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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

     This is why we moved here. The picture shows me sitting on the screen porch, barefoot, in the sun, and tending the Christmas ham on the Traeger.


     The temperature was a comfortable 75 degrees. Cindy joined us for our traditional lasagna supper on Christmas Eve. However, she was a couple of hours late. She walked in totally spent. First of all, her computer crashed and burned, but the IT Help Desk had not gotten the word about the early deadline. Neither had the local funeral homes with all their obits.She was working on someone else's computer which was set up with a totally different set of preferences. Hassled and harried did not begin to describe her state. Eventually she wound down. This morning, after ten hours of sleep, she was her old self.
     We opened presents before breakfast. Below is a shot of Mocha admiring Durelle's new golden retriever calendar. 


     And speaking of calendars, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge Jackie Fare's masterpiece. She made a calendar composed of twelve selected photographs taken during their roamings around the great American west. It is truly a breathtaking work of art.
     I'm hanging in there with PT exercises for forty minutes three times a day. The knee is progressing fine, but the neuropathy isn't. At least I can bend the knee enough to get into a car without using the entire back seat. My mobility is not improving...I still depend on a walker.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Terrorists

     There's a well-used joke that asks what the difference is between a therapist and a terrorist. The answer, of course, is that you can negotiate with a terrorist. In my history of shoulder reconstruction, spinal fusion, hip replacement and now knee replacement I have had more than a few physical therapists. Without exception, they are kind, caring people. Why they chose a profession which has an object of hurting people I don't know.
     I returned from the hospital on 9 Dec. Here's what the knee looked like at that time.



     The honey-combed device under the transparent dressing serves to keep the staples untouched and the incision dry to heal. On the 14th the staples were removed and only steri-strips remained.



     Now it is going to be a long, tough slog to recover the range of motion and then the strength that the knee had before the bearing surfaces were replaced. It was thoughtful of Cindy to arrange a flyover to coincide with my return home.




     My recovery was helped by the Army victory over Navy in their football clash. It is very difficult to explain to a rational person the significance of that win. I am going to use many of the thoughts of John Feinstein, a favorite sportswriter, to try to capture the depth of feeling. Army had lost a well-respected defensive back in a car accident after the Rice game. So, in addition to the usual motives, they wanted to close out the season with a win over Navy to honor Brandon Jackson. As the final seconds expired, the corps stormed the field with 4,000 long gray overcoats making a churning mosh pit out of the playing field. Morna Jackson, Brandon's mother, was waiting outside the locker room. Eventually the entire team had found its way through the chaos to the locker room. What follows is Feinstein's account:

           At that moment, Jeff Monken, the Army coach, turned and saw Davis. He rushed    to her, wrapped his arms around her and they both had a good cry.

     Then, Davis accompanied Monken into the locker room. When everyone was          finally inside and the doors closed, Monken didn't ask Superintendent LTG        Robert Caslen to speak first. He didn't ask Army Chief-of-Staff Gen. Mark        Milley to speak or Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning. He helped Davis onto a    chair and suddenly, the room was very quiet.
        
     In a soft, tearful voice, Brandon Jackson's mom, a New York City police        detective, thanked everyone in the room for remembering and honoring her son;    for winning the game in his memory; for everything they had done for him and      for her since that awful day three months ago.
        
     They cheered her and then they listened to Monken, to Caslen, to Fanning, to    Milley and to athletic director Boo Corrigan, who couldn't seem to get the        tears out of his eyes in the aftermath of the victory.
        
     And then, James Gibson, a classmate of Jackson's stood on the chair and        presented Davis with a game-uniform honoring her son.


        It hurts when you lose to Navy, and a fourteen game losing streak is particularly painful. I am not an avid football fan, but I watched every minute of that game as well as some emotional post-game coverage.
       I am most reluctant to turn what is supposed to be a travel blog into a medical diary. I beg your indulgence.
     

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Little Excitement On The Sixth Floor

     This will be brief as I am doing it on the tablet. The surgery went well and I will be going home today (I think). I have to tell you about a bit of turmoil at 0200, but first I'll start at 1845 yesterday. I was beginning to notice that my pain meds were starting to wear off. Then I realized that I hadn't had any since morning. I called the nurse and got the meds, but they would take a while to kick in. For the next two hours the call button failed and the pain became more and more of a problem. I became increasingly uncomfortable and frustrated. I eventually fell asleep, but I was wrapped up in a tangle blankets and pillows. Around two AM I had to use the urinal. To avoid any spillage, I decided to sit up on the edge of the bed. Lately, at home, I have been doing that so as to avoid a night time trip to the John with the walker. At any rate, I dragged my legs over to the edge of the bed, sat up and proceeded to use the urinal. 
     Then all Hell broke loose as nurses and techs came rushing through the four foot door like a SWAT team in mufti! I had forgotten that the beds in such wards are alarmed so that patients MUST NOT get out of bed unassisted. Even sitting up on the edge of the bed triggered the alarm. At that hour everything is quiet, and the staff is lounging around the nurse's station visiting and drinking coffee. The response was impressive and even startling. As they came through the door, one of them was yelling, "What are you doing???" I said, "What does it look like?,"

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving...yeah I know it's late

     Cindy did ask a couple of her unattached coworkers to join us for Thanksgiving. Both declined, so we stubbornly put together a traditional New England version for just the three of us. There was no brining of a large, specially ordered, fresh turkey; just a nine pound Butterball with some good poultry dry rub. The Traeger made it easy, and the remote wireless thermometer made it even easier.


      We ate at two because Cindy had to work. Durelle's stuffing was done in the oven instead of the turkey. We had butternut squash, a green bean casserole, boiled onions, mashed potatoes, cranberry jelly and lots of good gravy. Much later there was pecan pie.  As seen below, carving a small bird is more difficult than a larger one.


     You must hold your tongue just so. Behind the scenes, while the turkey was resting, there was gravy to be made, potatoes to mash, etc.


     We were really more organized than we looked. And the meal was just fine. We have much to be thankful for.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Update

     Time for an update, but first, how about a few shots from the archives? Certainly my recent shots would offer little or nothing of interest. Below are a few shots of the surf breaking against the rocks at Schoodic Point.






     Would you believe that those were taken at low tide? OK, now that I have your attention, it's back to the more prosaic update.
     The check for next summer at the Moorings has been mailed, and we are looking forward to another fun summer. I only hope my mobility issues don't stand in the way. After five years of near dormancy, my peripheral neuropathy became far more aggressive this year. Instead of just annoying my feet, it has moved all the way up to my thighs with tightness, weakness, and a dull ache. Compounding the problem is my arthritic right knee which will be replaced on 30 Nov. That goes along with my spinal fusion this past March and the right hip replacement last year. In just a few months I went from occasionally needing a cane to being totally dependent on my walker. 
     As you can imagine, the division of labor here has drastically shifted. I still do a lot of the cooking, although safely perched on a new kitchen stool. Standing unaided only lasts for a short time. Although I still could, I am not driving. Someone else, probably son, Mark, again will have to drive the bus to Maine and back. It appears likely that, instead of flying back from SC to NH next October, Mark could drive my '86 Corvette back. I'm not using it. There's no Beefeaters in the house as I have given up the evening martini. My less than dependable balance needs all the help it can get. I do have a couple of fingers of JD after supper, however, when the day's activities are done.
     I do spend a good deal of time in the recliner if it is not otherwise occupied.


          Mocha likes my chair, too, but she happily relinquishes it when I approach. It is nice to have a golden around the house again.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

An Unfrightening Halloween

     As is my custom at Halloween, I lurked...camera ready...in one Adirondack chair while Durelle handed out Snickers bars from the other. We saw very few teenagers at our house or at the neighbors. Most of the Trick or Treaters were pre-school to elementary school. They ranged from this age...


     to this.


     Almost all of the pictures were candid, but there was one posed.


     It was a perfect evening for Halloween: low 70s and low (!) humidity. This is a shot looking north up Chimney Swift.

     
     I saved a couple of dozen out of fifty some shots. I'll include just a few of them here. If there is a theme here, it is that these are cuter than the usual critters I shoot in the back yard.





     You'll notice a gender gap among those that like to dress up and go door to door. Here's a couple from the minority.



     We saw no evidence of any pranks. Does that say that the current generation of youngsters is better behaved than ours? At least in this middle class neighborhood, I guess it does. I'l close with a couple more.



          All's well in Hanahan, SC.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Day Trip for post # 700

     Cindy likes to save some vacation time in the Fall to do nothing major...just a little something each day in South Carolina. Except for transits on I-95, neither of us have spent much time away from the coast. I did have a few trips to/from Ninety Six as a volunteer driver for a cancer patient undergoing a clinical trial at MUSC in Charleston a few years ago.


     Cindy had read about a site on the National Register of Historic Places commemorating the Revolutionary Battle of Eutaw Springs. Concord/Lexington it's not, but it was the last major battle in the Carolinas just six weeks before Yorktown. In early 1781, MG N. Greene was attacking the fortified, British-held, village of Ninety Six. As British reinforcements, under Col. A. Stewart, approached Ninety Six, Greene headed north into North Carolina. When the reinforcements withdrew toward Charleston, Greene returned and encountered Stewart's near Eutaw Springs. On 8 Sept. there was a pitched battle with musket and bayonet between equally matched foes of about 2,000 men each. Gen Francis Marion commanded the infantry forces for the Continental Army. Although the British won the day, they still were forced to withdraw to Charleston having lost a quarter of their force. The British "Southern Strategy" was in ruins and they were confined to three weakened strongholds: Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah. On 19 Oct. was the decisive victory at Yorktown.


     We wandered around the place on the southern shore of Lake Marion and absorbed an assault of voracious swarms of mosquitoes. I can truly say that I left some blood on that battlefield. Having now "Been there...done that", we drove to Holly Hill, the home of Yankee left fielder Brett Gardner and Sweatmans Bar-b-que.



     You should notice a few things in the pictures above. The place has been open for nearly forty years while only being open two days per week. It is an old, metal roofed home with some repairs needed..except that the repairs would undo the ambiance. The picture is taken across the hood of my '86 Corvette. The perceptive reader will note that I took the picture from the passenger side. They serve buffet style with no doggie bags allowed. It is $12.00 for one pass through the line and $15.00 for all you can eat. As you'll see below, it's a paper plate/plastic fork sort of place.


     Again, a perceptive reader will notice the absence of tomato based sauce. Here the barbecue sauce is mustard based. Both camps have their fierce aficionados. This was very good, but I still prefer Tim and Kansas City. When we told the hostess where we were from, she said that she had customers that made the hour+ drive up from Mt. Pleasant every weekend. Tourism literature affirms that this is one of the best places to find the authentic Carolina Barbecue.
     As you saw in the title, this is the 700th time I have posted to this blog. It has covered an eclectic set of adventures, large and small. To those of you readers who have followed through most of it, I offer my thanks and appreciation.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Miscellaneous Topics

     This morning Durelle was out in the back yard doing some minor yard work, and Mocha was with her. In a few moments, while Durelle wasn't looking, the dog disappeared. She yelled in to ask me if Mocha was in with me. She wasn't. I soon spotted her in our next door neighbor's yard with which we share a four foot, wooden picket fence. As Mocha was nosing around, she discovered that a pair of pickets were loose at the bottom, so she pushed them aside and went exploring. We retrieved her and put her inside while I repaired the fence. Does she look contrite?



     I don't think so, either. By the way, we have subsequently learned that her name is not related to color. Rather it is an amalgamation of her parents' names: Moose and Dakota.
     While she was out back, Durelle took a picture of a blossom on our local weed that we have repeatedly cut down. The plant is locally called a Confederate Rose. The Latin name is hibiscus mutabilis



      Another local critter showed up on our side of the pond this time.





     I took the picture from ten to twelve feet. I estimate that he is a six footer or perhaps a little more. These guys are another reason that our yard is fenced.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Meet Mocha

     Not only are we back, safe and sound, but we have a new golden. Below is a shot of Durelle and Mocha as they met for the first time.


     This is the passing of the leash from Sharon to Durelle. The other lady in the picture is our neighbor, Vanessa, who arranged the match. Sharon is moving into an apartment that does not allow dogs. Mocha is ten. Durelle spent some time with her in the back yard. It took her an hour or so to finally relax.




     We got home Sunday. The governor said wait until Monday, but we were in the middle of a congested I-26 eastbound. We had no damage. Matthew went easy on the coastal properties (relatively speaking), but the rivers are swelling over their banks even pretty far inland. Mark did a great job of driving the bus here, and with both Cindy and Mark working, the bus was unloaded in less than a day. Durelle and I take two or three days.
     We are starting to catch up on Doctor's appointments. I see my neurologist next Thursday. It's clear to me that my neuropathy is getting worse. I am looking forward to finding out what, if anything, can be done.
     Here's one more shot of Mocha.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Nearly Home

     We have hunkered down in a large KOA in Wytheville in southwestern Virginia. We will proceed straight south through Charlotte on I-77. In Columbia, SC we will pick up I-26 eastbound into Charleston. We thought we might be able to sneak in behind the storm on Saturday, but we chose to play it safe and wait until tomorrow. Mark has done a great job of chauffeuring this bus. Here we are in a convenient pull-through site with full hookups. It has enabled us to relax and deal with a lot of NCAA football as well as several loads of laundry.


     We plan to get home tomorrow with a drive of 325 miles. Mark's scheduled flight back to NH is on Tuesday morning. He does not know yet if the hurricane will have rescheduled it. A wonderful ancillary benefit of Mark's driving us south is the many hours of visiting time that are normally so hard to come by.
     So, what is the status of my knee? The arthritis makes it very painful to transition from sitting to standing. Once up, I can maneuver around pretty well with a cane. The neuropathy, which has degenerated this summer, makes walking with balance difficult. And the spinal issues make it difficult to stand for any length of time. The three of those afflictions combine their overlapping symptoms to reduce my mobility to nearly zero. I'll be seeing an assortment of doctors over the next month to see what the options might be. I really have no intention of turning this into a medical blog, but I will keep friends appraised of my status from time to time. Meanwhile, I'll insert another picture of our ten year old Allegro bus which turned 61,000 miles yesterday.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Pause for Matthew

      We have paused in our son, Mark's, driveway as we wait for hurricane, Matthew, to clear out of the Charleston area.


     The current plan is to leave the Nashua area tomorrow, do a couple of 400-mile days and get within a day's drive of Charleston. Then, depending on the weather, we will head home on Saturday or Sunday. He has a ticket to fly back Tuesday. Although the storm has slowed, it is making a welcomed right turn away from the coast. We have full tanks of water, fuel and propane; so we are completely flexible. We will end up with a pleasant, three-night stay here instead of the planned two.
     Of course, Durelle got another canine fix with their dog, Leo.


     The trip to Nashua from Maine on Monday was a different experience riding in the passenger seat. I did get to take a few foliage shots through the windshield while moving. Mark was very comfortable with the driving experience.




     We recognize how fortunate we are as retirees with a motorhome. We can adjust our schedules to work around natural disasters with ease. AND we have a son to do the driving when it is required.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Comin' About!

     There is an 85 year old windjammer called the Timberwind that offers day sails and Sunset cruises out of Belfast harbor. We have never done it but many have. Friday evening we were observing the end of the day and of the month, and we watched the vessel come out into the bay and turn around to return to dockside. It is not carrying a full load of passengers as it was earlier in the summer.

     It is a short trip out into the bay where it turns around and heads back to the dock. From where we sit we cannot hear the classic command, "Prepare to come about", but we can see it happen.





     And there we are heading home. Speaking of heading home, Mark, David, and Brielle are here. "Let the packing, begin."