I don’t know whether or not all battlefields are equipped with fire hydrants, but this one is.  Tucson also included a visit to a surgeon and the discovery of a second inguinal hernia.  I was scheduled for surgery 2 days later and am now the proud owner of a couple of polypropylene patches which are keeping my insides from becoming outsides.  This was the first laproscopic surgery I have ever experienced and it truly was quick and efficient and the associated pain has been minimal. Remember, my perception of pain has changed rather dramatically since Yuri moved in.  My Bride, not wishing to be outdone by the persistent morbid deterioration of my terrestrial conveyance, visited a podiatrist to find out why one of her toes hurts when she walks.  A cortisone shot and a regimen of steroid pills for a few days seems to have resolved her difficulty.  My favorite part of her ordeal is the knee high orthopedic boot she has to wear for the next month to drive all of her toe bones back into alignment.  I figure that all she needs is an eye patch and a parrot to fulfill my peg-legged woman fantasy!  During my “stay at home and rest” phase, she took over some of the more “manly” chores including fueling up our Jeep.  She discovered an unmanned cash-machine operated station but was somewhat concerned as to how she would receive change from her $20 bill after filling our near empty gas tank.  The realization that her $20 didn’t even move the gas gauge above the half-full mark required several glasses of wine before her breathing returned to normal and she was once again able to speak coherently.  This was the first actual case of post-traumatic stress I have ever witnessed.  After visiting our family doc and receiving the good news that my weight and blood pressure are both down (and a 50% reduction in the blood pressure meds), we spent the next morning with Gastro-Guy having our plumbing checked.  This is one procedure that we always look forward to…NOT!!!!!  Two years after the original diagnosis, the all-important mammogram and visit with our newlywed breast surgeon provided us with more good news.  The “all clear” we received was a tremendous relief since the likelihood of a recurrence of breast cancer increases during the first 2 years following treatment and then rapidly declines.  There were a few anxious moments when during the “photo session” a couple of extra pictures were requested.  It seems that fat cells tend to die around a surgical incision and this mimics cancer cells on a mammogram.  The additional pictures were required to confirm exactly what they were.  We hope that all of the medical information we are sharing with you folks is not overly burdensome, but many of the things we are learning are new to us and perhaps our experience will provide others with life altering or even life saving knowledge, especially regarding breast cancer.  My apologies for the relative dearth of photos in this edition, especially when compared to last month’s mega photo spread, but we are “camped out” at the end of 3 LAX runways on Dockweiler State Beach and there just isn’t a whole lot to photograph here…

Kia ora, Mates!!  Our Aussie mates, Ian and Betty, are probably the only ones who have any idea what that means.  While my fledgling Latina has been wasting her time with an in-depth study of Spanish, I have been concentrating my own efforts in gaining fluency in a more useful language.  Having already mastered Latin and Aramaic, I am now immersed in the study of Maori!  “Kia ora”, much like “shalom”, is a dual-purpose word that can mean either, “Hi, how the hell are ya?” or, “See ya later, alligator!”...

   Kia Ora                                                                        April 10, 2007

I considered throwing in a couple more gratuitous pictures of my Jeep but our on-board censor got wind of the plan and encoded the “Jeep Pics” file with a password that she refuses to share.  We’ll be heading for Texas on April 22nd with our pal, Queen Bee, in residence.  We’ll be dropping her off near San Antonio where she will take delivery of a new Dynamax motorhome and Jeep Wrangler.  I’m afraid it’s true; we have corrupted her!  We have provided her the encouragement and support to walk away from a well-ordered life in southern California and adopt the carefree and totally irresponsible lifestyle of a gypsy.  This is the very reason I had so few childhood friends: all of the neighborhood mothers had me pegged at an early age as being a bad seed and a negative influence on their children!  See ya’ll in the Lone Star State!!  Hugs, Chuck and Zookie

We have once again returned to the confines of southern California, another round of doctor visits, and are beginning to feel as if our lives have suddenly become indentured to the medical profession as our quality of life is rapidly approaching that of a couple of lab rats.  The various doctors I have seen have decided that my persistent kidney stone must consist of uric acid crystals since it doesn’t show up on either x-rays or sonograms and even a CAT scan was unable to detect it.  I have now resigned myself to some modicum of peaceful co-existence with the little interloper and we have begun calling it, “Yuri.”  During one incredibly painful episode in Mexico, our doctor gave me Darvocet for the pain.  Yuri was unimpressed.  I was then moved up to a shot of Demerol.  Yuri merely giggled.  The doctor then broke out the big guns and gave me a shot of morphine.  Yuri lapsed into uncontrollable laughter…I threw up.  I actually viewed this as a positive sign as it was the first reaction of any kind I had to any of the so-called painkillers.  The pain, however, was completely unaffected.  Enough sniveling, already!! 

Except, of course, the latest picture of our grandson, Melvin Sugar Bear, which is always an absolute inclusion in any missive regarding Los Angeles.  We just can’t get over how much he resembles our MD in Mexico, Dr. José Luis Raphael Eduardo Jaime Alberto Buster Canale.  We have even begun calling the kid “Canalito” after the good doctor…

as well as a few other unusual aircraft…

I made Turks head bracelets for Kelly and a couple of the other girls who work here but Luca wanted no part of the incidental screaming and blistered flesh which accompany this endeavor and settled for a couple of Tootsie Roll Pops instead of his own bracelet.  Our return to Tucson coincided with the annual air show at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and another look at the Blue Angels…

and even a mock rescue of injured soldiers…

I may be mistaken, but my time spent at the Greyhound tracks in southern Texas, most often during 50 cent hot dog and beer Senior Day, has left me all too familiar with the shape of this particular critter while the leash and muzzle lying on the table do nothing to alleviate my suspicions!  Another of the new businesses in town is “The Soggy Peso” beach bar.  Here, in typical Mexican fashion, the employees will do anything it takes to ensure your enjoyment, including setting them ablaze…

Prior to our departure from Mexico, we managed to check out the new Greek restaurant in San Carlos, which is owned by an hombre named Raphael.  I think that “Zorba Popadopolis” would be more appropriate for the owner of a Greek restaurant, or even “Bernie” since he bears a striking resemblance to the title character in the movie, “A Weekend at Bernie’s.”  The Greek dishes are first rate and the baklava is as good as any I have ever tasted.  I did have a bit of a problem with the “lamb” that was being roasted over the spit…