Search This Blog

Thursday, August 27, 2015


View of Edgartown Harbor from Our Restaurant
Again, another long absence before updating this blog.  I have no real excuse, although I spent most of last week sailing with my friend, Lew.  We sailed to Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard on his 35-foot Cape Dory boat and then on to Cuttyhunk.  It was a wonderful, relaxing time, as usual. The sailing, company, and culinary experiences were delightful.  Now that I am no longer competing in Block Island Race Week, as I have for the past 20 plus years, it is just delightful to be on a sail boat with a good friend and experience the water, winds, and tides.  It's confronting nature at its best (and sometimes worst), which makes it a primeval experience.  The uncertainty always keeps you on your toes.  I also have to say that nothing quite compares with eating fresh-caught grilled swordfish while watching the sun set over the harbor.  These are life experiences that I will never forget.

Unfortunately, because  I was sailing, I missed the seminar sponsored by the MMRF last Saturday, where Paul Richardson was espousing on all the recent advances in MM therapies.  While I'm sorry that I missed it, I also think that I am pretty up to date with the current status of MM research and treatment options.  I'm sure I would have learned something new, but I don't think I've missed any of the important new developments either.  I do try to keep up with the latest news on this.

Last week I went to the Farber for my monthly checkup, and I'm pleased to say that everything is still on track.  This is now my 38th cycle on maintenance therapy with Rev.  This was supposed to be the last cycle of my clinical trial, but I know I'm supposed to be extended for another 3 years.  My nurse, Kristen, said that they are still working on getting the paperwork together for me to sign the consent form for me to continue on to the new clinical trial.  I'm glad I brought this issue to their attention a couple of months ago, but they still haven't gotten their act together on this.  I'm sure it will work out somehow.  Paul Richardson will not let paperwork get in the way of my treatment.  I expect a smooth transition.

Today I had an appointment with my dermatologist, Dr. Reohr.  I knew there was a problem, since I have had a scaly growth on my forehead for the last couple of months.  She zeroed right in on it, and said it is either a cyst or possibly a squamous cell cancer.  She took a biopsy and stitched it up.  I have to go back next week to find out the results and get the stitch out.  I also had about 15 actinic keratoses, mostly on my face, which are pre-cancerous growths.  She treated these with spraying liquid nitrogen on them.  That wasn't a lot of fun.  For the next week or so, I'll look like I've been in a prize fight.  She wanted me to set up an appointment to come back in a year, but with all of this happening, I told her I want to come back in 6 months, so that's what I'm going to do.

Today was my Habitat for Humanity day.  I've been doing a lot of carpentry work since I started this, and I'm having a great time.  Every day is different, and I learn something new each time.  Today, I was helping to install a kitchen counter top.  There was a lot of crawling around on the floor trying to screw things in from awkward angles, but I got it done.  I'm getting a little old for this.  I had to take a nap when I got home.  But it felt good to accomplish something and contribute in a small way to helping other people. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Peru Trip

It's been a long drought since my last post, but part of the explanation is that we spent more than 2 weeks traveling to Peru to see our daughter, Holly, and her fiance, Ryan.  It was an amazing and spectacular trip.  Now that we are back, I am happy to announce that we managed to dodge all of the dangerous maladies that confronted us during our visit to the rain forest, including yellow fever, malaria, hepatitis, typhoid, dengue fever, rabies, and whatever else lingers in the jungle (except that Gretchen was bitten by a fire ant).  Other than that, we made it back unscathed. Hooray for us!

Machu Picchu
It was a magical experience.  We first met up with Holly and Ryan in Cusco, and from there we took a scenic train ride to Aguas Calientes, the nearest town to Machu Picchu.  We spent the night there and took a bus up to Machu Picchu the next morning.  The guide book said to get to the bus stop around 5:00 am to get the first buses up in time to see the sunrise and avoid the crowds.  What a joke!  When we got there around 5:15, there were at least 500 people in line in front of us.  So much for the guide book.

To say that Machu Picchu is beautiful is an understatement.  The views are breathtaking.  It was a bit challenging climbing over all the rocks at that altitude (8,000 ft.), but it was well worth the visit.  I've always wanted to see these spectacular Incan ruins, so now I can cross that off my bucket list.

Group Shot at Lake Sandoval
After spending a couple of days back in Cusco, we flew to Puerto Maldonado, which is part of the Amazon basin rain forest.  Our lodging there was more like a camp, with mosquito netting for the walls and no hot water.  But who needs hot water when it's 90 degrees?  The outdoor shower was actually quite refreshing.  It turned out to be a great relaxing place to stay.  We took a day trip by boat down the river Madre de Dios to Lake Sandoval, which required a 3 km hike through the jungle for us to get to the lake.  We then toured the lake by large canoe, paddled by our guide.  We saw a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, macaws, turtles, caimans (similar to alligators), various beautiful birds, bats, and even a sloth.  It was an exciting day.

We then few back through Lima to Trujillo, in order to spend a few days at Holly and Ryan's apartment in Huanchaco, which is only minutes from the Trujillo airport.  Huanchaco is a small fishing village on the Pacific Ocean, which is a destination for surfers around the world.  Although this is the off season, there were still quite a few surfers doing their thing.  Their apartment is adorable, only 2 blocks from the ocean.  It is very comfortable and has a nice patio with an ocean view.  It was a delightful relaxing finish to what had been a whirlwind vacation until then.
Huanchaco Fishing Boats

The Huanchaco fishermen cling to their old traditions of paddling out over the surf in their odd-shaped, hand-made boats to set their nets.  Every morning, they sell their catch on the beach to local restaurants and vendors.  We had some fabulous fresh fish ceviche while we were there, which is a Peruvian specialty.  If you ever go to Peru, you have to try the ceviche.

We had an opportunity to visit Holly's Montessori pre-school and meet her students: about 27 children aged three to five.  They were adorable!  They love her, and she is obviously doing a great job with them.  We are really proud of her, both for the contribution she is making and how she has coped with this new environment.  She went down there in February speaking no Spanish and had to learn how to shop, find an apartment, and by the way, start teaching a class of children who don't speak any English.  She has learned a great deal of Spanish since, and now is able to communicate with the children as well as get us through the day as an interpreter. She's amazing!

Holly's Escuela
We found the Peruvian people to be a loud, boisterous, happy lot.  They love to make noise, and they seem to really enjoy themselves.  Things were even noisier than normal while we were there, since July 28 is their Independence Day.  They started celebrating days in advance with parades, fireworks, and numerous loud parties every place we visited.  One night, while having trouble sleeping through the mayhem in the jungle, some of us were tempted to get up, grab a drink, and go find the party!

It was a fantastic vacation.  It was wonderful to spend time with Holly and Ryan, as well as get in some good sight seeing.  I'll have to admit though, after two weeks away, it was kind of nice to get back home.