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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

Team America at JIS UN Day!

'Murica - "heck" yeah!!

The winds of change

Well there you go. We woke up this morning all ready to watch the election results come in. Unfortunately they were just the earliest returns from the east coast, so the electoral vote total was only in the low 40s by the time we left for school. Throughout the hallways before classes, however, the electricity was tangible. The kids and teachers were all very excited about the day and all the historic events taking place. (It is only fair to pass along that on Tuesday – which was the day before the election here – the high school had an ‘election’ that Obama won 190 to 13; apparently bipartisanship does not run strong through the student body!)

As the day went on and the news became official by 10am, emotions ran high. Kids were chanting, adults crying, and I heard (several times) refrains along the lines of “Thank God the last 8 years are over.” There was even a cautionary email that went out, reminding people that students who supported or were from families that supported McCain might be feeling a bit uncomfortable in the present climate and to keep a lid on things. Nonetheless, it was definitely one of those goosebumpy-feeling days: to witness history being made as well as to be surrounded by such a positive feeling of spirit/jubilation/community/relief.

Maybe one of the things that made the day so ‘happy’ was the fact that our home life is tempered with a little ‘sad’ and ‘worried’ right now. Breck has been sick since Sunday, first with stomach cramps, then with general malaise, and now with a very high temperature. We have been in and out of the doctor’s office and had a battery of tests run, but with no real conclusive diagnosis yet. We’ve had indicators of giardia, amoebas, appendicitis, and malaria, but none of these seem to be what’s going on. All we know is our boy is miserable, hurting, and not his usual self. Susan stayed home with him today, and tomorrow it is my turn. Hopefully some of this medicine we’re pumping into him will help him turn the corner. We sure hope so – that’s the sort of change we can believe in right now!

Tubular!

The theme of the summer with all the in-laws and cousins has been fun in the sun; Alea and Breck have certainly done their part to keep up with all the activities.

Susan’s brothers and father have taken them out numerous times on various Minnesota lakes in their boats, and the highlights of the rides have been hopping on the tubes. These inflated giants get dragged behind at great speeds, and the uncles take great pride in trying to knock the kids off.

The kids, for their part, hang on for dear life as they fly over the boat’s wake, around tight corners, and across choppy waters. Good times!

Washington DC

Before all the bad knee stuff happened, we had a very pleasant start to the summer. We flew back from Mumbai directly to DC to visit Uncle Rob and Aunt Blanche and kids. We got to meet John, who picked us up from the airport with his hot yellow Mustang, and congratulated him and Yiayia on their marriage.

We stayed with them for almost a week, and they treated us like royalty. We went to a Nationals ball game, saw their newly purchased home, and even had a couple days for exploring the Mall.

It was the perfect introduction to summer for us, plus we got to visit some of the places that signify “America” and mean so much to our history.

After all the other hoopla of the summer, we never got around to posting some pictures from this trip. But now – that oversight is rectified. Enjoy our pictures from Washington this summer!

All the grandchildren

At least on the Wagner side! Saturday turned into an impromptu family reunion, as all of Susan’s siblings stopped by the house for various reasons. With all the kids running around, we finally tumbled to the fact that this would be a good photo opportunity. So here they are, in all their glory – first with the four siblings and then on their own.

Wagner kids and their children

Wagner grandchildren

Kneetly done

Well, the incisions have been incised, the grafts grafted, and the sutures sutured. All seemed to go well with the surgery on Monday, and I have spent the last 2 days encased in a metal superstructure designed to protect the knee and keep it from bending.

Seeings how it is my birthday, I have also had a pleasant stream of phone calls during the day. As the pain is getting to be quite noticeable, such calls are always a great interruption in a schedule replete with not much to do. Per Susan’s orders, today is another do-nothing day, but tomorrow will mark the first physical therapy meeting. Knowing how the joint feels just sitting here, I am a little apprehensive about getting out and working it, but that is the obvious point of PT.

But on a happier note, I got an email from my college buddy Samer confirming that he is getting married this July. While I will obviously not be able to make the ceremony, it gives me great pleasure to enjoy his special day (vicariously) with him.

Knee knews

So here’s the latest, and it ain’t pretty.

We got called in today to go over the results of the MRI, and right away knew that summer plans were a-changin. Everything is off for us this summer, because it looks like my surgery and recovery are going to be a bit more complicated than earlier thought. In addition to a torn meniscus – a “bucket handle” tear of the cartilage which apparently has flipped under the bone and is blocking my knee from straightening out – I also destroyed my ACL – the main ligament through the middle of the knee.

The good news (to frame at least something in a positive light) is that because of the severity and type of tear, the surgeon wants to get in there and fix everything up as soon as possible, so I am scheduled to go under the knife on Monday morning. It is an outpatient procedure, so I should be back at the folks’ house that same afternoon. Since they are taking off to Russia for 2 weeks the same day, we’ll be able to watch their house (and new puppy!) while I’m recovering.

As far as further plans for the summer, we talked with the doctor about recovery time. Since the surgery, recovery, and physical therapy resulting from the ligament injury is quite a bit more involved than that of just the torn cartilage, it basically grounds us from further summer travels. So we’ll not be making it out to our beautiful cabin after all, and the scheduled reunion taking place up there will go on without us.

Not really the way we planned on spending the summer – but we are certainly counting our blessings that things are as ‘fixable’ as they are. There are plenty of other incidents and situations that could have been so much more life-shattering than this. It throws a wrench into our summer plans, but we’ll make the best of them!

Didn’t kneed that!

Oops – just as things were falling into place for all the summer travels, we’re having a major shake up in plans. I went with my sister-in-law to play volleyball last night, and the sand just didn’t agree with my knee. I heard a pop, felt a ‘catch,’ and now all of a sudden my left leg looks wildly out of sorts; all bent up and bent out. I can’t walk on it, and am very glad Grandma had a pair of crutches in the house.

Susan took me over to a doctor today, and as I suspected when it first happened, it looks like I’ll need surgery – thankfully just a “scope” and not a “cut.” MRI scheduled for tomorrow, operation next Tuesday. Ugh. Obviously, the whole summer schedule predicated on my leaving tomorrow is scrapped, as well as my quiet “guy time” driving out to Montana!

We’re going to try to keep most of the itinerary intact: Suz and the kids will still fly out; I’ll just be joining them later than planned (getting there after instead of before them). The real trick will be, of course, them managing at the cabin without all the stuff I was supposed to drive out (camping gear, for example).

Never a dull moment for the Stutz family!! Oh well – what’s that old saying? “Want to make the gods laugh? Tell them your plans!”

Walkin’ the Mall

Alea and Breck in front of the CapitolWell, we made it to DC, and are having a great visit with Uncle Rob, Aunt Blanche, Boyd, and Sam. They have been so gracious in letting us use their apartment, which is conveniently located right near a Metro stop, so we’ve been able to zip downtown on a couple of occasions to see a few of the sights. They are in the process of moving to the new-to-them house they just bought, so everything worked out perfectly.

Yesterday we spent the whole day with YiaYia at the Air and Space Museum (and the only one asking “Are we done yet?” was Susan!! We eventually let her go to the National Gallery of Art across the way to get her daily dose of culture!). This morning, we are heading to start at the Lincoln Memorial and walk the Mall to the Museum of Natural History.

Even though we are in the midst of a DC heatwave, we are feeling right at home. The jetlag has been negligible, and we are so excited to be getting our summer off to such a great start. More info as we travel around, but suffice to say at this point – we’re back in the USA, we’re healthy, and we’re happy!!

Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue

While that is the name of a country song (that people seem to either really like or really loathe), it seems to also be the sad theme of the latest news here in India. This week, I’ve seen US Says It Has Right To ‘Kidnap’ Foreign Citizens, US Intel Nails Bush Lie on Iran Nukes, US Poll Finds More Believe in Devil than Darwin, Dumbed Down FDA Puts US Consumers At Risk, as well as economic concerns about the imploding housing market and opinion pieces ridiculing the US’s support of Pakistan’s Musharref, as headlines in the local papers. Sigh.

It is difficult to really explain the sense of ambivalence that people here have for the USA. They see India itself flexing its muscles, China rising, Europe rebounding, and don’t get them started on the moves Iran is making to fill the vacuum of leadership in the Persian Gulf region. While America is still respected as a great place to live, work, and make money, the general opinion is that as a whole, the country is going down the tubes.

Looking from the outside in, it is hard to find good arguments to counter such sentiments. The insane war in Iraq (hear the great sucking sound of lives, money, world goodwill, and the ability to project power or influence disappearing into that abyss?), our intransigence on climate issues, the rejection of rationality, logic, and science as a basis for decision making, the utter hubris in judging our viewing of moral and cultural issues as the only correct way of doing so, the fascination with vapid, useless celebrity trivia (and ignorance of everything other than who the American Idol finalists are), the collapsing dollar – all these add up to a very depressing view of the direction my country is taking.

What a downer to come in to a day with. I’d better go grade some papers to cheer myself up.