what a good idea

Banjo Man is flying to Nebraska tomorrow to join his brother George for a weekend of Hall of Fame celebrations at their high school.

Doesn’t that sound like a good time?!!!   Go Rockets!!!

George was quite an athlete back then.

I checked the weather forecasts for storms before I booked the flights.  There was nothing in sight, so off Banjo Man will go for a long weekend of partying with family and friends.

He is so excited.  It was a last-minute decision and a very, very good one.

I’m happy for him.  He definitely needs some time away from all of the post-cancer pain and drama.  While he’s away I’m going to (hopefully) clean out the china pantry and the bathroom closet, turn my sewing area into a music room, and finish putting the borders on the mystery quilt.  Because I am still moving slowly these projects will take up all of the time that Banjo Man is away and may not get finished.  But I’ll make a stab at it.

In between walking on the treadmill and going to water aerobics, that is.  I might not be a Hall of Fame athlete, but I can jump around in the pool with the best of ’em.


This pantry needs help.




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so, about yesterday…

Just in case you’re under the mistaken impression that I am calm and brave in the midst of all this cancer crap, I’m going to tell you about yesterday.

Angela had texted me on Thursday that she would hound the pathologist and have results for me on Friday.  I did not share info that with Banjo Man.  I didn’t think he needed to have the stress of waiting for the phone to ring all day Friday.  We were both calm and resigned and not just a little numb.  As of Monday, there was an unspoken agreement to go avoid “what if” and instead just carry on as usual.  And he was doing a really good job of staying calm.

Friday morning I was up at 7 and carried my phone with me from the coffee pot to the computer to the bathroom to the laundry room, etc.  In an attempt to find some encouragement about a “recurrence”, I went on the breast cancer website and visited the forums there.  Instead of comfort, I learned that 80% of these “architectural” abnormalities are malignant.  They come in third as a way of identifying breast cancer.

I was stunned.  I had had no clue.  I shed a few tears and started to think about the summer.  My last summer?  Maybe.  We would drive to Idaho, then.  Our last road trip?  Probably.  Maybe we could meet the Funny Grandson and his parents in Yellowstone, as they were going to be on their own road trip.  We could buy a Toyota 4 Runner here to replace the very ancient one we used for driving up to the cabin in the mountains.  And fly home late September, if I lasted that long.

I was in full-blown panic.

I cried and shopped online for used 4 Runners for an hour and found a good possibility in Massachusetts.  I bookmarked it to show Banjo Man after we got the news of my impending death.  Because if there was cancer it was going to be a different, fast-growing kind and that would be very, very bad.

It was time to put the clothes in the dryer and do my 25 minutes on the treadmill, so I cleaned myself up and went downstairs.  I didn’t tell Banjo Man about the percentages but I did get wound up about a road trip and a car and maybe it would be the last summer and all the “what ifs” we’d been avoiding. I cried.

My poor husband just stood there eating his oatmeal. “Can we just hold off on all of this until we get the test results?”

I sucked up the tears and went into the exercise room to get on the treadmill and try to immerse myself in the latest Longmire novel.

The text came in ten minutes later.  “No cancer,” Angela texted.  “The pathologist is asking for more slides just to be 100% sure.”

My surgeon called to make sure I’d received the news.  She said there would be a report on Tuesday and she’d call me if we needed future follow ups.  She was happy.  I was happy.  We told each other how happy we were.

Banjo Man was very, very happy, too.  Especially after I told him the odds were against me.  We talked a little more about the road trip and will keep thinking about it.  One huge issue is my energy and stamina.  A lot would have to improve before I could enjoy a week or more on the road.

But at least I have options.  And I don’t have cancer.


2016, heading west.





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the best news

No cancer!   That’s the word from Angela this morning.  The pathologist is double-checking and there won’t be a full report until Tuesday, but the word now is:  no cancer.

My surgeon called to make sure I’d received the news.  She was happy.  She said we’d talk on Tuesday after she read the final report, in case there needed to be a future follow-up.

I’m sure I will stop weeping in relief some time this afternoon.



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updating the update

Well, Angela worked her magic once again and the biopsy that was scheduled for late next week happened today.   I got a call from the Imaging Center asking if I could show up in two hours.

Of course I could.  I had showered, but I was wearing my ratty sewing clothes.  (“Sewing clothes”, you ask?  Yes, because they are covered in lint, threads and tiny shreds of fabric trimmings.  I keep the rest of my clothes thread-free, for the most part.  I even have sewing socks.)

I had been dozing on the couch when I got the call.  It was one of those mornings, folks.  There was not enough coffee in the world to get me to function like a human being and I had given up trying.

But after the call I burst into action except…I couldn’t find my purse.  Banjo Man and I scoured the house, up and down.   We finally found it buried in a basket of dirty laundry.

And no, I don’t have any idea how that happened, but I know it was my doing and no one else’s.

So we’re back home and all is well.  It’s pretty easy when you’ve been through it once before.  And everyone was lovely.

Thank goodness Banjo Man took advantage of being close to Trader Joe’s and got a little shopping in while I was having my breast stabbed.  Afterwards I ate a bowl of squash soup at Panera’s while he hit the mid-week sales at another grocery store.  Supermarkets are his happy place.

The Novocaine has not worn off and nothing hurts, so I am going to put my sewing clothes back on and stitch triangle borders together for a little while.

I can’t expect results until Tuesday (long weekend–boo, hiss!), so we’re going to try to put it out of our minds and relax.   We started watching “The Kominsky Method” last night on Netflix and were surprised that we enjoyed it as much as we did.

(I could have done without a lead character’s wife dying of cancer in the first episode, but the show is clever and interesting.)

And SURVIVOR, one of our very favorite shows, begins tonight with a two-hour opener.   So don’t worry about us.  We’re okay.  Honest.





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update from yesterday

Yesterday was intense.  A rainy drive to the city.  A packed parking garage.  And my surgeon running late so I almost missed my ultrasound and mammogram downstairs.

I gave her until 1:24, then I changed out of the johnny, put my clothes back on and went down the hall to the nurse.  “I’m out of here,” I said, pleasant but panicked.  “I can’t miss the mammogram at 1:30!”

Suddenly there was a flurry of action and a phone call to the imaging center to announce my delay.  My surgeon popped out of room and asked me to stay for the check up, which was great because that would save me a trip back to the city later in the week.

The mammogram was clear.  The ultrasound wasn’t.  I knew something was wrong when I waited for twenty minutes for the technician to return with the longed for “all clear” from the radiologist.

The longer you have to wait the more trouble you’re in.

Sure enough, after what felt like seventeen hours, the radiologist, a resident and the technician entered the room to explain there was something “vague” and “architectural” on the ultrasound.  They did it again and all agreed I needed to return next week for a biopsy.

The good news is that it wasn’t a “mass” or a “tumor”, simply something “vague”.  Even if I’d never had breast cancer they would have recommended a biopsy.

We are sad, but we’re okay.  The news could have been a lot worse.  The hard part is waiting for the biopsy, then waiting a few days more for the results.  We might not know anything until February 24.

Banjo Man and I managed to get out of the underground parking lot and its quirky automated exit procedure and then we headed home to the country–with a stop for an early dinner at Cracker Barrel, as promised.  We took home enough leftovers for two more meals.

It’s raining (not snowing!!!!) this morning, so I am heading to physical therapy and then to the YMCA’s pool for some stretching and walking in the water.   Because…there will be summer.

Count on it.



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and here we go

We’re off to Providence shortly.  I have a meeting with my surgeon (scheduled check up) and will have a follow-up mammogram and ultrasound afterwards.

The mammogram is going to check my left breast for tumors.  But because last spring’s giant tumor went undetected from mammograms for years, an ultrasound has been added to the procedure.


We’ve every reason in the world to be optimistic, but cancer is a tricky beast so we’re not exactly complacent either.  I await the phrase “all clear” so I can start counting down the days until I get on a plane and fly west, to the lake and the mountains and the music and the porch and my beloved gas grill…with the laughter of family and friends surrounding us.

Hey, is that too much to ask???  I don’t think so!!!!

Whatever happens this afternoon, Banjo Man and I have planned to stop at Cracker Barrel on the way home.   Because no matter what, there will be mashed potatoes.


My dock, my chair, my table, my view and my osprey.





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before and after with the tv

This is the back of the television stand in the bedroom.  Yes, it is a mess, but that mess has always been hidden in the corner of the room.  It was a cute painted armoire I bought at a consignment store about 15 years ago.  I took the back off so I could connect all the cords to all of the equipment.

I’ve been sewing so much that I bought a longer coaxial cable cord so I could slide the tv stand into the open door of my office (which connects with French doors to the bedroom), turn it around and watch Netflix while I stitch and iron and trim hundreds of pieces of fabric.

I rarely watch television in the daytime and hardly ever use this tv.  I didn’t have it hooked up to cable for a year and never missed it.


I turn the tv around while I’m sewing.  Not a pretty sight, but in this day and age you can’t have enough cords.

But in moving the cabinet around so much, I discovered that it was getting wobbly.  Its age was catching up with it, plus what I once thought was charming was now, well, ugly.

Funny how that happens.

So I searched the internet for a mobile version and found this kitchen cart.  Banjo Man and I put it together yesterday morning.  It wasn’t easy.  We made mistakes.  There was a significant piece missing–the bottom of the drawer–which will mean I have to call Customer Service and hope it arrives before 2021.

But here is the cart, looking sleek and clean and pretty.  It’s on casters, which was the important component to all of this.


Mission accomplished!  Now I can watch “Anne with an E” while I iron this afternoon.

I have a lentil chili in the crock pot and ingredients for tacos defrosting on the kitchen counter.  We’re going to hole up this weekend, watch season 3 of FARGO and enjoy some of the Superbowl hoopla.

Hurray for February!





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I know we’re late to the Fargo party, but this series is keeping us entertained now that football is (almost) over and there is nothing on television.  Thank goodness for HULU.

The Bachelor is unwatchable this season.  I am left with BELOW DECK on Monday nights and SCHITT’S CREEK for half an hour on Tuesday nights.  That’s an hour and a half out of the week.

I also really enjoy those Nazi-hunting documentaries, along with shows about abandoned buildings around the world and their secret histories.  Banjo Man is not so enamored.  I’ve also discovered a new show called TAKEN AT BIRTH, where people are searching for their birth parents who were told they were born stillborn and then sold to adoptive parents by an evil doctor.  True story.  The research is fascinating.  I love shows with research.

But, back to FARGO…

We’re in the middle of season 2.  Endlessly violent and laugh-out-loud funny.

And sometimes Banjo Man makes popcorn.


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mental health, as it is


It will be a quilt some day.

In order to make these long days pass without me running screaming into the woods, I am working on a ridiculously complicated quilt.  It’s an online “mystery quilt”, which I’ve told you about before.

There are 1600 pieces in this mound of blocks.  Sixty-four per block.  Twenty-five blocks.  And then there are the corners, sashings, and borders.  The two borders alone are comprised of 604 triangles.

Believe it or not, this project might be saving my sanity by giving me something to do with my time.  Take my word for it:  healing is boring.

I wish I was in the mood to read, but there’s not a lot that holds my interest.  I’m on the waiting list at the library for the next Longmire novel.  It can’t arrive soon enough.  I need me some Walt.

I may or may not finish this quilt before February 10, when my next breast cancer tests are scheduled.  I expect to get the “all clear”.  I expect to be done with doctors for many, many months.  I expect to get on the plane June 3rd and head to the lake.

Once I get that news, I’ll pick up my guitar and my violin and start practicing for the summer ahead.  But I just can’t do that now, the way I was last spring when it all hit the fan.  Whatever remains to be done on the quilt will be boxed up and saved for next winter.

I will confess I am a bit of a wreck about February 10th.   So I stay in my room and I sew little pieces of fabric together in an organized fashion and I get through the day.  I also do my exercises (arm, chest and leg) four times a day.  I go to physical therapy.  And because a suitable bathing suit arrived in the mail today–it fits!–I will soon be going to water aerobics (which is about as far out of my comfort zone as camping in the wilderness).

But I will do anything to get strong, so into the pool I will go and I will be happy about it, no matter what.

I intend to be ready for a wonderful summer.   In the meantime?  I’ll sew.  After all, we might need another quilt at the lake house.






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searching for a suit

No, not a business suit.  A bathing suit.

I’ve been cleared by both physical therapists to do light swimming and easy exercise in a POOL.

I’ve been advised to go to the deep end of the pool and just hang.  Supposedly that would be as good as being in traction.

In a twenty-five minute driving range I have access to two YMCA’s and the URI pool.  My friend Barb offered to go to URI with me and swim along.   She offered to drive, which was another issue for me.  I could certainly drive myself and then do the whole pool thing, but would I have the energy to drive myself home?  Maybe, maybe not.

I even thought of going to the Hampton Inn, where I have a free night, and spend an afternoon, evening and the following morning “hanging” in the pool for my hip and stretching my arms.  I could nap in between swimming sessions and would most likely have the place to myself as I did on our many road trips.

But that wasn’t going to be necessary now that I had found a pool and a driver/companion.  Now I needed the “swimming prosthesis” (aka water boob), which was easy enough to order online.

Which left the swimsuit.  Not any suit would do.  It has to be a mastectomy suit with special pockets to hold water boobs so they don’t pop out and float beside you when you are jumping around during water aerobics.   I don’t have a bathing suit here–they are in Texas and at the lake–so modifying something wasn’t an option.

I–of course–ordered a suit on Amazon.  Because I was optimistic–or desperate?  The suit arrived in 3 days.  It fit, but the style was odd and the neck was definitely not high enough.  When you have no cleavage and a jellyfish water boob, you need a high neck.

Trust me on this.

Yesterday Banjo Man drove me to physical therapy and then up to the city to the specialty lingerie store where I’ve bought all sorts of mastectomy stuff.  He waited in the car while I went inside and tried on eight swimsuits.   You ladies out there know how stressful it is to buy a bathing suit.  I found styles I liked but they didn’t have my size.  Or something fit but the neck was too low.  I limped back out of the store and told Banjo Man that I was done.  I would return to the internet…or else we would need to go to Providence to the Providence Place Mall where there is a store that has a mastectomy department.

(Unfortunately no one in their right mind wants to go to that mall because of the Central American drug gangs–there have been several shootings in front of Nordstrom’s, which prompted the store to leave RI–and roving bands of scary-looking teenagers.  It’s a gorgeous mall and I used to take my mother up there once a year for her birthday, but the parking garage is dangerous and the fear of being mugged takes the fun out of shopping.)

We went from “Ruth’s Lingerie” to the Big Cheese & Pub for an early dinner of pizza.  I resisted ordering tequila because Banjo Man had some errands to run after dinner but, believe me, alcohol would have eased the pain of trying on bathing suits.

So last night I ordered two high-necked bathing suits from Amazon and am hoping that at least one of them will work.  It doesn’t have to be beautiful or even flattering, but it does have to fit.

Wish me luck, because if bouncing in a swimming pool is the only exercise I’m allowed to do then–dammit!–I’m going to get in a pool!





Posted in rhode island, shopping, the cancer fight | 4 Comments