Friday, January 29, 2010

Photo Field Trip

Gil had taken the dogs down the street for a photographing field trip in the attached photo. He never knows what he's going to capture. The daylight on this particular day wasn't good for taking images, as it turns out, but at least the three of them spent some "quality time" together.

We love most aspects of living out here in Milford but there are some things which are downright annoying. One is living off of a dirt road. It means the cars are always full of mud in the winter.

The other annoyance is very slow internet connectivity. We don't have cable -- which would be ideal -- because Comcast says it is too expensive to run the fiberoptic cable down our street. (They claim it would cost $25,000 to put in aerial wire from the next closest node and then have to run 1/2 mile of cable underground to all our houses.)

We tried a satellite dish but were dissatisfied with the slow speed and weather-related glitches. So we both use cellular phones to connect and the speed is still abysmal.

For that reason, Gil is looking into renting a small, one-person office space in downtown Milford which has Comcast cable availability. We've tried using the library's internet but the reduced hours during the winter make is inconvenient on the weekend days when he's reading studies -- and even then, the connection speed is not quite fast enough for getting good high-resolution images of the data-intense studies.

My book club discussed When a Crocodile Eats the Sun this past week. It's a memoir by a journalist, Peter Godwin, who was born in Zimbabwe. It spelled out the whole bloody history of the country and it's sad to know that such a beautiful country has fallen into such despair. There was a "happiness" study of countries in the world recently reported in the NYT and Zimbabwe was rated by many factors as the "unhappiest" of all nations in the world. (Costa Rica was ranked Number One.)

It's been hard to get my 10,000 steps in each day with the temperatures hovering in the low teens so I've joined the YMCA here in Milford. Did a spinning class last night and a cardio class this morning which has left me tired and sore but has released enough endorphins to make me feel very happy!

Cold but sunny out
Winter is halfway over
Holding out for Spring!

Friday, January 22, 2010

100 Days Celebration

This is a group photo from our 100 Days Celebration at a Lansing restaurant. We had a great time together -- comparing notes and stories -- and celebrated with carrot cake! Can't you tell we're all feeling lucky to be alive, in good health and forever grateful to our health care providers and our spouses (!) for being there.

Gil's appointment at Karmanos today went very well. He will decrease his steroids, decrease his immunosuppressives, eliminate altogether his IV hydration and move to every other week clinic appointments. Ahh-h-h-h-h!

We're headed to a movie -- Sherlock Holmes -- for the afternoon matinee shortly for our Friday evening out.

The kids in California are trying to stay dry amidst the downpours.

I got in my 10,000 steps by taking a 3.5 mile walk on one of the trails nearby. Jamie came along as my walking companion. I tried to induce several girlfriends to come along but couldn't find any takers. Next time?

Obama's hard week
Haiti's tragic disaster
Not a good omen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Favorite Library

We love the Milford library. For such a small little township, it's a great asset for us.

This is a photo of the display of winter sleds and shovels behind the circulation desk.

Gil goes there for the fast internet. I go there to read magazines so I don't have to subscribe to so many of them and add to the landfills.

The library is quiet and has a lovely sitting area that looks out onto a stream and wildlife. It's so peaceful there. We go there several times a week.

Tomorrow night we are meeting up with our two Karmanos friends and their spouses for dinner in Lansing -- our halfway driving point -- to celebrate the 100 days since Gil, Mark and Bonnie got their transplants. No champagne but maybe some sparkling water all around!

Our kids in California are getting drenched this week.

And Gil's getting his hair back which makes him happy!

Hair growing back fast
Still a little bit fuzzy
Doesn't (yet) need a comb!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Big Mileage

You are looking at a photo I took yesterday of my 2000 Lexus RX 300's odometer. Moments after I captured this image, the odometer turned to 200,000 miles.

I must say that it has been a well-tuned, smooth-riding, low maintenance love affair with this car. It started as a 3 year lease in New Mexico in 2000.

After the first year of the lease, we moved to Michigan. And I started putting lots of mileage -- too much mileage -- on the car because

Because I exceeded the mileage limit, I needed to "purchase" the car at the end of the lease. So I've been driving this car for 10 years!

On another note, I've met my goal of 10,000 steps again today by walking with my neighbor along the Milford Bike Trail. I've done 10,000 steps a day for the past week. It's the equivalent of walking over 4 miles a day.

Gil is doing well. He had a liver biopsy this past week to determine how to treat his elevated liver enzymes. We got the results on Friday at our appointment. It definitely is caused by graft vs. host disease (GVHD) and it's going to be treated with an additional immunosuppressive drug -- Sirolimus -- added to his current regimen.

The elevation of liver enzymes is also due to ferritin (iron) overload which is the result of the many blood transfusions Gil received during the acute phase of his leukemia. The treatment is every other week phlebotomy at the clinic to take red blood cells out of the circulation until the condition normalizes.

It's all very treatable.

And now a report on the Raff kids:

Adam and Laura are enjoying Laura's birthday weekend at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Resort and Spa. They've had a tough week. They had made arrangements with a venue and photographer for a wedding date in late September only to find out that it will not be feasible given Adam's third year medical school limitations. He cannot have that weekend off -- it's in between one rotation and the next! Back to the drawing board.

Evan is being a good brother and is dog-sitting Bodhi at Adam and Laura's apartment this weekend.

Marika drove down to LA this afternoon to spend the weekend with Evan -- and Bodhi!

The three day weekend is a good long one for all of us.

Haiti in crisis
Remembering MLK
So much emotion.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

10,000 Steps

It all begins with the first step. (Hey, I've got a wedding coming up in the fall and I have to get in shape!)

So I started on an exercise routine that I think I can incorporate into my lifestyle. It's the "take 10,000 steps each day" program. Or the USA Today recommended walking program for those who like to make New Year's resolutions.

On the first day I wore the pedometer, going about my usual business, I walked 3,762 steps.

On the second day I wore the pedometer, I added to my usual business a trip to the grocery walking up and down each aisle. My total was 4,653 steps at the end of that day.

Hm-m-mmm. I was going to have to "step it up" (pun intended!) if I was going to get in 10,000 steps each day.

The USA Today exercise routine suggests a walk on Sundays of one hour and 20 minutes.

(A girlfriend is eager to get me out cross country skiing but there isn't quite enough snow yet.)

So I headed to the mall and joined the mall walkers.

I set my watch to walk continuously for an hour and 20 minutes.

At the end of that time, I looked at my pedometer and you can see what it registered: 10,068 steps!

Accomplishment feels good ....

One step at a time
Daily goal of 10,000.
Each new day's challenge.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Coffee Anyone?

Marika got one of those "one-cup" Keurig coffeemakers as a holiday gift this year. In the photo, she and Gil are trying the first brewed offerings. We all tried it out while she was home (it was the novelty of the thing!) and I've just packed it up and sent it out to California for her. It takes 3 minutes start-to-finish for a steaming cup of coffee -- just what a student needs for those early morning classes.

Her classes for this new quarter started yesterday and she reports all is well.

Adam and Laura got back to LA and picked up Bodhi, their yellow lab, from the kennel where he had been boarded during the holidays. He was very happy to see them. (Forsaken, not.)

Evan has started back to his med school classes.

Gil is working one day a week at Beaumont's West Bloomfield clinic in the cardiac imaging department where there is less traffic and fewer opportunities for infection. Today was his first day and it went well. He's still working weekends reading studies.

I made slow cooker steel cut oatmeal last night. I put it on when we went to bed and it was ready to eat when we got up this morning. As the author of the recipe suggested, "It's so thick and rich that it tastes like tapioca pudding." And it did!

I also went to a Pilates mat class this morning and plan to incorporate as many classes as I can into my weekly exercise routine.

Our next Karmanos appointment is this coming Friday.

Afterwards, we're having lunch at Jerusalem Pizza with Gil's nephew, Dov Ber, who is living here in Detroit for the coming year teaching high school students in a Yeshiva setting.

(Dov Ber is Meryl's son. Meryl is Gil's younger sister and she lives in Israel. You may remember that both she and Genie visited this summer and were the "hopeful" bone marrow stem cell donors. Genie's cell type matched. Meryl's did not. There is a 25% chance that a sibling's cell type will be the perfect match. )

Kids are back home now
Our house is much quieter
Not lonely ... quiet.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Boots on the Ground

Boots on the ground.

(No, I'm not talking about more troops in Afghanistan.)

I'm referring to our foyer where we all take off our shoes and boots each time we come in from outdoors. It's a Michigan tradition. And I suppose a tradition anywhere there is snow and mud and beige carpet!

All the kids have flown back to California. We had them all under one roof until I took them to the airport yesterday at 5 pm. Bittersweet drop off.

They said the airport was very quiet and they did not see evidence of extra security measures as a result of the failed airline attack at Detroit Metro Airport over the holidays.

We had a lot of great family time together while they were here. Surprisingly, we didn't go out to eat at a restaurant one time while everyone was here. And I love going out to restaurants.

We cooked at home every night -- Risotto Fontina with Chicken, Japanese Vegetable Curry, Ginger Fried Rice, and other delicious meals.

Adam was the King of Sangria and we had it by the pitcherful with fresh oranges, lemons and limes. And a few toasts with champagne both for the kids' engagement and to ring in the New Year.

Yesterday we took a long walk through snow covered trails in Milford when it was 10 degrees outside not counting the wind chill factor. The only reason we turned around to come back was our concern over Jamie the border collie's exposed paw pads. At what temperature would they develop frostbite?

(Didn't take Haley on the walk. She's too old and slows us down!)

Gil is on-call this weekend which means he's reading studies from home. I'm going to try to get some exercise by mall-walking with the old folks in a warm and closed environment. It's just too cold outside to get the workout I need today.

Happy New Year to all of you. We could not have asked for a more supportive group of family and friends this past year.

Ten degrees outside
How do the birds survive it?
Must keep bird feeder full.