“Das leben ist bezaubernd, man muss es nur durch die richtige Brille Sehen.” [Life is wonderful, you just need to see it through the right glasses.] – Prost!

Our entry.

Our entry, with deer friendly greenery.

We have settled in. We love our mountain retreat in the Sierra Foothills. Autumn, while beautiful here, requires a bit more energy to stay ahead of the falling oak leaves and pine needles. The front yard, the large “crust-edge” of our pie-shaped property, is landscaped and imperfectly manicured. While we were away, Daniel, a Civil Air Patrol Cadet and very reliable young man, mowed the lawn and weed-whacked our defensible space. Now that we’re back, I’m the primary landscaper, as Pete is still recovering. I repotted the containers that border our Entry, but choices are limited due to our large deer population. I mow, blow and weed-whack, and I truly enjoy spending time in the yard, but I am grateful that our back yard is 100% natural. 😉 This year we needed to reseal our driveway. Steve Aiello did a wonderful job!

Patriot Day Dinner.

Patriot Day Dinner.

One of our September traditions is to host a Patriot Day gathering. Pete’s birthday, on 9/11, is no longer a cause for celebration. Instead, we invite a few like-minded friends and “brothers-of-the-fire-service” to share a solemn moment of remembrance and to enjoy a dinner on our deck. It is our way of honoring the 343 firemen (and women) who died on this day …and many since!

It is also nice to appreciate the bonds of friendship. Next September, we plan to be back on our boat and on Lake Michigan on 9/11. We’ll host again in 2020.  

Pete and Rex.

Pete and Rex ready for take-off.

Pete took to the air, with the help of Rex. His first flight was as co-pilot, but it wasn’t long before he was in the left seat as Pilot-in-Command. They flew to nearby airports for “Touch & Go” practice, and to investigate navionic instruments. It’s time to invest in new radios, but these two have big dreams and far more in mind. I see an expensive upgrade in our future. 

Loomis Basin Brewing.

Loomis Basin Brewing.

I learned that October is celebrated locally as “PlacerGROWN” month, capitalizing on all that Placer County offers, especially from farms, wineries, and breweries. I was inspired to investigate more about the breweries when I saw an issue of Style Magazine (August 2018) at a medical office. I talked Pete into a self-guided tour of some breweries last week. We started at Monk’s Cellar, Roseville, with lunch and a beer flight, then Hillenbrand (with the most scenic grounds), GoatHouse, Dueling Dogs (best decorated for Halloween), and we finished at Loomis Basin Brewing Company. It was a fun and relaxed afternoon. There are several more breweries on the “PlacerWineAleTrail,” but these will have to wait for another day. 

I promised (last post) that I’d elaborate on the two upcoming “elective surgeries.” 

The First Surgery

Dr. Marder at the screen while Dr. Holland reviews Pete's chart.

Dr. Marder at the screen while Dr. Holland reviews Pete’s chart.

As mentioned in the last post, securing an orthopedist was a challenge. We were accepted (finally) by Dr. (and Professor) Richard A. Marder, a University of California at Davis Chief of Orthopedics. The consult meeting (9/28) went well. Pete will get back into structured physical therapy. 

Pete has been on antibiotics ever since the discovery of his knee infection. (7/11) Dr. Marder recommends stopping these a few days prior to surgery to allow any pesky bacteria to grow and be more easily identified. Of course, this makes us nervous. We know what sepsis looks like! Pete’s knee will be re-cultured during his next procedure and will start again on an appropriate antibiotic. Our doctor also wanted an MRI before surgery to determine how aggressive to get with the joint space. Now we need a surgery date to remove the offending “infected” suture(s) and start rehabbing before the second surgery. 

The Second Surgery

Previously, I was discreet about describing our experience with “complex” diverticulitis. (Two posts back.) Pete suffered an abscessed diverticula, a bowel perforation and peritonitis, but the typical symptoms of severe pain and fever were masked my his use of narcotics and antibiotics for his knee. He required a bowel resection and temporary colostomy. Recovery was slowed due to his limited mobility and post-surgical anemia. It required a small army of doctors, nurses, mid-level practitioners, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, nutritionalists, and loving family to support Pete through this life-altering ordeal. The hospital Chaplain and Father Mike, along with our own prayer warriors, also made a huge impact on Pete’s recovery! (Thank you, Prayer Warriors!) Dr. Kristina Johnson, the colorectal surgeon, and her team of surgeons, literally saved Pete’s life, removing 16 inches of descending bowel, then thoroughly irrigating and cleaning out his abdomen, and limiting any possibility of recurrence of diverticular disease. 

We met our local colorectal surgeon, Dr. Thomas Palidore, soon after we got back to California. We have mapped out a plan that allows for full intestinal healing and accounts for the knee issue to be resolved first. Pete’s intestines will be reattached after the holidays, with plenty of time to heal before we plan to resume our Great Loop Adventure.

Holiday Season

Unlike past years (as a procastinator), I am already thinking about the holidays. Halloween, for the last seven years, has been a non-event. In our neighborhood it is too far between houses for small children; instead the local children go to town for “Trunk-‘r-Treat,” and the local businesses have events and/or stay open later to accommodate Trick-or-Treaters. When we lived in town (2007-2010) we could count on 80-100 costumed goblins at our door, and our home reflected the spirit of the holiday. I have already given away my Halloween decor to family members or donated them to thrift shops. 

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving has, for many years, been our Big Event. We’ve had as many as 24 guests which is easy to accommodate in our modest home and with the mild California climate. Much of the cooking happened outside (using gas and charcoal BBQs, deep fryers and the Camp Chef™ 3-burner gas stove). Pete is a cross between Bobby Flay and Jamie Oliver, and he revels in his role as lead Chef. Delicious sides have arrived with our guests. Pete leaves the pies to my sister, Lisa, who never disappoints! This is the one holiday whereby we ponder heavily on all of our blessings and offer solemn thanks for the good fortune in our lives. 

This year Pete will reluctantly take a back seat. Oh, sure, he’ll supervise, but he won’t be able to stand long, and we may even be at another home! My daughter, Amy, is anxious to host this year’s dinner. I anticipate some make-ahead dishes and a smaller crowd, but it will be no less special. 

Once my kids were grown, and before any grandchild arrived, our Christmas was downsized. We opted for a Kris-Kringle style gift exchange. For several years I have drawn the names and I have crafted a Christmas Poem (Christmas 2017) that accompanied the Secret Santa name for each family member. The shift-work schedules for most family members meant that our own celebration moved to accommodate work, but it never occurred before Christmas Eve. (Bad luck!) It is too soon to predict how this year’s celebration will unfold, but I’m already drafting the poem. 

Post Script

I started this post with a traditional German toast courtesy of family in Germany. I asked Debbie for some Oktoberfest toasts and of the several she forwarded, this one stood out.

Life is indeed wonderful. We have been through a lot in the last few months, yet we wear the “right glasses.” We have rolled with the punches and made the most of our setbacks. We have grown closer together, to our family and to God. We anticipate smooth sailing with the next two medical procedures and with our preparations to continue our fantastic voyage. 

To our followers, thank you for your prayers and intentions. We are truly grateful. Prost!