Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wednesday in San Diego

We left Long Beach at 9:30 this morning and arrived at Vicky's house about 11:15. Virtually no traffic, clear skies, good travel weather. Tom cooked a marvelous dinner for us. We have reacquainted ourselves with Grace the dog. Pix will be put up after we get to Cuyutlan; I have no way to do it here. Tomorrow morning we will head off to Tucson. Either more from there OR I won't be able to put anything else up until we actually settle in at the beach. I talked to Fernando tonight; he will be sure there is water, gas, beer, and lots of goodies to eat when we get there.

Hasta luego, amigos!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

If it's Tuesday . . .

Welcome to Long Beach. We pulled out this morning at 6:10 AM, but not before the Patient decided, at 5:45, that he needed to vacuum. Oy! The drive was easy, weather good most of the way, traffice heavy only around Fresno and again, of course, in the LA basin. We sped by the off-ramps for those bustling metropoli (metropolises?) of Galt, Goshen, Taft, Lebec and the like. Who lives there, I wonder? The fertile Sacramento valley was in bloom; acres of pear and almond trees covered in delicate blossoms. The Grapevine hills had a lovely dusting of snow at the northern end. We buzzed by Mulholland Drive, the Getty Museum complex, and that round building that was once a Holiday Inn but is now an apartment house. We made it to Alex's house in 7 hours flat, with three stops, a total of 420 miles. You do the math.

We have had a lovely dinner, the Patient doing justice to Alex's fine cooking. Now it's time to get to bed so we can get up tomorrow and head off. Next stop: San Diego.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Weekend Edition

It's Monday (again) already and I have been away from the blog chore for three days. Here's a brief re-cap;

  • Cait and Mike arrived Friday from Bozeman. Laughs all around.
  • Saturday we drove to Danville for a wonderful post-nuptual party for one of Cait's closest high school pals. The Patient stayed home to continue packing up, and besides, he can't eat or drink at random, and his voice is in one of its periodic croaking modes, so what's the point in trying to socialize?
  • We spent the night, drove back Sunday, and they took off home about noon. I then took up the packing, stowing, boxing up, etc.
  • Last evening was devoted to that annual ego-fest, The Oscars. Not many surprises, although I thought Eddie Murphy should have won but was glad Alan Arkin got the nod, if not for this role then for many years of fine work. But basically I thought it was boring. Good Grief! You have an entire auditorium crammed with people who make their living "entertaining" us. I was not entertained. And one more thing: How in God's name did Al Gore get so fat?
  • And here we are at Monday already. The Patient is in his usual pre-departure frenzy. He gets like that before going to the market; imagine what it's like for this 2-month trip!
We have packed the car and it is riding mighty low. But I think we got most everything in it. Now if we can just get over the Grapevine on our way to the Southland I will be happy. There is another set of mountains to go over between San Diego and the flats of the Imperial Valley (San Diego to Tucson on Day 3). After that it's a straight shot down the Mexican coast.

This is only a part of the "stuff" that we are hauling down. Don't you love the duck in glasses? He holds chlorine pellets and bobs around in the pool keeping things clean. He'll love it in Mexico.

And this is how it looks after a scientific packing effort by the Patient. That's everything except our suitcases which are small this year as we'll only be gone two months. The photo does show the flats of liquid supplement for the Patient, but it does not show the 8 plastic pink flamingoes that will decorate our tropical garden. It's a long story . . . We'll cram in the cold chest and be on our way!

I heard from one of our beach pals that he tried out his WiFi at my house and it worked perfectly. There should be good connection so I can bring you along on our beach adventure.

Tomorrow morning, rain or shine -- and we're expecting heavy rains tonight and tomorrow -- we're off. Next stop: Long Beach.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

One day closer

I got a surprise delivery today. I ordered some snazzy plates to take to the beach house; a dozen dinner plates, each a different bright color. I got a card from the vendor saying no delivery until March 3. But there they were today, up at the PO waiting for me. I haven't unpacked them so no photo. But first thing, when I get to my house, a pix for your enjoyment.

The Patient and I took our "To Take" list to various shops today to get things we have decided we just can't live two months without. (This is really embarassing!) We brought home Crystal Lite Tea, yellow bug lights (you can't buy these in Mexico and they are essential), night lights (ditto), a certain luscious lemon cookie I ration out over our stays, Dial Soap, batteries (you can buy them but they don't seem to last very long), tea lights by the 100's. Etc., etc., etc. I have to remind myself that we are only going to be gone a short time, not the usual five months. The Patient also ordered his dietary supplements; we'll take 8 flats - 192 cans. He actually needs about 250 cans, but he can buy something like Ensure or Carnation Instant Breakfast to fill in. Or perhaps eat more? What a great idea.

The morning rainstorm cleared mid-day and we had a sunny afternoon. Everything was nice and fresh after a bit of cleansing moisture.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Introducing the Book

My friend Jennifer sent me this URL. For all of us (over 14!) who had some struggles with computers, this is perfect.

Time is getting short here on Monterey Avenue. Five more days and we're gone. Meanwhile, all of our Cape Honeysuckle has been declaired DOA. Rapha will remove it in April. It took five years to cover the trellis, twenty minutes to rip out. Sic transit gloria.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Almost Red Bud

Gina and I set off for the UC Davis Arboretum this morning to see what Spring and a patient Mother Earth had brought forth. It is a truly dazzling display, and it isn't over yet. I just wanted to have a walk through before leaving for the tropics.

The Red Buds are just about to burst into full bloom; right now the trees are loaded with tiny pink bumps that will flower into deep cerise and fuchsia blossoms. Ornamental rosemary is a vivid blue in the deep green fragrant needles.

The Acacia trees are barely starting; enough to make an asmatic sneeze, but not yet turned fully an egg-yolk yellow. There are several beds of daffodils, a whole bank of alstromera that are not going to bloom for a couple of months but the greenery is up, announcing their imminent appearance. I have watched this bed get larger and larger every year, spreading along a bank of Putah Creek. They are a gorgeous pinky-beige color when they finally get around to showing off.

Nemo, Gina's three-footed dog was nuts for chasing the ducks that wander the banks of the creek and seem to own the place. They were out in flocks, floating in the rather murkey water but having a fine time nonetheless. In a few more weeks the baby ducklings will show up, little yellow puffs dotting the water. In all the years I spent on the campus, watching this annual miracle, I never once saw a duck egg. I have no idea where they are hidden. All know is one day there are no babies; suddenly there are a couple hundred. I must have been absent that day in biology.

While I was out at a luncheon this afternoon The Patient began getting his beach gear together. He tried on a pair of shorts just to see how badly they fit. Not too badly. But what I was interested in was how thin he has gotten and how he would look. Would he have lost those great basketball player legs? Not at all!

N.B. You know those pesky people you have to deal with whose "customer service" number you can never find? Like Netflix or airlines and such? Here's a great Web Site that will solve many of those frustrations. This compliments of Ernie's widow.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Ernie: R.I P.

I received the sad news this morning that Ernie the cat has died. Although I was not one who cared for Ernie when Babz was traveling I was one who cared about him. I know how hard it is to bid farewell to a true and faithful pet; I've had to do it twice. Here is part of the lovely and poignant obit by his temporal keeper, Babz:

"Unfailingly cheerful, good-natured, and curious about everything that came his way, he shared my home, my friends, my good times and the not-so good ones, too; in short, he shared my life. We never took a vacation together, and he didn't join me on walks or bike rides, but he was always here waiting for me, happy to see me, ready to chat and enjoy a brushing or just hang out. Not a day went by that he didn't make me laugh. I will miss that, and him."

Have you ever cooked with celery root, or celeric, as it is called? I have never bough the stuff, although I love it when it is turned into céleri remoulade. The next time you are in Paris go to Alesia in the 14th and buy some at the charcouterie on rue Alesia. You won't be sorry. It is the best in the world. As I am always looking for relatively bland dishes to please the palate of the Patient, I bought a celery root, chopped it up, boiled it and incorporated it into some mashed potatoes. It was a hit!

Gina and I were going to walk the UC Davis Arboretum this morning but it was so foggy we turned around and stayed in the neighborhood. We'll try again tomorrow. The redbud should be just about to burst into bloom and I don't want to miss it before we go.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Gastronomic progress

For dinner tonight the Patient requested pizza. Imagine! He can hardly get down bland soft foods and he wants pizza. So we ordered a salami, mushroom and green pepper from our favorite local restaurant, Symposium. This temple of Greek food makes the best pizza in town. The Patient also bought a 12-pack of Newcastle Brown Ale. He's in training for really good Mexican beer.

I chatted with Marie in Cuyutlán, asking her to do some shopping for me at the weekly tiangis street market. You know, a few avocados, a papaya, a pineapple, some redondos (round zucchini-type squash). I want to have a few things on hand when we get there. Fernando and Chouy have prepared the house for our arrival. It will be so nice to move right in. We usually have several days of unpacking, cleaning, shooing off of mice, cucarachas that have taken up residence during the summer, various spiders and other livestock. I have been assured that all this has been taken care of and the house is ready and waiting. Meanwhile, the packing piles are getting bigger and bigger.

On my walk today I went in a different direction to check out other gardens. They are all pretty much the same; bulbs blooming in massed beds, almond trees covered with delicate white blossoms, Linden trees with a haze of pale green buds about to burst, rose bushes sprouting little red leaves that will turn green soon. Someone planted bulbs along one of the thorofares in this neighborhood so there are clusters of jonquils to lighten the spirits. Random acts of kindness I'd say.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The weather is so delightful

The Patient was in the garden today, soaking up the sun and pruning, clipping, digging. I was right behind him picking-up and planting. He cut down the zylosma along the driveway. This big hedge is responsible for housing the birds that poop all over my car. They are just going to have to find new quarters. I cut back the wisteria and a Japanese elm so the newly planted roses will get enough sun during the summer months. I also discovered that the geraniums on the east side of the house survived the frost. Those on the north side did not. Alas. Likewise the Gerbera daisies succumbed as did the plumbago along the fence. Around the garden, framing the pool, we have Cape Honeysuckle shrubs. They lost all their leaves (they are evergreens) in the frost, but I think the actual plants survived. I hope the red trumpet vine did, too. We won't know until we get back and see what's leafing out. Strangely, the oregano plants are thriving; the sage bit the dust. Go figure.

As you can see the daffodil bulbs continue to make their way through the soil into the sunlight. I don't think we'll be here when they finally bloom. But here's the second picture charting their progress.

On my morning walk I checked out the gardens along my route. They are a riot of color, blossom and scent. Plus all the dogs in the neighborhood were out enjoying the beautiful weather. Yesterday I saw The Fonz, a Wheaton terrier. This morning there was the haughty Labradoodle, an old and quite elegant Golden Retriever, and the rambunctous young Weimaraner who is alway so eager to play.

Here's the question. While sitting in the living room reading I heard some strange noises coming from the guest bathroom. I investigated and what I heard was Jim snoring. He had falled asleep on the toilet. This is the guy who wants to drive to Mexico. Should I be concerned?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

A little remembrance of the occasion from my Valentine, the Patient. Despite the swollen face and neck, froggy voice, reduced hindquarters, burbling breathing, and penchant for nodding off just as the good part starts, he's still my Funny Valentine! If you are interested in the doodlings of poets, those with Valentine greetings and others, here's where you should look.

Last evening I went to the Sacramento B Stree Theatre to see Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw. This hilarious play depends on meticulous timing, mistaken identities, broad humor, and a completely outrageous plot. The production had it all!

Ernie Update: I went to the theatre with Ernie's best friend, Babz. She passed on the news that he is not doing terribly well but is hanging in. He's not interested in eating much and is in greatly reduced circumstances. However, he is still very much with us; there's just alot less of him.

DMV Update. I passed my driving test, got my two-year renewal, and am ready to hit the road for Cuyutlán. Two weeks and counting.

Garage Door Saga: We have lift-up! The Patient supervised the installation of the new opener, naturally, being certain the expert the company sent would not be able to figure it out. Between the two of them they got it up and running. So check one more thing off the "to do" list. Now I can move all the packing piles back into the garage and continue what was so annyoingly interrupted.

How many of you have a chef-in-training living across the street? Jason is taking chef courses at American River College. Wednesday is their "cook" day. So who gets their experiments? We do! Jason showed up tonight with a delicious chicken breast dish that I gratefully incorrporated into the rest of our menu. He has a great future in restauranting!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Charles and Abe

Today is the 198th birthday of both Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. It was said that when Stephen Jay Gould was on his very untimely deathbed, his greatest regret was that he would not live to celebrate Darwin's bicentannial. Alas. Fine fellows all.

While the Patient doodled on the internet I slaved away in the kitchen preparing the Chicken Potpie. The recipe, from the January 2007 issue of Sunset (page 88 and cover) is much too long and complicated to reproduce here, but it was delicious. (I tried to get a link to the very page in the magazine but was unable to do so. Try your local library.) It needed some tweaking; more liquid for one thing, to make the filling juicier, but all in all it was a real success. The herb-y, cheese-y biscuits are heavenly! As long as you have plenty of time to put it together, it's worth it. There are several steps; first you make the filling; here's where you need more liquid. Then you make the dough for the biscuits. Then you assemble it all and le Voilá! Buttermilk Biscuit Chicken Pie! The Patient did right well with this, and had some delicious piquant salad, too. Since I will be out at the theatre tomorrow evening, there's plenty left over for his dinner.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday Supper

When I was away at boarding school about a zillion years ago it occurred to me that Sunday's dinner was a mish-mash of everything that had not been a top seller during the week. Likewise at those times when I was at home on Sundays, since that was my father's busiest day, my mother would cobble together a tasty patchwork of several previous nights' leftovers and we would eat in the den on what were described as "TV Trays." In fact, those were some of my favorite meals, much less formal than those during the week. My parents, being of an age, "dressed" for dinner. Those affairs were always delicious but awfully stiff. Not quite finger bowls, but close. My original plan for dinner tonight was a chicken potpie, using a recipe I had seen in Sunset a couple of months ago. But after rummaging in the fridge to see what was needed for such an endeavour I discovered lots of odds and ends that could probably be made into something edible. And the Patient said he wasn't very hungry. So, thinking "Waste Not, Want Not" we sat down to delicous vegetable soup with shreds of b-b-que pork, three-quarters of a salmon cake that the Patient had not eaten on Friday night, some still-crispy steamed veggies, a Samuel Adams beer (for him) and a lovely glass of Viognier (for me). Sunday supper. The potpie is for tomorrow.

A lovely walk this morning after the cleansing rain. The sky was a clear blue, the air fresh and fragrant, gardens along our route bursting with blooms or about-to-be-blooms buds. Unfortunately my daffodils were vicitms of the rain; it beat upon their tender blossoms and bent them into the ground so they had to be snipped and turned into boquets. There are still shoots that haven't bloomed yet that survived the downpour.

The Patient drove up to Sears this morning to buy a new garage door opener. It will be installed Wednesday or Thursday. This means we had to move our packing piles out of the garage and into the house so the chap who installs the opener has some room to work. We now have "take to Mexico" stuff stacked up in the hallway, the living room, our bedroom. Why do we think we need all this?

The covers for the director's chairs and sling chairs arrived on Saturday. They are gorgeous. You'll have to wait to see them until I get it all set up and take a photo in situ.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Patient cooks

The Patient made the most wonderful polenta for dinner tonight. Here's his recipe, copied from something he found in the NY Times. This is incredibly creamy and smooth. I would say only to watch the salt. I don't use any salt in my food and this seemed a tad salty, but perhaps that's just my palate. Enjoy!


1 c finely ground yellow cornmeal
3 T minced onion
3 T unsalted butter
1 t salt
¼ t pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1½ c grated Gruyère cheese

Heat over to 400 degrees.

Bring 3½ c water to simmer. Gradually stir in the cornmeal and onion with a wooden spoon. Simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Stir often.

Stir in the butter, salt, pepper, eggs and 1 cup of the cheese.

Spread the mixture evenly in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake until the topping is melted and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

You can see that the Patient is back in the kitchen and restless to do what he loves best: COOK. But here's the rub. During his down time, I have moved back into the kitchen doing what I LOVE to do. I had about five months of doing all the cooking, mainly for myself. The question at hand? Who gets to wear the chef's hat now that he is gettiing back into shape? Perhaps we need to have two hats. We will soon be at the beach where I do all the shopping and the division of labor is more even. When we return in May we can have this fight. As for now, I am thrilled that he is even interested in food, eating, cooking, shopping, reading and clipping recipes.

It's still raining. We have had about 2" of rain in the valley since last night. Tomorrow, providing it's not storming wildly, we have to go Sact'o to buy a new garage door opener. Ours died today. The last one I bought in 1996 while Jim was yukking it up in Kenya and I was keeping the home fires burning. The current mechanism has done good work and it's not too early to replace it.

Two movies on hand: Million Dollar Baby and Blow Up. The first I have never seen. The second I remember watching at some theatre in Berkeley where the seats were held together with pre-chewed gum and flea collars on the ankles were a must. Critiques to follow.

Rain at last

It started last night and has kept up almost all day. Not a heavy downpour that could cause trouble. Just a gentle, steady rain that is giving everything a nice drink and a good washing.

I have just returned from a lovely trip to the Crocker Art Museum with friends to see a couple of new exhibitions. One of them is photographs taken in Yosemite by Ansel Adams when he went there in 1938 with friends, including Georgia O'Keefe. The place was mobbed and it was hard to get close enough to see everything and read all the descriptions. This calls for a return on, say, a Wednesday morning when it's deserted. Then we went to a dinner at a posh Davis restaurant (not an oxymorom!). A delightful Friday evening.

The Patient stayed home. He is not yet up to milling around in crowds or eating in restaurants. He wasn't feeling 100% today. I think the swelling in his neck is bothering him more. Tomorrow we will try some massage again to seek a bit of relief. His voice has gotten very hoarse and cracked, probably from the swelling. He says that it feels like someone is throttling him, although he can breath OK and his throat is not sore. I think it's just the pressure from the swelling. We have got to get that under control and help the accumulated fluids drain.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Still no rain

The weather presenter keeps promising rain but still no rain comes. Perhaps tonightl. I did manage to get in a nice walk this morning. The air was very fresh yet burdened with moisture that had yet to actually materialize to rain. Gardens are beginning to show blooms; jonquils, buds on tulip trees. An almond tree was already in bloom. We're going to miss the height of Spring around here, including our wisteria. We haven't seen it in bloom for years. But I understand from the neighbors that it's quite spectacular.

While the Patient finished up puttering in the garden before the alleged rain comes, I decided to tackle the DMV for my renewed driver's license. Because of my eyes I am on a restricted license that has to be renewed every two years. When I did this in 2005 it took five months to get the damned thing. Today, however, they were very accommodating when I explained that I have to renew it before I go to Mexico as I won't be back until it has expired. Driving with an expired license is NOT a good idea in Mexicok, if only for insurance sake. It's very confusing to them when I try to explain why I can't pass the eye test with one eye but can actually see just fine. The last time the chap giving me the driving test commented that I did very well for a blind person.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Retail therapy

The Patient decided it was time to do some shopping, his very least favorite chore. We drove down to the outlets in Vacaville where he purchased two pair of tennis shoes. End of shopping spree. He does this faithfully every two or three years. I suggested perhaps a new T-shirt or two for the beach. No deal. I, on the other hand, bought four pair of men's boxer shorts at the Banana Republic; I wear them at night so I have something to clip my insulin pump to. Snazzy prints, real cheap.

Then we went to the AAA office in Woodland to stock up on road maps and the new travel book on Mexico. I don't know who "organizes" this publication but it is virtually impossible to use. I wouldn't even know where to begin to rework it. I don't know why we even brought it home. We always stay at the same hotels going and coming, we carry most of our own food so don't seek out trendy restaurants while on the road. It doesn't tell us the things about Mexican towns we want to know, like where and when are the street markets.

The promised rain never showed up in any serious way. A few very brief sprinkles. The sky is heavy tonight, however, so we may get some action yet.

Wild Atlantic salmon for dinner. The Patient had decided this was something he could eat and that appealed. He cleaned his plate.

Last night it was Joan Plowright. Tonight it was Peggy Ashcroft in Caught on a Train. Delicious.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Gift from the Garden

This is the first daffodil from the 2007 garden!. And there are lots more coming. A couple of years ago, Robin Gordon, who was living here while we were traipsing around Europe, planted lots of bulbs in both the front and back gardens. This year we get to enjoy the fruits of her labors. I also planted more bulbs and ranunculas in both gardens. The green leaves are popping through. I don't know if we will get to see any blossoms.

In the back I also planted bulbs in a big pot. You can see the very
tips of the green shoots. I'll record the progress of these blooms. I still have to plant my roses. I know, shame on me for waiting so long. The place I want to plant them, though, is cement-hard and since we are expecting rain (yeah, right!) tonight and tomorrow I thought I'd let Mother Nature soften up the ground instead of using a jack hammer. The bare roots have already sprouted tiny pale green leaves so it is TIME to get it done.

Today Jim had his very first massage. I gave up my appointment so he could have some work done on the swelling of his lymph glands. Sheree is trained in lymphatic massage. She worked on him for an hour, trying to get the swelling and puffiness in his neck to subside by stirring up the lymph draining mechanism. She showed me how to do it and suggested that I work on him for an hour a day to get things moving.

This afternoon I watched Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, an utterly charming and very sentimental movie with Joan Plowright and the divine Rupert Friend. A two box-er.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Beach Sunsets

I told you I would show you the sunsets I captured while in Long Beach over the weekend. Here they are. It was so lovely to stand on the sand and watch the sun sink into the sea. No green flash however.

Likewise, here is a picture of my dear, dear uncle, the last of a fine octet that included my mother. Now I am well aware that almost nobody reading this blog gives a fig about who this delightful man is, but I give not only a fig but the entire fig tree. So I include him as an example of a truly good man; kind, loyal, faithful, generous, loving, smart, and best of all, very, very funny. A consumate raconteur.

Now let's consider the Patient. Better every day. Today he ate quite a bit, although he is still dependent on the liquid supplements. I know he is trying valiantly to get as many calories as possible by mouth so he doesn't have to fuss with the feeding tube and the cans, but it's clear he is not going to be 100% by the time we leave. We'll just pile several cartons of liquid in the car and make the best of it. His vanity says he won't appear in a bathing suit during our stay, but in reality I know he will. Heck, these folks are almost family. In fact a couple of them have called to inquire just exactly when we are coming and won't we please hurry up and get there and things just aren't the same without us, etc. The latter may not be altogether a bad thing . . .

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Home again

I am home after a lovely weekend with family in Long Beach. The 90th birthday party was truly wonderful. The best of family, the best of friends. But I am simply too tired to write, so I will try again in the morning. I haven't looked at the pictures I took. I think there are some good ones, though.

The Patient is in pretty good spirits. We went to a Super Bowl Party this afternoon and he managed to eat several yummy treats such as meat balls in sauce, pasticio, a Greek pasta dish with meat, Feta and cream sauce, some chunks of fruit, and a bit of guacamole and beans. Things are moving along.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

From the warm

I am in Long Beach, CA where the sun is both shining AND warm, the palm trees are tall against a brilliant blue sky, flowers are blooming in gardens, but the grass on lawns is brown and stiff from lack of water, not from freezing temperatures. People are wearing shorts! Last evening Pete (son-in-law) and Em and I went to the Long Beach shoreline and took a walk at sunset./ I realized I had not seen a real sunset since the Patient and I spent our last night in Mexico at San Carlos last May. I mean a sun-sinks-into-the-ocean type sunset. I took several pix but forgot to bring my connector cable so they will have to wait until I get home tomorrow.

I talked to the patient last night and he reported on his gastronomical achievements for the day. He took himself to Wendy's for dinner where he bought a cheeseburger. He brought it home, ate the whole thing, washed it down with a bottle of beer, and was quite pleased with himself. That's probably 500 calories for his chart! Good job, Jim.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


The thing about news is that frequently it is not as good as you had hoped but not as bad as you had feared. So it was this morning at the appointment with the surgeon. He assured us that although the worst is gone, not everything is gone, and it may be necessary for further treatment, which means surgery. However he also said that nothing should be contemplated for at least three months. This will give the residual radiation time to complete the job of killing and shrinking anything that's left. He has given us the green light to head off to the beach with the understanding that the Patient will have another CT scan in May, and perhaps even a PET scan to see if anything has migrated. I am taking this as more good news than bad. When we got home we began making departure plans. Buy the Mexican travel insurance, make copies of all pertinent documents, set up the tables in the garage where we stack stuff to be packed into the car, etc. No matter what, we're going.

Meanwhile, in the real world, that firebrand who coined the nickname "Shrub" for you-know-who has been freed from pain and suffering and will tell Saint Peter, with enormous humor and delight, "Hi, I'm Molly Ivins and I'm here to kick some shit!" I will miss her. She was a real stand-up against what she believed was morally wrong or stupid. If we pay attention we can learn much from her example. She was fearless in her belief that 'we the people" meant 'WE THE PEOPLE, NOT YOU ALONE." Her long-time editor wrote a beautiful tribute to her. Read it and weep at what we have lost.

Our friend Babz presented us with a wonderful keepsake to remind us of what we have been throug, now that we are on the other side. This is what? The guiding star? The star of wonder? The star on our charts? All of this. The glittering star that helps lead us out of the deep darkness that has threatened us but that has been held at bay by force of will, by the love and support of our friends and families.

Tomorrow I head down to Southern California to attend my uncle's 90th birthday. He is the last of the octet of my mother's familial group. He is my mother's brother-in-law. There were four Watkins children; he married my mother's baby sister, who died this past October. All the rest have died, too. Happy Birthday Morrey. And if that celebration were not enough, my very own baby sister Victoria celebrates her 60th on Saturday. Hard to believe. It seems only yesterday that I came home from school, first grade I think, to find this interloper in the house. Where did she come from? I've never been able to figure that out.