Along for the ride:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Knees and Damn Knees!

I think it's obnoxious of a Doctor, who has just seen my x-rays, to enter the consulting room saying: "Wait! Don't tell me. Let me guess where it hurts". In reality, it is something I might do, were the roles reversed. I have bone rubbing on bone, arthritis in one knee, certainly exacerbated by having a young and active foster dog, in need of miles of walks each day. I'd been hobbling around for a week or two, hoping it would get better on its own, but no luck.  My smartass Orthopedic doctor gave me a shot of cortisone and advised some rest; especially no hills. Hmm? 
I've been sitting out several weekends of cancelled rides, due to my knee, as well as work projects that were time sensitive and ate up whole Sundays. Some were creative, such as working through a huge set of blue-prints, tweaking and making design suggestions for carved stone elements, such as door surrounds and fireplace mantels, on a client's new project near Santa Barbara. Some were deadly serious and laborious, such as searching for receipts and justifying papers to answer a tax audit. I swear that the four hours standing in front of the copy machine were probably as bad for my knee as anything else I've done lately.
I tried to ride last week. Our Friday evening lessons have been reinstated since the clocks changed, giving us daylight. I made it down the hill to the arena, groomed and tacked up Dublin, then found I couldn't do much once in the saddle. I had to lengthen my stirrups to take out the bend in my leg and just walk around, like a kid on a pony ride. Even that felt weird. 
Yesterday's attempt went much better. They brought a horse in for me so I wouldn't have to hike out through the pasture. Apples was a cooperative partener and I was thrilled to be functioning at a reasonable percentage of normal. I did quit before the other riders but am happy to report no ill-effects in the knee department. I'm riding again tomorrow morning.
Not to be outdone, The Artistic One had also been complaining about knee pain. His is an ongoing and worsening problem and he'll have knee replacement sometime soon, now that he's wrapped his head around the idea of one more surgery. 
On Thursday morning at 5am, TAO woke up in a lot of pain, with a knee that was red and swollen to the size of a large cantelope. It hurt to move it in any way and it took some maneuvering to get him to the bathroom, as his other leg is significantly shorter and not weight bearing. I got him back to bed, gave him a pain pill and called the 24 hour line for an appointment at 9:30am. We go to medical offices near our work, as we are there more often than at home. The morning commute is an hour so TAO had some time to rest and I fed the cat, made coffee and did two scale drawings that I'd promised to a client. I also pulled my car around, as close to the door as possible.
Getting TAO out of bed, dressed and into the car took forever, punctuated with groans and sharp intakes of breath. We have both crutches and a walker from previous unremembered incidents, but neither were a real solution to help him ambulate. Thank goodness our house is all on one level now. Reaching the car was fraught with the danger of a fall and getting his legs inside caused him more pain. 
I commandeered a wheel-chair on arrival at the hospital and got TAO to his appointment with his usual doctor. Dr S. asked about any recent injury and pondered the possibility of gout or an infection. TAO has had three cortisone shots in that knee, in a few short months, which is a lot. She sent us over to the orthopedic department to have fluid drawn from that offending knee, to relieve pressure and to analyze it. The Ortho doctor warned it was a big bore needle for this, then he was visibly shocked when the fluid he was withdrawing was dark red blood, not clear liquid, as expected. 
70cc's of blood removed helped reduce the pressure so TAO was feeling better. I asked Ortho Doc how far out they were scheduling knee replacement surgeries and he replied that TAO was off that list until he got sorted out with the coumadin clinic to better regulate his blood thinners. 
For now, Ortho says that it can't be the knee causing the bleed and the coumadin clinic say that it can't be due to the level of blood thinners. We have slightly diminished his dosage for now.
Did I forget to mention that we already had another appointment on the schedule that day with a pulmonologist? TAO has extreme sleep apnea, which, although we first found out about it when he zoned out while driving, crossed two lanes of traffic and hit the center divide on the freeway, is a good diagnosis. I have a husband who has had deteriorating memory and concentration and who has to lie down and sleep in the middle of the day. We now have an explanation (other than Alzheimers) and there are things we can do to fix this. Yay us!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Old Broads' Trail Ride

February trail ride in T-shirt weather. Who would complain? Western saddles and a nice young guide, who's career aspirations are "Cowboy". He's worked on a cattle ranch in Ohio and tried bull-ring riding on Portuguese horses. He's taking reining and cutting lessons and is set to buy the horse he's been riding on the trail. He started out as a farrier.
My friend Karen is a Collie rescue connection. She and I often chat about horses as well as dogs. She was raised in these hills and had her own horse for decades. She hadn't ridden since her horse passed away of old age, some eight years ago.
The biggest hurdles to get over are often in our minds. Karen was worried that she was out of shape, too old, wouldn't know what to do, etc. (I know for sure that I'm out of shape and "too" old, but who cares? When I'm on horseback, I'm mentally a teenager). We took it slowly to begin with and then she found herself greatly relieved to be having fun, back in the saddle and loving revisiting her old stomping grounds.
I have the feeling it won't be as long this time, before she takes to the hills again.

Monday, February 16, 2015

February Flowers

Freesias were my Mother's favorite flowers. I often used to buy a slender bunch for her, "just because". Their distinctive spring perfume still makes me smile. Now I grow them myself.
Orchids are an accidental success. These are repeat bloomers from a plant I bought at a flea market a few years back, for next to nothing.
As the orchids in the previous photo seem so happy in this spot, I dug a hole and put the new plant, below, right into the ground.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Pirates and Dancing Girls

 After a couple of hours on the beach, this morning, and a last dip in the Caribbean Ocean, we met our friends for  lunch. The Waikiki Beach Restaurant on St Martin's, has been renovated since the Cyclone that tore through the area a few months ago. It's more modern and open than the version we visited two years ago. The view of the blue waves and passing boats is part of the experience. We're fascinated by the para-sailing and the skills of the tow-boats as they reel in the humans, hanging from a thread, and land them on the back of their craft, without getting their feet wet.
Sunday Brunch is a large affair, with Jet-Skis ferrying visiting yacht passengers ashore, and much celebration at tables ordering jeroboams of Tattinger and Moet.

There was a fashion show of bikinis, cover-ups and resort wear, from the adjoining Boutique, after which the music intensified and "Cue Pirate"; welcome eye-candy for those of us not drooling over the female Models. Our Pirate was on roller skates and got the dancing started right away. 
The Models returned, transformed into dancers, and encouraged Brunch guests to join them, on and off the tables. Those who cry foul when a furry cat paw dares to cross a table, seem to have no problem accepting humans in stilettos tramping around between the plates and glasses.
Our Pirate and his Hench-women twirled and Vogued and smiled for photos with the smitten.They danced vigorously for a long time.
The highlight of the whole experience, for me, was the Maitre d' firmly grasping the ear of an annoying little boy to remove him from the pathway of the servers. I had watched the boy earlier, on the beach, slyly kicking out at the family dog. If he'd done it one more time, it could well have been my hand on his ear.
We're headed back to the real world tomorrow. We hear it's been raining in California.
Post script: The rain and wind caused our flight home to be cancelled so we were stuck for an extra day in Paradise. We had to unpack our bathing suits and subject ourselves to one last evening of Old Rum, flavored with vanilla beans and home grown bananas. Life can be so hard sometimes:)

Saturday, February 7, 2015


The Owl Butterfly fends off potential predators by pretending it is a big-eyed bird. The other side of the wings are blue as the sky, to avoid detection from those who fly higher.
Taking photos of stationary butterflies, as they feed from flowers at the butterfly farm, is one thing. Catching them in flight is a skill I need to work on. I have dozens of "where a butterfly once was" shots on my camera roll.

"Some kind of swallow-tail" would be the scientific term for these two beauties.

This one looks like something a jeweler would create.
Blogger won't let me center the photos, but you get the idea.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Riding in the Islands

Happy and wellfed gang of horses waiting by the gate this morning. The riding instructor and owner of the establishment had overslept and showed up late, very much in need of an espresso. He pulled his act together and selected Oceana, the grey mare for me to ride. The grooming brushes were scattered around, left by the kids who had the run of the place the day before. There's no school on Wednesdays, apparently. 
If you can see the half built castle ruin at the top of the hill, we're told it is new construction that has halted as the owner is behind bars for drug running activities.

Riding arena tucked into a valley, just one hill back from the ocean. Once I found a hat that fit and asked for a girth that didn't swing loosely under my horse's belly, I mounted up. I hadn't brought my riding gear on this trip as I hadn't been able to locate a place to ride, other than the beach rides we went on last trip. This little equestrian center had an editorial in our inflight magazine and I was delighted to find them. My stylish equestrienne fashion statement today was a pair of sweat pants and bright turquoise trainers. It made do.
TAO seems to find the best spot to hang out. I'm begining to thing he's getting tips from the local dogs. I looked over at one stage and he had a big white cat in his arms. Both he and the cat were snoozing in the shade.

TAO minus beard, with our hosts and a niece he hadn't seen for two decades. Who knew she lived here? Her Dad won't get on a plane, so her Uncle was a very welcome substitute.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


This is LeGalion Beach, where we spent a couple of hours sunning and swimming yesterday, before retreating to a palm-shaded table for a nice lunch. LeGalion is a calm lagoon, protected by a coral reef. It's a favorite for parents with small children. We saw many sand castles built and knocked down and great excitment when a crab momentarily visited the sand. Today we're on our way to a beach with waves and a view of other islands.