greetings from home

It’s a muggy and buggy New England morning, but we have the AC conditioners in the windows and we’re not putting up with humidity.

I love air conditioning.

So…greetings from Cancer Land.

We are fine. I am resting. I am not in much pain at all most of the time. Oh, things are awkward and uncomfortable, and stuff hurts, but it’s not horrible.

I love my couch. I love my bed. I love watching “Wicked Tuna” marathons on television. Banjo Man does not understand the appeal of “Wicked Tuna” or “Deadliest Catch”, but oh, do I love those shows.

I never, ever want to be on one of those boats. Fishing on the ocean is not on my bucket list. Not even at the bottom. But I love to watch the antics of the captains and crew.

“Deadliest Catch” has the best storms and the most danger. I worry about every person on every ship.

Oh, and let’s not forget “Below Deck”, about what goes on during yacht charters. Good stuff!

Poor Banjo Man. Yesterday he confessed that even after 49 years together he does not understand me and my love of these fishing shows.

One of our friends from our little thrice-yearly dinner group dropped off three casseroles yesterday. THREE!!! I felt like we’d won the lottery. I even cried. I should have prepared better for this post-surgery time, but as the weeks before surgery went on I became more and more tired and distracted.

Food is difficult to fix and reheat using only my left arm. Banjo Man does everything he can for me, but there are times when I am alone and just want to nibble on something. Or reheat something. My exhausted husband doesn’t need to be trying to put meals together either, so yesterday’s casserole bonanza will go a long way towards getting us through the next few days.

I am so grateful.

I will now head back to the couch. I am wallowing in the concept of “rest”. I should do nothing but rest. Imagine that! I can’t quite wrap my head around it. The visiting nurse who stopped in yesterday told me that I was exhausted from seven weeks of stress, pain, tests and worry, along with the surgery. That made sense, though I hadn’t thought of it like that.

She said to rest. And keep resting.

I find that amazing. It’s such a lovely idea!

Who knows? I might even become very, very good at it. I’m certainly going to practice.

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doing fine

Just a quick note tonight after a long day. The surgery went beautifully, as did the anesthesia this time. No one was taking chances on a repeat aspiration.

I confess to being a bit weepy and nervous about it. Banjo Man was not. He assured me that I was going to be treated like a queen and I was.

The man has been right a lot lately. I’m finding it a bit disconcerting.

I hope to go home tomorrow. With Percocet, despite the medical community worrying that I will become one of those sad people in the van on Season 5 of BOSCH.

All is well.

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escape to galilee

One Saturday about a month ago, Banjo Man and I decided to take a vacation from breast cancer and not talk about it all day.

We really did need a break and we were sick and tired of being sick. It was a beautiful May day, bright and breezy, so in the spirit of having a cheerful day, I agreed to ride along to the dump with Banjo Man.

And then we thought about going out for a late lunch in Narragansett, as did hundreds of other Rhode Islanders. This was the first bright day after weeks of clouds and rain and it seemed that everyone in the state had the same idea: ride down to the ocean and eat some seafood. Winter was over and summer couldn’t be far behind. Time to celebrate and breathe in some ocean air!

We ended up in nearby Galilee, Rhode Island’s only commercial fishing port. It’s home to a lot of charter boats, commercial fishing vessels and the Block Island ferry. You can go down to the docks and buy lobster right off the boats (one of Banjo Man’s favorite things to do when we have company from out of town).

A good place to get some lobster.
Good things to see in the sink!
Tom and Cynthia from Nebraska taking pictures of their lobster dinner being cooked in April.

Banjo Man and I ended upstairs at Champlin’s overlooking the entrance of the harbor. We ate fish and fries and coleslaw while we watched the boats go in and out.

Here comes the Block Island ferry!

I’ve become addicted to a tv series called, “Wicked Catch”. It features tuna boats and their crews out of Gloucester, Massachusetts. When I was a teenager the Tuna Derby was a huge deal here in Galilee and Snug Harbor. We’d sit on the breakwater and watch the tuna boats come in. They’d fly a flag if they’d caught one and we would cheer and wave our congratulations.

Banjo Man says that when I’m stressed I watch fishing shows because it’s in my whaling DNA. Generations of Winslows made their living on whaling ships, so he might have a point.

Whatever your genetic makeup, an afternoon in Galilee is a wonderful thing.

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once a farm boy, always a farm boy

In order to make the best out of a non-lake, non-mountains, non-Idaho summer, I decided we should plant some tomatoes and have a container garden on the back patio. People grow lots of tomatoes here on the coast. Tomatoes and blueberries and sweet corn all do especially well in our little part of the world.

The idea of a garden was Very Exciting News for Banjo Man. His face lit up with happiness as he considered all the possibilities for planting in pots and displaying them behind the house.

Banjo Man loves the back patio. He created it after a trip to New Orleans, so it has an old brick, Southern vibe. You’ve seen pictures of his water feature, another labor of love.

So the day before surgery, we took a ride to Clarke’s Farms (my favorite place to troll for pumpkin stems) and loaded up a wagon. Tomatoes (twelve plants), parsley, basil, dill, eggplant and zucchini came home with us.

Oh, was Banjo Man happy! He also bought flowers for hanging planters and some for the slate patio at the front of the house. The man had plans.

Look closely. The pots are lined up to the left of the purple flowers.

After bringing me home from the hospital Saturday, he charged outside to start farming. He would spend that afternoon and all day Sunday creating a pretty place to spend the summer…and grow things. We’re hoping the groundhogs and deer and wild turkeys don’t find our plants.

My one and only outdoor job is to feed the chipmunks. That amuses me no end and is something the Funny Grandson enjoyed a few years ago when he visited. I don’t know if he’s too old to feed chipmunks this summer, but I know I’m not!

I have a huge bag of sunflower seeds and I’m ready to train them to come running when they hear the sound of my voice.

Banjo Man had one last chore Monday evening and that was to burn brush before the rain came.

Nothing is more fun than burning stuff. It’s a guy thing, or so I’ve been told.

So as we deal with all that is happening right now we try very, very hard to take care of each other. Life is not all about cancer—there are so many other things to do and talk about. Things to enjoy.

I wouldn’t put “gardening” at the top of my Must Do list, but if it makes Banjo Man happy that’s all that matters.

And as son Will said, “BLT’s all summer long!”

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it’s been a while

It’s time for rhododendrons in Rhode Island.

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on the blog. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to write about what is going on here…but I really haven’t wanted to write about what is going on here either. The blog has been such a source of fun for me and I’ve loved sharing our lives as we travel across the country, play in the band, hang out at the lake with our family and friends, and cook up a storm.

You’ve even put up with quilting news and secondhand shopping descriptions, along with pictures of tablecloths and Banjo Man’s always funny expressions.

I confess, I don’t really know how to handle this. Blogging walks a fine line between writing about my life and protecting my privacy. And yet…everyone deserves to know what’s going on because you have been such loyal and wonderful readers of the blog. And I can’t thank you enough. I don’t want to quit blogging. I really don’t.

So enough drama. I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer. I had some suspicions on Easter Sunday and was diagnosed a couple of weeks later. At first we thought the tumor was “small”, 2.1 cm, and my treatment would consist of a “simple” lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation.

I was devastated to not be able to get on the plane to Idaho on June 1st as planned, but I figured I could get through radiation and spend part of August and all of September by the lake. No big deal, right?

Those plans were dashed during a meeting with my “cancer team” (yes, a team–my uncoordinated self has never been on a team) which revealed the results from an MRI: the tumor was actually 5.6 cm and there was a suspicious lymph node. All bets were off. The lymph node turned out to be malignant. I now had to have a cat scan and bone scan to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread.

Let me tell you, those were bad days.

May 30th ended with the news that the scans were clear. It was now an official Stage 3A cancer, with ER+, PR+ and HER2- (all good signs for future treatment). But I am looking at a Modified Radical mastectomy, five months of chemo, radiation and medication.

Okay, bring it on. I can do this. I can do this because the cancer hasn’t spread.

My mastectomy was scheduled for last Friday, but something went wrong during the anesthesia process in the operating room (yes, you read that right–scary stuff). The surgery has been rescheduled for this coming Thursday–as long as everyone involved can explain to me today why the problems won’t happen again. I am very much looking forward to those phone calls.

So let’s get to the good news in all of this. There are reasons why I feel so lucky and so loved and here they are:

Remember Sammy, my little friend who comes over to hang out with me?

His mom, Angela, is a dear friend…and an oncologist. She has helped us navigate this new and terrifying world of cancer. I cannot even describe what she has done for us–guiding, explaining, scheduling tests faster, getting results without having to wait, etc. She’s our angel in all of this and we are so grateful.

I haven’t known what to do to thank her, so I made her a pan of chicken enchiladas. Lame, I know, but it was the only thing I could think of at the time. I know that will make Jeff happy, too.

The Funny Grandson saw no reason to go to Idaho without his grandparents there, so Ben, Amber and the FG are coming to RI for their summer vacation. I’ll probably be starting chemo while they are here, but having them around will be so wonderful. I hated to think of missing a summer with the FG and now I won’t have to.

I have two pans of enchiladas and three pans of shepherd’s pie in the freezer. Some things never change.

Son Will is also coming, but a bit later in the summer so we can spread out the visits. I am so happy about that. He gets one of the shepherd’s pies.

Our daughter NancyK lives right in town, so she stands by for transportation assistance and help around the house, plus she is dealing with my mother as I cannot.

I am lucky.

And Banjo Man? Well, he is my hero. And he deserves his own blog post tomorrow. We are stuck together like glue, more than ever. Because of the pain I’ve been in since this first started (they say cancer doesn’t hurt? Wrong!) Banjo Man has worried about me driving. So he takes me everywhere, to doctors and hospitals and Walmart and even to a fabric store so I could stock up before chemo starts.

My friends here in RI have supplied food and flowers and cards and love and encouragement. My family all over the country has been so supportive and loving. My brother sent me a dvd of four seasons of THE TUDORS. Oh, how I love wild historical dramas! And my dear Idaho and Montana friends are sending so much love and so many prayers that I can actually feel them, no lie.

It’s wonderful to “feel” a prayer, especially during the silence of a bone scan machine.

Another reason to be thankful? Well, the kitchen project finished up just a few days before the cancer drama began. So the house is beautiful and each day we comment on how wonderful it is to have everything look so pretty.

And we love our new gas stove, which deserves its own blog post, too. Banjo Man has bought a wok. I haven’t decided if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I’ll keep you posted.

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a man with a plan

Sound the trumpets! Why? Because the sun is shining and the temperature might hit 70 degrees today.

Banjo Man couldn’t be happier.

Assembling a new wheelbarrow.

He has the perfect Saturday chore ahead: putting together one of two new wheelbarrows (Job Lot had a sale). Then there will be the weekly trip to the dump.

Oh, how happy is Banjo Man!

One down, one to go.
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a little fabric therapy

I have been sitting in front of my “special fabric” cupboard this morning staring at the fabric. I really need to cut something up.

It’s a stress reliever, believe me. Give me some freshly ironed fabric and a rotary cutter, along with a ruler and a mat, and I’m going to be a happy camper.

But what to make? What to cut? I’ve used up most of my blues. There are a lot of purples and pinks on those shelves, but those colors aren’t calling me. And yet…they can’t sit there forever. It might be time to find a way to make them beautiful.

Browsing on Pinterest has given me some great ideas. I need something simple to sew yet is cutting-intensive. I don’t want to fuss with tiny triangles and matching points. Give me some strips–lots of them–and maybe then I’ll figure it out.

Of course I could organize the shelves by color and let that be my project for the day, but I’m not in the mood for folding neat rectangles and making pretty piles.

I think a wild, modern baby quilt is about to be born.

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mother’s day 2019

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mothers out there! We deserve a happy day with lots of time to relax. I hope you are planning something peaceful.

Banjo Man, our daughter Nancy, my mother and I are heading to Denny’s this rainy morning. Pancakes all the way, baby!

Even though it’s Mother’s Day and I am allowed to splurge, I think I’ll skip the temptations of Cinnamon Roll pancakes and Caramel pancakes and opt for my favorite Mixed Berry Pancake Slam.

With hash browns and sausage.

Oh, my.

It’s not easy to find a restaurant that all four of us enjoy and that has easy handicapped access, but Denny’s is a hands-down favorite.

Pass the syrup, please…

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rest in peace, old friend

I’ve debated all morning–and yesterday, too–about how to write this.

If to write this.

But our grief is heavy. I can’t blithely blog about Newport and lobsters and our broken stove while I’m crying.

Banjo Man and I are hurting for My French Friend Janou and her family. It is so hard to be so far away from them right now.

David passed away yesterday, while in his bed in front of his beautiful view of the lake he loved so much. His family surrounded him.

He was a teacher, an artist, a dedicated rower, athlete, husband, father and grandfather.

He will be missed so very much.

2017, in happy times.
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the turkey field

See this ugly field? That’s what I call it. The Ugly Field. It has been occupied by dozens upon dozens of turkeys this month. Every time I would drive by–on my way to Home Depot–I would be tempted to stop and take a picture of them, but I more important things to do. Like return a bucket of grout.

One morning I drove into position for a great photo, determined not to let the opportunity pass by, when I realized I didn’t have my phone with me. Therefore, no camera.

This picture was taken when there were only a couple of turkeys in the field. Earlier that day there had been at least a dozen enormous male turkeys strutting their stuff with their tail feathers spread out in grand displays of turkey masculinity.

Impressive, in a Thanksgiving-decoration way.

You’ll have to take my word for it, because I missed all the photo ops. Even Banjo Man doesn’t believe me.

P.S. Note the clouds. This is what we call “Spring” here in Rhode Island.

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