Sunday, November 08, 2015

things I did today

I have had to leave the house before 8 am more often than not in the last two weeks. I don't know who makes such a mess in our house when we're gone...troops of gnomes with bad intentions?...but they do.

Today I spent a lot of time sorting and putting away. I cleaned the back porch so we can use it for Thanksgiving. It is such a good place to put stuff. I organized my clothes closet. I took the fan and my rain boots to the basement. I put away all the Halloween stuff. I painted the edge of the new front door that got dinged up with installation. I filled all the bird feeders. long as I had the paint out...I painted the back porch.

You don't know what a big deal this is. It is a job that needed doing since we moved into this house in 1997. It's one of those multi-step project at which I suck. It needed to involve finding a curtain rod. (check) It needed to involve finding curtain hardware. (check) It involved moving a lot of stuff out of that room. (check) I am quite proud of myself if you can't tell.

On the days when I don't brag about how much I have accomplished, I have pretty much been a waddlesome sloth and accomplished squat. Ah, well. Life is so much more than to-do lists.

Friday, November 06, 2015

looking back and then ahead

I mentioned to Regis last night that the anniversary of my cancer diagnosis had gone unnoticed, a good sign, I thought. This morning, lying in bed looking at my iPad, it popped up as a Facebook memory. A link to my blog.

I'll go back and read it again later but reading it gives me chills. It was such a dark time and I really don't know how I made it through. I spent a lot of time sleeping, not from physical pain or physical fatigue I don't think, but to escape. I tell friends that I spent a lot of time in my blanket fort.

I know there are worse things and I know many people go through exactly what I did with far more penache and aplomb. They didn't sit around weeping into their wine glass until 5 am. But it's hard to be prepared for shit like don't sit down and think rationally about how you are feeling and behaving. At least I didn't... I remember swinging wildly from a super hero sort of take on it (think Rocky) to planning my own funeral. It was crazy.

Three years later, I can look back and truly say that while cancer was not a blessing, it afforded me many opportunities. Thank you, wise Eve Ensler for those words. I have met many kind and wonderful people, medical care givers, friends who also went through the BC battle, others who just offered friendship and support.

In a couple weeks, I'll have my last three-month check-up. I will graduate to every six months. After a few years of that, I'll go to yearly check-ups. Because I am part of a clinical trial, they will follow me for the rest of my life. Good to know.

Going forward, I don't take anything for granted. In some ways cancer planted the seeds of dread but in other ways it made me so grateful for every day. Every sunset. Every delicious meal. Every good friend. Gratitude is getting a leg up on dread for now.

Life is so good.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

catching up in prose and photos

I love fall. I love everything about fall...the leaves, the color of the sky, sweaters and boots, pumpkin, nutmeg, squash. It just goes too darn fast. I'm going to catch up fast with pictures and some words. Some of this is a repeat, I am sure.

This fall, I...

Went to the farmer's market for pumpkins and squash. I baked a carnival squash and a butternut squash one day and took it when we had dinner with Tom and Betty.

Made pumpkin muffins. I took them to Kim at Benedictine where she is visiting her dad. So good to reconnect with her after all these years.

Had lunch with an old friend. She gave me this lovely mug which is my new favorite. I love the red and purple!

Made Norwegian flatbread with Aunt Vi's recipe. The first few were a little thick...after!

Had dinner with Kathy and Jack at Suzette's. I had Chilean sea bass stuffed with crab and lobster.

My haul from the farmer's market. Not the cat...the cat was here when I left.

I went for a walk with Regis and Gus on the trails in Riverside Park. Beautiful fall morning.

I went to Canby and spent three days with Mom making lefse, working at the Hospice dinner, playing dominoes with her friends, and having a wonderful time.

I have been fascinated by light and how different it looks in photos than it does to my eyes. This has been edited with Pic Monkey. I think it looks like a scene from ET.

I canned tomatoes and salsa. Summer in a jar.

I went for a walk at the Arboretum at GAC, looking for signs. Two bright red leaves and a perfect, tiny pine cone.

We made a stuffed pork tenderloin with Ginger's homemade sour kraut and we wrapped it in bacon.

These are the ladies who worked at the Hospice dinner. That's my mom on the far left!


Thursday, October 08, 2015

bark bark bark

I could have titled this post Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House but I thought that might bring down the wrath of the FBI. And who needs that shit?

My days of late have been a cacophony of sound. On the south, I have dogs...barking barking barking.

Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House
Billy Collins 
The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.

Yesterday, I opened up the bathroom window and glowered at them, whispering, "Go in the house. Go back into the house. You are making me insane." They paid me no attention.

On the west, I have a construction company making hash of my boulevard, my grass, and maybe not my patio although it, too, has their paint markings on it. Two giant vehicles are clawing at the sidewalk, digging portions of cement, dumping them in a waiting truck, beep beep beep.

On the north, I have a neighbor obsessed with lawn cleanliness. He chases five leaves around for 30 minutes to route them into the gutter. He could pick them up and stuff them into a sandwich bag in five minutes. But no, his method requires multiple gas powered machine.

On the west, again, I have a neighbor who does not believe in mufflers. They, in his eyes, must be the work of the devil. His motorcycle sounds like a jet is launching itself down 4th Street. His vehicle sounds like a fleet of John Deere's. His lawn tractor sounds like you should wear ear protection if you live in the next town.

Why am I burdened with this bullshit? It's not as bad as cancer (which I have) or osteoporosis (which I have) but it is a pain in the rear. I pray for quiet.

I am currently hoping my neighbors do not read my blog. Although as Sinclair Lewis said, if they didn't want to be in my writing they shouldn't have been such assholes.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

if it ain't one thing, it's another

I spent two days this past weekend in the yard and accomplished much. Only a couple things left to do.

As I was watering the new grass, I remembered when my brother Steve was little, I would sprinkle the grass and throw pennies down at the end of the rainbow when he wasn't looking. He thought it was the pot of gold. In some ways, it was.

Ella and I planted daffodils and tulips. She carried each one so carefully and gave them each a name...old names like Ethel and Herbert. I asked if she would remember them until spring but she didn't think so.

I have friends with cancer recurrences again. Mary is having a mastectomy on Thursday and will come home on Friday. I think I would demand more time. Kathryn's cancer has traveled to her lungs and bones.  Carol's breast cancer has turned into thyroid cancer. Not sure of the medical details of how that happens but it did. This afternoon, I visited Don, who is in the care of hospice.

But then I see Ann and hear about her husband's mother who had breast cancer 50 years ago and just celebrated her 100th birthday.

I started my online class last week but am frustrated that I have only gotten through Lesson 1.

Regis and I are cooking this lovely pork loin on the grill. We were going to stuff it with the same concoction we used last time but Ginger dropped off three jars of homemade sour kraut so we used that instead...with some apples, brown sugar, and cream cheese.

I took Mary a little gift before her surgery. Ann was there with two pounds of butter for me from the Hope Creamery. Oooh la la. The first time I tasted Hope butter, I nearly swooned.

I read the results of the bone density scan I had last week. Of course, my biggest worry is that cancer will get into my bones. I get an infusion of Zometa every six months which I like to think will protect me from that but I don't think that is a medical fact. I think I made it up.

So, here it is.

DEXA bone density is performed of the left hip and lumbar spine.
Comparison: 2/25/2014.
Left hip: ROI appropriate, total T-score -2 (however, the individual
left femoral neck T-score is -2.6)
total BMD 0.697 grams/cm squared (0.4% worsened since 2/25/2014).
L1-L4: ROI appropriate, total T-score -1.8
total BMD 0.851 grams/cm squared (4.8% improved since 2/25/2014).
The lateral view of the spine (LVA) is of limited diagnostic quality,
but no compression fractures are suspected.
IMPRESSION: Individual left femoral neck osteoporosis indicates high
fracture risk according to WHO criteria.

So, I quickly send off messages to my trainer who promised me good results from my strength training, my regular doctor who ordered this test and could interpret it for me, and my oncology docs and research nurse. So far, I have only heard from the research nurse. She said the deterioration was only 0.4% and the improvement was 4.8%. She said she didn't think I needed to panic. Ok, I will try not to panic. 

Saturday, October 03, 2015

my list of things to do today


  1. Clean out refrigerator- Done
  2. Do the dishes- Done
  3. Clean off the table- Done
  4. Tidy up the house- quickly- Done
  1. Dig up canna bulbs- Done
  2. Water the new grass- Done
  3. Mow boulevard- Not done
  4. Plant hostas- Done
  5. Plant tulips and daffodils- Done
  6. Put away some of the patio chairs and cushions- Done
  7. Put out suet feeders for woodpeckers- Done
  8. Make a pile of garden waste in the red truck: tomato plants, canna stalks, milkweed- Done
  9. Go to the compost pile- Done
  1. Halloween decorations- Done
  2. Do two lessons for online courses- Not done
  3. Make my finger labyrinths- Not done
  4. Make tomato pie- Not done
To finish on Sunday
  1. All the things above that didn't get finished- Mostly done
  2. Pick up Zoey's doll- Will be done!
  3. Birthday party at 5:15
  1. Grocery shopping
  2. Flu shots
  3. Dog diapers
  4. Coffee at 10:00
  5. Score papers

Friday, October 02, 2015

it's been a weird ass day

I went to work out with Gunnar at 7 instead of 8. Holy crap, the guy tries to kill me and I like it.

I went to work at Lone Star at 11. A guy about 55 walks in with his wife. They have seen the billboard on their way from Mpls to Fairmont. He looks and sounds so familiar. I finally go back and ask if he is a P_____ from Fairmont. Yes, he is. Stunned. His sister and I were on the same dorm floor in 1970 and later shared an apartment. I knew his parents, his siblings, and probably even him although he was young at the time. Wow. Small world.

Regis and I went to Mankato. I stopped in a funky little craft shop that's been there for many years. Dusty, Neglected. We both had the feeling we had to buy something because it looked like she hadn't made a sale in a long time. He held up a couple things. We finally settled on this. An orange pumpkin.

We had dinner at one of our favorite pizza places. Yum pizza and wine and desserts if you have any room left. Talked to a lovely young woman who signed us up for birthday notifications for all the grandchildren. So...if you get a card in the mail, don't be mf'ing us. Wahaha!!!

So that's all my connections for today. Carry on.