Monday, January 21, 2013

The Science Fair Project

Grandson Zachary had a science project to do over his Christmas holiday break.  Good thing this was assigned to be completed over the holiday break because it was time consuming.  Zach thought up the project and got the idea approved by his science teacher.  But he needed a bit of assistance to complete the job.  Things had to be ordered online and it also involved several trips to Lowe's and Ace Electronics to obtain all the necessary parts.  Bill volunteered to help.  But Zach did all the work himself under Bill's supervision.

The finished project turned out better than I would have expected from a 12-year-old kid in the 6th grade.  After it was all finished Zach informed me that he will not be graded on this project.  What!!!  All that work and you don't even get a grade!  He said IF the science teacher likes the project then Zach will get to skip his next "benchmark" and will get a 100 automatically.   So I guess that qualifies for a grade.  Sort of. 

Zach, Bill, Trey and Kristina (Zach's dad & mom)

Eating lunch with his best friend Andrew

Since Zach has spent several summers aboard S/V BeBe, he is more familiar with electricity and more aware of power consumption than most kids his age.  He chose as a science fair project to do an experiment to determine which type of light bulb would be most efficient for automobiles and for homes.  It got pretty involved.  Results were that the xenon bulbs are the brightest but the LED bulbs are the most economically efficient, i.e., produce the brightest light for the least cost.

Last Saturday the Houston Independent School District held the Science Fair at a high school in the Fifth Ward.  Not the greatest part of town but at least this was a daytime function so we weren't out there after dark.  
Zach won 1st place for his category!  
He had no doubt that he would win 1st place.  The awards for the 6th grade categories were last to be handed out.  At one point during the high school presentations he turned to me and said, "I am going to be the last one to get his trophy."  And, sure enough, he was.
5 students from Pershing Middle School won trophies

This was my favorite project at the science fair.  It did not win any prizes so guess the judges did not share the sense of humor.  They favored the serious projects.  After all, it was a science fair and science is not a humorous topic.  Never did find out if this project was done by a girl or if a brother took his sister's Barbie dolls and destroyed them doing this project.  Result:  Yes, gravity hurts!

That day we also visited granddaughter Elisabeth's school for a seminar called "Technology for Older Adults" which was a required component of her participation in the Lego Robotics competition.  We had no questions because Bill is very tech-savvy and I am no longer interested in any of it.  Didn't have the camera with us, but here is a phone photo of BeBe watching the Powerpoint presentation the kids had prepared for us old folks.

And what do science teachers do while their students receive awards for their hard work?  Play Angry Birds on their phones.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Major change in plans

Well, the biopsy results are in and it is bad news that puts our sailing plans on hold for 6 months or longer.  Bill has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer.  Additional tests must be performed to determine if the cancer has spread to surrounding tissue or into bones.  After those tests are performed the doctors will decide which surgical procedure will be best.  Of course, we are anxious to complete the tests as quickly as possible since this is the aggressive form rather than the slow-growing form of prostate cancer.  At this point it appears that the earliest Bill can have surgery will be late February.  Then there will be several months of recovery before he will be able to travel internationally.

So, under the best scenario of the cancer being confined strictly to the prostate it looks like we will be in Houston at least until June.

We are so thankful to have met Riza a couple of months ago.  He is the Amel representative in Turkey and is located in Gocek.  We hope to engage him to handle receipt of our new sails which should be delivered within a month.  And he should be able to handle moving BeBe from Fethiye to Gocek when our berthing contract ends in mid-April.  BeBe can be hauled and stored on-the-hard until we can return to Turkey.

We are keeping positive thoughts and hoping for successful surgery and full recovery so we can return to our life on the water in a few months.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Christmas 2012 trip home to Houston

 On 5 December we stepped out of Customs in the Houston airport exactly 30 hours from the time we had stepped off the stern of our boat in Fethiye.  Whew!  That was a long travel time.  Turkish Airlines had canceled our original flight from Dalaman Airport and we had to fly from Antalya instead.  Driving time to Dalaman from Fethiye is only about 1 1/2 hours.  Driving to Antalya airport  is closer to 3 1/2 to 4 hours.  The only other alternative would have been to get a hotel in Istanbul both outbound and return for this trip.  We opted for the longer drive to Antalya and continuous travel.  As much as we enjoy Istanbul, our trips home involve a lot of luggage and we did not want to deal with lugging those heavy duffel bags to taxis and hotels. Best to check the bags once and be done with it until arrival at final destination.

Our son, Aaron, was kind enough to loan us an old 1992 Mustang convertible that he plans to fix up for our granddaughter to drive once she turns 16.  She is only 11 so he has plenty of time to finish this car.  Right now it is mechanically sound but cosmetically challenged.  So what.  As long as it runs good it isn't important what it looks like.  We appreciated the loan of this vehicle as it saved us from having to rent a car for 6 weeks.  As all cruisers and retirees will attest, saving money is always a good thing.

Christmas Day 2012
Bill had several doctor appointments at the VA Hospital the following day and more to follow early the next week.  One of the lab tests indicated he needed another biopsy, the results of which would not be available until 9 January.  I had some very minor surgery to remove painful scar tissue from an earlier surgery.  Could have done this in Turkey but felt it might be better to have the scar tissue removal performed by the same surgeon who did the original surgery.  Recovery from that was a breeze and it is wonderful not to have that nagging little pain anymore.

The first night in town we got to attend our granddaughter's Christmas choir concert at the Episcopal school she attends.  Elisabeth, a/k/a BeBe, is in the second-from-top row.  This school choir always selects the most obscure Christmas songs.  

The next night we got to attend our grandson's concert.  Zach is now in the 6th grade and this is his first year playing the viola.  We forgot the bring the camera so don't have a sample of their performance, but can say that it was much better than we had anticipated.

Zachary before guests
arrived.  His stack of gifts.
Relaxing before the crowd.
Christmas Day was enjoyed at Trey and Kristina's house......again.  I know they must be tired of everyone gathering at their home each Christmas.  This year the family gathering was scaled back considerably.  Bill's sister and her adult children chose to stay in Northern Texas for Christmas this year. Good decision, as it snowed up there and they did not need to be out driving the highways in the ice and snow. 

 My brother and his wife chose to spend this holiday with her family.  But Kristina's mom and her sister and family joined us for the day.  Total of only 19 of us gathered to celebrate Christmas this year.

Damien got his Thomas motorized train.

Highlights of the day were all the children, of course.  Our 3-year-old grandson Damien was so exuberant opening each gift that one could not help but smile.  His hand gestures of excitement and "Oh! Wow!" exclamations made the day.  The older kids are into electronics and more subdued in their Christmas joy, so having one small kid to enjoy trains and dinosaurs just made the day for all us adults.  Won't be very many more Christmases and all the kids will be too old for the little kid excitement of this day.
Keena and her granddaughter Abigail

Aaron didn't stray far from the wine

Sebastian, our eldest grandson

Teresa and her daughters Lauren & Kristin

Kristina & her sister Krystal

One day we met Mark and Cindy, owners of an Amel named Cream Puff.  They treated us to lunch at Chuy's, where we discussed some of the idiosyncrasies of  Amel Super Maramu model boats.  Cream Puff sounds like she really is a cream puff.  They could not have bought a better boat.  The previous owner had installed every redundancy imaginable and also left probably 50k worth of spares on the boat.  Mark and Cindy plan to begin cruising full-time in the next year or so.  We enjoyed visiting with them.

Donna in her beautiful kitchen
Bruce grilling steaks
New Year's Eve was again enjoyed with friends, Donna and Bruce, at their beautiful country home.  Donna out-did herself yet again this year -- producing a fabulous meal with many appetizers and 2 great desserts.  Donna had a very productive garden this year and many of the dishes she cooked incorporated her fresh grown produce and herbs.  She has the most spectacular kitchen one could imagine and enjoys cooking.  Lucky us!

Trey's desk in the computer room in his house.
Can you tell he is a gamer?
Bill's bother, John, went to Dallas for 5 days and we stayed at his townhouse during his absence.  That was especially nice to have the place all to ourselves and not feel like we were imposing on anyone.  We are very fortunate to have so many family members living in the Houston area.  This saves us from having to stay in hotels for the entire 6 weeks or so that we are in Houston each year.  An enormous savings in our budget.  But we did give everyone a break and spent several nights in a hotel; sort of hiding out and quietly enjoying a bit of luxury.  As usual, I was ready to return to the boat about 2 weeks after we arrived in Houston.  I love Houston and enjoy visiting with the family, but the boat is 'home' now and I get homesick after 2 weeks anywhere.
Trey sitting at Zach's desk in the computer room at his
house.  One monitor for games while using the other
for whatever needs doing.  The kid takes after his dad.

On 9 January Bill will get his biopsy results and we will know if we are returning to the boat on 16 January or if we will be in Houston for several months while he has surgery or radiation seeding and recuperates.