Hi,

We’re home again—but you didn’t even realize that we were gone, did you? (And, really—what is “home,” after-all? A building? A physical mailing address? A place to keep your heart?) In any event, it would seem that you haven’t heard much from me since 2014. Oops. Shame on me.

Much has changed in the intervening years and at the same time nothing has changed much. Perhaps your life is following a similar trajectory and the words “everything and nothing has changed” sound familiar. I certainly hope so.

I fully appreciation the mutable permanence of life and it is with that firmly in mind that I’ll try and spare you a point-by-point summary of events here in Las Galeras and in the United States over the last four or five years. Phew, close call! Neither of us should be subjected to such a litany. For such a long list nothing will do but that we yuk it up face-to-face. So why not make your own list and prepare! Who knows when we’ll swing by.

But I’m happy to hit the highlights of our recent trip to the US. Whooeee!

As you may recall, Nuris is now a fully-vetted, if provisional permanent resident of the United States. She and I returned to Maryland shortly before the end of October to accomplish several missions, none more important than demonstrating again her intent to be a participating resident of the US.

We also wanted to take a look at my place in Takoma Park with an eye to selling it. Really, it’s not necessary that we live in or near to Washington DC any longer and it’s nearly pointless for me to continue to pay condo fees, taxes, and utilities for a domicile that we use lightly even when we are in the US.

Plus, I never really furnished the place after the fire, so it’s a splendid structure but not very homey. And it certainly isn’t the home that I remember. That’s probably just as well, eh? So: a shameless and self-serving aside:

If you happen to be searching for a brand-new 1700+ square foot, 3 bedroom 2 bath condo with a private deck and a super-low condo fee near bus and Metro lines, and in an excellent school district give me a call. Tell your friends.

It wasn’t too difficult for me to make that assessment or reach the decision that selling the place is the most reasonable option. Hell, that’s been the case for at least six or eight years. We’ll see if it actually comes to pass. Maybe I’ll follow through in the spring. Or in the autumn. Or when the next wave of Democrats or Amazonians slither into the “other” Washington in 2020. Vamos a ver, we shall see.

More clear-cut was the decision to attend my fiftieth anniversary high school reunion in Pittsburgh last November. Most of you have had the occasion to make similar reunion decisions at some point. Maybe you’ve attended; maybe not. For fifty years, I had not.

And so it is now with a bit of experience that I recommend that you attend such a reunion when the opportunity presents itself, at least once every fifty years or so.

Ours was a comparatively small graduating class (76 souls) and for fifty years a nucleus of 18 or 20 folks held it together in Pittsburgh, with sporadic support from the suburbs and beyond.

This recent gathering had a pretty good turnout. I think that the final tally was 46, plus spouses. By way of a full report, it appears that most of these people turned out to be pretty well-balanced and quite decent folk. I hope they might say something similar about me. Those few of us who are philosophically at one extreme or another kept it pretty much under wraps for the reunion evening and consequently a good, if somewhat vanilla, time was had by all. This even-keeled outcome was only to be expected, since we all came of age under the thrall of Sister Mary Knuckle-Rapper and the psychic influence of her Permanent Record Card.

Regrettably, the two or three classmates to whom I owe long-overdue apologies were no-shows. So I suppose I’ve got something to look forward to fifty years down the road—unless perhaps I get off the dime beforehand. (Experience has shown this is unlikely.)

With the help of Amazon and a bit of clothes-shopping in Maryland and in Pittsburgh Nuris was nearly kitted-out for the next phase of our expedition: the trek to Iowa to take delivery of a used camping-car and the subsequent dash through the snow and wind to Wyoming to stash it in a quonset hut for the winter. Really, a twelve year-old Winnebago with only 16,000 miles on it? How could I say “no?”

My fantasy is that Nuris and I will spend a few months each year for the next several years touring about the United States in a healthy-sized RV on small roads. Think “Big Sky, Big Mountains, Big Trees, Big Canyons, Rivers, Lakes, Forests and Plains,” and on like that. Big Fun? I imagine so. Perhaps we’ll swing by your driveway in the process.

I realize that this purchase could also be a Big Mistake but, if so, it’s a rectifiable one. Again, vamos a ver.

Click here for more photos of the RV than you could possibly find interesting.

After stashing the rig in southwest Wyoming, Nuris and I headed back to Maryland to keep a date with the knee guy, once again dodging snow the whole way.

For some years I’ve suspected that I would one day want to replace my left knee. “Snap!” “Pop!” “Grind!” and finally “Fail” sent me to the orthopedist. And so the time for a total knee replacement arrived on the 21st of November, the day before Thanksgiving. It was to be an outpatient procedure.

As it happened, I entered into the arrangement woefully ignorant of events to follow even though I’d viewed all of the informative videos and attended the “pre-knee” seminar and gotten directions from the Pre-Surgery Physical Therapist. What I hadn’t done was ask many of the better questions. This I of course realized only in hindsight.The smartest thing that I did was to follow the twice-daily pre-surgery course of exercise for several weeks before the replacement. Pre-surgery exercise was inconvenient but painless, unlike the post-surgery exercise which is both inconvenient and painful.

About the procedure, one of my high school classmates said that “…they will make you cry.” She was not wrong, although she neglected to mention that the tears might be ones of frustration as the pain rapidly morphed from the incision itself to the underlying muscles and the nerves in my skin and hair follicles, both of which have been a more or less a constant source of discomfort in my leg since November 22nd. Who knew?

Now, five weeks after the replacement, my incision is tidy and even verging on lovely. The pain seems to have reached a plateau, even though the appliance still feels like a size twelve cage in my size ten swollen knee-pocket. I’m told this uncomfortableness will disappear as the swelling goes down. I imagine this will occur sometime after I stop exercising the new knee, which ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

Or maybe I’m just being a whiny baby about the whole thing at this moment and I’ll have forgotten about the discomfort as I dance a vibrant bachata into my 70’s and 80’s.

In any event, jury’s still out on this one. Pop! Bang! Ouch!”

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