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Lodi, California - 2011
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Having lunch at Chipotle
Monday, August 22, 2011: What a day today. After breakfast, all four of us "hopped" into the car to do errands. Dad and I went to the fitness center for our usual workout while Mom and Gwen went to the grocery store. Dad did very well today for his fourth day at exercise. The movement in his legs has improved. After the workout, we drove to the medical offices of Dad's doctor to order a release of medical records from his previous doctor. Unfortunately, everyone was out to lunch. So off to Chipotle we went for the first time. We each enjoyed a fresh salad or burrito, excellent food. We sat outside under an umbrella. It was very comfortable weather today in Lodi. After lunch, back to have the medical records moved from the previous doctor to the current. While obtaining the form, the receptionist told me I had two choices. I could give the form to her and she would put it in the outgoing mail box. It might go to the post office in a couple of days, be delivered in a couple of days and might be returned in a week to ten days. Or, I could deliver it myself to the previous doctor and save a few days. So all four of us drove to the previous doctor office and I delivered the form. Finally, we returned home. This meant a fun day but a lot of exercise and leg bending for my Father.

Enjoying a concert at the Hutchins Street Square
Tuesday, August 23, 2011: Another busy day. It started with a bike ride into rural San Joaquin County, breakfast then a drive with Dad to the fitness center for an hour of exercises. The rest of the day was used up with shopping for parts then repairs at one of my parents rental properties. Some major repairs are needed ant those will begin next week but today were the easy electrical repairs. Gwen barbequed bacon wrapped pork for dinner while Mom fixed vegetables and banana chip cookies. My sister Sandy arrived for an overnight stay. We will be traveling tomorrow with Sandy and we are looking forward to it. The photo was taken with my sister, Dorana and Gwen at a free concert for members of the Hutchins Street Square Association. My parents are members and let us attend the free concert including wine, soft drinks and a sack lunch. Click the photo to see the band. The band was good, I'd listen to them again.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011: After my sister Sandy and I accompanied my Father to the fitness center counting his exercises and giving encouragement, Gwen and I followed Sandy to Concord, California to look at upholstery stores. Sandy has reupholstered many items and likes doing it. We have a set of "theater chairs" (that's what Carriage called them) which we would like upholstered and Sandy has agreed to do it for us. This was a fun day of upholstery shopping in Concord but we were not successful in finding "the vision" for the chairs. After the shopping trip we had a wonderful barbequed chicken dinner then spent the night in Concord continuing our visit with Sandy and her husband, Eddie. Searching for upholstry
My sister Sandy and her Father-in-Law, Ed Thursday, August 25, 2011: Gwen and I had a wonderful night sleep at "Sandy's Bed and Breakfast". It was our first night of sleep without earplugs since arriving in Lodi six week ago (our trailer is only a few feet from four lanes of traffic in Lodi). Gwen and I arrived back in Lodi in mid-morning in time for me to take my Father to his usual fitness center schedule. He works-out each day on the NuStep, recumbent bicycle and arm draw machines. In the mean time, Sandy drove to South San Francisco to pick up her Father-in-Law, Ed for a trip into the Sierra foothills where he has a cabin. Ed is 96, very active and sharp. He has a wonderful cabin at the quiet, 3,300 foot level of the Sierra foothills which is the opposite of his busy life in South San Francisco. Ed is an accomplished woodworker and gardener and has plans for a week of relaxation including outdoor projects at the cabin. It was also a great time for Sandy and I to get to talk with each other about our fun times as kids in Oregon. Sandy is one of the most creative and talented artists I know. Her medium is upholstery, baking, cake and cup-cake decorating, painting, home decorating, fabric projects of many kinds and best-of-all, party planning. She is also one of he hardest workers I know. What a pleasure to get to spend time with her.
Friday, August 27, 2011: The major activity today was to visit my Father's Family Nurse Practitioner at his doctor's office. After our terrible experience with a doctor he saw following his release from the hospital we did not know what to expect. Fortunately this visit was a world of difference. The Nurse Practitioner took the time to talk with and examine my Father giving us lots of information along the way. The medication he has been taking is not doing anything for him so it has been discontinued (something we had hoped for because the negative side effects were far greater than the benefits.) Since my Father is in no pain, he will have NO medication and the NP described other methods to improve his quality of life. Additionally, the NP brought in his doctor who did a brief exam and talked with us about additional activities we might do. Both the NP and his doctor encouraged his daily exercise routine and my Father sees the importance and realizes the benefits of the exercise. We will continue to increase the length of the routine. These two medical professionals were saying the say words that I've heard Ben (my son) say about Dad's condition and what he should do for improvement. My feeling toward the medical profession in Lodi has improved with this visit. I have faith in them again. I DID record as harsh a review on the previous physician I could on YELP. Consumers have far greater power now than before the Internet to eliminate incompetent people in any profession. In the photo, my Father is traveling "cross country" to attend one of his many activities. One of the "rules-of-thumb" the NP mentioned was that it takes ONE WEEK for someone my Father's age to recover from each DAY they were in the hospital. I'm hoping the 29 days he was in the "rehab hospital" can actually count toward "recovery". So he must work for 14 weeks to recover from the 14 days he spent in the hospital. Walking cross country.
Breakfast at a favorite downtown Lodi restaurant. Saturday, August 27, 2011: My sister Dorana is spending the day with my parents so Gwen and I took the day to visit the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We began the trip with breakfast at the Dancing Fox, our favorite Lodi restaurant. We happen to have a coupon we picked up at the farmers market but it expires on Wednesday so we cashed it in this morning. We have a few devoted readers (besides my Mother) and we got to meet two of them today. We met in a small foothill town, San Andreas, California. It's an old gold rush town in Calavaras County. We met for lunch at Cliffs because it was rated 5 stars on YELP. It seemed worth the five for a sandwich shop. We visited with Donna and Gary all afternoon closing the Cliffs and then closing the Patio (an ice cream shop) before parting and heading back. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of us enjoying our visit. They had many questions about full time RV travel and wanted to hear our experience. I DID take a photo of an offer to sell a mobile chicken coop. I was actually tempted to buy it for my Father who loves chickens but I thought better of it (although I looked at the chicks in the feed store where we bought fly strips). Click our Dancing Fox photo to see the mobile coop.
Sunday, August 28, 2011: Remember the challenge of getting rid of an ugly chair without paying a dump fee? Well, I had the same problem with this junk wheel barrow. The bottom is rusted through and the wheel is in such poor condition it can't be used as a wheel barrow. I put a FREE sign on it and it was not taken. I put the photo on Craigslist and Freecycle with the note that the wheel barrow could be used as a "yard ornament" or a "planter". It was gone in only a few hours. Another dump fee saved. Junk wheel barrow to get rid of
Monday, August 29, 2011: A busy day for me installing a hot water heater. You see, my parents own several residential and commercial rentals, and we got a call last week concerning the water heater in one of those rentals. I arranged to get the water heater this last weekend at a 15% discount (water heaters are not usually put on sale ... I've discovered). Today was the day of installation ... it ended up taking the entire day because I had to make several trips to the hardware store. In the mean time, Gwen took Dad to exercise while Mom did errands. That means the house was empty, a perfect time to run home and set up the anniversary gift my two sisters and I purchased for my parents. It is a 42" LCD TV to take the place of their old tube type TV which is fuzzy and small. NOW my Mother can actually READ the questions on Jeopardy. So setting up the TV was another reason the water heater took all day. I meant to take photos of the installation but forgot so you'll have to imagine photos of a 30 year old natural gas water heater being replaced by a new, manual electronic ignition heater.
Celebrating 67 years of marriage

Tuesday, August 30, 2011: What a wonderful table setting at my sister Dorana's house to celebrate my parent's 67th anniversary. My sister's Dorana and Sandy (L to R) are sitting at the far end of the table. We enjoyed an afternoon of appetizers and ice tea then a wonderful salmon dinner with a fresh vegetable salad, wild rice with brown rice plus grapes, grilled squash and egg plant and two desserts (click the photo to see the desserts). What a great way to spend an evening celebration, around excellent food.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011: My sister, Sandy, is visiting so we started our day with pancakes and eggs she prepared for the family. After the delicious pancakes with homemade pomegranate jelly Sandy and I took Dad to his daily exercise. Each day he adds one calorie to the NuStep exercise from the day before so today he reached 53 calories. After exercise ... it was lunch time, fried chicken from the local grocery store, okra from a friend's garden, and fresh tomatoes under cottage cheese. A fresh strawberry cobbler ended the meal. With lunch finished, Gwen and I rode with Sandy back to the foothills to pick up Ed, Sandy's Father-in-Law, and return him to San Francisco. Along the way, Sandy spotted this unique sign which both Gwen and I had to photograph. The town of Pioneer is a tiny village at about 3,000 feet in the Sierra foothills on Highway 88 and apparently the last place to get a haircut before crossing the Sierra ridge tops. An interesting sign in the Sierra foothills.
The "boys" at a lunch time party. Thursday, September 1, 2011: While the ladies have gone to a birthday party for Marge, the "boys", as my Mother calls them, come to our house for a lunch time party. Mom fixed a great lunch for (from L to R) Larry, Dale, Fred and myself. We enjoyed fried chicken, coleslaw, wild rice, cottage cheese with cherry tomatoes, hot bread plus a strawberry cobbler dessert. Fred brought blueberry muffins (center of table). Fred and Dale did not talk much so it was good that Larry had the "party spirit". Larry is 92, Dale is 88 and Fred is 85. Larry told stories of how "the Lord" made sure he always had a job
from the day he graduated high school in 1937, and his duties during army service in WWII. The story I enjoyed the most was when Larry moved from South Bend, Indiana to San Diego for a weather and job change. Larry sold all his home in Indiana, and was concerned about finding a home in San Diego in 1950 so he bought a 60 foot trailer with three bedrooms to tow to San Diego. He owned a four cylinder, standard shift, Chevy sedan as the tow vehicle. He had never towed a trailer before. He left South Bend unable to shift from the first two gears into higher gears. He described "creeping" down the highway west. He stopped at a garage complaining that his Chevy "had no poop". When the mechanic saw what Larry was towing, he answered, "what do you expect?" In the mountains east of San Diego his Chevy could not pull the trailer up the hill but a helpful motorist stopped, tied a rope to the Chevy and helped him to the top of the hill. Larry described creeping up the hills but driving "wide open" at 80 mph down the other side. The thought is frightening to me. None of "the boys" had seen the movie, "Long, Long Trailer" with Lucille Ball when I exclaimed his story sounded like the movie. Larry has four children who helped make the move by refilling the radiator when needed. After lunch "the boys" had planned a nap but their rides arrived before the naps began. These guys really know how to have a party! Click the photo to enlarge.
Friday, September 2, 2011: I took myself to the first Lodi H. S. home football game tonight. I graduated Lodi H.S. 46 years ago after attending for two years. My Freshman year was at Montclair H.S. in southern California while my Sophomore year was at Linden H.S. about 20 miles from Lodi. I played football at Linden but was in the band in all three high schools. The Montclair band was a championship band. We practiced 4 hours EACH day in the fall and won awards. The Linden and Lodi bands were pretty poor. Tonight's band showed up late to the game and was about half the size of the band I played in. They tried to play "something" during Lodi High School "Flames" football in the red.
halftime ... I'm not sure what ... they need to get back to John Philip Sousa marches. You can click the football photo to see the band. The football team did not play any better than the band but of course this IS the first home game ... I'm sure everyone will improve. This didn't seem like southern Oregon football to me! I DID get a $5 T shirt plus my $5 entrance fee to the game so now I look like a FLAME. Maybe next week I'll try Tokay High School, the other Lodi High created after I graduated, to evaluate THEIR band. Gwen, Dad and Mom stayed home tonight. Gwen was watching Andy Roddick play tennis at the U.S. Open while Mom and Dad were resting from a long day visiting friends in Stockton.
Gwen's family visits in Lodi Monday, August 5, 2011: Today Dustin, Courtney, Lesa and John arrived to visit in Lodi after visiting John's parents in Oregon. They are on their way back to Barstow, California where the normal temperatures are 110 or better. Today it's 90 degrees in Lodi but notice that Courtney is wearing a sweatshirt because of the "cold weather". Lesa is Gwen's daughter, while Dustin and Courtney are her grandchildren. John is in the Air Force stationed in Korea and will be returning on Thursday. Gwen has been looking forward to this visit and the "kids" did not disappoint. We spent the day together after Dad did his morning exercise. Click the photo to enlarge.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011: Lesa and the kids left early this morning so after breakfast I took Dad to exercise. His progress at gaining strength has stalled which is disappointing. He does best with a goal so adding a calorie each day on the NuStep machine works well but none of the other machines will register calories either because they don't have a measuring device attached or he can't move them fast enough to turn on the machine computer. From what I can see, he is not gaining leg strength and may actually be losing strength. He complains of "sore muscles" and "weakness" in the joints. He uses his walker and grab bars to support his weight with his arms and legs barely have enough strength to support themselves or to lift one leg at a time up an 8" step. Our major work at the fitness center is to exercise his legs but he resists the recumbent bike (which I believe is most helpful) because it bends his legs more than the NuStep. He pedals so slowly, the computer does not register activity on the bike. Still he pedals for ten minutes and when I challenge him to increase the RPM the last two minutes, he replies, "I don't care". I wonder if he has thought this through? When his legs stop working entirely, and he can't get himself out of bed, to the bathroom, into the shower, we will no longer be able to care for him at home. Next, after exercise, I repaired a defective shock absorber on my trailer and found a loose wire AGAIN on the brake wires so this time I will solder the connection. The soldering will happen later this week. After lunch, I went to one of my parents rentals and replaced a kitchen faucet then the bathroom vanity, sink and faucet. I do good work so it looked good when I left and the renters should be happy. What I replaced was at least 20 years old. Mom had made a great zucchini casserole and a rice with fresh tomatoes dish, yummy. She also made a rhubarb dessert after I mentioned we should "do something" with the large rhubarb plant in the garden. She went off to a movie at the church about the time I arrived home and Gwen was at a jewelry making class so it was just Dad and I enjoying dinner together. After dinner we tried to find something to watch on TV but had no luck. The best we could find were FRIENDS reruns.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011: We had a busy day again today. Dad's regular physical therapist is on vacation for three weeks so Dad met a new PT just before lunch. Dad now has some new exercises to try from a different PT. Later in the afternoon, my sister Dorana arrived with her significant-other, Robin because they were attending the wedding of a friend at a local garden location in Lodi. I followed them to the wedding location because Dorana wanted some photos taken of the two of them before the wedding began. We enjoyed walking through the garden taking an occasional photo. The physical therapist will return tomorrow so Dad will have to perform again for him. In the mean time, I worked on connecting a broken wire on the trailer brakes. The wires seem to separate often so this time I soldered them together and added extra length to the wire. I also used crip connectors to protect the joints. Robin and Dorana
Dad and I visit a yogurt shop Thursday, September 8, 2011: Dad had another meeting today with the new Physical Therapist but still wanted to visit the fitness center. However, I got caught up in another project and was not free until 3 pm. I still had another errand in the city and talked my Father into going with me with the offer of a frozen yogurt. I took him to the "Oh My Yogurt" shop which offers 8 flavors of yogurt and about 100 different toppings. I learned that he had been to this shop many years earlier but this time it was special because we did it for fun on a Thursday afternoon. He chose an orange flavored yogurt with dark chocolate and raspberry flavored topping plus a Heath Bar topping. I think this could be a fun way to motivate visits to the fitness center. My father had to get into and out of the car twice to visit the yogurt shop so that's good exercise since it is so tough for him. Click the photo to see Dad at the entrance to the shop.
Friday, September 9, 2011: Here I am again, at a high school football game. This time it is Tokay High School also located in Lodi but the other side of town from the Lodi Flames. The Tokay Tigers do a better job of football than the Lodi Flames so the game was more exciting. The band marched in and gave me great expectations but was a HUGE disappointment. (Recall, I played trombone in my high school band.) They came marching in with full uniforms ... marched to a reserved section in the bleachers and sat down. When it came time to salute the flag, the band laid their instruments down and we all listened to a horrible recording of the national anthem. I've never heard of a band NOT playing the national anthem for their football Tokay football
games. They played short bursts of music during time-outs. At half time, the cheerleaders from both teams performed, the band stood up ... I thought, "Now we'll see a good half time show." Nope, they all laid down their instruments and walked off for a break ... no band performance of any kind at halftime. Something is WRONG in this town.
Time to paint the Cameo ceiling Saturday, September 10, 2011: Gwen has taken the lead in getting the Cameo ceiling painted. She wanted it painted to cover the view of the aluminum joists starting to show through the cheap ceiling panels that Carriage has used since 2007 (before 2007, the Cameo was built with a padded ceiling). She also wanted a warmer tone on the ceiling than white. You'd think it would be easy to paint such a small area but there are so many obstacles and trim to avoid, it was a time consuming project for two people. Another surprise was the amount of paint it took to cover the living area and hallway (not the bathroom and bedroom). It took a gallon. I'll admit that the ceiling looks much better now (warmer). Now I believe she wants a pumpkin color on the air conditioning vents.
Sunday, September 11, 2011: Church this morning then football and tennis the rest of the day. The trailer is going to the repair shop tomorrow morning for an upgrade to the MorRyde suspension. One of the shackles was broken during the tire blowout. I'm unsure if the shackle caused the blowout or the blowout broke the shackle. I'm ungrading the componets with heavy duty Mor-Ride parts so it doesn't happen again.
Monday, September 12, 2011: Yes! Today I spent most of the day at California RV Specialists having the "Wet Bolt Kit" installed on the MorRyde suspension system. I will detail the installation in a later post. This is a very important upgrade to the Cameo and one every trailer/fifth wheel owner should do before 20,000 miles on their unit. More on that at a later date. Tomorrow, after Gwen attends a Bible study and I attend a doctor's appointment with my Father, we will head to the mountains for six nights of camping in the Sierras. My Mother is always thinking ahead and having whole milk left over from the food items gathered for Gwen's kids visit a few days ago, used up the milk by making a custard pie. Gwen thought it was so beautiful she wanted a photo of the pie. We tried it tonight and it tastes as good as it looks. And ... Yes, Dad went to the fitness center today in addition to a visit from the physical therapist. Mom made a custard pie for our trip into the mountains
Just outside Truckee, CA on highway 89 Tuesday, September 13, 2011: After taking Dad for a doctor checkup and after lunch, we took off for the mountains leaving my parents in the good hands of my sisters. We were invited to spend a week with our friends Wayne and Char at the campground they are hosting near the summit of Yuba Pass, north of Truckee, CA. This is the area where we camp hosted last year, so we have good memories of the area. We stopped just outside Truckee on highway 89 to give Morgan a break. Then we drove on to our favorite Mexican restaurant in the tiny town of Sierraville, CA, Los Dos Hermanos (the two brothers). For such a tiny town, is excellent Mexican food. As we came out of the restaurant, we noticed a thunderstorm approaching. It took only forty minutes to arrive at our campsite where the storm finally caught us. But, in the west, unlike our time in Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee, we did not have to worry about tornados. Click the photo for a view of Los Dos Hermanos.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011: We are at 5,713 feet in a private location with no traffic noise and light polution. It will be a nice break from camping 25 feet from four lanes of Lodi traffic. The Sierra Buttes are just behind us. This is a time to relax although we arrived yesterday in the middle of a thunderstorm and had to huddle under the trailer while I was setting up. I got the Internet and TV set up this morning. The afternoon weather looks partly cloudy with large cumulous clouds so might get another thunderstorm this evening. Char arranged for us to get power which is nice since we get very little off the solar panels due to trees and clouds. There must be a good football game to catch sometime this week. Our campsite at Sardine Lake
Chloe with Minnie Mouse Thursday, September 15, 2011: Normally a short trip from our camp site to Reno, this time it took much longer due to road construction in several locations along the way. We arrived before lunch to a happy, chattering, Chloe. She has grown a lot just in the two months since I last visited. She was also comfortable with me remembering who I was, maybe from our Skype sessions we try to do once each week. Note the Dale with five day old Noah
Keen sandals she's wearing, just like her grandpa. The size of Minnie Mouse had her shy of the new stuffed toy but she soon warmed up to it. It looks like she must like PINK but she sure doesn't like ketchup ... what a face (like a sour pickle) when she tried some on her hot dog. My new grandson is a strong little boy and sure is hungry all the time. He is only five days old and already back to his birth weight. Kim and Ben have some of the coolest baby gadgets which sure are nice to help parents with kids. The three items worth-their-weight-in-gold are the video baby monitor, the electronic swinging and vibrating baby cradle, and the diaper disposal system. Even with this help, life won't be back to normal for Kim and Ben for quite a while. Chloe gets along great with her new brother and will make a wonderful older sister. Yes, I DID make sure Noah was a BOY. Click either photo for another view.
Friday, September 16, 2011: My bike ride today took me to Gold Lake at the top of Gold Lakes Road. This is a typical Sierra Lake, clear and clean unlike the lakes and rivers we saw in our recent midwest journey through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana. In those states the lakes are brown (OK ... tan). To be fair, there is an awful lot of dirt and silt to washed downstream in those states where the west has lots of rock. My ride was tough today at 6,000+ feet. Lodi is flat at 34 feet where there is nothing but mountains here. It was windy today but the sailboat in the photo is not taking advantage. Cooler temperatures means burning propane to get warm in the morning. Click the photo for a larger view. Gold Lake at the top of the Sierras
Gwen, Morgan and I hike to Lower Sardine Lake Saturday, September 17, 2011: We are not very far from Lower Sardine Lake at the base of the Sierra Buttes. Another wonderful example of the beautiful lakes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This was a relatively easy hike with very little climbing and Morgan enjoyed it the most. Dogs are not allowed in the lake but the creeks were just as good. We walked the nature trail and learned of the mining activity and damage done to the ecosystem in the 1850s. Beavers changed the area too, more recently in the 1980s. Several years ago I hiked with my children to the top of the Sierra Buttes where there is a fire lookout. That hike was considerably more difficult. Click here to see the lookout at the summit of the Buttes. Click the photo for another view of Lower Sardine Lake and Sierra Buttes.
Sunday, September 18, 2011: Last year at this time we were still camp hosts for six national forest campgrounds near here. Wayne and Char are the site managers for the area and the folks next to our campsite here at Sardine Lake campground. We were invited to attend the host potluck today and meet the 2011 hosts as they wind down their responsibility for their campgrounds. The Sardine Lake area is far more pleasant than the Indian Valley area we managed last year because it is 4,000 A potluck with the 2011 camphosts of this area.
feet high so cooler plus far less dust. We had great food today. Tonight is our last night "camping" for tomorrow we are returning to Lodi. I put "camping" into quotes because our "tent" is our regular 5th wheel home so we are always "home". Click the photo to enlarge.
Monday, September 19, 2011: Looking at Donner Summit from the east sideThis was moving day from the lakes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains down into the valley. That's a change in elevation from 5,700 feet to 34 feet in Lodi. It's also a change in temperature from the mid-70s to low 90s although I believe the valley is in a heat wave, at least I hope so ... it's uncomfortably warm . Our trip down the mountain was uneventful but traffic was extra heavy in Sacramento. The biggest priority after arriving was to set up the satellite dish since this is the first Monday of the new TV season and Gwen has the DVR set to record all her new shows. It's interesting that this felt like returning from a "camping trip" when we tow our home with us. We had to cross Donner Summit twice, that's 7,200 feet on Interstate 80 with road construction in both directions. In my opinion, Donner is one of the most beautiful passes in the US. Click the photo for another view of Donner Summit from the "Vista Point" from the east side of the summit. On the photo behind this one you will see a cut in the distant mountain over the pass. This is the railroad route, the original route engineered in the 1860s.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011: Those who must who must live next to traffic often suggest pretending you It's hard to pretend this is ocean noiseare hearing ocean waves rather than the reality of traffic. There is a lot enjoyable about our location in Lodi. For example, the weather, although warm, even hot ... has really been cooler than normal. It's also enjoyable beingso close to my parents which makes it easy to work at their house and keep in touch with whatever needs to be done. The neighbors have also been understanding with my Father's health situation. We also get shade every afternoon at about 5 pm. We get great Internet and DirecTV reception with a clear view of the southern sky. Morgan has a private backyard to wander although she prefers to be in my parents house watching over them. Annie also likes their house and stays close by. The "landlords" allow us to wash our vehicle and trailer any time. But it's just not possible to pretend we are hearing ocean waves instead of four lanes of 40+ MPH traffic. Ear plugs really do help. I couldn't find mine last night and didn't get much sleep, I made sure I have them for tonight. What is interesting to me is the vibration caused by the various engines which pass us. There is heavy truck traffic due to manufacturers down the road and those engines often vibrate severly so even with ear plugs in place you can feel the vibration. Even with these challenges however, with ear plugs, I usually sleep very well. Try passing your pointer through the photo to see a passing motorist.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011:That's right, I went to choir practice In another time ... in Oregon ... before retirement and RV travel ... I spent some time in my church choir and enjoyed my life there. I expect to be in Lodi for a few more months so I decided to join the choir at my parents church. Tonight was my first practice with the choir and they are learning some tough music so it's going to be a good challenge for me. I'm a stranger in this church, I left Lodi when leaving for college back in 1965 and did not return except for a couple of summer jobs. My parents, on the other hand, have been members of this church for about as long as I've been away, so introducing myself meant something to the others in the choir. It is nice to already be accepted because of the feelings they have for my parents.

Thursday, September 22, 2011: Dad's routine is to visit the fitness center each day for exercises prescribed by a previous time with a physical therapist. With this machine, he exercises his arms but we spend most of the time with machines to build strength in his legs. Just getting into and out of the car is strenuous for him and part of the exercise as far as I'm concerned.

Today he went to a restaurant with friends so that provided an opportunity for more exercise. Later we went to a Lodi Community Concert Association concert, another opportunity for exercise. It's all slowly helping Dad gain strength.

Dad using a machine to exercise his arm
Friday, September 23, 2011: We were visited today by the third physical therapist assigned to Dad since we began with his therapy. It's interesting to hear them during the first day. They all seem to start from scratch, not reading any notes made by the previous therapist. Today's therapist admitted he "didn't have time to read what John had written". So I heard things like, "Are your legs a little wobbly?" (Dad's legs are very weak, when he "walks" he is supporting his body weight most of the time with his arms using the walker.) "Show me how you get into and out of bed." (Each therapist wanted to see that and each has suggestions and Dad continues to do it his way.) "There is a tool to help you put on your socks." (Dad's caretakers put on his socks for him, no tools needed ... for some reason the therapists think, "if Dale can put on his own socks, he won't need caretakers." ... simply not true.) "You seem a little stiff, do you have arthritis?" (Dad's right hip is virtually bone-on-bone, you can actually feel and hear his bones grinding when he tries to move his right leg.) Anyway ... they seem to try, if for no other reason, to earn a one hour wage. The last two therapists have made Dad work harder during each session which makes Dad feel good. Each have given him "homework" which he never does but I take him to the fitness center on the "off" days which really seems to help more than the therapy "tricks". It is good for Dad to see different "professionals" especially when they all tell him the same thing, "do more walking". It all helps a-little-bit to improve his strength.
Saturday, September 24, 2011:Kalliopi selling me a bracelet of original beads using an iPad to process my credit card We visit a Greek Festival in Elk Grove, California. My parents and my sister Dorana went along. I'll detail our experience tomorrow and show photos of the family enjoying our time. While at the festival I found several booths of handmade crafts. The best booth was created by Kalliopi Nikolaou, a greek artist from Santa Cruz. She has hand painted ceramic items including handmade and hand painted beads and jewelry. I took immediate notice because I'm always looking for jewelry ideas which are out of the ordinary. Kalliopi's beads are handmade and her designs are unique. I started by looking at buying the beads rather than a finished jewelry piece but ended up purchasing a bracelet with the idea of remaking it smaller to fit Gwen's wrist. Kalliopi's beads are very attractive so it will be fun to create something just for Gwen with them. Gwen and I have been shopping for tablets so when Kalliopi pulled out her iPad to conclude the sale, I was impressed. She had a credit card processing APP on the iPad. She entered the sale amount, the iPad computed the sales tax and total and left a large blank area for me to sign my name with my FINGER on the screen. There is a small white attachment on one corner of the iPad where she swipes the card. After signing, I enter my email address which is immediately verified and will not be accepted if I mis-entered. A receipt for the sale is immediately emailed to me with a copy of the sale including MY SIGNATURE. This was really impressive. Click the photo to see another sale with a better view of the iPad. While looking at the photo behind this one, be sure to notice the bracelet on Kalliopi's wrist a great example of her work. Also note that I'm wearing my Itawamba Community College hat purchased in Fulton, Mississippi.

Enjoying Greek food at the Greek Festival

Sunday, September 25, 2011: Today we allattended church as we usually do on Sunday. This is a time for my parents to visit with all their friends. It is physically stressful for my Father but he is getting stronger each Sunday. After church we had a turkey meal together then it was a NFL afternoon.

Yesterday we all attended a Greek Festival in Elk Grove at the Greek Orthodox Church. It's a once per year event where the public gets the chance to see the Greek Orthodox Church facilities, learn of the culture and enjoy handmade traditional Greek food. In this photo the skewers have pork. Also on the plates are rolled grape leavesaround rice and beef, vegetable in the bowl, Greek flavored white rice, and a layered pasta casserole, plus baklava and finally Greek salad with Feta cheese.

Click this photo to see another behind this one. You'll see us buying the food inside. You'll also see the small crafts sales area where I purchased the beads from Kalliopi I showed you yesterday.

Greek Dances and the Greek Orthodox Grounds


The kids presented traditional Greek dances for entertainment. Lots of parents and grandparents with cameras to photograph the kids. It was enjoyable to visit the grounds and learn of Greek traditions and eat the tasty food. Music was also a big part of the festival. Click the photo for another view of the festival grounds.

Dad is enjoying a free food sample at Costco


Monday, September 26, 2011: We had a slow start today but by late morning Thomas, Dad's original physical therapist has returned from his vacation and begun working with Dad again. This was also the first day of the college course I am teaching for Rogue Community College in Oregon, the fall quarter began today. I'm teaching the "Introduction to eCommerce", in other words, learning to improve profit using the Internet. So it was a busy day for both Dad and me. In the photo, Dad is enjoying one of the free samples at Costco. He and Mom love to visit Costco and try each of the tasty samples.

Handmade chicken enchiladas
Tuesday, September 27, 2011: Another busy day for Dad. After breakfast I took Dad to get a blood test at the lab then we off to the fitness center. I've been using my Mother's membership to exercise next to my Father while he exercises. Today that ended, the manager decided I needed my own membership and offered it for only $20 per month. At first I rejected the offer but I've reconsidered and will take them up on the offer the next time we visit. For dinner, Gwen fixed handmade chicken enchiladas which were wonderful. To finish the evening, my sister Sandy arrived and we began pulling apart one of our "theater seats" in our trailer which Sandy will re-upholster the theater seats. The first chair came apart pretty easily. It may not take very long to complete this project.

Chinese on the left, USA on the right
Saturday, October 1, 2011: It was a busy work day today. I cut down a dead Juniper tree behind our trailer then returned to my parents rental to complete a water heater installation. It took three times longer than I had planned because of difficulties but the job is complete. I had to visit the hardware store twice while working on this project. I needed a needle nose pliers and found the two in the photo. I thought I'd discuss a USA economics lesson. These two pliers are nearly identical. The pliers on the right is made in the USA and cost $19 while the pliers on the left is made in China and cost $8. I could not tell the difference in quality. The Channel Lock pliers does have a list on the back of why it is the superior quality pliers and I hope all the benefits they list are true. The store where I shopped was Orchard Super Hardware, a California hardware chain store. I'll bet they don't have many customers who choose the USA pliers over the Chinese pliers at less than half the cost. If you shop Walmart, you won't find that choice. They simply can't justify stocking the inventory when their customers prefer the best priced item. So you wonder why the USA is in such bad shape economically and so many people are out of work. Take a look at the photo again for the simple answer. Of course it's not that simple but I'd bet 70% of the answer is in that photo. Manufacturing jobs have left the USA because Americans prefer the cheaper product especially when it's difficult to tell the difference in quality. I hope the steel in the USA pliers is a superior grade of steel and the pliers will last twice as long as the Chinese pliers but how can I tell? My sister Dorana drives a newer model Pontiac, 6 cylinder with 147,000 miles on it. She must put a quart of oil in the engine twice each month. The last sedan we owned was a six cylinder Toyota Camry. It had 180,000 miles on it when we bought it and we put another 100,000 miles on it before we sold it. I doubt the Pontiac with last to 287,000 miles. Why should an American driver purchase a car made in the US if Japanese quality is superior? I've mentioned our HughesNet Satellite Internet system many times on my Web pages. When I have the occasion to call technical support I'm getting help from a technician in India. Why can't HughesNet hire technician's in the USA? I think the USA is not going to recover from economic problems until American's are willing to pay more for US made products, willing to work for pay matched to the skills needed to perform their job well, take pride in workmanship so US products are equal or better quality than foreign, attend schools where they are trained with advanced skills which they can market to a job market hungry for employees with superior talents. What is the other option? Who is providing the money the government gives to the unemployed? It won't be long until the government can't support itself or all those who are unemployed. HOW is this system holding together? My contribution today was to pay $19 for an $8 pliers and hope that someone in Pennsylvania (where the pliers are made) can figure it out.
Sunday, October 2, 2011: We took Dad to church then had "left-overs" for lunch. The parents spent the afternoon watching football, I worked on removing one of the two pneumatic pistons I installed on the storage doors. You see, TWO 60lb pistons is way too much for a storage door, ONE is much better. Additionally, the connection on the door must be reinforced with at least 1/2" of plywood. After removing and reinforcing, the door operates much better. So now I have two extra 60lb pistons, I'm going to try installing those under the bed, the two pistons under the bed need help. With that task completed, we talked to my son and granddaughter in Reno using video Skype. The parents really enjoyed the conversation making "the new computer worth every penny".
Entering the Spaghetti Factory Our party
Monday, October 3, 2011: Tonight we were invited to visit a local restaurant with friends, The Old Spaghetti Factory. We chose this restaurant because Marge had two for one dinner coupons. As it turned out, it was a very enjoyable evening with friends and really good food. In our case, Mom and Dad shared a meal so the three of us had an entree with drink, salad, bread and dessert included for less than $12 plus tip. Click the entrance photo for a view of the lounge where we waited for everyone to arrive. Most of my day was at Costco Optometrist for an exam and ordering new glasses. Two glasses, one with polycarbonite, progressive, transition, anti-glare, anti-UV lens and the single prescription reading lens plus the exam for $370. That's about twice what it would be in Mexico but I doubt that a Mexican optometrist would have caught the need for a prism reading lens.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011: I took my sister Dorana and her friend Robin to the airport this evening. They are traveling to Boston for a short New England vacation to celebrate my sister's birthday. They will be gone a week. During their week in New England, I get the use of my sister's Pontiac which has all the electronic features of a sporty luxury car. I'm looking forward to the week and will try to discover some places to take her Pontiac.

Back at home, I added the two extra pneumatic pistons to the bed which is helpful in lifting the bed. My Dad had a visit from his physical therapist and Mom baked a banana cake with cream cheese frosting. OH ... and it started raining ... first time since we arrived here in early July.

Dorana and Robin take off on a short vacation to celebrate my sister's birthday
Wednesday, October 5, 2011: I spent virtually the entire day working on the business course I'm currently instructing for Rogue Community College. We've changed textbook editions which always causes more work for me since reference page numbers must be changed. My father had a physical therapy session in the afternoon so I didn't take him to the fitness center. I DID discover a new button on my weather center which told me when the current rain storm began and how many total inches of rain has been received since the storm began (0.58"). That DID give me the chance to listen to some good music all afternoon.
  Thursday, October 6, 2011: Perhaps you don't understand why the media has devoted so much time to honoring Steve Jobs at his death. I'll admit that I've used a PC nearly all my life but I did own a Macintosh in 1987 because only the MAC would do graphic arts the way I needed it for my business at the time. However, the PC is only a COPY of the interface Steve Jobs created with Apple. Surely you know that Henry Ford made the automobile available to the common American. Steve Jobs did the same for computers and electronic communication ... making it available and practical for all of us. Perhaps you've never owned anything created by Apple but whatever you do own is a copy of Apple ideas. The Internet is what it is because of the vision of Steve Jobs. The short video at the left is Steve Jobs address to the graduating class of 2005 at Stanford
University. When you watch, look at the faces of these Stanford students ... they just don't "get it". I believe it takes "life experiences" to understand what Steve is telling these graduates. Perhaps you need to have been "knocked down" in life to understand. Six years later and tough economic conditions ... I'll bet these graduates understand NOW. What is YOUR definition of success? ... of happiness?

The Lodi Public Library

Friday, October 7, 2011: My sister Sandy and her husband Eddie arrived early today. Sandy spent the day working on our upholstery job, I learned my father helped with fitting the new upholstery over the frame. Meanwhile Eddie and I drive into the foothills to work on his father's house. We tried to solve a problem with the heater fan and may have fixed without knowing what we were doing. At least it was working when we left. We also examined the roof for leaks and decided to prevent leaks during heavy snow load we would need to build a roof over the HVAC system. We drove back to Lodi with Eddie's father after enjoying one of the largest soft-serve ice cream cones I've ever had. The ice cream store owner asked if we wanted "small" or "large" and thinking of the usual small size of such cones I ordered "large" for all three of us. There was nearly a foot of soft-serve on top of our cones. The photo at right is of the Lodi Public Library. I hope to gain a library card from this library. We have wonderful libraries in Jackson County Oregon but they have very short hours due to budget issues. The Lodi Library always seems to be open and busy.

Dad give ME a haircutI give Dad a haircut

Saturday, October 8, 2011: Today was a busy day with us. We visited about a dozen artists in town to see their studios and what they create. More about our art adventures later. After our search for art, and after dinner, my Dad and I decided to give each other a haircut since our regular barber (Gwen) was out of town for another three weeks. I got out the trimmers and my father asked me, "how many haircuts have you given?" "You will be my first", I answered. Seeing the look on his face, I asked him, "how many haircuts have YOU given?" "I think I gave my younger brother a haircut when we were kids." he answered. "We are both in the same boat then." I said. We laughed and trimmed each other's hair, both proud of our "art work" on each other and both glad we still had two ears after it was all over. Gwen can fix our mistakes when she returns in November. Neither of us must wear a "hat" to church tomorrow.

Annie finds my sister's car is comfortable
Sunday, October 9, 2011: While my sister Dorana is away in Boston, she has loaned me her beautiful, black, sporty Pontiac to tour the countryside. So far, only Annie has taken advantage of her car. Dorana is not very fond of cats so she will "cringe" if she sees this photo. Our day has been busy again with church in the morning then shopping at Costco, Staples and Wal-Mart in the afternoon. My old Dell laptop has been causing problems so I've replaced it with a Toshiba at less than half the price I paid for the Dell 6 years ago. So I've been struggling with Windows 7 most of the afternoon trying to get my most important files transferred to the new computer. I'm hoping I don't have to replace any software.

Perhaps I'll take tomorrow off and go for a drive into the foothills along Highway 49.

Hard going on gravel, viewing the art of an oil painterViewing the art of a wood turner

Some children excited about catchin lizards
Monday, October 10, 2011: First a word about Columbus Day .. apparently a holiday only for the post office since everything else was open today. So this is a day to celebrate the discovery of the "new world" by Europe. I believe it should be a day of mourning for the thousands of cultures destroyed by European nations. Now, on with the story:

On Saturday we bought tickets to the Annual Lodi Studio Tour. With the tickets came a map to various art studios in and around Lodi. We were able to see the artists at work in their own studios, meet the artists, and ask questions about their work. Every kind of art and craft was on the tour. What really made this special was the chance to get into the rural area of Lodi because many of the studios were not in the city but in the countryside surrounding Lodi. My father has done watercolor painting and sculpting before his health stopped the work. I believe we saw more than half the artists but really enjoyed those we found outside the city. In some of the locations, like the one in the photos above, I had to wheel Dad on gravel so I had to pull rather than push. You can see the tracks in the gravel. In this case, artists were sitting in booths while we rolled from one booth to another. In the photo at the right, the two girls have caught lizards and very excited to show my Father. They asked if he wanted to hold one, but he declined. You can get a better look by clicking the photo. Note: this is BEFORE I gave my Father a haircut.

Enjoying a cup of coffee in Lockford at the beginning of my trip
Tuesday, October 11, 2011: My sister Dorana is returning from Boston tomorrow so this is my last chance to enjoy her sporty Pontiac with the sun roof for a drive in the country. I chose to drive into the gold rush country along Highway 49. Highway 49 traverses the foothills at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range from north to south. The Sierras climb to 14,000 feet in the south but in this area they get to about 10,000 feet. They gradually increase in elevation for 70 miles as you approach the summit. On the eastern side of the range, they drop 6,000 feet in about 5 miles compared to the 70 miles on the western slopes. I begin my trip by stopping in Lockeford for a good coffee drink. All the photos below have a photo behind so click the photo to see additional views.
Valley Springs Feed store where I got a rubber pelican for Morgan Still on highway 12 approaching Highway 49, scattered Oak country
Mokelumne River white water near Jackson Old town Jackson, California
Narrow sidewale of Sutter Creek, behind: Bus clears the buildings by only inches ... such a challenge My second stop is the Valley Springs Feed Store for a rubber pelican for Morgan. She usually like soft toys so not sure how she will like the pelican. I lived in the area in the mid-60s and this was a nothing town but obviously some developer has built it into a community. At this elevation, the hills are covered with oaks and very dry in the summer months. I stopped at the clear, fast flowing Mokelumne River so Morgan could get a drink and take a swim. This is the same river found in Lodi, but not quite so clear. Next, I drove through historic Jackson. It has also grown with a well developed mall and lots of fast food restaurants. My lunch stop was in Sutter Creek, only a few miles from Jackson. Lots of places to shop in the historic downtown area. Surprisingly, I found a very nice shirt for my daughter at one of the stores. It was in the window and as soon as I saw it I knew she had to have it. It will be a Christmas present. I gave up on eating in Sutter Creek because the food prices were for tourists and since Gwen was not with me, I wasn't going to pay those prices. Instead, I drove back to Jackson for fast food. It was perfect weather today to keep the moon roof open, yesterday it was rain and mist all day.

Richmaid Ice Cream in Lodi

Monday, October 17, 2011: I took myself to dinner here one day last week. Let me explain. This was Richmaid Ice Cream, now it's a restaurant in front and an RV repair in the rear. When I lived here in 1963 it was Richmaid Ice Cream and my girlfriend worked upstairs. We were 16 or 17 at the time. I asked about the previous history of the building but no one was old enough to remember. The clock on the building says 10:35, it was really 5 pm, perhaps it hasn't working in 48 years. Anyway, I went to the restaurant alone because my parents were off with my sister at the time. The food was not that great and it cost me $16 including food, drink, included dessert, tip and California's awful TAX. In some ways, I like Cain's "999" idea but can you imagine paying 9% national sales tax PLUS the state sales tax in most states ... in Arizona that would be about 19% in some areas. In Lodi it would be 16.75%. 9% income tax, in some ways sounds like a windfall for corporations and wealthier Americans, but I'll bet neither currently pay 9% without their deductions. And certainly the lower income, like us, don't pay 9% with no deductions. I'm not sure who really benefits with the "999" plan. Of course it would eliminate a lot of tax accounting jobs and perhaps reduce government expense of IRS agents and auditors.

Tonight, I drove my parents to a dinner meeting. That gave Dad a chance at more getting in/out of the car exercise.

Celebration of a life
Tuesday, October 18, 2011: Today was a very special day. We attended a birthday party for a person who has been dead for six years. What made it special ... first my Mother, Father and I were the only ones invited who were not family, second ... I've never attended a birthday party for a dead person before. Third, I don't remember meeting this person but she must have been very special to bring this family together even after she was gone. It was a very enjoyable party with laughing, and lots of talking ... a nice break in the day for those still working and a special activity to be with friends for those of us who are retired. I can understand where this could be a very nice tradition.

Brubeck Institure Jazz Quintet
Friday, October 21, 2011: Last night I had the privilege to attend a concert at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento with my sister Dorana. It was Dave Brubeck night so the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet from the University of the Pacific entertained for nearly two hours. These were five fine musicians with a great deal of talent. I don't generally listen to jazz nor enjoy jazz ... I struggle to get the rhythm and musical themes from most jazz tunes but this group has sparked my interest to listen to more jazz. They were obviously looking at music at times but also improvising, if I paid more attention I could probably figure out what they are doing (playing in phrases, or in keys, or variations of a theme or by time). Perhaps UOP gives a short discussion which I could join, of the jazz structure. Before the concert began, we dined in the museum cafe which is a very pleasant place to spend some time to relax. Click the photo to see the indoor portion of the cafe. I was able to enjoy the museum and music as a member because my parents are members and I used their membership card for entrance. With Gwen gone visiting her daughter and grandkids, I've had more time to explore new music at NPR Music and really enjoying it. Tonight I'm listening to the Laura Marling Concert from September 27 ... an hour and twenty minutes of British folk rock. Very nice, almost like being there. Of course I'm using my new LG bluetooth wireless stereo headset which helps to drown out the four lanes of traffic only 25 feet away.
Damaged wheel well
Saturday, October 22, 2011: Last July I had a blowout on the trailer in the middle of Nevada. Today, I finally got around to the repair. I've had the replacement parts for a couple of months, just waiting for cooler weather. The sheet metal roof of the wheel-well must be replaced, the plywood at the rear of the wheel-well must be replaced, a dent taken out of the quarter panel behind the wheel and the outer trim replaced. The insurance has already paid for the repairs and I'm doing them myself. Today it took several hours to remove the old sheet metal ... I'm hoping it won't take as long to replace. The plywood must come first so I'll get that tomorrow and start the reassembly.

Building stairs for the trailer entrance


Monday, October 24, 2011: We've been parked in Lodi since July and expect to be here several more months so it's time to build some wood stairs for the entrance to the trailer. Nothing fancy, like the deck I built for our five years at Howard Prairie Lake Resort. But like that deck, no nails have been used in these stairs, only screws. My Dad came out to see how I was using the old wood I found in his warehouse. I found enough for these stairs and only had to pay for the screws. It took about an our to pull the nails from this old wood. You can click the photo for a view of the stairs in front of the trailer door. I intend to paint the stairs and add stair tred. When these boards get wet in the rain, they will likely be slippery. Separate stairs are nice, it means no wear on the fold-out steps and no noise transferred to the inside of the trailer when entering or exiting the trailer. When you click the photo, note the repair in progress of the wheel well behind the steps. The new sheet metal for the wheel-well roof is on the ground next to the wheels. The trim around the wheels has been removed. The next door neighbor had a small piece of plywood just right for the parts I need for the repair. I'll get that cut out and painted.

Installing the sheet metal wheel-well roof
Tuesday, October 25, 2011: When the rear tire blew last July, it tore up the sheet metal above the wheels and had to be replaced. The most difficult part of this job was removing the old sheet metal which was stapled in place during the manufacturing process. Once the old sheet metal was out of the way, the replacement fit pretty easily. Now I'm remaking some plywood parts that were damaged and then I will begin securing the siding back in its place. Just above my head you can see some insulation peeking through. That was some old insulation I found in Dad's warehouse. Insulation above the sheet metal was also missing so this will help. These are two new tires. When one blows, the other tire must bare the load of both tires until you stop the trailer, for that reason, the "good" tire can no longer be trusted ... also for that reason ... be wary of "used trailer tires" ... no doubt my old tire was put into inventory as a "used trailer tire".

The wheel well repair is complete

Tuesday, December 6, 2011: After several delays in the final repairs to the wheel well I've finished the repair. The plywood at the rear of the well had to be replaced as well as the sheet metal at the top of the well. The outer trim also had to be replaced. The most difficult part of the repair was the removal then replacement of the sheet metal. I left part of the old sheet metal against the wall and used self drilling sheet metal screws to attach the new metal to the old sheet metal against the inside wall. I'm hoping this doesn't happen again.

Ben and Chloe racing in a grocery cart

Thursday, October 27, 2011: Away from Lodi visiting Reno again and my Son Ben, Chloe, Noah and Kim. I arrived in time to take Chloe to the park for swinging, climbing, running and sliding. She had lots of energy, it was me who got tired. So bad from the park for dinner and play with Dad with a ride in the shopping cart. More play after dinner and then Chloe's favorite ... a bath. Click the photo for bath time.

Chloe like these


Friday, October 28, 2011: The day begins with a trip to the medical lab so I can get my blood drawn before my physical exam on Monday. Then, since I had been fasting for more than 12 hours, straight to a Starbucks for a good cup of decaf and Artisan sandwich. Then back to the house for a new windshield in Ben's Toyota. We go for a walk with Noah and Chloe in the afternoon ending in the park. Chloe did lots of running, sliding and swinging. Then back to the house for dinner and bedtime stories. Click the photo for another view.

Pizza party with friends

Saturday, October 29, 2011: We have a fun pizza party with friends, Jim and Susie. Everyone loves Pizza including Chloe at the far end of the table. Noah, at this end of the table is asleep now but watched the last game of the world series for half an hour. I guess that means he will be a star baseball player. Of course he was attracted to the colors of the large screen, HD TV only a few feet from our table. Click the photo to see another view of Noah.

Kitchen to assemble
Fully AssembledPartial Assembly

Fun with the box houose


Sunday, October 30, 2011: Today was a day to assemble a Kitchen unit for Chloe's birthday. I thought it was to be an easy job but the instructions were 4 pages with over 20 assembly sections. It took more than 3 hours for a job I thought would be 15 minutes of just snapping everything together. After the assembly, I cut windows and a door in the box for a "box house" which Chloe loves. I tried putting one of her chairs in the house but she moved it out and prefers to sit on the floor of the house. In and out many times. I hope she likes the kitchen as much. Click on the photos for an additional view. (The final assembly photo does not have a hidden photo.)

Blowing out the #2 candleGetting ready for the 2 year birthday party
November 3, 2011: Dad is doing slightly better, still in ICU. Meanwhile, last weekend I got to enjoy my granddaughter Chloe at her #2 birthday party. She is wearing a hat from one of her favorite shows, "Word World" where characters are made of words. Note the duck made from the letters, "DUCK". She did not particularly like the elastic to secure the hat to the head. Mom, Kim had to help with blowing out the #2 candle. Note the hat is "HAT". She did well for her party but it took a couple of days of longer naps to recover. Click the photos for additional views.

The kitchen is a hit



Sunday, November 5, 2011: My father's condition has not changed, he's still in the ICU and kidney's are not functioning.

The kitchen is a hit. Chloe spent most of the day last weekend exploring new recipes and serving them to me and anyone else who would try her cooking. She tries every button and opens every drawer and cupboard. She learned that different pan sizes created different sounds from the "burner", she used the light above the coffee maker to make drinks, makes phone calls on her cell phone and assembles sandwiches with the plastic sandwich ingredients, you can see the lettuce on the stove near the spatula and spoon. Click the photo for another view.

Chloe pulls her stool over to help Dad with Noah


Sunday, November 6, 2011: My father is slipping a little more each day.

While visiting during Chloe's second year birthday, Chloe would help Dad with Noah in several ways. She would pull her stool next to Ben any time she needed more height. At one time I was holding Noah and searching around the kitchen for his bottle which I couldn't find. I continued to search still not finding the bottle. Chloe tugged on my pants and handed me the bottle, somehow she knew what I needed. In this case, Chloe is helping Dad with a Noah diaper change. Click the photo for another view.

Monday, November 7, 2011: I love technology like smart phones and tablets and new machines for communication. Over this last week I've learned about medical technology because it's technology which is keeping my father alive in the ICU. This machine contracts bags on his legs to keep blood moving toward his heart and helps prevent blood clots.
This machine contracts cases around his legs to keep the blood moving toward the heart
These are infusion pumps which regulate the flow of fluids into his blood These are Alaris infusion pumps which regulate fluids passing into his blood.
This is the rack of medications and fluids pumped into his blood. This rack often has twice as many bags as it currently has.
These are bags of medications and fluids passing into his blood
Food pump This is another pump. This one pumps a small amount of liquefied food into my father's stomach via a tube passing through his nose into his stomach.
This is the organ systems monitor which keeps track of heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and much more. I was showing my mother where the respiratory rate was located and accidentally touched the screen. A menu immediately appeared so this is touch screen technology similar to a smart phone.
Organ systems monitor
This is the ventilator This is the ventilator which is breathing for Dad through a tube inserted in the mouth to his trachea. When you think about decisions you must make in life like what career to pursue, who to marry, when to have children, what house to buy, what car to buy, where to go for vacation, which dentist to repair a broken tooth, and more ... they all pale when compared to the decision our family must make for my father. Dad's kidneys are not working, rather than connect him to another machine, tomorrow morning the respiratory therapist will remove the ventilator and my father must breath on his own. He is very weak but will probably breath for minutes, hours or days before passing on to meet the Lord. The hospital staff has been very good and promises to make him comfortable during this time. My Dad is 88 years old.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011: Seven family members were present this morning when the machines listed above were disconnected. Dad was still breathing on his own this evening under "comfort care".

Wednesday, November 9, 2011: My father is weakening fast. What is meant by ... "comfort care". The comfort care my father is receiving is to make sure he is comfortable and not in any pain. Other than a comfortable bed, pillows, drugs for pain, he receives nothing else. No food or water is given. When his lips appear dry, they are moistened with a tiny sponge on a stick. This is the way our culture in states other than Oregon and Washington allow people to die. As my son pointed out, although the patient may feel no pain, this is very painful to the family because they witness their loved one passing over the period of a day to a week. I was the witness about 15 years ago to a friend's death over a three day period in this manner. This method may be a step up from no comfort of several years ago but I believe we treat our pets better than this. In Oregon and Washington, death can be physician prescribed. Hopefully the rest of the nation will become "civilized" as is Oregon and Washington.

Lodi Memorial Hospital Courtyard
Thursday, November 10, 2011: The photo to the right is the courtyard of the Lodi Memorial Hospital. The courtyard looks like a comfortable place to be during the summer months, it's pretty cold and always in the shade in November. It's a very nice hospital with a good staff. This is the hospital where my Father died last night at 11:30 with my sister Sandy and my Mother in the room.

Two weeks ago after four months of care taking my Father, I left Lodi for Reno to visit my son and grandchildren to celebrate my granddaughters second birthday. Dad began to feel "uncomfortable" on that Thursday so would not eat and only drank juice. That continued for Friday and Saturday, then was taken to the hospital on Sunday. By Monday a bowel obstruction was diagnosed and he had an operation to remove it. A large portion of his colon was found to be necrotic (dead) so the necrotic portion was removed. I returned on Tuesday to resume whatever care could be given. Since the operation, he has been on life support in ICU where his kidneys failed and the rest of his organs were weakening. My Dad always said he preferred to "die fast" rather than "linger" so we did the best we could by removing the life support on Tuesday morning. The family has been grieving today but enjoyed being with and comforting each other.

Friday, November 11, 2011: I've often wondered why food is delivered to those who have lost a loved one. I can tell you, it has been very helpful in our experience. There is much that needs done to take care of arrangements for the few days after a death. For example: where the body goes from the hospital, how the body is to be handled (cremation or casket), where the final resting place will be, when and where the memorial will take place, finding photographs, writing the obituary, answering the phone, notifying all the relatives and friends, etc. There is not time for cooking and usually many family members are visiting so more food is needed than usual. My parents have many good friends taking care of them.



Saturday, November 12, 2011: Relatives are beginning to arrive both to comfort the family and to celebrate my Mother's birthday tomorrow. More food has arrived today and enough to serve the family until the memorial service on Thursday. Please check Gwen's blog.

Mom's birthday today


Sunday, November 13, 2011: It is a sad time with the loss of my Father we still enjoyed celebrating my Mother's birthday. Lee, one of her good friends invited us to her big house for a birthday party with a few friends. It was a simple but good meal. If you click the photo you will see Lee cutting the chicken pot pies plus other items on the serving table. One of Mom's favorite quarterbacks was playing against the 49ers today so after the party we turned on NFL football to watch the second half of the 49ers VS the NY Giants so Mom could see Eli Manning. Mom said she still hoped the 49ers win (which they did) but likes Eli the best.

A family hike with Dale out front.

Monday, November 14, 2011: Dad always enjoyed hiking and being with family. While walking along he would often pick out tree, flowers, bushes or insects to point out especially if they were unusual or in a place we might miss them. I can remember when I lived at Lake Tahoe, he wanted to try cross country skiing. I was always concerned about his effort since he did not exercise in Lodi and then was asking his body to perform athletic activity at altitude in the mountains. He still enjoyed the activity even when he was not very good at it. He always enjoyed anything which involved the family. Today we delivered the obituary to the newspaper and the memorial brochure (2.2 megabyte .pdf download) to the church to be printed for the Thursday service. Gwen created the brochure using Microsoft Publisher.

Dad always made sure the flag was out on special days


Tuesday, November 15, 2011: My Dad always made sure the flag was displayed on all holidays. As a World War II, United States Navy Veteran on a destroyer escort he has always had a special feeling toward our country.

Today I worked on the photo remembrance PowerPoint slide show to be played for the first time at his memorial on Thursday. I am providing you with a link to the YouTube video. If you knew Dale, I recommend you sit down and get ready for some tears. I created it and still it causes me to weep every time I watch it. If you are brave, click here for the photo tributel. It's only 3 minutes and 9 seconds long. The music is my favorite composer, Aaron Copeland, the composition is "Grover's Corners". I did add a link to the obituary above.

My Father's remains are in the shopping bag.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011: This is the day I picked up my Father's remains at the funeral home. It's not like you get a lot of practice picking up your Father at a funeral home. I've watched every episode of "Six Feet Under" so you would think I'd not be surprised by anything. But there were a few surprises. I had to sign a "release" as someone authorized to "dispose" of the remains. The urn was delivered to me in what looks like a shopping bag. Finally, the weight of the urn as I picked up the shopping bag was more than I was expecting. I didn't actually weigh it but I was thinking I better hold the bottom of the bag because the rope handles might tear loose. I didn't have to bring the urn home, we could have had the urn delivered to the cemetery but I wanted Dad to have one last night at home. You can click the photo for a view of the urn.

Waiting for the service to begin at the grave site
Greeting Dad's friends after the memorial serviceThursday, November 17, 2011: I was expecting this to be a LONG day but it flew by. It began this morning at the graveside service then moved to Temple Baptist Church for the memorial service. My sister's and I stressed over our part in the service of speaking to Dad's friends but we all did a very good job of containing our emotions and delivering our speeches. I've attached my part. My sisters and brother-in-law Ed spoke next. My cousin Deanna read a letter from Dad's sister Louise. Pastor Perry Kallis ended with a meditation. After the memorial service my Mother, sisters and I greeted all those attending. In the photo to the right you can see my sister Sandy and I greeting Dad's friends. Below left, my Mother is greeting one of her good friends, Marge. Below right, I'm greeting Fred, one of Dad's best friends. The last photo is of the photo table outside the sanctuary. After the greeting, everyone had a meal to socialize and talk about Dad. It was a very enjoyable day getting to meet Dad's friends. Click all photos except the last photo for additional views. If you wish to hear a recording of the entire tribute service, about 1 hour long, it's available on YouTube. Please be aware the audio does not begin for 1 minute 15 seconds into the video.
Mom greeting Marge, a good friend I'm greeting Fred, one of Dad's best friends
Table of photos
Saturday, November 19, 2011: On Thursday evening, the day of the memorial tribute our company left in early evening. Marge, a friend of my Mother invited her to attend the Lodi Community Concert Association performance for the evening with her. My Father had been president of the Community Concert Association a few years back. At the beginning of the performance the current president, just before introducing the musical group, dedicated the evening's performance to Dale Prohaska in honor of his service to the community.
Sunday, November 20, 2011: This is my last post in this series. The series really began in early July when we got word that my Dad's health was failing. We were in Indiana at the time. We drove from Indiana to Lodi, California arriving on July 16, 2011. My Dad was still in the re-hab center to be released a few days after our arrival. He was barely able to walk a few feet with his walker. He very slowly improved in strength with the help of physical therapy and daily trips to the hospital fitness center until the end of October. He complained of pain and was taken to the hospital where an operation discovered a dead colon which was removed. While in intensive care, his kidneys were failing and other organs were affected by the failing kidneys. He died on November 9, 2011 at 11:30pm with my sister Sandy and my mother, Doris present. Gwen and I will be staying with my mother until the end of December then return to traveling for a month. We'll return again in February to make sure everything is going OK, then resume traveling later in the month.
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