Sunday, March 28, 2010

Breakfast before Passover Begins

We all went out for breakfast at The French Laundry this morning. It wasn't even a struggle to get Marika and her friend, Lindey, out of bed with the enticement of lox and bagels and fresh-squeezed orange juice.

It's raining today but there is the promise of warmer weather later this week -- apparently there is the potential for the temperature to reach into the 70's. (Due to the all-day rain, we didn't get to do our usual walking and we really missed it!)

Marika leaves for Santa Barbara tomorrow. She's had a week to visit with friends, take long walks with her parents and determine her summer plans. It looks like she'll stay in Santa Barbara this summer and take her MCAT study course there along with an academic summer school course. It will lighten her load as a senior next year.

Gil has reached the right balance of work and recovery. Most days he feels good and is regaining his past levels of endurance by walking three miles a day using those "sweet" hiking poles. (They say the workout is 45% more effective when you use them.) His mood is good although he admits to having some issues with the limitations that taking steroids and immunosuppressives impose on his lifestyle. Like no travel by air. Decreased energy levels. Logistical issues when he wants to be in crowded places. (All are surmountable.)

Our next planned trip is once again driving to Chicago for a weekend in mid-April. We'll hope to spend a day at the Art Institute of Chicago seeing the new Matisse show, a day at an alumni seminar which Stanford sponsors called Stanford Leading Matters (Evan is the alum. We were the financial enablers and as such are always invited to these events as "the parents"!), and a day at an Antiques and Gardens exhibition at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Evan Report: Evan has "informed" us that he has "officially" started studying for his medical boards which every student takes mid-June at the end of the second year. It requires months of very serious study and he is allowing himself very little "fun" time this spring. He warned us that he may not be as "warm and communicative with family" as usual!

Adam Report: Adam is giving his final push to finishing his PhD work. He defends his thesis on May 10th in front of his committee. He walks in the graduation procession and gets "hooded" the following day. I wish Gil could be there but he's not able to travel by air yet. I will go and visit with the kids in LA and drive up to Santa Barbara to visit with Marika for a few days during that trip. The wedding plans continue to evolve but there's plenty of time to get all the details right. It's scheduled now for May 2011 which is the first time that Adam will have the "time off" during his third year of medical school.

All for now. Looking forward to spring!


Spring Break is over
Sending Marika back home
To be with her friends.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Trekking through Kensington Park

Gil and I are spending time each day walking along one of the trails in Milford or along the paths in Kensington Metro Park just down the road.

I discovered the added benefits of walking with these trekking poles and Gil has adopted them for his walking routine, too. The poles add to the workout and give a good upper body workout along with the walking.

When you use the poles, you stand up straighter, walk faster, work your core muscles and have a swing to your gait. We get asked questions about the poles every time we're out. (I got them at REI which is an outdoor hiking/camping store.)

It feels good to be out in nature for an hour each day.

Marika comes home for Spring Break tomorrow night. She's just finishing finals for the quarter and will relax and visit friends while in Michigan.

Evan is in Buenes Aires visiting friends this week for his Spring Break.

Adam and Laura are holding their own in LA as they monitor the March Madness bracket competition that Adam organized and we've all entered. "The winner gets pizza and his beverage of choice, and an evening of Wii entertainment at the Raff/Fahey LA Residence," Adam says.

March Madness is here
I pick Kentucky to win
(My alma mater!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chicago Getaway

Gil and I spent a long weekend in Chicago and got back home last night just in time to start the Daylight Savings morning darkness on this Monday morning! This photo was taken in front of Millenium Park with the Frank Gehry outdoor amphitheater and The Bean reflective sculpture in the background.

I had just gotten back from Albuquerque late last week and realized how uplifting it is to get away when you've faced several months of a Michigan winter.

And I realized that Gil would probably be needing to get away from it all as well -- but he wasn't going to be fortunate enough to be able to "fly off" to a sunny, warm place.

So we made a hotel reservation, jumped in the car and headed west to Chicago. Four hours later we were in the Windy City checking in and planning an afternoon visit to Millenium Park and the Chicago Art Institute.

Had a wonderful three days in Chicago and hope to go back again for theater, exhibits (Matisse is coming!) and Chicago outdoor events and festivals as the weather warms up.

Healthwise, all continues to go well. Gil's stem cells are maturing and taking greater responsibility for his immunity. He identifies his next challenge as returning his physical strength and stamina to pre-transplant levels.

I bought us both hiking/trekking poles so when we go out walking, we're getting a good upper body workout as well as legwork and endurance. I keep assuring him that it will all come back to him in good time.

Literally, "one foot in front of the other."

A road trip away
Just what the doctor ordered
(Dr. Raff, that is!)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Remembering When...

I'm leaving Albuquerque in the morning to head back to Michigan.

Marika was here with me for four of the last seven days. She went back to Santa Barbara on Sunday night.

The photo above shows Marika and Elsie (who, as I've mentioned before, raised the kids and kept our house in order) on an afternoon when I made quiche and pot de creme for a special lunch get-together. Lots of storytelling and remembering when....

It's been a week of:

1. visiting friends (I didn't get to all of you! Next time?)
2. seeing movies (I didn't like Alice in Wonderland.)
3. eating out (Albuquerque has some great new restaurants like The Grove.)
4. hiking (The hills in Sandia Heights provided great exercise. I used my new trekking/hiking poles which add to the workout.)
5. touring (Santa Fe galleries and The Glass Alliance of NM were highlights.)

I always try to help my hostess and dear friend, Terry Lee, to accomplish a couple of projects she has procrastinated about. I try to provide the motivation and execution. This time it was creating an indoor garden space. And buying and installing a new computer printer.


Gil had his Karmanos appointment this past Friday. His steroid dose is being reduced again and he has no new symptoms of graft vs. host disease. His doctors recommended he not work as much and he is trying to comply with their advice.

He loves being involved again in his department's activity and his research but he wants to find the right balance between his work involvement and the all-important efforts of healing and recovery from the bone marrow transplant he had five months ago.

Travel tomorrow
Exposed to recycled air
Sick people spread germs!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Tile House in Albuquerque

I'm in Albuquerque and have not been able to post to the blog as I had hoped. I don't know how this happened but I did not pack my camera and had to borrow one.

The house you're seeing in the photo above is an amazing place. If you want to see all the photos I took of the house, the album of photos is posted on my Facebook page.

This website tells the story of the house and its creation:

Today we took a full-day tour sponsored by The Glass Alliance of New Mexico and this house was one of the highlights. Every surface of the house inside and out is covered in ceramic tile.

We toured a modern glass tile studio and several homes of glass collectors in various parts of the city. It was a day filled with art-lovers and we learned more about glass collecting than we ever needed to know.

Marika arrived here two days ago and we've been having a wonderful vacation together with our friend, Terry Lee Heller, who is the best hostess imaginable!

Yesterday we went to Santa Fe for the day. We visited with a friend (Liz Kay) who works at The Andrew Smith Gallery. She was hanging a show of Annie Leibowitz' work for a fundraising event later that evening. The photos were some of her most famous images.

(One of her large format photos -- of John Lennon and Yoko Ono curled up and embracing one another naked on their bed -- was priced at $65,000.)

Leibovitz was in Santa Fe yesterday for a lecture.

Before leaving Santa Fe, we had margaritas at The Ore House which is a restaurant/bar in the plaza. We sat upstairs and finally satisfied our craving for authentic New Mexican tortilla chips and salsa and guacamole.

Tomorrow we've invited our most wonderful friend, Elsie Berry, for lunch. Elsie helped raise our kids and keep our house in order for over ten years when we were living in Albuquerque. I know we'll spend hours and hours reminiscing about all the good times and funny stories we remember about the kids growing up.

Then, late in the afternoon, we take Marika to the airport and she returns to Santa Barbara. The visit was all too short. (But we get to have her back for her Spring Break in two weeks.)

Keeping up with friends
So many I should contact
Not enough time here.