Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I've now passed the 12 weeks date since my back surgery. The doctors told me not to pick up anything more than 10 pounds, not to drive (I've not been good about that) and not to twist (I have been good about that!) for 12 weeks after the surgery. I have to say that at 6 weeks, my back felt great, but my stamina was low. I went scuba diving over Christmas, and did fine, as John was my sherpa. He lifted and carried everything to and from the water. I geared up in the water, so there was no carrying anything but my camera. That went well. I'd dive in the morning, and rest in the afternoons. At 7 weeks, I was still having an occasional weird zinging pain in the surgical area, but other than that, progress was great. At 8 weeks, all pains had disappeared, but the stamina was still low. I went back to work full time at 8 weeks, having done 2 weeks of 1/2 time work prior to that. And now at 12 weeks, I can say my normal stamina has returned, and for all intents and purposes, I feel completely back to normal....and 100% pain free. Thank you, Lord, and thank you, Stenum!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friday marked the 4th week anniversary since my surgery. I'm home now, recuperating, taking it easy despite my "terrier-inclinations" to run, jump, bark and attack anything that moves. I've been told to "sit." And it's tough. Really. But it's about all I can do. And that's just what I was doing at 3pm, when down the road came a parade of cars.....

"But what to my wondering eyes should appear,"
"But a yellow school bus, and a school staff, so dear!"

They regaled me with carols, a basket overflowing with gifts, many hugs, and they "ooh'd and aah'd" at my incision, which I showed them as discreetly as I could. (PG rating; sorry).

What a group! What colleagues! What elves!
I am, indeed, one blessed woman!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Saturday, Dec. 6th
We went in search of a treadmill. I had no idea there were so many options for treadmills. Quite frankly, I don't want a treadmill. John said, "Get on there, Roz, and try them out." I did. "Does it feel better than the other one?" That's kinda like me asking him, "Hey, John, try out the action of this piano. Can you feel the difference?" If one isn't used to something, you don't notice the nuances of them. I was falling off one as effectively as the other!! However, after messing with about 4 or 5, and finally getting the hang of it, and after discovering that the speed button didn't react as quickly as I do, we decided upon the treadmill WITHOUT the implanted tv, but WITH the ipod connectivity. Sheesh! Are we spoiled or what?
My only concern is where do I put this thing? I don't want it in the living room. I dont' want it in the bedroom. I don't want it in the garage. I don't want it. BUT! I do need it. So I think it'll go in the garage....hmmm, should have bought the one with the inserted tv!!! After discussing the different attributes of treadmills, and finally picking it up at the Sears store (where we met Bobby and Diane Gibbs picking up another package), we were on the road for the 6 hr. drive home. We got back to Valdez about 7pm. John made a fire, rolled Roz up in a feather comforter on the couch, and went to unpacking all the luggage. Roz was "out" on the couch by 7:30pm, not having completely adjusted to Alaska time, yet. But it's good to be home.

Friday, Dec. 5th
We were at the airport at 6am, and were told that we'd been rescheduled on Alaska's next Seattle flight; but because of scheduling conflicts, they couldn't replace the first class seats. So we were placed in an emergency exit, with some extra leg room. That was great. The seats didn't recline, but we weren't in for much sleeping anyway. We got to Seattle with only enough time to spare to grab a bowl of soup and run to the next gate; where we were told "Mechanical problems! Sorry! Run to other end of airport and catch next plane there!" The walking actually felt good! We'd been moved to another, smaller plane. Folks were getting told that they were getting reseated; but we were in good stead. We got the exit row again, and we made it into Anchorage about 4pm. John gathered all the luggage, parked me in a corner of the airport at the window, and went to get the truck, which Lance, our superintendent, had let us park at his Anchorage home. That saved us a tidy penny! Thanks, Lance! John returned shortly, and we went to find a hotel, because at that time, neither one of us wanted any more travel. John made a short Costco run. Roz acquainted herself with the hotel bed. I don't think either one of us saw 8:30pm! We were snoozzzzzzzzzing.

Thursday, Dec, 4th
The process of getting home was not so much complicated, but just long and drawn out.
We made it from Bremen to Amsterdam in good stead. However, we boarded at Amsterdam, and then were put into a lengthy queue for de-icing the plane. We sat on the tarmac for nearly 2 hours, which put us shy of meeting our next connection, Chicago to Sea-Tac. We'd planned an overnight stay in Seattle, but KLM put us up for the night in Chicago as we'd missed our flight. It was a blessing in disguise, for it actually helped us aclimate to the time change a bit more effectively. We had 8 hours sleep in Chicago, whereas the overnight in Seattle would only have afforded 4 hours at most. So we planned to travel to Seattle on Friday morning.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Today was the last day in Bremen. We started at the crack of 10 with another slim breakfast. John only had one helping of eggs, bread, jam, bacon, orange juice, and assorted treats. We ate with Bill and Linda. Roz and Linda decided on a day of art and shopping. They began by taking photos of the lobby, set out for another reception.

Then it was off to the museum where they ran through all 5 floors only to decide they needed to shop. The Shnoor was waiting. They found pins and scarves. Soon the two hour tour had turned into a five hour extravaganza, topped by Linda's capture of a taxi back to the hotel.

John in the meantime, had found the missing parts of St. Peter's that he and Roz had previously missed. He took photos of the excavations and implements used back to the 1000's. Pretty tame, but at least he felt useful. They had their last night at the Hofbrau restaurant, no live music, but a wonderful time with Bill and Linda, to end their German adventure.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday, Dec. 2nd
We had another quiet day today. We did nothing spectacular, other than a haircut and a trot downtown for a Hummel Hunt. The haircut was successful. The hunt wasn't particularly so. The most walking Roz did was around the Hollersee (the Park Pond). John hit the Schnoor one more time.

While hoofing around the Hollersee, we saw an unfamiliar duck, swimming in the other direction. John made an attempt to get his picture, but the back end was the only side showing, until Roz stuck her hand out like she was holding some bread. EVERY duck in the pond came swimming. We got our photo opportunity, but the apparent lack of bread gave the ducks every reason to say, "QUACK!!"

While Roz got a hair cut, John was hoofing around city center. He photographed some more examples of German ingenuity and frugality. These city seats were made from discarded railroad wheels and axles.

The recuperation goes up and down; good day, then a much slower one. But the overall progression is good! The heavy medications have been abandoned and pain management is much less stringent than before!! So we're doing well.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Today we got the camera fixed. John took it into the photohaus and explained that he thought he needed a battery. The clerk tried to shoot, couldn't, then removed the lens. After cleaning the lens contacts with a swipe of his hand, the camera was fine. German technology meets Japanese camera. We took the proverbial "bull by the horns" and attempted to buy a train pass. We went what we thought was the easiest route: we asked the Train Reservation Agent, who sent us to what we had been avoiding- the automated ticket machines. A young man who spoke limited English, was stationed by the machines in the office, and with a few punches, outlined our trip to Oldenberg (it was his home), printed off a day pass, and an additional information agenda for returning home. So with pass (good for up to 5 people for unlimited travel for a day) in hand, we asked him if he wanted to go with us....He said he wished he could. We headed for Gate 4. We had a brief wait of 5 minutes and then the train loaded. It was a double-decker, and we headed to the top. We traveled for about 30 minutes, with stops in Hude and Delmenhorst.

When we arrived in Oldenberg, we just followed the crowd to the main part of the station. Hans had said, "look for the spires, and then head in that direction." We didn't see any spires, but we'd picked up a map. When you read something in English, it makes sense, but when you read a map in a foreign tongue, it's really easy to get confused between Bahnhofsstraube and Bahnhofsplatz when you're working from memory. But John has an innate sense of direction. He took the lead, and we ended up in another Christmas Markt in Oldenburg City Center.

It was delightful. There were a few different displays from the Bremen Markt. I, however, was the one to discover another Ratskeller. "Rat" means "of the local people", so the Ratskeller was in the Rathaus, in the bottom of the City Hall's building.

We had lunch there. We looked at the menus and knew we were going to have "a little explore." We "discerned" what we were going to have, and the waiter brought us, along with apologies for not being sooner, an English menu. We commented on being glad of it, for what we had selected was not what we thought.

We wandered through the Oldenburg Market and noted similarities...the eierspunsch, the jewelry, the nutcrackers, the puppets, but they had some additional displays not found in the Bremen Markt: a nativity, pony rides and a display of whistles.

We visited the inside of their church, but was only allowed to see a small portion of it, as it was undergoing a major restoration project. A lady saw me snapping pictures of the spire, and said to me, "You speak English? You go inside church. It's....uh....vunderbah!!" She was right. It was gorgeous. But very modern looking compared to the others I've seen in Bremen.

We snapped as many photos as we could. John was humming the "dueling banjos" theme as we shot...he with the D50, and me with the Coolpix.
The D50 has a much better lens but the Coolpix fit in my pocket. So we have double the pictures, and double the pleasure of downloading them, reliving the day.

At the end of Oldenburg City Center was a building that had been turned into an advent calendar. It was called "the Schlosskalendar." The windows were numbered as an advent calendar, and because today is December 1st, Window #1 was open to reveal a picture.

We returned on the 1500 train, Gate 4, and enjoyed the ride home. I like riding trains. They're
much easier on the spine than taxis.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday, Nov. 30th

We sent the first Sunday of Advent attending St. Peter's Cathedral in Bremen. What a treat for me.
The church steeple bells were pealing as we arrived. We'd been told that service started at 10:30am, but it really started at 10am. Good thing we were early. We arrived and found Rolanda's family had already beaten us there. But they were sitting "under" the choir loft. I decided I wanted to see the choir, so we greeted them good morning, and we moved to the center of the sanctuary where we could see everything. As we were going up the step into the cathedral, a little German Lady told me they had a new organ! She was so delighted. I mentioned this to Alan, Rolanda's dad, and he told me that they had a new choir director, not a new organ (they already have 5!) ....ah, such the difference in the language. Anyway, the new choir director was brought in with much pomp and circumstance; he was ordained into ministry, and most of the service was liturgical singing. The programs had the music, including the kantoring, printed in the program. The pipe organ played; the choir sang, the building rocked with the deep vibrations of the pipes, and the congregation sang their hearts out. If only 'd been able to sing the words. But as I'm nowhere near fluent in German phonetics, I just "ah'd the notes", -those of which I could quite capably read. They had served communion, and the people all lined up to take of the Lord's ordinance. The choir sang in the meantime, and the organ continued to play. The service was 90 minutes long and beautiful. My heart was so full. It ended with an orgelnachspiel by JohannSebastian Bach. I thought I was being translated into heaven right then and there; I do love the "ritualistic style and formality" of the European church. As we said auf weidersehen to the vicar, he discovered were were from Alaska, and he invited us to a reception they were having afterwards. We appreciated the kindness, but couldn't imagine being conversant with these lovely folks, when we don't speak a bit of German. So we wandered back to the hotel.

A bit later, we wandered (did I mention that I walked both ways???) back to the Ratskeller for lunch. We had a variety of cheeses, grapes, and walnuts, a variety of breads, and a fruggenbacher(? - pizza). We wandered thru the Christmas Market, had some more mulled wine (it's cold here - and THAT from an Alaskan!) and thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon. We've only this minute come back. It's fully dark outside now. The weather has been a bit rainy and drizzling, but nothing a seasoned Alaskan can't handle.

Our Nikon D50 has given us a bit of trouble. It's not taking pictures reliably. I'd been using it rather exclusively up until yesterday, when it completely gave up the ghost. We've found a photo hose, to see if it needs a new battery, but it wasn't open today. We'll see about that tomorrow before we go to Oldenberg by train.

Sorrry there are no pictures today. Perhaps tomorrow.
Love you, all.