Wednesday, July 30, 2014

all roads lead to somewhere

It has been a grand couple of weeks. The weather has been fabulous even though Regis would like more heat and humid, those of us who have not come from tropical climates, love this. Cool nights, warmish days. Perfect summer weather. I can smell fall in the air!

Yesterday, I took a trip down the Old Fort Road, across Nicollet County to Fairfax in Renville County. It goes through Klossner and St. George, both tiny and very rural towns. Klossner is a little dumpy but St. George looks like Lake Woebegone....every house freshly painted and it looks like they have decided to all mow their grass on Mondays. Every house has a Virgin Mary in the front yard and a pick-up in the driveway. I drove past two old cemeteries, one in St. George and one out in the middle of the corn fields.

I love rural much history, so many stories I will never know. The little grotto at the St. George cemetery was so sweet: screen door left unlocked, little benches in front of several statues, candles. Lovely. There was no way I could capture the grandeur of the landscape with my camera phone so I picked these details to remind me of how pleasant this drive is.

Here is one strange thing about my trip into southwest Minnesota. I finished reading, over the weekend, a book by John Sanford called Mad River.

John Sanford's books take place in Minnesota. This one in southwestern Minnesota. Three young people go on a rampage of murder and mayhem in Marshall, Redwood Falls, and other rural small towns and on the deserted highways that wind between the corn fields. Oh, brother. That's exactly where I was headed. Then on an empty stretch of rural highway between Klossner and St. George, I am passed by two Nicollet County sheriff vehicles traveling at high speeds. Remember, I am the person who was afraid to go in a swimming pool after seeing the movie Jaws. All is well, though. I made it home without incident.

I slept blissfully last night. I was in bed for 7 hours and asleep soundly for 6.5. I know this because my Jawbone UP 24 will track my sleep. I can look at a chart and see how much light sleep and sound sleep I had. It also tracks my steps. Regis thinks I cheat by running in little circles behind him when we go for walks.

This week, I have had lunch with Vickie, gone for a long walk with Deb on Sunday and Regis the following few days, I have a haircut appointment today, a breakfast date with Betty on Friday, and coffee with Betsy on Thursday afternoon. Elliot is coming to spend the night on Friday and we're having a pizza party for the little kids on Saturday.

My LiveStrong class ends Monday with a graduation party at Bill's lake cabin. I'll be sorry to see it end, but also glad to have my two mornings a week back for a while. On the calendar, for now, August looks like a quiet month. There is the Nicollet County fair and I have my oncology check-up and a trip to Mom's next week. Other than those things, it looks like a quiet month leading into fall.

Maybe not all my friends were able to see me on Dancing with the Stars with Donnie Osmond. Boy, did we cut a rug. Hahaha!!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

I have not fallen off the planet

It's been a while since I've written. I think my last post, or close to the last, was the one where I had been sleeping about three hours a night and was goofy. The gray faced men were marching around my bed chanting all my unreasonable fears. I am better now.

So many wonderful things have happened in the past couple weeks. Here is a pictorial run-down.

Art class and Billy and Ron on the patio at Lone Star

Flowers downtown Mankato

Livestrong pals after the 5K. My inspiration.

High fives all around!

Dance walking across the finish line, of course.

More music on the patio. Kit Kildahl and Steve Vanderhaar.

Regis and Gus on the 5K

Ella on the pontoon

Emily and Ella

Klobassa's eat on the dock

Alex and Elliot at Madison Lake

Lots of good chow!

Pontoon parade!

A rose from Nancy and a beautiful sunrise at TRAM

$15,000 dollar bike. No shit. And the guy didn't have a lock for it. Met a guy who is 90 and has ridden in the TRAM for years. He rode 70 miles the day I saw him. Wow.

TRAM riders just waking up.

Helena and Katie had the best coffee and scones.

So, there you have it. A few of the events from the past week or so. Lots of sweet moments and more to come. I am feeling better, stronger, and more optimistic than I have in a long time. Tomorrow is alumni day at Livestrong. Next week is graduation day and it will be very hard to say goodbye to these folks. They have found a special place in my heart.

Karen, I know it's my turn to write a long email. I hope you are doing well. I have my oncology check-up in August but I will be in touch before that. I seem to be needing lots of sleep lately.

We have had our first heat advisory of the summer. I think this is getting to be a bit like blizzard warnings. I went out in my flannel nightgown to move the sprinklers and didn't even work up a sweat. Haha!

All those little ideas I gleaned from Pinterest for the party...not many of those worked out. I would say most didn't work out. I procrastinated until the very end so I'm lucky I pulled a meal together.

Onward and upward. Life is good. Very good.

Saturday, July 12, 2014, etc.

embracing ease

Edited in the light of day...

I am writing this at 2 am. A time when my brain and my fingers don't always work well together...but I have things to say. I have been slacking on my blog the past few months because I was too, way too, conscious of my audience. I didn't start out that started as a writer's notebook. My thoughts and observations... and too bad if you didn't appreciate them.

Over the course of cancer, I turned inward and worried too much about what people thought. Was I too harsh? Too easy? Not empathetic enough? It immobilized me.

Writing is therapy for me so if you don't like what I write, don't read it. I write for myself.

In the course of being diagnosed and treated for cancer with a multitude of nasty toxic chemicals and radiation, I have experienced long-term side effects including cognitive problems ( I mean to do something but it takes a long time.), fatigue (three hour naps), lack of motivation, forgetfulness, problems with multi-tasking and problems-solving...and the list goes on. It does not end when the treatment ends. Sadly. So many people think then the treatment ends, the effects end. It's not over.

I have been reading about the long-term effects of cancer treatment. They are varied and long-lasting. This is my new normal as they say.

I have found ways to cope. I love my Livestrong group. I have found wonderful and supportive friends. I know I need a nap or a rest period every afternoon. I have therapy. I exercise. I eat as healthy as I possibly can. I practice yoga and meditation and mindfulness.

But sometimes I still go crazy. It's just the way it is. I drink wine. I have a beer. I ask to go out for dinner. I read a lot. I write continuously. That's how I figure things out.

And so life goes on. I am looking forward to the graduation of the next Livestrong group for which I have volunteered. They are a wonderful group of optimistic and brave folks. We are having an alumni group meeting and I have a couple members of the Blue Ox Jazz Babies who will lead our parade as we celebrate life. I have met many new friends. Cancer has afforded me many opportunities...and life goes on. Celebrate it. Every day.

P.S. I borrowed the subject line from my friend, Michele. It's a title she is thinking of using for her yoga class. I love it!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

pontoon party planning #1

 It occurred to me yesterday that planning the pontoon party on the 20th is going to take a mastermind. I'll be planning a party for 12 adults and 5 kids...all to take place in 20 square feet of space on a ship with no refrigeration and no running water. 

Ella told me yesterday that it was two weeks away, so this morning I started looking at Pinterest and making a list. I went to Shopko and found some things on clearance that I can use. Here are some other ideas.

I figure the adults will be happy cruising around the lake with a cold drink but the kids might need more entertainment.

Here are my preliminary lists of things to bring

We will bring:
1. Food (Build your own sandwiches, chips, vegetables, fruit, dessert)
2. Beverages (Mostly non-alcoholic but a few choice alcohol treats for the grown-ups. Not if you are driving.)
3. Supplies and condiments (Baskets, liners, napkins, paper towels...mustard, mayo, onions, pickles, tomato, lettuce, etc. Maybe some hot wasabi!)
4. Camera...I'll bring some funny hats and glasses for the photo booth!

The Boat Landing will have life jackets for all but if you have one for your child, might be best to bring it.

Tom...could you do a summer play list of music?

If you have a large cooler we can use, will you let me know? I'd like to get the coolers ready a few days ahead so I know what I need.

You should bring:
1. Hats
2. Sunscreen
3. Swimsuits and towels
4. Flotation devices that aren't too large. We'll be cruising up to a swimming beach at some point.
5. Bug repellant?

If you need directions, put it in the google for a map. Boat Landing in Madison Lake. More information to come.

premier parking spot

Regis is always on the lookout for a great parking spot when we buy groceries. He was amazed this morning, as busy as it was, that he was able to get this space!

Now here's something weird. Since my bariatric surgery five years ago, I have had to give myself a monthly injection of Vitamin B12. I got tiny bottles of it with a prescription and the syringes came with it. About a year ago, my insurance stopped paying for the syringes so I was charged 40 cents a piece for them. But I had to have a prescription because otherwise they wouldn't know if I was using the syringes for nefarious purposes. What?

Last week, I picked up my prescription and I paid 12 dollars for three syringes. I found a medical supply place online and ordered a box of 100 for 15 dollars + five for shipping. No prescription needed. They wouldn't let me return the syringes but they did make a price adjustment...and I paid 40 cents each. I asked what I should ask for in the future and if I would still need a prescription. Yes to the prescription and they would only sell me 3 at a time because God knows what I'm doing with those syringes. None of this makes any damn sense, does it?

I thought...if I were going to use them for a purpose for which they were not intended, I would probably know about buying them online for 20 cents a piece.

This has been a draft post for days and days. I can't remember why I wanted to post this poster with the benefits of weight training. So, here it goes...out into the cyber world!

Monday, June 30, 2014

just when you think you have a couple things figured out...

I recovered from (or started to calm down about) the dip into the dark side when I learned of my friend's cancer recurrence. Then last night, we learned that Betty, who has been a part of my family of friends for many years, lost her brother suddenly and quite unexpectedly over the weekend. He was 57. I was stunned. No medical problems, no history of disease, active young father whose parents lived well into their 80's...and suddenly he is gone. Like a whisper.

To say there are no guarantees in life is an understatement. For a powerful read on optimism even in the face of uncertainty, read this: Rethinking the Placebo Effect by Maria Popova.

Something I have known for a long time...a little bit of realism goes a long way. And I would say I am a self-enhancer. You'll have to read the blog to find out what that means!

Our funky little truck has a shot at being painted by the art center folk and driven in the 4th of July parade. How much fun would that be? The fellow who came to inquire asked if Regis had a favorite artist. He suggested Monet but I think the truck might be more of a Jackson Pollock kind of truck.

I like to make what I call a POD. Plan of the day. I don't always follow it but it's a start. I have gotten a few things done already. Making a grocery list is not the least of them.

Make it a happy Monday!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

lifted up

Yesterday was kind of a dark day for me, for many reasons. Sometimes it happens. I reached out to some friends who were right there for me...on FB, by email, by phone, or in person. Today is much better.

I started today in much better spirits. We had coffee on the porch, then went for a long walk by the hospital. Such pretty meadows up there...and we saw a bluebird! I picked a bouquet of wild flowers and Regis took a short video of the wind blowing the grass. I'll share it here if I can ever get it to load.

Michele, Teresa, and Mary...haircut party!

Flowers and red teapot

Delicious chicken salad with fresh greens and strawberries from Betsy!

Woodrow Call

Woodrow tormenting Gus. He jumps right on Gus's head.

We took a drive to Mankato to pick up my Vitamin B12 and the syringes I needed. Walgreens charged me four bucks each for them. I can buy a hundred online for twenty bucks. Does that make any sense?

Regis grilled steaks and mushrooms and I made a gorgeous salad with Betsy's strawberries. You forget how strawberries are supposed to taste. The ones in the grocery store are like cardboard.

Oh, yeah. We pumped some iron this afternoon, too. Lucas, our trainer, will try to kill us again on Wednesday so we thought we'd try to get in some weights before that so we're prepared.

So, there you go. All the news that's fit to print.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

end o' the week in photos and stories

At my urging, Regis bought himself a man bag to carry his essentials, of which there are many. Wallet, glasses, know. We got quite a chuckle out of the wording on the outside of the bag. I wonder what they meant to say.

Yesterday, Betsy, on the left, picked me up at 8:30 and we went to Guenther's for breakfast. As we were almost ready to leave, in walks Edna. She joined us for a few minutes and we had a fine visit.

Betsy dropped me off here for an appointment with Dr. Anderson. The night before, I had developed what I learned are called flashes and floaters in my left eye. Of course, after diagnosing this on the internet (and getting more and more fearful every moment) I called the emergency number for my eye doc. He said it sounded like posterior vitreous detachment, a common occurrence as we age and I should be seen the next day. So here I was...eyes dilated.

Turns out, that is exactly what it was with no evidence of retinal involvement which is the big scare. I have to be checked again in a month and after that, only yearly.

Regis and I have been walking a lot up by River's Edge Hospital. There is very little traffic, nice clean sidewalks, and lots of nice grass for Gus to roll in when he gets warm. It's a little over a mile to make the big loop and sometimes we go two or three times.

After my eye appointment, Betsy dropped me off at the nail salon for a pedicure with Joanne. I forgot to get a photo there but it was so nice. We went to Pappageorge and had lunch and good conversation.

I had a 3:30 haircut appointment so I popped into the jewelry store to get my found ring checked. She said she was not a gemologist but to her it looked like pink rubies or pink sapphires. I'll hunt up a gemologist to get the final verdict.

My next stop was Mary's hair salon for a haircut and some gabbing with friends. Lola was there, then Michele came to get this cool star cut into her hair.

Today, it has threatened rain, or really rained, all day. I am tired of the gloom but at least all the roads and bridges are open for now. We get enough darkness in the winter...I want bright sunshine in the summer. We might take a walk down to the fairgrounds to see if there's any barbecue left.