august first, oh happy day

It’s very odd to be celebrating the first day of August.

For the past ten years, the beginning of this month meant that I would be returning home to Rhode Island in three weeks, five weeks, six weeks…and, eventually, two months.  For the past three years, August 1st marked the halfway point of my time at the lake.  I was never all that thrilled with August 1st.

I would then try to cram in as much fun as I could every single day.  My calendar was oh-so-happily filled.

So it is strange to be so happy that August is here and summer is half over.   Bring on September, please!  I need to say goodbye to humidity and the pain it brings.  I want chilly air and pumpkins.  I need radiation to end and college football to begin.  Oh, how I need college football Saturdays!

#chili

Speaking of chili, I wonder if Banjo Man remembers last Opening Day when he criticized my chili and I told him that I would never make it again and he could make it himself for the rest of his life?

I shall keep you posted.

 

 

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a birthday for banjo man

The mystery gift was a hit!

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This is a ZVOX AV155 AccuVoice TV soundbar with 6-level “dialogue booster”.  The “booster” part is the important thing:  it lifts the dialogue louder than the background noise.

Here’s what the description on HSN said:

“ZVOX AV155 AccuVoice TV Soundbar w/6 Level Dialogue Boost and Remote.  Hear every word clearly. This AccuVoice soundbar uses six levels of dialogue boost to make voices clear, even at low volumes — you can actually tailor the sound to match your ears. With three full-range speakers, this soundbar uses hearing-aid technology to isolate voices and amplify them above background noise for greater clarity. It even lowers the volume of loud commercials. One-plug connectivity makes setup a breeze, and you can connect a second audio source, like your smartphone, to listen to music. It’s TV the way you want to hear it.”

And it works!  My husband was amazed and thrilled.  Shock and awe, people!

We celebrated with a strawberry shortcake cake with daughter Nancy and later on watched the finale of “The Bachelorette”.

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Yesterday was a busy–and  hot–day.  We’re in the middle of another little heat wave (hey, it’s summer!!) and my first trip to the city for the radiation program started.  It was only a trial run, plus a bunch of x-rays, but I met the staff who will be treating me for the next month and learned the ins and outs of dressing rooms, waiting rooms and treatment areas.  My machine is called the “Trilogy”.

That made me smile.  After all, I’ve written enough of them.

 

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birthday card for banjo man

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I just wanted to share this.

 

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odds and ends on a quiet day

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Laid out on the dining room table.

The baby quilt project is still coming along.  It’s a sweet quilt and I hope it will be loved and used.

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“Ruth’s” is a shop deep in the heart of Cranston that has been in business since 1954.  They do everything transaction by paper, with no computers.  It’s quite a process, especially since a huge part of their business deals with women who have had breast surgery and cancer.  A number of very lovely and kind women work here, but I’ve learned to allow extra time for filling out the insurance forms for every purchase.  If they don’t carry what you want, they’ll order it.

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These charging stations are everywhere at the hospital and surrounding medical buildings.  It looks like a great idea, but I’ve never seen anyone using them.

Starting tomorrow, things get busy around here until September.  Radiation is daily and I’ll be glad to start, because the sooner it starts the sooner it’s over.

I’ve convinced Banjo Man that I will be well enough by mid-September for him to leave me for a few days and attend his 60th high school reunion in Nebraska.  After that son Will arrives for a week.  Lots to look forward to.

October will be here before we know it and it will be time to unpack the velvet pumpkins and celebrate the fall, my favorite time of year.

Yes, I know it’s only July, but a girl can dream!

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home shopping network and opioids

I’ll bet this morning’s blog post heading caught your attention!

Let’s talk about drugs.  Pain killers.  Opioids that people get addicted to and ruin their lives with…and then they end up broken and alone or in rehab.

This is so not me, in case a little zing of worry just shot through your brain.   The only painkiller I can tolerate is Percocet and it did its best to get me through the worst of the post-surgery pain.  I kept a notebook and wrote down each time I took it, never taking it less than six hours apart even when that final hour was unpleasant.  Several doctors tried to tell me I could manage with Tylenol.

They were full of sh**.

So…let’s be clear.  I haven’t taken any prescription drugs in over a week.  I’m looking forward to driving soon, when my arm cooperates, and I want a clear head.  I don’t know where I’d go, though, because trudging across hot parking lots would make the lymphedema worse (and I sure as hell don’t need “worse”).  Still, when radiation starts next week, I would love to be able to drive myself up to the city without hauling Banjo Man away from work or my daughter away from her busy life.

You’re wondering what this has to do with the Home Shopping Network on tv, aren’t you?

Just a bit of history:  about nine years ago was the Year of the Finger Surgeries.  I won’t go into the awful, lawsuit-worthy, pain-filled details, but suffice it to say that I was on antibiotics and pain pills off and on for many months.  The only side affect was an attraction to brightly colored quilting fabric and a tendency to buy a lot of it.  I made some wild quilts during that time (I could use my sewing machine with a bandaged hand, so no problem there), but I still have a lot of that fabric on my shelves.  And I have no idea how to use it up.

Present day:  I already told you about seeing the Geek Pot on HSN.  Of course I ended up buying it.  The demonstration on tv was inspiring, as was the potential for lots of meals.  It arrived a week ago and it is still sitting on the floor of the living room.  I found recipes on Pinterest, but neither Banjo Man nor I have the energy to learn a new trick and cook anything in it.  I’m sure we will eventually and we’ll be thrilled, but we’re not even close right now.

During my last drug-hazed weekend on the couch I ended up dropping in on the HSN network again.  This time I watched a demonstration of a perfect, miraculous product invented just for people like Banjo Man.  I didn’t know such technology existed.  It was something that would change our lives (according to the excited women on HSN) and I believed them.  Oh, how I believed them!

And…it was deeply discounted.  The answer to my prayers.  Easy to use.  Selling like hot cakes.

I couldn’t order it fast enough. 

It’s Banjo Man’s birthday present, so I’m not going to tell you what it is in case he reads the blog between now and the 31st.  I give him one hint a day and he is allowed to ask one question a day.  Today’s question was “Can I plug it in?”

Yes.

He’ll never guess, because he wouldn’t know that such a thing existed.  Hah!

So today–with no drugs to lower my shopping inhibitions and no HSN to tempt me—I’m going to HOPEFULLY finish stitching 110 blocks together for a baby quilt.  The little one was born a few days ago and I’d like her to have it before she starts walking.

I move so slowly these day.

Turtles are faster.

Sigh.

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I think I need this fabric.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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long distance Peach Man

This week I was once again totally overwhelmed.  Can you imagine what arrived by FedEx?

Peaches.  A dozen peaches.  From the Peach Man.

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A dozen miraculous, beautiful peaches carefully wrapped in a box from the lake.

I cried.  Banjo Man was totally choked up.  We both ate a peach and laughed at ourselves for the tears.  It was such an unexpected gift.  The neighbors above us at the lake had gone to a great deal of trouble to send such a treat.

So of course I had to make a pie.  A little 7″ pie.  With homemade crust.  I won’t tell you how long it took me to do this (hint: all freakin’ day!), and I had to wear my compression sleeve (when rolling out the crust), hand gauntlet, disposable gloves (to keep the gauntlet and sleeve clean) and rubber gloves (for the dishes).  Banjo Man had to haul the pie in and out of the oven every time I needed to check it (I haven’t found the perfect oven gloves yet).  Sigh.   It was definitely a labor of love.  I’m sure I’ll get used to this new, ultra-careful routine eventually, but yesterday?  Everything took a lot more time to do, plus my brain works very, very slowly these days and I am prone to making lots of stupid mistakes.

And I haven’t been in the kitchen for almost two months.  

Here’s the pretty result:

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A rustic peach pie.

Despite the epic failure of the crust–I am clearly out of practice–we ate it with gusto.

And despite how awful this breast cancer experience has been, the kindness and love and caring from family and friends has been overwhelming and wonderful.

I’m going to go eat a peach now…

 

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rain and radiation

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What a storm!  We’ve never seen summer rain fill the pit before.  Banjo Man ran out to take pictures from the safety of his shed.

Lightning hit a house a few miles away.  And one of our tomato plants lost the will to live.

Monday was our day to meet with the radiologist and have the “mapping” done for the future radiation treatments.  I learned that I would have 22 treatments (4 weeks +2) instead of 30+.   Eight less trips to the city!  Hurray!

The whole “mapping” process was pain free, stress free and fascinating.  There was a Cat scan and tattoos…and several lovely, funny women taking care of the whole thing.

The real thing starts next week, after a dress rehearsal on Tuesday.  So between physical therapy and radiation, August is going to be a very busy month.  But I could be done with radiation before September…and isn’t that something to look forward to!

 

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the heat wave

We may have broken some records this weekend.  With a heat index of 110 Sunday afternoon, I wouldn’t be surprised.

I’m sure the beaches were packed and the traffic horrendous, but Banjo Man and I stayed home and–for the most part–inside.  Banjo Man watered our blooming tomato plants and I ventured out for three minutes each day to feed the birds and chipmunks.

The air conditioners in the windows did their jobs, helped along by a couple of tall fans.  We enjoyed cold dinners of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.

The newscasters kept warning people not to leave their children in their cars.  Not to leave their children in the car???  What kind of idiots have to be told that?  There are parents in this country who really have to be reminded??

The mind boggles.  Have we raised idiots?

I will change the subject before smoke comes out of my ears.

Meet my albino chipmunk:

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He has a white stripe down the center of his face, a white ring around his neck and some white on his tail.  I’ve never seen one before.  The other chipmunks bully him no end, but he sneaks up for food when they are not around.  I’ve read that albino animals don’t live long, mostly due to their poor eyesight, but this guy has been visiting for weeks.  We’re rooting for him.

The Funny Grandson enjoyed feeding the wildlife while he was here.  Our local chipmunks have never looked so chubby.  Every morning the birds and chipmunks would hang out by the rocks and wait for breakfast.  They knew that sometime before 9 AM the kid would come out with generous amounts of seed for them.

I’m heading north soon for a long day in Providence.  Physical therapy first, then we move on to the hospital’s cancer care center (valet parking–hurray!) for the introductory prep for radiation.  I hope the real thing starts soon.  My physical therapist promises my arm will be ready by then.  Fingers crossed!

Happy Birthday, dear daughter-in-law!  We miss you!  We hope your day brings all the good things that you deserve.

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Dinner at Champlins in Galilee.

 

 

 

 

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so much love

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Really cool socks from my daughter-in-law.

I’ve been overwhelmed–in the best way–by the cards and gifts and thoughtful things that my friends and loved ones have sent me.

You all have no idea how much it has meant to me.  I want you to know that I have treasured everything.  Every kindness, every prayer, every bit of love you send my way.

You will never know how much it has helped knowing that people care.  I thank you so much.

I am feeling better.  In the last few days I’ve turned some kind of corner.  The pain is less intense.  The arm exercises no longer cause tears.  I’ve been making Banjo Man laugh again.  And this morning–drum roll, please–I wiped down my kitchen counter.

That was a very big deal for me, Couch Potato Extraordinaire that I have turned into.  For the past six weeks I’ve admired the new kitchen from afar and stayed away from things that would cut or burn me (lymphedema is something I have to deal with now), but today I boiled water and cleaned a counter.  Progress!  There are precautions galore and some things will never be the same (obviously), but I am slowly turning into “me” again.

And it feels pretty damn good.

Want to know the strangest–and funniest–gift I received?

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Releasing my present from the Havahart trap.

Barbara surprised me with a chipmunk.  She’d trapped it because it was eating her strawberries and, knowing the Funny Grandson and I love chipmunks, brought me another mouth to feed.  Honestly, how funny is that?!?

My Texas family has returned home, so the house is quiet.  Very quiet.  No one has asked me to play UNO for days.  I’m suffering withdrawal and eating ice cream bars all by myself.

Monday starts the radiation portion of my “to hell with cancer” program.  I’m not sure what “mapping” means, but there is going to be some kind of dress rehearsal for the radiation treatments.  I’ve been told that small tattoos are in my future.  Who knew?  Once the treatments start we’ll be going to Providence every day for six weeks.

I’m ready for the next stage.

Today is my father’s birthday.  He would have been 94.  I like to think he’s watching over me and cheering me on, just like all of you have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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the mystery ride

Last Monday we loaded everyone up in the car and headed to Massachusetts.  This was a big day.  I had rested for two entire days in order to have the energy to make the trip.  Banjo Man had taken the day off work.  Directions and parking information in hand, we set off at 9:00 AM.

Where were we going?  Ah, that was the mystery!

The Funny Grandson thought we were taking him to Math Camp for the day (“Bad Grandma” gave hints to make him think that) so he was less than pleased.  We assured him there would be “healthy snacks” and lots of fun math problems to solve.

Glum, he muttered from the third seat, “Stop torturing me.”

His father was beyond excited and had been for a week, when we’d first conceived of the plan.  Now Son #1 is a stoic guy.  It’s hard to tell when he is excited about something.  But when we arrived at the New England Patriots Hall of Fame at Gillette Stadium, Ben turned into a 12-year old boy.  He couldn’t believe the size and scope of the building–three stories, with the Pro Shop on the ground floor–and a view of the stadium through distant gates.  I’d known (from the website) how big it was, but I’d kept that info to myself so not to spoil the surprise for the big guy, too.

The FG burst into relieved laughter and couldn’t stop grinning.

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This is not Math Camp.

Now I know most of you out there hate the Patriots and would rather ride a dying donkey in the desert than visit their Hall of Fame, but…bear with me.  If you have a chance to go to your team’s Hall of Fame, you should.  Because it’s a good time.

My daughter-in-law was a great sport and took lots of pictures.  We kept our eye on the FG so his father and grandfather could absorb all the Patriot joy and info.

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The entrance: walking through a giant football helmet.

There were so many interactive exhibits, displays, photo ops and videos.

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The “locker room”, where you can try on real jerseys and equipment.  The FG is wearing one of Brady’s actual jerseys.  And the dirt and sweat was real.  As was the hand sanitizer dispenser on the wall nearby.

How about getting in on a huddle?

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As we were crossing the main plaza, on our way to the elevators and a restaurant for lunch, we saw Bob Kraft walking nearby.  He was heading into the stadium, but I never thought to stop him and get a picture.  Tourists visiting from L.A. who were close to the gate did, though.

We ate lunch in Patriot’s Place, the large shopping plaza next to the stadium, and stopped for ice cream on the way home.  Once home, all of the exhausted Patriots fans took naps.

It wasn’t Math Camp, but it was one heck of a good time!

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