Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hello From Redding, California

Welcome to Redding, CA - a big little city
right off I-5 in Northern California

Redding City Hall

Need I apologize for not posting?  If so, here it is - I'm sorry I've kind of gotten myself wrapped up with family and friends and haven't been keeping up on writing / reading posts.  I hope all my readers are well and happy this summer of 2014.

A sunrise shot taken earlier this year by a 
Redding resident - notice the Spring green and 
flowers - it's golden brown now!

Because of recovery from my knew surgery - it's 3 months ago this week - and family commitments and fun, I've not been spending much time on my computer for any reason at all.  I'd given myself lots of recovery time, which, thank you Lord, I haven't needed.  After having done lots of total knees during my many years working in the operating room, I thought I knew all there was to know.  Not!!!  Yes, I knew about the surgical procedure, but really very little about the recovery.  So, when I met with the surgeon and physical therapists before surgery I took  their advice and didn't plan anything for this [about] six-month post op period.  Well, what I've found is that this total knee surgery has been a piece of cake!  I cannot believe how easy (and pain-free to boot) this experience has been.  

Currently I'm in Redding house-sitting for my sister-in-law, Barb, and her partner, who are out on their first RV trip in their new (to them) RV.  It's a Class C, but a few feet longer than their previous rig.  They went from here to Santa Cruz for over a week; now they're in the Monterey area.  They asked if I'd stay in the house, so I left my RV at my son's house and am living in their stix and stone house with Lacy, Eleanor and their kitty, Mr. Tibbs.  

Floribunda parked at Jeff's house in Cottonwood, CA (about
25 miles south of Redding)
I started walking for exercise about a month ago and have not had a twinge of discomfort.  Since I'm going to be here for at least a few more weeks, I joined the Shasta Family YMCA and have made it there almost every single day for walking on the treadmill, riding a bike,rowing a little and swimming in one of their two pools - one is indoors and is great for summer in this heat!  As I've often repeated, I'd had such a bad time with my bum knee I'd completely stopped exercising for most of the past three years; and, once I started again, I am just loving it.  Barb made sure I met some of her exercise buddies, so we have coffee almost everyday after getting our aerobic work done for the day.  It's been lots of fun to meet new and interesting people and to get back on the path of some kind of healthy shape at the same time.

Barb and Fred have a great Sony flat screen TV I thought I'd really love after not having watched TV for more than a few minutes since I retired and started traveling three years ago.  Well, I've surfed through channels at several different times of the day and have decided that reading, cooking, exercising - even doing chores in the house - are all more beneficial than spending time watching TV.  Maybe it's just me but it seems like there are hunions of channels with no more selection than I had when there were three - ABC, NBC and CBS!  The bottom line is I'm not going to bother getting my solar up and running in Floribunda - unless I come across several programs I just can't live without, and that doesn't seem likely.  I did watch some of the  'Futból' World Cup from Brazil; I have to say it's nice to see that the US is catching up with the most popular sport in the World.  When I lived in Antigua, Guatemala it was impressive to see literally hundreds of people crowding the streets and sidewalks outside the local Sports Bar to watch futból.  Only the fans right outside the door (lots of folks can't afford to go into the bar) could see any action, but the play-by-play news rallied through the crowd - and everybody was happy to be a part of the excitement.

As the heat and dry conditions continue in this part of the country, we are, of course, having a rash of forest fires.  In this area the Bully fire (in Igo-Ono) was ignited on July 11th by a marajuana grower who was driving a pickup truck load of supplies to his remote growing patch and started large grass fire.  At this time it's about 95% contained - having had tons of equipment and over 2200 firefighters working constantly for 12 days now.  My nephew and his family live in Igo, fortunately not too close to the fire area, but the smoke-laden skies, high winds and thunder and lightening strikes have certainly worried them.  It's bad enough when weather and natural disasters start forest fires; but, when it's human error / carelessness it's even worse.  Many of my blog-writing and reading friends are so concerned with the natural wonders of our homeland.  

Let's all be extra careful this year - and always! 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Wednesday . . . Late Posting

I published this post on Wednesday, but didn't check until today - it didn't publish.  Sorry for the delay . . .

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I’m getting settled here in Cottonwood and am discussing the possibility of using this as my [kind of] home base.  I have to keep the address of my house in Roseville to maintain my Kaiser membership for healthcare; Cottonwood is located too far from the closest Kaiser facility to qualify as a permanent residence.  I'm currently researching the plausibility of some upgrades to Jeff's property for RV use.  I'll update readers as I progress trough the process.  The Roseville house has renters who love it and want to stay for the foreseeable future; which makes my mobility much easier.  I don’t have any set plans for when or where I’ll venture next, but I certainly want the option to be able to pull the plugs and head out whenever I feel the urge.  A couple of thoughts are Pacific Northwest this Fall and Southwest next Winter - suggestions welcomed!

As I continually mention in this blog, summer in the Central Valley of California is HOT.  This first week at Jeff’s has been balmy by our standards, only in the mid- to upper-80s.  Today begins the rise with 94F expected – and hotter tomorrow.  Last evening my nephew, Gregg, electrician extraordinaire, came over and installed a 30-AMP outlet for me to plug into, making the use of the AC in Floribunda much easier.  As all fellow RVers are aware, these “metal boxes” can turn ambient 90F into over 100F inside!  The installation was easy, with knowledge and proper tools for the job; he did it in about 30 minutes.  However, my 30-AMP extension cord is not long enough, and I can’t find one here or in Redding; so, no luck for today.

I took this shot with my iPhone, while driving from Cottonwood to Redding yesterday.  It's a warning of what's to come . . . dry, hot, dangerous summer!

I’ll be driving south to the Sacramento area today for doctor and physical therapy appointments tomorrow morning; I’ll hopefully be able to find an extension cord at Home Depot or somewhere and get it back up here to have AC in Floribunda tomorrow afternoon.  I’m leaving Eleanor, kitty, in the rig, and will ask Malia and Samantha to check on her, from time to time, making sure she isn’t passing out from the heat later today.  I’ll take Lacy with me and we’ll stay at Bob and Judy’s tonight, where she can play with their four Chihuahuas and kitty.  It’s going to be just as hot there but I can park in the garage at Kaiser and leave Lacy there while I’m at my appointments.

Time to get moving so I won't be in the dreaded Sacramento commute later this afternoon.  I kid you not, I've been there, done that.  One of the greatest, if not the greatest, joys of retirement is the ability to avoid commute nightmares.

Have a great Wednesday!  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Floribunda back in Operation . . .

I've been 8th Grade Graduation inundated.  Not too many grandmothers or grandfathers have 5 grand kids graduating from 8th grade in the same year!  And, it's not only the graduation ceremonies, but also Honor's Awards ceremonies and parties and . . .

I moved back into my RV on May 31st, about 5+ weeks after my knee surgery.  I can hardly believe how easy this recovery has been.  Other than a little soreness after exercise and some UGH during the flexibility exercises I've been doing 2-3 times a day, recovery has essentially been pain-free!  It's now 7+ weeks and at a recent physical therapy appointment the therapist announced that I've reached the flexibility goals for recovery.  Now, that doesn't mean I don't have more recovery to do.  Oh, no.  It's a major accomplishment because the flexibility component of recovery has some time limits for success.  She said I can still keep up with my exercises; but, I can also start on the road of recovering strength.  I feel sort of like I'm at a good and healthy weight for myself - but there's just so much FLAB from muscle atrophy and disuse syndrome!  Strength can be increased as I go along; there's no time limit (within age and ability limitations!) to get back into at least hiking, biking, walking, swimming, etc. shape.

Earlier this week I battened the hatches in Floribunda and hitched Petunia up behind and headed out of Judy and Bob's ranch / private RV park(!) about 175 north to my son's in Cottonwood; Jeff and Alice are the proud parents of my twin granddaughters, Malia and Samantha - the last two to graduate - yesterday.  Hooray or ???  I now have five grand kids who are all Freshmen i high school; is that a positive or a negative?  We'll see!  Actually,  I'm very proud of all of them - several honor students, great athletes, and good, healthy, friendly, caring and fun kids.

There's been so much going on all at the same time.  Samantha and I continue our respective quests to get right leg health back.  Sadly, Alice's 92- year old mom passed away; of course, it wasn't unexpected, but that's not to say it isn't a trying time for Alice and her siblings.  The Filipino traditions were in full force and boy, there are a lot of people who thought Soledad was a wonderful person.  She will be missed and is still loved dearly.

Bob and Judy were out driving around a few weeks ago and found a 2-acre ranch with "everything we want" to downsize and also get a newer house with a pool.  They made an offer and were accepted almost on the spot!  Then they put their place the I've taken so many photos of, on the market and it sold for fifty thousand dollars over the asking price in about ten days!  So, for me, I'll lose my wonderfully generous RV site in Loomis; however, they've shared that "there's one ready" for me at the new ranch in Granite Bay - only about four miles away - actually closer to town than the present ranch.

I don't have any plans to move onto new territories just yet.  I'm going to spend some quality time with Jeff and family and hope to make some improvements to my RV site on their property.  I'm sure you'll remember that this is HOT country.  Shade is a premium and I've asked my nephew, a licensed electrician, to install a 30-amp outlet for me to be able to get my AC working properly.  The last few days have been cool, only about 92-96F!

I only intended to jot a few thoughts today.  When I get graduation photos ready I'll post them.  Hope everybody is well and enjoying Summer wherever you are!

Tate, Avery, Malia and Samantha using my camera to take their own shots of the famous Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay over the Sacramento River in Redding, CA - about 20 miles north of here.  I opted to stay home and write this post.
The Sundial Bridge was completed and opened in 2004 at a cost of about $23M. It's really gorgeous; be sure to take a very short detour off I-5 when heading north or south on I-5.  It's about one minute from the freeway and beautiful to behold.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

First Outpatient Physical Therapy, Dave and Marcia, Memorial Day

Thursday, May 22nd:
I went for my first outpatient physical therapy appointment; and, it turned out to be the same physical therapist who I'd seen last summer just before I left for my RV adventure.  Aimee, P.T. had told me at that time that I should make arrangements for the surgery; but I wanted to head out so put it off.  Now that I've done it, I realize I could have avoided lots of pain if I'd had it sooner. Oh well, live and learn.

Aimee was impressed with my abilities to both bend and flex my right knee.  She did, however, 'scold' me for doing so much walking.  I'd been doing more than a half mile a day walking around the neighborhood, during which I felt fine; but suffered later in the day.  She said to get back to spending most of my time sitting or lying with ice on my knee.  She reminded me that there's only a small window of opportunity (6-8 weeks) for recovering full functionality of the knee; but there's lots of time (later) to build the muscles back up.

After the PT appointment I drove to a nice restaurant in Roseville to meet Dave and Marcia, my great RV and Blog friends.  We had a great lunch ('thank you,' Dave) and a super visit.  They're going to be here in the Sacramento area for several more weeks; so we'll have more opportunities for get togethers; next lunch is my treat!

Saturday - Memorial Day weekend:

Since I've been more diligent about the rest and relaxation of this rehab, I've been really taking advantage of my Netflix subscription.  I'm really not sure that Netflix is worth the monthly fee while I'm out on the road.  My Jetpack doesn't stream movies well and wifi coverage in RV Parks is a little iffy.  But, here I have fantastic wifi and can stream movies and TV shows to my hear's desire.

Yesterday, I watched "Emperor,"  a movie about the end of WWII in the Pacific; when Douglas MacArthur and our military moved into Japan, as conquerers, to round up war criminals and rebuild the Japanese government.  I'm a history buff and loved learning a lot about a segment of history I knew very little about.  My dad spent his WWII time in the Pacific theater and gave my brother, Jim, and I lots of history lessons about his experiences with General MacArthur during the war; but nothing about after the war.  MacArthur is played by Tommy Lee Jones.  Matthew  Fox played General Bonner Fellows, who was tasked by MacArthur and President Truman, to investigate and determine whether Emperor Hirohito (the emperor was, at that time, considered a 'god' by the Japanese people) was personally responsible for Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war on the United States.  I won't give away the outcome.  Suffice it to say, I found the movie interesting and fascinating.

Today begins the Memorial Day weekend so it was appropriate to watch that movie at this time.  Kari's house will be a beehive of activity all weekend.  Their whole family, except Addison, will be here within minutes.  There are lots of activities planned and it should be lots of family fun.  They've rented a power boat for all day tomorrow for tube-water-skiing on Folsom Lake (about 9 miles from here); I'm going to pass on that activity I think; or, maybe I'll go for a short time, then drive my car home and not be out there all day.

There's food to plan, who's doing what when?  Should be lots of fun.  And, I hope all of you will also have a nice memorial weekend.

Thank You to all our military, who make / have made it possible for us to enjoy our wonderful Country and this wonderful weekend.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Instant Entertainment . . . Thanks, YouTube

As I sit on my bed to ice my knee after doing my rehab exercises, occasionally I click on YouTube for some "instant entertainment."  Yesterday, I checked out a video I hadn't watched for a long time and found that I'd missed a very interesting linguistics point.  This is a video of baby twins communicating with one another.  It's so cute, but what I find even more interesting is the inflections in their communication - certainly pointing out their burgeoning communication skills.  Notice how they formulate questions and answers.

Reminded me of when my kids were learning to talk.  We didn't make up 'baby-talk' words and phrases because we found that just listening to toddlers attempt to use the correct wordage and pronunciation is often much more amusing than 'baby-talk.' An example that comes to mind is when Spencer learned to wish somebody well after they'd sneezed, he offered, "God blush you!"

Do you have any cute examples of your kids learning to talk?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rehab and "Old" RV Friends

I haven't been writing many posts because it would be redundant to a great extent.  I'm still in my daughter's house in beautiful El Dorado Hills, about 20 miles East of Sacramento off I-50.  I continue to progress in my rehab  from Total Knee Arthroplasty, 4 weeks ago.  Everyday, I walk here in the neighborhood and I drive Petunia Smart car almost every day; although I notice that I get tired pretty rapidly.  Petunia doesn't have cruise control so I have to keep my right foot on the gas / brake pedals.  It's not difficult, but tiring.  So, for the time being, I think my auto adventures will be shorter than 20 miles or so.

Life in my daughter's family is busy, to say the least.  David and Kari are both actively involved in all their children's lives.  Currently there are only four kids at home; but, the activity level is incredible.  The triplets are coming to the end of their education in a Charter School 20 miles from home.  So there's the activity of getting them there and back every day.  Holland (20) is working as a nanny for a young family consisting of four boys under the age of five.  David and Kari manage an unbelievable schedule of family activities, as well as their own work and her EPIC Tri  - triathlon club - she is the co-founder.  David is one of the most actively-involved husbands and fathers you're likely to come across; he's simply fantastic.  They share all house and children activity equally. And, then there's her personal training that goes on throughout her busy life - she's an "Ironman" several times over.

One of the greatest 'perks' of the RV lifestyle and writing a blog is that I meet so many wonderful people, who often become good friends.  Last summer, while I was in Oregon, I met RV-lifers and bloggers extraordinaire, Dave and Marcia, of Going RVway.  They came to visit me at my campsite at Crater Lake.
What a gorgeous landmark!
Dave and Marcia Summer 2013 at Crater Lake

If you're not familiar with Dave and Marcia's recent trials and tribulations, do check out their blog for details of their year so far.
Dave's parents and family members live here in the Sacramento area and they're here visiting; so we're going to meet for lunch tomorrow in Roseville.  I'm looking forward to it and hope to have some nice photos to share afterwards.

Have a great day!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Rehab Progress - 23 Days

Yes, the home health nurse and physical therapist have signed off on my need for in-home therapy.  I will need to go to outpatient physical therapy and I'll also have to go to a Kaiser lab for blood draws as I continue Coumadin therapy for the near future.

Coumadin therapy is indicated post-operatively to prevent blood clots from forming in the circulatory system; blood clots can have disastrous results. I have a Coumadin therapy Kaiser pharmacist who has been monitoring the results of blood draws done by the home health nurse.  In the new future, each time I go to the Lab for a draw, the results will be given my Coumadin pharmacist and she'll call me with specific instructions regarding the daily dosage of Coumadin (Warfarin).  It's expected that I'll continue with this therapy for 4-6 weeks.  I'd never had to be involved in this form of therapy before; and, I have been a little nervous about the need for this drug.  It's can be a very dangerous therapeutic - it's purpose is to prevent or resolve blood clots wherever they might form in the body.  It is for that reason that the therapy also makes possible uncontrollable bleeding due to the longer blot clotting time. I talk with the pharmacist every 2-3 days so we can stay on top of the changes in blood clotting time.  I'm hoping that since I have been able to be much more active than earlier expected, I'll not need to stay on this regimen.  Physical activity is very beneficial for protecting the body from forming blood clots - and I like the natural formula instead of the Coumadin pharmaceutical treatment.

Example exercises . . .
Visual of a few of the exercises in my routine
This knee flexion exercise was very difficult the first few times I'd done it; but, I'm getting that knee to bend (flex) so much better after only four days of this movement.

I have been diligent about the exercises prescribed.  As I've mentioned previously, some of the flexion and extension exercises feel like a cruel torture routine; however, I'm beginning to notice that they're becoming easier and the measurable degree of flexion (bending the knee) and extension (straightening the knee) are improving rapidly.  Each day I get more excited about the prospect of being able to squat, kneel, sit cross-legged on the floor, etc.  I'm determined to get as close to perfect mobility as I can.

Before surgery I'd been told that it would be between 4 - 6 months before I could contemplate heading out on the road again in Floribunda to pick up where I left off in this adventure to get to know North America.  I think that time estimate is going to be shortened; so, now I need to start meditating regarding when, where, what I want to do in the not too-distant future.

The first big advancement today was that I successfully walked upstairs and downstairs utilizing both legs, concentrating on NOT limping.  Over the past two years more and more I needed to follow the little jingle:  "Up with the good leg; down with the bad," meaning taking one step at a time to avoid a much pain as possible.  That way of climbing up or down stairs had become such a habit, I did it without conscious thought.  Today I was able to go up and down the 16 steps between the first and upper floors in Kari's house. Left, right, left, right.  And the same with descending.  I did that exercise three different times during the day.

The second big news for me today (Wednesday) was that I jumped into Petunia Smart Car and drove around the block to see how driving affected my right leg / knee. The trial run was 'a piece of cake,' as they say; so about 30 minutes after my trial drive, I actually drove to the supermarket and did some shopping.  I was quite tired when I got back to Kari's; so, I jumped on my bed and iced my knee; it felt better within about 20 minutes.  I didn't run into any issue when it came to getting in or out of the car - my mobility is so much better than it was just before surgery; I'm so thankful.  What I did notice was that my right leg and knee tired easily as I pushed on the gas.  Because of that I've decided it'll be a while before I'll be able to drive any distances.  But, short hops appear to be okay.  Petunia Smart Car doesn't have cruise control, which would be greatly appreciated at this point.  Thankfully, Floribunda does and I routinely use it on the freeways and highways.

My brother, Jim, called earlier this week, saying that he and his partner, Bonnie, would like to come for a visit (from Santa Cruz) this coming weekend.  I'm really looking forward to seeing him and getting caught up - we haven't seen each other for over a year.
Santa Cruz Boardwalk and main beach
Gorgeous coastline - residential section of Santa Cruz
Twilight shot of Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  Jim's partner, Bonnie, retired recently from her position as Archivist for the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  She is the authority regarding the history of this attraction that never seems to lose its popularity.