Friday, June 26, 2015

Into The Wild Blue Yonder, Part I ~ May 26-28, 2015

May 26th ~ Off we go into the wild blue yonder. If we don't have it with us we don't need it. First stop East West Cafe in downtown Sebastopol for breakfast. The house is clean and the refrigerator empty, what better excuse to do you need?

First stop is a visit with my aunt and her husband in Durham. Our favorite way to get there from here is north to Hopland, east around Clear Lake to Williams and from there to Feather Falls Casino in Oroville, a gorgeous drive with no traffic. We discovered a restaurant and little general store in Williams, called Granzella's. Great lunch and worth a stop if you're in the neighborhood. Once in Oroville, we checked into the hotel, let Betty and Bob know we had landed and called it a day.

May 27th ~ We spent all day Wednesday with them at their place. Rod did a ton of yard work and pruning and I got a little work done in the house while they napped. I found some more pieces of the puzzle about my grandfather's quest to expose "The Big Business Sons of Bitches" in the form of a couple of newspaper articles and letters, which Betty kindly let me bring home. We had a nice long visit. Early evening we headed back to Feather Falls for dinner at the Brew Pub. Nice touch is a TV at the table so we could watch the Giants. 

May 28th ~ When we checked out at Feather Falls we asked about a large photo of three rocks on wall behind the desk. She told us it was photographed at Big Bald Rock a short drive up Hwy 162 near Berry Creek, in the Sierra Nevada foothills. It's called a granite batholith which is a large body of igneous rock formed beneath the Earth’s surface by the solidification of magma and can have a surface exposure of up to 40 square miles. Many of them have a depth of 6 to 9 miles. 

Finding the spot was a challenge because you can't see anything from the road due to the dense forest. We retraced our steps a few miles and spotted the trail head. A short walk along a forest path and suddenly the landscape changes. It's a popular climbing and camping spot, but we didn't see another soul. 

My Old Mountain Goat

We threaded our way up the slope, figuring how to best traverse spaces between large rocks without hurting ourselves (these days there is no shame in sliding down a short, steep slope on your butt). The reward was a magnificent view of the entire Sacramento Valley. Imagine spending a night under the stars up there?

Next stop is Chester, about 80 miles north via Highways 99, 32 and 36. Got in later afternoon and checked into the Best Western. Discovered  great little place called the Kopper Kettle for dinner just a short walk down the road. Turned in early, tomorrow is another adventure. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Happy Birthday Daddy ~ June 24th

Boys and their rides. This was Daddy's beloved 39 Lincoln Zephyr 2 door coupe. He and mom were on a week long camping trip at Silver Creek in the Sierras. Another note mentioned they didn't see another soul the whole time they were there ~ how perfect is that?

The comment below was typed on the back, no doubt by my mom after their return. The Edsel mentioned was of course Edsel Ford, brother to Henry and one of the designers. I don't know if they ever sent the letter but it would have been a hoot to find out. 

Mom and Dad, You are always in my heart, kindred souls who took the roads less traveled and taught me to be fearless. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day and Dream Machines ~ June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day to my favorite motor head, you taught me early to love the sound of a healthy V-8, will miss you always Daddy.

William Griffith Macdonald

So you think you had fun today? We spent most of the morning at the 21st Annual Show and Shine classic car show in Julliard Park in Santa Rosa. A perfect summer day to say the least.

How'd ya like to cruise Route 66 in this bad boy hauling a vintage Airstream Bambi?
When style ruled the road 
 The license plate says "Hemified"
A rag top with credentials
 We loved this puppy but are no longer of the age
where we can to get down into and climb up out of.
 Can you hear me now?
We asked the owner if he'd take a photo of us standing by the car and his response was "You want to get in?" Yeah Baby!

We had a great lunch under the trees at the park and decided on the way back home to hit the Farmers Market in Sebastopol (The peaches and blueberries are perfect right now) and go the the movies. If you haven't read the book or seen the film entitled "The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" put it on your must do list. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

De-Liver Me Tour ~ Fashionista Update ~ June 15, 2015

O'Dark Thirty: We left home at 5:45 am to get to UCSF by 7:30. Time to take care of some unfinished business. There is a small residual hepatocellular carcinoma near one of my existing tumors, Audrey or Carmine that needs to be decommissioned with another TACE. 

Live Entertainment: After registering, you change into a fetching ensemble of mismatched pants, gown, robe and slipper socks and then get to park your butt in the waiting room until called. It's a chuckle for all patients, no matter how nervous they might be about what's ahead. This of course is my 7th rodeo so I'm leading the pack vamping it up for photos.


The Nerve Center: Next stop is the six bed nerve center where nurses are prepping patients for procedures or taking care of patients just returning from said procedures: resting up until they're released or moved to rooms. It's a fine tuned operation of controlled chaos with a team of nurses who keep the impossible moving smoothly. They all love what they do and it shows.

Flame Fractal Image - Chaos - Mathematical Art

Stumping the Professionals: Sometimes things don't go as planned. I spent 3 hours in the procedure room with the resident intern, my doctor and then the head of the Interventional Radiology Department. They were a determined trio, but the location of the small tumor prevented them from reaching their destination to do the TACE. Time was called and I returned to the "nerve center" where I started out this morning. Standard protocol is that you have to spend 6 hours flat on your back to make sure the incision in in your groin doesn't bleed. Once given some pain medication for my shoulder (often a side effect of liver exploration) I could relax and take it all in. It was at times noisy, entertaining, poignant and uplifting. They finally let me up to dress around 5 pm so I could be released.

Rod's Story: For Rod the whole day was a waiting game. He did get a three mile walk in, treated himself to a good lunch, took a nap, did some reading and listened the Giants game. Trooper Boy. 

Lost in Translation: When he returned at 5:15 to pick me up he told the front desk that he knew where I was (he'd met with my doctor and seen me when I came back from the procedure). However, the reception desk's records said I'd been moved up to the new overnight accommodations on the sixth floor. They weren't about to let him wander down the hall until they'd confirmed my whereabouts. He said the supervisor was getting really frustrated because no one was answering upstairs and some of numbers on their call sheet were incorrect. Amused at the confusion he just kept quiet and watched it play out until one of the recovery room nurses came down the hall to fetch him. A small comedy of errors that I reckon has been set straight by now. 

Never leave the City during the Commute: We get on the road about 5:45 never the time to be heading north out of San Francisco. It was a freaking zoo, I cannot believe humans do this everyday. After almost getting caught up in a potential accident we got smart and stopped at the Wild Fox Restaurant near Novato for a bite to eat and watch the beginning of the NBA playoffs. By the time we hit the road again, there was no traffic and we were home in time for the second half of the game to watch the Warriors spank the Cavaliers. 

Plan B: Acronym of the Day: My docs decided that Plan B would be Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy or SBRT. There are two facilities that provide the service, Kaiser South San Francisco and UCSF. My docs at UCSF want me to continue to be treated there and are already working with my local Kaiser to get the approvals. We have plans for August in Canada and I want to get this party started.

I'm just learning about the treatment but it means that a specially designed coordinate-system is used for the detecting the exact location of the tumor in the liver and it's then treated with a limited but highly precise single dose of radiation. Non invasive, few side effects. More on this as I get better informed. 

Post Script: We got home to find a small bag hanging on the front door. In it was ceramic spirit bear made by my neighbor Khysie. There are no words for the circle of friends who surround and support us. He resides in a special place to watch over us.

Monday, June 15, 2015

De-Liver Me Tour ~ A Little Magic ~ June 15, 2015

We just returned from a couple of weeks of free range exploration in Northern California and Oregon, a well deserved time out before we head to UCSF tomorrow for my 7th TACE treatment. Journals and photos to come in the next couple of weeks. For now I'm taking you on a little side trip.

On the way home, June 9th, we headed south from Bandon to McKinleyville to spend the night with friends Tom and Linda. One of the prettiest sections of the journey on Highway 101 is from Crescent City to Eureka through the redwoods. As we started down the ridge towards Eureka we spotted a juvenile Black Bear at the treeline. In the many decades we've traveled this road this was our first sighting. This had to be some sort of sign. When we got home I looked up Bear Medicine. Clear as a bell. 

California Black Bear Juvenile Photo Image
California Black Bear

When you invoke the power of the bear totem, reflect on the qualities of inner strength, fearlessness, and confidence in yourself and how you can project them in your world. Since the bear is often associated with shamans in many traditions, this spirit animal can symbolize healing abilities and stepping into the role of the healer. Standing against adversity; taking action and leadership.The essence of Bear teaches us how to dream what is desired into physical reality. 

Post Script: The doctor doing my procedure tomorrow called this morning to introduce himself and remind me when to be there, to fast after midnight, and that I would, as before, be there overnight. I told him I had a very important question and he "sure anything". What I wanted to know was if the televisions in the recovery section (at each bedside with headphones) got the local station that will be televising the NBA finals (I am not normally a basketball fan, but we all have the fever this time around). He said "I think so, but as a back up plan bring your iPad. They have WiFi and you can probably stream the game". How's that for patient support and customer service? Off to San Francisco at o'dark thirty.