Monday, April 29, 2013

first family cookout

The little kids met up at the Treemendous playground today for some play time with what must have been almost every other little kid in town. Then we came back to Nana's house for the first family cookout of the season.

PopPop made hot dogs, chicken, and steak on the grill. We had smores for dessert and Ella said that is the best part of every cookout. In the end, we had chalk all over the sidewalk (Including some great spelling words, Ella!), banana chunks and graham cracker crumbs on the floor, toys in every corner, and three very tired children. It was a blast.

It looks like the weather will be cooler and wetter over the next few weeks than it was this weekend. That's fine...we made full use of the beautiful past four days and we can use the rain.

Gus is sprawled across Regis's lap. His habit in the morning is to sleep as late as he can, then get up to go outside and eat his breakfast. When those two tasks are complete, he jumps on the lap for some petting and combing. He usually takes his first nap of the day there. Such a dog.

Gus and Ace like to go to the park together. I think they're keeping an eye out for hawks and eagles in this photo. Gus is in no danger but Ace...they might mistake him for a small edible rodent. The dog park is close to the Minnesota River and several ponds of backwater so there is lots of raptor action.

I've had more anxiety dreams the last few nights. Last night, I saw a bad guy in the living room and tried to let Regis know in that whining, mewling kind of way that I do in nightmares. Regis had to wake me up. It was scary.

I know the anxiety comes from cancer. I know in my head that it makes no sense to worry, that the survival rates are just statistics, that I won't know really what will happen...just like everyone else who walks the planet...until either cancer or something else kills me. I know this in my head but I can't integrate it into the rest of my self yet. I'm working on it. Serenity. Serenity. Serenity.

I have to finish up my writing and my coffee by 8 o'clock this morning. We have places to go and things to do.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

It's been a patio kind of weekend

We had our first glass of wine on the patio on Thursday evening. It was a bit chilly but given that we have waited a long time, it was worth it. We spent Friday afternoon and evening on the patio with friends, and yesterday we started with coffee on the patio, then an afternoon on the patio, then an evening on the patio. Such wonderful days.

Today, we're hoping the little kids and some of the grown-up off-spring will come for a cookout after some play time at the park. It will be a smorgasbord of stuff: steaks, chicken, and hot dogs...because I'm not putting much more thought into it than that. I want to enjoy the day not spend the whole thing in the kitchen.

Regis sent me a text message yesterday that said only this: I love you. I am lucky.

No medical appointments this week! Did I mention that before?

I read a powerful breast cancer blog (Michele's). She says cancer is part of her story but not her whole story. I like that. Then I read an article in the paper about how important it is to maintain hope even in dire circumstances. Good things to ponder this morning.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

my tattoos

I went to my radiation simulation yesterday. I had to lie down on a CT scanning bed and hold very still for a few minutes. The doctor made some marks on my skin with a marker and the nurse made four tiny tattoos so they can line me up the same every day. I'll start the treatments on May 6th.

They told me that a physicist figures out the angles so they can avoid shooting my lungs and heart with the ray guns. Hmmm.

Our over-industrious lawn warrior neighbor to the north has already been firing up his gas powered man machines. I have not so much as lifted a rake yet as I believe in having more than three days between snow shoveling and yard work.

This spring, I had seven days between snow boots and sandals. That's not much of a transition either.

Coffee on the patio with Richie this morning. Perfect.

Tonight's the night for grilling steaks. Yahoo! The maiden voyage!

Friday, April 26, 2013

bridge, nerves, and patio wine

I wrote the other day about my recurring bridge dream. I couldn't find quite the right picture, then someone posted this on FB the other day and I was amazed. This is it! It's a bridge in Norway and in my dream there were no men in orange jumpsuits but the bridge disappeared in the mist, just like this.

I am awake with the birds this morning...maybe even before the birds. (What time do birds wake up anyway?) I have my radiation simulation this morning and I'm nervous. Regis reminded me that I was nervous before chemo, too, because I didn't know what to expect. I should expect the same with this experience.

Our favorite morning radio show, Shufflefunction, is doing it's annual pledge drive. We like public radio but most of the time, avoid pledge drives. Regis stayed up until midnight to listen and I'm awake at 5am listening to the middle part of their Pledge Drive A Go-Go. It's a hoot.

We made a pledge so we could be programmers for the day again. Programmer for the day means you control the musical destiny of southern Minnesota and the world for three hours. Being on the radio makes me nervous because it's so spontaneous and I am so not spontaneous.

We went to Schmidt's yesterday and bought big steaks for the grill. We also bought some brats, some jalapeno cheddar summer sausage, ground beef, and this for Mom...

I remember having klub for dinner when my dad was gone to a meeting. They're giant potato dumplings with side pork in the middle. We liked to put butter and (gasp) bacon grease on them. You don't go swimming after a meal like that. Norwegians call it potet klub and during the long cold winters on the fjords, this is what they used to sustain them. I love the look of the package.

Gus went for his bath and haircut yesterday morning and I took him for a long walk in the afternoon. I think he wishes I went faster...if I run, it's a nice slow trot for him. Too bad I can't keep that up for a more than thirty seconds.

First patio wine of the season!

When I came home, I dug a couple lawn chairs out of the garage and poured myself a glass of wine. The sun felt so good. A neighbor came over to say hello...we don't see neighbors all winter when we slink in and out of our houses in the dark. Regis came out with Gus and we watched the birds for a while. We're planning our first grill out to be either today or tomorrow. The grand-kids are coming over for a cookout on Sunday. So nice to finally have spring weather!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

spring at last

Check the post called winter storm zeus to see a picture of what it looked like here that day. This morning, I can see the grass is turning green. Regis and I found many plants starting to pop through the ground in the garden. The sky is bright blue and it might be 60 degrees today. We are starting to thaw, my friends!

Yesterday was a grand day. Mary Smith of Mary's Flowers called me in the morning to tell me that I had a flower delivery! Mary is one of the best. When Mary's little van pulled up, my friend Rita jumped out. It was so much fun to see her. When I brought this lovely spring bouquet into the house, the card said, "Flowers and friends make the world go round! Love, Jane"

Later we went out to the winery to celebrate Betty's birthday and we had such a nice time. Angie and Melissa took great care of us, we shared a pizza and a meat and cheese plate. And of course, some wine.

Tomorrow is my radiation simulation. My pretend radiation. They will get me all lined up so the ray guns always shoot at the same spots. I'll finally get my tattoo. I'm hoping that next week I will have no medical appointments. It might be the first time since October. My insurance company is going to send someone out to shoot me. They shouldn't be upset. I have contributed a lot of money to their coffers over the years and for the most part, was healthy.

This afternoon we're going to make our first spring trip to Schmidt's in Nicollet. They have a grill package on sale that sounds like a great way to start the grilling season.

We want to grill tomorrow. We're hoping that Young Regis will stop over to help get the swing out of the garage. 70 degrees! 70 degrees! We're so excited!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

winter storm zeus

This could be our last winter storm of the season. No promises, of course, but it could be. This is what the forecast looked like yesterday. The weather folks were predicting a day full of rain, then changing to snow in the evening... maybe twelve inches of snow. I know people who just pulled the curtains and refused to deal with it. We quit shoveling a storm or two ago and now just let the warm sun take care of it.

We didn't get anywhere near twelve inches. Maybe a quarter inch of frozen rain and then 2-3 inches of snow. It won't melt much today but it will be gone by the weekend. April's snows never last long. It's beautiful...every branch is lined with snow.

I went out in my pajamas and winter boots to fill the bird feeders this morning. We are feeding quite a flock of birds. Robins, cardinals, finches, and a flock of black birds. We've also seen fox sparrows for the first time. They migrate through in the spring and fall. The largest of the sparrows, they scratch under seed feeders like chickens.

I need to get out more if I'm writing about the feeding habits of migrating birds.

I've been spending some time on goodreads lately. It's amazing to me that a book can end up on both lists: Best Books Ever and Worst Books Ever. I'm not talking about Monica Lewinsky's biography either. I'm talking about To Kill a Mockingbird. The best I can figure is that some mean English teacher forced these books down someone's throat and they carry bad memories of it. Too bad. The other possibility is that different things appeal to different people. 50 Shades of Gray? Used it to line the bird cage. Some people loved it.

Happy birthday to Betty!

My plan of the day includes some kitchen duty, a trip downtown for a few things, a trip to the PO to mail a box to my nieces in Ohio, and a trip to the winery to celebrate Betty's birthday. Should be a fine day.

Monday, April 22, 2013

sedition dentistry and blowing snow

Sedition Dentistry: For the rebel in you!

Definition of sedition (n)
[ sə dísh'n ]
rebellion or incitement: actions or words intended to provoke or incite rebellion against authority, or actual rebellion

For weeks this winter, we drove by a billboard that only said Sedation Dentistry and a phone number. We thought that was hilarious because we always read it as sedition dentistry. Every time. And then we'd laugh and laugh. They changed the billboard so now there is more of an explanation. Some people are apparently so terrified of the dentist they prefer to be sedated during their treatments.

I guess that's all I'll say about this. It's a crazy thing and happens to us from time to time...reading things incorrectly and thinking it's hilarious...not sedation dentistry.

It's still winter even though the calendar says it's spring. I had to wear a winter coat and snow boots to chemo on Friday and today we are in another winter storm warning. Four to eight more inches of snow. Blowing snow. Hazardous driving conditions. Pppfffththth.

I just did a little research to figure out the best way to spell the raspberry sound. There isn't one. I even went to the Cartoon Raspberry Museum.

I slept until 7 o'clock and I slept great. Deep and heavy sleep. My plan is to exercise today but I'm not on a schedule because I figure I've earned that right. I'm going to drink coffee and listen to Shufflefunction until 9 o'clock, then I'll move in the direction of exercise. Time to get some structure back in my life.

The article that explains this photo is in the Fargo Forum so that's a clue. Some of the snow banks surrounding this field are eight feet high. Holy crap. Next week, they'll be worrying about floods. We are a tough lot, here in Minnesota.

I don't usually read books more than once but I am making an exception. I read Skinny Dip a few years ago and loved it. There's a crazy plot, the author writes well, and the characters are a hoot. Here's the link to the Amazon reviewer who is much more articulate than I am.

That's all I have today. See ya.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

sorry for all the posts

I was looking through my blog posts the other day and was surprised to find I had 35 drafts. Most of them were just titles or ideas but a few were fully formed and worthy of publishing. I had to put them out there today or I would forget again and they would languish in cyber space forever.

I'm down to only two drafts now and I have my eye on those! Some day when I am feeling uninspired, they will come in handy!

a tribute to my mom

Being a mother is hard work for a lifetime. I didn't know that when I was growing up and my mom was always there to take care of me and worry about me. I know it now that I have children and grand children. I read once that having a child is like making the decision to let your heart walk around outside of your body. It's true.

My mom is a wise woman. She knows how to have fun and she enjoys life. I wrote this poem about all the things I've learned from her. I think I published it here before but in honor of my mom on Mother's Day, here it is again.

What She Taught Me

For Mom

She taught me knitting, sewing, Teeny Tiny,
and reading every night before you go
to bed. She taught me how to make things for
people you love. She taught me how to make

stuffing by letting the butter and chopped onions sit
on the stovetop overnight. She taught me how to
make spaghetti from scratch
and that leftovers make a good meal and that pets,

even messy ones who come through the screen door
during thunderstorms, are part of the family.
She taught me that it’s more important to bake
fresh cookies or to read a book than

have a clean house. She taught me that having piles
of books around your house is decorating and that wearing
a flannel nightgown until noon doesn’t mean you’re
lazy. She taught me that you invite people over

if you’re lonely. She taught me how to always
believe you can fix it yourself and to keep on learning
and that when you go on vacation you should
stay with relatives. She taught me that cookbooks make good

reading and if you don’t have what it calls
for, you use something else. She taught me that hunting
down a good deal and taking a long nap in the afternoon is
the only exercise you ever really need in life.

When my dad died, her husband of more than fifty years, she
taught me that you cry but you go on. You go on living. You keep
the ashes in the window sill, you tell stories about the memories
and you laugh and you cry. But you keep on living.

selling cookies

Regis is famous for his strange and detailed dreams.

The other night he had a dream about me. I had been behaving in a way that aroused suspicion. He decided to find out what I was up to so he followed me down Third Street but lost me when we got close to downtown. When he saw me again, on Nassau Street, I was riding one of these.

I was embarrassed to tell him that part of my new job included delivering cookies on this cycle so I kept it a secret.

Good grief. I wonder what in the world spawned that dream.

It is a cool bike, though.

We went out for dinner at the Cedars Grille last night with some friends. Scott had prime rib and announced suddenly, "Hey, there's a ghost on my meat!" It's a little blob of sour cream with pepper flake eyes but it sure looks like a ghost. Somebody said it's a Konsbruck Hotel ghost. Ha! We went over to the Redmen after dinner for some dancing to the Lost Walleyes. It was a fun evening.

I have a cooler packed for the Ambassador's Blues Fest today...nuts and dried fruit, cheese, olives, dark chocolate, a bottle of wine and a few cold beers. Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys start the lineup.

My friend, Katy, in Georgia is making me a Day of the Dead apron this weekend. She found a cool pink and black fabric for the ruffle and she's going to make a skeleton button for the flap. It will be so cool I don't think I will wait for the Day of the Dead to wear it.

She's also making an apron for me out of this:

Cool to have my own apron designer!

my writer's notebook

When I was a teacher, my favorite thing to teach was writing. Not to adults so much because they had their giant sets of nasty fears fed by red pens for all the years of their writing education. It was hard for them to get past that. The monkey mind, Natalie Goldberg calls it.

Adults had fears that they would make a mistake (Oh, God! A dangling participle!) or something would sound stupid. It was hard to get them to let go and just write.

If you could get to kids in time, before the pestilence of the five paragraph essay had them in its death grip, they could learn to enjoy writing, to think of it as just thinking on paper, as mental gymnastics or self-expression.

My friend, Jill, and I did a lot of staff development for teachers of writing, much of it unsuccessful in the long run, but still fun. We had a lot of conversations in the car on the way to wherever, about writing and teaching writing. Some of the favorite memories of my teaching life.

Once, we had to beat a hasty retreat from a small town up north were the teachers turned not only restive but downright hostile. They wanted something different! They wanted grammar rules! They wanted margins to be measured and spelling mistakes to be counted! They wanted us run out of town on a rail! We escaped, but barely. It was like the Old West with no six-shooters.

bridge dream and irrational fear

I've had a recurring dream in the last few months. Unlike most of my dreams, this one has a bit of a plot. I'm at the start of a bridge that looks kind of like this but it goes up into the clouds and over a lake. The top is shrouded in misty clouds so I can't really tell where the end will be. I know I have to cross but there are problems: I can't get my shoes tied, I can't get registered, I can't find the person I am supposed to walk with, it's getting late, it's freezing cold and icy. Always strange circumstances.

I suppose there could be some meaning. Fear of the future? Anxiety about treatments? Feeling a lack of control?

Hard to say, as I have some irrational fears. I am afraid to drive by semi trucks on the highway for fear the wheels might come off and smash into my windshield, for one thing. I worry about riptides whenever I am by the ocean. (This is a very silly fear as I have been by an ocean two times in my life.) I have others but they sound crazy when you write them down so I won't.

It's time for me to reclaim my life. I decided yesterday that I've spent enough time worrying about cancer. I still have the radiation treatments to do and it sounds like I will be spending plenty of time at the cancer center in the next few years so cancer isn't going to go away for me, but I want to start doing some of the things that drifted away with my diagnosis.

I'm going back to the Pulse on Monday. I haven't done a lick of exercise except for an occasional walk with the dog in the month since I finished Exercise is Medicine. I want to start walking outside, too. I'm gearing up for gardening season and have several plans. I'd like to start answering my phone again and get better at sending thank you notes. Is this too ambitious?

My friend, Nancy, loaned me a book called Picking Up the Pieces: Moving Forward After Surviving Cancer. I wasn't ready to read it until now. It's what I want to do: Move forward.

I just got an email from my google calendar. We have no events scheduled today. Regis says that is a waste of bandwidth. Haha!

Friday, April 19, 2013

out of the nest

My last taxol treatment!

I was booted from my chemo nest today. It happened with little ceremony but I did a hug from one  nurse and a star pin from Judy, my research nurse, because I have been a star patient. I told her I had mixed feelings about being done and she nodded knowingly. She said there was so much uncertainty during the early phase of diagnosis and this phase, the treatment, feels safe and secure and definite. Now I feel adrift again.

One of the very nice things about cancer is the people I have met. A woman I connected with via the dog park and a massage therapist started her chemo yesterday. She posted a picture of herself sitting my booth at the cancer center! It made me feel better about leaving somehow. I told that story to the nurse, not mentioning any names of course because of HPPA and FRPA and all those other acronyms, but Jessica said, "I think I know just who you are talking about." My spot there will be in good hands.

Regis and I went to Panera for a cup of coffee to celebrate. I paid almost ten dollars for two cups of coffee and two bagels. Seems like a lot, no? It was fun to run into Mary and Greg and Diane and Jim there. I got two more hugs. If hugs were money, I'd be rich. Come to think of it, they are like money and I am indeed rich.

We motored down to Patrick's last night for a beer and a pizza. For some reason, during inclement winter weather, Minnesotans like to go to bars. It's a well known phenomenon and if you haven't witnessed it, you should. People like to get together and tell stories about how deep the snow was on the deck, what kind of snow blower they have, and how they couldn't get the back door open. It's a hoot.

Regis has been taking bird pictures as the little birds returning to Minnesota (and the ones who stayed here, I imagine) were expecting to find worms and bugs to eat. They didn't expect a foot of snow. Here are just a few.

The snow came sideways in the latter part of the so everything was coated on the north side with a heavy coat of snow. Regis said the garage looked like the hotel in The Shining. It was really beautiful and would have been more so if it had been December.

Gus loves the snow. He went to the Paw this morning and they told us when we picked up that he had a wonderful time. He loves to run in the snow and jump over drifts. A woman who works there, at a computer, loves Gus. When he came in she jumped up and came over to him and said, "I heard you were coming!" Like bringing a little kid to daycare.

Next week, I'm going to take a bouquet of flowers to my chemo nurses and doctors. And maybe some brownies. They have made an experience that you certainly would sign up for if you had a choice, a very pleasant thing. Bless their hearts.

cardinals for my friend and neighbor, deb

The cardinals have been frequent visitors to the bird feeders, Deb!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

winter storm yogi

I'm not complaining about the weather even though it give me plenty of opportunity. The moisture is good and now I don't have to worry so much about wild fires this summer. Regis filled the bird feeders yesterday, put out extra peanuts for the squirrels, and put nesting materials in the suet feeder for the robins.

Karen, I wrote a comment to you after your comment in yesterday's post. Don't know if you look back so here it is: So glad you enjoyed the 25 random things about me! I appreciate your comments so much. The list was fun to do but harder than I thought it would be. I only got interested when a friend of mine wrote one and shared it. You know I like is an old one...a favorite of mine from the past:

I just talked to my mom on the phone. We're both sitting in our pajamas, drinking coffee, looking longingly out the window. We talked about our garden plans and buying flowers. She told me her sump pump is running for the first time in two years. That almost makes the wintery weather worth it.

We picked Elliot up from daycare yesterday and took him to Lone Star Barbecue for dinner where he ordered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. His cousins, Ella and Alex, came over to play for a while when we got home. They were all happy and they played so well making pretend food in the kitchen with a couple bowls and a hand mixer. Alex said he was making chocolate squirrels and gnome cake.

I suppose now that my chemo is ending, I will eventually run out of reason to be absent minded and flakey. Just to remind everyone who knows me: What is usually called chemo brain is the result of a trauma to the psyche from the cancer diagnosis, not to the actual chemicals. This could be just the way I am. The new me.

It's raining now...or sleeting. Hard to tell. It will be a day for beef stew, a good book, and a nap. How's that for ambitious plans?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

25 random things about me...a writing assignment

  1. I like to read... constantly. I can't sit still for five minutes without reading something...the label on a box, someone else's list, a road map.
  2. I have been lucky enough to always have someone in my life who fills my car with gas. I rarely do it myself.
  3. I ran a half marathon in something over three hours which is more time than some people take to run a full marathon.
  4. In the sportpix photo of me in the half marathon, I was eating a peanut butter sandwich and waving at people.
  5. I got an F on the softball throw every year in school because I could only throw it 50 feet. 
  6. I swam across the Iowa River once. It was a very dumb thing to do.
  7. I hate carnival rides that leave the ground or go fast.
  8. I told a man at a service station years ago that I thought my oil light was broken because it was going off and on. He said I didn't deserve to drive a car.
  9. Two things I can't do: math and cards.
  10. I played the French horn (badly) in high school.
  11. I never kill spiders, even if they are in the house. I have rescued a few from the sink and the tub. Eventually they dry off and run away.
  12. I have only flown in an airplane seven times. Three times to Philadelphia, once to Spokane, once to San Francisco, once to Arizona, and once to Iowa.
  13. I know how to make pierogis (Polish) and lefse (Norwegian).
  14. I'd like to learn to draw and play the concertina. Not at the same time.
  15. Yesterday I made a list of my 50 favorite books. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien was on the list.
  16. Since, October 1, 2006, I've written 1,903 blog posts.
  17. I never play the radio in the car when I'm driving.
  18. I eat peanut butter almost every day.
  19. I like social media but I think Pinterest is electronic hoarding.
  20. I love to diagram sentences.
  21. I have a binder for the recipes of each holiday. I save the menu, the recipes, and a few pictures. It's like the archive for my cooking life.
  22. I remember when it cost 25 cents to go to a movie and popcorn was a dime.
  23. I started school in Herman, Minnesota. I didn't go to kindergarten because they didn't have one.
  24. I taught my dog to give a high five.
  25. I can't believe it was so hard to come up with 25 random things.

read this!

My friend, Joanne, gave me this book: Read This! It's composed of lists of favorite books by employees of independent bookstores across the country. I read through it once, then went back to check off the books I had read, then went through it again and marked the ones that were my favorites, too. Here is my list of 50 favorite books.

1. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

2. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

3. Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

4. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

5. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

6. The World According to Garp by John Irving

7. Cider House Rules by John Irving

8. Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving

9. Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith

10. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

11. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

12. Dalva by Jim Harrison

13. True North by Jim Harrison

14. Returning to Earth by Jim Harrison

15. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

16. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

17. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

18. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

19. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

20. Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck

21. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

22. The Bird Artist by Howard Norman

23. What is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman

24. Charming Billy by Alice McDermott

25. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

26. Three Junes by Julia Glass

27. The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese

28. The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere on Earth by Bill Holm

29. Coming Home Crazy by Bill Holm

30. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

31. Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott

32. The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf

33. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

34. Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

35. Oranges by John McPhee

36. Into Thin Air by John Krakauer

37. Coming into the Country by John McPhee

38. Shadow Divers by Robert Kurston

39. Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

40. River Horse by William Least Heat Moon

41. Sea Biscuit by Laura Hildebrand

42. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

43. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

44. Bring Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel

45. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich

46. The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich

47. The Road Home by Jim Harrison

48. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

49. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

50. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

I'd love to know what's on your list of favorite books!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

reading and such

It's only 9:30 am and Regis and I are having a cup of coffee after going to Mankato to buy groceries and stop at Walgreen's. The garbage truck just came by and so did the street sweeper so we're in good shape on all fronts this morning. We're feeling pretty smug.

I'm preoccupied with my one remaining chemo treatment. I expected to be relieved but I'm not feeling that way so much. I'm feeling anxious and a bit sad. I always felt safe in the treatment room, like they were helping me to feel better and be healthier. Getting to the end feels like I'm on my own again.

We bought some meat for grilling even though we aren't optimistic about getting to grill soon. The forecast for this week is Winter Storm Yogi. What the hell. A sign of spring in Minnesota is that you can see a person in shorts and a t-shirt the same day you see a person in a snorkel parka.

I'm glad we don't watch television news when tragedies like the Boston bombing happen. I read about it and I have a much better filter that way. I can be informed but not inundated. Watching television news is bad for your brain.

My niece in Ohio is making garden snails these days. Aren't they cute? It's also nice to see that people in some places have been able to dig in the dirt and plant things!

Gus and Regis went to the dog park while I read for a while and took a nap. Gus wears boots so his feet don't get quite so muddy. He tolerates them well and he jumps right in the tub if he still needs a rinse off. What a good dog, Gus.

I wrote yesterday about stumbling onto Good Reads and I have enjoyed it. I wonder how books wind up on their site, though. They keep recommending Born Free to me and that came out originally in 1960.  What the hell. One thing I've noticed is that a LOT of books these days are part of series. Not my favorite kind of reading.

I've read a lot of Ian Rankin lately, and Colin Dexter. I'd read more of Colin Dexter if I could get them for my Kindle. I don't think my cataracts will allow me to read a trade paperback. I ordered a couple of Dennis Lahane's books this morning: Gone, Baby, Gone and Mystic River. I know they were both movies but I didn't see them. Not that I would remember the ending anyway.

I think it was easier when I was younger. I went to the library, I took out three or four books, I went home and read them. Now, I have too much access, too many easy ways to get books which now that I write it down is not a bad thing. Just thinking...

The plan of the day is to do the dishes, get dressed, read, and go to the winery. Sounds like a perfect day to me.

Monday, April 15, 2013

every day is saturday

It was 32 degrees and raining sideways when we went out to the winery yesterday. The meadow is still snow covered and the patio is wet and cold. They open in two weeks so we hope the weather warms up a little, although I have a feeling their fans are tough and will come no matter the weather. We bottled and labeled Fox Run, a sweet red wine. Not my favorite but it's their best seller. We had a good time.

Somehow I got hooked into the Good Reads website this weekend and I have spent hours rating books and looking at my recommendations. It feels like I'm not wasting time sitting here when I'm looking at books. Right? It's been fun to remember books I read years ago like A Separate Peace and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It's a visceral process as I obviously don't remember the plot of every book I've ever read. Sometimes I don't remember the plot of the book I read last week.

My friend, Joanne, gave me a book made up of favorite book lists from book store employees across the country. It was fun reading and now I'm going to go back and check the ones I've read so I can make my own list.

If you live in the north, you understand the need for sunlight and warmth this time of year. After a long winter of very short days and very cold temperatures, we crave the sun. Making this prolonged winter weather more difficult to tolerate. It doesn't do any good to complain about it as you just start resenting it more. But holy crap. I shouldn't have to wear snow boots the end of April! We want to get out the patio furniture! We want to barbecue! We're tired of chili and stew! We're tired of wool socks and stocking caps!

Gus spent the day with his cousin, Ace, yesterday. Ace is a little Boston terrier and they get along great. When we drove into the driveway at the end of the day, Gus poked his big head out between the living room curtains...he knows the sound of our car.

I've had a very social week. We went out to dinner on Saturday evening with family, we met nice people at the winery yesterday, I had long phone conversations with my cousin Deb and my mom, and tomorrow night we're going out for dinner with friends, Bob and Richie. It helps with the winter malaise.

I lost a pair of eyelashes over the weekend. I took them off not in the usual place and by the next morning they had disappeared. When they aren't stuck to your eyes or to the packaging, they're fragile and small and apt to stick to other things. They could blow away with a pouf of air. Apparently, that's what happened to these.

Make it a good week. Be sure to put have fun on your list of things to do!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

this and that

It was a good week for me. Not so much sleeping, a little more energy, and I put make-up on four times...even the eyelashes. All positive signs.

This is the beautiful bulb garden from my friends at River Rock. It's been blooming since Easter Sunday and it smells so nice. I love it!

We had our young friends, John and Amber, over for dinner last night. Since we didn't get home until 4:30, we stopped at HyVee and took care of the menu: two racks of already cooked ribs, twice baked potatoes, bread and salad, and a bundt cake for dessert. We always have a good time with them. Amber and I drink wine, Regis and John talk about man stuff, and we laugh a lot. It is such good therapy.

I had my 11th chemo treatment yesterday. And a consult with the radiation oncologist. He said radiation will be a good thing to do. I'll have 28 treatments on my breast, my neck lymph nodes, and my arm pit. I go in next week for the set-up and will probably start the first week in May. I had to watch a video on radiation. I had one of those moments like the first time I went to the cancer center. I thought...what?...cancer? Me? After all this time and all the treatments, I can still separate the two things in my mind....the reason and the result. Sigh.

I popped into Encore after chemo to do a little shopping. I found some great deals: a couple vests, a long white linen shirt, and a beautiful kimono. I've always wanted one but they were too spendy for me. This was 35 bucks and what a deal. It's gorgeous. I think I'll wear it out to Peter's birthday dinner tonight.

This is my trusty chemo pump that has been my weekly companion for the last three months. There is something soothing about the noise it makes. I've decided to leave my port in until I'm done with radiation. The nurse told me yesterday that sometimes people have to be hydrated during radiation and that would be easier with the port. I have to have it flushed once a month to prevent blood clots or I might leave it in longer. I'll be seeing the oncologist and having blood drawn every three months for the next two years.

The poor robins are trying to survive with no access to worms or nesting material. They visit the feeder often and I'm going to put out some yarn and string for them today. I know the grackles and starlings have to eat, too, but they are a pain in the ass. Beady eyed little hogs.

We are going to Pappageorge tonight to celebrate my baby boy's 26th birthday. How did he get that old? It should be a hoot of a time. I hope they have fish with mango salsa or crab cakes. My two favorites.

Tomorrow, we're going back to Morgan Creek to bottle wine. It's hard work but it's a hoot. And we get our wages in wine. What could be better?