Friday, February 29, 2008

Feb. 29,

I talked with dad this afternoon and I am pleased to report that he doing well. He went for a short trip to the store, more to just get out of the house than to buy anything important and he sounds great. The "high noon" portable pump medication swap is becoming less stressful as Joanna and Utah continue to fine tune their daily routine.

After nearly a month in San Francisco and the long hours sitting in dads hospital room being home again is a little strange. Although there are many things I need to do I find myself sitting around doing nothing. There are many extraordinarily difficult things we do in life, some we are forced into still others we force ourselves into but leaving dads house, something I do every spring, was the most difficult that thing I've had to do. We say good bye to people every day but when you say good bye to somebody that you might never see again the words good carry with them a heavier feeling. I remember sitting in his living and asking him if there is anything he needed to talk about his reply "no" mine was the same, we had both cashed in our markers long ago. But I am lucky, I'm lucky, not only because I had the chance to spend the last month with dad and Joanna during this difficult time but that I have - after being apart for long expanses of time - had the good fortune to spend the last several winters on the road with Bruce? Utah? Dad. It made saying good bye as simple as saying I'll see you later. I'll see you later, four such simple words yet words because of our recent past say so much and carried with them so much significance. It was beautiful moment.
I am truly lucky and ever time we do see each other in the future will just be mustard on the hot dog...... I don't like cake.

Poem From Christine

UTAH in the Hospital

There was flapping in the hallway
screeching in the lab
plastic cock-a-roach a’ crawling
amongst the food so drab.
Utah was a’ wailing
strummin’ on the lines
of IV tubes and catheters
in hospital ragtime.
He’s carrying his rubber nose,
a bit like Doctor Patch,
organizing patients
with laughter and dispatch.
He isn’t wasting any time
he’s using every second
to learn and live and glorify
because he’s always reckoned:
Whatever mystery unfolds
be it hell or heaven
roll the dice and shout aloud,

“Seven Come Eleven!”


The Seattle Labor Chorus, Seattle Folklore Society, KBCS Community Radio, RiseUp! Productions present:

A Benefit Concert for

Utah Phillips

Sunday, March 9, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.

University Unitarian Church 6556 35th Avenue NE - Donation $20

For over 40 years Utah Phillips has traveled this country using songs and stories about working people, their struggles, and their triumphs, to remind us of how deep and how strong our collective history runs.

On March 9, the Seattle folk music community will come together to support Utah and his wife and help raise money for his medical expenses. Performers include Fast Rattler, featuring Utah Phillips’ son Brendan, Citizens Band, Rebel Voices, David Rovics and the Seattle Labor Chorus.

The "Golden Voice of the Great Southwest" has been described as a raconteur extraordinaire, a radical historian well-versed in the sorrowful details of the bloodiest social justice struggles of the last century, a hobo, and one hell of a musician whose songs can break your heart and bring your blood to a boil.

Sadly, Utah Phillips has recently been forced to quit performing due to a respiratory condition that causes severe disturbances in breathing and debilitating heart irregularities.

Fans and friends have begun a grassroots fundraising campaign. Benefit concerts are popping up across North America as the folk music community comes together to help one of their own, one who has done a lot for his community over the years. Concerts have already been held in Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Toronto and Winnipeg.

The University Unitarian Church, 6556 35th Ave. NE will host this concert, starting at 7:00 PM. Tickets $20. All proceeds from this event will go to Utah to help off set medical expenses and pay bills. Come and help us to celebrate a new beginning for our old friend. For more information contact the Seattle Labor Chorus at 206-524-7753 or online:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Feb. 28 Homeward Bound

The noon time med swap went without a hitch. Nicholas my step brother is going to drive me to Reno so I can take the train home. If the train runs on time it's an eleven hour trip back to Utah.
It may seem like a long time when I could fly home in an hour or so but to be honest I need some down time to decompress. Dad is doing well, everyone has been very considerate in giving him some space so we could figure things out over the last few days. I wouldn't consider things normal, but this new stage of dads life is definitely manageable. I get the feeling in talking to the doctors that not many people have this kind of pump setup for long term injection. These pumps are mostly used to administer antibiotics continuously for a few months so there is not a lot of data on long term use. We are not worried, forging new territory is nothing new for Utah.
I'll write tomorrow from home .

Feb. 27, ? Late

It's been a long month and I am preparing myself to go home tomorrow, today? It's late and I am re reading through the comments over the last few days, there is one constant, Molly Fisk. When we started this journey several weeks ago it was Molly that suggested some one start a blog, so I did.
Thank you Molly! thank yo all and goodnight.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Feb. 27, Lunch Time

The IV bags of Melrinone administered by the the pump on dad waist should last 24 hrs. so at noon every day Joanna must hook up a new bag to the pump and swap out the pumps batteries. The first few times can nerve racking to say the least. So at five minutes of noon when the pumps alarm went off everybody jumped. Turns out the bag was just empty and we went ahead and did the bag swap a few minutes early.......... no worries all is well. The company that supplies the drug will adjust the future bags accordingly. After a few days of going through new procedures and nailing down a solid routine we should achieve even keel.
For dad being home again is a huge relief. I vividly remember driving to San Francisco nearly a month ago and our conversation along the way. I could tell by the tone of dads voice he was fearful of not seeing his home again. We are all relieved to put that chapter behind us and look forward to writing many more. We are happy , delighted and comforted that all you have flipped a ride on this slow rolling train with us even though none of us know where it's headed.
I do plan to keep this blog current as we travel down the road and far into the future. In addition to keeping you updated on Utah's ongoing health condition I think it's a great way to share stories and ideas and help folks plug into the events communities and organizations around the country are planing to benefit Utah.
If any of you have info on such things please post it or send me an e-mail.

Feb. 27

Good morning, dad slept well and is up enjoying the day.
A quick note, I know dad is home and he has many, many dear friends that want to talk to him and wish him well but at the moment I think he needs a few days to figure out his new routine. He will be taking 13 different medications two and three time a day in addition to the pump Joanna will have to replace the iv bag everyday. This needs to be the primary focus for the next few days. To be blunt if dads pump stops working so does he. Utah also wants to see and talk with everyone, Joanna and I have to tell him the same thing, one thing at a time. Normally the nurses come in very couple of hours to administer the meds, Joanna does this now, the times are very specific because of the number of meds he needs throughout the day. I hope everyone understands.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Greetings from Nevada City Feb. 26,

Utah is home!
The trip back to Nevada City was uneventful, dad did very well. Before the parking break was set he walked in the door and promptly took up residence in his favorite winged back easy chair an began roasting himself in front of the fire. He spent the remainder of the evening resting an sorting out the various medication that accompanied him home. His next few days will be spent devising a daily routine and getting acclimated to his new lifestyle.
I can only imagine what the ride home must have been like for Utah. After spending nearly a month in the confines of his hospital room with very little visual stimulation and only a drab green smock for clothing to being suited up and braving the California freeways with the country side rushing by, it must have felt liberating, familiar and yet unsettling.
All in all, for now life is good and we enjoy every minute.
See you tomorrow.

Moving Day - Feb. 26,

Today is the day. As we speak the doctors and nurses are making the necessary arangments to discharge dad. At 10:00 we will receive the last of the training on the mobile pump system that dad will be plugged into by way of the Groshong port installed in Utah's chest. The pump will provide a constant supply of a drug called Melrinone. After the training and the customary two hour wait for a hospital wheelchair we will be on our way.
I will go into more detail later when we get home. For now you all can take comfort in knowing Utah is doing well and headed home.
Thank You

Monday, February 25, 2008

Feb. 25, Nightcap

Utah is currently sorting through a portion of some unidentifiable off white meat and boiled potatoes. His day went well, the only glitch in his days are the coughing fits that begin around 4:00 in the afternoon and last an hour or so. The fits are more annoying than any thing to worry about. We are still on schedule to home go tomorrow.

Upon dads returning home I would like some input on the future of this blog. I do keep in close contact with dad and I can update the blog daily or weekly, I am happy to do so. I will leave it up to you all, I look forward to your feedback and opinions.

Feb. 25,

Utah continues to make headway towards his going home. Instead of arising early he slept until 8:00, the coughing that has kept him up at night has subsided and his spry wit has returned. The doctors will make their rounds at 5:00 p.m. but the word on the floor is that he will be going home tomorrow! Currently he is roaming the halls with Joanna. If he is lucky the door to the physical therapy room will be open, the room has a fantastic view of the bay, stretching from the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz Island.
Thank you, everyone, for the offers of transportation for the ride home. Thankfully because dads condition has so greatly improved I don't think the ride home will be much of an issue. He likely will be most comfortable in his own car. He has come a long way, last week it looked as if there was no end insight and we not even talking about the possibility of going home to actually making plans to do it ( simultaneously everyone please knock on wood )
I have go, I need to track him down so he can take his lunch time meds.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Feb. 24

Utah has spent most of the day sitting in a chair, reading and watching a little television. This is a welcomed change from the last few weeks and spending most of his days in bed. The nurse drew a blood sample around two and dads electrolyte levels have not fluctuated for the last couple of days.
When the doctors make their rounds dads room visits are shorter and noticeably more upbeat. For dad, returning home to his extended family and friends will be the best medicine of all. I take comfort and pleasure in knowing that when I to leave and return home to Salt Lake City and the every day realities of life, dad will remain in the hands and hearts of so many friends and comrades in Nevada City and around the world.
Thank You

Feb. 24,

We arrived to the hospital with great anticipation. We were pleased to see dad sitting up in bed soaking in the view from his window as the rain and the wind swept in over the city. He was preparing himself for the day. His first stop was the exercise room. He managed five minutes on the exercise bike and ten minutes on the treadmill. His morning blood test was also very encouraging, his electrolyte level remains constant and he looks great. I honestly feel we may be home early in the week.

Last night Joanna and I enjoyed a very nice crepe dinner at a place on Valencia. We were joined by Nicholas and Ian, Joanna's two sons, my two step brothers, and Mary, Ian's lovely and thoughtful wife. It was a very nice diversion from our normal routine. We did receive a number of great suggestions for diner, hopefully we can save those for a more leisurely trip to San Francisco. Ian and Mary brought with them many fine treats. Perhaps the best was the Whoppi Cushion that we quickly put to use. When we eventually left dads hospital room for dinner. As we filed out of the room I deftly slipped it under his sheets before he got into bed ( I learned from the best ) Later as we sat around the table enjoying dinner we all laughed at the thought of him jumping into bed and the smile he must of had on his face.
When you can bust out the Whoppi Cushion you know things are getting better.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

evening Feb. 23,

The best way to sum up the day is to simply tell you that Utah has now started using his trusty plastic cockroach on the unsuspecting nursing staff. Those who know dad well know what I mean.
He has had a good day. We now look forward to the mornings more than ever.
Good Night

3:00 p.m Feb. 23,

Dad has finished his lunch and is talking to Chris Dunn. I think dad is doing another podcast for his web site. It should be posted later today. The doctors have finished their daily rounds and are very pleased with the steady progress Utah has made over the last couple of days. On Monday we will get the last of the training on the portable pump dad will be using at home and hopefully go before the parole board soon after.

I will post an update before we leave the hospital.

Feb. 23,

Yesterday turned out to be dads best to date. Joanna and I were anxious to get to the hospital this morning. We were hoping today would be the turning point we all have hoped for. When we arrived Utah was sitting up in his bed side chair reading the paper and informed us he had already taken a short walk and made use of the hospitals treadmill. Shortly there after one of his many doctors said his Potassium level - for the first time since he arrived three weeks ago is normal! Wow. It looks as if the pharmacy has finally been able to formulate the right combination and dosage of medications. One of the major factors in his turn around was when one of his doctors theorized that the Ambien he has been using to sleep was actually storing up in his body and that my have been the reason he has been so groggy and short tempered lately. I couldn't agree with here more. It didn't work, he was only sleeping a small portion of the night and would wake up every hour and then dose back to sleep. The morning has become the big test. Dad has had several good days but the good days have never carried over. So , yes, I think it is safe to say we can start to use the H word ( home ).

I know this comes as good news to all of you and I will update the blog more frequently as we navigate through the next few days.
Thank You

Friday, February 22, 2008

Feb. 22,

After three weeks in San Francisco there are some basic needs you can no longer avoid. It is very easy to neglect everyday chores like doing your laundry and slowly you run out of the travel sized everything you hastily crammed into your luggage for a spontaneous short term trip that shapes itself into something vastly different. We adapt.

In the last six months I have become all to familiar with hospital life . Dads current stint in San Francisco was preceded by the three weeks my mother Dianna spent in the hospital in early August for stomach surgery. The doctors removed a bleeding ulcer they could not control with medication. That was followed by dads trip to Davis in September for a procedure to improve his heart function that obviously was unsuccessful. Then in October My very patient wife Bobette under went a surgery that would keep home bound for six weeks.

January ushered in the new year and I hoped that the passing of 07 would take with it the health cloud that hung over our family. But no, early one morning we found ourselves one again in a hospital emergency room comforting or son Brendan who had suffered several seizers earlier in the morning. Two weeks later I found my self in San Francisco with dad and Joanna.

I bring up this sequence of events only because I am constantly amazed at a persons ability to adapt to things beyond their control. Trials like these force one to slow down and bring different priorities into focus. The past three weeks in an odd sort of way have been very therapeutic for my self. I have once again been able to restore a trait that I prize highly - PATIENCE - a trait often smothered in the pace of modern day life.

To be honest Utah had a very difficult day yesterday. The amount of Potassium he is administered tends to make his stomach upset and of course when his stomach is upset he loses more fluids and with the fluids goes Potassium. To control the upset stomach the doctors give him another medication. We now have a dry erase board with a column dedicated to medications. It's the only way can keep track of them all. I feel that part of the problem in his going home is how long a drive it is to Nevada City from San Francisco. In the event something were to go wrong on the way home it would be difficult to treat. For now he is content to stay here and get well enough for the road trip home.

Today he does feel much, much better and finally his Potassium level is up. Currently he is sitting in the family room reading the paper and intends to attempt the treadmill. His condition varies so much from day to day and today it's good.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Feb. 21,

Utah's day has been pretty good considering, not much to report, I'm not always sure if that is a good thing or a bad. It just is what it is a day of small steps when what are really in need of are big ones.

Dad is currently sitting up in bed glued to the television watching The Incredibles. The doctors have yet to make the daily rounds so we don't know what the last batch of blood tests have to reveal about the ongoing electrolyte battle. We do know he continues to take massive amounts of Potassium. It's been a long haul and we continue to be optimistic that we will be home soon. thanks for hanging in there with us.

So, does anybody have any recommedations for dinner on a dime around Van Ness and Geary other than Tommy's, Tommy's is great but Joanna and I could use a change.

Noon Feb. 21,

Dad is sitting up enjoying ( he is becoming accustomed to hospital chow) his lunch. The doctors have switched him back to the IV form of Potassium to raise the level more quickly. It may seem as if the same story is repeating it self from day to day and in a way it is. Utah is, sitting up more, walking more, doing all of the things he needs to do to get himself in shape to go home.

The doctors are currently in the room and dad describes his mood to them as....CHIPPER.
We know the doctors and nurses are trying in every way to send dad home but until his electrolyte level is stable the doctors are not comfortable with releasing him.
We continue, as part of our daily routine to read to him from the blog and share the e-mails people have sent. Please understand, I wish I had the time to respond to all of the e-mails and make all of the phone calls I should, but for now I can't. That was one of my thoughts behind the blog, we wanted a way to talk to everyone at once and to give everyone the same info. Please do keep sending e-mails and pictures, we do read them all and will respond when we can.
Dad is now upright and we are going go for a walk and explore the hospital.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Word from Joanna

Hellow and Ha HAAA!

Having shown me how to type something into his blog on this gonkulating machine located in the nurses' lunchroom, Duncan little suspects that I am now adding my own bit and piece to his mighty tome. Like Bruce, I'm dramatically unsmitten with modern gadgetry, but I just read much of what's been written here and am moved to thank everyone on his behalf, especially Duncan, so kind, patient, and loving.

This is our twentieth day here in the best of all possible hospitals, and, yes, we're counting. Our spirits ebb and flow, but we're always inspired by the skill of his doctor, Ernest Haeusslein, and everyone else on California Pacific's staff. It's a huge blessing to know that Bruce is in such talented and gifted hands, especially when we leave him at night.

Well, just when I'm warming up, the nurse has called me in to take my first lesson in what will become my new career: nursing. I've already been practicing putting on the thin little white sterile gloves without contaminating them. One nurse assures me that that's the hardest thing I'll ever have to do. May it be so!

Bruce has been getting rather . . . what he calls silly, especially in the evenings. Think of him making his way down the hall, hospital smock flapping, IV tree snapping and clicking, entourage swanning in his wake, singing "Gaudiamus Igitur" softly to himself.

He's gone though an awful lot, but now light shines at the end of this tunnel. Let us therefore be glad.

For now,]

Utah's Modest(?) Proposal Regarding His Retirement

Dear Friends,

Well, this is it; I finally decided to retire. What normally happens when one retires? Gardening? Eating rubber chicken at the senior lunch? Traditionally, no. Tradition demands a gold pocket watch. I have no expectation of receiving same from any particular individual or organization, since over the years I have worked for so many different people. Therefore I leave it up to you, dear friends, to invent a marvelous yet subtly nuanced campaign to acquire one without being burdensome in the slightest to any single person or organization. Something clever, bordering on, but not invading, bunko. A lottery? A treasure hunt? I just don't know.

Let's establish an outer limit. I do not want--I repeat, I do not want to provoke anything approaching a felony . . . as, for instance, with a Hamilton DTI railroad watch. The Detroit Toledo Irontown was Henry Ford's railroad. His engines and rolling stock were immaculate; his pocket watches, labeled Hamilton DTI, were calibrated once a day and kept overnight in a hermetically sealed cabinet. No, dear friends, lust resides not in my nature. But we shall moderate from there.

So I pass the problem along to you, that together we may eventually wallow in the joy of its solution. Once we have the watch (stem-wind, old, not electric, preferably with cover), I may truly say that I am retired.

Then, and only then, will we have the customary banquet. It will take place in a remote down-at-the-heels Odd Fellows Hall. Its fare will consist of the following: appetizer: limp shrimp floating in a pool of water that once was ice; entree: very ordinary Salisbury steak pommeled to a faretheewell and doused liberally with gravy saltier than the Dead Sea; vegetables: lukewarm canned peas and R.J. Simplot potato flakes reconstituted as maimed potatoes; accompaniment: canned peaches tasting of tin. The meal will be altogether silent save for the persistent clicking of 20 or 30 sets of dentures.

Oh, yes, and I shall be there. I will be in my shabby Sunday best: a simple 40s double-breasted tweed purchased on special at the Salvation Army. When I stand up to be introduced, I will have taken off my jacket, exposing years of ink stains on my galluses. I'll also be wearing sleeve gaiters and elasticized cuff protectors. There is a very good chance I will be sporting the green celluloid eyeshade I have used for nearly half a century, as well as my ancient pearwood pen with its well-worn nib, which will be lodged firmly over my right ear. There will be a smattering of applause as I shamble forward (I can manage a credible shamble when provoked). The watch will be tendered to me. The host will part with a few audible platitudes; I'll respond with a few inaudible ones, shamble back to my chair, and the deed will be done.

Theater matters, yes. But being in command of it matters more!

The plan of action, dear friends, is in your hands. Have fun. Excelsior!

Love and solidarity,

Morning - Feb. 20,

And yet another correction. It was an article I read about Philip Barrigan, Daniels little brother not Daniel himself. I apologize for Daniels early demise.

The tweaking continues.
Dad had a fairly good nights sleep. The only issue yet to resolve before he can released to go home is the problem of maintaining a constant electrolyte level. In some people - every time they urinate they pass Potassium as well. Dad takes Lasicks to reduce the amount of water he stores through urination and he is one of those people whose Potassium level drops, so to make up for the loss of Potassium the doctors have to give him far more Potassium orally than they would like, to much to send him home yet. So as a result his Potassium level is kept constantly high to compensate for frequent urination. The problem with that is - if the kidneys function for what ever reason drops the the Potassium level inturn becomes dangerously high because the urine out put drops as well. It is all so subtle and yet so complex but the doctors do have a handle on it.

Utah did a short phone interview with the Salt Lake Tribune this morning. When the article hits the news stands I will put a link to it on the blog.

The subject of grammar on an earlier post sparked quite a debate. A couple of more thoughts on the topic and then I will shut up.

I am puzzled by the need of some people to constantly correct other people. I have my own theory but I am curious about some of yours.

A couple of years ago dad and I road trip'd to Portland to visit Genny Nelson and the folks at the Sisters of the Road Cafe. I was so inspired by the work of Genny and the rest of the folks at the cafe that on the long drive to my home in Utah, across the vastness that is Nevada, I wrote a poem for Genny and the Sisters. I purposly experimented with grammar and word placement in an effort to convey a specific feel an to paint a mental portrait of the homeless person I pictured on the cold, damp, winter streets of Portland . Boy did I get skewered. Most people could not let themselves get past the grammar and enjoy the art. The artistic types I suppose.
Thanks again

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Feb. 19,

First off I must again thank all of you for the out pouring of good vibes and heart felt words of support everyone continues to send our way. It makes each day less windy and a lot sunnier.

Dad is feeling pretty good today, but a little crabby. Now that he is feeling better and steadily making progress towards going home he has becomes a little more anxious and his patience wanes.
Day after day in the confines of any small room for what ever reason works on the mind.

The trick now that he is taking his Diuretics in the pill form instead of the intraveiniuos solution that is more potent is to adjust the dosage amount to achieve the same results. When dad was switched the the pill form he started to retain a little more water so the doctors have made the necessary adjustments to maintain his progress towards going home.

Dad is looking forward to this afternoon and a visit from Tom Noddy. Tom is one of his dearest friends and an amazing bubble magician. Bubble magic cheers everybody up.

Friends, steep some tea bags and pull up a chair, it’s once again story time.
Eight years ago we took our first winter road trip together. It was the longest amount of time that I had spent alone with my father since the old family trips through southern Utah nearly forty years ago. The trip started out cautiously, neither of us knowing what lie ahead, it was a new chapter in our lives. For the first few hours the silence of the road was sporadicly interrupted by the usual small talk, you know things like, what have been up to , hows your mom, what are your hobbies. Looking back I think we were both just trying to get comfortable and feel each other out. But the road has a way of prying things out of people and breaking down barriers. The more we drove the more we talked and the more we talked it became apparent to the both of us that we were not merely father and son, we were indeed two old friends that hadn’t seen each other in a very long time. At some point during one of dads fifteen mile marker rants and his voice started to fade, concentrating on the road I caught myself reaching over to the radio and turning up the volume not wanting to miss a word, but it wasn’t the radio, it was my dad talking to me in the car, it was all so surreal.

It was on the last day our stay in Spokane and we were having some breakfast in a small rail car diner with my sister Morrigan before hitting the road to Kennewick Or. for another show. We were all sitting around the table talking. I was reading the local rag when I came upon a article stuffed at the end of the main section ( the palace that news papers print most articles of importance) an article titled Activist Dies. I read on, it was an story about the passing of Daniel Berrigan. I asked dad if he knew Dan and before I could say anything he launched into a long story about Daniel and his great works. Any body that has listened to my dad knows that my fathers command of English and spoken word is such that once he gets started you rarely have a chance to jump in. Now I feel that I have a decent working knowledge of social justice, Civil Disobedience and activism in general and as I listened to dad speak I pondered on how I was going to tell him that Dan had died. When dads words started to slow I told him the article was about Dan and that he had passed away. When I saw the indescribable look on my dads face I realized how little infact I knew and how much work lay ahead.

So was the start of our many, many road trips together. To date we have logged more than twenty thousand miles and are still counting.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Just a quick note of apology. A couple of friends have commented on my spelling and grammar or lack there of. But after this many twelve hour days in the hospital under the conditions I feel lucky to get my shoes on the right feet in the morning. The whole thing does weird stuff to your brain it makes so many things seem unimportant.

Morning two, is this thing on.

Sometimes the whole new age internet thing, to me is so puzzling. I hen peck away at the key board, the words I labor over are transformed into code and in the wireless world, disappear into space. Seconds later the words can be pondered over by a student or shop owner in Prauge. But sometimes you never really know if anybody is listening. The whole thing brings up the bigger question, how can we as a society, appear to be so advanced but still not advanced enough to solve the problems of poverty and homelessness?
Thanks for listening I feel better now.

So, Dad is feeling pretty good this morning. He did a short phone in interview with Steve Baker on KVMR in Nevada City and he is feeling well enough to have a couple of visitors. I think if we're lucky TOM Noddy may bring some of his Bubble Magic therapy to the hospital.

By the end of today Utah should be weened down to only one intravenous medication. We are also hoping to start the training tomorrow on the use of the medication pump Utah will be using at home. Just one more step towards his going home and just one medication will mean only one pump. One pump will be much easier to manage at home.

Joanna and I are doing well. We had dinner last hight at Moki's in the Heights? Moki's is a small Sushi restaurant where our good friend Ben Pearl is currently employed, but don't ask him for directions, he's a better musician than he is a cartographer.

I've got to go.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Feb. 17,

Good morning, I did drive up to Nevada City last night for the New Old Time Chautauqua show to benefit Hospitality House Shelter. It was amazing to say the least, a true Vaudeville act, juggling, tap dancing, Bubble Magic, yodeling and singing, it was a real whip cracking bang up good time, all accompanied by the Fighting Instruments of Karma Marching Chamber Band - Orchestra, need I say more? OK I will. Everybody was so nice and although the show was for the Hospitality House one got the sense everybody came out for or Utah as well. It's easy to see why dad choose to settle in Nevada City. The folks there have done what no other city in America could do, give him a place to call home. That means a lot to all of us, thank you.

I am going to head out and make the drive back to San Francisco. I will give you an update on Utah's health as soon as I can.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

February 16,

I got to the hospital around nine this morning , dad looks very good. The doctors are starting the process of reducing the number of meds he is currently receiving. The nurses are also reducing his bottled oxygen intake so he won't have to use extra oxygen at home. His conversation is such that the nurses need to keep on their toes or they to get sucked into a long story that leaves them scratching their heads, we have all been there, it is a very encouraging sign.
He sat in his chair for a spell and listened to KUSF"S audio stream of the Metropolitan Opera on my lap top, it was a sight to see.

Dad is going to try and get in touch with Chris tonight or tomorrow and do another podcast on his web site There is a link to his web sight on right margin of this blog page.

He is feeling well enough I think I will drive up to Nevada City today for the Chtautaugua show.
I hope to see some of you there.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Dads day thus far has been far better than yesterday. His doctors brought in a specialist with the pacemaker company. He is able to hook up a machine to dads pacemaker and print out a log of recent activity. With the data the doctors can get a better idea of what is going on with Utah's heart.
I just got back to the hospital but Joanna said Utah has been sitting up in bed most of the day telling stories.
Good times or bad, people always rely on what they do the best to see them through.

His calcium is still a little low but not as low as it was yesterday. Calcium deficiency is fairly easy to treat with the catheter, because the injection goes directly to the heart. The nurse will draw another blood test within the hour and continue to keep a close eye on him. The nursing load in this unit is unusually low, only two or three beds so all of the patients receive excellent care.

If you have a little time let me tell you about the first time my dad took me fishing.
I was real little maybe four or five years old. We lived on Wilson Ave. in Surgar House, the site of the old Utah state Prison were Joe Hill was murdered in Nov.1915. We loaded up the old Micro Bus slammed the door shut, said our goodbyes, dad coaxed the old VW to life grabbed a couple of gears and we off like a shot, maybe not a shot, it was more like slow rolling loaf of bread vibrating down the highway.
well we snaked our way up the Mirror Lake Highway that runs between Kamas Utah and Evanston Wyoming to what every little kid in Utah considered their fishing Mecca, Mirror Lake.

After a short hike down to the waters edge we took a quick inventory of our gear and realized that we had every thing we needed for an epic day of fishing, rods, hooks, line, a twelve pack of Old Milwaukee, now days I think it's called Kiddie Ridlin. Our bait consisted of some worms our roosters John Wayne and Dumb Kluk had dug up in the back yard and some old cheese that was a color of green I was not yet familiar with. We had everything that is except for sinkers, you know, lead shot.

Dad scratched his head for second or two then slowly reached in his pocket pulled his hand out and there in his hand was a red clowns nose some pocket lint a plastic cockroach he uses when he's on the road with no money and three or four of those shinning metal finger picks he used to use for pick'n the guitar. Deep in thought he reached over to the tackle box, pulled out a pair of pliers and started crimping the finger picks on the fishing line just above the hook. Now I didn't know nothin about fishin , but I remember sitting there watching those finger picks glistening off the water and shaking my head thinking this doesn't look like such a good idea.

To this day I don't remember how many fish we caught, hell it didn't matter it was my first fishing trip with my father. But I do remember that every time we reeled that old line in and cast it back out that as it sailed out over the water it played the Wabash Cannonball.

Friday, February 15,

Thursday was both upbeat and difficult. I am hesitant to tell this story but through it all dad has been unflinchingly honest and open, after talking with him last night and again this morning I will.

Thursday started out better than most of the previous days. The combination of meds seemed to be working well. We went for a couple of walks, sat outside in the garden soaked up the sun and read the paper. After a light dinner his nurse Cora came in to administer his afternoon dose of medication. Dad said he started feeling fuzzy and his heart beat raced towards 200 beats per minute at that point the pace maker he has implanted in his chest tried to slow his heart beat down. when the pace maker could no longer pace his heart the defribralator part of the pace maker shocked his heart to slow it down, essentially it momentarily stops the heart, at that point dad turned blue and past out for a few seconds then the pace maker once again did what it is made to do, t shocked his heart into a normal beating rhythm and dad woke up.

After another blood test the doctors believe that very low calcium levels are what caused the episode. Once again it re enforces the point of how difficult it is to get everything balanced out from day to day. I spent the night with dad in his room. He got some rest and was eager to eat breakfast this morning.
We march on.
I will talk more about yesterday a little farther down the road, for know Iv,e got to get some sleep.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I'm curious

Every year when we traveled to Portland for Winterfolk we always stopped for lunch and ice cream at Tully,s in Oakland Or. have any of you ever stopped there?

Valentines Day

The new medication of the day, actually yesterday is working very well. Dad has more energy and was perky enough for a short walk around the unit. We walked out side to a small planter garden so he could touch and feel the foliage and rub his hands in the dirt, it's his way to reconnect himself with the outside world and disconnecting himself from the sterile one he temporarily calls home. He has just finished lunch and is now sitting up in bed reading, I'm sure a short nap will follow.

Earlier we went through the blog together so I could show him how it functions. He is very pleased with all of the comments and pictures , he is truly touched and thanks you all. We watched a You -Tube video of him telling the funniest story he ever heard. After all these years this is the first time he has ever seen himself
perform, he found himself entertaining.

Joanna took a drive back up to Nevada city to recharge her batteries and take care of few things.
she is a tremedously solid person as we all know but the long stints in a hospital taker they're toll on the strongest of people. It is very hard to pull yourself away from the people you truly love and care about but in order to help Utah stay healthy and strong we must inturn keep ourselves healthy and strong, it's not a race it's a marathon.
As for For me, while dad sleeps I am perfectly content and enjoy talking to all of you.
P.S. The best feature of the Cathedral Hill Hotel is it's proximity to Tommy's Joynt, just next door. Bar-B -Que Turkey ,yum,yum it sure bets hospital food.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pictures From Strawberry


After a lap or two around the TCCU - Transitional Cardiac Care Unit Utah is resting in his chair looking and out the window, enjoying the blue sky that meets the freshly mowed grass of the park at the top of the hill. The doctors want him to try and walk more even if it is just around the room. I know we should be more active in getting him up out of bed and walking around but it's hard when he's so tired, hasn't slept much and feels lousy. One minute he is awake and alert the next he wants to sleep. There is a learning cure for all of us. We know every day that goes by and he gets even a little stronger is a good thing and he Will be home soon.

We were talking earlier today about a trip I made with him Portland a couple of years ago. It was late January. I had just driven in from Salt Lake and dad wanted me to go to a
pot luck - anti war meeting. After a ten hour drive I was more than a little tired but I was even more hungry so I said lets go but you have to drive. On the way down to the meeting we stopped by SPD to pick up some potato salad for the pot luck. when we got to the meeting I hopped out of the car grabbed the salad and started in, dad said "hey what are you doing " what "we can't leave the potato salad in the plastic container thats crass." He pulled out a nice wooden bowl and silver serving spoon we made the swap and went in. After the meeting we went to retrieve our bowl and spoon. Not one scoop of the potato salad was gone but next to our bowl was an empty plastic container of SPD potato salad. We just shook our heads looked at each other and laughed.
Sometime the funniest of things are so simple.


Joanna and I got to the hospital around 10 a.m. it's gotten to the point we don't need to look at our watches anymore we can tell what time it is by the events of the day. Thankfully there is a shuttle that runs every 15 minutes or so between the medical campus and the hotel. Having not to worry about finding a parking place on the streets of San Francisco is one less thing to worry about.

Utah had a long night with not much sleep. The doctors and nurses are having a little trouble deriving at the appropriate medications and doses Utah needs to maximize all of his bodies functions. I don't think it is anything to be to alarmed about, the process as a whole is complicated and every patient reacts differently and requires a different combination of meds. The main thing is his kidney function is almost back to normal, thats huge in his being able to go home and the condition of his heart is the same as it has been for the past few months so the doctors continue to be optimistic.

He's awake now and going to try some lunch so I 'll sign off for now.

Thanks again

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


The procedure to implant the Goshong Catheter Port went well. The whole thing took about an hour or so. Doctor Avery is a poet with a scalpel .Utah sounds more upbeat and talkative this evening. He especially enjoyed the nightly reading of the blog.

I know I could do a search, but does anybody know where the word blog came from?

Any way, Utah thought he had a difficult day while the rest of us think he had a good day but were not the ones laying on our back in bed twenty three and a half hours a day. Mostly I think he is just anxious and unsure, we all are.

Utah wanted me to mention the New Old Time Chautauqua show in Grass Valley this weekend to benefit the Hospitality House in Nevada City. I put a link to Hospitality House on the main blog page. Please do check it out if you can. I plan on being there for the show, hopefully I will see some of you there.

Mid Morning

Utah is currently sitting comfortably in his chair talking to an friend Amigo Bob. Amigo Bob is currently doing some work in Napa Valley and just heard about dad through KVMR. We are all very glad to see him The fact that dad is able to have a few short visits is very encouraging. He is still on a steady diet of multiple drugs, remanicant of the sixties and will be getting a permanent Groshong Catheter implanted under his collar bone late this after noon. The catheter will be used to administer the medication directly to his heart by way of a small pump he will wear in a fanny pack.

It's cool, there have been posts from all over the world, France, Buffalo New York, The great folks at Righteuos Babe Records, KBOO Radio in Portland, wow! The whole thing reminds me of the old folk circles or one of Woody and Petes famous hootenannies were folks gather around sing songs and swap stories.

Speaking of KBOO, I understand the station is going through a slight reorganization. I know how you feel, until last Friday I was on the KRCL Board of Directors in my home town of Salt Lake City. KRCL is also going through some major changes but that is a topic of conversation for another time.

More to follow

Monday, February 11, 2008


One of the posts wanted me to expand on the kideney problem. This is the way I understand it. The heart sends signals to the kidneys to regulate the amount of water a preson retains in their body. Because of Utahs congestive heart codition his kidneys get a signal they need to retain more water than what is normal. The extra water settles in the legs and lungs. As a result there is more pressure on the heart and that pressure intensifies his heart codition. That problem is what promted the trip to San Francisco. His kidneys have always worked well with the exception of the last two days when his body was having trouble ajusting to the change in medications that is necessary to figure out what medication and what doses he will be on when he returns home. His kidneys will be fine it's just past of the fine tunnig process.


It looks like all of the thoughts and prayers are taking hold. We have entered a new phase, the holding pattern. Utah is continuing to improve, he took a short walk around the hospital unit and his numbers (doctors jargon) are improving as well. Now it's just a matter of waiting for all the medications to perform their balancing act. I know Ive said it before but hopefully he will be home by the weeks end.

I don't have much else to report so hopefully you don't mind if I share another short story with you.

It was another one of our spontaneous family trips through Souther Utah dad was well known for. This time we pilled in dads old green and white VW micro bus. Some of you probably remember that bus old bus very well. It was a long trip down through Bryce then down to Zion National Park over to Capital Reef and back home by way of Moab. Somewhere between Capital Reef and Moab we stopped for lunch at an old beaten down dusty, wind swept rest stop. We had been on the road for a long time and our provisions were running low. Dad ever resourceful said he was going to brew up some tasty hot dog soup. I figured on some kind of hobo gourmet delight. Boy was I wright. Dad fired up the cooking stove and threw in the last couple of hot dogs that had been floating around in the melted cooler water. After the dogs boiled for awhile he got out the dinnerware, I was puzzled, mom and dad got plates, Kay, Scott and I got bowls. I soon found out why. Mom and Dad got the hot dogs and the kids got the water that the hot dogs were boiled in. I was wright it was a Hobos delight.

Hey , listen if you want me to skip the stories I understand, but it's a nice way to pass the time.


First I must apologize for using the the F-Bomb "Frisco" I stand corrected. From this point forward I will refer to my adopted home town by it's proper name, Yerba Buena.

Utah slept well again last night and the doctors are pleased with his progress. He started the day reading the paper and after a light breakfast has dozed off again. It may seem that he sleeps a lot, he does. But he is taking so many different medications with varying side effects that sometimes it becomes difficult to define what normal is. His kidney functions are trending towards normal. One of the off shoots of better kidney function is you tend to deplete the minerals and vitamins your body has stored up which in turn leads to more medication, complicated business, it's the two steps forward one step back kind of thing. All in ll today looks to be a very good day for him.
Thanks again for all of the love and support, We can feel it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Good Evening

It' just about dusk here in Frisco, dad can see the sunset from the window in his room. That in it's self is encouraging because it means he's sitting up in bed. With his steady diet of medication he is starting to improve more rapidly. He walked around his room a little and is much more alert and talkative.

He enjoys sitting in his chair and listening to me read the comments people have posted on this Blog. He misses the one on one contact with people so hearing the kind words people have take the time to write really hits home. Thank you.

Sitting here in the room I tend to revert to the time passing technique that got me through most of my academic life, no it wasn't refers. Day dreaming, day dreaming has never failed me, it taught me what no teacher could.

I was just thinking about the first words I spoke and how I must have known my life was going to be different.

I was about two years old, yet to uttered a single word, mama, daddy,nothing. We were traveling through southern Utah, driving over Devils Backbone in our old rust red Datsun convertible. They call it Devils Backbone Because it's a high ,narrow, barely one lane road that drops of steeply on both sides. Well the car was packed , mom, dad my older brother Scott my sister Kay and a nice picnic lunch. I was sandwiched in the back seat between Scott and Kay were I couldn't see a thing. Frustrated with the seating arrangement I climbed over Kay's lap pulled my self up over the side of the back seat and peered over the side of the car at surely what was to be our fiery fate lying below. It was at that precise moment I blurted out "O Dod DAMN" The car screeched to a halt, once again silence.
I guess I just waiting for the appropriate time to burst forth with speech.

Good Morning

Following the what has now become our standard routine. Joanna and I eased our way into the day with good conversation a cup of tea and the steady diet of hotel buffet breakfast. It's very odd, when your world narrows down to a defined routine of get up, eat, make phone calls go to the hospital,blog all the the things people do every day when their loved ones are are ill, you find simple and trivial ways to break up the routine. For instance you count things, there are seven steps to each set of stairs and there a four sets of stairs , twenty eight stairs in all between the floors of the hospital. I've counted four different types of hospital beds and a million shades of wall paper. Even when driving to the hospital I find myself taking roads that I have know idea were they go just to see if they go anywhere, you get the point.

This morning dad looks well, he did get some sleep through out the night and after a bath and some chow he's ready to forge on. His improvement is slow but he is steadily improving and hopefully will return home soon. You can all take comfort in the fact that he is getting the best care anyone could ever hope for. I will add more after the doctor s make their rounds.

I have been thinking about the direction an true purpose of this blog beyond keeping in touch with the outside world . It occurred to me that, obviously I know my father and you all know my father but we really don't know each and this seems like a good way to get to know each other.

Please do feel free to post what ever you want, I look forward to meeting you all if not in person in cyber space.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saturday Feb. 9,

Utah has been sleeping on and off most of the day. Late last night he had a cathiter installed to administer the medication he will be using when he returns home.
He sends everyone his best and looks forward to getting back to work in the communtiy.
These posts may read somewhat generic or simple, but more often than not under the circumstances not having much to report is a good thing.
Thanks again to everyone for your concern and love.

Feb. 9,

I flew from my home in Salt Lake back to San Francisco late last night. Joanna and I are having
breakfast at the Cathedral Hill Hotel. The hospital owns the hotel, I think they plan to tear down the hotel and build a new med. center.
Utah sounded tired last night on the phone, tired but determined.
I encourage everyone to post comments of any kind ,dad likes the idea of keeping in touch with everyone.I will try to post some pictures and if I figure this blog thing out maybe even a video comment from dad.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Utah has been moved from his room in CCU to a regular private room. He is still receiving treatment for water retention. After a long week in the hospital doctors are still having a difficult time getting his heart to stabilize enough to send him home. Hopefully he will be resting and recuperating at home by the weeks end.
After consulting with a heart transplant team late on Thursday Utah has come to the conclusion not to pursue a transplant, the heart he has , has served him and all of us well and he wants to stick with it .
The doctors are confident with the wright combo of medication he will do well at home. Whatever the outcome he feels he has made the decision that is best for himself and we all agree.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Feb. 7,

In an effort to keep everybody current as to my fathers (Utah Phillips) ongoing health condition. I have created this blog to post daily updated info and to give people a place to post their own thoughts and comments. Thank you
Currently Utah is still in the coronary care unit were he has been for the past six days. He is under going treatment to reduce the amount of water his body is retaining. Because of his heart condition the signal from his heart to his kidneys tells his kidneys to store more water than his body normally would. The extra stored water puts excessive pressure on his heart. as a result his heart function is further reduced. Once the doctors get the edema under control and determine what meds. or combo of meds work best he may get to go home.
He misses his home, friends and community very much.

I will speak with him in a few hours and update the blog as soon as I can