November 1, 2017

Last Day In The States

A quick catch up...

When I last posted here our son and his wife were visiting.  Alex and Kana left on August 31.  We spent their last day in the states in San Francisco prior to their red eye flight back to Japan.

We did some of the usual touristy stuff:

                                                drove across the Golden Gate Bridge

                 walked all over Golden Gate Park seeing flower gardens and other beautiful spots



       took a photo at the mermaid fountain in Ghirardelli Square, oh and bought chocolate :-)



                               then ended the day at Boudin Bakery with a delicious dinner

Somewhere in between all of that we went to Pier 39 for some souvenirs.  Needless to say, my FitBit step count set a new all time high record that day!

It's been crazy around here since they left.  We just got back from almost a month away.  We left with Roamin in tow and returned with Raven in tow.  Stay tuned...
 

September 16, 2017

Solvang, Family Time & Rainier

Solvang is one of those places in California that I've heard about but hadn't ever been to.  Until now.

Ron and I had been hired to repair a playground slide in the neighboring city of Lompoc.  We didn't have other repairs in the area so this was originally going to be a quick overnight trip.  Not worth towing Roamin again :-(  Then I saw that Solvang was nearby :-)  I booked a hotel right in the middle of town.  They accept dogs so Rufus joined us on this outing.

Our first night there we arrived late in the day.  We were still anxious to see the town in all it's Danish splendor.  We took a midnight stroll through the neighboring streets.  There was a bakery nearby that makes pastries from scratch.  We knew we'd have to go there when they were open.  The street cleaners were the only ones out, besides us.

The following day we made the necessary repairs returning late in the day.  We decided another day to relax and stroll the town was a must!  We went for pastries and saved them for the next morning.  That was tough!

After lunch we walked down some of the streets.  So pretty there.  If you're in the area I highly recommend a stop. 






Our son, Alex, and his wife, Kana, were in California recently.  They stayed with friends nearby and we were able to share some fun times with them during their stay.

There is a nature park about 40 minutes away.  It had been years since Alex was there.  Kana really enjoys nature walks so it was the perfect place to spend an afternnon together.

Hidden Falls Regional Park boasts 30 miles of hiking/biking/equestrian trails, waterfalls, swimming, fishing and picnic areas.  They now operate a parking reservation system because of popularity.  On our midweek visit the system was not yet operational and the parking lot had less than one dozen cars.  Score!

We walked to the first waterfall overlook.  The water was flowing even though it was mid August.  There was no trails leading to the fall itself but just downstream there was a nice spot were we could get our feet wet.  We splashed in the water and clambered over rocks for nearly two hours before we decided to make our exit.  Still have yet to see the rest of the 25+ miles of trails...

Kana, Alex, Ron, Rene' and Rufus


everything is so green :-)



Alex finally got to see and drive his '64 restored truck.  It recently came back from the paint shop.  He and Kana were pleased with how it's coming along.  Planned projects for the truck include a spray-on bed liner, new seat upholstery, dash panel upgrades and carpet in the cab.


it took a master paint-tech weeks months to get the lettering right!

new chrome for the front



their smiles say a thousand thanks :-)

Meanwhile Rainier now has a custom industrial shell installed.  This makes it much easier for us work wise.  We're able to park our truck near the work site, leave the generator and air compressor in the back and work away.  We're glad we don't have to move it too much 'cause that new generator weighs A LOT!!




 

August 6, 2017

Day Tripping

No Rest For The Weary!!

That's how life has been for the past month or two.  Ever since my return to full work duties we've been to many locations to repair various broken plastic items.  Some work sites have been day trips.  Some work sites have been over night trips.  All have been without our home.  Roamin has had to stay in Rocklin because there weren't any RV parks nearby.  After this past week living out of a suitcase in hotels, it sure feels great to be home again!

In early July we took a day trip to Carson City, Nevada.  This was work related in a sense.  We ordered a generator and had it shipped to a store there because it isn't sold in California.  Fortunately, we live close enough to make a fun day trip.  

We decided to take the scenic route past Lake Tahoe on our way there.  Although the scenery was pretty, the traffic was horrible.  It was Saturday of the July 4th weekend.  Seems everyone and their uncle was in the area.

There were a lot of people on the beaches, a lot of people walking along the streets visiting the stores and eateries, a lot of people enjoying the afternoon sunshine.

Lake Tahoe has a shoreline of approximately 71 miles.  There is never a bad time to visit the area.  The summer months recreation includes swimming, boating, scuba diving, mountain biking, hiking and many more.  Winter activities include skiing, snow mobile rides, snow shoe excursions plus others.  It's a popular year round destination.

Our time in Carson City was brief.  After picking up the generator we needed to fill our empty tummies.  We ended up having a delicious burger at a restaurant in the downtown area.  It was once a famous hotel.  It sits across the street from the State Capital Building.  

   
While taking a brief stroll through the capital grounds and along the street I noticed something embedded in the sidewalk.  And another.  And another.  Google told me why they were there :-)

Turns out there is a self-guided walking tour.   You can find and learn about the historical landmarks with a map purchased at the visitor center or free online.  Only wish we had more time to take the walk.  Next time around.

The remainder of June and all of July found us going from place to place repairing slides, water tanks and even an auger at a food processing plant.  Sometimes we brought Rufus along for the ride and sometimes he went on a doggie vacation, meaning he stayed at someone's home and got to play with his friends :-)

The Legacy Ranch had a broken bulk head fitting on a 10K gallon tank that needed to be sealed.  We were able to repair the damage while enjoying the sounds of horses neighing in the back ground. 

before

after
nice view
We've been to Stanislaus Foods a few times.  Their augers take a lot of abuse so when they break, we're called in to repair them.  Of course we couldn't bring Rufus along on this trip.  He was visiting his friend Nash and his owner Sheri.  He didn't miss us at all since he was too busy rough housing with Nash, napping, taking long walks and lounging poolside!




Most of our playground slide repairs are out in the heat and sunshine.  We recently purchased a shade canopy.  We think it's the best $50 investment ever!  Not only does it keep us out of the sun, it keeps our work area out of the sun as well.






Usually we try to schedule our repairs around Mother Nature.  But this summer has been very hot and the work still needs to get done.  On this particular day the temperature was a whopping 108 degrees Fahrenheit.  The canopy helped, but so did the cold water :-)










We got an emergency call one Monday morning in late July.  Good thing we didn't have onsite work scheduled for the day.  A fire truck had a leak in one of it's tanks.  We told them to bring it by our shop and we'll get you back on the road.  The owner was from Montana and had been battling the Detwiler Fire in nearby Mariposa County outside of Yosemite NP.  This fire hugely impacted us because my Mom lives in the area.  She and her husband had to be evacuated for about a week.  Luckily they were able to hitch up their 5th wheel and stay at the local Red Cross shelter while Montana Fire and others worked to save their home.  Mom and Roy are safe and back home now :-)  The fire truck was repaired and was on it's way to another fire further north in Redding, CA.

heroes come in all shapes and sizes!
After we finished up with the fire truck we loaded up Red and headed out again.  This time we were back in the Lake Tahoe area.  Incline Village has a park with two play areas.  Due to the extra volume of snow they received over the winter, their playground slides were in need of major repairs.  We knew it was going to be a huge job so we set aside two work days (just in case) to complete the task.  It did take us the two full days to repair all of the damaged areas!

another beautiful work location  :-)
We did manage to find a geocache while we were in the area.  Do you remember the 1960's era television show Bonanza?  It was centered around the fictional Ponderosa Ranch located near Lake Tahoe.  In 1965 a theme park was built on land in Incline Village.  Ron was lucky enough to visit as a youngster.  I had to wait until now to visit.  The land was sold in 2004 and the new owner closed  the theme park. 

The geocache is simple enough.  Take a photo of anything in the area and it's considered a find.  Yep, we stopped by and got a photo or two.  The sign basically says No Trespassing.  All that's left are some unused buildings.  Although we did see a white truck in the yard, we didn't see any people around.

We now have the Nevada souvenir on our Geocache profile page :-)

We brought Rufus along on a few of our recent trips.  He knows the routine.  He lets us do our work and then when we finish we walk around the area for a bit and he gets to run free :-)

this grass feels good under my belly

almost done?

I see Mom, can we go run around now?


















On our last trip we brought home our newest addition to the "R Family".  Rainier is a beast!  More on Rainier in my next post.  Here he is parked next to our site in Rocklin this morning.

Rainier is a Ford F-350 dually :-)
             

June 23, 2017

Detour Ahead



I contemplated for quite a long time whether or not I wanted to publish (or even write) this post.  It is quite personal and may hit home with some readers.

We all go through "detours" in our lives.  This one just happened to come upon and hit us from nowhere.  Literally.

Friday, March 3, 2017
It isn't unusual that I have to make a second visit to the radiology department for more mammogram images, so I wasn't too concerned.  I'm one of the 50% of women who have dense breast tissue.  What was unusual was when the technician came back in the room and said, "The doctor wants to talk with you".  I have no idea how far my heart sank at that moment.  I never expected to hear those seven words today.  The doctor said he saw a formation of calcium deposits which can be indicative of breast cancer.  My mom is a breast cancer survivor.  She turns 80 this year.  She's still quite active and healthy.  She had a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy at the young age of 49.  I'm 53.   

I was asked if I could come back later in the afternoon for a needle biopsy.  Um, sure?  I was given an informational sheet and told to come back at 1:30.

If you've ever had a mammogram, a needle biopsy isn't too dissimilar.  Except that you're laying on a table instead of standing in front of the compression machine.  The two nurses were very good at keeping me calm by talking about my upcoming trip to Japan.  I'm sure they see a lot of first time patients in there.  I was given a localized shot of a numbing solution.  The biopsy went smooth.  I was out of there within 90 minutes.  Good thing it was a Friday because I was told to go home and take it easy for a couple of days.

They sent me home with this booklet.  Something I hope you never have to read!!



Now the hard part.  Waiting for the results.

Monday, March 6, 2017
My phone rang around 5:00 in the afternoon.  Dr. Khine was on the other end.  He told me I have Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, DCIS for short.  He talked with me for a few minutes and said I would be hearing from the cancer department about setting an appointment with a surgeon.  I reread the section in my booklet about DCIS.  It's Stage 0 Breast Cancer.  This form of breast cancer is localized in a milk duct and has not spread to other areas outside of the duct.    

Monday, March 20, 2017
Ron and I walk into the surgeon's office with optimistic thoughts and open minds.  Dr. Foster explains to us what DCIS is.  She shows us photos from another booklet.  I know most of this from reading my informational booklet.  Ron is hearing most of it for the first time.

She explains our next step will be a lumpectomy.  She also says that I will have a team of doctors working on my case.  They'll be meeting to discuss my case in a couple of days.

She encourages us to go to Japan and she is excited for us to be able to go abroad.  Such a nice and caring doctor!

more reading material

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Dr. Foster called.  I wasn't expecting her call.  My team wants me to go in for another biopsy.  There are two additional areas that they're concerned may be DCIS.  If the areas test positive Dr. Foster said she would likely recommend a mastectomy.  This news totally shocked me.  Thankfully she said I can wait until after our trip for the second biopsy.

Monday, April 17, 2017
We really enjoyed our vacation!!  Back to reality...  Today is my second biopsy.  Unfortunately this time it didn't go quite as smoothly as the first one.  It was likely the dose of Aleve I had taken that morning that caused my excessive bleeding from the biopsy site.  I was in compression for awhile until the bleeding stopped.  Even then, one of the nurses had to practically put all of her weight on my breast once I was turned onto my back to keep the bleeding from starting all over again.  She was worried that too much bleeding could cause complications which may prevent my surgery from taking place in a timely manner.  Good thing is I didn't develop a blood clot and I healed fine.

Thursday, April 20, 2017
I answer the phone as usual.  Dr. Foster is on the other end.  She has good news for me.  The lab results are negative.  I do not have more DCIS!!   I do not need a mastectomy.  I am elated!  Surgery is scheduled for May 17th. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
We arrive at the hospital at 7:30am.  I couldn't eat because of surgery.  Ron didn't eat because it's simply too early in the day.  Even though I am pre-admitted, I still have some paperwork to deal with.

Once that's taken care of it's off to the radiology department.  There's nothing for Ron to do but wait, so when Stacy takes me to the back room he goes home to eat.  This first procedure is a combination of a mammogram and a biopsy.  I'm seated in a chair, a pillow is placed behind me to make it a little more comfortable.  But really, how comfortable is it to have your boob squished and held in place?!  Got to add a little humor in right :-)  I'm numbed, then a needle is inserted to the point where the marker is located.  A marker was left at each biopsy site so they can find the exact spot again.  Next some blue dye and a very thin wire are inserted through the needle, then the needle is removed leaving the dye and wire behind.  Stacy puts a big clear bandage over the wire to keep it clean.  She then walks me over to the main surgery center building.

My vitals are taken and I'm shown to my gurney.  As expected, everything comes off and I slide under the sheet.  There is a space blanket over the sheet and surprisingly I don't get too cold.  I take out my Kindle and begin reading.  At some point, my curtains are opened.  Time for my IV.  Robert does an excellent job and I don't even feel it.  I can see the bed across from me.  It's a 2-3 month old baby.  He's getting circumcised.  Not sure why the parents decided not to do it at birth.  I continue reading.  Then I hear a familiar voice.  Ron has come back to keep me company for a bit before I head into surgery, which is scheduled for noon. 

Nurses come to ask me questions.  The anesthesiologist stops by to ask me questions too.  Dr. Foster comes to chat for a bit.  She asks us about Japan.  She's so glad that we went.  Ron gave her a great compliment.  He said if he ever needed surgery that she could perform, he would ask for her.

Noon time came fairly quickly.  The operating nurse releases the brake from the gurney and wheels me to another room.  I remember people coming in and saying how cold the room is.  I remember someone placing my arms in position.  Then I went out.

Surgery lasted about an hour or so.  I was awakened around 1:20.  I was in the recovery room.  Ron had gone to do errands while I was in surgery.  He was on his way back to the hospital when the nurse called his cell phone.  He had already talked with Dr. Foster and knew my surgery was successful.

More waiting time to make sure the sample taken is "clean".

Thursday, May 25, 2017
Dr. Foster calls with the most excellent news I've heard in awhile:

I'm Cancer FREE!!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017
I have two appointments today.

I meet with Dr. Foster first.  We talk for about 25 minutes about all that's happened.  When the lumpectomy sample was segmented and examined by the pathologists they did not find any cancer.  So apparently the earlier biopsy took all of the cancer out.  She is optimistic about not needing any additional treatments but she does want to see me again in six months.   The stitches are healing well and I am released for light duty (I've already been doing that for the past few days because it's quite boring just sitting around) and can resume normal duties in another couple of weeks. 

My second appointment is with Dr Sidhu, my oncologist.  She tells me that I do not need chemotherapy!  What a relief to hear that news!!  She tells me about a drug called Tamoxifen.  It is prescribed to patients for five years.  She advises me that the benefits versus the side effects do not make me a good candidate for the drug.  More good news!  She can't advise me about radiation.  She makes me an appointment with a radiation oncologist.

My hopes for an easy treatment plan after a cancer diagnosis are rising!!   

Monday, June 12, 2017
My appointment today is with the radiation oncologist, Dr. Peng.  The radiation department is located 'off-campus'.  The lobby seems inviting.  The receptionist offers me coffee or cocoa.  I have a seat in the comfy lounge chair while I wait for the doctor.  One of the patients says "see you tomorrow" to another patient.  I hope I won't become too familiar with her or this building...

Dr. Peng's first question to me kind of shocks me a bit.  She asks me if I'm thinking about radiation.  I firmly exclaim NO.  She proceeds to explain there are four categories which she uses to determine if a patient need radiation.  Each category gets a score of 1-3 with 1 being the lowest.  She added that patients with a score between 4 and 6 are given the option of receiving radiation or not.  Those who choose not to have radiation are encouraged to get future exams every 6 months.  My score was 5.  I opt for the 6 month mammogram option.

So that's it!  No chemo, no drugs, no radiation!!

Emotional Ups & Downs
Yes, there were definitely some ups and downs during the past couple of months.  I remember one of the low times.  It was when I was told about the possibility of having a mastectomy.  It was our son who brought it into perspective for me.  His wise words: "A lot of the trauma of having some skin and fatty tissue removed was unfairly placed on you as a little girl growing up in the modern world. Once you realize the public perception and the perceived loss in stature are both meaningless and nonexistent, you are free to understand that you are much better off, even if worst case you have to cut it all off."  Damn, how did he get to be so smart?! 

There were several moments of relief also.  Those moments occurred when doctors told me something positive: you're cancer free, no chemo, no drugs, no radiation!   

I'm one of the lucky ones, my cancer was caught early!

What Now?
Now it's time to get back to living!!  

    

Part of life for us is working.  With my recent work limitations our PolyMenders waiting list has grown.  This recent heat wave, 105+ for the past week or so, can't slow us down.  Most of the work are day trips so Roamin has been stationary.  We do have a job coming up in the Tahoe area so maybe we'll get to live in the forest for a few days :-) 

May 18, 2017

Final Thoughts On Japan

What an amazing trip!  We would absolutely love to go back!  Alex and Kana will be in Japan for another 16 months before Alex is stationed back in the US.  So we likely won't be visiting them in Japan again.

Our time there was always different.  I doubt we repeated a meal or an experience twice.

KYOTO:
I told you about Kyoto a few posts ago.  I left out a few places we visited while in the area.

we had a corner room on the 5th floor

the Kyoto rail station is across the street
The room that Kana reserved for us while in Kyoto was perfect.  It was across the street from the train/bus station.  It made it super convenient for us to plan our days travel.  Plus breakfast was included.  So that made it easier to start our day.

Our day trip included a river, cherry blossoms, a bamboo forest and souvenir shopping.

boat rentals are popular at the base of Katsura River

another type of boat rental
Katsura River is a popular destination for many reasons.  For us it was simply so we could do some sight seeing.  The river itself was full of boats.  There were two styles that we saw.  One was row boats.  The other was a skiff of sorts.  Passengers get to sit back and relax while the captain walks along the front section of the boat while propelling it forward with the use of a long pole.  He starts in the center of the boat, plants the pole on the bottom of the river and then walks to the front tip of the boat.  The repeated action must get tiring.






The cherry trees were in near full bloom.  We passed by this particular one and although it doesn't show too well in the photos, the color was quite vivid.

We continued to walk through the park and came upon  Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.  The area is crowded but we get a few good pictures.  The trees are the attraction for us.  There are temples which we don't visit.  I think we've all had our fill of temples.  The grounds of one of the temples has cherry blossom trees.  Kana asks and finds out that the flowers aren't showing much.  There is an entrance fee so we forego the stop and instead visit the nearby shops and eateries.



We bought a pair of handcrafted chopsticks for each of us.  They offer free engraving.  How could we pass that up.  While waiting for the engraving, we venture across the street and pick up some plum jelly.

we'll need to practice our newly acquired skill
To finish out our day we planned to visit the Geisha district.  On the bus ride there is when Ron realizes he isn't feeling so well.  We still walk around for a bit but we're too late for the show.

GEOCACHING:
Geocaching is a world wide activity.  There are several caches hidden near Alex's apartment.  I map them out and the one day when both Alex and Kana had to work, Ron and I ventured out by ourselves in search of a few finds.



The first on our list was magnetic and hidden on the ledge of a large bulletin board.  It was small and only contained a log sheet and a couple tiny trinkets.  We added our signature to the log and a trinket of our own.  Our first foreign cache! :-)





  


The second cache was also magnetic.  This one was called Three-Horned Dinosaur.  It took us on a walk in the nearby neighborhood.  The log and it's contents were hidden on the underside of this soda machine.  Ron was the brave one who stuck his hand under there to retrieve the find.

We continued on our cache hunting trip.  We looked high and low but couldn't find our third attempt.  Oh well, it was fun to get out and go exploring the streets of Okinawa by ourselves.  



ROCKY:
I left the best for last!!  Rocky loves his home in Okinawa.  He is always a fun subject for my camera lens.




he's pooped from all his playtime :-)