Thursday, May 31, 2012

Big Day

The weekend was kind of boring.  Can you believe it?  We messed around the coach, piddled around the Jeep.  Did not much of anything.  We'd like to thank every serviceman and woman who battled for our freedom, for we appreciate it every day.

Monday all we did was go out for lunch in Sarasota and drive along the shoreline.

Tuesday we worked at Michelle's and met their new dog, Bogey.  He is also a rescue and at 8 months old is already as big as Daisy.  Sorry for the poor quality of picture - had to use our pocket camera.

Here they are together:

Daisy is four years old, and is just tolerating Bogey at the moment.  Usually she plays with all her friends on the block, but this guy is invading her territory and hogging the family.  I'm sure she'll even things out eventually.  At least the kids love him. 

Yesterday we had to get up at 5:30 to get to the hospital at 7:30 for Gary's surgery at 10:30.  Why they need 3 hours, we don't know, because we sat in a waiting room for 2 hours before they called him into Pre-Op.  First into those lovely hospital jammies, blood test, EKG and a million questions.  Then we rolled into Prep meeting with the surgeon, his assistant, two anesthetists, the OR nurse and a couple more people.  Gary's veins are pretty shot from his chemo last year, and nobody could get a line in.  They didn't want to use his port, because in case of an emergency, they would have trouble infusing fluids fast enough (it would have to go 'around a corner').  The nurse put a catheter into his port anyway, and said they would probably find a vein after sedation. 

It was now 11:30 and time to kiss him 'see you later'.  I walked with him as far as I could go, and then it was back to the waiting room.  It was jammed with people, so I went in search of some breakfast at Starbucks and then the Chapel where I hoped it would be peaceful.  It was.

The surgery was supposed to take 2 hours if they could complete it laproscopically, longer if they couldn't.  Two hours went by and on the computer progress screen, he was still in surgery.  Two and a half hours; still in surgery.  Three hours and he was still showing green - in surgery.  I was just getting a little worried, when his surgeon came in through the door and walked over to me.  He was smiling and assured me that everything went exactly according to plan.  I started breathing again. 

I had to wait another 30 minutes before I could see him in Post-Op and then only for 5 minutes.  More waiting until they notified me that he was heading up to his room.  Here he is smiling and all tucked in his beautiful room. 

And I mean nice room:  If you look out his window (behind the fold out guest bed) this is the view:

Out the bathroom window, there's a heliport (with real live action), a pirate ship (to the left) and a draw bridge (ahead).  Can't be bored here!

I finally left at 7:30 for the drive to Michelle's in St. Pete where I was staying the night to attend Lance's school award ceremony and graduation the next morning.  Whew, it was an exhausting day, but my baby is OK and not hurting too much, so I felt he'd be fine sleeping through the night.

It was a hectic evening, but Michelle and I decided to take the two Mastiffs for a walk.  It's funny how other dog walkers cross the street when they see us coming or turn around and go the other way. 

Anyhow, a gentleman and his wife were on the sidewalk and asked if we'd like to see something.  I know that sounds wierd, but what he showed us was amazing.  Climbing an oak tree near his garage was a huge, several hundred-flowered night blooming cereus.  The flowers are short lived, and this species blooms only once a year, for a single night.  This is a painting from Wiki but they were really this beautiful.   If they had a fragrance, you would have been able to smell them for miles. 

Thursday we attended Lance's Graduation and he received an award for creating and writing the weekly newspaper, the Daily Debut, all on his own.  We're so proud!  Then Brian went to work, Michelle took the kids home to change, and I went on to see my honey.  He had had a barium x-ray to see if there were any leaks or problems.  He was A-OK so we gave the Doctors an A+!  Gary was complaining, not of any pain, but just that he was H-U-N-G-R-Y.  So when the Doc came around again, he said OK, you can drink, take out the tube. 

Here's my hungry hubby (tubeless) ready to dig into some orange jello.  Mmmm, just what he wanted!  Actually he'll have to enjoy that for a few more days before he'll be able to eat solid food.

We went for a walk down the hall, Michelle and family came to visit (that was fun), they brought gifts and made cards which we hung on the walls, and then we had some quiet time, before I had my long drive home to Bella.

I turned the water back on and had some dinner and now I'm ready for beddy.  We haven't been apart since November when Gary was again in the hospital because of his blood clot, and I don't like it one bit.  But tomorrow I'm going to baby sit four kids and two large dogs just for a little while before heading back up to the hospital.  I expect Gary will be even better now that he's getting real 'food' and maybe he'll get to come home.  My fingers are crossed. 

P.S. For all your prayers and wishes, my heartfelt gratitude.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Good News

Thursday afternoon Gary had his checkup with his oncologist/dermatologist, Dr. G.  It's been two months since we finished radiation, and it's been a long road to recovery, but Dr. G. said things were looking really good.  We were still trying to decide if we wanted a maintenance drug, but we decided that it probably wouldn't be prudent to introduce any kind of drug or use of therapy to treat no disease.  Since radiation is the quickest cure and it can be used again it was concluded that if a spot came back, we would deal with it immediately so it couldn't spread like last time.  The best news was that it will most likely not come back on his face.  Hooray.  Anywhere else is so much easier to erase.  So, here's to beautiful skin!

Appointments in the afternoon always mean you wait and wait, and today was no exception.  Dr. G finally got in to see us an hour late, but we still had just enough time to walk into a restaurant to meet our dear friend, Debbie, for dinner.  We chose Bangkok Tokyo and enjoyed General Tso's Chicken, Pad Thai and Moo Goo Guy Pan (obviously a multicultural affair).  It was our first time there and it was quite good, but the company was wonderful. 

Heavy clouds were forming as we said our goodbyes and around 8 pm the thunder and lightning was non-stop until around 10 pm.  But we only got sprinkled on.  I love lightning and thunder (mostly when it's a distant storm) and like to catch a shot of lightning.  Caught this cloud to ground streak.  The thunder was impressive, too.

 The storm moved slowly all along the coast from St. Pete to Sarasota, then ran out of steam.  It was fun while it lasted. 

Friday I asked Michelle if she had experienced a huge storm, but they got mostly gully washing rain.  At least her Mastiff dog, Daisy, didn't chew up the woodwork this time.  She doesn't like storms.

They are having out-of-town company this whole weekend, so we wished them luck, and left for home.  Leftover restaurant food for dinner and a little TV completed our day.

Saturday we needed to do some errands, and our own cleaning and wash.  A new Walmart opened up the road so we gave that a once-over.  Gary likes the new carts - they don't make any noise - yet. 
Nothing much to get, but we liked the shiny floor and bright lights.  

Had ourselves a little BBQ tonight along with the gulls and mockingbirds singing together. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's A Mystery

Saturday we decided to clean the vent in the washing machine which meant finding something the right height and strength to hold it when we pulled it out.  That sucker is heavy.  The footstool to our Flexsteel reclining chair was perfect.  In order to not scratch it, we put the kitchen sink lid on top of that.  
We turned off the water and unplugged the unit. First we had to remove the front of the drip pan, then slide it out resting it on our holder-upper.  We had about 2 inches clearance on either side of the W/D and about 1/2 inch within the drip pan to shimmy it out.  Tiny fingers were needed which I have, but strong fingers were needed too, which is why Gary and I are such a good team.  Inch by inch we wiggled it out so that we could take a peak behind.  Oh, there was a small black Mag-Lite back there!  Wonder who lost that?

We removed the silver vent hose, vaccuumed it out, vaccuumed out the back of the unit at the vent opening, and replaced vent hose and the hose clamp.  We checked the black hoses and wires for wear and leaks (none) and got our 'grabber' to reach that flashlight. 

We slid the unit back into it's hole and here's me replacing the drip pan front.  I threw in a load of wash to check it and hurray, it worked great!

Gary checked over that flashlight and there was an 'M' on the end of it.  Ha - it was his that he had dropped back there a looooong time ago. 

While we were working on this project, I was baking some banana bread.  Nothing like the aroma of baking sweetbreads.  Wish we could share it with you!

Time for a little R&R.

Sunday we had another chore to do.  Last fall I had noticed some little while plastic filings at the corner of our pegboard bay.  This pegboard protects our water tanks and is easy to remove.  I wanted to find out what that stuff was.  Gary got his screwdriver and removed the panel.  This is what we saw much to our horror:

All of that white stuff was chewed up plastic.  Gary found the head of a giant ant with huge pincers, but we searched and searched and couldn't find what it was that was chewed on.  My guess is that whatever it was, it was completely chewed to the last bite.    It's scary to think that something that should be there is not.  But everything has worked fine for two years (except our engine).  Any ideas???

Well, we vacuumed it all up, replaced the pegboard and prayed a little that we messed with something we shouldn't have...

Gary had an eye Dr. appointment on Monday - everything is healing slowly and his eyelashes and eyebrows are growing back!  We worked on Tuesday, took the Jeep in to get the tires looked at again on Wednesday.  She was vibrating badly at 55 mph on the highway, and it turned out she had lost a weight on one wheel.  They took her out for a test drive, and all was well. 

Another exciting week with a nice view:

Thanks for checking up on us!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hangin' in Paradise

We did one of our favorite things last night - we had a beach sunset dinner.  It was cloudy all day, which makes for a terrific sunset, but it cleared up around 6:30.  I threw some leftovers in a cooler and we tossed our chairs in the back of the Jeep.  We decided against putting the top down on the Jeep, because we'd have to put it up in the dark when we got home.  So we just opened the back flap to let the breezes pass through our open windows. 

Lots of people were still on the beach, and the water is a balmy 83 degrees. The tide was out so we had plenty of space to stretch out.

The sun finally neared the horizon and promised a 'Sailor's Delight' sunset. 

We love our little corner of paradise, but at Barnes and Noble today I was looking at photos of other magnificent places in the country we have yet to see.  However, the powder-soft white sand beaches of the Gulf will always have a place in our hearts.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Saturday we started out at the Red Barn Flea Market for some veggies and a couple of watermelons for Mother's Day tomorrow.  Then we went home and cleaned Bella from top to bottom while I did some wash on the side.  I also completed my "Better Than Sex Cake" for tomorrow.  It involved cake, pinapple, vanilla pudding, whipped cream and toasted coconut.  Yep, pretty yummy! 

By then, I needed a clean up for my Girl's Club party.  It is such fun to talk with the girls.  It was Jean's birthday and she brought her own cake!  Delish!  There were a couple of moments where we had some belly, fall-on-the-floor, tears-in-your-eyes laughs.  Great fun.

Sunday Gary took me to Panera for a Mother's Day breakfast, and we sat for about an hour and half just talking.  Later we drove over the Sunshine Skyway bridge into St. Pete for a BBQ.  Graham (5) came tearing out of the house over to our Jeep when we arrived and said "You can't come in!  We are decorating.  Stay here."  Well, OK.  Fortunately it wasn't too long before Lauren (8) called to us to come in.   There were streamers all over the place and little pink drink umbrellas hanging from the chandelier.   Charming!
Graham basting ribs
Lauren, 8

BBQmeister Gary
                              We spent all day and evening playing and talking, blowing bubbles, looking at photos, and generally having a great time.  The ribs and corn on the cob were delicious compliments of the BBQmeisters, Brian and Gary.  I think we got home at midnight.  We hope all you mothers had a special day, too!

Henry, wishing he could play, too
Monday was a work day, but we didn't have to work too hard.  When we got home, I said to Gary that I wanted to give our neighbors half the cake we brought home, but they weren't there.  They have a 42' Holiday Rambler MH and no toad.  So everytime they need to go somewhere, they pack up and drive it.  Their toad is getting worked on in the body shop.  While I was getting cleaned up, they came in and parked their MH and wandered over when they saw Gary cleaning the love-bugs off the Jeep.  We hung out a while.  Gay has lung cancer and was interested in Gary's history at Moffitt Cancer Center.  We'll see what else we can do for them in the coming days. 

Today is also our daughter, Mandy's birthday.  I call her 'our' daughter, because she feels like it to me, even though she is technically Gary's.  She and Michelle are only 3 months apart, and this was the 34th Mother's Day that I have celebrated!  Wow.  Never looked at it like that before!  Happy Birthday, sweetie!  Hope your day is as special as you are!  And we wish we could be there with you. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Few Good Days

Wednesday was a beach day!  Everytime we go over the bridge to Lido Key, I am awestruck at the incredible beauty.  With the aqua water reaching to the horizon meeting the blue cloudless sky, it's a little bit of heaven on earth.  During the week it is usually less crowded than on weekends, and today's weather was perfect.  We set up our umbrella and chairs and cracked open our bottles of water.  After a long read and gazing into the water, it was time for a beachwalk.  Gary guards the site (hahahaha) and I walk along the water looking for treasures.  Along with a few shells, I found an old dime.  Lucky me!

Three hours later we were ready to go get cleaned up, and headed home for showers.  We did a little shopping and ended up near our favorite sushi restaurant. I heard it calling to us, so I got out of cooking tonight.  Always a good thing.

Thursday was a work day at Michelle's and today we took our Jeep in to get her tires rotated, oil changed and asked about a tow bar.  Mopar doesn't make one anymore that will fit a 2000 Sahara, and the wires that make our seats move all the way forward aren't made anymore either.  Looks like we will be needing a junkyard.  Oh, boy.  I've never been to a junk yard before!

I wish I could post some pictures, but Google says I am out of space.  Can anyone help me decipher what I need to do?  IM maybe?

Anyhow, another good bunch of days under our belt. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

That's How the Cookie Crumbles

I didn't realize it's been so many days since I wrote.  So I'll try to make this not too long. 
I mentioned that we had a decision to make about what procedure to do for Gary's achalasia.  While I was researching Thursday, Gary's Dr. E called and told him that he didn't realize how serious it was after looking at the test results again.  By then, we had decided on the laproscopic surgery, so we got the name and number of the recommended doctor, and gave him a call.  Got an appointment for Tuesday. 

We worked at Michelle's on Friday and Saturday visited friends, did wash, and cleaned out half the basement, going through every thing.  We found a few things that could go and reorganized and vaccuumed.  Gary still had enough energy to BBQ, so he's a happy camper!

Tonight the moon was the closest to the earth since last year.  It was cloudy and being in the park, there were too many lights to get a good shot, but maybe we'll catch it next year on June 23.

Sunday was gorgeous, so off to Lido Key to kayak!  It was there or Siesta Key, and because it was a little breezy, we thought it would be fun to get lost in the mangroves.  The launch area was a busy spot, but we got pumped up and on the water in 15 minutes.  A cormorant swam right over to us and under our boat coming up the other side with a fish.  Too quick for my camera.  We did get up close and personal with the little black mangrove crabs that climb over the branches. 

They're only a couple of inches big, but the young ones can be as small as my pinkie nail.  Cute!

This group was at the launch site feeding their little baby while we were 'inflating'.  And here they were with the little guy strapped to the front of his mom, fast asleep.  [The baby, not the mom.]

We were going in and out, through and under when we came upon this guy.  He was sawing a branch when we spotted him, and continued to work while we waited until he got this branch out of the way.  We introduced ourselves and he eyed our SeaEagle.  He thought we were brave to take our boat through here, and gave us a map.  The navigator in me was very grateful.  There were many people out and about on the water, so we were never in danger of getting 'lost', but I love maps, and added it to my collection.  Here's Bruce, who has been doing this for 30 years just because he loves it.  Thanks for making everyone's experience a little better and safer, Bruce!

We glided on through and enjoyed the coolness and birds, and of course, crabs everywhere.  But Gary was getting hungry, so after two hours, we headed back in.  We deflated, dried off and threw everything in the back of the Jeep.  Driving over the bridge back to town from the island with the sea breeze in our hair (the top was down) is one of my favorite things.

We relaxed with cool drinks on the patio and watched the sunset.  Another favorite thing.

Monday was a work day, and we had fun seeing all the kids as we left late planning a Mother's Day BBQ for Sunday.  There were some huge clouds to the north and south of us as we were driving home, but not a drop on us.

Tuesday we needed to leave by 8 to get to Tampa by 9.  Dr. V went through all the options again, just to make sure we didn't have any other questions.  He answered the ones he had about the surgery and we made an appointment for May 30, the earliest we could get.  The good thing is that we'll be able to play a little more in Sarasota, but the bad is that we won't be able to go as far north to visit my brothers as we had planned before we need to start work at Dollywood in July.  Oh, well, that's how the cookie crumbles.  We'll continue to enjoy living every day we wake up to this beautiful world.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A New Perspective

On the way to Sarasota I gave my hair salon a ring to see if she could fit me in, and made an appointment.  We still had a little time, so stopped in at Pleasant Lake to choose a site.  The park is quite empty so we chose a pullthru near the entrance.

We didn't have to wait long for Gary's eye Dr. C, and a close look revealed rough corneas.  Some drops later, Gary was feeling better, but the best news is that they should return to normal in a couple weeks.  YAY. 

We got some gas at Sam's and headed back to Thonotosassa in order to continue packing up for our move.  While paying the electric bill, the new manager of the resort asked if we were coming back next year.  [I really hope not, as it would only be because Gary needed Moffitt again], but I asked why and she said she'd like to hire me for the office, and Gary to lead new guests into their sites.  That was nice of her! 

The weather called for 20 mph winds and rain Tuesday afternoon, so we wanted to get on the road early.  By 9:30 we were pulling into Flying J for fuel.  It was nice the prices have dipped a little lately.  Diesel was 4.09/gal and gas was 3.68.  Back on the highway for our quick 90 minute ride to Bradenton.  The lovebugs are out again, and we ran through a storm of them.  Those little critters can take the paint off your vehicle, so after we were parked we needed to wash the front of Bella and the Jeep.  They are shiny clean again, and after we were hot and soggy, a shower felt great.  We tried the A/C again, and all is well - no rumble anymore.  Here's our new spot:

Wednesday we worked at Michelle's.  We drove over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge this time and it just reminds me how beautiful this area is.  And it's only 45 minutes, instead of an hour or more.

Thursday we ran to the store before driving back to Moffitt for Gary's throat Dr. E's appointment.  He had a swallowing test first, and then Dr. E. told us the news.  Gary has a rare (here we are again) condition called Achalasia.  It needs to be treated, but none of the treatments available are easy.  So we have to make a decision by next week.

And after THAT, we will be free to go!   I hope, I hope, I hope...