for her was the annual trip to the Ozarks in Missouri to go fishing with Dad. My mother was the best cook when it came to fish or wild game. We miss her a lot, not only for her cooking, but she was one of a kind; a real character and so was Dad.

June 09, 2007

Saturday June 9, 07 Mark and I went to the cancer center at the Houston veteran's hospital June 5th for his second day of chemo and learned the doctor only ordered one day of chemo instead of the three he has always had. Yesterday Mark insisted in meeting with the doctor alone. He could not remember the doctor saying anything about changing to one day chemo and in fact can not recall what the doctor said. He thinks the doctor said he could have some oral chemo pills, but he is not sure and does not know if that was after the one day of chemo or on June 25 when we go back to Houston for apparently another one day of chemo. After going to the VA in Houston I always think of the Apollo 13 message to mission control: "Houston, we have a problem."

June 04, 2007

Monday June 4, 2007 Mark is in Houston at the VA getting chemotherapy as this is being typed.After chemotherapy three days in a row we will go back to Austin, Tx. on Wednesday. His doctor Dr. Xu (pronounced Shoe) who is from China, reported that Mark's liver tumors have shrank slightly between the recent Cat Scan and the prior one. His kidney function is slightly improved. Dr.Xu suggested getting two rounds of chemo and then get another Cat Scan. Mark is somewhat exhausted and looked very depressed today after talking to Dr. Xu. He told the doctor he was doing great but the reality is that he has not been eating or sleeping well. He will probably bounce back again soon.He has seen Dr. Xu twice but this is his last visit with Dr. Xu because Dr is leaving for New York at the end of the month.

Mark's treatment at the VA is not free. Mark pays co-payments for medications, which is not a problem. Almost everyone in America pays co-payments for medication. The problem is that the VA Benefits department wants Mark to retroactively co-pay on all doctor visits and chemotherapy and procedures back to August 2006 based on 2005 income which was already long ago spent for treatment in Thailand. After diagnosis of cancer in early Feb 2005 Mark never worked again. Social Security Disability began April 2005. Co-workers on Saipan donated sick time Feb to June 05, money that paid for treatment at the hospital in Thailand. He spent it all on treatment and ran out of money. He has had no income except social security disability since mid 2005, but his co-payments for 2006-7 August to August are based on his income in 2005 and his health care costs. Mom sent an official letter from the hospital in Thailand stating Mark's cash payments in all of 2005. That did not satisfy the VA so Mom is now copying a pile of receipts for each and every service in 2005. Nothing is free, sometimes it is less free, and sometimes it is not even reasonable.

Mark is growing a beautiful garden in flower pots on our decks
Mark has been quite sick off and on during the last two weeks, but he is still faithfully watering and fertilizing his tomato plants which consist of regular sized tomato plants, one tomatillo plant and one cherry tomato plant. They are in great shape and we are harvesting some cherry tomatoes.

Mark helped James build a stairway from a porch to the deck today.

May 31, 2007
Mark was up and working around the house inside and out. Yesterday he was vomiting and had to postpone a visit to the eye doctor. He wants new glasses to help him read better and a check up since he had some major eye problem in Bangkok last year that had him temporarily blind and required some painful procedures and being grounded from flying and having to sit and lie a certain way. At first the docs thought his cancer had spread to the eye, but it turned out to be something different.
People from 53 countries have now seen the blog. See below for list of 52 or check the flag board on the right. The new country signed on is Cote D'Ivorie. Do you know someone in another country that you could ask to click onto the blog? Let's add some more flags for Mark.

Mark and Jerry Barrett discuss books and films and a possible part for Mark in Jerry's next film. They are at our neighbor's retirement party. The retiree Keith got several lovely retirement presents; he tried on a gift retirement hat. Click on any picture to make it bigger.

Saturday June 2, 2007
Tonight our British neighbor Keith, who became an American citizen sometime ago, had a retirement party He is taking early retirment from Hewlit Packard and had a big party. Mark helped him with just a few party details as did his friends Valorie, Rachel, Jessie, and others. It may have been the social event of the year. He sets a new standard for the neighborhood parties.