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."



Friday, August 30, 2019

A Little Something for Doc

My oncologist is an avid trout fisherman.  In fact, that is one reason he moved his practice to western NC.  I decided I wanted to give him a little gift of appreciation so we commissioned a miniature fishing cabinet for him.  We couldn't be more pleased with the result.  One of our daughter's friends is a fly fisherman too and he gave us a lot of good ideas as did our fishing daughter.  (Thanks A and B).

The level of detail in this little cabinet is amazing.  To give you an idea of the detail, the cabinet itself is a mere six inches tall and four inches wide.  The little wooden fish signs on the left say, "Gone Fishing" and "Catch you Later."  The charts are in amazing detail and the top shelf contains reels of fly fishing line, a mounted fish, and a fishing hat.  The center shelf contains a creel and a lunch box as well as some maps and guides.  The bottom shelf contains another creel, a map and a brass rod holder.   On the right are two fly rods and reels and on the left is a rod container with another fly rod inside.  A vest, two nets, complete the exterior.  We also asked that the artist include a little doctor's bag.
[You may want to click on the photographs for added detail. For some reason the first picture does not enlarge.]

We are so please with this little set.

A side view shows the detail on the fishing rods and reels.  Note that there are tiny little fishing flies attached to the line.

Fishing books, magazines, a tool kit (complete with tiny little pliers, etc.), a tin with miniscule fishing flies are inside the drawer along with other items.

A closeup of the lunch pail shows a tiny cup and sandwich as well as a can of soda.

The fishing hat has flies hooked on it just like big ones do

And there are little medical instruments inside the doctor's bag.

We will be giving this little treasure to my doctor on my next visit in a couple of weeks.  I will go in before that visit for a blood draw.  So we will get the results of my cancer markers when we see the doctor.  We are hoping they are still the same, but we are also emotionally prepared if they have risen, indicating renewed cancer growth.

I have no idea what the future holds.  I can only say that I feel wonderful and I am blessed to be on the right side of the bell curve.  At my last visit, the chemo nurses wanted to know if I wanted to sound the gong they have there.  Many patients ring it when they are in remission.  I declined, fearing it just might be a jinx and I didn't want to tempt whatever gods may be who have brought me this far.  But I don't think they would mind some positive vibes you might think of sending into the wind if you are so inclined.  And I welcome prayers of all kinds from all faiths to all Deities.

Today's first quote is from author Isabel Allende:
"Everybody has losses - it's unavoidable in life.
But sharing our pain is very healing."

And from Hippocrates, the father of medicine:
"Healing is a matter of time,
But sometimes it is also a matter of opportunity."

And from the Buddha:
"The secret of health of both mind and body is
Not to mourn for the past,
Nor to worry about the future,
But to live the present moment wisely and earnestly."




Friday, August 23, 2019

Another Friday

We are having some blessedly uneventful days.  Typical August weather with almost daily thunderstorms.  One of them brought us lots of hail after the rain.  I do enjoy summer storms and love to look out at them.  Our screened porch is the perfect place to enjoy the storms.

No news on the dog front, so once again I will share our granddaughter with some random pictures and a short video.

For some reason, she decided to eat her snack of Goldfish with a fork.  She first tried to spear them but that resulted in breaking them into pieces.  So she used the fork to delicately scoop them up one by one and put them in her mouth,

Why not use a fork?
You tried often enough to get me to use one.

She is pretty fearless in most instances.  She loves the water and jumps into the pool without hesitation.  They have a pool so while they never let her outside alone, it is still important that she is safe in the water should she fall in.  They would never trust a toddler's swimming ability, but it's good to know they would have several safe seconds to get her out in case of an accident.  She loves to jump and go under the water, trusting that the waiting arms will catch her when she bobs up.  It won't be long before she will be able to shake her head and swim off.

Ready?  Set? Go!
[A phrase she learned from Grammy during her last visit]

Here is a short video of Violet rather high on a jungle gym at a nearby park.  She is determined and careful, but it always makes her daddy nervous.  (Best to click icon for full screen on bottom right.)

Oh, I think I can do this.

At the State Fair she didn't get any of the good deep-fat-fried yummies her daddy ate, but she did get her first pony ride.

She loves to swing.  While she was swinging one of favorite "uncles" came in sight and this was her reaction.
Oh, Lookee!

Today's first quote comes from from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
"It is a happy talent to know how to play."

And from our beloved Fred Rogers:
"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning.
But for children, play IS serious learning.
Play is really the work of childhood."




Friday, August 16, 2019

It Starts Early in Life

These days we talk a lot about prejudice.  It is an ugly wound in our history which has been reopened by the current POTUS and his adminstration.  And when we hear such hateful and hurtful rhetoric from our "leaders" we realize just how deep the wound is and how superficial the healing has been.

Children are born without prejudice.  It has been proven time and again that prejudice is a learned behavior.  And it is often learned when there is limited exposure to different types of people.  When I was in elementary school, the nearest people we had from other cultures were the very few Catholics, Yankees whose fathers moved to the South to manage a plant that located in our little town.  They went to the library during our weekly religion (read that Protestant) guest speakers.  When you were a child, how many people of other races and cultures were represented in your story books?  I can recall only two books about different races when I was a small child.  One was LITTLE BLACK SAMBO, and the other was THE FIVE CHINESE BROTHERS.  I admit that I loved both of those stories although they clearly stereotype the cultures and I would not want Violet to have them.  Oh, and I almost forgot Uncle Remus and his fables, the most famous being Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby.  Not good examples of the culture either.  Again, I loved them but would not want them for my granddaughter until she is at least a teenager.

I was absolutely delighted when Aunt Kathryn gave my little children a lovely book called OH, WHAT A BUSY DAY!  The illustrations by Gyo Fujikawa were enchanting and included children of different races and ethnic groups all playing together.  New Yorker Magazine recently did a lovely article that you might find interesting.  (Click here.)  The book, originally published in 1976 is still in print.  It's filled with short verses and is fun for children and adults alike.  I can highly recommend it.

Picture from the Internet
Violet now has our copy

Our Violet does have busy days.  She enjoys all sorts of creative play both indoors and out.  She is already loving dress-up and pretend.

Last week I posted a picture of her in a Darth Vader shirt.  Today I will show you the real Darth Violet, ready to take on anything with her light saber.  (Yes, she plays villians as well as heroes.)

 First you get the light saber at the ready

Then you get your frightening face to scare the opponent

And who is the opponent?  The same sweet giant giraffe Violet was hugging last week.  If you are Darth Violet you must take on the biggest opponent you can find.
A fierce attack

I love that Violet is exposed to children and adults of all races, cultures, and lifestyles.  No distinction is made among them.  She is too young to recognize stereotypes but her parents will guide her to dismiss them when she is old enough to understand.  I do believe Violet will grow up to be as accepting of others as one can be.  Her parents are exceptional role models.

I often wonder (and fear) just how the children of the supporters of the too-often heard hate speech will fare in tomorrow's world?  Will they become the minority?  Will they grow up and recognize how wrong their parents were?  Or will they grow up bitter and angry?  Time will tell.

The first quote of the week is from one of my heroes, Ruth Bader Gingsburg:
"America is known as a country that welcomes people to its shores.  All kinds of people.  The image of the Statue of Liberty with Emma Lazarus's famous poem.  She lifts her lamp and welcomes people to the golden shore where they will not experience prejudice because of the color of their skin or the religious faith they follow."
(PERSONAL NOTE:  Take THAT, Ken Cuccinelli!)

The next is from the late (and still missed) Molly Ivins:
"Old-fashioned anti-immigrant prejudice always brings out some old-fashioned racists."

And from the late (and still missed) Maya Angelou:
"Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible."

Is there hope for our Nation?  I do think there is.  For our sakes, but mostly for the sake of dear innocent Violet and all other children who will inherit the world we leave behind.




Friday, August 9, 2019

A Very Busy Girl

Days in the life of a two-year-old are busy indeed and our Violet is always a busy girl.  Not much for frills and dresses, she doesn't mind getting a bit of dirt or scrapes on her knees.  She much prefers the outdoors and can always find an adventure.

Darth Vader peeks between the trees

Her father took her shopping for Mama's birthday gift at a nearby upscale mall.  He put the gift on the table, gave Violet a snack and turned around to get a cup of coffee.  Unfortunately she was more interested in the gift than the snack and quick as a wink tore off the trade-mark white bow.  (Did you know they give all employees lessons in how to tie those white bows?)

She seems quite excited and is just about to open the box

Our son put a long row of small plants near the deck railing.  So Violet now has chores to do.  She keeps the little plants watered and takes the job quite seriously.

Carefully pouring water into each little pot

She loves pizza as a special treat.  This is her method for eating pizza:  first you take off and eat the pepperoni pieces and other toppings.  Next you peel off and eat the cheese.  Then you lick the sauce off with your tongue.  Finally you eat the soggy crust.  It's a bit messy but definitely the best way.

Licking off the marinara sauce

It is important to hug your animals, even the giant ones.
  Violet hugs her giraffe before calling it a day.

I think of this very fortunate little girl, surrounded by the love of family and friends.  Living without fears or anxiety about her safety and security.  Assuming the best of things will happen every day.  And it breaks my heart that the same cannot be said for so very many children living in the United States and around the world.

The first of today's quotes is from Nelson Mandela:
"History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children."

And from Oliver Wendell Holmes:
"Pretty much all of the honest truth telling there is in the world is done by children."

And from Frederick Douglas:
"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."

And an anonymous quote aimed at all those who interact with small children:
"Children seldom misquote.  In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you should not have said."




Friday, August 2, 2019

Golden Memories

We have been reading about different breed characteristics and considering what kind of dog we may want in the future.  That automatically triggers happy memories of our Ellie and Lucy.  We even reflect on our two dogs who preceded them, both of them Springer Spaniels.  We loved all of them, but I honestly believe there is no sweeter, more loving and loyal dog than a Golden Retriever.  (And of those Golden Retrievers there was no sweeter, more loving and loyal one than Dichi Sirius Eleanor Rose (Ellie).)  Dogs have been members of our family continuously since my husband and I were married.
Our Ellie just after we brought her home.

Lucy on her first day with us.  She was a tiny little bit of fluff.

Ellie carried two tennis balls around much of the time.
I sent a picture to our breeder who mentioned that her father did the same.

She may not have been as fast, but no dog ran with more enthusiasm than Lucy

And memories always include the two dogs cuddled in one bed.

This picture is the most poignant one.  It is the last photograph we have of Ellie, taken shortly before her untimely death from an angiosarcoma.  It was a gorgeous Autumn day and the Golden Girls had been romping through the leaves.  We forced them to sit and rest after having a drink of cool water.

We still have not determined what kind of dog we want.  We will certainly get a shelter or rescue dog who is older.  Our house is not well-suited for training a puppy.  As much as we would love another Golden, we are not physically up to providing the running activities they require.  And while I think they are adorable, I do not want a little ten-pound dog.  So we will think, and look, and then put our names in for another dog.

The first of our quotes today comes from American author Dean Koontz:
"Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one is a life diminished."

The next quote is from Khalil Gibran:
"When you are sorrowful look again at your heart,
And you will see in truth
That you are weeping for that which has been your delight."

All of our four dogs have been our delights.  And while we have periods of sorrow, we mostly cling to the happy memories our dogs have provided.  Tipsy Pudding, our first Springer shared our lives for 16 years.  Penny Lane, our second Springer was with us for almost 16.  Eleanor Rose, our first Golden was with us for almost 9 years.  We brought home Lemonade Lucy when Ellie was 1.  She lived almost 14 years, dying four days short of her 14th birthday.

And still we follow the advice of that great sage, Dr. Seuss and we smile because it happened.