A New Year – 2017 turns

IMG_3144i generally think about the year as an academic year.  Starts in September, ends in June with a vacation in between. But now that we’re retired we can think in the tradition annual year.  New Years Eve, we quietly celebrated, dinner with Taylor’s at Hamilton’s Grill. Dry Manhattans at the Boathouse somewhat in honor of Grandpop Profy — but he used sweet vermouth.  After dinner we came back to the house for a fire and nightcap.  Didn’t quite make it to midnight, January 1, 2018.

I woke up thinking,  it’s hard to believe we are 17 years into the 21st century.  For the first 21st century New Year we were in Briny Breezes, FL with Diane’s mother.  All talk was the crashing of computers – Y2K.  Didn’t happen and here we are many years later, tied to our computers, pads, phones and social media.  Last year in 2016 the weather was mild but we both had colds.  This year it was sunny’ if cold, below 10 degrees but we’re in good health — kind of.

For me 2017 was not a platinum, silver or gold year. Maybe an alloy like brass or bronze.  Medical issues and the Trump presidency were major sour balls.  I’ve tried to remember the year and have been pretty blank.  I couldn’t even remember the names of Broadway musicals we saw at the Academy of Music.  Old ticket stubs document that we saw The King and I and Cabaret in the Spring.  Also Murder on the Orient Express at McCarter; Frog and Toad at the Arden.

2017 started quietly. Things we OK.   Some days reading by the wood stove, local field trips, walks, lunches at some familiar, some new restaurants.  We began or Joe, our handyman-painter, began work on the porch and moved to the living room, kitchen, dining room, and family room.  A few areas still need to be painted but  a lot was completed.  Diane redecorated with some new furniture, a big screen TV, shades on the porch.  The house is looking refreshed.

Our first get-away in mid-March was to New England.  Spent two nights at the Deerfield Inn and took another open hearth cooking class. We roasted chickens with root vegetables, made corn flap jacks, apple-squash pie, and cranberry-ginger bread. As much fun as our first class.   The mountains were still snow covered, we drove around, maple sugaring, horned cows, classic barns, a spring snap in the air.

We drove south to Salisbury, CT.,   Diane had read about a B and B, the White Hart, decorated by Joan of Hammersmith.  A woman our age, Diane subscribes to her website, home furnishings, travel and food recommendations.  A more interesting (to me) Martha Stewart.  We had been to her store in Reinbeck, NY several times but this trip we visited all three Hammersmith stores. I think the only purchase was couch pillows.

At the end of April we headed south to the Outer Banks, a new explore for us.  Hours on the Internet and we finally located the Cyprus Moon Inn in Kitty Hawlk. Our final review on the Outer Banks was overdeveloped.  Too many shopping centers, chain restaurants, and beach front hotels.  We drove north to Duck and Corolla and south to Cape Hatteras National Seashore but were not overly impressed.  We spent one day on Roanoke Island which had some history and charm.  We had some good seafood.  But we’d never trade Cape Cod for the Outer Banks.

On the way home we spent two nights at the Mansion House in Snow Hill, MD.  We discovered this bay side B and B several years ago.  It’s close to the wild horses of Assateague Island; Berlin is a decent small town with a few good restaurants.  Driving home we stopped in Rehoboth Beach for lunch at Dogfish (beer and spirits brought home).  We drove around the town trying to decide if we would want to rent there for a week.  A possibility.

In  June we spent one night in Brigantine visiting with Phyllis and Bill Gallagher, Tom and Kathy Corley.  Gallagher’s house is big and comfortable, on the ocean block.  It was windy and cool but nice beach walking weather.  Bill gave us a home town tour.  Unfortunately not a lot of undeveloped area.  Most of our time was sharing food and talk, lot of memories of the times when we all worked at Holy Ghost, socialized a lot, dinner parties, and family camping in State Park cabins.  Good times.  Phyllis has been doing photography, doing prints on canvas to sell.  She gave us all one as a gift.

On June 20 we returned to the Jersey shore.  We had checked out B and Bs in old Beach Haven and booked The Victoria Guest House for four nights.  It’s right on the square, a block from the ocean.  For me this turned out to be our most relaxing get away in 2017.  We enjoyed walks in the neighborhood, sitting on the ocean and bay, swimming the the pool and just hanging out on the large Victorian porches.  Our second floor room also had a small private porch.  Very nice.

We found good restaurants, the Black Whale is well known, the owners recently opened Parker’s Garage on the dock.  Ironically they also own Ship Bottom Shellfish where we had lunch and Mud City Crab House on the causeway (friends posted they were eating there, we didn’t).  The best restaurant was Stefano’s, classic Italian, white tablecloth, quiet, excellent seafood.  The others tended to be trendy and noisy.  A great find was Polly’s Clam Shack across from the Maritine Museum (quite good on a rainy morning).  A few picnic tables on a dock, teenage boys hanging out at a fishing boat, I was skeptical.  We ordered a bucket of clams; they were fantastic. Memories of buckets of clams when we lived in Boston.

Thursday afternoon we joined other seniors at the newly reopened Starlight Theatre to see Footloose.  Fun.  We didn’t drive to Barnegat Lighthouse since we had been there several weeks earlier.  Diane spent a little time at Bay Village shops but I was satisfied to read and dream on the porch.

LBI was the only summer vacation I knew growing up– a house in Beach Haven for a week.  Later there were days and weeks at Mignoni’s in Harvey Cedars.  Since then we spent one week renting in Harvey Cedars when Eli was about three, Viv a newborn. But Island Beach State Park has been our usual shore destination.  We’re glad we rediscovered LBI.

In July we drove to Geneseo, NY to visit Jerry and Kate Alonzo.  Friends since college, lots of memories.  But most exciting was seeing Jerry’s woodwork in a local show.  It was a bit of a retrospective so I was familiar with some pieces but much of it was from a collection around the theme of “justice.”  Jerry (a lawyer-judge) blends social justice imagery ( a scale for instance) words (collected from others) and nature inspirations (a river).  The day we went to the show he was giving a tour to a group of special students.  Quite impressed.  On another day we visited a lumber yard along the Erie Canal where he buys some wood.  The raw materials.  And then we saw his workshop, annex to the house they built just outside of Geneseo, a college town.

Unfortunately the day went to see the Alonzo travel trailer, it poured rain.  So heavy we couldn’t get out of the car.  Diane and I have thought about buying (or renting) one so we were disappointed.  I also started with some “issues” which would turn out to be C-diff.  Not pleasant.  The area is beautiful, still very rural, with a lot of back roads, farms, a place we want to explore more.  Another reason to return, we didn’t have time to visit the Rochester Photography Museum. Never been there.

From Geneseo we headed to Ithaca, NY.  I had looked for the “right” retreat on one one of the Finger Lakes but had come up empty.  So we used Hilton credit to stay two nights in a Hampton Suites.  The drive along the Lakes offered quite a few stops — parks, farms and wineries.  In Ithaca we went to the Cornell Ornithological Center.  It as primarily a research center with a few public exhibits.  There were also walking trail.  We explored the town and countryside a bit but the C-diff was taking a toll, I couldn’t eat much and we headed home.

I contacted my GP, Andrew Sullivan at Penn Medicine.  Although he put me on anti-biopics, there was no positive results from tests.  Symptoms continued.  Calls to him went unanswered.  I thought I was mending and in a week we headed for Cape Cod.

The Cape was a bust.  I had little appetite, although I went and sat on the beach a few times, I generally hung out at the house, sitting outside by the lake or inside with a book.  At the end of a week, we decided I needed to return home.

Several days later I was in the ER, St. Mary’s, dehydrated.  They confirmed C-diff immediately.  My stay extended to ten days.   I began a search for a new GP.  Sullivan needed to be replaced.   I met several doctors.  Nathaniel Holtzman was associated with St. Mary’s hyperbaric program.  He took an interest in my non-healing fistula wound and suggested I consider oxygen treatment that might help heal tissue damaged by radiation.  I also met an associate of Val Koganski, an internist I discovered online as a possible replacement for Sullivan.

August through December was recovery time.  For weeks I had home care nursing attending to the fistula wound, annoyed by rhe C-diff.   The home nurses stopped in November when I signed up for the hyperbaric treatment.  Medicare won’t double pay.  It doesn’t matter that the oxygen treatments didn’t  directly attend to the wound.  Diane assumed responsibility for changing dressings.  For six weeks, every weekday afternoon,  I went to a center near the Oxford Valley Mall and for two hours breathed in oxygen while sealed in a  plexiglass tunnel.  I watched CNN.

The treatment took a lot of time and I won’t know for weeks, if ever, what it healed if anything.  The daily dose of CNN was depressing. And I usually watched more CNN as the evening news.   As well as spending almost half of 2017 with new-existing medical issues, I endured the media reported lunacy of the Trump presidency.

It was a beautiful Fall.  So I walked a lot on the Canal.  Diane got a new rescue dog from Alabama, Nala.  She is a gentle, easy going, a good walker and I enjoyed her company on some walks.  Diane and I took some local field trips, a few lunches. But not enough.   We visited with and entertained the grandkids. But not enough. Our garden harvest was excellent.  Raised beds and new crops thanks to our neighbor, Chris Thomas’s help.  We ate well and preserved some.  I read a lot and watched movies in bed.  Napped and slept. But too much.

Basically 2017 wasn’t my best year.  I noticed how few photographs I took during the year.  It wasn’t the worst year but I’m looking forward to a better 2018.






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