Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Recovering well, selling our land and visiting Las Vegas for a wedding!

Dave’s Great Adventure
August 13, 2002
The Recovery

Well, I remain acutely embarrassed by my inability to get my last two “verses” correctly sent on the first attempt. I would hope that it will not happen again. I really don’t like it at all when I accidentally send out a draft, only to find later that’s what I’ve done. I know that if you’ve already read the draft of a letter you won’t feel like reading a follow-up that seems essentially the same, for the most part. Therefore you’ll likely miss stuff that for some reason seemed important to me to add in a subsequent version. I hear that Dick and Jane in Iowa are laughing with/at me for my computer foibles. That’s okay, it’s only appropriate when I’ve had so many problems getting out a simple letter!

Well, last week after finally (I hope) getting out my update, I felt completely normal. I got out my to-do list and plowed into it. I went out and mowed the lawn, did chores around the house, and got ready to travel to Las Vegas, where we were to attend the wedding of our niece Hilary Eckberg, if I was feeling well enough. Gosh, I was a real eager beaver! (Note to our German friends, Claudia, Michael and Ursula; one of the curious things about American English is that this word can mean so many things. When combined with the word “eager” the word beaver can mean that a person is “fleissig.”) Anyway, I felt well enough to prepare for the trip.

That afternoon we got an interesting surprise. We got a phone call from our realtor (“Grundstuecksmakler“) in New Mexico. We had bought a piece of property in the Albuquerque area a few years ago that we thought we might build a house on to retire to in the future. Now that I am not able to leave the Denver area, because my health insurance is tied to this area, we decided to sell the land. We put it on the market just about 90 days ago. Well, when our realtor called she said she had a buyer for us who was willing to pay us $140,000 for the three acre property. That was a nice offer, as we had paid only $90,000 for it when we bought it. So we spent the rest of the afternoon faxing documents back and forth to get the deal completed. Now we’re just waiting for the buyer (who, curiously, is also a career military doc in the Air Force) to get his financing arranged. We’ll close the deal at the end of September.

We realized, while doing all the document exchanging, that with the sale of the land, we will no longer have any debt! We paid off our house last month, the land has been sold for a profit, we have no car payments! All we have to do is pay routine stuff, like taxes and insurance. Now, we’d been planning for this day so I could retire, but as I’ve mentioned before, now it’s ironic that I can’t really retire because I need the job at least for the health benefits. I can, however, reduce my hours steadily over the next few years to a minimum number of hours that may let me live a semi-retired life.

After finishing all our faxing of documents, Kathy and I went to a nearby Wendy’s for a quick meal. It was there that Kathy looked at my legs and asked me what “that rash” was. Looking at my legs, then my arms, and finally my chest, we saw that I was covered with a fine purplish rash. Hmmmm. I really felt okay, but a rash was one of the things that had been mentioned as a complication of the chemotherapy, or it could be the onset of a viral infection of some kind. We did not, of course, discover the rash until after my oncologist’s office had closed, so we couldn’t call for advice. I decided to just continue with our plans to go to Las Vegas the next day and cancel only if I really felt like I was getting sick the next morning. I could even call the office from the airport if I needed to, before we were to leave, but I wanted to get to the airport early (before the doc’s office would be opened) to be able to meet my Mom who was also flying through Denver en route to the wedding. We were to be on the same plane from Denver to Las Vegas. However, Kathy was worried about me and didn’t sleep well that night.

The next morning we got up early. The rash had abated a bit and I still felt well, so we went to the airport to meet Mom, who was flying in from Moline. Kathy made me park in the up close parking lot for $15 a day (!) so I wouldn’t have to walk so far. We usually park in the economy lot for $7 a day and walk a quarter mile or so to get to the terminal. That turned out to be an ironic thing to do as I spent the next four days walking miles around Las Vegas and doing fine with all the activity. Mom’s flight was on time at about 8:30 and we were able to meet her and help escort her to another terminal for the flight to Las Vegas. We went to a nearby place we like for breakfast and had a filling but overpriced meal.

We were able to get Mom’s seat assignment changed, with the help of an understanding fellow passenger, so that Mom could sit with us on the flight into Las Vegas, and then we had a very uneventful trip to “Sin City.” Any flight that can be described as “uneventful” is a good flight indeed. The flight was on-time and smooth.

I like getting together with family. Anybody’s family! Whether it’s the Eckbergs, Kathy’s family (the Doyles), with my cousins in Illinois, I really enjoy getting together with family and weddings are about as good an excuse as any to get together. Hilary was getting married to Todd Shiba so we were able to meet many of his family as well. In fact, his family members outnumbered ours. Of my immediate family, my Mom, all my sibs save one and all our kids were able to make the trip. It was a nice get-together.

The wedding was fun as well. Curiously, it was planned by the groom. Hilary is a free spirit and not too much into traditional stuff, so she let her groom-to-be plan the affair, and he did a great job, especially for a rookie. The ceremony was straightforward with elements of the Jewish tradition, as Hilary is Jewish, though Todd is of Japanese descent. The wedding cake was one of the neatest I’ve seen. It was decidedly non-traditional. It was intentionally lopsided, three layers of different colors with cartoon bride and groom perched on top.

We did, however, have some “tradition” at the wedding. It is an Eckberg family “tradition” to have a napkin fight after dinner. This began when our oldest child was but six months old and I was in Vietnam. Kathy would occasionally take Jon over to my parents’ home for meals. After dinner, my younger siblings, Deb and Dan, who were still at home, would gently toss napkins into Jon’s face. He loved it and would smile and laugh. This became a standard part of the family’s after-dinner activity, and has spread throughout the in-laws as well. We have had napkin fights all over the world, in some mighty fine restaurants, at family reunions, and at big Thanksgiving meals. We’ve embarrassed my Mom on many occasions with our juvenile antics.

Well, I thought we could introduce Todd’s family to the activity as well. After all the official wedding procedures had been completed and folks were sitting around mixing and talking, I attacked Hilary with a handful of linen napkins. She’s a feisty gal, and returned fire in kind. Soon a number of folks, including Hilary’s grandmother, were tossing napkins around. “A good time was had by all!”

As much as I liked getting together with all the family, that’s how much I really don’t like Las Vegas. I’ve never gone there unless I had to for a meeting or, in this case, a family activity. The family activity was wonderful, but the city is just one big facade. Mine is likely a minority opinion, as apparently millions of folks love the place, but I find it not really glitzy or “sparkling” but garish and overdone. It is almost completely phony. There is a fake Paris, a fake Egypt, a fake Venice, a fake New York, etc. It may be “pretty” but it’s all fake. I couldn’t get over all the tourists taking pictures of hotels and stores! Since when did hotels and stores become tourist attractions? Visiting Las Vegas to see the city must be very much like getting a “date” with a very expensive, very beautiful hooker (“Hure“) who’ll let you stay all night. The act may be the same, but it ain’t love. It’s hard to figure how the place can be so cheap and tawdry and at the same time be so expensive. They were charging $9.50 to go to the top of a fake Eiffel Tower! Anyone who has been there more recently than I is free to correct me, but I don’t think it costs that much to go to the top of the real item. I found it interesting that, in Las Vegas, of all places, they put a loincloth on a nude soldier on the fake Arc de Triomphe. Go figure. Naked women on exhibit everywhere, but we can’t have the tourists “exposed “ to an anatomically correct soldier on a copy of an historic sculpture!

The weather was pretty nice, but was the usual Las Vegas HOT! That presented some minor health issues as we were continuously going from the sidewalks, where the temperature was 110 degrees (43 C), to the hotels and shops where it was about 68 (20 C). And the air everywhere was fouled with cigarette smoke. There didn’t seem to be any non-smoking areas in the town. However, I managed to avoid getting sick despite being around literally thousands of smokers and tens of thousands of people crowded into the dark, noisy casinos that you were forced to walk through to get to anything you wanted to see. We ran the gauntlets of casinos and found our way to the lion exhibit at the MGM Grand, to the Antique Cars Museum at the back of the Imperial Palace, a Mexican restaurant in the Luxor and to a brew pub in the back of Monte Carlo. We would have liked to go to a show or two but they were very expensive and we wanted to spend time with the kids anyway. Did I mention that Jon brought along his girlfriend Natalie Campos? She’s a great gal, very bubbly and fun to be around. She’s as outgoing as Kathy and I are shy.

Hey, Kathy and I got a brush with celebrity during or time in Las Vegas. We were walking through the Bellagio Hotel/Casino when we spotted Denver’s mayor, Wellington Webb, walking through the halls with a woman not his wife. I thought it was his wife, Wilma, at first but Kathy corrected me. She thought the woman was his escort (uh, maybe that’s not a good term to use [it could also mean a “Hure“]) or some official of the hotel showing Webb around. Whatever!

The trip back was also uneventful. We got back late and then slept in late the next day. We spent all day yesterday doing errands and catching up on things. I got some good news, at least good for me. The kid who ran over and killed the bicycle rider took a plea so I don’t have to go to trial, which would have been today. He pled (or is it pleaded [spell check seems to like both]) guilty to felony hit-and-run resulting in death and careless driving. For killing the young father he will get 20 days, that’s DAYS, in jail and three years of probation! It doesn’t seem adequate punishment for what he took away from the family of the dead man.

And tomorrow I return to work for the first time in weeks. I’ll be working half days for the rest of the week and then again on Monday too. I expect to do well as I feel so normal. We’ll see. I’ll give you an update this weekend.

Something interesting happened today. We turned on our computer to look at our e-mail, and found an ad for some on-line porn. Now, that’s not, in itself, interesting because it happens all too frequently. What was interesting, however, was that the sender was dreck@prodigy.net! That’s us, of course. Someone has apparently co-opted our e-mail address and is using it to send out ads. I’ve sent a message to the Yahoo folks (who bought Prodigy recently) to see if this can be prevented in any way.

I had intended to tell you about how I felt when I got the news about my disease and its lethal prognosis. That stuff is rattling around in my brain and demands to be put on paper, but this has run on for so long that I think I’ll save it for the next update. Probably we’ll get that done in a few days.

By the way, my rash is almost gone and I feel well. This recovery from the first round of chemotherapy hasn’t really been all that bad. We’ll see how the next round goes.

Until later,


(Now, if I save this as .wps, but convert it to .txt for some folks and .rtf for some others...maybe I could save it as .doc and...maybe it would be better if I...no, wait, I think.........)