Friday, August 17, 2018

We Love Lucy

Friday rolls around so quickly nowadays.  We can already see and feel the signs of waning summer.  The leaves on the trees are getting a duller appearance rather than bright shiny green.  We still hear the loud katydid chorus each evening and the fireflies are still lighting the dusk.  But darkness descends a bit earlier each day.

We've had a short respite from the rain, but we are expecting heavy downpours and thunderstorms over the weekend.  We will have some flooded roads and a lot of flooded low-lying fields, but not as much flooding as some areas of our country are experiencing.

Lucy always has the right idea.  Just take it easy and relax.  Her preference is to have a soft pillow.  In the absence of a pillow, she will use a pair of shoes for her head.  And when we have dinner, she rests her head on a chair rung.  In fact, she doesn't like it when we have company and all the chairs are full.

It looks quite uncomfortable to me but she seems to like it.

We are seeing a second brood of some of our larger birds. (Many of the smaller ones have already produced three broods.)  Mrs. b commented that she enjoys the photographs of birds near our house.  So, mrs. b, this juvenile Pileated Woodpecker is for you.  (And the other readers)

Another beautiful girl to grace the trees

After holding out for such a long time, I finally joined Facebook.  To  my great surprise I quickly received "friend" requests from several of my high school classmates.  (Yes, high school.)  I am daily surprised at the vitriol they post.  Not all of them, but far too many of them seem so terribly angry at Hillary Clinton and President Obama.  They praise the actions of Trump and somehow always blame Clinton and Obama for anything negative he might have done,  (The rest is pardoned by "Trump is just being Trump.")

I become almost despondent thinking of their defense of this indefensible President.  They are not stereotypical rednecks or the people we tend to think of as Trump's base.  They are college educated and otherwise reasonable people. They honestly believe the lies they hear.  And they share posts that have been proven false time and again.  And mixed in with their political posts are VERY religious ones.  Almost every one of these Trump supporters boasts about having intense patriotism and deep Christianity.  They see no irony or conflict between their beliefs and Trump's actions.

In spite of getting a bit despondent when I read those posts, I still remain optimistic.  Why?  For the same reason I remain optimistic about having cancer...whether it ends badly, or whether it ends well, I have lost nothing and gained much by being optimistic,  I think Albert Schweitzer explained it well in today's quote:

“To the question whether I am a pessimist or an optimist, I answer that my knowledge is pessimistic, but my willing and hoping are optimistic.”– Albert Schweitzer


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Book Lovers

Our little granddaughter lives in a world of books.  Her father is an avid reader.  As is her grandmother.  Her mother's father before her was an avid reader as well.  And his mother, Violet's  great-great-grandmother before him.  Little Violet's room is filled with books and there are plenty more in the playroom.  As soon as she was home from the hospital, story hour preceded bedtime every night, even if sleep preceded the story hour.  It comes as no surprise that she already loves books.

She "reads" one of her favorites

Like her father and grandmother, her nose is often in a book.

At this early age, Violet finds multiple uses for her books.  The board books make quite nice hats, although they won't stay on one's head without a little help.

She's covered in case it rains.

Both of my grown children have been devoted readers all their lives.  I read aloud to them when each was in utero, while breast-feeding, at bedtime, and various times during the day.  I read aloud whatever book or magazine I happened to be reading during the day.  But the bedtime book was always a children's book.  I started buying children's books long before we had children.

As my daughter and son grew into readers themselves we still had story hour in which we read aloud books of their choosing.  Those were very special times and bring fond memories as we read and discussed books.  At age ten, our son chose Animal Farm for our story hour.  I didn't think he would understand the deeper meanings in the book.  To my surprise, he did indeed transfer the actions of the pigs to people and politics.  One of my daughter's choices was The Neverending Story which may have triggered her love of fantasy fiction.  It has brought me great pleasure over the years to see my children read and love the books I read and loved as a child and young woman.

As I mentioned in my previous post, chemotherapy took away my concentration for reading the more complex books I enjoyed before.  But I did not stop reading.  I switched to simpler books that I might otherwise not have tried.  Actually some of them were pretty good.  I read most of the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear.  They are typical British mysteries and hit the right combination of good stories combined with less complexity.  They were perfect for my compromised concentration at the time.  While I have always preferred hardcover books over ebooks, I never appreciated my Kindle quite so much until I had chemo.  The books are there, downloaded or in the cloud and it is so light-weight it wasn't a problem to hold during the three to four hours of infusions.  The Kindle also holds poetry collections and short stories and I could switch to them when I tired of my novels.

Ernest Hemingway said, "There is no friend as loyal as a book."  I might take small issue with that.  I would say there are few friends as loyal as a book, but indeed there are some.  And thank goodness for those few.

Friday, August 10, 2018

We Love Our Lucy

We have had a very wet week.  The "scattered" storms seemed always to fall upon us. Our rivers are high and many low-lying roads are impassable when we get these downpours.  Known as "The Land of the Waterfalls," our county is called by locals "The Land Where the Water Falls."

Lucy HATES rain.  She is reluctant to go out and does not enjoy being dried off before coming inside.  She curls up with her pillows and snoozes while the rain falls outside.

Old lady looking rather like a puppy.

While Lucy curls up with her pillows on these rainy days, I curl up with a good book.  For quite a while I had "chemo brain" which interfered with my relatively sharp mind.  I could not focus on the books I would normally have enjoyed.  So I switched to short stories, light British mysteries, and books with simpler plots.  Thanks to Kindle, I did not have to invest large sums of money for these books.  Now my brain has returned to normal (whatever that is) and I can once again enjoy books with complex plots and characters spanning long periods of time.  It is amazing how important that is to me.

I made the mistake of trying to work on a knitting project I had started before chemotherapy.  It was a complex pattern with squares within squares within squares and required constant counting.  I made a major mistake and then made even more mistakes in trying to correct it.  In anger I frogged (knitting talk for ripping out stitches as in 'rippit, rippit, rippit') the entire work and was left winding up the five skeins of yarn I had knitted.  (Yes, hours and hours of work lost)  I seem to have lost my knitting muse along with the work but perhaps that will return as well.

I have started the new chemotherapy regimen with a drug that has few side effects and I have not had any problem.  The infusions are every three weeks and I can drive myself there and back.  Both my car and I enjoy that.

Today's quote comes from businessman and philanthropist W. Clement Stone and seems appropriate for our time.

Truth will always be truth, regardless of lack of understanding, disbelief or ignorance.

I am blown away by the Facebook posts that contain outright lies and are shared again and again. I want to refer the people to the facts.  But they really do not want facts.  They make excuses for our current White House resident, allowing as how he simply "misspoke."  They love to perpetuate the untruths out in cyberspace about former President Obama and former Secretary of State Clinton.  I wish they would search for the truth as deeply as they search for false information about immigrants.


Friday, August 3, 2018

We Do Love Our Lucy

Lucy had a birthday on July 4th.  It's hard to believe she is thirteen, fairly old for a Golden Retriever.  She moves around a bit more slowly and her hearing may be a little decreased but she is generally a healthy dog and our veterinarian says she appears much younger than her years.  She still has a lot of puppy foolishness and a real sense of humor.  It seems she invariably chooses to lie down in the places most inconvenient for us.  One of her favorite places is under the raised footrest of my husband's recliner.  She loves to use his shoes as a makeshift pillow.  Fortunately, we always look out for her and so far we haven't injured her.

Snoozing under the chair

Today's quote comes from George Bernard Shaw.  Make of it what you will.

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul, can always depend on the support of Paul.


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Her First Ice Cream

Our son has a good friend who has also been his marathon running buddy for several years.  She is the mother of identical twin boys who are 18 months old.  Every now and then she wants some "girl time."  So she either visits or "borrows" our sweet granddaughter Violet.

Violet cut four additional teeth the other week so the friend wanted to take her for her first taste of cold and soothing ice cream.  They went to a nearby ice cream shop and tried three different kinds.  Violet loved them all.  She is not accustomed to sweets so it was an extra-special treat for her.

She has started playing with learning to use a spoon.  So she fed her "Auntie H" ice cream and her auntie fed her.  My son caught this lovely photograph.

Sharing delicious ice cream

Our dear granddaughter is indeed lucky that so many of her parent's friends love her and want to spend time with her.  One "uncle" takes her regularly to the park or other outings.  So often, in fact, that her parents bought a car seat for his car.  It's a win-win-win situation.  Violet loves it, Uncle J loves it and her stay-at-home dad loves the time to do things other than watch her.

If it takes a community to raise a child (and I believe it does), then Violet is very lucky to be a part of such a wonderful one.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Lucy Hates Caps

I just love pictures of dogs wearing different caps.  But Lucy would have no part of wearing my newest cap.  She clearly hated it and while this is a terrible photograph, it was the longest the hat remained on her head.  She had already begun to shake it off.  The words on the blue cap read, "MAKE AMERICA NOT EMBARRASSING AGAIN.

I've never been one to wear hats since my childhood days of Easter finery.  However, one side effect of the chemotherapy I received was hair loss.  I decided not to purchase any wigs and I wear knit and crochet caps only if needed to keep my head warm, which is more often than  you might think.  And I wear a baseball cap when I am in the sun to prevent sunburn.  This is one of my favorite caps.  But as you can clearly see, Lucy doesn't like it one little bit.  So no more attempts will be made to photograph her in a cap.  BTW:  my hair is beginning to grow again and my head is fuzzy with soft down.  It looks rather strange and feels even stranger.  And wouldn't you know those six stiff old-lady chin hairs were not affected at all by the chemo?  God has quite a sense of humor, doesn't she?

I mentioned in my last post that I did not want this blog to be about cancer.  And I do not.  But I would be remiss if I did not share the news that a more specific scan (PET) showed three "hot spots" of remaining cancer.  Not good news, but certainly not the worst it could be.  The areas are very small and not amenable to resection by surgery.  So beginning Monday I will start on a new regimen with a drug recently approved for treating ovarian cancer.  Last month, in fact.  The drug does not cure the cancer but rather inhibits its growth.  So the spots are contained and cannot grow and spread.  The side effects are minimal and do not include the onerous side effects of many chemotherapy drugs.  So I will go to the infusion clinic every three weeks for an intravenous infusion of the new drug.  We will continue the drug until it is no longer doing its job.  If subsequent scans show any growth of the spots, the plan is to return to the traditional chemotherapy to eradicate the cancer.

So that's where we are, me and my cancer. I am feeling stronger and stronger the further away from chemotherapy I get.  Hopefully, I will soon return to getting out and finding more interesting things to post.

The quotes of the week come most appropriately from George Orwell:

Political designed to make lies sound truthful...,
And to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

And if you wonder why you keep reading the same comments from compassionate people over and over again, here is another of his prophetic quotes:

We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What Happened to the Blog?

The Mountain Musings blog has been dormant for quite some time.  The reason lies in an unfortunate truth.  Don't worry...Lucy is just fine and thriving.  She is totally ignoring that she will be thirteen this month and we are delighted she remains in such good shape.

No, the unfortunate truth is that at the end of October I was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer.  I had major surgery and then began chemotherapy treatments four weeks later.  Because of a severely compromised immune system (and the weakness and other side effects chemotherapy brings) I was pretty much confined to our house except for medical appointments.  So I was not able to get out to photograph our lovely area.  The whole focus of my life has been on surviving the treatment and "beating" the cancer.  I have remained pretty upbeat through it all.  I figure if you are upbeat you have nothing to lose, even if the news is not good.  I definitely did not want my blog to be about cancer.  And since there was so little other focus in my life, I went dark all these months.

I completed six months of chemotherapy a few weeks ago and while I am not in anyway back to normal, I am feeling better and stronger every day.  The scans do not show any evidence of cancer.  YEAH!  Unfortunately, that does not mean there is NOT any more cancer, since the scans detect only masses and not diffuse cancer.  So I likely have more surgery and chemotherapy in my future.  Time will tell.  But for the time being, things look pretty good.

Our granddaughter has visited us and in fact is visiting us now over the Independence Day holiday.  She is totally fascinated and in love with Lucy.  At thirteen months of age she has been taught by her parents the art of "gentle touch" with their cats, and she transferred this to her dealings with Lucy as well.  The last time she visited (in May), she was not very mobile so she admired Lucy from a distance and Lucy did not have to respond.  Things are very different this time and she loves to approach and pet Lucy.  Lucy is very gentle with the baby but was initially very confused about what her role was supposed to be.  After a day or so she felt more comfortable and now feels free to walk away if she's not interested in interacting.  She does, however, station herself beneath the high chair at mealtime.  All sorts of wonderful bits of food might fall to the floor.

(Sorry about the blurry picture of the baby.  She just wouldn't stand still so I focused on the dog.)

Lucy and Friend

Smiles all around

Lucy tires of the activity and walks away

So that is our life so far.  I will not likely post on a regular basis, but I am doing well and as I can once again get out into the community and find some interesting things to post I will do so.  Meanwhile I will continue to read and enjoy your blogs.

If you are so inclined, I would appreciated petitions to the Deity of your choice on my behalf.  Or positive thoughts and good vibes will work as well.