July 13--Contains Lead

It's supposed to get up into the 90s today, which is normal for this time of year, but at the moment it is in the low 60s as the sun comes up. I have the windows open in my office. I can hear a dove cooing somewhere, and a train going by in the distance.

Malida had her biopsy on Thursday, and it went well. It was just needles, so she didn't have too much discomfort after. The doctor performing the biopsy told her there was a good chance that this was some sort of inflammatory thing rather than malignancy, which would be good. We will find out the results early next week.

The office was interesting--not at all like a typical medical office. There was a reception room with furniture that would be at home in a country kitchen. Classical music was playing. It was low-key and efficient. I didn't take a picture.

Other than that, we have pretty much been overcome with inertia for the past couple of days. Malida has been watching a lot of tv, and I have been sitting in here doing not much of anything, though I did mess around with some of my pictures.

contains lead

This is one from last year that I couldn't seem to get how I wanted it back then. It was taken in west Marin, near where we were last week, and I thought about it when we were out that way. The golden age of gas pumps.

I took another look at some of my Milky Way photos and played around with one of the ones I took before it got fully dark. I ran it through some filters until I got it the way I wanted it to look. It's somewhat surreal, which is what I was going for.

milky way silver lake

Malida really liked it, and asked me to send it out to be printed up so she could take it to Thailand and put it in our house. I'm curious to see what it looks like printed up.

I need to renew my critical care certification this month. I have a choice between submitting 100 hours of continuing education, or re-taking the certification exam. I've taken the exam twice over the years, and prefer to collect the CE hours. I'm not sure how many I have at the moment, but I am pretty sure I have close to enough. I took a bunch of courses last summer to satisfy the board of nursing requirement for being the medical-surgical content expert for the nursing program. I'll work on that this coming week.

alternate sunset

Another sunset shot at Mono Lake from earlier this week.

July 11--Squeezably soft

On Sunday we decided we needed to get out of the house, so we headed over to the coast and wandered around Bodega Bay. It was a beautiful, breezy day. We had lunch at one of the seafood places along the bay and waited for the seagulls to come crashing in through the windows.

bodega head

After lunch we drove around the bay out to Bodega Head, which is where the bay meets the ocean. I had never been out there before. It was spectacular. We walked down to the beach and took in the sea air. It was just what we needed. Too bad we can't bottle it and bring it home.

Malida at elephant rock

Malida looks out over the Marin landscape. There is no place in the world like West Marin County. It's all gentle hills, ocean views, and dairy farms.

Malida decided to work on Tuesday, and I decided to take a quick trip up over the Sierras to see how the high country looks. The Tioga pass opened just last week. I headed over the Monitor Pass to Lee Vining and spent the night there.

I went out to catch the sunset at Mono Lake. The water level was quite a bit higher than the last time I was there, and the path to the place I like to go was kind of swampy. I ended up falling over sideways into the water and the tufas, and scraped up my arm pretty good. I was about to call it quits, but decided to stick around to see if I could salvage a picture or two.

mono lake sunset

I was rewarded with this lovely image. It was worth the wait, and the ruined shoes.

In the morning I headed west over the Tioga Pass through Yosemite. I stopped along the way and walked around along the river for a while. There were lots of mosquitoes. I was surprised by how little snow was left. I avoided going down into the valley, and headed out the west entrance.

waterfall in Yosemite

A small, unnamed waterfall somewhere along the road. I hiked down to take a look and tripped on a rock. I fell into a bunch of other rocks and cracked my watch face and the back of my camera. I need to be more careful. I made it home relatively intact.

Malida's biopsy is later this morning, so naturally I was awake at 4:45 thinking about it. She's worried about the procedure, and thinks it is going to take a week or two to recover from it. I was thinking it will be simple and straightforward, and more worried about what it will reveal.

As I was lying in bed thinking, I realized that she thinks they are going to make an incision to get the biopsy, while I was thinking they will use a needle. Actually, no one has said how it will be done, so it could be either way, I guess, though I think fine needle aspiration is how they do it. We'll know for sure at 10. Results next week.


July 4, 2019--Independence Day

I'm up early enjoying a beautiful morning. There is a nice breeze coming in through the open windows, and I can hear the birds chirping. There is the drone of a small plane is flying overhead. I can smell the roses that are blooming outside the window. All in all, a lovely morning.

Tuesday night was the new moon, and I decided to drive up into the Sierras to see about taking some star pictures. I waited until Malida got back from her doctor's appointment--she has had a sore throat for the past few weeks, with intermittent fevers, and it hasn't gone away. The doctor ordered an ultrasound.

I headed up Highway 88 with the idea of checking out Caples Lake as a place to shoot, and maybe go up to the Monitor Pass. I left in time to get up there before dark so I could scope things out. I got up there about an hour before sunset. I was disappointed to see that it was somewhat cloudy, which is not good for star photography, but decided to wait and see.

I drove down to Woods lake to check it out. There was still a bit of snow on the road, but it was easily passable. The creek was full, and I took a couple of pictures while I waited for the sun to go down.

I looked up and saw that the sky was turning red, and thought I should get out of there and see what the sunset looked like. I got back on the highway and saw that there were a lot of red clouds just over the Carson Pass to the east so I drove over that way.

This is what I saw as I came over the pass and looked down toward the Carson Valley:

red lake

It was spectacular. The lake is called Red Lake, and now I know why. This only lasted for about 5 minutes--just enough time to get a couple of shots, before everything faded out. I headed down into the valley to see if it was cloudy further on, and it was, so I headed back toward home.

On the way back, I noticed that that it was clearing in the southeast, so I stopped at Silver Lake. I could see the Milky Way rising over the horizon across the lake, and Jupiter bright in the sky. I stuck around and got out my camera stuff.

Milky Way

I wasn't disappointed. I stayed up there until my fingers started getting cold, about 11 pm. I got back home at about 1:30 am, not nearly as tired as I thought I would be. Photography sometimes invigorates me.

Malida called me from work yesterday afternoon to tell me that the doctor called about her ultrasound results. There is a large nodule on her thyroid gland that is suspicious for malignancy. They are scheduling a biopsy for next week. We will have to wait and see, but I have the feeling that our lives are about to change.

June 30--June 30, June 30

Every year when June 30 rolls around, I am reminded of Richard Brautigan, the author who wrote Trout Fishing in America. The last poetry book he published before he died was called June 30, June 30. One of those authors who had a profound influence on how I look at the world. So the wind won't blow it all away.

I finished up with work on Thursday, with a meeting with my boss and my curriculum buddy Felicia, to create a timeline for this big project we are doing over the next two years. Other than sending out an email with some instructions for the incoming Fall students, I am now done for the summer.

On Friday, I went for a walk along the creek trail. First time I have been out there in a couple of weeks. It was kind of cloudy and humid, which is unusual. All the usual suspects were out though, enjoying the day.


One of the usual suspects.

After I got back, I did some stuff to get ready for our trip. I made reservations at the place where we park our car near the airport, and got some travel medical insurance. One of our student workers is going to take care of the cats, so I think we are pretty much set. Just have to wait a month.

nien and house

Our niece Nien sent this pic of the Thailand house. The outside is pretty much done, and they are putting in the ceilings this week. It is getting near planting time so they will have to stop working on it until after the harvest. When we are there, we will figure out what the floors will look like, and buy all the stuff for the bathrooms and the kitchen. I'll have to send another big chunk of money over for that.

Malida's cousin Yuan, who is is taking care of the gardening aspects, bought five mango trees to plant along the west side of the house. Things are coming along. I am hoping that I can spend most of next summer there. We shall see. I will have to figure out the whole longer visa thing, as the visa I normally get is for about 30 days.

laguna flower

I'm thinking about what to do with the next 4 weeks. I'm pretty tired and burned out from working so much lately. I need to adopt my summer discipline of getting up early and getting out of the house to walk or whatever. Malida has a couple of days off next week, and the Tioga Pass over the Sierras through Yosemite opens at the same time, so we will probably head over and see how things look up high. Other than that, I will take it a day at a time.
  • Current Music
    Stone Temple Pilots--Big Empty

June 23--The Existential Angst of Hello Kitty

Well, let's see.

Last Sunday was Father's day, and we went up to my step-sister's in Auburn to celebrate and spend time with my dad. It was an unusually small gathering--only 6 of us, so I had plenty of time to visit with him, which was nice. The weather was perfect, and we spent the entire afternoon outside around the pool.


My step-sister's husband has a drone, and he taught me how to fly it. That was a lot of fun. Now I want one.

Monday morning brought the thing I have been anxious about since the start of summer--the start of the three-day class I put together for a bunch of high school students who are interested in health professions--Sim Camp!

sim camp

The first day was kind of shaky. It was some team building exercises and lectures on how simulators work and lectures. They didn't really care for that stuff, but it was necessary.

sim camp

On the second day, we set them loose. We broke them up into teams, and each team had their own simulator. Their objective was to create a simulation scenario and practice it.


The simulations they came up with were really creative, and much better than I expected. They really got into it. At the end of the third day, their high school teachers came, and the students were able to run their simulations for them. It was way cool.


Once it was all over, I felt a real sense of relief, and relaxed for the first time since the summer started. I went in for a bit on Thursday and cleaned up the simulators and entered grades. Now I'm done with all that. I still have some work on my curriculum project, but that is really low stress. I can enjoy the balance of the summer.

I had an appointment with the electrophysiology cardiologist on Thursday afternoon. It went well, and we decided to kind of wait and see about doing any kind of procedure. The appointment was down across from the hospital where I worked for 25 years, and I went over after and said hi to my ICU friends. It was the first time I had been in the new ICU since it opened. It is modern, but lacks the soul of the old ICU.

the view from here

The view from the cardiologist's office. This is the same view I had when I sat with my first wife during her chemotherapy sessions, three floors below. I always appreciated that view--it was calming.

Another week in the books.

June 16--Serving the greater Los Angeles basin since 1936!

When I last wrote, we were on our way down to Berkeley to see Jason Isbell. I don't think I had decided yet whether we were going to stay down there, but we did. We stayed at a place out on the Berkeley waterfront, and had a nice lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the bay. It was a lovely afternoon.

golden gate

We enjoyed the concert. It was outdoors at the Greek Theatre, and the weather was perfect. I sat next to a woman and her husband who both knew a lot about music, so we chatted quite a bit. During the set, Jason Isbell did a cover of an old Fleetwood Mac song, from the Peter Green days, and the woman's husband leaned over and asked if I knew who had done the original. I did, and he ended up buying me a beer.

The next morning we drove back up to the UC Berkeley campus and wandered around the botanical gardens that are up in the hills above the school. It's another one of the hidden gems of the Bay Area. I took lots of pictures.

fried egg flower

I know this flower has a proper name, and I used to know what it was, but I always think of it as the fried egg flower. I just looked it up again, and I love it's real name too--the Matilija poppy.


Some other kind of poppy. All the plants and flowers were identified, but I forgot to look to see what this was. It reminded both of us of the opium poppies we saw up in northern Thailand a few years ago.

the view

The view from the gardens.

The rest of the week was uneventful. It was hot--we had a couple of 100+ degree days. I got closer and closer to finishing up my summer work projects. My boss and I hosted a meeting with the head of the California Board of Nursing and a bunch of other schools to discuss our ideas for overhauling the curriculum, and got support for that. It's kind of interesting to be involved at that level.

I will teach my three-day simulation class this coming week. It is for high schoolers who are hoping for health professions careers. The idea of teaching high school students makes me kind of nervous.

Once the class is completed, I will have a few more things to finish up, then will be off for the rest of the summer. I can't wait. I'm ready for a long break.
  • Current Music
    Claypool-Lennon Delirium--Amethyst Realm

June 8--Rubber Chicken Ensemble

It was a not-too-busy week here in Zyzylyland.

The weather has been nice, and nothing to complain about. The vegetable garden loves the warm weather, and everything is taking off. I did have to do some extra watering on the day it reached 100, mostly for Malida's plants, which don't seem to be doing as well as mine. She accuses me of sabotage.

trumpet vine

Our trumpet vines also love the warm weather. We have a wooden arbor over the walkway outside our window. The vines are are growing all over that, and providing some nice shade for the western-facing window. The flowers make the hummingbirds and bees happy, and they make us happy, so it is a win-win.

I had a stress echo test on Thursday morning. It was pretty straightforward, and no arrhythmias or ischemia. The nurse who ran the test went to my nursing program, but before I was there. She told me about how she didn't get along with one of my colleagues. I laughed, and said I totally understood. My next step in this odyssey is to see an electrophysiologist the week after next. Electrophysiology is a subspecialty of cardiology that looks at the electrical system of the heart. Whee!

I spent a good chunk of the week working, though not too hard. Most days I was done by noon. I have three concurrent projects I am working on, and making good progress with all of them. Once they are completed, I will have the rest of the summer off. I know I keep saying that, but I'm excited about it.

rainbow bridge

Another rainbow picture from the delta that I took the same day as the one from last week. I went back down that way after work one day to scope out a potential sunset spot, and will go back down maybe next week when the clouds look good.

We are going down to Berkeley tonight to see Jason Isbell and Father John Misty. I'm looking forward to both. We were going to stay down there overnight, but decided that we will drive back after the show and save our money.

After I wrote that we decided we would stay down there after all and explore around on Sunday.

The situation is fluid.
  • Current Music
    Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit--Cover Me Up

June 2--Two-Door Station Wagon

The nursing alumni had our annual luncheon yesterday. We had a surprisingly good turnout, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. As the current president, I had to get up and talk a bit. After I was done, one of the old ladies from the class of 1959 told me I wasn't boring, so I guess that's a good thing.

We had six members of the class of 59 present. They've been nurses for 60 years! One of them is still working--she makes post-discharge calls to see how patients are doing.

I was the only member of my class--1989. I rarely see anyone I went to nursing school with. We kind of scattered with the wind the day we graduated.

I went into work a few days this past week, finishing stuff up from the last semester and working on stuff for my summer projects. There's hardly anyone around, so I was able to prop open the door and let some fresh air into our cubicle village, and turn up the music. I woke up in a panic the other night thinking about this class I have to teach in a couple of weeks. It involves high school students.

Next summer I'm not volunteering to work on anything.

double rainbow

A double rainbow over Tyler Island last week.

I bought a Thai phrasebook the other day and practiced a bit with Malida's mom over the phone. She was delighted, and though my pronunciation was good. I'll take it with me when we go to Thailand and see if I can start learning a few things beyond "hello". I think I need to know at least some of the language if I am wandering around on my own.

cactus flower
  • Current Music
    Steve Earle--Jerusalem

May 27--Puppyanne climbs Killamanjaro

One of the other things that occurred last week was that I had my appointment with the cardiologist to discuss this arrhythmia business. I know this cardiologist from back in my ICU days. He was sometimes irritable back then, but he seems pretty mellowed out now. I was kind of nervous going in, but he spent the first 10 minutes or so just talking about whatever, and putting me at my ease. I appreciated that.

After pleasantries, we spent some time talking about what was going on. We reviewed my test results, and he showed me what to look for in a cardiac echo. Mine looked fine.

He referred me to an electrophysiologist to see if treatment is necessary, which would be some sort of ablation. I also have to have a stress treadmill test, which will be next week. So that's the heart news. Meanwhile, my pulse is slow and regular.


It's been kind of cloudy and rainy the past few days, which is fine with me. We went out for a walk yesterday and it was nice and cool. One of my summer goals is to walk every day.

I bought some new walking shoes the other day--Merrels, which are about the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. I didn't wear them for our walk, though, as I don't want to muddy them up. Yet. They will be the shoes I take to Thailand. I also ordered some linen pants for Thailand. It is way too hot and humid to wear jeans. Mostly I wear shorts when I'm there, except for if we are going to a temple or something. There is a wedding toward the end of our stay, so I thought I ought to have something less beatnik to wear.


Look hanging out in my reading chair. She likes to sit there and watch me make LJ entries.

May 26--The lunch lady saga takes a sinister turn

A lot happened this week. First and foremost, the semester ended, my students graduated, and I was set free. yay! We had final exams on Monday, and everyone passed by a comfortable margin. We had our graduation ceremony on Tuesday, and it was lovely as usual.


Nurses--a whole bunch of them.

I went in Wednesday for some meetings. I have no idea why I thought it would be a good idea to set up multiple meetings on the last day of the semester, but they were kind of necessary to set up the work I have to do over the first part of the summer. Thursday I did all my end-of-semester filing and took care of some loose ends.

On Thursday evening, I went out before sunset to start my summer photography project, the subject of which is the Sacramento Delta. There were some big puffy clouds, and I was hoping for a nice sunset. The Sacramento river, and the road that follows it, is about a half-hour west of me, and the place I was thinking about was about 15 minutes further down the river.

Once I got out there, it unexpectedly started pouring rain, so I sat in my car by the river and watched the rain come down. I decided to drive a bit further south to check out a spot I was thinking about for a sunrise shot later on down the line. Eventually the rain stopped and the sun came out a bit. I was too late for the sunset, but got some after-sunset shots.

I'm kind of excited by the possibilities down this way. There are all sorts of sloughs, little man-made islands, and at least three rivers--the Sacramento, the Mokelumne, and the Cosumnes. The area is full of vineyards, orchards and rice fields. I will spend the next year seeing what I can see.

south of Courtland

South of the town of Courtland, in the area where they grow a lot of pears. Every year Courtland hosts the Pear Fair, which I have never been to. I can't go this year either, as it begins the day after I fly to Thailand. One day, maybe.

We received news from Thailand in the form of some pictures of the house.

thailand house

It is coming along nicely. They sent some pics of the interior too, and it looks very much like I sketched it out last year. That's the most surprising thing to me--that I could make some sketches and someone else could turn that into something real. They will finish the walls and put in the windows and doors before we arrive at the end of July. Then we will decide on the ceiling, floor, paint, etc.

I have a four-day weekend, and then have to go in for a few days next week, and a few days each week in June to work on the projects I have going. I also have a three-day class somewhere in there. Once July 1st comes along, though, I am done.
  • Current Music
    Neko Case--Hold On, Hold On