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Friday, April 06, 2018

Post-Chemo Sloth Day Blooming Report

Yesterday was another chemo session.  I slept most of the afternoon yesterday and today  has been another sloth day. Hopefully I'll bounce back by tomorrow and be able to get some things done around the house. Menwhile here are some pics of   what's blooming in the back yard.

These canes of Lady Banks roses are trying to escape from the arbor anf join the wood hyacinths  below them.

  This is the side of the arbor visible from the back door.  The pink roses  have joined the white Lady Banks. The pic is a little fuzzy-  it had begun to sprinkle rain so  these are roses in the misty rain.

 The pink yarrow is beginning to bloom- and spread like wildfire.  It's hard to keep it in check.

This purple iris is ready to pop open and join the few yellow ones that have already bloomed.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

More Pollen! I Just Can't stop Whining, Can I?

We had storms last night.  The wind howled around the corners of the house, thunder roared, lightning crashed and zigzagged through the night sky, and rain fell. There was  enough wind and rain to knock a few  catkins  out of the trees and litter them across the deck,  and there is  a little less pollen on my car,  but according to  the 5-day pollen forecast on  the site, there is still a lot of pollen out there.

Here's a pic of the tree in our neighbor's yard.   It may look  as though it's covered with  green leaves, but  there are actually very few leaves. What you  may think are leaves are actually a  multitude of catkins- all waiting to release their  pollen.  Those of us in  close proximity will greet the release with a symphony of  sneezes. Ah, Spring!
Tomorrow is chemo treatment day for me, so  there may not be  any blog posts  for a couple of days.  Instead of my  usual long-winded ramblings, I'll try to post some   pics of  new blooms in the garden. 

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Blowing' in the Wind: Cones, Catkins and Pollen

We have a  few extra seasons  here in the South. Like the rest of the country, we have the usual four seasons but  we also have tornado season and pollen season. Actually, since we are in what's sometimes referred to as Dixie Alley, we have two tornado seasons  in Alabama. The spring tornado season spans  March, April, and May, and we also have a fall tornado season  in November and December.  So far this year our local area has been lucky but some areas of the state   had significant damage from tornadoes last month.

With other  places  having to  contend with much more severe problems it seems petty to complain about  the other season  I mentioned: pollen season.  But I just can't help myself. We are  currently  sneezing, hacking and gazing out of our red, watery eyes at a world covered in chartreuse dust. My car is no longer gray, but a sickly lime green. I can write in the pollen dust, it is so heavy! I have to run the windshield washer and wipers whenever I get in the car  just to be able to see out the windshield.  And much as I'd love to open the windows in the house to let in the breeze, I know the floors, curtains and  all the furniture  would  soon be covered in pollen, too.

Pine  gets most of the blame. Years ago, when our street was first named Pine Hill Road, we had an abundance of pine trees. Many of them have since been cut down, but there are still enough left  to deposit massive amounts of pollen everywhere. The little  male pine  cones do a yeoman's job of  trying to keep the species going.  The ground is covered with   their exhausted little bodies,  all spent of pollen. Many of the older female cones that have already dropped their pollinated seeds have joined them on the ground, leaving  reproduction to their younger sisters. Here are some of the spent males pollen cones on our front steps  and a few  more  joining the  spent  female cones on the ground under the trees.
Pine trees are  not the only  ones producing pollen, though.  The oaks are covered with little catkins, too, all ready to burst open and release their pollen at any moment.  The squirrels will be happy when that happens because they  know that the female  flowers, once pollinated, will  begin to produce acorns, thus guaranteeing them a winter food source. And by burying the acorns, and sometimes  failing to  dig them up,  the squirrels are  in effect planting  oak seeds and aiding in the regenration of  the oaks. I can remember planting  one of the oaks  out front.  It doesn't seem so long ago, but since oaks don't begin to bloom and produce pollen until they're  twenty,  it  must have been at least twenty years ago.
At any rate, as windy as it's been lately, pollen is  spreading far and wide and soon pollen  season will be over. I won't  be sorry to see it end. In fact, I wouldn't mind a good, hard  steady rain to help it along and wash  the pollen  dust away so we can all breathe easier  again.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Where have all the bloggers gone?

Gone to Twitter every one. With apologies to Pete Seeger, and no, maybe they haven't all gone to Twitter, but so many of the bloggers I once followed have  stopped blogging.  I've removed some of them from the list of blogs I follow. Others I have kept on the list because I enjoy re-reading them. Some have migrated to Facebook and Twitter; some, especially the food bloggers, are still blogging, but many of them  have gone "commercial," with ads and pop ups asking you to follow them and buy products. Others  seem to have just  lost interest in blogging, and a few may have died since I can find no on-line trace of them.

I've read several articles about the  birth and death of  old-style blogging, and how it has been replaced by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and  other social media  sites that are more attuned to the modern age. But I'm not convinced that blogging is dead or that mommy blogs and food blogs are the only survivors of old-style blogging. Maybe some of us who still blog are delusional in thinking that anyone else may be interested in reading  about our lives, our families,  our political or world views, etc., and maybe we are, but I suspect some of us write, not because we think  we have multitudes of devoted  followers who hang on our every word, but because we enjoy writing and are too long-winded to fit  all out  thoughts and antics into choppy little  tweets or facebook posts.

So, we may be a dwindling breed, but we aren't dead yet.  And neither is blogging, I hope!

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Is Spring Here To Stay This Time?

I do hope Mother Nature is finished playing tricks on us and that spring is here to stay. I still don't trust her, though.  She played a very mean trick on us in  1987 when  rain was predicted for April 2nd and  3rd.  Somehow, during the early hours of April 3rd that year the temperature dropped into the low 40s and the rain changed to snow.  By the time it was finished we had about six inches of snow in the Birmingham area.  It melted quickly, but still it just didn't seem right to see the spring flowers  shivering in the snow.

Here are some pics of  what's blooming in our yard today.  Let's keep our fingers crossed that they  can continue to enjoy the warm  kiss of the sun instead of shivering under a chilly white blanket.  

 These wood hyacinths pop up every year.  I didn't plant them, we think the birds or other critters might be responsible.

The  single clump of  Star of Bethlemen with its  interesting white blooms is another  critter-aided   landscape feature that pops up every spring.

I did plant these roses, they   began as a cutting from a friend's garden.  I  thought it was a cutting from her Cecile Brunner roses, but it obviously wasn't and I have no idea what they actually are. They are  beautiful and fragrant  anyway.

This lovely little beauty is  the  white Lady Banks on the arbor. The flowers are so tiny and delicate but the  canes grow like crazy and threaten to take over the world if not  kept in check. Fortunately,  it is virtually thornless so  when the canes reach out to grab you as you pass by they don't stab you!

Despite their shy nature, Wild violets  like to make an appearance every spring.  These  are hiding just under the edge of the deck.

The chives are beginning to bloom and are loaded with  buds.

We may have   quite a few blueberries  later in the summer, if the birds decide to  share with us.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Holly Berries Are For The Birds

Today has been a lovely day, warm but not too warm, with a   beautiful blue sky.  I decided it was too nice to stay inside, so  donned my gardening gloves and headed outside. The holly tree had shed  a kazillion  berried over the upper part of the deck, so the first order of business was to sweep them up. I filled very large pot with holly berries and leaves.
 What few red berries are left on the tree will be gone by tomorrow since the cedar waxwings moved in this afternoon and have been devouring berries like mad. I couldn't get a picture of their feeding frenzy today but have a  little video of them  I took on this date in  2016. 

March  31 seems to be their preferred date for the holly berry feast.  Even though the red berries  will be gone for the rest of the summer, the tree is loaded with tiny green berries, so we should have plenty of  bright red berries for decorating at Christmas. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Catching Up, and May I introduce you to Stella Stoma

I thought it might be time to get caught up on what’s happening on the health front at our house since I haven’t posted any health-related news in six and a half months. There is plenty of news to report.

The day after my post of August 24 I had an appointment with my colorectal surgeon who decided it was time to do surgery on the primary tumor. I had one more chemotherapy treatment scheduled before surgery, and surgery was scheduled for October 10.

The doctor had explained to me that if everything went as planned he would be doing laparoscopic, robotic assisted surgery.  Everything went well and I had an abdominoperineal resection, which completely removes the distal colon, rectum, and anal sphincter resulting in a permanent colostomy. So now I have a stoma, which means that the end of my remaining intestine was brought out through an incision in my abdomen, and now resides a few inches from my navel and wears a pouch to catch anything spewed out. I have named the stoma Stella. Even wrote a little rhyme to welcome her to the outside world:
            I have a little stoma
            Her name is Stella Sue
            She sits next to my navel
           And spews out stinky poo.
All right, I didn’t say it was great poetry- and it may be a little gross to some sensibilities, but that IS what she does, and she does it well.

One of the interesting things about this surgery is that even though certain body parts have been removed, there is often the sensation that they are still there- sort of like the phantom limbs people describe after an amputation. So I may also make Stella the heroine of a book I might write one day:  Stella Stoma and the Mystery of the Phantom Rectum.

I was in the hospital for three days, where I was shown how to handle the stoma and apply the colostomy pouch, etc. So far everything has gone pretty well.   There is a learning curve involved as you try to find the pouching system that works best for you.  There are problems such as ballooning, pancaking, and blowouts, none of which are pleasant, but after a time, one learns how to prevent those problems for the most part, and how to deal with them effectively when they can’t be prevented.

The surgeon said he got clear margins when he removed the tumor, and the pathology report verifies clear margins, so that’s a very good thing.  My oncologist recommended that I remain on maintenance chemo to prevent a relapse, so I resumed chemo treatment with irinotecan and Erbitux on November 8. My last CT scan on January 5 shows that everything is stable and there is no new metastatic disease, so that’s a good thing.

I go in on Thursday this week for another chemo treatment and will have another CT scan in April.  I hope the next scan shows good results

More drama entered our lives in December, when Mr. G. began to feel ill.  He went to our family doctor, on December 4. After listening to his symptoms and running some tests the doctor thought he might have a kidney infection and started him on Cipro.   He got worse, with some back pains and numbness in his legs. We thought he might be having a reaction to the Cipro so back to the doctor on December 13, who scheduled him for an MRI.

 I had a chemo treatment on December 14, and when our son brought me home, Mr. G couldn’t walk at all, so   off they went to the ER.  He was admitted, and after some tests, including a spinal tap, he was diagnosed with Guillaine-BarrĂ© syndrome.            He was in the hospital for two weeks, and then was discharged to Lakeshore rehab facility for therapy.  After two weeks of rather intense therapy he was transferred to a nursing home/rehab facility for less intense therapy for three weeks, then back to Lakeshore for   another three weeks before being discharged home on February 28.

He was able to come home with a walker rather than a wheelchair. Physical and occupational therapists come to the house several times a week and he has been making slow but steady progress.  He is now able to walk short distances without the walker, and we’re hoping he’ll make a full recovery in time.

 And that just about catches us up.  Today is the first day of spring, and I’m looking forward to   some nice warm gardening weather!