Story 14Feb2022: St. Valentine’s 2022

The day started with me waking without pain and lollygagging until about 8:20 again. Monday has no plans as I am still in the chemo-free days and just take my regular meds. These are also not required to wait until 10s, so I can take them early. Also, I have pizza from our small two-person (Mariah and me) Superbowl party, which is a great breakfast. I can’t do cold pizza and warm it in the microwave.

I manage to get ready and am on my way to Forest Grove Rehab and Care Center at 3900 Pacific Highway, Room 44A. I dropped off Corwin at work on the way. Also, Air Volvo did not need to warn me about the other drivers on the trip; Air Volvo makes a cute trolley car sound when it starts to prepare for collision avoidance. One driver did cross all the lanes, four lanes and a turning lane, with very little room for error, but that was more of an LA aggressive move than our usual overly relaxed Oregon drivers, almost deserved golf claps.

I stopped by a stand by the road in the rain, the first one with flowers, and a friendly group of young gals with Spanish accents had created baskets with rose arrangements. I picked one out and paid more than the asking price, and left with them smiling. It is St. Valentine’s day, after all.

Susie was out of bed, dressed, and watching the Olympics on TV in the nursing area. Susie was thrilled to see the flowers. There is a little frog in the middle with a heart.

Aside: Years ago, when Susie was ill, I found a frog stuffed animal at FedEx, which joined her in bed, and since then, “froggy” has been there to help Susie by her pillow. So this will be another one but at the facility. In addition, Susie has a little menagerie by her pillow at home (including three owls) of various helpful stuffed animals.

While we were hanging out, lunch came. Blender-ed spaghetti and meat sauce is not something I would recommend, but I stepped in and fed Susie. Her hands are not strong enough to feed herself. The cooks made one puddle of sauce, and one of something by color must have been pasta. So a little sauce and a little pasta puddle on the spoon. Susie managed to eat about 1/3 of it, and I did manage to be supportive the whole time.

Susie is not having a choking problem, and if one keeps to small bites and brings in the honey-thick water every couple of bites, she can keep going. Susie drinks from a cup now, instead of spooning the water too. And, to my surprise, she helped me lift the cup higher so she could get a drink.

I helped with the feeding as I had watched the day before and knew how we were doing it now, and the nurses and aids were just overwhelmed at lunch. I saw the ward RN actually running between rooms to keep up. The head nurse, Pre, was running too. I saw Julie doing one room; she is the nursing director. The weekday, Monday, is always busy as the insurance companies “wake up,” the Covid-19 tests are done on Monday and Thursday, and all the admin folks are there catching up on the weekend.

I then took Susie for the usual facility tour in her wheelchair, giving the nurses more breaks as they were literally running around. We wave to the smokers outside and various other more permanent residents. Most are missing legs or have leg issues that are disabling. They now live in the facility, many have decorated their rooms, and some are in private rooms.

Susie chats with her mother, Leta, via FaceTime in the big hall. We then call Joyce in North Carolina (NC) using FactTime, Susie’s aunt. Next, we call Glenda, also in NC, another aunt. We all celebrate St. Valentine’s via iPhone!

After being there for about 180 minutes, I leave Susie, not yet getting tired but having missed lunch; I needed to get something. Susie was happy to get her flowers, and I left her at the nurse station watching the bobsledding on the Olympics. She did ask about when she could go home, and I told her that would wait until I finished chemotherapy, and she nodded understanding. Susie has short-term memory issues, so I know I will have to explain this each day I see her, and that is hard in so many ways, but it is just like the lunch today, one bite at a time of a lunch we would not order if given a choice. So we just keep going, and as Leta tells Susie and Susie agrees:  We leave the details to God.

As I feel better and nausea is something of the past (and soon the future), I decided that a foot-long Coney Island is what I need. So I head to Sonics in Beaverton. Air Volvo finds its way, and I am shocked to see that only the drive-through is working. Apparently, there are not enough folks to service the usual park and eat system that Sonics is known for–The Red Button is down. Also, they take only credit cards and cash; no electronic payments or Internet orders can be accepted. A sign warns that they cannot source some eatables, so you may not get your fav.

Soon the long drive-thru line processes through, and my turn comes. I hear an older but friendly voice, a manager, and I ask if they can do a number 7, a foot-long Coney Island, and they are happy to do that. I also get onion rings and a Canda Ginger Ale (yes, it has sugar, but I don’t get them that often). I thank him for making it work, and his voice fills with a smile, even though the speaker and says they are always happy to serve. My food is perfect.

I drive my lunch home and eat it while reading my email. It was still messy out of the car. In my family, we used to drive to a Coney place in Flint, 90 min drive, as we all loved them. I remember my father taking me on a trip to Saginaw and getting a dog there at an A&W. “The best I have found,” my father told me. He was saddened when it finally closed back in the days of 18% inflation in the late 1970s. So lunch brought back days and memories of the past.

My church called, and they had leftover groceries from the food services provided on Monday. As I have cancer, they decided I would be a good target audience, and a box of canned goods and pasta was dropped off. It is always hard for an independent person like myself to accept help, but I am learning to be accepting of help. Thanks, First United Methodist Church, Beaverton.

Corwin finished work, walked home, and decided to make dinner. Nobody was on the Meal Train today, so Corwin was up. I purchased Blue Apron before the Meal Train was set up to give Corwin a means to help. He cooked a brilliant One-Pan Greek Chicken Thighs for two. Also, the food is delicious and has better choices.

Corwin also did the dishes, and we watched from the beginning The Legend of Vox Mechana and Corwin’s favorite animated Invincible. Both are Kickstarter-created series and have a different feel than more commercial-based animations. I did not enjoy Invincible as I can’t do super-powered heroes as it is just too ridiculous to me. But I would recommend the series to younger folks that love this stuff. It is well done with good writing and voices getting some feeling into the old-school animation.

Corwin and I then both watched the 40+ min “How to Play” video for Unsettled, my newest and long-waited-for board game. I know the creator, Marc, and love their previous creation, Vindication. I did not, in this case, have much input to Unsettled (some of my ideas did make it into Vindication) as I was busy working on the shoe company’s software and just surviving the pandemic with Susie having strokes. But, this is a crazy cooperative game with the sole goal of “Space is Hard. Don’t Die.” I had tried to read the rules and play, and Corwin and I aborted that mission. The video covered the flow of the game and made it playable. If you want to play this game, like many newer games I have played with Richard, you must watch a video to have a chance of getting it right and not blowing it.

We gave it a whirl once we both were refreshed on the rules. After watching the video twice and attempting the rule book, I could follow the process and play. I had to help Corwin here and there as it is a lot to take in, and I play many games like this with Richard’s group in Portland, so I am used to this kind of flow. It is essential to follow the mechanics with discipline while the order of play is up to the players.

The game was wild, with Corwin investing in science (breakthroughs in game terms) and soon having all sorts of new abilities thanks to better living through chemistry. I developed my science slower and mixed it up, getting resources and opening up the map and options for Corwin. The science I selected allowed for the use of Power to short-cut production and movement. We soon had a lab in place and about 1/2 across the board.

The game is cooperative. You all live or fail working together. The breakthroughs can be played on another person’s turn. Players work together on each player’s turn; no reading texts while waiting for your turn! Also, keeping two players’ figures on the same node was a good plan (don’t split up like in a horror movie).

You are slowly and then faster in the game, running out of options as the game pace changes as you complete objectives for the unique planet. Soon we were buried in distress and having hallucinations (a special rule for the first planet). We goofed the distress rules for the planet and retro’d that a few turns later–next time, we will be more careful with the distress cards. Finally, we managed to escape and have enough food to survive the return trip to earth even with all the learning and missteps. Yeah!

Unsettled is a new take on cooperative and space board games. Usually, you face Alien-the-movie experience in most cooperative and semi-cooperative (Richard has let me die so many times in another game–I went mad and wanted to destroy us all). Still, this game is cooperative, and the ability to play on another person’s turn creates a friendlier and more desperate feel. So I am happy with it, not typical for me, after the first game.

I went to bed after this and reread the rules to see if we goofed any more rules and was happy to find that we were running according to the rules. The one goof was a planet-only effect and was not in the rules or the video–that explains how we missed it.

I finally slept around midnight. I managed to sleep until the morning.

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