prune picker

This is the blog of a prune picker. (Native born Californian) Retired oilfield. I am an old man. (91) I blog a lot about my body and getting old. As I approach death life gets more interesting. More interesting is not good. I still drive. I attend sports, music, and civic events. I am writing my memoirs. I attend swim class three times a week. Some of my blogs might be interesting. A lot of my blogs are silly and trivial. None are very long.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lunch in the Great Depression.

The old prune picker (me) lived in Pomona, California during the 1930s.

Times were hard. I remember going to school in the sixth grade. I walked a couple of miles. At lunch time the children would sit on benches under a tree and eat the lunch that they had brought from home. Some walked home for lunch

Often I would not have any lunch and there was not any food at home. I would walk away from school pretending that I was going home, go around a corner,  wait until lunch was over, and then go back to school. I mean times were hard. What did the 11 year old prune picker think about being hungry? I know that I often picked fruit from fruit orchards to get something to eat.

Later in the sixth grade school year I came home to find all of our furniture (not a lot) in a pile in the front yard. We had been evicted for not paying the rent.

When I attended the seventh grade in junior high there was a cafeteria. One of my teachers paid the cafeteria to give me a bottle of milk every day. I like milk. I remember Miss Beach with affection. I can almost see her face. That was 77 years ago.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Diffuse Esophageal Spasm (DES)

That is what I got. Years ago a doctor said I had a corkscrewed esophagus which caused my swallowing problems. I pictured my esophagus had a curve like a corkscrew and my food had a problem making the curve. Not so. I often have a spasm (DES) that makes my esophagus look like a corkscrew on a barium swallow test.

The esophagus is a muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. It normally contracts in a coordinated way to push food into the stomach. DES or diffuse esophageal spasm causes the esophagus to contract in an uncoordinated way. Any food in the esophagus will not move. I have to sit and wait for the spasm to subside. Yesterday at the hospital this was also called tertiary contractions. It makes the esophagus look like a corkscrew on the screen.

I have yet to find why this would cause me to pass out. Every time I have a serious problem swallowing my head feels like I am going to pass out. I did pass out twice. Years ago and last month. The problem is getting worse lately. It might be that I am getting old.

Treatment? I will find out next Monday.

Vital Signs

About the same.











Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A barium milkshake in Shreveport.

I took my last swallow last night about nine. I took a 65 mile drive over to the VA Hospital in Shreveport. I was aching for coffee and breakfast all the way. They gave me a barium milk shake. Not too tasty.

This is the radiology equipment.

 I stood behind the machine and swallowed barium on cue. I could see the swallow spurt down my esophagus.

At the end of the test I was given a  pill. After five or more minutes the pill was still sitting above the stomach. Normally the pill would pass immediately into the stomach. I was told that I did not have any restrictions in my esophagus but did have tertiary contractions. These contractions can cause pain and trouble swallowing. Tertiary contractions can give a picture like the one below. My barium swallow test did.

I have an appointment next Monday to discuss my test.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sunday afternoon on tightwad hill.

I went from Ross's birthday to the baseball game at Louisiana Tech. I was pretty late for the game so I sat on tightwad hill. It was a nice shady spot with a good view of the game in the sunshine,

Shucks. We lost 9 to 3. Oral Roberts won two of the three games.

I knew that you wanted to see the back of the scoreboard.

Teams greet after the game.

Ross John Newberry is nine years old!

Went to a wonderful birthday party for Ross yesterday. Congratulations, Ross.

See? It is official. Nine candles arranged in the figure of a nine.

Nice presents. 

These are not presents but some art painted by Ross. He is talented and a nice guy.

Cousins Johnny Lynn and Christian Steven enjoyed the party at a special table.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Baseball. Dawgs vs Oral Roberts University.

I attended the Friday night and Saturday afternoon games. These were the first home games this year. Good crowds. I was late to both games and could not find a parking place in the parking lot. I had to drive under the railroad tracks and park on the street behind the scoreboard and tightwad hill. It was 700 steps or 1/3 mile around to the stadium. So each game required a 2/3 mile walk. I thought how lucky I am! I need the exercise.

Good group on tightwad hill.

I see that right ear is also a baseball fan. On Friday night I was sitting right behind the right ear.

We won Fridsy 2 to 0.

Saturday I sat on the Dawg dugout.

It looked like we were going to win on Saturday. However an ORU 3 run homer in the top of the eighth gave us a loss. They won 5 to 4. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ernie Stevens. Marine, sheet metal man, and museum manager.

I met Ernie today at the Louisiana Military Museum in Ruston. It is a great museum and Ernie has played a big part in the history of the museum. Thank you Ernie.

I was answering an article in the paper for help in making labels. I thought "I make mailing labels all the time" and phoned Ernie for an interview. It was interesting to learn that part of the job was researching the data that goes on the label. I thought "I google all the time" and told Ernie that I would like to try to help. He is going to start me out on two items, A SAM missile and a Russian anti tank gun,

I do not think that labels for these items would fit on my computer. They might have to be bigger.

Ernie hard at work.

It is a great museum. I hope that I can help.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Health Aspects of Aging.

Rhonda Boyd teaches a class on the Health Aspects of Aging at Louisiana Tech. Rhonda wanted some older folks to speak on the subject. She invited Miss Smiley (my water class professor). (She throws dumbbells at me), Ben and Rebecca Haley (fellow students in Smiley's class), and the old prune picker (me) to give talks to her class.

Smiley represented the fifty year olds, the Haleys the seventy year olds, and I the ninety year olds. (a stretch as I am only 87)  Above is a picture of Smiley at the podium and the Haleys on deck.

Rebecca and Ben Haley. I received the distinct impression that they are enjoying old age. They mentioned dancing to the Glenn Miller Orchestra next weekend. I recall dancing at the Palladium in Hollywood to Glenn Miller before WW II.

Sure was a good looking class. It was a pleasant experience meeting them. I enjoyed the talks by Smiley and the Haleys.

Professor Rhonda Boyd.

I had my best clothes on and had trimmed my beard. I hope the class got something out of my remarks.  I wanted to say that you can fight the sadness, loneliness, and depression that can come with old age by building new skills and interests. I became a sports fan, a bluegrass fan, an amateur genealogist, and a blogger.

I have to make myself exercise. I was born lazy. Exercise is probably one of the most important things I can do for my health. The water class at Tech is a vital and important part of my life. The $54 per quarter, $216 per year, and $1296 for the last six years is some of the best money that I have spent in my life. THANK YOU, SMILEY/RHONDA/TECH !

The class brought back memories of my days at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A nice relaxed basketball game.

The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs played Central Baptist from Conway, Arkansas last night. The Dawgs won easy and big. It was their 16th straight win. Final score 118 to 48.

Just a two tuba game.

Carolyn and Skip.

The Dawg leading cheers.

Coach Michael White and staff, In his trademark white shirt.

We won the tip. Above my picture.

Introduced the Bulldog baseball team at half time.

These little ladies are good.

We won big.

Coach White and a helper.

The Dogs go up into the stands. After congratulations all around it was time for the 16th singing of "oh Lord, it is hard to be humble".

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A boy named Bert.

From birth until I went into the Army at 17 I was Bert Monson.

At that time I became Chuck Monson. I have nieces who still call me Bert.

Why the two names? When I came along my parents had been blessed with five girls and three boys. My siblings thought that I should be named after my Dad who was Charles Abner Monson, In the discussion Dad said no. He had been raised by his Uncle Charles. He was called "Little Charles" and his Uncle and foster Father was called "Big Charles". My Dad had hated that and did not want such monikers used in his family. 

The solution? My siblings suggested that I be named Charles Elbert Monson and promised to always call me Bert. My parents agreed, so I was Bert Monson for 17 years.

When I went into the Army the Sergeants in their roll call used my first name Charles. I did not feel inclined to argue with my First Sergeant. His name incidentally was Sergeant Savage,

I probably could have put up a struggle and insist on being called Bert. I guess that I really preferred Charles and let it be. Anyhow I was Bert for 17 years and have been Chuck for 71 years. For my great grand children I have been pushing Papa Chuck. In the blog world I am the old prune picker.

A walk in the park with beautiful ladies.

I hit it lucky this morning. I went for a little walk in the park. It was a cold 44 degrees. Two beautiful ladies from Jefferson Corner walked with me.

Are they not lovely? Rhonda Michelle Ray and Rosa Lee Blakley. 

They are such good friends!

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