Sunday, November 9, 2014

Arizona--we are home!!

The scenery is just a little different.  The entire atmosphere is much more pleasant and the sunshine, the dry air and the beautiful blooming plants and cacti are remarkable.  It has turned into a drawn out affair, but we have finally arrived at our final destination....we are loving Arizona.

Leaving a rental house in Florida proved to not be so simple.  When the movers packed us up, they even packed the weed whacker.  Not something needed here in the SW since grass is not a necessity here.  We have plenty of green though.  As we drive through our new city, I am sometimes amazed at all the vibrant green colors seen.  Yes, the homes are the Santa Barbara/Tuscan style which are brown, tan and Arizona white in colors, but the vegetation surrounding the homes is quite lovely. 

 Several big changes in this part of our country as we adjust.  Most noticeable first of all, there is not a monopoly on the grocery stores.  We have quite a few varieties to choose from within a short distance of our home.  Prices vary and we can pick and choose as we wish.  This is making shopping the ads much more of a part-time occupation, but a fun change.

We also found an Italian deli, a huge Oriental market and several meat markets that have expensive prices for those having no budgets. 

I love to see the produce sections of the stores with all the numerous chilies available.  Will really need to research recipes a little more to make use of what is available here.

The art fairs we have attended have left me speechless.  There is so much talent in this part of the world.  Top class artistic talent.  I am so amazed.  It has been difficult restraining our buying of this individual art.  We need to adjust to our home first and know what we really, really need.  I even bought a beautiful tablecloth from Provence from a French speaking woman.  Did not have to travel far for this.  Amazing!!

I can't end this posting without mentioning the great friends we have here in Arizona.  I know many of you  know that my dear friend from Kindergarten through high school graduation lives near us.  Reconnecting with David has been an absolute thrill and every time we see each other, after a big hug, one of us will say "I can't believe we/you are here!"  It is like family....he knows exactly how I grew up, who I grew up with and why I am who I am. 

I want to end on a pleasant note.  So many of you commented earlier in the year when I told you that my 9 year old granddaughter, Rachel, had been diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I thank you all for your kind words and prayers.  Even my blogger friend, Mary, from One Perfect Bite had her son's church pray for Rachel.  The news is good.  After 6 months of twice a month injections, Rachel has gone into remission.  She will still be carefully watched for 18 months, continue the twice a month injections and then be reevaluated at that time for slow withdrawal from the drug.  She is feeling well and we are so grateful for her progress.  She turned 10 in July and this is starting out to be a very good year for her.  Thank you for all your concerns and prayers. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pretty Good Fishing This Summer

Fishing has been pretty good this summer.  Plenty of water for the streams and consistent nice weather.  The last few years, including this one, have not measured up to the earlier seasons, but I stopped counting and tried to enjoy the whole concept of the fishing environment.  Getting old I guess!!!

Georgetown Lake showed a marked improvement in the hatches and nice fish this year.  The Damsel hatch is the most important to get the big "bows" cruising and smashing naturals and my tied imitation enough to have a good time.  The size of the rainbows was up as well.  16-18" was the norm and very fat!! 

My 6 weight outfit and a damsel fly.
Three nice bows of different shades.

My smaller streams can hold some very nice brown trout.  This 16" had migrated up my favorite cutthroat stream for some reason.  I hate to see too many of them as they can reduce the "cut" population rather quickly.
Of course the lure of beautiful cutthroat trout has always been a big draw to me.  They live in mostly small streams, are eager to hit a fly and put on a pretty good fight till released.  You can see the colorful slash on these beauties and pretty spotted bodies.

Another hazard to cuts and other trout is a stream with plenty of "Bull Trout" mixed in.  These cannibals grow to 10#'s plus and they don't get to this size on minnows.  I once caught a 10# on the Blackfoot.  They are endangered and they must be released.  Bull trout and wolves are pretty unwelcome to most fisherman and hunters but all species have a place in God's animal kingdom.  This little guy is not a threat yet, but give a few years!

The Big Hole river is my top choice right now to wrap up my season here.  "Blue bird" days and plenty of hatching bugs will get some of the toughest to catch 16"++ rainbows up and sipping.  This is about as "western" as a stream can get to my mind and one of the most challenging due to small flies and delicate casting needed to present the fly.  You can see the clouds of "Trico" spinners ready to fall to the stream which gets the trout up and slurping this tiny food morsel.

So in another week or so, we will wrap up our Montana summer and head to our new digs in Goodyear, AZ.  I think this is my 33rd year of Montana summers of a week to 3 months.  It has been a great time out here doing what I find is a most enjoyable pursuit of God's great gifts.  I often wonder how enjoyable my life would have been without Montana, its scenery and wonderful people.  Oh, maybe I would have taken up croquet and other more sociable hobbies, but I am glad I didn't have to!!    TROUT

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fur, Flowers and Feathers

It's been a pretty good year for wildlife photo opportunities.    They have to come along unexpectantly as I do not sit and wait for what might come along while going fishing or while on the trout stream.  You never know what might show up going and coming each day to a new adventure.

I was fishing a side channel of Rock Creek when I came across a clearing full of big horn sheep down from their mountain lair for a drink.  I have never seen such a bunch gathered in one spot.  This was early July and they were still shedding their winter coats.  They were pretty shaggy and they could have used some time in the sheep dip tank to help rid them of pretty strong body odors.

The herd was heading back to a pretty steep cliff to head home over the top.  I couldn't believe how sure-footed they had to be to climb to the top without a spill that would be disastrous if high enough.

Two yearlings broke away from the herd to try to master this cliff on their own.  Up they tentatively  went, from ledge to ledge before scurrying over to the top.  Can you spot the leader almost to the top?

One morning Schnitzel and I came across three beautiful mule deer bucks crossing the highway to the creek for a drink and some munching.  All three were sporting very nice racks still in velvet.  The bucks seem to stay together for most of the summer until visions of romance strike them and then they break away to try to gather a harem all their own.  They are not buddies any more in their quest for a nice harem to call their own.

 We had spotted a blue grouse in the yard with her 5 chicks.  Luckily we scared them away before the cats discovered them - easy pickings.  I later came across Mom and her brood along the creek while fishing one day.  The field is full of grasshoppers now which is a very nice tasty meal for grouse.

We enjoyed the coming and goings of Gambel Quail while in our Arizona neighborhood.  Pretty cocky looking with the plumage.  While in our house one morning, I heard pecking at our back slider.  There was a bunch of them thinking they saw other quail in the glass, I guess, as they were trying to get their attention.

 If you want to see deer, drive the roads along hay fields.  There will be some large bunches out together for the evening repast.  These were three of this year's fawns who had pretty well shed their spots.

A couple of mule deer does quickly left when I stopped for a picture.  My zoom got right close and you can see why they are called "mule deer" with those ears.  They also do more hopping than running compared to whitetails.

I love the wildflowers around here.  The best are higher up in the mountains, but I found a favorite called "Butter and Eggs" by the lake.  These seem to be spreading a lot in the low lands. 

And even the lowly thistle can be lovely when in bloom.  

I should spend more time looking for photo opportunities while in Big Sky country.  But every once in awhile, a subject just does not want to be photographed and they let you know it in a not so nice way!

That leaves the fish pictures next to wrap up my blogging for this summer.  Has been fun!!  TROUT

Monday, September 1, 2014

Montana Pals and Places

September is here and we are into our last weeks in beautiful Montana.  It has been a pretty delightful summer for us here in Maxville, Montana, with our old friends, Harold and Sherry and Tom.  The weather has been pretty good with plenty of rain to hold down the fire danger and keep the hills green.  We have some delightful mountain ranges to enjoy.

We enjoyed a wedding at Garry's ranch for his partner, Debbie's daughter.  You may recall that it is Garry's fault for me finding Montana as he invited my brother and myself to go elk hunting way back in 1981.  I haven't missed a summer yet to return to Montana to enjoy great people, scenery and recreational opportunities.

Garry is known for his black stetsons all his ranching career.  But a wedding calls for a  more formal white stetson and boots.  Pretty sharp!!
The family dogs, Tara and Chaser, have been good companions and they seem to know to come on over to our picnic table for dinner morsels like a nice t-bone!!

There are several sculptures in Dillon, Montana. This is the latest featuring a cowboy watering his horse by using  his stetson for a pail for the horse to drink from.
 Near Drummond, are three remaining old houses from the days when "New Chicago" was the busy town in the area for ranchers and cattle shipping.  There are several old ghost towns in the area from better ranching and mining days.

 We had snow late August which only helped the beauty of the old "Mule Ranch" down the  highway from Anaconda to Wisdom that I travel often to get to the Big Hole River.  This spread was used for mining mules to recuperate from working in the terrible mine air pollution  when copper mining was king in Butte and Anaconda early in the 1920's.  Much pollution was caused to the streams and soil by bad mining practices.
 We had a beautiful sunset the other evening.  "Red skies at night, fisherman's delight" I hope!  Goat Mountain to our east also lights up nicely in the setting sun.

 I hope winter doesn't come until October when we are out of here.  Storms have been blowing up pretty frequently of late with snow over 6600' and rain in the valleys.

It has also been a good year for wildlife viewing this summer which I will share with you next as well as my trout successes after that.  TROUT

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Huckleberry Friend......

It is huckleberry season in the northwest.  Huckleberries are in the family of blueberries and even cranberries, but they are only grown wild.  It is almost impossible to cultivate them yourself.  We were gifted with some, so huckleberry pancakes were on the menu this morning.

They range in color from very red to very blue, similar to a blueberry.  They have quite a strong smell.  To me, it reminds me of black walnuts that we had growing in our backyards. 

You can see they are much smaller than blueberries.

Just your favorite pancake recipe, be it homemade or store-bought.  These tasted so good.  Actually, blueberry pancakes taste very bland and dull compared to huckleberry pancakes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Montana, We Have Arrived

Pintler Mountain Range, Montana

We left Florida on June 1.  After visiting my brother, two daughters, The Trout's brother and sister, a fishing friend in Big Sky, we arrived in Montana on June 23.  We drove 3500 safe miles and were so glad to finally unpack and set up our trailer.  

There is more snow on the mountain range than in many years in the past at this time of year, and the sight is beautiful.  I have loved the mountains since the first time I saw them as a 16 year old girl.  We are adjusting to the climate change and the altitude also.  Slowly, but surely.  

A couple of years ago, we had help from our friend, Jim, and had a mattress built for our 26 foot trailer queen bed.  What a blessing that has been.  This is the best we have slept since we left home.  I think the 6 inches of bedding helps also.  Sheets, a blanket, a down comforter and a bedspread.  With the mornings dropping down into the lower 40's, it is difficult finding the gumption to get out of bed.  Soon though, the sun starts warming up and all is well with the world. There is also a lot of daylight by 5 a.m. around here. 

We had a winter visitor in the trailer.  So, we went into town and bought some mouse sticky pads.  It seemed he was liking to hide in the stove.  The label on the mouse traps said scented with chamomile, a mild sedative.  "What, said the Trout?  We don't want to put him to sleep, we want to get rid of him permanently."  And so we did last night.  Have not had to trap a mouse since the early 70's when we built a chalet style home in Michigan on a lake and surrounded my cornfields.  We can still get the job done......

Hold on one second.  I just heard a trap snap under the stove.  We just caught 3 babies in 2 traps.  Oh no...there may be more.  This might drag on a while.  I guess it beats mosquitoes?.......maybe.....

On an opposite note, we finalized the purchase of our new home in Arizona this last week.  The paperwork was long and drawn out and tested our patience a lot.  But, it is done!  The plan is not to move in until after we leave Montana in early October, but we are already anxious to get down there and do some painting and getting settled.  It is only a 16 hour drive from here, so that is nothing compared to driving from Florida.  New areas of this beautiful country of ours to see.  Looking forward to it.  

The Wi-Fi we are using from our friends works great.  In fact, we have not even attempted setting up the Dish TV yet.  Just enjoying the fresh air and the quiet.  It looks like it will be a good summer.  The Trout is tying flies and getting ready to hit the streams. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Grilled Chicken and Asparagus Salad

Surprisingly, I am back again, so soon.  We had another salad last evening that was so fresh and tasty and different, I wanted to share it before it became a memory.  But, this one is also going into the serve again file because it was that good.

Grilled Chicken-Asparagus Salad is courtesy of the May 2014 issue of Southern Living.  The Trout grilled the chicken breasts and asparagus while I made the dressing.  The asparagus were so fresh and so crisp and tasty....I love asparagus.

Grilled Chicken-Asparagus Salad
  courtesy of Southern Living magazine

1 1/2 lbs. skinned and boned chicken breasts
6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
2 lbs. asparagus, trimmed
4 oz. crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. buttermilk
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
2 tsp. chopped fresh dill

Sprinkle chicken breasts with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Grill chicken until done.  Let stand 10 minutes and then cube or chop into pieces.

Toss asparagus with oil and grill until slightly cooked and still crispy.  Cut asparagus into 2 inch pieces.

Toss together, chicken, asparagus, goat cheese, shallots, salt and pepper.

Whisk together mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients.  Add 2 Tbsp. oil and salt.  Drizzle over chicken mixture.  Top with the herbs.

I sort of jumped into this salad when The Trout realized I had forgotten to add the goat cheese.  What a difference that made!!  The goat cheese made the asparagus so much creamier and mellowed the whole salad in a very nice way.  Do not eliminate the goat cheese.  I know of one particular blogger friend that will not touch goat cheese.  Debby, I was that way once also.  But, it was the greatest discovery I have made on the cheese selection front.  Enjoy this salad.  I know we did.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Salad Time

Almost year round, we can be very content with a large salad for dinner.  The more ingredients, the merrier.  This time, for our Cico de Mayo addition to our meal, we enjoyed a Mixed Salad with Jicama and Mango.  The Mexican lady at our farmer's market asked us if we had ever tried the smaller, yellow mangoes.  We had not.  She said she liked them better because they are sweeter than the larger green with red cheeks.  And, WOW, what a difference.  I will look for the honey mangoes from now on.  They really do have a more intense flavor. 

This salad was easy to put together.  It serves 12, but we cut it in half and it was just right. 

Mixed Salad with Jicama and Mango
  Source:  The Mexican Gourmet

Serves 12

2 heads each of red oak leaf and boston lettuce, washed and torn (I just used one head of boston bibb for half of the recipe)
1 red onion, halved and finely sliced (I would use a Vadalia next time as it is not as strong)
2 firm mangoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 jicama, peeled and cut into 1/4 x 2 inch strips
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and sliced

For the vinaigrette:

1/3 cup cider vinegar (or you can substitute lime juice)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup flat-leafed parsley
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pinch ground cloves (I eliminated this)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup olive oil

Put the lettuce leaves, onions, mangoes and jicama in a salad bowl.

Place all the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth.  Pour over the salad and toss.  Garnish with the avocado slices and serve immediately.

This is one more recipe that we will keep in our popular file.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A wonderful coming home dinner

The time has been flying by and we have been very busy.  Not only at home, but traveling and making some big decisions.

First of all, tonight we had a very delicious dinner.  Along with our marinated, grilled lamb chops, we had two side dishes that we promise will be repeated again and again.  They were delicious.  I want to share these two recipes with you, because we enjoyed them so very much.  In the May, 2014 issue of Bon Appetit, "Crispy Salt and Vinegar Potatoes."  

They were easy and delicious.  When I was young, my German mother always had a huge gallon or two of vinegar in the house.  Never the strong tasting vinegar made by HEINZ, but the cheaper, generic brands.  Everything possibly was pickled, and as I have been reading lately, fermented food is very, very good for you.  Rarely do we buy potato chips, but I have submitted to the vinegar and salt chips.  Very addictive.  So, when I saw that these potatoes had vinegar included in the boiling and then the final garnish, I knew we had to try it.  Of course, The Trout was pushing this also.

The vinegar firmed up the potatoes and they truly were quite addictive and delicious.  We will make these again and again.

Crispy Salt and Vinegar Potatoes
   compliments of Bon Appetit

2 lbs. baby Yukon Gold or red potatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives

Combine potatoes, 1 cup vinegar and 1 Tbsp. kosher salt in a medium saucepan.  Add water to cover by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender about 20-25 minutes.  Drain and pat dry.

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add potatoes, season with salt and pepper.  Cook, tossing occasionally until golden brown and crisp, 8-10 minutes.  Drizzle with remaining 2 Tbsp. vinegar.  Serve topped with chives and sea salt.    4 servings

The other side comes from Lidia Bastianich.  It is her recipe for Tasty Cauliflower.  It was simple to put together and was very, very good.  I will also make this again and again.

Tasty Cauliflower
  authored by Lidia Bastianich

1 large head cauliflower, broken into small florets

10 large basil leaves
8 anchovies (we used a fair amount of anchovy paste)
8 cornichons
2 Tbs. drained capers
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil

Bring large pot of water to boil add cauliflower and cook 15 minutes, until tender.

In mini-processor, combine basil, anchovies, cornichons, capers, parsley, vinegar and mustard.  Slowly drizzle in oil oil.  Leave the dressing chunky.

Drain cauliflower and toss with dressing.  Serve warm or room temperature.  Serves 6

Truth by told, I added double the parsley and it only enhanced the flavor.

I am going to write a posting to tell you what else has been going on in our busy lives.  I do want to add that our granddaughter, Rachel, is doing very, very well with her weekly injections for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.  She was nearing remission as of her last doctor visit and has another one coming up the end of the month.  We are hoping that some change in medications will be possible.  She is feeling so much better though.  In fact, a little too much.  She managed to break her foot in a little rough housing with her brother.  We are so happy she is getting her spunk back. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Hidden Gem!

 On our last trip to France back in October, 2012, to the Nice area, we ventured just into Italy to explore some incredible medieval villages north of Ventimiglia.  Dolceacqua was the first village that hangs over the valley.  It was made famous by a Monet painting of its lovely bridge that connects both sides of the village

The famous bridge
The town hangs over the valley

Leading into its dank and dark interior
In the sleepy town square, a young lady was selling wine made by her father along with olive oil.  We were not greatly impressed by our tasting, but I bought a bottle to be courteous for 12 Euro, I think,  for later drinking back home.

"Maixei" may be a wine coop also

This is a "Superior" bottling meeting higher standards

The wine was the 2010 vintage of Rossese di Dolceacqua, the only area in the world that grows this grape that was imported from Provence.  This DOC wine must contain 95% Rossese juice.

We cellared this wine until yesterday's repast of a lovely corned beef and veggies.  After decanting for an hour, we were surprised to see a wine of a lovely, light ruby color.  It opened up to become a lovely, fragrant wine with cooked cherries,  blackcurrant and rose essences.  It was slightly dry and tannic but very fruity and flavorful.  Delightful!!

Too bad it is so hard to find in the US.  So I am planning for next year's return trip to the French and Italian Rivieras with a few days inland back to the beautiful villages of the Nervia valley and its great Rossese wines and wonderful cuisine.

You never know what a bottle of wine can become!

If any of you are interested in further wine tasting studies, I suggest you go to the Dining  and Wine section of the NY Times and a feature written by Eric Asimov entitled "WINE SCHOOL."  He will suggest 3 bottles of wine from a particular wine and vintage to taste and critique following his suggested guidelines.  This has been fun so far as one bottle suggested was liked by about 2-1 for those of us not liking it!!  ENJOY!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

I actually made a roast!!

I feel as if I have crawled out of a deep hole.  As is usually the case, (SIGH), as I get older, the weight comes on faster and tends to stay a while.  Having always been quite slender, this is nonetheless very disturbing.  But, on the other hand, I am considered very healthy by the doctors, so it is what it is and I am finally willing to accept this fact of life.

Still, very little of any interest has been eaten in the last 8 weeks.  No bread, no desserts, and so forth.  You get the picture.  Both the Trout and I have lost some weight and we really do feel much better.  But tonight, it was time to start cooking again and we had a good time putting dinner on the table.

The Trout is always trolling for interesting recipes.  I spend time on Pinterest and find recipes that look interesting to me.  He won this round and I think it was a good choice.

Al Capone Roast
  found on Allrecipes

3 pounds flank steak, pounded thin for easy rolling
1/4 cup olive oil
Finely chopped black olives
1 cup minced fresh mushrooms
8 slices proscuitto
6 slices mortadella
Several thin slices of mozzarella
10 slices pepperoni sausage
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Rub the flank steak with olive oil on both sides.  Sprinkle the mushrooms and olives over the steak.  Place a layer or prosciutto, mortadella, mozzarella and then pepperoni.  Season with oregano and garlic salt.

Roll up the steak against the grain (long side toward you) and once again, coat the outside with olive oil.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat.  Sear the roast over the entire outside.  Leave the roast in the skillet and place it in the oven.

Roast for 1 hour or until the internal temperature in the center of the roast reaches 160 degrees.  Let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.  In total honesty, I took the roast out after 45 minutes and let it rest for 10 minutes.  It has a medium rare cast towards the center which was perfect for us.  Yes, it could have roasted another 15 minutes in the oven.  But, I felt it was still quite perfect this way.  Actually, quite delicious.

From what I have read, the Al Capone Roast is pretty normal table fare in the Boston area.  As I understand, you can go into a butcher and buy it all prepared for the oven.  I have not quite figured out why Boston is the city that celebrates this "well known man," but that is what I have read.  

So many of you kind, dear friends have been asking about our granddaughter, Rachel.  She was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in January. Today she received her 8th injection of the drug Actemra, and I am pleased to report, she is doing quite well.  The last few weeks have not been without incidence.   The rash and pain and sleeplessness have been there, but overall, Rachel is doing quite well.  Even though I am not near her, my contact with Rachel over phone calls tells me she has matured quite a bit.  She always thanks me for my support.  Bless you little girl.   We have to be grateful for all the doctors and scientists out there producing these medicines for all of us.  We are living in a generation where anything is possible.

Thank you to all of you for your concern and caring and prayers. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

This is our Rachel

The last few months have been worrisome.  Since last spring, our 9 year old granddaughter, Rachel, has been feeling ill.  It started out with a rash on different parts of her body and just feeling punk.   The rash would go away and there would be a few weeks with no symptoms.  Rachel was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy when she was 2.  So thinking she was getting another food allergy, foods were eliminated, added back, and nothing seemed to fit a pattern. 

The pediatrician seemed baffled, tried her on Prednisone, Tylenol, antihistamines, and nothing seemed to make the rash stay away.  In December, symptoms seemed to escalate.  It started with a stinging pain in her index finger.  She had ankle and wrist pain and thought it was from sledding.  She looked pale, itchy scalp, lost weight and was not hungry.  Not only was there more of a rash, stomach pains and leg pains, but also Rachel was spiking a high fever.  She started having more anxiety because of being different because of the rash on her face.   Going to school was difficult, not only because of the pain and not feeling well, but because she attracted attention because of her rash.  High fevers and pain kept her up most nights.  It was always worse at night. 

A visit to Emergency found a new doctor who also was not quite sure what was going on.  He thought perhaps it was arthritis, but the test results did not confirm this.

Again, back to the pediatrician who suggested a visit to a pediatric arthritis specialist.  There was a wait to get into Mayo but a friend of my daughter has a son who was diagnosed with the juvenile arthritis several years ago and she suggested a doctor at Children's Hospital.  They were able to get in fairly soon.

Blood work was taken, information was given and absorbed and then a wait for more blood work the following week to see if there had been an improvement.  Blood work had not stabilized.  Forms of treatment were discussed.  The drug chosen by the doctor was Actemra.  Two injections a month for 1 1/2 to 2 years.  Usually, usually, children go into remission quickly with this drug.

Weekly blood draws were the worst for Rachel.  Now she takes them like a pro.   Rachel's mom, Erika, is a nurse, so the injections will rest in her able hands.  Today was picked for the first injection so she can be closely watched at home for any side effects.  She will still need weekly blood draws since this is an immune suppressant drug.  There are risks.  We simply can't pray hard enough or long enough for success with this drug.

Rachel has gotten a lot of support from her mother's friends, her godmother, Kamber, and family sending gifts and cards, her school counselor and teachers.  Today is a new month and hopefully a new normal for Rachel.  

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is something you hear little of.  There are only 300,000 children in the world who developed this autoimmune disease.  I personally know of one other child who has gone into remission from this disease.  To our knowledge, there is no one on either side of the family who has ever had arthritis.  It is not known if it is inherited, but that is always where you first look.

I just want to bring some awareness to this childhood disease.  I know I have learned a lot in the last year, reading all I can about juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.  It is simply amazing to me how the drugs for this disease have improved in the last 10 or 12 years.  Let's just pray that Rachel will improve and be able to adjust quickly to the changes in her life.  I love you Rachel.   Hugs from Grandma Susie.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Very Special Weekend

Several years ago while in SW France, we decided to drive into Spain, to the Catalonia region,  to see the Salvador Dali museum.  After crossing the border and stopping for a lunch of mussels and wine we continued for a short time along the craggy coastline, weaving in and out of jutting land with the ocean on our left.  Finally we came to our senses.  This is not going to least not that day.  We turned around and headed back into France.

Nonetheless, the desire to see the original work of Salvador Dali never left our minds.  Fast forward to the present time.  We now live within an hour of the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.  No excuses now and certainly no wavy coastline to follow.

Today is The Trout's birthday.  We decided to step out of our comfort box, our own kitchen, and headed to St. Pete for the weekend.  We found a very cute boutique hotel that we would certainly visit again.  The Hollander Hotel in downtown St. Pete is an old building, refurbished and a nice change from the modern hotels and motels available to tourists.

It was a cool Florida day, but we walked a lot this weekend.  Went down along the wharf toward the St. Pete Saturday Farmer's Market.  Anything and everything you would ever need or want was available in this bustling place.  The Trout quickly made a friend with this young lady.  She is a fixture here every Saturday, dancing her heart out.  She could not convince The Trout to dance though.

A quick walk a little further took us to the Dali Museum.

 It was quite crowded, but so worth our time.  Salvador Dali was a very interesting individual.  I would suggest that the free headphones that come with the price of admission are so well worth it.  The paintings were explained in great detail.  He painted in 3-D or double imagining painting.  A favorite of mine was "Hallucinogenic Toreador."  Since photos were not allowed to be taken in the museum, I have taken this one from the Internet to let you get a glimpse.

Salvador Dali - Toreador - Poster

Study the second Venus de Milo from the right.  The green skirt is the toreador's tie, go up and spot his chin, nose and his eye is in the head of Venus.  Down in the left is the head of the bull.  Many, many stories are found in this painting.  In fact, when our friends come down in March for spring break, we plan to take them there.  We liked it that much. 

Also in the museum was a visiting display of Andy Warhol.  We have seen these before when we visited The Centre Pompidou in Paris.  The only one I really wanted to see was "Marilyn" and that painting was not there.  As you can tell, I am not that much of a fan.

So then to dinner in a restaurant that The Trout actually read about in The New York Times.  Rococo in a new restaurant that just opened in October.  It is housed in the former YWCA which was formerly a funeral home. 

 This is a very nice restaurant with many employees waiting to please you.  It was nice attention and we had a very enjoyable evening.  We dined on grass fed beef which was our choice.  Corn fed beef was also available.  As a rule, we rarely order steak in a restaurant because we enjoy preparing it at home to our tastes.  But we have to say, this was outstanding.

It was a great weekend in a small town that we have forgotten about.  So glad we found St. Pete.  I know we will be back.  It has recovered its downtown nicely.

 Happy 70th Birthday, Dale, aka The Trout.  May there be many more good and healthy years ahead.