Thursday, July 30, 2009

Family jams

What else could I add? (Except sound, which I'm not wired for)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How to sum up perfection?

Just a few of the 65 people at the family reunion last Friday:

Three brothers -- Russ, Jerry, and Ray:

Two of the three Mileses in the family. We missed the other one:

The rest of the photos I took show us, in various combinations of family members, either eating or playing music. Rob, son-in-law extraordinaire, brewer of beer that we didn't get to taste (only regret on the trip), and all-round wonderful person, has agreed to set up a family Flicker account so that we can all share pictures.

Too many high points of the trip to mention, since mentioning one might mean neglecting another that was equally wonderful. We saw Friends and friends we hadn't seen for years; spent a morning on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake; thanks to the kind present owners got a tour through the first house we owned and Jerry remodeled; had time to hang out with our immediate family; and it all built up to the incredible reunion.

Friday I realized that probably most people in the world aren't able to look around at 65 relatives (more or less -- the kids were running around and messing up the count) and know that it would be great to spend a lot of time with any of them. What a bunch of interesting, intelligent, decent people!

And, except for getting a bit tired out at the end, I felt fine the whole time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


It wasn't until a few weeks ago that Jerry and I began to believe that the Utah trip might actually work. We had a superstitious feeling that we couldn't count on it or something terrible would happen.
But Saturday evening we'll be in Utah!

The logistics get complicated, though. First the gastroenterologist had to say that the ulcer seems to be in remission, or whatever it is that ulcers do when they aren't giving any trouble. He kept saying, "It was a really big, deep ulcer. And you didn't have a lot of pain?"
"Nothing that Tums wouldn't take care of."
"So you had a really big, deep ulcer with minimal symptoms. Just keep taking the two medications and we'll do another ERCP in August."
In other words, because I didn't feel much pain from it, there's no way of telling if the meds are working until he sends the little camera back down my gullet. But as long as my stomach doesn't hurt (and it hasn't since I got the new meds) I'll assume everything is fine.

Then I had the regular appointment with the oncologist. I can tell when Dr. Nickerson feels I'm doing well, because our conversations stray off into other territory. We spent most of this one talking about how hard it is to fly from the East coast to the Western part of the country (his parents live in Wyoming) without going through Houston or LA. So he apparently isn't worried about my missing a chemo.

However, because of the ERCP, I'll miss another chemo anyhow. So I had one Monday, have another the Tuesday after we get back, then miss one, then have one? Two? Three in a row? In any case, the next month is going to be so easy!

Another bit of logistics is remembering and packing the various meds that I need or should have on hand just in case. Jerry hates to check baggage and has a habit of packing at least a week ahead of every trip. He wants us to just use two overhead bags, and he packed his to show me that it will be possible. I seem to have more stuff than he does, though it may be because I have to carry the travel scrabble game. I got my bag packed just to see if it would work, and it does, though I'm not sure where to put all the different meds. If he carried them in his jacket pocket, would the Homeland Security people think he was a notorious drug smuggler?

I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to the next week. I may not get a chance to blog while we're there but I will when we get back -- with lots of pictures.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Concert Season

Jerry's hands were obviously shaking with patriotic fervor as he took this picture of Westmoreland Town Band playing at Historic Deerfield on July 4th.

We're in the middle of the concert season, this year down to about 15 from the high of 25 a couple of years ago. Over the years we've played at nursing homes and on the Commons of small towns. We've played for the opening of a covered bridge and for many town Old Home Days and barbecues. The weirdest concert was background music for a cowflop contest a few years ago.

Last night was a nursing home gig, outside in (finally) pleasant weather. Between numbers a bird in the tree above us sang loudly, perhaps in competition, perhaps to cover the pauses while we shuffled through music, or perhaps just because it was a beautiful evening that simply needed more music to complete it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Well, what would you say?

Let's face it, there is nothing I love about having cancer.

This is not to say that the past sixteen months haven't been, on balance, wonderful. I wouldn't have missed them, and I look forward joyfully to the next however long. But, surprising as it may seem, I would have enjoyed them even more without the disease.

I've actually seen a book in which the writer said that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to him. He said
a) Cancer was a wake-up call. He stopped putting off all the things he'd wished he'd done and went ahead and did them.
b) It reminded him of all the good things he had in his life. He appreciated them more.
c) He felt closer to his family.
d) He learned to live in the moment.

Grand. These are things that we should all do. However, discovering that you have cancer is far from a necessary requirement. It is possible to fulfill oneself, appreciate one's life, feel closer to loved ones, and live in the eternal now without going through tests and procedures, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. So there.

Ten Things I Love About Having Cancer

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ten things I hate about having cancer -- besides the cancer

1. While my hair grew back after the last kind of chemo, it isn't even. I have bald patches in the oddest places.
2. Chemobrain. Words that I know perfectly well disappear when I need them. (On the other hand, I have a permanent excuse for Jerry's constant wins at Scrabble.)
3. Exhaustion that hits me unexpectedly when I was feeling fine a moment before. I don't know if it's more like being hit by a sandbag, or being a sandbag that someone just ripped a hole in.
4. The scar on my belly that's constantly there to remind me. It doesn't bisect me evenly, either.
5. Feeling awkward when casual conversations turn to the distant future.... like a year from now.
6. Three o'clock in the morning. By definition, any time I'm conscious at three a.m. is a bad time.
7. Movies and books where a character gets cancer. You know they'll be gone within a few minutes.
8. Seeing teenagers or people on oxygen smoking, especially just after I've sat in the infusion room next to someone with lung cancer.
9. Getting a cough and immediately thinking it's a metastesis (instead of allergies or swine flu).
10. Feeling like a real whiner if I write about the ten things I hate about having cancer -- besides the cancer.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Concert on the grass

Last evening we went down to Florence, MA, to watch an earlybird concert of Max's bands, The Fawns and School for the Dead . (Hey, I just learned how to link!)
Wonderful evening. The Fawns and School for the Dead were great, and it was so much fun to be on the common as audience instead of entertainment. It gives you a whole new perspective.
There was almost the same audience as the Westmoreland Town Band gets, except that there were more little children that we usually get, racing around and barely missing the adults sitting on blankets and in lawn chairs. One group of kids, including Miles, spent most of the concert seriously carrying broken bricks from one location to another, piling them up into a structures, and then carrying them back to the original place.

But they did pay attention to the music:

Miles, in the white shirt, and his best friends Beckett and Sophy, watch Daddy play. Daddy's moving too fast for the camera to catch him.