Thursday, November 8, 2012

Whereupon I Tell You that Lillian Loved Laughter and Lilacs


Once upon a time Hubby and I lived in California in a small rural community.  Each Sunday we drove 12 miles "up the hill" to the town where we went to church.  On the way we often picked up Lillian who resided at an assisted care facility, a small rural home where six to ten elderly persons resided.
 
Hubby and I met Lillian when one of the deacons of our church asked if we could pick her up on our way to church. Lillian was a dear woman and always ready to engage in conversation. She enjoyed sitting up front with Hubby and delighted us with her sweet spirit and alert mind and ready smile. Her smile was as wide as an ocean and always genuine.  She loved going to church. We loved taking her.   
Lillian loved flowers and especially lilacs.  A couple months after she died I had a dream about her. I wrote it down in the form of a poem. I'm so glad I did for I fear I would have forgotten the sweetness of this dream had I not done so.



Sweet Lillian

I dreamt of Sweet Lillian.
She said she saw lilacs in the sky.
I thought her words strange
   that she misspoke
   or saw things that were not there.
Yet she laughed
   with that wide laugh of her youth.
So I looked to see
   what made her throw back her head
   in wide display of laughter,
And there
   spread across the blue-lavender sky
   were lilacs in full bloom
   soft canopy of lavender blue.
In delight
   I joined my grateful laughter with hers.
Sweet Lillian.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Whereupon I Avoided Dozens of Flat Tires and Got Felled By Roadkill

Remember in July when I reported saving my neighbors countless flat tires?  On my daily walks I pick up nails off the street...lots of nails.  I save them in a jar and I showed them to you in July.  One of these days I'm going to take that jar down to the city office and tell them the street sweeper needs to sweep more often!

In the meantime...I keep walking...and I keep finding nails.

But this week, driving on brand new tires one of the tires began losing air.  We took it to the dealer who presented us this little bit of animal bone as souvenir. Even though we had not directly hit a "roadkill" our car has straddled many this fall. Lots of raccoon and skunks didn't make it safely across the highway.  And one of those little beasties, with his sensibilities (and bits of bone) scattered across the road, managed to snag one of our new tires!

Along with the souvenir the dealer presented us with a repair bill.  At least the poor little beastie didn't kill the tire completely and we were fortunate to pay only for repair and not a brand-new tire. Yet. We pray it holds.

Who would think!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Could He Have Failed? I Don't Think So. And Scripture Backs Me Up!

Recently I visited a Christian blog that was reviewing a book by a noted theologian.  No, I am not going to name the book...suffice it to say that one of the chapters began with a statement in regard to the temptation of Christ (wherein Satan offered him the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would only bow down to him).   

Now I want to say that I have not read the rest of this book and am not going to name the book.  You can find it easily enough if you google portions of the following sentences therein.

The topic of the book is "how to deal with temptations" (or at least that's what I got from the review).  The author used the following  impossible scenario as an intro.  

"If Jesus had accepted it (the devil's offer of the kingdoms of the world) Satan would have surrendered his reign of terror.  Jesus could have directed the kingdoms of the world however he wanted.  No more babies would be miscarried. No more women would die in childbirth. Ended immediately would be all human slavery, all genocide, all disease, all poverty, all torture, and all ecological catastrophes."

This scenario IS IMPOSSIBLE, theologically speaking. 

The author's premise of what might have transpired IF Jesus HAD accepted Satan's offer is true only IF following are true:
  1. ...if Satan is NOT a liar and can (or even will) deliver what he promises
  2. ...only if Satan is willing to forego the TOTAL destruction of humankind, sinners or no, and allow man to live in "earthly" peace once Jesus stepped back from his appointed, fore-ordained, all-empowered work.
  3. ...ONLY if Satan has full power over the things of this world. We know that he does not (Job Chapter 1).  He can do only so far as God allows. There is nothing in the Bible that infers Satan has full control over earthly matters, including kingdoms, neither then nor now. God is the One who sets up and tears down.  Yes, Satan works and works mightily. My point is that the kingdoms were not HIS to GIVE!
  4. Lastly, it is true only if it were POSSIBLE for God's ordained plan of salvation to fail. God is all-powerful. What He ordains, He brings about. And He ordained that the Son would not fail.
None of these four prerequisites is possible. NONE!

Could Jesus have failed? Could He have yielded to Satan's temptations?  Let's take a look at what Scripture tells us.
  • Luke 22:22 "For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined.."
  • Acts 2:23  "this man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge  of God, you (men of Israel vs.. 22) nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put him to death." 
  • Acts 3:18 "But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.
  • Acts 4:28 "...to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur." 
  • Acts 10:42 "...this is the One who has been appointed by God a Judge of the living and the dead."
  • Acts 17:31  "He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."
What God ordains He brings about.  He does NOT TRY something only to have it fail.  He sent the Son into the world, knowing that what He planned the Son would accomplish.  It was foreordained (ordered from the beginning) and predestined (destined to happen exactly as ordained).

To think anything less is to question the complete sovereignty of God and to denigrate His redemptive power to nothing.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Ears That Hear

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.  Every woman knows about breast cancer.  Very few know the  symptoms of ovarian. Last month I was a guest blogger at the Scope Blog published by the Stanford School of Medicine. I've printed my column almost in its entirety.  Please read on.

Several years ago we moved back to the Midwest, and I needed to find a family physician. I opted for a female doctor, hoping that as a woman she might be more tuned to my aging female body and to its potential health problems. Potential, I say, because I thought I was in good health.  (Disclaimer...my new doctor was practicing in the Bigger City, not here in our hometown.)

I liked my new doctor and enjoyed my annual physicals and other visits. But looking back, I wish she would have listened more closely to my seemingly minor complaints. I may have been ignorant about the subtle and near-silent symptoms of ovarian cancer, including rib pain and the frequent need to urinate, day and night, but my doctor should have known. I expected her to know.

It was in 2007 when I first mentioned nightly pain under the edge of my bottom right rib.   I told my Doc I couldn’t sleep on my right side. Six months later I mentioned it again, and in late 2008 I once more mentioned the nagging discomfort. During that visit my doctor did a two-second rectovaginal pelvic examination and, as part of my physical, a full blood work-up. The results were still at the lab so before I left I asked her to send me a print-out.
 
Several days later my blood results arrived in the mail. Three pages. At the top of the first page my doctor had written, “Looks great!” endorsed by an inked smiley face. I casually scanned down the first page. Everything looked normal. But when I got to the third page I noticed my alkaline phosphatase reading was abnormally high, and I did what any normal person does these days: I Googled. Possibilities included problems with the gall bladder or liver and that dastardly word “cancer.” (Note! Always ask for copies of blood labs and other tests and read them.)

Naturally, I opted to think it was a gall bladder problem and asked for an ultrasound, which showed a large gallstone that I went in to get removed. 

My gall bladder surgeon was the one to give me the bad news. As I came out from under the anesthesia, his face swirled in the white light above me while he told me he had found cancer in my abdomen and on my liver (right where I had been experiencing pain). I remember distinctly the photos he showed me. Still under the influence of anesthesia, I replied quietly, “That is not good news.”

Fortunately for me, my surgeon referred me to a Gyno/Onc who debulked me, removed 95 percent of the cancer, tied my intestines into little “animal balloons” (I jest only slightly), returned them to my ab cavity and put me back together with 43 metal staples. I had just endured the “mother of all surgeries.” It was a brutal surgery but without it I would be long dead. The official diagnosis was ovarian cancer (stage III-C), and chemo followed. And followed. And followed.

Three and a half years later, I’m on my 5th chemo regimen. All things considered I’m doing fairly well: I lead an active life, do some volunteer work, take care of my home. I’m grateful to be alive. (Yes, I've been bald. Three Times!)

But I can’t help but think that if my doctor had listened more closely, more sharply, with “ears that hear,” to my ongoing complaints about rib pain, or if she had provided me with a simple informational brochure so I would been more knowledgeable, perhaps I would have been diagnosed long before Stage III-C.  

Every woman knows about breast cancer. But very few know about the symptoms or diagnostic tests associated with ovarian cancer – which could be why most of us are diagnosed late in the game, when statistics for survival are grim. Awareness is the most important piece of diagnosis – awareness by both the medical professional and the patient – and so I ask doctors to educate themselves and their patients about this deadly cancer.

-----------------------------

Perhaps it was unfair, but I "fired" that female doctor. Now I work with a family practitioner in our small town.  He watches over my overall health and follows my progress (or lack of it) in regards to my chemo. I like it that he's one of my neighbors and now and then I catch a glimpse of him riding his bicycle home after a long day at the clinic. Without using his hands on the handlebars!  Yikes! I like it even more when he takes the time to sit and really listen as we discuss what is going on in my "health".  

And those "silent symptoms" of ovarian cancer?  They can be easily mistaken for digestive and other problems.  But if symptoms are persistent, YOU be persistent with your Doc. Symptoms can include:
  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain (including under the bottom right rib)
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • Need to urinate urgently or often (day and/or night)
  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach or heartburn
  • Back pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Constipation
  • Menstrual changes
  • (in my case, a mild anemia with no known cause)
If symptoms persist daily for more than two weeks the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition advises you to ask your physician for a combination pelvic/rectal exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and CA-125 blood test.  Tell 'em I sent ya.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Betcha Never Found Anything Like This While Out Walking!

Remember when I mentioned saving lotsa folks from having flat tires...by picking up stray nails during my walks around town?   Well, look what I found this week.  I believe these are blanks from a starter gun.  There were originally ten bullets.  I found only nine.  The nail was found during the same walk.

It didn't seem like a good idea to leave them in the street.  They would make an awful pop if someone ran over them in such a way that they might "fire".

And it didn't seem like a good idea to toss them in the garbage either!  Just think of the garbage truck exploding the caps as the truck compressed my garbage bag!

So I took them to the local police station and let them deal with the disposal.

Betcha never found anything like that on any of YOUR walks, now have ya!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Spaghetti On the Floor? Or How I Recycle an Electric Blanket

Aww, it only LOOKS like spaghetti.

These strands are the wires pulled from a non-functioning twin-size electric blanket.  The blanket was in good condition, less than a year old, but the "electric" part quit working.  (I would think electric blankets should last more than a year...but, whatever!!!)

I discovered it's a simple task to snip around the connecting unit, then begin pulling wires. When I could pull no more, I cut the wire and found another to pull. It took several efforts to get at all the wires. The finishing touch was to stitch down the cut area and toss it into the washing machine.  

(Don't use your best sewing scissors to snip wires...find the clutzy pair that resides in your handy-dandy tool box.)

Next month this "new" upcycled cream-colored blanket, freshly laundered, will go on our church's "free" garage sale.  Hopefully, some child will be a bit warmer this winter. 

The "spaghetti" went in the trash.  I suppose I could recycle the copper but I don't know where. And the wire is so tiny, I don't think it's worth a lot to anyone. 

Nonetheless...if someone sets up mining operations someday in our landfills in order to harvest the metals we have tossed away, perhaps these wires will contribute to future recycling.  *smile*
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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Upon Which I Show You How to Fix Small Holes in Your Vinyl Siding - CHEAP

Hale damage to vinyl siding
A couple years ago we had a few heavy-duty hail storms go through town.  A lot of folks got new roofs out of that thanks to hefty insurance checks.  But our roof, barely one year old, had only a couple nicks and no real damage.  (Still, even though we paid for it ourselves the prior year, we're happy to have been able to do so.)



The hail DID put a few small holes in our 40-year-old vinyl siding. The stuff gets brittle with time.  We decided to do a simple repair job that cost us all of $5.00 for materials.



Here's my supply list. Sample siding, Scotch tape to hold it temporarily in place, DAP auto/marine silicone sealant in a tube, and scissors to cut the tip of the sealant.
Supplies necessary to the fixit job!



We found free samples of siding of the same color at Lowe's.  I asked for a half dozen pieces and told them we weren't planning to buy siding...just needed some patch material.  They sent us away with their blessing. (We buy plenty of other supplies there!)



The repair was easy as could be. First I washed the dust off the siding, drying it carefully. Then I dabbed some of the silicone sealant on the back of the sample, put it into position, and taped it to hold it securely till the silicone set up.  The tape was probably not necessary but it took only a minute. The next day I removed the tape and the repair was solidly secured.

Georgia Pacific sample of vinyl siding
Perfect color match


A year later, the repair is still holding and is almost not noticeable unless one is looking for it.   Of course, if your damage is extensive, especially if it is covered by insurance, this is not your remedy.  But in our case it was perfect.


You can tell 'em you got the idea from WhiteStone!  *smile*
P.S. Disclaimer! We are not affiliated in any way with any of the products named herein...just happy customers.  (We had no leftover pieces of the original siding...if you do, simply cut to an appropriate size and apply a patch, sealing the edges well with the silicone.)
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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Whereupon I Almost Obtain a Medical Degree and Also Extol Bag Balm

Sometimes I think I should have a medical degree.  I kid you not. In the three and a half years since being diagnosed with ovarian cancer I believe I've Googled every symptom under the sun and also every drug combo available for treatment.

I've learned that caffeine may slighty inhibit the efficacy (I love that word) of topotecan.  I didn't know that after my first dosage.  But by my second, I had come across that little tidbit of information and for the duration (of the topotecan treatments) I gave up my morning coffee which consists of two or three cups of instant Folgers.  I'm not a caffeine fanatic as such...it's the ritual of selecting a cup, scooping and stirring the coffee granules, nuking in the microwave, sitting down with my Bible or sometimes yesterday's newspaper still lying unread on the table.  I love that morning ritual. But I gave up my coffee for the duration until the topotecan, like all my previous chemo drugs, stopped working.
Palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia.
Day 28 of Cycle 3


Thanks to Google I'm quite well versed on peripheral neuropathy, ocular migraines, palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia (PPE), and other side-effects of chemotherapy. PPE, otherwise known as hand/foot syndrome, is a widely known side-effect of the chemo drug Doxil. I'm not on Doxil, but I am on its virtual twin, a drug called Lipo-Dox imported from India.  (Doxil, the American drug, is currently unavailable.)

I've learned that the lowly Bag Balm, a veterinary product originally intended to soothe the udders of milk cows, is a soothing balm for hand-foot syndrome. I buy mine at the local farm store on the edge of town and the past three weeks have slathered it twice daily on my poor, tender, reddened feet.  Thanks to Bag Balm my toes healed and are now merely "red and tender" this time round.

Thanks to an online forum for ovarian cancer patients I've become knowledgeable about various treatments, supplements (some advised, some not advised, some ill-advised), the importance of staying active, and maintaining a positive attitude.

Bag Balm, the farmer's friend (and mine)
It's that last one that is difficult. Some compare attitude to the half-full/half-empty glass.  But frankly, at my age, and with my diagnosis, I don't see the "half" as quite accurate.  I figure my glass, in terms of future longevity, is nearing "empty".  Yes, I may have a few years left. Three? Two? Four? Seven?  Who knows. My cancer can metastasize...any time!

Lipo-Dox is my fifth chemo regimen (sixth if I count the few weeks of tamoxifen taken jointly with my third regimen).  I use one drug until it stops working. When my tumor marker begins rising quickly, we know the chemo is no longer working. And we try the next drug.

Frankly I'm amazed.  I've been on carbo/taxol, carbo/taxol/avastin, carbo/gemzar, topotecan, and now Lipo-Dox.   I'm amazed my body is still in decent condition.  Up until recently I've been walking two miles several times a week.  Last month's hand-foot syndrome put the kibosh on walking. At least temporarily.

I'm trying to remain positive...not that the drugs will cure me. I know they won't. Not after so many recurrences, not unless there is a miracle from God Himself.  Nevertheless, I remain positive that treatment will keep me stable for a good while yet.

Some of my online friends have achieved long months or even years of remission.  But more of them are like myself, going through one chemo regimen after another, hoping for a few months in between to rest up for the next drug.

Many of these friends are Christians and recognize that the Bible tells us that God knows our every day before we are even born (Psalm 139:16).  They know that Christians, like everyone else, go through the ordinary travails of life in this world, including cancer.  They know, too, that God is the giver of courage and of faith itself (Ephesians 2:8-9).  As Christians we know that God is with us as we walk through the fire (Isaiah 43:2). We will not be overwhelmed. Instead we will praise God until that very last drop of water in that proverbial half-full/half-empty glass is gone.

May your day be full of good things. As is mine.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Early Morning Emergency -- A ROAR in the Garage!

Our neighbor rang our doorbell this morning at 6:30 am.  I knew something must be amiss but I never expected his next words.  "Your car is running in your garage!"  He and his wife had stepped out on their back deck for their morning coffee and heard the roar of the engine!

Ours is a detached garage. And hubby drove the car yesterday afternoon!  Could he have possibly exited without turning off the car?  If so, the poor car had been running ALL NIGHT LONG!  That is not the sort of news a proud car owner wishes to hear.

I grabbed the garage keys and ran out the backdoor. As I skipped down the steps of the deck I could hear the ROAR!  The closer I got, the louder it became! When I opened the garage door it sounded as if the engine was running at a horrendously fast idle and I thought to myself, "This can't be good for the engine!"  I saw $$$ signs floating in front of my eyes...floating and flying across town to the mechanic!
No key in the ignition!!!

But Lo! And Behold! There were no keys in the ignition. Now I know some cars run without the keys but ours does not.

The ROAR continued!

Then my eyes fell on the leaf blower hanging on the side wall.  It was running full blast!

I KNOW hubby would never have exited the garage with that ROAR in his ears.

The only thing we can figure is that the switch was not turned off securely!  We have a wall switch like that...if one is not careful, it stops in the center position instead of "off".


In the past we've had our paper shredder begin running spontaneously.  In the middle of the night!  It's quite startling to all of a sudden, in the quiet of the night, to hear a high-pitched whine start resounding through the house.  I've read that paper shredders can do this. And they have been known to start fires.  So now we always keep it unplugged except when in use.

The leaf blower is now unplugged, too.

And our nice little black car is just fine!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Quilting Biddies Have an Evening of Laughter

I was reading some old journal entries today and came upon these notes I jotted down nearly twenty years ago.  Several of us had decided to form a small quilting group and met on a regular basis at each other's homes.  Here's the conversation from one such meeting as near as I could record it.  There's actually more, but due to space, decided to omit about half the evening.
----------------------------------------------------------------------

She had been talking and telling stories. She was a natural story-teller.  The others could not keep from laughing as she spun the words, rolled her eyes, waved her hands.

"They sent his ashes home to me."  She was talking about her deceased brother-in-law.

"Did they send them UPS?"

"No, Federal Express."

"Did they insure them?"

"No, but I had to sign for them. And they wanted me to sprinkle them around the tree in the yard where they used to live."  She made a circle with her hand around an imaginary tree.

They were laughing and couldn't stop.

"But I didn't want to go down and ask the people who live there now. They'd think I was crazy."

More laughter.

"And I didn't want to go down in the middle of the night and sprinkle them like that."

Remarks and laughter.

"I told my sister I didn't think it was even legal. And I could just hear Jess if he was alive gettin' after me. He'd do that, you know, and just go on and on about it. And I wouldn't be able to sleep for days when he did that."

"So I told my sister, I said, why don't I just take them out to Blue Lake. It's nice out there. He'd like it out there. But she said, no,  she didn't want him out at Blue Lake. So I said, well, what about the Loess Hills. It's really nice out there with all those trees and things. But my sister didn't want that, either."

The others were rolling with laughter. Everytime she said something new, they laughed. She couldn't even finish a sentence before they were laughing afresh.

"So, finally, my brother came and we took the ashes out to the Missouri River. And that's what we ended up doing. He's probably spread over several states by now."

They laughed and someone asked, "Tell us about the Aztec casket."

"Well, I was down there (in Mexico for the winter) with my sister when her husband died. He was six foot six. He was a retired federal judge. And she and I were putting him into this casket."

"He died in Mexico?"

"Yes, and they wouldn't let her bring him back. We were putting him in this casket and it was too small for him. Everytime we would get his head in place so the lid would go on, his feet would stick up. And everytime we would get his feet down in place, well, then his head would go up. And we were having a terrible time. And he was beginning to get stiff."

She stretched out the story.

"And finally I crossed his legs like this." She stuck her legs out in front of the chair and crossed them at the ankles and flexed her knees slightly.

"And my sister was already upset at me. We'd been going round and round already. And I had made her put on his socks. But I said, 'Well, what else can we do?' And so we finally got him in there in just such a way that we could close the lid.

"And we were standing there with the lid shut and my sister said, 'Well I just don't like it. Not with his legs like that. It's just not right.' And I said, 'Well, he's not going to a dance you know.' And we both just busted out laughing."

Someone else spoke. "I didn't know we were going to spend the evening talking about death."

They were all laughing. Except the one at the end of the table. She was trying. But you could tell she didn't think this was as funny as the rest of them thought.

"She doesn't like to deal with death."

"Well, we all have to, you know. And its healthier to laugh about it."

"Yeah, you know, sometimes that's where you hear the funniest stories about people is at the meal after a funeral."

"Well, that's how people deal with it."

The talk shifted to the reason for the meeting ... quilts.

"How did you make that star quilt. The one with the black? Do you have a pattern? I'd sure love to have it."

"Well, you just use a diamond shape. For all the pieces, even the black."

"No, that wasn't the same pattern. It wasn't separate stars like this photo. You couldn't tell where one star left and another started. They weren't side by side. They kinda overlapped."

"Well, you could do that with this pattern. You just make one star like this out of the fabrics you want and then the other star lies right here and you use a fabric that would go with the first one so that depending on how you looked at it, you see stars."

"Do you all want tea or would some of you like water?"

She brought in tea and then she brought in plates with angelfood cake and strawberries.  There was a fork on each plate and one of them wondered how she'd be able to slurp up the strawberry juice with her fork. She looked again at her plate and decided that perhaps the cake would help soak up the red juice.  She liked the juice and didn't want to leave it on the plate.

"These plates are so pretty! They're just lovely." They all admired the painted china.

One of them risked spilling the juice and held her plate up high enough to see the bottom. If she knew that was improper etiquette she ignored the idea. "Don't break 'em, ladies, they're numbered and dated. These are really nice plates."

They all oohed and aahed and the discussion turned to plates and children and grandchildren.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How I Saved Many Neighbors (and their kids) From Catastrophe!

See this jar?  Do you see what is IN this jar?  Sharp, pointy objects that can pierce a tire in no time flat. Pun intended.  And where did I find them?

Earlier this year I set a goal to walk 291 miles.  Why 291 miles? That's the distance from our house to our daughter's home in Minnesoda.  It just seemed like a good goal. 

See! I can sound like a Swede from Minnesoda! That's because even though I have never resided in that green state I do have Swedish blood in me. Along with German, Irish, English, and according to my grandmother's tale, some small amount of Native American.

But back to my story.  So far I've walked 93 miles taking short walks around the neighborhood and tallying the miles. This week my feet are killing me so I am making no progress this week.  See previous post about the Red Devil!

Which brings us to the Jar!  See all those nails and bolts and screws!  I mentioned in this post that half the homes in town got new roofs last year thanks to a couple super-duper hailstorms and insurance checks.  New roofs mean tearing off the old shingles. And that means nails all over the place!  Most of them get picked up but in hauling away the debris nails occasionally get dropped. In the street. Where people drive.  Nobody likes getting a flat tire. Nobody!  Even though the town street sweeper truck has been up and down the streets several times this year, there are still nails to be found.

I figure I've saved a goodly number of persons a goodly number of flat tires!  I deserve a medal, doncha think? I just hope I haven't cost the tire shop a profitable year!

The little cigar?  Found that, too, still in its wrapper.  Couldn't leave it there for some kid to find, now could I? 
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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Red Devil or How I Make Do With Linen Toe Wraps

Remember my previous mention of the "Red Devil"?   My new red Kool-Aid of a chemo?

Well, today is day 16 post chemo and the Red Devil is living up to its name.  Doxil (or in my case, Lipodox) is well known in chemo circles (betcha don't want to join THAT clique, do ya!) for its vicious side-effect to the skin.

I belong to an online ovarian cancer forum and some of my friends tell me their skin blistering is so severe they can wear only the loosest of clothing, a muumuu type dress, with no bindings or restrictions on the skin. That means no undies, either upper or lower! Just a muumuu! So far I am not needing to do that! I'm still wearing my normal clothing including undies.

In my case I get red welts and blistering on the palms of my hands and between my toes.  The skin turns an ugly purple-red and unless protected will blister badly.  After about a week it begins to heal (and peel) just about the time I get my next infusion. So the cycle seems to be about ten days of really sore skin...then ten days of healing...then sore again after the next chemo.

I used to think that those "old people" you see hobbling about do so due to knee or hip problems.  But no...very sore feet cause the same hobbling gait. Fancy that!

The toes seem to be the worst where they rest against each other.  I've used bandages on some but don't like to have the sticky part of the bandaid on tender red skin.

So yesterday I had one of my amazing, brilliant, lightbulb moments.  Remember last week's blouse project? The one where I shortened the sleeves?  That blouse is linen.  I took the cut-off sleeves and cut one-inch strips of fabric and tied them around my toes.  Of course, I can't wear shoes with them. (I can't wear shoes without them, either, due to the skin problems.)  The linen fabric protects the sore sides of the toes from rubbing up against the next toe, causing friction.  I know it's weird. But it works.

Other remedies?  I use cold packs on my hands and feet (and chew on ice chips) during the chemo infusion.  I soak my feet and hands in cold water now and then in the days following chemo.  And I take a couple cold packs to bed with me.  Wrapped in a linen tea towel they comfort my feet and my hands. And, in theory at least, they reduce the amount of doxil seeping into the capillaries under the skin, thereby reducing the blistering.

I'm thinking by tomorrow or the day after, the healing will begin.  I must be patient, I must be patient, I must....Wait a minute!  I AM a patient!  Just not a very patient patient!

As Christians we know that we are not exempt from the ailments of this fallen world.  But we do not despair! In the midst of affliction, physical and otherwise, we know that when we leave this earth, we will forever be at home with the Lord. That is where we must keep our focus. I will leave you with these encouraging words in James 1:2-3 " Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance."  Endurance! Ah, that is what I need! And patience, too!
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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Puttering With Sewing and Soup

Last week was hectic.  Today allowed a little relaxation.  I puttered, playing with a couple things I've been wanting to do.

I like button-front blouses...short-sleeve.  I never wear my long-sleeved ones.  So today I shortened the sleeves on two of them.  The result is perfect for summer wear.
Singer Model 15-91

The sewing machine is a vintage 1940s Singer model 15-91.  Isn't it a sweetie! I've used this machine on a ton of quilting projects...except that I've lost the quilting bug.  Nowadays it gets used for short mending tasks such as this.

Once upon a time, during my quilting days, I "collected" vintage Singer sewing machines.  At one point there were thirteen Singers residing in our house.  None of them newer than the 1960s. All of them in top-notch working condition.  Some of them took a bit of elbow grease (and WD-40) to get them up and running again.  Those old machines, if regularly cleaned and oiled, will outperform any modern day machine.

Paul Revere 1776 Copper Pan
But having ovarian cancer has caused me to look askance at all the "stuff" in our house.  Over the past three years I've been slowly getting rid of some things including some of the sewing machines.  I gave away several, sold a couple, junked one (and sold the parts on eBay).  Now I have only four...this black 15-91, a 1940s Singer 221 Featherweight, a 1960s Singer 403 and a marvelously well-maintained Singer 66 treadle from the very early 1900s in an oak parlor cabinet.  The 403 has zigzag features.  The Featherweight is too cute to get rid of. The 15-91 is my heavy-duty stitcher when I machine-quilt. And the treadle? Aw, I just like it. A lot.

My second putter task today was to try out one of my Paul Revere copper pans on our new gas stove.  The copper conducts heat quickly and I love how this saucepan simmered up a small batch of soup. And isn't it pretty!

The soup?  Using some leftover beef and noodles I added a can of beef broth and sauteed some onion, celery, and shredded cabbage, adding them to the pot.  A cup of canned tomatoes added to the flavor.

I'm still tired from the hectic past week. But I'm feeling better.  Being able to putter was a nice way to relax a bit.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Parrot Died...Onward to Red Kool-Aid

Yes, I'm still alive "and well", so to speak.  Just extremely busy.  Today was no exception.

I can only say that today was an "adventure".  But today's adventure is not the subject of today's post.  No, no, that would take much too long.

Instead I just want to tell you that the colorful parrot (of previous posts) has died, so to speak.  Topotecan (or the "colorful parrot" as I called it) stopped being effective in holding my ovarian cancer at bay.

So I am moving onward...to the next drug cocktail.

I am now on Lipodox which very much looks like red Kool-Aid.


If you've been following the news about chemo drugs (which you probably don't unless you yourself are a chemo druggie) you know that Doxil has been unavailable in the United States since late last year.  It seems the contract manufacturer was found to be not properly maintaining its facility. But that's old news...if you wish, you can read about it here.

Happily, the FDA is allowing a supposed duplicate of Doxil called Lipodox to come into this country from India. I've had three treatments now.

I call it "Red Kool-Aid" because...well...it looks like red Kool-Aid.  Some patients call it the "red devil" because of a nasty side-effect that causes ferocious blistering of the skin.

So far I've been fortunate.  My tumor marker, CA-125, has come down slightly.  And my skin has fared well except for about 10 days of red, cracked, blistered hands.  It felt as if I had a thousand paper cuts.  Shall we say it was slightly painful any time I touched ANYthing!

Fortunately, the skin healed before my 3rd infusion...and here I am, day eight of this third cycle, still doing well.  The next few days will tell whether or not the skin problem comes back.

Today?  A stressful day. A long day. Has nothing to do with my cancer.  Let's just say it is a good thing in our lives...but with a long and stressful learning curve.

God bless all of you who are reading this...and most of all, those who are going through difficult situations, health or otherwise.  Each day is good...no matter what. And God is good, no matter what.

Heading to bed. Perchance to sleep.

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Repost on Morel Mushrooms...Just Because Now is the TIME!

If you came here to find out where to find morel mushrooms, you're not alone. Many of those who land on Wanna Walk Along arrive because they googled something like "where to find morel mushrooms". And google sends 'em here. Or at least to a post I made in May 2009 entitled "The Best Place to Find Morel Mushrooms".

Here's what I wrote then! If you have never eaten morels, you will surely be enticed! Read on!
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Morels! These mushrooms in a paper bag may not look very appetizing but we know these are a true prize!Fresh Morel Mushrooms
They are the best of the best! Each spring local mushroom hunters impatiently wait for those first warm days for they know the morels will be popping. Those on the sandy soils of the Missouri River bottoms pop first! And that's good! However, those tend to be dirty with sand and with teensy bugs. Of course you can wash and rinse until they are clean. But the BEST morels come from the foothills. The slopes warm a tad slower than the bottomland soils so this makes them a second crop, so to speak. These are the best and the cleanest. Free from sand. And most years free from bugs.Morel Mushrooms Ready to Dip and Fry

We don't hunt mushrooms anymore but we have family and friends who bring us enough of a supply to eat a few tasty meals each spring. Look at these cleaned morels. They've been lightly rinsed and sliced through the middle and they're ready to cook!

Folks cook them different ways...a simple saute in butter...dip in egg and flour and fry till crispy...or dip in egg and cracker crumbs and fry. You can go online and find various recipes but everyone is in complete agreement that morels are wonderful. I've also used them in a creaMorels Dipped in egg and Flour and Friedmy pasta dish. They're easy to store in the freezer...simply freeze on a cookie sheet, then place in a freezer bag for storage. They can also be dried and later rehydrated.

This morning we had a few with scrambled eggs for breakfast. Yum!

By the way, morel hunters are as close-mouthed as fisherman. They'll never tell you their favorite hunting spot. It's each man for himself when it comes to morel mushrooms. And we thank friend Mike and son-in-law Mark for keeping us supplied with these tasty gems!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

When Calvin Coolidge Invades Dreamland

It was not a good ending for Calvin Coolidge. In my dream the 30th President of the United States did not have a good ending. He was assassinated. In my dream, that is. Not in real life. This was a dream. Only a dream.

I don't know how this former President got into my dreamlife. I hadn't been reading about Presidents. I don't remember reading or hearing his name in recent weeks. What could have prompted this dream?

As I said...in the dream CC was assassinated. And I had the task of appearing on a famous news network and giving an "economic report" subsequent to the assassination. I am not an economist. But for some weird reason they wanted MY opinion. Fancy that! In real life I would have laughed my fool head off if anyone asked me to do something such as this! But in my dream I just felt obligated to the request. Who was I to argue with such important people!

Kevin Costner (yes, he of Hollywood fame) was involved in this outlandish dream, too. He was to appear on that same news network. His task was to report the hows, whys and whats of the aforementioned assassination.

We were both nervous, very nervous, about our upcoming interviews. I'm sure Costner would have given an informed and credible interview. As for mine? I don't remember a thing I was supposed to say. Probably good thing, for if I did, I would write it all down here for you to read. It would have been incredibly boring.

I haven't a clue whether they caught the villain. He/she never showed up in my dream.

For the "real" story of the life of Calvin Coolidge click here.

P.S. President Coolidge died of a heart attack at age 60. Too young in my estimation.
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