Got miso? Tofu?
I’m a fairly adventurous cook but, until a few years ago, these were not ingredients I was eager to use. Their names are odd, the textures and uses unknown to me. Little by little, though - and in spite of tofu's hideous clammy texture - they have became friends, and I have a couple excellent recipes to share.
Though I have enjoyed the thin broth known as miso soup in Japanese restaurants, I didn’t know what form miso took, or what it was. My sister Sydney (a good cook and a sometimes Weight Watcher) recommended a miso salad dressing so highly that I finally went looking, bought some miso, and learned to make what has become our favorite salad dressing: Miso Honey Mustard Dressing.
Salads are a frequent component of my Weight Watcher meals, and I have one major complaint about low- or no-fat salad dressings: the texture. No cling! All the dressing (and all the taste) goes right to the bottom of the salad.
Not so with Miso Honey Mustard dressing. It is thick and it clings, like salad dressing should. It’s easy to make, it’s delicious, and it is just ONE point per 2 tablespoons, the standard “serving” for salad dressing. Even Odel, who fears the phrase “healthy meal”, loves this dressing. So what if miso looks like putty? Give it a try.
When I went back on Weight Watchers a month ago, I got their newest cookbook, "Best Eats". I'm going to share two delicious soups from that cookbook, both easy and both Odel-approved.
The first is Tomato-Tofu Bisque. Even the tofu-adverse will like this super-rich tasting soup, extra creamy due to pureed tofu (I know, I know, "pureed tofu" sounds - and looks - disgusting. Just try it.)
The other, Harvest Chicken Chowder, is perfect for fall, when you can easily find canned pumpkin in the stores. Stock up if you like the soup - it can be impossible to find canned pumpkin outside of "pumpkin pie season". Again, this is a simple recipe with a rich, creamy texture and flavor, a winner. I'd have a cornbread muffin with it if I wasn't on Weight Watchers!
I've added an archive for Weight Watcher (WW) recipes to the left side of the blog, above the archive of arteries-be-damned recipes I have recommended in the past; you can find all three of these recipes there.
Thanks to all the previously anonymous blog readers who have contacted us through blog comments or email (you can find an email link by clicking on View My Complete Profile under WHO ARE WE in the upper left column of the blog) with good wishes for Odel's health. We are happy with the decision to pursue Proton Beam Therapy and are very optimistic about his treatment and cure - and we appreciate all the positive thoughts and good wishes that have come our way. It feels good!
Friday, October 31, 2008
Got miso? Tofu?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Since we are going to be staying in this area for almost three months (YIPES!), we have time to work on those projects that are easiest to do when we are not on the road. Odel and I each have one.
I am going to take advantage of the free-to-us Drayson Fitness Center and my "lifetime membership" in Weight Watchers to lose 12 pounds. Odel is going to spruce up the exterior of Scoopy. My project is cheaper; his is easier. Today we worked on his project.
We both love Scoopy's lines and color scheme. Over the years we have traveled, we have been glad for her mostly-white body (it definitely absorbs less heat, which is a GOOD thing). From a distance, she looks great.
Up close is a different story. Now almost 7 years old, her stripes are fading, and it is causing Odel pain. When we were in this area (at the Escapee park in Aguanga) last year, we had her waxed, but soon realized that it was time to think about more serious maintenance.
Well, it's now a year later - we've done a lot of thinking, but not much action. Look at the fading on those stripes!
Today we visited a business that specializes in refurbishing and detailing RV's, to check out their work. Wow, were we impressed.
We saw motorhomes in several stages of the process, which involves stripping off the old stripes (they are made of vinyl) and the old adhesive, polishing everything up to a totally smooth surface, then applying the new vinyl strips and completely detailing the exterior of the rig. I think it was feeling that smooth, smooth, smooth surface that sold Odel - poor Scoopy hasn't felt that satin-y in a couple of years (neither have I, for that matter).
Odel is in full-blown planning mode now, hog-heaven. Here he is in the office of RV Stripes and Graphics, checking out Before and After photos and imagining color combinations.
We came home with great confidence in the company and their expertise, with three large color samples to compare to our current colors (we don't want to change the current color scheme much) and a book of smaller color swatches. I've never seen Odel so interested in redecorating before.
Part two of the project is to figure out where we're going to live for a week or two while we have the work done. They offered an onsite electrical hookup, but the business is right off The 215 (aka I-215)... lots of noise, an unavoidable freeway experience to drive to and from LLUMC and, the biggest obstacle of all: what about Luna? Strangers moving the rig around and putting the slides in and out, scary air compressor noises... no, it wouldn't do for Luna. :)
Fortunately, the area surrounding LLUMC is full of furnished short- and long-term lodgings catering to patients and their families, so Odel is going to look for accommodations suitable for a few weeks near the end of his treatment. By the end of January, we'll be driving off in a like-new rig with a freshly radiated prostate, ready for another 5 years on the road.
at 8:10 PM
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Check this place out! This is Morey Mansion, described as "one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture in the west", located a few miles from us in Redlands. It is now a B & B, and the three rooms rent for $250 and $300 per day.
It was built in 1890 with the profits of Sarah Morey's citrus tree nursery, and citrus orchards are still very much in evidence around here, including behind Mission RV Park (read our review and see photos here), where we are staying.
The RV park and the surrounding area are far nicer and more interesting than I had imagined (feared). Loma Linda, where the medical center is located, is very small and totally centered arount LLUMC and the big VA hospital. The good shopping and restaurants are located in Redlands, and Mission RV Park is between the two. Traveling in either direction, we pass orange groves (what a surprise!) and have beautiful views of the palm trees and mountains. Way less smog, traffic, noise and general congestion than I pictured.
I have been trying to get out to explore Redlands on foot, but the weather has been SO HOT since we arrived, in the upper 90's every day. The day I took this photo, we had planned to walk around one of the historic neighborhoods but didn't have the stamina to deal with the heat, so this was a "drive-by" - we stopped in front, I put the window down, snapped the shot, and put the window back up before we lost our conditioned air! A cooling trend is forecast to begin tomorrow, thankfully.
We'll have plenty of time to explore the area. Odel had his "pod fitting" yesterday, and was given the start date for his treatments: November 13th. He will have 45 treatments, one each weekday, but the 9 weeks will stretch out longer since there will be several days off for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. It looks like we will be here almost to the end of January, 2009 - lucky there is so much to explore!
at 7:37 PM
Monday, October 27, 2008
Hmmmmm.... At what age do you start worrying that your doctor is actually a college freshman instead of a highly respected Radiological Oncologist with the requisite number of initials after his name? I'm not sure what Odel expected, but I can tell you that I was mighty surprised when Dr. Ryan Grover came striding into the little exam room where we waited. I pictured someone authoritative, knowledgeable, and certainly OLDER than ME... but I guess if a doctor is much older than me, s/he is thinking about retirement.
Though he appears only slightly older than teenaged, Dr. Ryan definitely seems knowledgeable, as well as patient, thorough and considerate. Thus began our first day of getting to know prostate cancer, it's treatment and the side effects.
Here's a graphic representation of the troublesome bugger. We saw lots of similar graphics as Dr. Grover discussed the specifics of treatment, the areas that need to be radiated, and the areas that they try not to radiate. I'll spare you all the gory details. Suffice to say, Odel continues to feel that PBT is a better choice for him than surgery, so on we go.
Tomorrow Odel will have a CT scan and be fitted for his immobilizing "pod", and a starting date for treatments, probably ten to fifteen days from now, will be finalized. One of the tasks for today was to sign all the insurance papers - thank you, Medicare - so everything is ready to proceed.
It was lunch time when we finished, so we walked over to the University cafeteria, a surprisingly grim and depressing place. The salad bar was nice, but the fake meats in unappealingly colored sauces turned us both off. The dining area was even worse - fabric-covered chairs stained with the spilled meals of who knows how many students, drab, worn carpeting... ick. I don't think we'll be eating THERE often.
Then we headed over to the Drayson Center, where we immediately checked out the new Smoothie Bar - looks like a much better choice for lunch from now on. Odel had been over for a workout on Friday; yesterday was my first day. Since I wasn't bent and hobbling from the experience, I pushed myself a little harder today - then collapsed into the spa to recover.
I have one more photo for you, from the weekend. We spent time driving around, getting our bearings and exploring a bit. On Saturday, we took a hike on a nearby trail in a hillside park. It is easy to see why "fire weather" is so feared here - the hills are tinder dry.
The big white building in the center of the photo is LLUMC, with San Bernardino and the mountains beyond. Smog free! Now if we could just get the temperature to drop 10 degrees during the day... perfect.
at 5:39 PM
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Yesterday was a busy one for us, beginning with our Patient Orientation at LLUMC. Orientation meetings are held every Thursday at 9:30 am - we knew this and came to Loma Linda early so that we could attend the meeting before Odel's treatment started.
It was a beautiful morning, sunny, clear and cool. We were out on Redlands Blvd., across the street from the RV Park, at 8:30 to catch the bus, which dropped us off across the street from LLUMC less than 15 minutes later. As we watched the line of arrivals snake into the parking lot, we were happy with our decision to ride the bus.
Later, in the orientation meeting, we learned that Loma Linda's permanent population is around 22,000 people - which swells on weekdays to around 60,000 people due to the presence of LLUMC and a huge VA hospital a few blocks away. LLUMC itself employs 13,000 people who arrive each day.
We learned a few other quirks of Loma Linda, too. LLUMC is a Seventh Day Adventist teaching hospital, and most of the small town of Loma Linda is SDA, too. Saturday is the Seventh Day Adventist day of worship. Mail in Loma Linda is not delivered on Saturday, but IS delivered on Sunday - and businesses that might be closed on Sunday in neightboring Riverside or Redlands are closed on Saturday in Loma Linda, including the Drayson Fitness Center at LLUMC (see the photo of the pool below.)
The focus of the orientation meeting was to get patients involved in the group and in the community. Listening to the patient coordinator, I realized how lucky we are to come here as fulltime RV'ers. We already have our home and our pet with us, and settling into a new community and "finding our way" is simply our way of life - including meeting new people and making new friends. It hadn't occured to me how foreign this is to most of the patients here and how important it is to help them feel "at home", since many have come without their spouses and are living in small rentals, rather isolated.
Each patient at the orientation meeting received an inch-thick file about LLUMC, Loma Linda, and ALL the things to do around here: trips to the mountains (which we can see from here, and which will be snow-covered in the winter); trips to the wealthy desert (Palm Springs is a hour away); trips to the beach (we can take a Metrolink train from a nearby stop all the way to the beach); walking tours of LLUMC and Redlands (we actually live in Redlands, adjacent to Loma Linda); hiking trails, bus route, shopping, etc., etc., etc.
We received a schedule of all the social activities available to patients and their caregivers (doesn't have to be a spouse): cards and games on Monday night, potluck on Tuesday night, golf on Wednesday morning and support group on Wednesday night, restaurant night (a different restaurant each week) on Thursday. "Patient only" support group and "caregiver only" support group on Thursday afternoon.
And, we received the all important sign-up letter to present at the Drayson Center, LLUMC's state-of-the-art fitness center we get to join for FREE for the duration of our stay here. As soon as the meeting was over, we set off for Drayson to sign up.
On the way, we passed the Loma Linda Market. Seventh Day Adventists are vegetarians, and they avoid caffeine (no caffeinated drinks are available in the hospital cafeterias - coffee, tea or sodas) and alcohol. All sorts of meat substitutes - canned, dried, refrigerated and frozen - are available under the Loma Linda brand label.
The market was GREAT! The photo shows a tiny portion of the bulk area. There is a large organic produce section, all sort of juices, herbs and organic canned goods, and a large section of vitamins and supplements. A cafe was located next door, but we didn't have time to visit - the day was heating up and we had a few more blocks to walk to the Drayson Center.
In no time at all, we were registered and had our ID cards. The place was bustling. Racketball, tennis, jogging tracks (indoor and outdoor), every kind of cardio equipment, weights, a basketball court, a lap pool and an "activity" pool... wow.
Next stop was a little restaurant for a late lunch, then we caught the bus home with our pile of information. That was enough for one day!
at 5:49 PM
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
We're here, set up for the next couple of months at Mission RV Park. It is better than I expected in all ways! This photo (taken just before sunset) doesn't convey well the feel of the park: quiet and well managed. There are patches of grass and look, we have trees - even palm trees!
Although the park roads and sites are narrow, they are no worse than usual for a commercial park. We have 75 cable TV channels, 3 (or more) NPR stations, and the Verizon aircard works. A clean dumpster is nearby, and washing of cars and rigs is allowed. Our patio is shaded in the afternoon. A bus stops right outside our park that goes to LLUMC - $0.55 for Odel, $1.35 for me (being under age 62 is hell).
Most surprising, and something that makes me incredibly happy: there are no bright lights shining in our bedroom windows! I am sitting on the bed as I write this, with the windows open. Though I can hear traffic sounds in the background (not too terribly loud), I also can hear crickets... not was quiet as the boondocks of southern Arizona, but much quieter and darker than I had anticipated.
We arrived at 11 am and did a "full deployment", setting up to stay awhile. The tires are covered, the front seats are turned around for guests, the "grass" is down on the patio and Luna's table and crate are set up. Our outdoor chairs are in relaxing position.
Once that was done, we visited AAA for 5 detailed area maps, drove by Trader Joe's to see where it is, drove by the building where the Weight Watchers meetings are held, drove by LLUMC, and drove to Costco where we picked up a few goodies. All of these places are within a 5 mile radius of our RV park.
Back home, I downloaded the bus route and schedule - looks like a 15 minute ride to LLUMC. Our first meeting (patient orientation) is at 9:30 tomorrow morning, and we plan to ride the bus. Parking at LLUMC looked very crowded, so we are hoping the bus is a viable alternative.
at 8:06 PM
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Goodbye, Arizona, hello, California.
Yesterday morning we got up early in hot Tucson to hike before we had to check out of Catalina State Park and begin our westward trek. An unnamed trail heads south from the Romero Ruins, and we wanted to explore it.
About 45 minutes of hiking brought us to a narrow ravine, where we heard burbling water. We were surprised to find a few small pools surrounded by lush, waving grasses - a pleasant place to pause before we turned around, clomped on home, hot and sweaty, closed up camp and headed off towards Yuma.
It was a HOT day of driving (bottom photo, taken on I-8 heading towards Yuma), with temperatures in the high 90's when we arrived in Yuma. We did something we rarely do: paid a premium price to stay at an RV park with a swimming pool! Araby Acres is a true "snowbird" park, mostly permanent park models in endless rows, side by side by side. Since the snowbirds haven't arrived yet, the park is mostly empty of people. An hour after we checked in, we were in the pool, splashing and relaxing, no one else around. It was worth the extra bucks!
This morning we got up early, topped off our propane tank at the cheap propane dealer in Yuma, and were on the road by 9 am. Another HOT travel day through the low deserts of California - darn unappealing this time of year, so hot, dry, and dusty that I didn't bother with a photo. Since we usually travel this road in winter, when tribes of boondockers throng to the sand dunes and desert; it seemed very strange to see empty desert on both sides of the road.
During Odel's treatment, our "home" in Loma Linda will be Mission RV Park, 3 miles from LLUMC. We had scheduled an extra day in our travel plans - a bit of wiggle room in case we ran into travel problems - so our reservation doesn't start until tomorrow. Today, we stopped 2o miles short of Loma Linda, in Beaumont, and set up at the Elks Lodge, then jumped into Jules and went off to check out Mission RV Park and scout out tomorrow's route.
Wow, we have definitely been living life in the slow lane, and there doesn't seem to BE a slow lane on Interstate 10 (which we will now refer to as "The 10" in the language of Southern California). Driving the speed limit (65 mph) was scary - faster than we usually drive, but dangerously slow compared with the rest of the traffic. It's a different world here than Bisbee, for sure.
Though rush hour was not far off by the time we arrived to check out Mission RV Park, we took a few minutes to check in with Boomer friends Jeanne and Jack Albers, just wrapping up their stay at Mission RV Park. Jack finished his PBT treatments about a week ago, and they are heading to Arizona on Friday. They have been a fabulous source of information for us as we approached Odel's treatment.
Leaving Loma Linda, we chose a back road through a rural area that looked to me like "old California". Instead of new subdivisions of huge homes packed together on tiny lots, we saw ranches and farms, orange groves and eucalyptus trees. It was lovely. Just before our two-lane canyon road intersected The Ten, a banner on the wall of another brand-new subdivision proclaimed "Up to 7 bedrooms. Prices starting in the $300,000's!" Ugh. Seven bedrooms???
We probably will be in Loma Linda at least 10 weeks - by far the longest we have stayed anywhere since our travels began. The couple who runs Mission RV Park was exceptionally friendly when we stopped in the office, and our site was fine. We mapped the closest Trader Joe's (very close), Costco, AAA office (we need area maps), Weight Watcher meeting, and the location of the Sunday Farmer's Market. Once we learn how to drive southern California style, we'll be able to do some real exploring.
at 7:19 PM
Sunday, October 19, 2008
After 26 days in Bisbee (where did the time go??), we checked the tire pressures, cranked up the engine, and took off this morning on the first, short, leg of our three-day trip to Loma Linda, California. As always, we left with smiles on our faces - getting underway that is FUN, no matter how much we have enjoyed our stay.
Today's drive was only 2 1/2 hours, 135 miles, from Bisbee to Catalina State Park (read our review and see photos here), on the northern edge of Tucson. This is a favorite campground of ours, and at 2700' elevation, it is much cooler here at night than it will be as we head further west. The short day gave us time for a visit to the nearby Trader Joe's, and a walk around the campground as the sun set and the temperatures cooled down.
To stay decently fit (and eat more), Odel and I try to walk 10,000 steps a day - and we are pretty successful at it. Odel wears the pedometer, and I figure my short legs get at least as many steps as his long legs. Since I got back on Weight Watchers, though, my exercise priority has shifted.
When I first joined Weight Watchers around 10 years ago, I was on the "Points" program: I got to eat 20-25 points worth of food each day. It amazed me then, and it amazes me now, how LITTLE food that is!
The point system has been reorganized a little since then. Now I get to eat 20 points worth of food each day, and have a "bank" of 35 more points that can be used during the week for eating out, splurging, or simply eating a tiny bit more each day - essentially the same 20-25 points per day, presented a bit differently.
And then there are "activity points". Get active and you GAIN points, which can be traded one-for-one for food. Our usual 10,000 step stroll (a moderate pace) is worth 4 points: 8 oz of wine is my favorite trade, or an ounce of tortilla chips and fresh salsa, or maybe a little muffin or a couple of cookies for dessert. I'll tell you, it has re-energized my walking to know I can earn a decent sized glass of vino to accompany dinner!
Getting back into WW has sucked up all of my spare time... so much planning, so much calculating! Still, it is a program that I KNOW works for me as long as I don't eat more than 25 points worth of food a day. Besides, the organization and calculation appeals to me, with the special little WW "slide rule" for calculating points, the journal for tracking points... wierd, huh?
Over the past couple of weeks, I've tried quite a few new recipes - some horribly bland and flavorless, many mediocre, and some excellent, the keepers, as approved by Odel. When he says "this doesn't taste like diet food", I know it has broad appeal. I hope to get the keepers posted over the next few days of travel.
at 9:20 PM
Friday, October 17, 2008
I have a fun assignment for a few nights: cat-sitting Frisco. Frisco belongs to my sister Sydney and her husband Frank, who are off on a short vacation. He's an extremely people-oriented cat, and they don't like to leave him home alone day after day (tends to shred the toilet paper, etc.), so I am filling in.
They left yesterday morning. When I arrived around 7 pm, it was dark and it took awhile for me to find the keyhole and get the door unlocked. Desperate conversation came from the other side of the while I worked on the lock: Meow, meow... I've been alone all day, meow, meow... I'm sure it was a mistake, meow, meow... they must have forgotten me, meow, meow, meow... whoever you are, hurry up and open the door, MEOW, MEOW, MEOW!
As usual, Frisco was eager to touch noses, drink out of my glass, fetch mousies, play, and purr. We watched a movie together and had a great evening. Tonight is more of the same.
This is the view from their front window, where Frisco likes to sit and watch the birds. The quail started their burbling, bubbling calls as soon as dawn broke, so Frisco and I got up together to watch the sky brighten.
I realized last night that it was the first night I have spent out of the motorhome alone since we began our travels April 1, 2003! I've taken a few trips with my girlfriends during that time, but a solo night was a first. Lucky Frisco is such a good companion!
at 4:34 PM
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
As soon as we announced our change in plans (leaving the area on October 19th for southern California instead of at the end of December), our social calendar compressed from a couple of months to one week. Lunch time became the hot social slot.
On Sunday, our friends Gary and Judie drove over to Bisbee from Sierra Vista for lunch at the Bisbee Breakfast Club, a very popular breakfast/lunch diner a short distance from Queen Mine RV Park. The best way to know that the "snowbird season" has not yet started: there was NO WAITING at noon on Sunday for a table.
On Monday, Jeannie and Ray (this photo), our friends with the straw bale ranch house over near the Whitewater Draw in Sulphur Springs Valley (where they welcome visiting RV'ers, by the way), came to visit and have lunch at the High Desert Market and Cafe, a pleasant walk up Tombstone Canyon (the main street of Bisbee) from the RV Park. The food was delicious, and the pastry case irresistible to my three lunch companions (I thought the personal pizza had already done sufficient damage to my Weight Watchers program for the day).
Fortunately for my diet, we had long-standing plans with Frank and Ron for a hike to the top of Carr Peak. Since our week-long stay at Rosanna's had to be cancelled, she came over to Sierra Vista to hike with us, too. Check out this view towards Sierra Vista at about the halfway point of the hike (which starts in the saddle).
Fall arrived in Cochise County a few days ago as the storm from the Pacific Northwest swooped far enough south to cool the temperatures down to record-breaking levels. Our mornings have been in the low 40's, daytime highs have been in the low 70's. Crisp fall temperatures and deep blue skies - perfect weather for a steep, mountaintop hike.
This part of Arizona doesn't offer a lot of fall color, but Carr Peak and the neighboring peaks and canyons of the Huachucas do shelter a few patches of aspen. The Carr Peak trail passes through them as it switchbacks to the top. Just 1/4 mile from the top of the peak, we stopped for lunch on this comfortable rock ledge. With the cool air temperatures, the sunshine felt SO GOOD. The view was miles into Mexico, and we watched hawks soar in the canyon below us.
Here is a first: we all were so comfortable and contented, we decided to sit where we were rather than continue to the top of the peak! Oh, the power of relaxing in the sunshine on a fall day.
For dinner, we had a menu of grilled salmon and vegetables planned, but both Odel and I felt too tired to cook. High Desert Cafe to the rescue - a check of their weekly "take out dinner" menu showed "rosemary garlic roast chicken with roasted potatoes and root vegetables" for dinner. Odel jumped back into Jules and was home 15 minutes later with two delicious, ready to eat meals. Yum. Dinner, a glass of wine, a hot shower, and I was in bed and asleep in record time.
at 7:02 AM
Friday, October 10, 2008
Sometimes you come across the most interesting things at the time you least expect 'em! That's how it was today when Odel and I went to a medical appointment in Tucson.
The doctor's office is in the Tucson Cancer Center. As the experience unfolded, it was a continual (pleasant)surprise.
Coming into the parking lot, we noticed both that there was plenty of parking, and that it was free. Between the parking lot and the entrance was a huge, gorgeously landscaped garden: lush, healthy, colorfully blooming native plants; low, gurgling fountains; paved and graveled walkways and bridges; and comfortable seating. I felt like I was visiting an arboretum.
The restful, captivating garden entrance was a prelude to the interior experience. It was NOTHING like any medical building I have ever visited. Restful, relaxing, even entertaining, of all things!
At the front desk, Odel was given a clipboard thick with forms to be completed, along with a vibrating pager, and told to "check in down the hall with the women next to the piano". Huh? The piano?
Well, sure enough, there was a grand piano in a large, well-lighted, airy lobby - along with shelves of books, tables for puzzles, and comfortable seating. Just off the lobby was a spacious gift shop with... clothing! Great cotton clothing, including brand names I like. Huh?? While Odel filled out forms, I shopped!
After he finished registering, Odel had a new clipboard of more forms (that part seems like standard operating procedure). We went outside and, while he answered pages and pages of medical questionnaires, I strolled the gardens and took photos. Even if you didn't have business at the Cancer Center, this garden would be a great place to bring a sack lunch and relax.
Right on schedule, a nurse came into the garden to take us to Odel's appointment. We learned from the doctor (a very attractive 30-something woman with a sexy french accent - probably the high point of the day for Odel) that the Cancer Center had won an architectural award and been the subject of a recent newscast.
Naturally, I googled it when we got home and learned that it is one of just FOUR health facilities worldwide to win a healthcare building design award from the American Institute of Architects Academy of Architecture for Health. The other three are in South Korea, China, and New York City. Tucson is lucky to have such a great facility.
at 7:30 PM
Thursday, October 9, 2008
This lovely photo of Williams Lake, north of Taos, NM, has absolutely nothing to do with today's blog, but wouldn't it be great to be there??
We have had a VERY busy couple of days, so busy I haven't had time to keep up with the blog. Today brought even more big news.
At the beginning of the month, I wrote that Odel had decided on Proton Beam Therapy as his treatment of choice for his prostate cancer. A few days ago, we got great news: our medical insurance will pay for the treatments. With that confirmed, Odel's "intake" appointment was scheduled for 12/23, with 9 weeks of treatments to follow, at Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC) in southern California.
Today, hiking along the US/Mexico border in a remote national wildlife refuge that felt like the middle of nowhere, Odel's phone rang. It was our contact at LLUMC, calling to tell us they had an earlier opening and offered us a starting date of 10/27 - 18 days from now! We took it.
The good news is that Odel's treatments will begin two months earlier than we had anticipated - a very good thing. The bad news is that lots of fun plans in the works will have to be scrapped... but it is a trade-off we choose to make.
So, we'll continue to enjoy Bisbee until 10/19, then we're off to something completely different!
at 8:18 PM
Monday, October 6, 2008
Wandering through Bisbee, I sometimes feel I am down in Mexico, wandering a small town. Off of the main road through Tombstone Canyon, the narrow, winding, and often steep lanes seem more suited to pedestrians, horses, or burros than to motor vehicles. Many of the yards are walled gardens, often with interesting gates. Lots of visual interest here!
We've settled into a comfortable routine. Odel's able to get out on the greens at a great golf course is a few miles away, down on the Mexico/AZ border in Naco. Turquoise Valley (they also have an RV park there) is the oldest continuously operated golf course in Arizona, 100 years old this year. Aside from that, their claim to fame is the 747 yard "Rattler", the only par 6 in Arizona, the longest golf hole in the state.
My brother-in-law Frank and his friend Ron both like to hike, so we four sat down together - over beers - early on and made a list of all the hikes we wanted to do while we are visiting Bisbee and, next month, Tucson.
Our first hike was one of my favorites in this area, Joe's Canyon in Coronado National Monument. The last time we did this hike was March 11, this past winter, and the scenery was SO different, brown and dry.
Look at the grasses in this picture, taken a couple of days ago. For southern Arizona, this is green and lush!
We had a great day for a hike, sunny, 70's, with a little breeze. The temperatures here in Bisbee this time of year encourage hiking, and the cooling nightime temperatures are encouraging the few patches of aspen on the high mountaintops to turn gold.
The photos below were taken on that same hike. The view was from high on the trail, along the ridgetop, looking to the south into Mexico. The grasshopper is a "painted grasshopper" - good name, huh? Intricately colored, it looked fake sitting in Ron's hand.
Today we did another hike, in the Huachuca Mountains. The Sawmill trail is on the grounds of Ft. Huachuca, built in 1877 and in continuous use since then. Civilians are required to stop for a vehicle pass before entering the base, and to show ID - then we drove on to Garden Canyon and the Sawmill Trail. We were surprised to see WATER everywhere - streams crossed the road and our trail several times. The other thing we saw in abundance: butterflies! On the ground, fluttering past us as we hiked, even high up in the tree tops.
Several readers wrote to me about Weight Watcher's when I mentioned on the blog that I was back on their program. Yes, I am a lifetime member, heading to a meeting in Sierra Vista tomorrow to pick up the materials (I borrowed the "points" slide rule gadget and other stuff from my sister, but really need my own again) and get motivated. It is just too embarrassing to have to use a rubber band to fasten the waistband of my jeans!
at 8:03 PM
Friday, October 3, 2008
Today's post is for our friends Doug and JoAnn. While Doug is having surgery, Famous Fillmore is vacationing at my cousin Rosanna's Paws and Hooves Ranch with a variety of other dogs... and CATS! Here is the message Rosanna sent along with these photos:
"Ok, here are some pictures I took of Fillmore today -- he has learned that at Paws & Hooves Ranch, CATS RULE!!! tee hee He was soooo good that we were able to even take him off of his leash, so instead of having his OWN room, he now has the run of the WHOLE house. He minds me better than anything else on this whole ranch!!!!!!"
It's a bit difficult to see him sacked out on the tile floor here, but it looks like he has settled in quite comfortably. :-) Doug and JoAnn, no worries here.
at 8:23 PM
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
October 1st already! It seems like summer flew by - maybe because we usually don't come to Arizona this early in the year. This year, health matters dictated a slowdown in our travels, though.
Most readers already know that Odel was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year. The medical appointment that brought us to Tucson in HOT September was for a consultation and discussion of treatment options.
After a great deal of research, reading, and discussion, Odel has decided to pursue proton beam therapy (PBT), a more controlled form of radiation therapy that results in fewer side effects than either surgery or standard radiation therapy. We are in the midst of submitting Odel's medical information to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where PBT therapy has been used to treat prostate cancer for 15 years. Assuming he is a good candidate for PBT and he is accepted into the program, it might be a couple of months before we head to Loma Linda, CA, for the 9 week treatment program.
Consequently, we have a couple of months to do "whatever". Because we need to stay in a good cell reception area and have access to a fax machine (we spent the morning talking with doctors' offices and faxing healthcare releases), and because it wouldn't hurt to save a little money on fuel, we've decided to hang around Bisbee and Tucson this fall. That's unusual for us!
We've been at Queen Mine RV Park for a week now, and just paid for another. Aside from saving on fuel and getting a discount on site rental for a more prolonged stay, there are benefits of staying put: we can get our mail forwarded regularly, order items online that we can't get locally, and check out some of the local events.
One of the Bisbee events that has piqued my interest is the Bisbee 1000 Stair Climb. Bisbee is built in a series of steep canyons, and many of the homes clinging to the hillsides are accessed from long stairways, built on the original mule paths, climbing and descending from one narrow twisting lane to another.
The Stair Climb is a fund-raiser to maintain the stairways, with music, food, t-shirts, and an "Ice Man" competition (racing up 153 steps using tongs to carry an 8 pound block of ice) with a cash prize. This year's Stair Climb is scheduled on October 18th, and we're looking forward to watching it.
Because staying put frees up a lot of time otherwise (enjoyably) spent planning our travels and actually moving, I have decided to work on a task I have avoided for too long: losing some weight! Somehow this summer I widened, and now even my most roomy pants are too tight. The first day of a month seems like a good time to start cutting back, so it's Day 1 of Weight Watchers for me. I've been going through the kitchen writing WW Point values on everything, and scouring the internet for new recipes - with WW points already calculated - to try. Wish me luck!
at 3:02 PM