April 8, 2014 - December 31, 2014



* News From the Rabbit Hole

* Horse Dreams

* Spring, Finally

* Ken Gets Fixed Again

* Summer Delights

* Back to New Zealand

* Very Scary Health Problem


The Rabbit Hole

We've been married 34 years now. Needless to say, we've kind of converged. We eat the same stuff, dress alike, think alike ... basically it's a surprise if there's anything we don't do exactly the same.

So at one point, Beth noticed something we did differently -- (Ken drives with a hat on, Beth doesn't) -- and she said "It's good that we have a few differences left. Otherwise we'd just keep reinforcing each other, and we could go right down a rabbit hole."

And Ken said "You mean we might do something like quit our jobs, sell everything we own, and live on a boat in the South Pacific for ten years? That kind of rabbit hole?"

Anyway, here's the latest update from the rabbit hole. :-)

April 8 - November 4, 2014

When we left off at the last update we were in Wisconsin.

Horse Dreams

Ever since Beth can remember, she has had a love affair with horses. Ken thinks that Beth should be over it since she married him. Apparently not...



When Becky, our god-daughter, bought a horse ("Bennett") Beth was tickled pink.




To give you an idea of how crazy women get over horses, here are some women at Becky's barn huddling in the cold while they maintain a vigil for a new foal about to be born



We were able to be there for the birth. You haven't lived until you've seen a horse break her water -- think Niagara Falls...



But the mother and colt are sure cute together.







The foal was all legs...





Beth was in her glory when Becky graciously let her ride Bennett.






We got to see Becky compete with Bennett in some events during the summer and we appreciated the hard work, difficulty, and skill involved in this sport. And danger.





And, of course, there is upkeep and maintenance. Here's a horse dentist at work. (We gave this picture to a dentist friend of ours who wanted to hang it in his office. To let his patients know that things could be worse...)






Beth signed up for English riding lessons.






And not to be outdone, Ken took lessons, too -- in between his shoulder surgeries. We didn't tell the surgeon.




Spring, Finally

The brutal cold Wisconsin winter finally came to an end.

And flowers burst out with extra pent up energy:





Beth with friends Debbie and Kayla at the gorgeous Chicago Botanical Gardens.



Ken Gets Fixed Again

Ken had so much fun with his first shoulder surgery that he decided to do it all again. He did the other shoulder in early June. Ken can't say enough good things about the surgeon (Etienne Mejia) and therapist (Mary Sankey). They did a terrific job.

Insurance companies are another story... It took well over a year, and several threats to go to the insurance commissioner, before all the bills got paid.




Those rolls around Ken's legs are attached to a pump which squeezes his legs to reduce the chance of blood clots after surgery.





Summer Delights - Wisconsin Fairs

Wisconsin has a very active festival season and we took advantage of several during our stay.

Wisconsin State Fair

Big crowds...


Big farm equipment...




Strange chickens...


Kids with their animals...



And then there is the auction, where the animals get sold off.





The kids have raised these animals from babes and you could see it was hard for some of them to let go... After all, the rabbit category is called "Roaster Rabbits"...





Meticulously groomed Clysdales...


Dancers and acrobats:






Lots of arcade games where kids of all ages could try their skills...



Culinary delights to harden your arteries...

Deep-fried Twinkies -- what a great idea! And chocolate covered bacon!


Rides to help digest your deep-fried Twinkies...





The kids on a magical night...


Seymour Balloon Fest

The town of Seymour holds a balloon rally every year. This year there were about 16 different balloons -- some very strange...



But balloons are best at night.



November 5, 2015

Back to New Zealand

With Ken all healed up, we headed back to New Zealand. We left the U.S. just in the nick of time, as 2014-2015 was another record-breaking cold/snow season.

We loved getting a chance to see family and friends during our extended stay, but really, somebody needs to fix that weather...

It was great to be back in Whangarei, living on the boat, watching the kingfishers and swallows.


Very Scary Health Problem



Before we left the States we learned that our excellent carpenter and good friend, Steve Eichler, had developed a brain tumor.

We got the email the SAME DAY as the funeral of another friend who had just died of brain cancer. We felt like we had been kicked in the stomach.




Steve's tumor was slow growing, but it was large. The surgery could damage Steve's optic nerves, and of course could have threatened his brain function generally. We were all terrified.

The tumor had likely been growing for a very long time. Impossibly but miraculously, the side of Steve's brain with the tumor had transferred its functions gradually over to the other side. Brain scans showed that the side of his brain with the tumor was essentially silent, and that the other side was doing all of the work. And with all that, Steve is one of the smartest and most creative people we know.

Steve had surgery in January 2015, and the surgeons were able to "pull" the tumor out with all its roots. They think they got it all.


And Steve, amazingly, was back doing boat projects within three weeks.

Since Steve now had a turban and only half a brain, his Kiwi friends told him he should join ISIL.



We are just happy and grateful to have him back.