Caveat: Tree #1900 “A fashionable address”

This tree has a fashionable address on C Street in suburban Klawock, Alaska.


I took the car to the mechanic today, while Jan watched the store. That went okay – the car needed a seal replaced on the transfer case, and I wanted to check the front wheel bearings and ball joints and such (weird noises sometimes on cornering, and it’s been a problem before). Plus oil change, and switch out winter to summer rims.

But overall it was a horrible day, with the trip to the mechanic being the only pleasant part. The store is stressing me out – ambushed by invoices, bookkeeping problems and overwhelmed by what feels like an impossible “more money out than in” scenario. I’m experiencing “buyer’s remorse” over this project to run the store.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 6km; retailing, 7hr]

Caveat: Tree #1876 “Resting”

This tree was in some snow a a few weeks ago, at the 8-mile bridge. I am showing this picture because I didn’t take a fresh tree picture today.


Art took a walk down the road today, and apparently (I wasn’t there) sat down (or lay down?) to “rest” and someone thought he was a body in the road and “rescued” him and brought him home. Art claims nothing went wrong he was just resting. I’m not so sure.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 4.5km;]

Caveat: Tree #1873 “Waiting around / sheer panic”

This tree awaited the approaching darkness.


I’m really not doing well lately. I’m really stressed by the financial “bookkeeping” side of running the store – especially preparing for and dealing with tax-related stuff. I hate preparing taxes even when they’re easy – and this year, for the first time in my life (arguably), they are definitely NOT easy. Running a small business is a bureaucratic tangle worthy of Kafka.

Meanwhile, I feel like I’ve increasingly lost a technical grasp of the websites I run – they coast along but there are aspects of how they work that I truly cannot understand, and that leaves me feeling helpless when things go wrong – as happened this evening with the main map website.

Arthur is unpredictable – as I’ve mentioned many times before, being a caretaker to Arthur is a bit like being an active-duty military person: 95% waiting around and doing stupid make-work, and 5% sheer panic and SOLVE THIS PROBLEM NOW!

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 5km; retailing, 9hr]

Caveat: Tree #1856 “A la gringa”

This tree experienced some rain turning to snow this morning.


Arthur has told me he no longer likes making chicken chile verde (a sort of family traditional dish that he always did really well). I think the last few times it hasn’t gone well – forgetting ingredients, lose track of where he is in the process… somehow these difficulties actually gained traction in his memories. And so… I made an effort at making the stuff. I’m not sure I follow the exact same recipe – I lived in Mexico too long and my take is maybe a little less ‘a la gringa.’ But I think it came out alright.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 2.5km;]

Caveat: Tree #1847 “The west wall”

This tree got to watch as neighbor Brandt and I (mostly Brandt) installed the framing for west wall of my shed project over on Lot 73.


After working in the morning, Brandt needed some help lifting that assembled frame of 2 x 6’s – it was quite heavy. We ended up using a come-along.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 5km; retailing, 4hr]

Caveat: Tree #1844 “Sympathy”

This tree was frosty, just like all the others.


A woman came into the gift store this morning, looking for a Valantine’s Day card. Unfortunately, we had some issues with our card supplier, and we don’t have any Valentine’s Day cards this year. She was disappointed, of course. She moped about the store looking at some of the other stuff we have. But then she brightened. “I suppose I could use a sympathy card, instead,” she announced.

She did not, in fact, buy a sympathy card for her Valentine. I think it was a joke. But it was well executed and I was laughing about it all day.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 4km; retailing, 9hr]

Caveat: Tree #1839 “A dusting of snow”

This tree saw a light dusting of snow in the far western suburbs of Rockpit.


Art and I went to town for Thursday shopping. I had a lot of gift-store-related extra errands (banks, etc.). Arthur just dozes in the car while I do these.

In fact I felt pretty under-the-weather, today. I’m not sleeping well these days. Worrying about store tax preparation and stuff like that.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 4km; retailing, 2.5hr]

Caveat: Tree #1832 “Speculations as to the inner life of a small greenhouse”

This tree saw rain shifting to snow, out by the little greenhouse with a moldy heart.


Arthur forgot how to pay at the store yesterday. Just stood there, while the cashier got frustrated. It was a bit stressful, but I stepped in and pulled the levers – helped him dig out his credit card, sort of gave directions.

It’s always doubly frustrating because half the time he’ll deny there was a problem minutes later. It’s just like this temporary glitch in the operating system.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 4km;]

Caveat: Tree #1829 “On helium”

This tree is a guest tree from my past. I like this tree. I took this picture in April, 2014, walking near my place of work in Goyang City, South Korea. I was only 6 months out from the end of my radiation treatment after my previous cancer surgery. I remember feeling quite terrible, but slogging along with job and life.


Today was a long, unprofitable day at the gift store. I had to go buy a new tank of helium at Tyler, for our balloon operation. As a side note, a tank of helium is a very heavy thing – not what you’d expect from helium, to be frank.

I learned that our local competitor in helium retailing, the monopoly grocery store, sells their helium at less than half what we do. If they pay the same for a tank of helium that we do (and I’m confident they do – they’re an obvious customer at Tyler, the only place that sells helium on the island), they’re selling at a steep loss. I pondered the economics of being a monopoly grocery store in a small, remote Alaskan town. Maybe there’s some weird philanthropic helium subsidy from some “Keep Rural Alaska Balloony” foundation. Or maybe they’re just incompetent and forgot to raise their prices over the last decade.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 5km; retailing, 9hr; helium-tank-loading-unloading, 10min]

Caveat: Tree #1825 “Alongside our potholy road”

This tree was alongside our potholy road.


Art and I both had dental exam appointments scheduled this morning, but the the appointments were cancelled because the dentist couldn’t make it to the clinic (he comes from Sitka, he’s not local). They didn’t tell us about this cancellation until we got there, though. So we had a much earlier “shopping day in town” than we normally do, every Thursday.

Then, the moment we got home, around 11 AM, I got a call from the the gift store and had to go back in, to complete a framing project that I had been led to understand was “no hurry” but in fact the customer wanted promptly.

So I did a lot of driving back and forth on our potholy road.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 3km; retailing, 3hr]

Caveat: Tree #1822 “The crooked tree by the ancestor’s grave”

This tree was near an ancestor’s grave in South Korea. I have no idea when I took this picture, but it was before 2014, and it was in Korea.


I had a very exhausting day. Morning at the dentist (always stressful, and I will always stand by my declaration that fighting mouth cancer is more pleasant than the dentist), then a full day at work, moving around mat board (heavy 32″ x 40″ sheets of cardboard) to rearrange my frame shop area at the store.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 5km; retailing, 9hr]

Caveat: Tree #1813 “Alder trees disregarding low temperatures”

This tree was disregarding the low temperatures.

I ended up going in to work this morning for a few hours. I had to move around some boxes that had been delivered last night – very heavy so not something I wanted to ask Jan or Kim to do. They included new shipment of picture glass from our framing supplies vendor. I also ended up macgyvering a brand new vacuum cleaner that was (apparently) of quite low quality. I got it working, though.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 3.5km; retailing, 3hr]

Caveat: Tree #1800 “Small and boring”

This tree is small, and boring.


I don’t quite know how I got to an even number of trees on New Years Eve – especially since I started this daily tree thing on January 1st, 2019. So figuring 5 years at 365 days each, plus one included leap year, should give 1826 trees – not 1800.

I obviously messed up counting somewhere in there. I’m an incompetent enumerator of trees, it seems. Either that or there was an unnoticed time warp.

I had been contemplating stopping this tree-counting business, because often the trees feel repetitive. But I like the rhythm of it, and the way it forces me to review each day, even if most days I don’t offer much review: at least it gives me the opportunity and impetus to give a try.

So I’d decided to end the daily tree thing here – I liked the roundness of it: exactly 5 years. But, frankly, it’s not like we’re really out of trees on this planet – there are lots of trees, still. And… This Here Blog Thingy™ appreciates the regularity of it all. Off to another year, then.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 2.5km;]

Caveat: Tree #1798 “Continuing precipitation”

This tree experienced continuing precipitation, while a quite high tide brought the sea closer.


Art had a doctor’s appointment today. Just follow-up and getting all the various specialists in sync with the local doctor, mostly – nothing new or revelatory, though he got a new CT scan of his head, to confirm no new major changes in his brain.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 2km;]

Caveat: Tree #1794 “The pie”

This tree was on a pie I attempted. Actually, it wasn’t too bad. It was a raspberry-blueberry pie – the blueberries harvested from right around the house here and the raspberries from Wayne who lives in Klawock. So local produce.


Arthur and I went over to our neighbor Penny and Mike’s house for a Christmas brunch. Also there were neighbors Greg and Sue and Brant and Kim.

This picture shows them all, minus me (the photographer).


Clockwise from leftmost: Sue, Penny, Mike, Arthur, Kim, Brandt, Greg.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 1km;]

Caveat: Tree #1792 “Christmas Adam”

This tree is a guest tree from my past. I do these guest tree pictures when I’m too busy to have taken a picture in a given day.

I took this picture in February, 2010, at 금산사 [Geumsan-sa = Geumsan Temple], in Jeollabuk Province, South Korea. I was doing a “templestay” – where you live for a very short time (a long weekend) at a Buddhist monastery, doing the monk lifestyle thing.


We had a record sales day at the gift store – based on my and Jan’s memories of working with Wayne and Donna when they ran the store, combined with more accurate records over the last few years, our gross sales today were the highest ever. It’s actually typical that it’s December 23rd – that’s the “last minute shopping” day for Christmas. I think we combined that with doing well with stocking good inventory, and the fact that today was the day that Santa visited the store (a tradition at Alaska Gifts for a given Saturday before Christmas).

Here is a picture of Santa with some elves he met at the store (i.e. store staff: Kim, Jan, myself):


We also had one of those typical “gale force” rainstorms in Craig today. So as I went to head home from work, a tree (two trees) had blown down on Port Saint Nicholas Road, meaning that work crews had to get out there and clear the tree – so I was delayed getting home until almost 8. And I got home to darkness, because the power was out. That’s been a quite frequent occurrence this damp Fall.

I learned recently that today is called “Christmas Adam” (meaning, December 23rd). The reasoning: “Christmas Eve” is December 24th. We all know that Adam came before Eve, so… December 23rd is “Christmas Adam.” Call it Patriarchy Remembrance Day.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 6km; retailing, 11hr]

Caveat: Tree #1786 “Outside”

This tree was outside, with others of its kind.


Yesterday, I read a novel, cooked and did laundry. Today I had been intending to go into the store, but Jan said she could handle it and I stayed home again. I’m pretty tired from store stuff. So I tried to do some work on my map servers but didn’t make much progress – I feel like I’ve forgotten how to do stuff.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 1km;]

Caveat: Tree #1782 “Snowy redwoods”

This tree is a guest tree from my past. These are dawn redwoods in snow along a pedestrian way a few blocks from my home is Goyang, South Korea, as seen in January, 2017.

The power kept going out this morning at home, so I went in to work earlier than usual and worked for 10 hours at the store today. The power went out in the store for about an hour, too. But I can sit in the half-dark and put prices on new merchandise, still.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 5km; retailing, 10hr]

Caveat: Tree #1780 “The return of the tiny spruce”

This tree is a small live spruce tree that uprooted and put in a planter. It’s doing duty as our Christmas tree, for a second year. It’s not clear to me how the tree feels about this.


Art and I had a 90-minute telephone appointment with some of the doctors at the neuropsychology department at the Portland VA. This was follow-up on the tests that were run during our visit down south, in November.

There was a lot of detail, not least starting out with about half an hour’s worth of CYA gobbledy-gook (“cover-your-ass” medical discussion of the validity of the tests, baseline, etc) which, with its abstraction, immediately left Arthur uncomprehending, which wasn’t a very good start.

I won’t go into details – they confirmed my intuition that his dementia (since that’s what we’re officially calling it now) has progressed substantially since a similar evaluation in 2020, and my gut feeling is that he was actually much more functional directly after his accident in 2018 than he is now.

There were three salient moments.

First was when the doctors raised, off-handedly and as if it was a previously discussed thing, Arthur’s “depression.” I use quote marks because Arthur actually became visibly agitated when it was mentioned, and angrily said, “I don’t have that problem.” My personal addendum, which I was probably unable to convey to the doctors clearly with Arthur sitting right there, is that Arthur has always struggled with some degree of undiagnosed depression, but it’s something he has never been open to discussing. The mere mention of it left him much more closed off and uninterested in the rest of the talk – he spent a lot of time looking for specks of dirt to pick out of the carpet at his feet, as he does now when he’s had “enough” of whatever telephone or skype conversation we’re having.

Second was when we got into some summary of etiology (medical cause of the dementia). The verbiage was thick in the air, but what I finally gathered is that they’re most comfortable assuming multiple causes, broken into three categories. 1) He’s had repeated TBI (traumatic brain injury), due to the main fall that broke his neck in 2018, but likely other “head bonkings” (Art’s words) such as when he fell off the ladder in our first year up here, down in the road last year, or even when he modified the sheetrock in the bedroom last month; Art seems to prefer encountering hard objects with his skull rather than using his hands to catch himself, because of the severe arthritis pain in his shoulders. 2) They mentioned vascular problems in the brain, a kind of medical shorthand for stroke and stroke-like events, such as the scarring noted in CT scans at the basal ganglia; these stroke-like events are not singular, but something that seem to occur occasionally, and perhaps back in time to well before the fall/stroke in 2018. 3) They used the word Alzheimers repeatedly (and for the first time), and while observing that if it’s Alzheimers, it’s a “non-typical type” but it’s still within an Alzheimers type dementia; I could tell that Arthur recognized the word and found it alarming, by watching his reactions as we talked.

Third was that despite his extremely slow processing speed and quite limited ability to recall recently mentioned facts, stories, words, sequences, etc, his comprehension vocabulary is still amazingly high – which is to say, once you penetrate past the extremely slow processing speed, entailing multiple repetitions and a lot of patience while you see the “loading” icon spinning in his eyes, he’ll know what you’re talking about. His underlying well-educated mind is still there, but just weirdly shrouded by these processing and memory issues.

During all the interview, I did most of the talking. Arthur sometimes seemed to follow, though he did his schtick of pretending not to understand when he didn’t like what he was hearing. It’s quite difficult, with him, as he’s always done this thing of pretending not to understand, as a jokey way of getting out of certain sorts of discussion, and of course, now, he often really actually doesn’t understand. So his pretending to not understand (and not care) is a facade to conceal his actual non-understanding.

In the wake of the call, Arthur was grumpy. I went to work. At dinner, when I got home, I gave him a summary of the talk – which he asked for. I skipped over the depression part, but spent a lot of time talking about etiology, and focused on the final part – the doctors’ recommendations. Most of these are quite self-evident: exercise, develop strategies for dealing with forgetfulness, adapt social interactions for dealing with very slow processing speed. But these efforts of course run up against Arthur’s return to comments like: “Wait, I don’t process things slowly” or “I don’t need routines, I do things when they need to be done”. Then other moments, he’d say “I have no brain” or “I forget everything.” It’s all provided together, a word-salad of mutually incoherent cliches that are what’s left of his self. And they all require a proactive interest in self-care, which is Arthur’s single hugest weakness, to be frank. And I can only nag so much – it’s very much a “pick your battles” thing at this point, and so I can’t always focus on these types of things.

Life goes on.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 5km; retailing, 8hr]

Caveat: Tree #1776 “Broken wrenches”

This tree was there while I decided it was the time of year when I needed to switch to the studded snow-tires – snow is in the forecast for the next few days (though that can be hit-or-miss, here). The lug-nuts were very tight, and I broke not one, but two lug-wrenches, before I got them all loosened.


CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 5km; retailing, 1 hr; breaker-bar-banging, 2hr]

Caveat: Tree #1769 “임진강”

This tree was in a plaza I walked to near Imjingang (임진강), South Korea, which is at the DMZ border with North Korea. This was a walk I took in October, 2007, during my first Fall living in South Korea. I was revisiting haunts from my year stationed as a soldier in the US Army in the area, back in 1991.

A plaza of paving stones, benches and some orange-yellow trees, with a few pedestrians standing around

I have come to the realization that my 2 1/2 week long vacation down south wasn’t relaxing or recuperative at all. It was very stressful. I mean, I was glad to see all the people I saw, and I value those interactions highly, but Arthur was a pain in the butt with his constant argumentativeness over just about anything that could occur to him, any time we spent time together – which was more than usual because of the travel and such. He is constantly upset when I challenge his take on reality, but that take on reality feels increasingly detached from anything that feels objective or true. And since he rarely remembers a conversation from one minute to the next, we have the same arguments over and over and over.

Anyway, all I mean to say is that I will be quite pleased to relax and work at the store for 6 days a week for the coming month, and let Arthur stew at home with his incoherent obsessions. I can count on routine to protect him from self-damage, hopefully. There’s only so much I can do to protect him. He’ll sleep in the bed he’s made for himself – an aphorism he’s fond of citing. I am burned out.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 1.5km;]

Caveat: Tree #1763 “Backdrop”

This tree was a backdrop for some people being photographed at the Oregon Zoo today.


That’s me on the left. Beside me are Rita – a woman who was my 3rd grade and 6th grade teacher, among other things. Beside her is Jeannine, Rita’s daughter, one of my closest childhood friends, who I haven’t seen since high school graduation, maybe. And Jeannine’s child, River, who is recovering from Covid right now. So it was a kind of little reunion at the Oregon Zoo, which was sunny, not too crowded, but quite chilly, down in its little canyon west of downtown Portland.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 6km;]

Caveat: Tree #1762 “A tall yellow tree”

This tree is down by the gate to the road that goes up along the Tualatin river.


Juli and I and the dog took a long walk along the valley today. Then a bunch of Canadians showed up, including Wayne (the annual visitor to Rockpit, Alaska – a close friend of Arthur’s), who are Keith’s relatives, so we had a kind of pre-Thanksgiving. We’ll do the main Thanksgiving on Saturday, which is Juli and Keith’s tradition.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 6km;]

Caveat: Tree #1755 “Have a heart”

This tree is in front of Arthur’s infamous yurt, his bedroom-away-from-home since times immemorial (about 20 years).



Before the yurt, he had an ancient school bus converted to an RV, parked in a similar location in Juli and Keith’s yard. So Arthur calls the yurt “the bus.” Keith worries about Arthur being in the yurt, but I think he’s better off there than in some location (e.g. the guest room here) which is less familiar to him. Since he himself built the yurt, it’s quite to his liking and very familiar.

Art and I did another appointment at the VA hospital and clinics this morning. This time, he got an echocardiogram. The tech was very chatty and explained to me what he was doing and seeing as he did it, which made it pretty interesting for me. Art’s arhythmias were quite noticeable.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 5km;]

Caveat: Tree #1754 “Orange and yellow under the sun”

This tree was along the road just up above Juli and Keith’s. Apparently, it is Autumn.


I took Art to the VA hospital and clinics in downtown Portland, today. We saw doctor Kim, who is a very personable doctor and who is one of the few doctors I’ve interacted with, with Arthur, who seems to “get” Art’s mental style. It was a bit intense, as Dr Kim used the word “dementia” with Arthur directly for the first time. I really haven’t ever dared to use that word – Art has always been of the clear and firm opinion that that is something that happens to other people, not to him. So I guess I was relieved to let Dr Kim bring it up, in a medical setting. It could be between him and a doctor, and I wasn’t implicated except as a witness.

Next step is the comprehensive cognitive function evaluation, scheduled for next week.

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 4km;]

Caveat: Tree #1751 “Chocolate and Flashlights and other very important things”

This tree is in Juli and Keith’s yard in western Oregon, where I’m visiting. The Fall weather is milder here than in Southeast Alaska.


I went to town to do shopping errands today. Into the giant Fred Meyer store (like a Walmart or Target, for those unfamiliar with Pacific Northwest). After all the time living and working in a tiny town on a Southeast Alaskan island, it’s a bit overwhelming, but not in a bad way, at least for me. You have the thought: this store feels bigger than the whole town!

There was an amusing incident. Arthur insisted on coming along on the shopping trip. He’s been quite anxious, since leaving home, about his lack of a certain brand of chocolate that we’ve been planning to “refresh his supply” on this trip. It’s a kind of separation anxiety, almost. We had run out of his brand back in August or so (we keep a lot on hand, and refresh once a year shopping down south, or order online), and we’d been unable to re-order online: vendors were “out of stock.” It was a distressing situation for him.

So he wanted to come along, so we could stop at the big stores and look for his brand of chocolate. We found it at Fred Meyer, and we bought 24 “giant size” bars of chocolate – maybe (only maybe) good for a year back up in Alaska. But it was all they had in stock.

The thing that was so striking: the moment we put the chocolate bars in the shopping cart, Arthur’s anxiety melted away. You could see him visibly relax. And then he announced he was tired, and he went and sat down at the front of the store to wait for me to finish the rest of my shopping.

So I got to spend a few hours with Arthur in a less anxious state. Of course, within a few hours, he’d found himself a new thing to worry about: flashlights! He wanted to make sure all the flashlights worked, that he could find in his yurt (his room-away-from-home at Juli’s, since time immemorial).

CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 3km;]

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