Thursday, May 30, 2013

checking in and feeling lucky

Regis took this photo of Gus and me on the patio and then he artified it somehow. I like the effect. It looks like we were painted by Monet or one of those famous dudes.

When I was at the cancer center the other day, an older couple joined me at my table. The woman, wearing a wig, looked at my scarf and asked if I had brain cancer. No, I said, breast cancer. She said, oh, you're lucky, I have lung and brain cancer. Oh, my. There's a perspective for me. If you're going to get some bad shit, might as well be some bad shit they can be optimistic about.

Today is radiation treatment #18. I grouse a bit every morning and say I'm going to call in sick but of course, I don't. I trundle over there, wait with my beeper, and wander the halls in a blue gown. They give me a warm blanket and I close my eyes for the ten minutes or so that it takes to beam me up. Not so bad, all things considered.

The weather looks stormy again today. Betty and I stopped at the MVAC thrift store yesterday, then had lunch at the Boulder Tap. I hate all of their televisions but we had the most delicious pork carnitas tacos with chipotle mayo. I could ignore the televisions for a while to enjoy that meal again. Good and bad in everything.

My point about the weather was that we beat it home after lunch. We both craved a nap and we were nervous about storms. Living through a tornado makes a guy a little ticklish when it comes to black skies. We like to be home and have access to the basement.

Off to the Andreas Cancer Center. More later.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

cake, folks, and elephants

We recognized Memorial Day yesterday and celebrated Gus's birthday. I made the dog bone layer cake with the help of Alex and Ella. Monday morning, I cried because I can't even make a decent looking cake anymore. Regis delivered comfort and encouraged me to get another can of frosting and to warm it in the microwave a little bit so it would flow better. That worked. The art work on the cake is courtesy of Peter.

Elliot shows Betty some of the finer points of an iPad game.

Nice to have April join us with Peter again!

Ace and Gus enjoying a moment of peace. Or maybe I should say the rest of us enjoy a moment of peace while Ace and Gus are still for a minute.

Uncle Tom enjoys a low-carb beer.

Tiffany and Peter- probably bickering.

Action in the kitchen with Ella and Emily.

Back to radiation today. I had three days to forget about it so I sort of sunk into a stew of sleep, games, and reading. Today is back to reality with that morose doctor and stoney-faced nurse. It's not that bad but it ain't chemo either. In a contest of fun and personality, chemo would win hands down.

Old Regis and Young Regis made a trip to the Greenlawn Cemetery outside of St. Peter yesterday. It was established in the 1850's so contains the graves of many of St. Peter's pioneers as well as Civil War veterans. It's an interesting place. I think it's nice that Regis wants to impart some history of adopted community to his son.

They also went to Greenhill Cemetery to see the grave of George Engesser, who was a pioneer in St. Peter and belonged to the family of circus Engessers, hence the elephant. (This may not be historically accurate so don't use it in your social studies report!)

That's all the social commentary I have to report today. Happy gloomy Tuesday!

Monday, May 27, 2013

chocolate story

I loved your chocolate story (in the comments), Karen! I have a couple good stories about that myself. My cousin once got up in the night and made peanut butter toast. She woke up in the morning with it stuck to her pillow. She hadn't taken a bite. My own experience is not as dramatic as yours or Deb's, but just the other day I went in to take a nap with a graham cracker, one of those weird flat marshmallows, and a square of chocolate. I read for a while and munched on my uncooked smore. When I wandered back to the living room after a nap, I had chocolate dribbled all down my left arm but none on the sheets or anywhere else. How did I accomplish that? One of the dangers of nap-time eating!

More later. Must get busy and prepare for company today!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

early sunday

I'm awake early while Regis sleeps in for a while. We had such a lazy day yesterday, I'm surprised either of us could sleep last night. Regis did the dishes and made hoagies for dinner. I took naps, read my book, and played iPad games. Seriously, that is about it.

It's cold outside this morning. Cold and damp. I turned on our little faux fireplace to take the chill out of the air.

I went out to the patio to fill the jelly dishes again. If the orioles weren't so beautiful I would be grouchy about filling them three times a day. (I had to get down on my knees to fish out the last two jars of grape jelly at the grocery store the other day. A lot of folks are feeding orioles...or the orioles are shopping at HyVee.) A few grackles and robins sip at the jelly, too, but mostly it's orioles of both kinds, two at each feeder and several waiting in the trees.

One year we had so many gold finches it was like a bright yellow cloud around the feeder. It has eight little perches and they were all filled...with a waiting line in the flowering crab tree. We need a maître d’hôtel for our bird dining area.

I finished Ordinary Grace last night. I'm not much for writing book reviews but I can say I would give this one five stars. It was a wonderful story, the characters were interesting and real, and the writing was lyrical. I almost hated to finish it....and wish I could go back and read it again for the first time. I think it will be on my list of all-time favorite books.

I've been writing about (and to) my friend, Karen on this blog. I'm not sure it was all very clear what was going on (as I tried to write publicly to her and respect her privacy), but her husband of 46 years passed away suddenly. He had been treated for multiple myeloma and Karen has been diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She had to leave Hugh's side during his last 24 hours to receive treatment herself. It breaks my heart to think about her having to do that.

Karen has written powerfully and poignantly about their marriage and friendship, about their struggles (nuclear wars?) with cancer, and about the loss of sweet Hugh in her life. I go back often to read her emails, her blog comments, and her writing on other sites. Karen started out as an occasional commenter on my blog and now we've become friends and she is important to me. Bless your heart, Karen.

Old Regis and Young Regis went to the primary school in town to spend some time playing games, reading, and having a water balloon toss. They called it Game Day with Dad but Regis called it Bring a Dude to Lunch Day. I like that better. It looks like a good time was had by all.

It's raining lightly here. The very good news is that we got our lawn raked and the grass seed that we bought thrown down onto the dirt. TA DA! Most years, I buy grass seed then forget to use it or can't find it if I intend to use it. Then the mice scatter it around the garage. Last year I left it on the front step for so long that  the chipmunks who live under our front steps ate a hole in the bag, grass seed poured forth onto the patio and started to grow in the cracks between the bricks. Hell, it doesn't grow that well in the dirt.

Here's to a rainy day. I can feel a nap coming on soon. I've been awake since 6 o'clock, after all.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

what happened to me?

I can't believe I haven't written on my blog since Wednesday. Jill wrote this afternoon to see if I had slipped into the abyss. Nope, but I did spend the last few days doing a lot of sleeping and escaping via novels and iPad games. Arrghghgh. I can't even count the number of games I've played. It's nauseating.

I'm over the hump with radiation. Fifteen down and thirteen to go. I know it isn't so bad but I feel like I'm on the white-knuckle express. I want it to be over but I'm afraid to have it actually be over.

On Friday, we took Gus to the Paw to play. They like to take pictures and publish them on their Facebook page. They meaning the people not the dogs. I know it looks like a dog melee but they are very well behaved.

We bought our groceries for the week and I did a little thrift store shopping. I found these fancy men's shirts on the vintage rack. There were about eight of them in different wild plaids. If they had been cheaper than six bucks it would have been fun to get them for a family dress-up photo. Yeah, and I don't think this shirt is vintage...just ugly. I did find a nice denim skirt for three dollars at MVAC, my favorite thrift store. Their new location is very spiffy.

The weather this week has reminded me of being at Lake Miltona. My mom and dad had a cabin there for many years and we had great times. Early morning coffee on the deck, campfires on the beach at night, raking the sand, watching hummingbirds, and cool, damp breezes like we have today.

I read something the other day about how there is a movement afoot to eliminate the apostrophe. Some linguists say it would make no difference in our ability to read and get meaning...the context will communicate just fine. I liked grammar so I get why some people are opposed but really, does it matter? I've read books without quotation marks and thought that was a great idea. It took about two pages to figure out the deal. Much of punctuation is a distraction and I think we would survive the loss of the apostrophe. Put away your red pens, English teachers of America!

There are two orioles in the jelly feeders and a big fat squirrel in the tray feeder. My neighbor deports squirrels but I think it's like trying to drain the ocean with a teaspoon. We're on our third jar of jelly and the orioles don't show much interest in slowing down. After their eggs hatch, I guess they start eating bugs and caterpillars they find in the trees.

Ella is coming over tomorrow to help make a birthday cake for Gus. It's for us to eat in celebration, not for Gus to eat. We're having the kids and all over for a feast on Monday. We're making indoor pulled pork. I envision people eating this on tortillas with salsa and cheese and sour cream. Regis informs me, however, that there might be people who have an aversion to this idea so we'll provide a few buns for the tortilla-phobes.

Speaking of Gus and cake. I bought the dog-bone shaped pan on Amazon, were we have free shipping. I spotted a five ounce bottle of dog-bone shaped sprinkles that I thought would be fun but I would have to pay shipping on those. Just for a kick, I checked the cost of shipping. Forty five dollars! Forty five dollars to ship a bottles of sprinkles. What the hell. I didn't order them. Haha!

I have a book I'm anxious to read tonight. I'm about halfway through Ordinary Grace, William Kent Kruger's newest book. I love it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

fourteen tomorrow

Tomorrow is my 14th radiation treatment. I'm not sure that's cause for celebration so I decided not to go with fireworks. It means I can start counting down. As I told a friend in the coffee shop yesterday, this is not something a guy would sign up for but it's gone alright for something to be dreaded. Friday I start counting down.

I'm ambivalent about finishing radiation because I'm ambivalent about cancer. I still have moments when I realize this is me we're talking about and not someone else. Wait, wait...what? I feel like I have done pretty well through this, even with my mental phase in the winter, but it's been a long ass haul. Can I ever go back to my normal self? Do the fears go away?

This looks like the radiation machine I hook up with every day. It might be called a linear accelerator...I'm not sure. It works like this: the blue thing shoots out a ray of particles and the rectangular thing shoots out a ray of particles and then there's a particle shit storm somewhere over my chest. It's what I visualize as I'm lying there...tiny Star Wars like figures having a light saber duel in the air. Fucking with those cancer cells.

This is Mr. Crane who lives in a pond near my niece, Darby. She's been fascinated by him and got her mom to help with the stake-out so they could get this shot. Nice work!

This is Mr. Tinkles. He's a 20 pound cat who has scraped a bald streak down his belly by dragging himself onto furniture. I think he has learned to open the Friskies cabinet while they are at work.

We have been amazed at the birds this year, as you know. This afternoon there was an oriole family reunion in the yard, with sometimes six orioles at a time fighting for a place at the jelly bowls. I filled them up last night and then again this afternoon. They were picked cleaned.

With all there is to eat out there, you wouldn't think they would have to scrap but they do. There is one very temperamental Orchard oriole, a second year male, who thinks he rules the roost. Maybe birds get that testosterone thing going on, too.

I lounged in bed for a while this afternoon nursing a sinus headache and reading. I finished The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout and started Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger. I've only just started the second one but it has a similar tone to the first...regret, poignancy, grief, redemption. Sad and powerful. I might have passed through my mystery phase for a while.

I think I'll wander down to the liquor store to buy a nice pinot noir for dinner. Red goes well with hot dogs, right?

it's been a great year for birds!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

rhubarb, tornado, and radiation

I made a mental list of things to do yesterday. I decided if I only had two things on it, the chances were better at getting them done. One of the things was to move the rhubarb from its shady spot on the north side of the house to the south side. I took my rhubarb for a walk in the Radio Flyer to the sunny side of the yard. Hahaha!

Since I was out there, gloved and holding a shovel, I transplanted some hosta, moved some chives closer to the bunny, and had Young Regis dig out a couple of giant Autumn Joy sedum. I put them in the wagon and walked it down to my friend, Cheryl's, house. She recognized the wagon and the bag on a FB post and knew it was me and not the sedum fairies.

After all of that, I had to take a nap.

Here we are at Suzette's. Wonder of the internet, Jack sent these pictures via email after they disappeared from our phones. This is my first time out in public with very little hair.

Kathy and I have been friends since we were in junior high. They didn't call it middle school in those days. Middle school sounds so gentle, like an extension of elementary school. This was junior high as in get ready for an ass kickin' in high school, kid. We spent many nights together during those years. We'd go to a football game and her dad would drive 25 miles into town to fetch us. Or we'd go roller skating and walk to my house where we talked and laughed into the night.

I signed up on Twitter to follow some people who identified as breast cancer survivors. Frankly, it scared the shit out of me so I had to unfollow them for a few days. I support the sisterhood and I admire the work they are doing but I can't do a daily diet of it, at least not right now. I did buy the Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer book last week because I think I am ready to know more about this than when my next appointment is. Seriously, that is all I could handle for a while. head,

I tried to find a photo online that was similar to the radiation machine I use. No dice. Maybe I can ask them if I can take a picture of it with my phone. It's a huge monster. It has three giant rotating heads. The rays come out of one head, they take x-rays with another, and I'm not sure what the third one is for.

I watched some the coverage of the Moore, OK tornado last night and it broke my heart. It's like a bomb went off there. The children, about the ages of our grandchildren, were the saddest and most frightening. I know this tornado was more catastrophic than the one that struck St. Peter in 1998, but so much of the story is reminiscent...huge lights, the sound of generators and helicopters, so many homes flattened. It's very hard to look at the pictures.

Jill is taking me to get irradiated today. #12 of 28...almost half-way! We'll probably have coffee or breakfast when I'm done...she said my wish is her command (Right, Jill?) so I think I'll ask her to drive me to San Diego. Tell Larry we'll be gone a while!

Monday, May 20, 2013

no wine from Bruce

A quote from his email:

I concur; ND wines suck!  Rhubarb, chokecherry, and jalapeno?  Gack!

this will be short

I had an agenda for today and I accomplished all the action items. (Yuck, yuck...) I took my rhubarb for a walk to the sunny side of the yard as it did not like living in the shadow of the garbage dumpster. I transplanted hosta and I dragged a couple Autumn Joy sedum down to my friend, Cheryl's house in the red wagon.

I've discovered the internet's cure for short term memory problems. Maybe cure is not the right word. I lost a bag full of oranges. I bought them a week ago for the orioles. I've changed the oranges two to three times and now they are gone. Regis calls it CUI...changing under the influence. I'm not denying. That could be true.

The orioles love the cara cara oranges that are $2.99 a pound. Holy crap.

We have had wonderful birds this spring. Over the past weekend, we saw this bird... a ruby crowned kinglet. They only migrate through this part of the state on their way to northern Minnesota. They probably heard there is still ice on the lakes up there and decided to stick around here where at least we have put away our winter boots and mittens.

Notice to offspring and people who visit our home for parties and such:

We are planning a party this weekend to celebrate Memorial Day and Gus's second birthday. We're making smoked pork butt tacos, pico de gallo, and whatever else strikes my fancy or yours. If you're reading this, consider yourself invited. Just let me know so we can buy an extra butt. Hahaha!

We aren't sure about the day yet....Saturday or Monday, weather dependent. Stay in touch and we'll decide as the forecast becomes available. If you're inclined to bring something, we'd love it. Just none of that jar salsa from New York City...get a rope.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

waking to thunder

We've had a lot of rain in the past few days and today, we're in a flash flood watch. Our trees and grass and flowers are thankful. It was so dry last summer and we can't even remember the last time we had a thunderstorm.

We woke early to thunder this morning so I may feel the need to return to bed for a while. It's dark and rumbley...perfect weather for sleeping late.

We met good friends, Jack and Kathy, for dinner at Suzette's last night. It's a funky old Bridgeman's building but the food and the service are fabulous. I had halibut with a creamy dill sauce and garlic mashed potatoes. Regis and I shared a piece of tiramisu for dessert that was so good I'm pretty sure we both purred. There were other pictures but they have disappeared into cyber space for now. We're trying to resurrect them.

Check out the link to Suzette's and read the chef's story. It's amazing. I forgot to mention the squash soup that I think was flavored with saffron. Oh, my. So good.

That's it for this morning. Just a few lazy reminiscences about our evening. I'm going back to bed to read and listen to the rain for a while.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

slugging rats in the gutter

My friend, Karen, calls what I went through one evening and morning this week slugging rats in the gutter. I love that. It's pretty descriptive of the crap that hits the fan but it also hints that it doesn't last forever and...mine didn't. If you are slugging rats in the gutter today, I hope they're few and slow.

We're doing our usual coffee drinking this morning, watching the birds and the sky. An ominous thunderstorm appeared on the horizon but seems to have wandered onto some other unsuspecting county.

We're thankful for all the rain we got yesterday. Maybe now I can stop worrying about wildfires. I haven't seen such a downpour in several years. We had more rain during the night, with thunder and lightening. I was going to work in the garden today but it's too muddy. Oh, darn.

The grass is making a glorious comeback after the past year's drought. I know this because there is a gas powered machine going every waking moment in our neighborhood. Not at our house as we like our grass long. We think of it as making oxygen.

Elliot came for a visit last night. We stopped at McDonald's, went to Tom and Betty's house, came back here to take a walk around the block, and sat on the patio. When we finally sat down on the swing, he said, "Nana, you forgot three things: a pillow, a blanket, and a snack." This picture is from St. Patrick's can tell by the lights on the tree. It's one of my favorite pictures of him because he's laughing himself silly. Nothing like a little kid laughing to lighten your heart.

I have a list of things I should do today but we'll see how that progresses. It's so tempting to sit and watch the orioles in the redbud tree.

There's my whoop ass for the day!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Deb and Gus

my brief trip through the doldrums of life

I knew I would be fine later and I am.

I saw my oncologist this morning and he was, as usual, uplifting. He talked about things I could do to help prevent recurrence...limit wine, exercise my body and my brain, eat healthy. All good things to do. I'll see him again in a month to talk about removing my port and about the hormone I'll take for five years.

I hope I didn't alarm anyone (Sorry, Mom.) with my dismal attitude this morning. All is well. Here's my list of reasons to be happy:

  1. I'm getting some of the best medical care in the world.
  2. I have a sweet husband who takes me to so many appointments.
  3. I have a cozy bedroom where I can curl up with a book and take a nap.
  4. My garden is springing forth!
  5. Elliot is coming to see us this evening and we're going to pay a visit to Tom and Betty.
  6. My prognosis is very good.
  7. I have good friends and family sending me light and love.
  8. We have beautiful birds in our yard.
  9. My cousin, Deb, made a visit this week. She always makes me laugh.
  10. We have two beautiful blooming trees in the front yard.
  11. Our refrigerator is broken but Reggie came to help fix it. Thanks, kid!
  12. Catie is graduating from the U of M nursing program this afternoon.
Not a bad list for an old broad who was poised on the bridge this morning. Hahahaha! Not quite. I'm just a bit of a drama queen...but I do appreciate the support in my time of need. Thanks to everyone who wrote.

curling up and feeling sad


Cécile Veilhan

Yesterday I had my first follow-up meeting with my research nurse. I've gotten very attached to her. I know I'll see her many times in the future but for some reason this last visit made me sad and took me back to an emotional place I thought I had left long ago.

Even though the weather was beautiful, the crab apple and the redbud are blooming, and even though I had a lovely visit with my cousin the last two days, I felt like shit last night. I felt like I did in January. I was so tired I took several naps and went to bed at 7 o'clock. I felt sad and lonely and discouraged and...flat.

I'm not going to try to analyze this too much. It just is what it is and I know it will pass.

I'm not feeling sorry for myself either. I know everybody has crap to deal with. Every day, people have much worse crap than this to deal with. Something could come along and clothesline a guy at any time. Fact of life. I am not alone in this.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

dear bruce in north dakota

Dear Bruce,
After I made disparaging remarks about the North Dakotans ability to make good pasta, you sent me this wonderful assortment of pasta and dumplings. I will be happy to prepare and sample each one and I can tell by the packaging and the marketing that this is a high quality product. (Dreamfields pasta is made from the finest durum wheat semolina to give you delicious old-world taste and al dente texture for your special pasta dishes. With Dreamfields you get the healthy advantage, making Dreamfields the perfect pasta for health conscious pasta lovers.)

I certainly appreciate your sensitivity to my remarks and your willingness to represent your state by changing my mind about Dreamfields pasta. I don't claim to hold much sway with the average pasta consumer but I do have a fairly far-reaching audience of readers and I'm sure they will take my endorsements to heart.

One more thing, Bruce. I'm pretty sure last time I was in your fair state, I had a glass of wine that I considered to be below par. I certainly would not want my readers to have the impression that's true of all North Dakota wines so if you'd like to try to change my mind on that one, samples would be eagerly accepted. 

I think I could spin this into a pretty good gig. Hahahaha!!!

Thanks for the pasta, Bruce. We'll enjoy it!

Gus looking dapper in the morning.

Gus takes a nap on my chair.

When a cardinal has a bad hair day.

Darby at her art show.

Evynne at her art show.

My cousin. Deb, is coming for a visit today. We always have fun!

two old friends go to radiation

Betty took me to radiation yesterday. She came in and waited with a cup of coffee. I forgot to return my beeper, forgot to take the key out of the dressing room door, and forgot to grab a towel. I think they should provide an attendant as there a lot of addled folks wandering unsupervised around that place.

The other day, an old pantsless gentleman forgot to close his blue robe. Ah, well. We're all sort of anonymous in there anyway. If he's having radiation on a part beneath his underwear, he probably doesn't give a damn who he flashes.

Betty and I went to Encore and scored some great bargains, then went to Pappageorge to celebrate.   Betty's had cancer, too, and we talked about what scares us and what doesn't. Mostly, we have decided to forge ahead, come what may. Nobody gets out alive and nobody knows how they're going until they're gone. So why be afraid? Why worry?

I came home to take a long nap and when I woke up, Regis and I relaxed on the patio for the evening. It was a hundred degrees yesterday afternoon and only fifty when we got up this morning.

Ella suggested I get something to shade the sunny end of the patio swing. I found this great scarf at Encore and thought it would be perfect. Good idea, Ella!

Moving on into the day. Gus will come with us to Mankato today. He loves to go through the pharmacy drive-up window because they always give him a treat. My sweet husband, my furry dog, and a beautiful spring day. I have much for which to be grateful this day.