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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hanging in there

Just a quick note here to wish everyone a happy holiday season and blessings of health, happiness, and love in the coming year.


Gregg and I are hanging in there.   After getting over the initial shock of the diagnosis, somehow we managed to have a quiet, sweet Christmas together.  We put aside the fear for a couple of days and stayed at home with each other.  We took walks at night with Ginger to look at the stars (so bright in the cold winter sky!) and the neighborhood decorations.   We ate lots of junk food, and spent afternoons watching old John Wayne movies in our pjs.  On Christmas Eve I lit beeswax candles on the mantle (I love their warm light and faint smell of honey) and we sat together and enjoyed the quiet and the peace of the holiday.


Now the tough part begins.


This week Gregg will begin a series of doctor's appointments and tests to find out more about his cancer diagnosis, and what the next few months will hold in terms of treatment.  We are frightened about getting the full diagnosis, but not knowing and imagining the worst isn't a good position to be in.


Today is his first consultation.   We are extremely fortunate to have the head of the pulmonary department at a local hospital as a personal friend.  We have been close to him and his wife for years and he is the first person Gregg is meeting with to see what needs to happen first.  He is not only a very good doctor (and a lung specialist) but he is young, serious, and has advanced very rapidly in his field.  I know that he will help us assemble a great team to fight this. And most importantly, Gregg feels comfortable with him.  I know he will do everything in his power to help us.


Please everyone hold us in your thoughts this week.  Any and all prayers, thoughts, messages, and love sent our way are greatly appreciated.


I wanted to include one of my favorite pictures of my husband here, taken last summer during our trip to Virginia.  He was studying a small creek and the native aquatic plants growing in it.  It was a beautiful path we were standing on, as you can see.   We were celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary:



I intend to get this wonderful man well and strong again. That is all that matters to me for the coming year, and all I can hope for in 2012.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Scared

Dear friends and followers:

This past Monday I got the most devastating news of my life. My husband Gregg has lung cancer.

We don't really know anything beyond that. The CAT scan they did of his lungs shows two spots in his left lung. It looks (at least initially) like it has not spread to his lymph nodes. Next week, after the holiday, he's going to see a specialist to find out more about it, and where we go from here.

I am still in shock, and I feel very frightened and alone. We have not told his family yet (he wants to wait until after Christmas) but I have told my parents and a couple of close friends. My boss at the bookstore is a breast cancer survivor, and has assured me she will do anything in her power to support me with my job.

I am trying to hold myself together, and to be strong for Gregg, but I feel so weak. He is much calmer than me, or at least he appears to be. I have never been so scared in my life. I don't know what the next few months will hold, but we are going to fight this.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Forgive me if my posts here are irregular and/or don't make much sense. I will try to update as I am able.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's beginning to look....nothing like Christmas

So, true to form, December is rolling up it's sleeves and preparing to have it's way with me.

I've posted before about how bad stuff always seems to happen to me around Christmastime. Well, yesterday my husband finally went to the doctor after almost a month of having a "chest cold" that he couldn't shake. It kept getting worse and worse until I insisted he go get it checked out. He is the kind of guy that will try to "tough it out" and get better on his own. Sometimes that isn't such a good idea.

Turns out he has a bad case of pneumonia. They almost admitted him to the hospital. As it is, they sent him home with lots of drugs and a breathing machine and instructions to come back in a few days for a CAT scan.  The initial x-rays they did showed a lot of fluid in his lungs and they have to make sure it responds to treatment.  I think the doctor scared him a little, which may be a good thing.


He hates going to the doctor.  He's also very suspicious of drugs, and rarely will take so much as an aspirin unless he really, really has to.  I've been nagging him for two weeks to go get this "cold" checked out.  He finally gave in after a full month of being sick.  I wish  he would take better care of himself and make his health a priority.  He works too much, for one thing, and when he gets sick he will rarely take time off .  I appreciate his strong work ethic and good intentions, but it's foolish to ignore or try to "tough out" illness.  And it scares me that he does so!

So this December I'm hoping we don't have to spend the holidays at the hospital.  The doctor gave him a big shot of an antibiotic on the spot, and four prescriptions to fill.  The CAT scan of his lungs in a few days will determine whether or not he can stay at home to recover.  Even if he can stay at home, it's going to be a while before he's fully well.  So.....

.......I'm beginning to think this will be the year we skip the whole holiday celebration.  I just haven't had the time or energy to do anything, unless you count stringing two strands of white lights on a houseplant! (Seriously, that is the whole extent of my holiday decorating.)  We had already discussed not exchanging gifts this year with our families due to some members having financial hardships, so we haven't done any shopping.  Between busy retail jobs and GB being sick,  there has hardly been a thought given to anything like that in our house this year. I am surprised to find that (at least at this point) I don't really care much.

 I know this is a time of great fun and excitement for most people, and I hope I don't sound like Scrooge. I will continue to try to post little bits of holiday stuff here and there for the blog party.  I hope everyone reading is having a wonderful Yule/Christmas/Hanukkah/holiday. I've been enjoying all the holiday blog posts out there. They add a bit of holiday sparkle to my moments of free time. And holiday sparkle is something I seem to be lacking this year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter flowers, winter reading

Today I picked the first camellia blossoms of the winter. I love these flowers simply because they bloom and thrive during the deepest darkest part of the year. I made a small arrangement for our main bathroom.


There have been a lot of new books purchased around our house recently. I have ordered a copy of The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper and am excited to read this again after many years. It was recently recommended by Cate at  http://www.beyondthefieldsweknow.org/ as a good yule/midwinter read. I had forgotten about these books, which I read when I was about 12, and loved. I am excited about reading them again!

In the meantime, I found this little gem buried in the Cultural Studies section of the bookstore where I work. I had to bring it home with me:


I am interested in native plants, and the use of them by early peoples as medicine. This is a nice little reference book to have and I'm sure I will refer back to it often.

Books and flowers--those are the simple things making me happy today.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Full Cold Moon

There is a beautiful full moon outside tonight. In the wee hours of the morning there was a lunar eclipse, which wasn't visible to those of us here on the east coast. The rest of the country should have had a good view of it, though. With or without an eclipse, each full moon of the year is special and worth honoring.

December's full moon is traditionally called the Full Cold Moon, or Long Nights Moon. Hal Borland, one of my favorite nature writers, wrote about the many hours this full moon has "to rule in cold splendor". It's really winter now; the trees are bare as bones, the cold air stings, the night seems endless. The human instinct is to draw closer to hearth and home and loved ones, to keep the dark at bay.

I like to give my own names to full moons, to reflect what is happening in my part of the world. In addition to Moon of Long Nights and Cold Nights Moon, I like: Solstice Moon, Storytelling Moon, Moon of Short Days, and Midwinter Moon.

Whatever you call it, tonight's full moon marks another turning point on the great wheel of time. A short walk outside after dark was my way to do a bit of midwinter moon gazing. Tonight's full moon is cold, distant, and absolutely majestic.

Here is a link to a beautiful picture of a midwinter moon I found:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/greg_foster/6486368867/

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday lights on a winter night

Tonight after dinner I took a quick walk around the neighborhood and snapped a few pictures of holiday decorations.  It's really cold tonight, with an icy wind blowing, so I didn't stay out long. Some of the people with really wildly decorated houses weren't at home, so the best lights weren't even on. I also had trouble getting good shots since it was so dark out.  I think I'll try again tomorrow, just before sunset, and see if the photos turn out better. 


That being said, here are a few of the pictures I took tonight. It's a very small sample of what's out there:






This is the porch and front driveway of a house two doors down from me. The glowing orb "gifts" are hanging from two bare crepe myrtle trees. This is also the house that has the racing green and red lights winding up and around the basketball goal. Unfortunately, my cheapo digital camera wouldn't take even a passable picture of that.



close up


Next up: Mickey Santa! Note the size of it in relation to the front door and the second story! There is also a smaller penguin to Mickey's left, and the obligatory lighted deer on the other side of the yard (this is the South).  And yes, children live at this house.  Ginger occasionally stops and visits with the toddler that lives there:



Look! It's the holy family! (And right behind them is a fence with blinking blue lights. Again, I  couldn't get a decent shot of it, but trust me, it looks like a disco. And what is it with random blue lights this year, anyway?!)



Most of the neighbors go for a more conservative, traditional look. Approximately 60% of the houses within a mile of us look something like this:





















And finally, nothing says "too much time on my hands" quite like a decorated tree under the carport.





More tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Over the top (and possibly blinking)

I'm not sure what's gotten into my neighbors this year, but the holiday lights and yard decorations are so over the top that I am almost speechless!

I took a walk with GB and Ginger after dark tonight to try and take it all in. There is a giant inflated Mickey Mouse Santa in one yard, fully illuminated and waving in the breeze. One house has lights on the eaves, the doorways and windows, the bushes, the fence line, the garage, the storage shed, even the dog house...and none of them match!!! Some of them blink, too.

Then there is a house with racing blinking lights (red and green) winding up and around a basketball goal in the driveway. Oddly enough, though, the front door is covered with blue lights, and there are candy cane stakes in the yard that at first glance look like glowing green mushrooms! (This house may be my favorite so far.)

There must be at least a dozen yards with spotlights carefully aimed at whatever is considered the focal point of the masterpiece. There are manger scenes (complete with shepherds, animals, and angels), Santa and Rudolph mailbox flags, gift wrapped front doors, and all manner of Christmas lights in trees and bushes. My neighbors seem to be filled with some crazy Christmas spirit this year!

I will be taking pictures of all this holiday craziness and posting them here for everyone to enjoy. You can't help but smile at all the merriment!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Keeping it simple

December is here, and the holiday season is well underway....except at my house.

I haven't done one single bit of decorating at this point. I keep meaning to dig through the closet and pull out a few items to make the house look festive, but I haven't had very much motivation to do so. We're also on the fence about putting up a tree this year. We don't own a fake one, and a real one just seems like a lot of trouble. Last year I was trying to straighten our tree,a large Frasier Fir that kept leaning at odd angles as it sucked up water, and it fell over--breaking several glass ornaments and spilling about a gallon of water on the carpet. I was alone at home and had to call a neighbor to come help me get it upright again. One of us had to hold it up and the other had to re-screw the pins in the trunk to keep it standing. Then there was the water, needles, and broken glass to get out of the carpet! Needless to say, a live tree doesn't seem quite so appealing this year!

I am trying to decide if I should buy a small fake prelit tree, possibly just a table-top size. Something that could be easily decorated and easily taken down, with only a handful of ornaments on it. I was very fortunate last year when the tree fell that none of our most cherished ornaments were broken, but I did lose several cut glass icicles that I have been collecting for years. I'm thinking it would be nice to have a small, easy, pretty little fake tree with decorations that I wouldn't have to worry about. The ornaments that have strong sentimental value could remain packed away except on years when we have a tree worthy of displaying them.

I will almost certainly put out some holiday candles, and will decorate the mantle with sprays of holly (we have a holly tree in our backyard) but that may end up being the extent of our decorations. GB and I have been discussing having a very low key holiday this year. We have family members that are struggling financially (unemployment, health problems, etc) and we've decided to approach them about not exchanging gifts this year. We would like to find ways to spend time together instead, like sharing festive meals and driving around looking at decorations. We don't need presents to unwrap to enjoy spending time with our families, and we don't want anyone trying to spend money they can't afford to buy us gifts.

We'll see how these conversations go! Hopefully we'll be making the season easier on some of our loved ones.