Late to Bed, Early to Rise

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

Made no difference that we had gone to bed relatively late last night. Chooey woke me bright and early at 6 a.m. He is ready to go downstairs and outside for his morning constitutional.

Stopping by the kitchen on our way to the patio, I turned on the coffee maker. As the morning java was brewing, Chooey ran around the yard taking care of business.

I did my morning texts and messages to my sons, my daughters-in-law, mother and sister. I send the same message every day: Morning. Love you. Perhaps I am overdoing it, but the Garth Brooks song runs through my mind each day – If Tomorrow Never Comes.

Now I am on my second cup of coffee. My mind is a jumble.

The mercury reading when I rose was at 90 degrees. It is still 90. The humidity was a horrific 44% and has only dropped to 42%.

The pressure on my lung cavity is intense. But it is not the intensity which could put me down or in the hospital when I was back in the Cornfield. In the Desert, though I feel the bricks weighing me down, I am still able to recover quickly and easily. In the Desert, I am able to continue to function.

After romping and playing for the past hour and a half, Chooey is ready for his nap. As I type he is laying on my lap. Soon Chooey will be off in Sand Land.

A dust storm whipped across the Desert valley yesterday evening. It stayed to the east of Mark’s Den traveling along the Colorado River from the south to the north. The storm was fueled by the ash and debris from the #WillowFire.

The storm pushed up from Topock and Mohave Valley into Fort Mohave in Arizona. It then crossed the river taking a path northward along Casino Drive in Laughlin, blinding all, making visibility around the casinos impossible for a few minutes. A few rain drops fell outside Mark’s Den, but no sand, dust or debris.

This morning all is calm. Wispy and fluffy clouds are splattered across the blue sky. The sun is beaming with full levels unthrottled. It is going to be a very hot, but beautiful day in the Desert.

That’s the way it is this early, weekend morning in the Desert.

And how is your Saturday going?

Mid Month Already

marksdeninsidemymindIt cannot be, but it is. We are at the halfway point for the month of August.

Where has this month gone?

For many students, it is a second or even third week of school. Unlike when I was growing up and school began after Labor Day. I can’t see where all these extra days and weeks have made much of a difference in a positive light. Actually seems it has been the opposite. Too many are graduating with ineffective and under level math and reading skills.

Maybe I am an old fogie who can’t see the truth.

An excessive heat warning remains in effect across the Desert through Sunday and into Monday. The humidity has remained in double digits to my dismay. But in comparison to being back in the Cornfield, it is more than bearable.

Apparently the name I gave to my newest family member, Chooey, is very appropriate. Unlike Frankie and Gizmo when they were pups, Chooey is real chewer. But he is only chewing on his toy, his blankie or me.

The actual genesis for naming him, Chooey, was a take from Star Wars. He is named after Chewbaca, who was called Chewy. But I decided to spell it Chooey to set him apart.

Have yet to receive postal confirmation from the Veterans Administration of my eligibility for care. As I noted the other day, I did receive the phone call from the VA. When my first appointment will be, I am not sure yet. I am waiting on either a phone call or a letter with that information.

Doing my best to ignore my cluster headaches, which after a short respite came back in earnest. A big issue lately has been with the dizzy spells. Those can be so debilitating and embarrassing. Granted the spells last for only a minute or two, but still, what a pain with which to deal.

That’s the way it is this Friday on the crest of the mid month hill.

And how is your TGIF going?


Thirsty, Throw-Back Thursday

marksdeninsidemymindThursday in the Desert and there is a excessive heat warning out for now through Monday from the National Weather Service. Currently it is 93 degrees with humidity at 28%. Believe me I am feeling the humidity.

Today would have been my Uncle Allen Powell’s 73rd birthday. We lost him a few years back. His final hours were spent at my Mom’s house surrounded by his family.

Had a scary moment in the middle of the night. I could hear Chooey whining. But could not find him. He had woke me out of sleep. When we went to bed he was laying in the crook of my left arm.

I got up. Turned on a light. Looked under the bed and settee. I pulled back the comforter and sheet on the bed. No Chooey to be found. Then I decided to look between the footboard of the bed and the mattress.

Sure enough, there he was. Chooey had managed to get wedged and covered with the comforter. With ease I pulled him free.

Being up and hoping to see some of the meteor shower, Chooey and I went downstairs and out to the patio. While he did his business I looked up at the clear night sky hoping to see at least one or two shooting stars.

Alas, there was nothing to see.

Going to be a lazy, hot day. Definitely will be keeping my ice water filled and handy. Yes, going to be a thirsty day.

As far as a throwback?

How is this:

My family with Mom in 2013.
My family with Mom in 2013.

That’s the way it is in Mark’s Den this Thursday.

And how is your day before the weekend going?

Hump Day, Schlump Day

marksdeninsidemymindMidweek and a beautiful morning in the Desert. The mercury is setting at 91 degrees with a humidity of 38%, down from 44% when I rose at 6:30 this morning.

I am feeling the effects of the “high” humidity on my lungs and pressure on the chest walls. When compared to how it was in the Cornfield, this is a piece of cake. 

Chooey, the newest member of the family, did really well his first day and night at Mark’s Den. He slept all night and there were no accidents. When I brought him downstairs this morning, he waited for me to pour my coffee.

We then headed to the patio. It was only after we were outside that Chooey did his morning constitutional.

The #WillowFire is now 75% contained. The damage from the fire is horrific. Some of the pictures being shared in the various local Facebook groups is enough to make you sick. The evacuations are now over and people are able to go home or survey the devastation.

Did you check yesterdays recap of the headlines and current events?

If not, visit: Kernels From The Cornfield.

Received a call from the Veterans Administration as I have been typing. It seems I have been approved for access to the VA medical system. Being ineligible for Medicaid in Nevada, this will be a godsend on my medical costs.

That’s  the way it is this Wednesday in the Desert.

And how is your midweek going?

More Government Largesse

marksdeninsidemymindI was informed a few minutes ago that in addition to the whopping $16 per month in food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), I do not qualify for Medicaid in Nevada. I do, however, qualify for the Slim Program which provides for my Part B premium, but may take up to four months before it is processed through the system.

This means that my Social Security check will continue to be over $100 less each month up until around the first of the year. Now I will be reimbursed, but in the meantime, I do without.

At least for the next four months, after I pay my rent, car payment with insurance, the personal loan Iohn took out, and my phone bill (which I need in case of emergency), I will have to make do with $50 or less per month for food, medicines, co-pays of 20% on doctor and lab work and gasoline to get me to the doctors and grocery store.

Isn’t that special?

Now to be fair, back in Indiana I did not qualify exactly for Medicaid though the state did end up picking up the excess medical costs which there was no way I could pay. I also did not qualify for even the $16 in SNAP benefit. Also in Indiana, Iohn was still with me and helped make sure I had food, medicines, could see my doctors and gasoline.

When Iohn left he promised he would not leave me high and dry. He promised to continue to assist me in making it from month to month. Things changed. It took me two months to be reimburse what I paid out on his behalf from my check in June. Now there is part of both July and August on the personal loan – and – I even loaned him my last bit of  money in the bank so he could have gas to get back and forth to work a week ago.

Iohn was paid Friday, but no reimbursement, yet. He did say if not this past Friday he would provide his next payday on the 21st of this month – that is if I can last that long.

There are some who seem to think I can qualify for this program and that program. They are wrong. I have been dealing with the system for the past 15 years.

Although I am on the poverty line, I am told over and over and over, I make too much money. I worked for over 30 years before I became sick. I played by the rules.

Now I am penalized.

What is aggravating is those who have never worked a day in their lives, are perfectly capable and fit, receive full benefits. Those individuals have the nicest of everything, the latest gadgets, the sportiest cars, go out and play, run, jump, drink every night, dance the night away – and get full benefits.

I do believe in the biblical principle that if you don’t work, you don’t eat – unless there is a legitimate reason you are unable to provide for yourself due to no fault of your own, such as a debilitating disability.

But so many of those getting full benefits do not have such an issue or concern.

Enough of my venting.

Nothing will change.

Nothing will become better.

It doesn’t matter which party or which person is in charge of government, all will remain the same.

OK, Mark, shut-up.

Healthiest Sick Person

marksdeninsidemymindBased on my lab reports and visit with my primary care provider, Nurse Practitioner Crystal Voigt at Live Oak Family Medicine, on Monday I have to be the healthiest sick person you will ever meet.

Here are my vitals:

Height 5’10”

Weight 143 pounds

BMI 20.37

Blood Pressure 97/53

Temperature 97.6

Heart Rate 57

Blood Oxygen Level 94%

All of my lab work came back normal. The only flag to be concerned with had to do with my Vitamin D level being a little low.

For a man with a potentially fatal disease: disseminated histoplasmosis, COPD, chronic bronchitis, chronic cluster headaches, major depression and only one functioning lung, I am doing pretty well. I am growing stronger the longer I am in the Desert.

Now my mental and emotional states fluctuate daily and sometimes even by the moment or hourly. Going through the separation from Iohn and soon divorce has its effect on me. There are also the monetary issues that seem to be a constant companion.

Another good note is that I am getting a new companion today. My new companion I plan to name, Chooey. He is a mixed Chihuahua and poodle. He is 8 weeks old. And…he is free!

Chooey, 8 weeks, mixed Chihuahua and poodle

Chooey won’t be able to replace Gizmo or Frankie, but he will fill a void in my life.

That’s the way it is this second day of the week.

And how is your Tuesday going?

Follow-up With Doctor Today

marksdeninsidemymindStart of another week with a beautiful blue sky with fluffy and wispy white clouds. The mercury sat at 84 when I rose around 7 a.m. today. Humidity was at 24%. Little over two hours later and the readings are 90 degrees and 22%.

Today is also the day when I take the short drive to Live Oak Family Medicine for my follow-up visit. Drove over to Bullhead City on Thursday for my lab work. Hoping the Crystal, my primary care provider, gives me two thumbs up.

Have you been following the news of the #WillowFire which has the Desert burning? If not you can catch up on the story which is raging about 20 miles south of the Desert Mark’s Den by clicking either of these links:

Hoping to hear from at least one of the lawyers I have contacted about following through on the divorce Iohn wants. It is still early here, but hopefully a call will come before I leave to see the doctor at 3:15 this afternoon.

Not able to get out the way I used to as well as the danger involved to my health with my breathing issues, I employed a tactic which I used often back in my other life as a reporter for the Linton Daily Citizen.

I asked members of the local community to share pictures which they had taken of the #WillowFire. The images I received were amazing.

A big thank you goes out to: Michelle Spotts, Marvin Wilson, Bill Gilmore, Jaime Rush, Tonya Gold and Kathy Rankin!

This also would not have been possible if not permitted by Facebook Group Owners of Laughlin Buzz and Tri-State Buzz. Thank you!

Now I need to finish my coffee, check my email accounts and peruse the different news outlets to compile my Kernels From The Cornfield for tday before I go to the doctor.

So it is this first day of the week in the Desert.

And how is your Monday going?

Continues to Burn

Image by Kathy Rankin, Needles, CA at the BNSF yard, Saturday, August 8, 2015

The #WillowFire continues to burn as the new week begins in the Desert. The fire began on Saturday around 10:30 a.m. as two separate wildfires converged into one in the area of the Havasu Wildlife Refuge.

The heavy smell of burning wood has let up this morning at the Desert Mark’s Den, but I am 20 miles to the north of where the flames continue to cause havoc.

More on the fire which is claiming nearly 7,000 acres now and threatening over 1,000 homes can be found here:

According to the Bureau of Land Management, evacuations remain in effect for Topock Lake Rancheros, River Delta Subdivisions and has been expanded to included Aqua View, Tangerine Terrace, River View and Marina Coves.

The cause of the fire remains unknown and under investigation.

Image by Kathy Rankin behind The 99 Cent Store in Needles, CA, Saturday, August 8, 2015

All Quiet on the Western Front

marksdeninsidemymindBorrowing from the classic novel, I can say it is all quiet on the Western front this glorious Sunday morning in the Desert.

This was not the case yesterday afternoon and evening. Two wild fires to the east and south of Laughlin merged into what was called the “Willow Fire”, devastating homes in Mohave Valley, Arizona, forcing evacuations and threatening other communities, including Fort Mohave, Arizona and Needles, California.

Smoke billowed throughout the afternoon, spreading northeast across the Desert valley along the Colorado River. In the early darkness there were still sights of the fire, but as the night wore on the light of burning disappeared. Several homes were destroyed by the fire.

Now it is Sunday morning. All is quiet. No smoke rising to the south. Beautiful fluffy clouds stand out against a blue sky. The mercury level is at a very mild 82 degrees. The humidity stands at 20%. There is no wind to fan any remaining hot embers.

After an enjoyable day with my old friend, Bonnie, sitting along the river bank watching the Bullhead City River Regatta, I was exhausted. I turned in around 10 p.m. I was out in a matter of seconds, lost to the world around me.

At 6:30 I awoke as the sunlight came shining through my one curtainless window facing the southeast. The view looks down across the valley towards the river, visible from my bedroom as I gaze across the balcony.

Now I sit drinking my coffee in silence. I have yet to turn on the television to listen and watch the morning news. My eyes are still full of the remains of slumber. My mind is blank, no battles yet – but I am preparing myself for whatever may strike this day.

So it is as another glorious Sunday in my Desert paradise begins.

And how is your Lord’s Day going? 

9th Annual Bullhead City Regatta

My long-time online friend and reader of Inside My Mind, who happens to live here in Laughlin, in the Desert of Nevada, and I got up bright and early this morning to meet and head to the Colorado River for the 9th Annual Bullhead City Regatta, put on by the city across the river in Arizona.

I was not sure what to expect of the parade of boats, rafts, kayaks and inner tubes floating south on the river from Davis Dam to Rotary Park. The event was promoted as saying there would be 30,000 visitors and participants floating down the river.

Expecting a large crowd lined up along the shores to watch, Bonnie, my friend, and I set out at 8:30 this morning. We set up near The Bridge in the north parking lot of the Riverside Resort and Casino, which started it all for Laughlin, named after the casino’s owner, Don Laughlin, who happened to also build the bridge, donating it to the states of Nevada and Arizona.

I thought being a parade it would be a lot of hoopla. You could hear some of the floaters and boaters making noise, an occasional swimmer, a kayaker or two, but after about three hours, Bonnie and I were bored and ready to head across the bridge for some KFC.

It was then we ran into the crowd of traffic. Once we managed to get south on Arizona 95 passed the Bullhead Community Park, it was smooth sailing on south to KFC, air conditioning and cold drinks.

Not wanting to go through the traffic jam again we took the back route home crossing the Veterans Memorial Bridge west of Fort Mohave to come back to Laughlin along the Needles Highway.

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