Friday, February 20, 2015

February Goings On and Farewells

When February rolled around, we welcomed Pam and Ernie to the campground. They were the absolute last to arrive. Because we are such a thoughtful group, we surprised them with a spray-painted "Welcome Home Ernie & Pam" on the back of a plastic tablecloth. We hung it with jute from trees on either side of their site. Being the generous people we are, we gave them the tablecloth after this welcome reception.

Mary, Louise, Nancy, Dale, Ernie, Linda, Pam, Joyce, Ernie and Wayne
Within a few days, Pam and Ernie were right in the thick of things and we scheduled an evening for Fran's Annual Secret Recipe Spaghetti Supper. A few pictures...

Joyce, Mary and Pam. That's Pam and Ernie's Phaeton.
To the left is Fran and Mary's Itasca Sunrise, Ken and Nancy's Bounder and the front cap can be seen of Dale and Linda's Winslow. We are to the left of the Phaeton.

Good food abounds and there are excellent chefs among us. The dinner has expanded to the degree that we must now have a dinner serving table, a salad table, dessert table and a table for drinks.
Left to right, Joyce, Fran's knees, Charlie, Ernie, Pam, Dale, Wayne, Janie and Mary.

Clockwise, starting with Wayne's bald head at lower left. Mary and Janie are sitting at the table.
Far side starting at the far end are Fran, Charlie, Ernie and Pam (taking my picture). Dale makes the toast.

Cheers from Duane, Pam and Wayne

Joyce and Nancy photo bombed by Mary who's had a thimbleful of wine (her limit).
In the background I see Sue, Linda, part of Dale, Janie and Duane. 

Fran takes great pride in keeping his sauce recipe secret. 
According to Rick, "We don't care about the recipe... just bring on the sauce."

Wayne, Dale, Louise, Charlie, Fran, Linda, Sue, Mary and Duane.
Mary isn't mad, she had the thimble full of wine and will soon do something hilarious. 
Happy Dale To You! 
The usual February birthdays rolled around too, and one of them was mine. As I pronounced myself  "The Birthday Queen" I was presented with the diamond tiara I'm wearing in the picture below.  This year's birthday celebrations were breakfasts at Cracker Barrel which made me pretty happy as I love the blueberry and pecan pancakes.

The Queen's court consists of Mary, Louise, Wayne, Sue, Ernie, Pam,
Joyce, Charlie, Linda, Dale and Ernie screaming.
I took the picture. I'm always taking the pictures. 

Me, The Birthday Queen giving my royal look wearing my tiara. 
Other February stuff included relaxation on the patio, mostly with the dogs. We played golf about once a week, shopped and did the regular things like eat donuts on Thursday mornings.

My two best guys, Wayne and Ozzie. 

My girl, Lexie. We are letting her hair grow long, trimming just her face, feet and sanitary area.

And then at the end of February we had to say goodbye to Joyce and Charlie. They had to leave early this year to attend a family wedding. All we can do is hope and pray the harsh winter weather is over and they have a safe trip back to Wichita.

A return trip to Ciaos Restaurant is Joyce's special farewell request and we were happy to comply. Surprisingly, or maybe not, we were seated at our usual large table in the rear of the restaurant.

That's me doing front and center with Wayne behind me.
Fran, Ken, Nancy, Mary, Joyce and Charlie round out the table.

My fist dinner. I forgot the details. 

Wayne's dinner. Forgot the details of this one too. 

Looks good but I don't know what it was.  Seafood something, I think. 

I forget the restaurant owner's name, but she is always there, always cooking and always greeting her patrons to make them feel at home.  She took a break to get in the photo tonight. 

The next morning, Charlie and Joyce would pull out, leaving all of us behind.

The girls club include, L to R, Janie, Linda, Nancy, Sally, Wet Head Pam, Farewell Joyce, Large Lavender me and Mary.
Upon seeing this picture, I dieted to lose 10 pounds. Thanks so much. 

Two nights after Joyce and Charlie left us, we mourned for them by eating. Joyce left us a farewell dish of beef / salsa dip which we literally devoured.  Such good food, such good friends. Missing Charlie and Joyce though.
Ken scooping into the beef / salsa dip. 

We had a nice, but short, week long visit from old friends Russ and Cheryl who drove down from Ohio.
Sadly, I failed to get a good picture of Cheryl. 

Same picture as the one of Ken above.
Hope Joyce will enjoy knowing how much we enjoyed the dip. 

Mary with her glass wine... again. 

In this picture, some hardly visible are, Telephone Bill and Susan, Pam, Wayne. I see Rick way back there in a blue shirt by the tree and Louise is there too. Standing at the table I see Nancy and Janie. Sitting behind Janie there's Cheryl and Russ, Duane is standing (don't know who is in blue behind him. Looks like Ernie's shoes on the far right. 

Sweet Sue keeps the wine and the smiles flowing. 
Another day we rented a pontoon boat for a half-day. Next time, we will do a full day -- we had a great time, ate lots of goodies, of course and saw a fair share of dolphins.

Nancy, Wayne, Dale's back and Pam's back. 

Linda, Nancy, me, Pam and Pam's good friend, Janet. 

L to R: Capt Kennie, Dale, the Wayner and Ernie.

Time for mimosas! 

Linda and Dale

Snook Bight Marina
Taken from the pontoon. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lexie's Surgery

Last November, while we were in Fort Pierce, I began noticing what felt like a pea under the skin on Lexie's abdomen. I kept an eye on it and by early February, I thought it might be growing and changing in color.

Our girl, Lexie

We telephoned a nearby veterinary office and took Lexie in for an exam. The vet who examined her was filling in for the regular doctor. She agreed the growth was suspicious and should be removed. Surgery was scheduled for the next Tuesday. We would bite our nails until then.

The following week, however, while sitting outside with Lexie and Ozzie in their playpen, a call came from the veterinary office telling me that Lexie's surgery would be moved back two more weeks because the vet had been stranded in a snowstorm during her visit to the northeast. I asked but they would not move Lexie into a surgery spot for the following week. No way. I had to act quickly and so I  began inquiring and making telephone calls to large veterinary clinics who might be able to get her into surgery sooner rather than later.

It took a half hour of calling, explaining and pleading before I reached the receptionist at VCA Miracle Mile Animal Hospital in Fort Myers. They would see her quickly. If it was agreed surgery was needed, it would be done promptly. There were five vets on staff and surgery was performed every day.  

The next day, all four of us went to VCA Miracle Mile. No dog goes alone to the vet from this household. There's safety in numbers and our two feel safest when they can be together in their stroller. Wayne and I comply with their wish whenever possible, of course. 

We met lovely young Dr. Janice Thomas, who carefully examined Lexie's abdomen and reached the obvious conclusion, the growth should be surgically removed.  We returned early the next morning, leaving Lexie for the procedure while Ozzie, Wayne and I count the minutes until we get the call to pick her up the same afternoon.  

To while away the hours, we visited the local pet supply store where Ozzie acted as Lexie's "stand-in" and tried on collars like one Lexie would be required to wear to protect her stitches from the itching she would have after the surgery. Because she would come home in an Elizabethan collar, we opted to get just the inflatable "donut" thinking we'd use whichever one seemed less problematic for her. 

The fashionable "lampshade" Elizabethan collar
In the end, Lexie alternated between the lampshade and the donut. Sleeping was more comfortable in the lampshade but the plastic base seemed to rub her neck so I changed it for the donut in daytime. It wasn't as bad as I had feared but I'm sure little Lexie would disagree.

The cozy but cumbersome, inflatable "donut" as presented by Ozzie standing on a stack of dog food bags.
We picked Lexie up mid-afternoon and saw the tumor Dr. Thomas had removed. The tiny growth was in a container of liquid and on it's way to the lab for testing.

Lexie's mammary tumor

Lexie was still groggy when she was brought to us in the examining room. We didn't get to visit with Dr. Thomas this time as she wouldn't have any test results. The tech explained that Lexie had done very well in surgery and should heal quickly. So afraid we would injure her, we were careful picking her up. The dreaded Elizabethan collar would have to be worn for ten days. Oh no.

Post op Lexie shows off her pink bandage from her IV.
Notice the tiny red heart the techs cut out for it. 
Recovery for Lexie during the next ten days was a bit of a problem. She couldn't walk easily in the Elizabethan (lamp shade) collar and it had to be removed when she walked on the leash. As she walks, Lexie sniffs things on the ground. When she does that, the bottom of the collar scraped the ground and scared her, causing her to jump. That wasn't a good thing.

Furthermore, we had instructions to keep Lexie from running, jumping or going up and down the little foam steps she uses to go to the couch. Additionally, from the couch, she always jumps onto the back of the couch to the window sill. All that was out of the question.

This means Lexie would spend her days in the little playpen.  She didn't mind being in the playpen when Ozzie was in with her, but she didn't like it all when she alone.

Looking down on the playpen.
Lexie in the lampshade and Ozzie wondering how he got into this predicament.

An unhappy Lexie barked constantly when she was in the pen alone
A few days after the surgery, Dr. Thomas called with the news that the tumor was malignant. Fortunately, she had removed a large swath of tissue, to include all of the mammary gland.  The lab report indicated that the far edges of the tissue showed no malignant cells so our chance of complete recovery was "cautiously optimistic"... 

Ten days after surgery, we returned to the clinic for Lexie's surgery follow up. The top layer of stitches were removed as was the dreadful lampshade collar. The inner stitches were healing well and would dissolve completely. We were so relieved. 

Dr. Janice Thomas with a very scared little Lexie
We learned a lot about mammary gland cancer in dogs during this process. Females who have had even one litter of puppies is at a much greater risk for mammary cancer than those who never had puppies.

At this writing, which is several months delayed, Lexie continues to do well though we keep a visual and probing check on her. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Retaking of the Golf Clubs

Wayne grew up playing golf, is from a golfing family and played for 35 years or more. He dropped out of the game in the mid-1980's, when he reprioritized his life and concentrated more on family and career.  I didn't grow up around golf but took lessons in the late 1990's. I never had occasion to play and consequently, I sold both Wayne's clubs and mine when we liquidated the household in 2010 for retirement.

Being around friends who play golf over the last two years rekindled our interest though and so in early February, we looked on Craigslist and found a men's and ladies starter set being sold by a couple in nearby Labelle, Florida. They delivered the clubs to us at the campground. They were inexpensive box "his and her" Knights sets but were like new and would work well enough to see if we wanted to pursue the game.  After a couple of days looking for golf shoes, we were ready to hit the links.

Our first golf outing was with Pam and Ernie where we went for 9 holes at Lehigh Acres Resort Golf Course. I had not hit a single practice ball or swung the new (used) clubs. Naturally, I feared I wouldn't be able to strike the ball. I did hit it but not I couldn't get it off the ground. We laughed and called them "worm burners"

Ready to hit the links!  Our first golf outing

A good laugh to loosen up. 

Old guys (with bellies) rule.
He's still got it! 

Yours truly, looking strangely awkward but excited to be there. 
That first round of 9 holes led to lots more golf. We played once or twice a week for the rest of the winter months. In all there were four couples and two individual guys who played so it was always easy to put a group together. 

Pam. Not sure but I think this was her old driver.
Before she got the new Cobra which "strikes" regularly. 

Sue hitting, Pam looking on. 
The ladies foursome at Seminole Golf Course in Punta Gorda. 
Here's Pam, Nancy and Sue after 18 holes that nearly killed me. Whew!