Friday, November 15, 2019

Going Dark for A while

THE BITCH IS BACK.  That said, it could be far worse.  I mentioned before I would not let my life be defined by cancer anymore than absolutely necessary.  So for the near future, I will not be blogging.  I will focus on treatment and fun, music, books, and family.

I know that more articulate and generous people have encouraged others.  But my own take is that every person's life is unique and  each journey is different.  I am incredibly fortunate and I remain positive with a touch of realism.  I have a wonderfully supportive family, and excellent pysicians who are experts in the field.  The medical faciliy is state-of-the-art with active research and a wealth of  the latest equipment.  We are financially secure and in a good place.  My physicians are very optimistic that we recognized the return spot very early and expect snother remission soon.  I feel quite well and have no side effects from treatment.  I drive myself there through pastures and farms, enjoying the beautiful ride, the car filled with the wonderful sounds from my playlists.

So all things considered...LIFE IS GOOD, and we are blessed,.

Tofay's quote comes from Emily Dickinson:
"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul-
And sings the tunes without the words-
And never stops at all."

I will likely continue to post on FaceBook as Carolyn Brittain Powell if you want to check in occasionally.  It's no more interesting than averag (and that's a low bar), and it won't have to do with cancer.  Just birds  and mountains and a thought or two.


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Day Late

I usually post on Fridays but got caught up in household repairmen and let the blog slide.

When our son and his wife bought their house, they discovered a treat that first autumn.  Two large  Butternut trees in the yard attracted Common Grackles in huge numbers.  The birds covered the ground, breaking the outer covering to get at the nuts inside.  Many were also in the tree.  What a sight to behold!  (There is no specific name for a group of grackles although they often travel in large flocks.)  There are so many of them, their calls can be heard inside their house.  This leads some to call the group a cacophony of grackles.  They are so prevalent and bothersome in some areas they are called a plague of grackles.  They are irridescent in the sun and I think they are beautiful.

Photograph from Wikipedia

This year Violet got to experience the wonder of the massive number of birds.  She was mesmerized.  I don't think the photographs need any words.

Here in the mountains we are receiving the last gasp of the latest tropical storm from the gulf.  It is giving us high winds and heavy rains, stripping the colorful leaves from the trees.  Attendance at Halloweenfest (our largest festival) is likely to be small and few vendors will set up tents for their lovely arts and crafts.  What a shame for all concerned.

Today's quote comes from Rachel Carson:
"If a child is to keep the inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering within him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.

I have several busy weeks ahead, so I will nor post for a couple of weeks.  Try to renew your sense od wonder in the world around you.


Friday, October 18, 2019

Fun and Logic

It's been a nice week here with much cooler weather and some much-needed rain.

On a sunny warm day, Violet and her daddy did some outdoor Halloween decorating.  She helped to carry some short logs to form a boundary.  Then her daddy placed the stones and concrete pieces.  Violet has no idea what "PET SEMATARY" means and she doesn't need to know.  What she does know is that she and her daddy had lots of fun working together on a projet that other people like.

Violet admires the results of their work

Like most nearly two-and-a-half-year olds, Violet has definite opinions about any number of things.  These opinions can lead to conflict which sometimes lead to pouting or even "meltdowns."  Early one chilly morning Violet and her daddy disagreed on whether or not it was all right for Violet to go outside to play while still in her jammies and without a coat.  She thought it was a good idea but her daddy disagreed.  On this occasion, Violet sat against the door and argued her position like an attorney in court.

"It's like this, Daddy..." 

And there are countless times when a toddler decides to comply with a request in his or her own way.  Her father wanted a video to show Violet counting to ten.  She usually pronounces each number well, even the often difficult "three."  While not technically refusing, Violet makes it clear she does not want to do this.  She popped a crouton in her mouth for good measure and then she counted to ten in a most disinterested way.

This week one of my heroes died.  He was a marvelous human being with a life well lived, even though it was done too soon.  So it is fitting that today's quote is from Elijah Cummings:

"Our children are the living messengers we send to a future we will never see.
Will we rob them of their destiny?
Will we rob them of their dreams?
NO!  We will not do that."



Friday, October 11, 2019

Sunshine and Rain

Almost from the time she could walk, Violet has been fascinated by her shadow.  Whenever the day is sunny, she will spend some time making certain that the shadow follows her every command.

There you are again, shadow.

Now, hold out your arm.

I can make you smaller if I wish.

Much as she loves the sun and shadows, Violet also loves rainy days.  She is old enough to go out and play in the warm rain and stomp in the puddles.  Bright colors are necessary on rainy days.  So it's green and black Darth Vader outfit, pink and white Wellies and a multi-colored flowery raincoat.

Let's go!

She has a happy-go-lucky disposition most of the time but she takes her chores very seriously.  A recent self-imposed chore is to pick up every acorn under the big oak trees at a nearby park.  She picks them up one at a time and rapidly runs over and hands each one to her daddy.  Fortunately she is not a hoarder and never asks what happened to all the acorns she picked up.  The goal seems to be ridding the park of acorns, not collecting them.

Here's another one, Daddy.  Quick!  Take it so I can run and pick up another one I saw.

Today's first quote is from Russian novelist and philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky:
"The soul is healed by being with children."

And this from Khalil Gibran:
"Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry;
The philosophy which does not laugh;
And the greatness which does not bow before children.

And for Vicki and all other grandparents, a quote from Alex Haley:
"Nobody can do for little children what grandparents so.
Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children."

Our Jewish friends have just completed the holy day of Yom Kippur.  We hope the Book of Life, opened on Rosh Hashanna has determined a wonderful fate for them before it sealed once again at the close of Yom Kippur.



Friday, October 4, 2019

Nice Break

I had a nice break, especially during our daughter's visit.  The weather was gorgeous although much warmer than usual for the mountains.  After one of the wettest summers on record, we are now near drought conditions.  But we take what we get.

As usual, our daughter and I spent a lot of time driving through the mountains.  We were a bit surprised to find the leaf color in the high mountains about the same as it is here.  That is to say, not much color except among the shrubs and the occasional tree.  The prognosticators have widely varying leaf prophecies.  At first most of them predicted an especially good year for intense color.  Most are now saying the color will be subdued and some are suggesting that the leaves will simply turn brown and fall.  A few good days of gentle rain and cooler weather would change that.

Near the 4,500-foot elevation on the Blue Ridge Parkway

We were treated to the fall migration of one of our favorite visitors, the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.  The males always arrive first and spend a week or so and then they leave shortly after the females arrive.  We do enjoy their visit, short-lived though it may be.

A male grosbeak looks right at me, perhaps seeing his reflection in the camera lens

The females arrived along with some of the first-year males.  While we are glad to see them, we know it means the more colorful males will soon leave our woods and continue on their journey.

Not as colorful, but beautiful nonetheless

The American Cardinals are permanent residents so they give us brilliant color all year.

I continue to feel pretty good and had a lot of fun with our daughter.  It is so wonderful to be able to drive, shop, eat at good restaurants and cook good meals again.  And I am thankful every day for being here and feeling so well.  That is always tempered with a bit of reality of ovarian cancer's nasty habit of returning.  I try to keep that on the back burne to bring forth only if/when required.

The first of today's quotes is from Marcus Aurelius and it is something I think about if the future turns more negative:
"Here is the rule to remember in the future:
When anything tempts you to be bitter:
Not "This is a misfortune":
But "To bear this worthily is good fortune."

The next quote is from the great Tecumseh.  It's a repeat but it is one that I think about every single day and it has a very deep and personal meaning for me:
"When you rise in the morning,
Give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself."

I'll leave you with a photograph I recently came across.  It's our beloved Golden Girls standing inside and looking through the screen at us.   They never understood why we would ever be in the yard, leaving them inside.

October 1st marked the end of the holy days of Rosh Hashanna so we wish a good year to our Jewish friends.  And to all of us.




Friday, September 13, 2019

More Good News

It seems my cancer markers are still down, indicating no cancer growth.  To say I am grateful is an understatement.  In fact, I don't need to see my oncologist for three months.  So other than monthly flushes of my infusion port, I won't be traveling to the chemo clinic for a quarter of a year.  We have no idea what the future holds or how long the remaining cancer cells will remain dormant.  But we refuse to focus on that.  We are taking the good news for what it is and no more.  And I still wake up every morning and say aloud, "thank you for another day."  I don't specify to whom it is addressed so that it will cover all to whom it may concern.

We gave the miniature fishing cabinet to my oncologist after the visit and he was delighted.  His face lit up like a little boy with his first electric train (or whatever is the modern-day equivalent).  He kept pointing out tiny little things and said it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen.  I offered to help him put it back in the padded gift bag and he refused.  He wanted to carry it to his office in his hands.  All three of us - the doctor, my husband, and I - left the office smiling broadly.

I saw a couple of the nurses as I was leaving and they ran up to me clapping because they already knew about my good counts.  They are absolutely the most caring and wonderful people I have ever met in such horrible times.

I have several things on my schedule for the next month, not the least of which is a visit from our daughter.  So I am going to be pretty busy as I relish my good fortune.  I'll take a break from blogging unless something important comes along.

I will leave you with an early autumn photograph taken right in our community. I took it at the base of one waterfall, pointing at the larger waterfall for whom our community is named.

And the lovely area known as John Rock, now a fish hatchery with a popular hiking trail to the top of the rock.   I took these photographs several years ago when the fall color was truly spectacular.

Today's first quote is from Ingrid Bergman:
"Every day that I challenge this cancer and survive is a victory for me."

I've been a poetry lover since the sing-song rhymes I first heard in early childhood.  One of the best things about Kindle is that I can carry poetry anthologies (or complete works) around with me. 
I will share my favorite autumn poem, "God's World" by Edna St. Vincent Millay.  Think on it as you see the fall colors.

Oh world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
     Thy winds, thy wide gray skies,
     Thy mists that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour!  That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough.

Long have I known the glory in it all,
     But never knew I this;
     Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,---Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year,
My soul is all but out of me,--let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird calll.




Friday, September 6, 2019

Getting Ready for Autumn

September in the mountains provides a glimpse into the future of autumn color.  The trees have a dusky look as the bright shiny green leaves begin to fade a bit.  And a few trees have some color already.  I must admit I am a bit sorry to say goodbye to summer, but we will have more summer days ahead as the weather will change from day to day.  And you all know my determination to take every day I am given.

This view not far from our house shows some of the leaves already beginning to turn.

In many places, the woods are filled with fallen leaves and the wild mushrooms are thriving with our frequent summer storms.

The following photograph was taken near the same area as the others above.  Notice that it seems so much greener and less like autumn than the others.  In the mountains, it makes a bit difference if you grow on one side of the mountain rather than the other.

We enjoy autumn and are fortunate to have miles and miles of roads with magnificent color right in our own community.  We do take drives through the higher mountains even if we have to share our roads with the leaf peepers.  One perk of mountain living is that driving to different elevations provides different signs of changing seasons.  Indeed life is better in the mountains.

For now, we are enjoying the warm sunny days, even as the hours of daylight are diminishing.  And while we enjoy this lovely weather we are also thinking about those who have been in harm's way from Hurricane Dorian.  And all those across our planet who are suffering weather's devastating effects.

The first quote comes from author George Eliot:
"Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."

And one of my favorites is from an anonymous poet:
"The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go."