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Vision Check

It’s entirely different when you are a patient. Ordinarily I see patients. When I sit in the other chair, suddenly I am not in control. Recently I asked my ophthalmology buddy about a line I was seeing in my right eye visual field. It was on the lens of my eye and moved as I turned my head or my eye. It was stable. It bothered me because it looked like something moving across my field of view. No big deal I had it checked. I got the full exam. I just wanted to know if there was a spot on the lens of my eye. Taking no chances, Rida gave me the whole exam including a retinal scan and optic nerve scan. The ophthalmology guys have some of the neatest toys. I was blind after being dilated. I could not see in the bright light. No problem. It wore off. I’m fine. And yes, it’s way better to give than receive. I passed the tests. My kids won’t believe me. They have said that I’ve been impaired for a while. Hey! I passed and I have the paper to prove it.



The last time I saw snow was….mmmm… 2012. Anyway, it was a while ago. Skiing was one of my first passions as a full grown adult. I took the kids. David was so small on the mountain, people turned to photograph him on the steep blue/black trails in Utah. I’m not proud. I was an idiot for getting a kid who could barely walk straight up on a pair of skis. Laid back! David was so laid back he fell asleep on the chair lift. Nap time was nap time. He would just pass out. Oh! I started first by skiing with them between my legs. Jules and then Dave would be in front – I would ski slowly while holding them back with my ski pole. Yes, nuts too. Dave would lean over the pole like a cat arms just resting there. He snores! In the quiet shushing over the snow Jules and I heard him snoring away. Yes, nap time!

On this occasion Jules finally got her wish to try a “board.” Her cousins and brother had tried. She’s the only girl on my side of the next generation. The cousins are not too skilled. Dave can handle himself. And Jules spent an hour tumbling and falling. She sprained her wrist, gave in, and went back to a sensible pair of skis. Smart!

You don’t get to many selfies with your kids. But I guess it happens more than before. Low light, bad focus, poor composition, wide angle distortion matters not. Hey! It better than nothing. As I paused in editing I realize that these imperfect pictures mean the most.

Jules Visits


Of all the things we never imagined, Jules visiting Jeddah would be right up there on the list. But she really does love her dad. I posted a nice lead picture. Women hate humor in their photographs. (Just wait.)


She came for a visit. You have to wear an abaya. I borrowed one. She wore it. It’s like your own personal steam bath. She even wore the scarf although that is pretty optional for non Muslims. Sort of… No Jules did not go over the top with heat stroke. She wanted to see camels. And we thought there were some on the other side. Dopey? Yup, I guess the heat did get to her. She let me take this awful pic. One looks very interesting out of context wearing a dive mask on dry land. It’s not awful. It’s just not flattering. Right? She teaches Little kids. Sharing? Nope.

This was a raspberry macaroon. She ate the whole thing and never offered me a taste. That’s revenge! She’s still my favorite daughter.



It’s too dangerous to go there now? The road to the airport was blown up shortly after Farid (orthopedics) traveled on it. And the window in Rida’s (ophthalmology) place were blown out by a bomb nearby. Farid goes there all the time. His family spends their summers there.

Back in 2013 my good friend Farid invited me to Lebanon. There was a wedding. I had not been invited to the wedding. It seems that invitation was optional. One of our Jeddah OR nurses was getting married. It seems there was a sort of open invitation. Farid was just there on scheduled vacation. He invited me to go. Okay? Why not? The wedding is a couple posts later. Meanwhile I stayed in a couple places.


The downtown apartment house of his mother’s had seen war. Yup. Bullet holes. Those are in the wall next to the bathroom. I showered there. It’s not every day you have bullet holes with your shower. We ate at a local fish place. I’m not a big fish eater. But the dessert was fruit – strawberries, grapes, watermelon….and Arabic coffee. The server saw me with my camera. He posed and we got a picture. Thanks. That was a happy ending…

Happy Birthday


Another year older. Last I checked Jules had a goal to visit 30 countries by 30 years old. And for a number of years we were in the Tyler Place on her birthday. She made out like a bandit. She had a party before school ended, another with the family, and the third in Vermont. Now, married. It still seems odd to me. She and Dave have had ups and downs. But they get better with time. I know that when I am with them it’s a lot of fun. But then, that is less and less. It’s nice to have some pics of them together. Funny. In all pics everyone is happy and it’s never raining. It makes you think that life is about sunny days. Well, if you recall, the wedding day it rains sideways. There was a drought in California. Sunny the day before and the day after the wedding, I don’t think anyone cared that it rained. But a lot of very nice shoes got all muddy.




Fun, joy, innocence. There aren’t too many unguarded joyful moments. Kids have them all the time. And maturity and life sucks it out of you. (oh, look, Susan, Dave has a Tyler Place t-shirt)

As I write someone from the mobile phone company has called my cellphone to inform me that I just won 200,000SAR. Fantastic. Here’s how to collect….scam me once shame on me….They scammed Jules. She had an offer of winning $800 but had to respond instantly. Her mom got involved and helped. They both contacted the scam artist who sold them on a trip to Florida to see real estate. $800 was theirs. The cost was $200 deposit – refundable when they took the tour. Yeah, gullible, silly, all – and no one ever went to Florida to see real estate.


My attorney sent me a plaintiff email that he was stuck in London. He’d lost his ID, passport and all money. He asked me to forward some funds. Indeed, it was so sad. I called him at home to let him know I’d send him money. Hacked!

David tried to scam me. He called me at work. “Dad, I got a low cost trip to Madrid. I have to act immediately.” “What did your mother say?” Right, no permission, this was right after they blew up the Madrid train station some years back. So, off to Jamaica. Three amigos, living on an extreme budget. I fund education not fun. I’m having office hours, and David calls me from Jamaica. “We were in a bar and Ben fell off a stool and cut his neck…” Um, yup, I’m a surgeon. But there’s not much I can do 2000 miles away. Bar fight! Everyone in the office laughed at my being so gullible as to think the kid fell off a stool. Actually, true, the poor kid passed out from dehydration. Budget! They were rationing fluids. Afraid to drink water they were on a Coke a day. While Ben was in the hospital, the other two gave up and posed as registered guest in the hotel next door. They ate the buffet dinners until Ben got out and that scam didn’t work anymore.


My kids are all grown up now. And here was one of the last times I was together with them. They have husband and girlfriend now. This was the last of innocence together. It comes and goes with hardly a notice. Then, you realize that it happened and will never be repeated. It’s a bittersweet realization. All grown up…

I Save The Day


Visiting Taif. You drive up mountain roads. And it seems the bus was slow. And there is a zoo which was on the list of activities and places to visit. I had a camel encounter. Friendly, I’ve heard they can be temperamental. But the zoo camel was friendly. The elephants sprayed water at you. Fortunately, I watched as a couple nurses were set up and drenched. Those elephants are smart.


The group but their banner across the front of the bus. Nice touch. About 30 minutes later the bus overheated. The driver stopped, pulled his cellphone, and called the hospital for help. No A/C, it was getting hot on the bus! Light bulb! Yeah, you guessed. That darn banner cut off air flow to the engine. We removed it and were on our way in 10 minutes. Saved! Yes, I did save the day on that one. Did I tell you I know a little bit about lots of things…



While spinning wheels are on my mind I’d like to tell you another story. Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Worldwide and from across the USA people come. The traffic line was more than a mile long. And no one cut in. My my, what a polite crowd. Big? You bet! And just to see sheep, really? Yup. I was pretty impressed. The hillside was covered with cars. They’ve done this before. And the fairgrounds were packed.

Gambling? There was an auction. People were selling. Part of the sale went to support the next fair. You name it, there were things of value and junk. Outright junk. You sort and figure is all out. A single spinning wheel, a very special one, never before on the auction block went for more than $2000. And junk was sold for $5. You had to bid. It was friendly as long as you weren’t bidding against a nut case. You also need to have an idea of price. Oh yeah! Like I know spinning wheels and the cost of looms. Good stuff. As is. Who knows. Old things and brand new in the box. So I watched. Saw that $2000 wheel go to a woman whose husband approved. My my, that’s a lot. And then I put in a bid on a flax spining wheel. I got a nod. The auctioneer was not looking my way. I had to make noise. You sort of grunt ascent and wave your hand. Don’t look like you are scratching your head. And then it comes down to two or three women who stay in and drive up the price until the determination in my eye or the price exceeds their desire. Got it. As in, I bought it.  No, silly, I didn’t take a picture. I don’t shoot everything.

The last time I did an auction was back when my kids were 8 or 10 years old. Their school auctioned off a large white stuffed bear. How large? Bigger than my two kids combined. They were impressed. Me too! I got it for about $20. The very next year at the same auction I got another but smaller bear for another $20. After that never again. I’m not a gambler by nature. I think that I would be tempted and lose the family farm if I were in Las Vegas. The worst I ever did was lose $5 in Atlantic City. (We had to pay for parking to enter the casino.)

I was in Puerto Rico at a spine meeting and the hotel had a casino. An orthopedic friend of mine handed his girlfriend $20 and told her to have fun. She went to the roulette table and damn if she didn’t parlay that money into $5000. Wow. She bet corners and lines and …. She hit the number a few times. Double wow! So years later during a family vacation at the Tyler Place in Vermont, lo and behold – Casino Night! $5 got you a Styrofoam cup of chips. Using my knowledge of roulette, I lost that cup of chips in less than 30 seconds. I walked away much the wiser. Nope. I don’t gamble.



I’m not much of a museum buff. No real photo ops. Still, there are some fun things. American Gothic. A classic. It needs no introduction. It’s in my psyche. So, to see it up close and personal was fun. I’ve been to the Chicago Art Institute before. Darn, if I remember the painting was there. Still is. And will be when I come back. Maybe (I’ll come back)? So my feet are tired and we needed to get a little less serious about all this art. Actually another woman did this first. I actually had an umbrella. But the security guards are too tight assed. I shouldn’t have asked first. Just take out the umbrella, get the shot, and be gone before they notice. But with TSA, one does not mess with Mother Nature. Nope. Not permitted. They strictly told us at the door to carry our back packs in hand and not on our back. It might swing and damage something. Inside people did as they pleased. Too many people disobeying to really try to police. Oh well…civil disobedience. We made light of it all. No rain for days….


Terracotta Warriors

Not too often is there something I’d like to see or do. A couple things on my short list would include the exhibition of Chinese human anatomical dissections and another is Cirque du Soleil. SFSG. Riding the bus at the Chicago meeting I noticed signs proudly proclaiming there were terracotta warriors on exhibit at the Field Museum. The entire army is more than 6000. I just finished a novel in which the setting was in China at the site. A chance! Up close! Alas, it wasn’t the 6000 or even close. But there were some. And it was fascinating to read about it. And then I got to see them up close. No I did not get to touch. Many of the warriors were broken into fragments and were painstakingly reassembled and restored. The ultimate puzzle game! And I did not know that they were originally colorful. The dyes had faded with age. Outside the exhibit I got to pose with them. Cute!

I don’t usually go to the museum in a suit. We had rushed over from the meeting witouth time to change. Did I tell you the one where I was at the meeting in Los Angeles? Universal Studios. We had the opening reception there. 2000 or so neurosurgeons showed up for the evening event all dressed in suits. We rode in the trams sitting tall and straight. The bedraggled tourists, kids in tow, leaving at the end of the day, looked upon this rank and file and thought we must have been brought in as extras for Men In Black. Yes. We all wear dark suits. It’s a uniform. No Hawaiian print. Not for this conservative group! Nope. Nada. And the entertainment band was wildly playing out their hearts. Sweat poured in the warm evening. And when the band finished it’s number, the audience stared back at them. No one applauded. Would this be the definition of a stuffed shirt? So I laugh at myself too. And I try not to wear a tie unless I must. But at the national meeting it’s easier to blend in with the boys then to fight city hall. You don’t have to change your suit. No one will notice.