Sunday, June 29, 2008




It's only Sunday and already several of my readers have reminded me that my normal Friday/Saturday post is late!  I suppose I should be honored that some need their  fix of Kernal Ken on time, although I'm sure most can live without my weekly rant for a day or two.  There is a reason for this week's delay.

Tomorrow, 30 June 2008, is a special day for our family.  It has to do with the legacy that has been left for us.

First, the Queen Vee and Compound Eye of a Dragonfly will represent us at the funeral of Victor J. Nelson.  With most of his family at his bedside, Victor, 90 years old,  graduated with honors from this life on Thursday, 26 June and went home to live with our Heavenly Father.
 A Utah State graduate with a degree in zoology, a World War II Navy veteran,  a master builder and craftsman as well as teacher in the building trades, and a 27 year member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Victor's greatest accomplishments were in the lessons of life, of love and of kindness he left for his children and grandchildren.

And here is the impact.  Victor leaves behind seven children, two step-children, 35 grandchildren and 78 great grandchildren.  That's 122 people who know PERSONALLY of the skills, the character, the faith and the kindness of this one man, and countless more who will hear his story in years to come.  Well done, Dad, extremely well done...

Monday, 30 June is also a special day on my side of the family.  It is the 100th birthday of my Mom, Helen Mabel Christine Johnson Carlson.

Known as Moline, Illinois' "Fastest Woman" (for the right reasons), she was a track standout in high school and at The Chicago Normal School of Physical Education, where she earned her teaching degree and lots of championship trophies.

Her wedding to 2LT Gunnar Carlson was covered by cub radio reporter (later President) Ronald Reagan, but the glamour of a military wedding was quickly eclipsed by the cold of Northern Wisconsin where her husband commanded a CCC Camp, the scorpions and floods of Panama, the continuous moving in the pre-war Army and her husband's departure for the war in the Pacific.

May brought her two sons to occupied Japan on the first ship to carry "MacArthur's Pioneers."   Later, she and I travelled to South Vietnam to join my Dad who was one of 85 Americans in that country in the mid 1950's.  With my brother and I both returning during the war, the Carlsons  are one of the very few who can say that the entire family, Mom included, served in Vietnam.

An inspirational, devoted mother and a loving, generous grandmother, May passed her earthly test and peacefully departed in  2001 at age 93.  Her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, although not as numerous as those of Victor Nelson, have been left with her inspiring story and example of duty, sacrifice and love of Country.  Her life, as that of Victor, will remain legend.  Well done, Mom, and Happy Birthday!

And as for you anxious readers, I'll see you on the high ground!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

We Interrupt This Program...

Hi, there!  No guest blogger this week, just your regular Kernal Ken.

Things, as usual, are hectic around here.

Brother-in-law, Kirk Nelson, visited this past week for two days.  I asked him when was the last time he was here and he reminded me that it was last Fall.  Well, I told him, not much has changed since then, given the title of this post, "We interrupt this program..."

I got my "interruption" in mid-November.  Ever since then, my program has been interrupted by cancer.  Even the interruptions are interrupted, such as "you might not have to have the neck dissection...we interrupt this thought to bring you the following truth - they are going to cut you open anyway..."  

You've seen the scar and the staples, which are now out, and I am starting to recover from the surgery which interrupted my recovery from the radiation and chemo.  Thankfully, every thing is clean - so far.

Next we had the funny blog interruption where The Digital Architect demonstrated our previous lack of a discussion on sex by likening his own preferences to those of his three month old daughter.  What a hoot!

Then , on Thursday, the Queen Vee got the sad news that her Dad is deteriorating rapidly, so our program was interrupted by her departure this AM for Salt Lake City where she will be for some indeterminate period.

I think the message in all this is that John Lennon was right:

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

Perhaps equally to the point is the saying of the noted Japanese warrior, T. Sakurai:

"In the moment of victory, tighten your helmet strap..."

There are more "interruptions" ahead for all of us.  I hope all yours are good ones.

I'll see you on the high ground!


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Who's Your Daddy?

I (The Queen Vee) am sneaking onto Ken's blog today to wish him Happy Father's Day. Of course he's not my daddy, that would be Victor Nelson, but he is the the daddy of my children.

So Ken, thank you for being my partner in parenting. Your children are blessed to have you for their dad. Like all good fathers, you have carried the responsibility of fathering on your broad shoulders now for over 36 years and you have done it exceedingly well.

Yes, once you were younger and could hold two kids on your shoulders.

Then those kids grew up and soon you found yourself standing with them shoulder to shoulder.

Now they stand with you en masse, fathers themselves, pushing shoulder to shoulder marking the goal for their families. (What cute guys!)

So today I honor you and I honor our sons for taking on this mantle of fatherhood. There are no perfect fathers, just as there are no perfect mothers, but I think you guys are all up there at the very top of the fatherhood pyramid.

This young, good looking man is my father who is now well into his 90th year. Last week he went into hospice care as he is getting ready to graduate and take the big journey. I love him and I honor him this day. His posterity is now over 80 plus direct descendants. The influence my father has had can now be seen in my grandchildren. That's the impact a good dad can have. If you would like to know my father better you can check out my sister's blog where she has posted a fitting and perfect tribute to a man who sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for 25 years.

Happy Father's day to all these special men in my life. I'm fortunate to be on the high ground with these guys.

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's Only A Flesh Wound!

Guest blogger the Queen Vee here (Ken is recuperating and will add more to this post later, so stay tuned)!

What would a cancer blog be without a good gory picture every now and again? This is a shot of Ken's neck post-surgery. We are now affectionately calling him "Frankeneck". For those of us who are related to him, it's "Frankenken", "Frankendaddy" or "Frankenpapa".

I'm having flashbacks to the 5oo carpet staples I removed by hand from the staircase in our entry foyer last year. I've been assured it will be much easier to get Ken's staples out next Tuesday.

The surgery and pathology results were completely terrific! Dr. Markwell the ENT surgeon over Ken's case decided to try for a "Super Selective Neck Dissection" rather than the "Radical Neck Dissection" which had been originally planned. The "Super Selective" route, if successful, would keep Ken from losing neck mobility and more importantly, allow him to still play golf. The doctors feared the treated lymph node would be difficult to find, but as soon as they opened the neck, it "popped right up" (their words). This miracle prevented damage to the trapezius (sp?) nerve in the neck. Other lymph packets were removed with no difficulty due to ease of access - which was a surprise to the doctors. The best news of all is that post-surgery pathology reports show all tissue is free of cancer.

Dr. Markwell feels that Ken's successful response to all the treatments and the positive outcome of his surgery have greatly increased his cure rate. There is no doubt in our minds that the prayers of so many people worked together to help bring us this miracle. We are so grateful.

As you can imagine, we are all doing a big happy dance out here in Virginia! Won't you join along?

Kernal ken here now folks.  Just wanted to add thanks to the Queen and Samantha for filling you in on the details of this week's happenings.  I really didn't know much about what happened because most if it was told to me while I was still halfway home from Lala land.

Special thanks this week to my great surgeons, both of whom have some sort of connection to Staples.  I stopped by on the way home to see if the local store needed a poster child, but all I got was a grimace and a not very pleasant "Eeeeww, ugh."

I also want to thank the folks on NNMC Surgical Ward 5East.  Navy Ensign K. McDonald, and Army SP4s T. Patton and M. Buckley were extremely competent nurses who had great senses of humor.  Patton served in Iraq as a medic with the 101st Airborne and Buckley was an Army MP who served with the 1st Marine Division during the horrorific battle of Fallujah several years ago.  Hearing their war stories and sharing a few of my own was an inspiration for me and the best form of healing.  These young people are very special Americans who will be the future leaders of this Country.  I am thankful for their care and help in my case and for their service to our Nation. 

The high ground is getting closer.  I'll see you there!
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Friday, June 6, 2008

D is for Dunce and for D-Day

Last post,
"Knock 'em dead?"
I was toast;
Few read.

Lesson learned,
Be concise;
Elsewise spurned -
Not nice...

Keep it brief,
Make it charming.
Bears bring grief
And so does warming.

In a rut
Come Monday;
My neck cut.
Please pray.

With relief
To reach high ground
I'll be real brief
Next time around.

Today is also the 64th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy Invasion.  

While Omaha Beach rightly receives most attention due to casualties, the Rangers at Pointe du Hoc achieved a feat of arms almost unparalleled in military history.

Of the 225 members of the 2d Ranger Battalion who, under fire with grenades dropping on them from above, scaled the 100 foot high cliffs between Omaha and Utah Beaches, only 50 remained fit to fight two days later.

Although the coastal guns they sought were not in the fortifications on the cliffs, the Rangers found and destroyed the guns, thus completing their mission.

High Ground.  The Greatest Generation, indeed.