Sunday, November 30, 2014

#49 Write On!

A gentle reminder.  If you recall from blog # 33--A Little Help From My Friends-- I requested your literary contributions to assist me when I am void of words or traveling to countries where access to the internet might be problematic.
I've received two creative and witty responses but I need more... lots more. Please write, just write.

 To help you out I've listed some topics that might motivate you to start composing.

Childhood memory
Fond child/children episodes
Favorite food and why
Books you love
Best job you've had
A remarkable person in your life
Best vacation
How to do... anything
Most embarrassing moment
Most cherished gift
Rants--you choose the tirade
Restaurant review
Airline woes
How I spent my summer vacation
Fiction--you know you have a story to tell
A dream or nightmare
A letter to someone alive or not
Describe your day

Does this help?  I'm patiently waiting for your creations--long or short--so don't be shy.  Send them to my email address or message me on Facebook.  If you don't have access to either, telepathically get in touch with me and I will somehow transmit the information to you.

Thanks for writing and for reading # 49 of 7777.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

#48 A Little Bit Closer Now

The Answer to How Breast Cancer Invades Bone

By Melissa Weber

Researchers recently solved the mystery of how breast cancer takes root in the bone. Now, the discovery has led to an experimental drug for breast cancer that has spread to the bone.

At Princeton University, Society grantee Yibin Kang, PhD, found breast cancer cells use a protein called Jagged1 to upset the normal balance of bone builders and bone demolishers. Jagged1 recruits cells that normally break down bone to dig deeper into it. This in turn releases molecules that further spur cancer growth.
“We knew the bone is a fertile soil for breast cancer to spread to. But we didn’t know why. We didn’t know how to make bone less fertile soil,” says Kang, Princeton’s Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis professor of molecular biology. “Now that we know, the next step is to design drugs to break that vicious cycle.”
Breast cancer spreads, or metastasizes, to the bone in 70% to 80% of patients with advanced breast cancer. These malignant cells invade the spine, ribs, pelvis and other bones, causing pain, fractures and other complications. Current treatments offer symptom control but little else, Kang says. “The hope is that with more options, more combined agents, we can effectively control bone metastasis and hopefully treat it as a chronic condition,” he says.

Kang and his lab team are now working with drug maker Amgen to test an experimental monoclonal antibody (a man-made protein) that blocks Jagged1 in mice.

My response:

The research out of Princeton University had me giddy with relief and excitement.  "The hope is that with more options, more combined agents, we can effectively control bone metastasis and hopefully treat it as a chronic condition,” according to Yibin Kang, PhD. Hallelujah!  And then I read the last sentence.  Mice--they are still working on mice.  It hasn't even proceeded to the testing on humans; an annoyingly long and difficult process that we know takes more time and more money--always, the money factor.  Slowly slowly the wheels turn on metastatic cancer research and patiently (and hopefully) the mets clan awaits their discovery.  

Thanks for reading # 48 of 7777.

Friday, November 28, 2014

# 47 The Universe and Apple Pie

"If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch you must first invent the universe." -- Carl Sagan

Consider it done!  My youngest son made the best, and I mean, the best apple pie from scratch thanks to Grandma's old time, dig it out of the bottom of the recipe box, recipe.  Picture the scene in slow motion as we gathered around the Thanksgiving table with our pie laden forks raised high and aiming carefully but anxiously towards our mouths. Suddenly the cry reverberated from the crowd of seven...


 Just like that the universe began--It was billions and billion and billions better than anything we have ever had before.  Good job, David, for this little bit of heaven found in none other than an apple pie.

Thanks for reading # 47 of 7777.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

# 46 Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving.  What a gratitude filling, non gift giving, eat until you are stuffed kind of holiday. There are a gazillion things I'm thankful for so decided to reduce it to an ABC format. Enjoy your day!

Animals--A comfort to us when we need it.  How do they know?
Blankets--Especially the wool fluffy kind
Chocolate--Nothing. Needs. To. Be. Said.
Dads--I had the best and am married to one of the best.
Eating--The bounty of food in this country
Green Bay Packers--How can anyone not love Cheese heads?
Health care--Check out third world countries and you will be thankful for ours
Ice cream--Anything that says Ben&Jerry--hands down
Jubilation--Embrace it
Kindness--From friends and strangers
Love--Of course
Mosquito repellent--Try living without it in Wisconsin
Nurses--Experts on caring and knowing
Oxygen-- Breathe... and now you are thankful for it.
Purpose--Writing this blog every single day
Quilts--My talented sisters who transform oceans of material into works of art
Roses-Love the sweet scent
Sleep--A good night's sleep is a good night
Turkey--Thanks for the sacrifice
Umbrellas--It's got me covered
Voices--Heard loud and clear when an injustice is served
Wine--Yes indee-dee
X-rays--Sees what we can't
Yams--T-day is not T-day without them
Zaniness--A constant in my life.

I am grateful to all of you...and thanks for reading # 46 of 7777.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

# 45 The Song That Never Ends

As we prepare for tomorrow's feast,this poem brought back memories of the holiday when we would pack up the three kids, mounds of food and other important necessities and sing this little ditty all the way to Grandmother's (and Grandfather's) house in Michigan.  Since no one knew it in its entirety, the first verse was sung over and over and over again--for seven seemingly endless hours. Have a wonderful holiday.               

                                                       Over the River

(Thanksgiving Day) 

Over the river and through the wood 
To Grandmother's house we go. 
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh 
Through white and drifted snow. 

Over the river and through the wood
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go. 

Over the river and through the wood
To have a first-rate play. 
Hear the bells ring,
Hurrah forThanksgiving Day! 

Over the river and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground
Like a hunting hound, 
For this is Thanksgiving Day. 

Over the river and through the wood,
And straight through the barnyard gate.
We seem to go
Extremely slow~
It is so hard to wait! 

Over the river and through the wood~
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie! 

By Linda Maria Child 

Thanks for reading # 45 of 7777.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

# 44 Move It or Lose It

"If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health."
-- Hippocrates

Hippocrates lived from 460-370 BC--that's how many years ago?(you do the math--not my thing)-- and he knew the importance of eating right and exercising before we had zumba, triathlons or expensive gym memberships.  How could he be wrong with the distinguished label of father of western medicine and an oath named after him?

There are constant reminders to get off our duffs through various media outlets, but do we do it?  I have been an ardent fan of exercising for a number of years and although it did not keep the cancer at bay, it gives me a good base to fight back and that is as good a reason as any to get moving.

Starting slowly is the key to build the habit of doing whatever works for you.  Squeeze in fifteen to thirty minutes at least three times a week for six weeks and the positive results you feel while walking up stairs will be enough to motivate you to keep on trucking.  Six weeks and it becomes a lifelong habit.  Trust me on this.

Enough standing (while lifting weights) on my soap box.  It's beginning to sound like a lecture from your gym teacher and were you listening back then?  Now step away from the computer and go walk, run, skip or hop around the block and you will thank me in six weeks.

Thanks for reading # 44 of 7777.

Monday, November 24, 2014

# 43 BFF

BFF--Breast Friends Forever was our self proclaimed title at the Cook for the Cure event-- a fundraiser for cancer research.  A few of the women were strangers when I arrived but by the time we walked out the door we had all become bosom buddies (Sorry about the boob reference). It was a titillating night of laughter and camaraderie as we outbid each other during the silent auction while cooking up a storm in a chopped chef competition.  I was paired with three lovely women (my new BFF's)--fortunately two were masters in the kitchen (while the younger one and yours truly found outrageous garb for us to don)--in the cooking/dress up/poetry contest.  Despite the culinary geniuses on the opposing teams, we managed to squeak out a win and were the recipients of a beautiful thumbs up trophy from the dollar store.  Since my cooking abilities are--how shall I say it--lacking in presentation, skill and edibility, I couldn't be a prouder champion.  Thanks for the "mammories" and your generous donations. Cooking together to fight cancer makes us all breast friend winners.
My new breast friends

Thanks for reading # 43 of 7777.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

# 42 Hope

Taken this summer in the Northwest

Hope.  My mantra.  As someone living with cancer with a future no one can predict, hope is the word I cherish. I'll turn it over to Ms. Dickinson who said it best.

Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul 
And sings the tune without the words 
And never stops at all.” 
― Emily Dickinson

Thanks for reading # 42 of 7777.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

# 41 Pay Attention

“Instructions for living a life. 
Pay attention. 
Be astonished. 
Tell about it.” 

 Mary Oliver, are you talking to me? You have me completely paying attention, being astonished and, of course, telling everyone about it---7736 more times--by living life.  Love what she says and how she says it and I love her for sharing it with the rest of us. What a gift!

If you haven't read any of her creations, take time to peruse her poetry and you will wish she was perched on your shoulder whispering into your ear as she doles out these little nuggets of profound wisdom. You can find her works at

I could use one of her thoughtful quotes for the next thousand or more days and never tire of her insightful astuteness.

Thanks for reading # 41 of 7777.

Friday, November 21, 2014

#40 Not Quite the Paparazzi

Since posting the "wrinkle" blog, I thought I'd share what might have been the inspiration behind it. Last week I had the pleasure of hosting Kathy Siebert, a friend and an experienced photographer, for a few hours of chatting and catching up on life.  During her visit she managed to capture photos of my studio of chaos and my--attempting to look dazzling-- mug shot while avoiding the perpetually present dog.  After a whirlwind of snapping, she suggested including them in my daily blog. I was hesitant because I knew wrinkles and having them magically photo shopped out was probably not going to happen, and the dazzling part didn't quite come across through her lens. As vain as I try not to be, cameras never have been my friend; but to quote my kind but ever truthful mother, "That's what you look like, get over it."-- or something to that effect.

Despite my wrinkle reservations this 7777+ barrage of blogs could use some help so having her photos visually describe what I can't capture with words might get me through at least another thousand or two entries.  Stay tuned for the beginning of a long and photographically pleasant, though wrinkle laden journey.  Thanks, Kathy.

Thanks for reading #40 of 7777.

This is me
This is Yogi, the dog

This is my studio--after the clean up

Thursday, November 20, 2014

# 39 Reiki

Yesterday was my second session of Reiki and the beginning of a long relationship with the talented Kelly Scholtz.  By her own admission, she is still learning but after undergoing this therapeutic bliss, I firmly believe she is on her to way to mastery.  There are the usual critics, skeptics (me being one of them) and nonbelievers of the practice but until you are on the table experiencing the flow--or whatever it is called--reserve your judgment and give it a try.

I had written in my sixteenth blog about Dr. Jeffery Dusek's research from the Penny George Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital and his conclusion that Reiki and other integrative treatments did reduce cancer inpatients' pain. That led me to her doorstep figuring it wouldn't hurt to venture a look at an additional alternative to modern medicine.

I could carry on about this immensely satisfying and healing experience but will close with a more accurate and nonemotional description from the website.

"Reiki is a natural, simple, safe, effective healing system that uses spiritually guided universal energy, the energy which permeates our entire universe and all living things. This energy is channeled through the hands of the practitioner into the body and aura of the receiver. It is an ancient healing system that has been used for thousands of years and was rediscovered by Dr Mikao Usui. Reiki is a Japanese term meaning universal energy, or spiritually guided universal energy, because it is the divine consciousness, the All-knowing that guides this life force. Because of this, Reiki can also be sent to someone who is not physically present, this is called distance healing. It can also be used on animals and plants. During a Reiki session, the person receiving Reiki lies or sits, fully clothed, while the practitioner places his hands lightly on or a few inches over the person's head and body. Reiki opens the mind and spirit to the causes of disease and pain and the necessity for taking responsibility for one's life. Reiki heals on all levels: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual to help return the body to its natural perfect state. It increases spiritual awareness and progress and is a means for each person to access the richness of his soul and discover his own great potential. Reiki is not a system of religious beliefs." 

Thanks for reading # 39 of 7777.  (Sorry, no time to figure out how to rid the blue)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

# 38 Just Run

"If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run." 
John Bingham

Just run.  The "onc"doc finally gave me the approval to get out there and...shuffle.  Good grief, said the Charlie Brown in me, what kind of running is that?  I won't complain too much because I did manage to slowly shuffle for two miles and it actually felt pretty darn good to finally put running shoes back on my feet. 

 Jogging seems to inspire one of those love/hate kinds of relationships.  Hate it while I'm doing it but love it when it is done and it is one of the things I have sorely missed the most post diagnosis.  So tottering along and realizing there is "no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get;" I will just run.

Thanks for reading # 38 of 7777.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

# 37 Back in the Saddle Again

“In riding a horse, we borrow freedom”
― Helen Thompson

 Three Gaits is a therapeutic riding stable that has been offering a bit of liberation to children and adults who, for a variety of reasons, could use an extra therapeutic boost. I am a designated  hippotherapy side walker which gives the riders the chance to "borrow freedom" at the once a week lesson while sitting high on a horse. Selfishly I get my equine grooming fix being near these impressive animals. There is nothing finer than the fragrant or aromatic  smell of a horse---seriously.

If you are not familiar with hippotherapy, Wikipedia's definition is:

"Hippotherapy is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input."

And I will have to say it works, it really works. Reflecting on my first days there I have seen improvement in each student's  increased  physical and mental activity and their ability to connect with an animal whose main purpose is to be nonjudgemental along with comforting and steady and wise and...the rewards are incalculable.

The absolute joy on the sweet faces of the participants when riding atop these magnificent animals reminds me to be grateful for the chance to help someone experience a taste of freedom.   If you are interested in a volunteer opportunity that will make you feel and look like a cowboy or girl with the added benefit of warming your heart, check out their website at 

Thanks for reading # 37 of 7777.

Monday, November 17, 2014

# 36 Warning: Another Rant

A few days ago while conversing with a friend, an intriguing conversation transpired ending with, "I don't have metastatic cancer so I don't know exactly what you are going through." Thank you for saying that. Unless you are sitting in my shoes (fortunately not for most everyone) smack dab in the midst of it all, it can be a lonely place.  According to MBCN ( Metastatic Breast Cancer Network) research, "The number of people living with metastatic breast cancer in the US is estimated to be over 155,000, but no statistics are currently collected." 

And part of the reason no statistics are currently collected is because:

"METASTATIC RESEARCH FUNDING: Estimated to be around 5% in Europe and less than that in US for metastatic research for ALL cancers."

Less than 5%.  Where does the money from walks, telethons, runs, swims, etc. etc. etc. go?  Standing again on my soap box perch with my biased bifocals, I clearly see the problem.  With over three hundred million people in this country, a metastatic cancer diagnosis seems an insignificant number unless you are one of the chosen 155,000.  Research funds are woefully lacking and the small but mighty "mets clan" are acutely aware of the scarcity of time and money granted us.

“Today we fight. Tomorrow we fight. The day after, we fight. And if this disease plans on whipping us, it better bring a lunch, 'cause it's gonna have a long day doing it.” 
― Jim BeaverLife's That Way: A Memoir

I don't have the answer and researching NIH and cancer sites on the internet has not led to findings that would clarify or offer encouragement on why the funding allocated to our band of warriors is so direly insufficient. Jim Beaver's title, "Life's That Way...", will have to be the explanation for now as we forge onward tolerating the disease whipping; "it better bring it's lunch, 'cause it's gonna have a long day doing it" and, unfortunately, we will be doing it on our own.

Continuing rants will be a staple in this blog because this topic makes me almost--but not quite--*^(&% madder than living with this disease.

Thanks for reading # 36 of 7777.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

# 35 The Shining Stars

 Flipping through People magazine in a comfy chair waiting for my yearly eye exam, the featured "stars" and their fascinating lives blasting over the pages caught my eye and made me think of the star people in my life.  They do not get the designation that would put them on any cover, but they are extraordinary people in daily living and being.  I plan to highlight them in the next 7777 days and let the world--or at least people following my blog--know about these incredible people.

#1.  Husband of the Year (of course he would be the first)

This award goes to none other than my favorite (and only) husband of thirty-six years.  Despite ramming me with a kayak, he has been my rock, cheerleader, caregiver, worrier for both of us and best person to have in my side car.  I may be a bit biased with all the glowing adjectives about what he does for me but what truly makes him extraordinary are his gifts to others.

 He is a champion for causes for the underprivileged, the handicapped, the arts, and anyone who needs a helping hand.  Lately Rotary has been his main focus and, because of him and his grant writing, many villages in Togo will have sanitary latrines.  Prior to the latrine project, he spearheaded the soccer ball project and convinced his club to sponsor David with funds to travel around Togo spreading the word about malaria prevention. He is driven and passionate and this is only a microscopic view of all he has done to make life better for others.

Fatherhood came naturally to him and to prove that our three children have benefitted from his presence, I'm pleased to say they have become fine outstanding citizens in their own right merely by following his top-notch example on how to conduct themselves in this complicated place called life.  They are his proudest accomplishment.

I'll finish this rhapsodic resume of sorts about the man I love with cliches--it was either that or movie references.  Cliches seemed the easier route to take and only his children could fully appreciate his never ending references, for any occasion, to a line in a movie.  It's one of those quirky things that make him who is.  

Funnier than a crutch
Fit as a fiddle
Smart as a whip
Busy as a bee,
A diamond in the rough
An oldie but goodie
Apple of my eye
After my own heart
Always look on the bright side
As honest as the day is long
Hornier than a three balled tomcat--Not really, but it made me crack up.  I couldn't resist even though he is going to be appalled.

Stay tuned for the next extraordinaire person.  It could be you!

Thanks for reading #35 of 7777.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

# 34 Wrinkles are Not Just for Clothes

"Today is the oldest you've ever been, and the youngest you'll ever be again.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Lately I've noticed a strange phenomenon that began about three months ago--my observations of older women on the streets, in restaurants, in the grocery store--wondering if I will look the same at their age.

 I remember years ago I was with my mother at her women’s club when she attempted to point someone out to me saying, “Lucy's the older one with the gray curly hair and blue shirt”. Looking across the room, I saw no fewer than five women fitting that exact description.  How does that happen?

Aging.  I used to think what a shame we look in the mirror one day and, BAM, it is our mother staring back at us. Wait! What happened to me???  Now I welcome that look and conjure a future picture of me--wrinkles and all--but happy to be alive.  Possibly the fixation on the soft white hair framing their beautifully lined faces has me secretly wishing someone, years from now, will mistake me for another gracefully aging woman.

 If you happen to a have a wrinkle or two, this quote will give you one more crease in your nearly flawless face.

There's always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don't hurt.
-- Author Unknown

Thanks for reading #34 of 7777.

Friday, November 14, 2014

# 33 A Little Help From My Friends.

"With a little help from my friends"--Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles

My friends (and if you are reading this consider yourself a friend) have the unbelievable ability to pick me up, help me out, cheer me on, watch my back, etc, etc, etc.  Okay, are you flattered enough to realize I need another little bitty favor from my tireless and humble crew of angels (have I laid it on thick enough)?  Recently it occurred to me that I might wake up one morning and have the full fledged writer's block crisis that has happened to the best of writers and the not so great; or I might be traveling in a no access to internet zone and, heaven forbid, would have to skip a day or two.  I know, I know, I said I would write for 7777 days, but breaking rules has become a new habit and this one will only be a slight adjustment to the original goal.

 If you accept this mission, you will be my guest writer to create something witty or not, heartwarming or not, or whatever moves your inner self kind of composition; and send it via email, Facebook, snail mail, carrier pigeon or simply hand it to me at the coffee shop.  Please include a title and your name--ghost writer or not. There is only one small caveat--please leave me out of your creation.  My name might not have been at the tip of your pen, but the past--approximately 33 days--has been about me and it is time to get a reprieve from "Mary has cancer" and her soap box perch.  This is about you...and bailing me out. Ahhh!  I can't get anywhere without...a little help from my friends.  Have fun, submit and watch for an upcoming blog featuring the ever faithful, talented and wonderful---YOU! (So have I sucked up enough that makes you want to sit down and write?  Good, now get going!).

Thanks a bunch.

Thanks for reading # 33 of 7777.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

#32 Insane Veins!

Information on my health and well being was one of the purposes for keeping this blog on this long (7777 day) journey and here, my friends, is the modified account of today's three hour medical outing. Starting with blood being drawn and analyzed followed by discussions and questions with my oncologist, and finishing up with the dreaded but necessary monthly bone infusion treatment; it started out feeling like a mundane kind of day.  The beginning went well with Dr. A. pleased with how I looked and felt and decided I could skip January's treatment so no need to come back to the frozen tundra.  Did you hear my shrieks of joy echoing throughout this icy state--or were those Rob's?  

Before I continue on with this medical update, let me be perfectly clear and state that the oncology nurses are the best around with their outrageous sense of humors, caring attitudes and professional expertise.  With that said, the IV was not my friend today.  It began with a new nurse (with her mentor at her side)--an adorably cute Valley Girl, like, uh, she was really cool--and I felt confident this was going to be a breeze.  Nope, first poke didn't make it.  Call in the experienced, Pam--who has, "I can find a vein no matter what" kind of attitude--and two pokes later, her average went to the dogs.  Fortunately, she had had a conversation with a drug rep regarding a new injection for my crummy little bones that should have similar results as the previously used Zometa.   After the okay from Dr. A, we are now waiting to see if my health coverage will pay for this little gem and then tomorrow back in for the shot in the you know where.  This expensive treatment along with my hormone drugs makes me one high priced gal--note to Rob--you are sleeping with a version of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman only I'm costing you more, much much more.

That's all the medical news from here.  Despite the little IV snafu, nothing has changed is the best news to hear on this cold dreary November day.

PS. Pam, if you are reading this, all is forgiven.

Thanks for reading #32 of 7777. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

#31 A Newfound Dilemma

Something occurred today in the gym and I'm not sure what I could have, would have or should have said.  As I was changing a woman entered the locker room with an obvious chemo hair cut.  From my hairless experience, it looked like she was past the midway point of her treatments and was feeling better by the day.  My first reaction was to engage her in conversation but was hesitant not knowing her reaction.  As I slowly continued dressing and mulling over what to say to her, a couple of scenarios played through my mind.

Me: Hey, I had one of those hairdos a couple of years ago.
Her:  Really, did you also get gum stuck in your hair and have to shave the whole thing off?


Me:  How are you doing?
Her: Fine, why do you ask?
Me:  I noticed your hair and wanted you to know I've been there.
Her:  You've been to Suzie's Salon?
Me: (To myself--oops, this was a scheduled, on purpose kind of haircut)


Me: I had breast cancer.
Her: I'm almost done with treatments.
Me: Great! I wish you well.
Her:  How are you doing now?
Me:  (And this is where I stop.  How can I tell this woman, be careful,  be very very careful because 22% of us have to go a second round.  She doesn't need to hear that from me.)

So, I say nothing to her on this day.  I can not lie and say, "You made it!  Good for you!"  because that's not always the case and I don't want to frighten her.  Cancer does what cancer does and when you have it, a day or a week doesn't go by without looking over your shoulder for the next bump in the road.  Talking with others, that feeling never ever goes away.

Maybe the next encounter, I'll "woman up" and greet her with a gentle response in my head if she asks, "How are you now?"

Thanks for reading # 31 of 7777.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

# 30 For Book Lovers Everywhere

A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.  --Neil Gaiman

Reading is like breathing.  I want (and need, but never have time) to do it every single moment of the day.  Our last trip was a trifecta of book reading with me devouring page after page, delaying the inevitable end of the book, but knowing I can't stop until the final word has been written.  Mr. Sweeney said it best.

You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.
–Paul Sweeney

Yes, I lost three dear friends in my week of uninterrupted, no dishes to wash, no dinners to make, nose buried in the Kindle kind of care free days.  With stories beginning in China during the Cultural Revolution to France at the end of the war to a plantation in the south, I was able to escape to another world and dream (thank you Mr. Gaiman) about places and people that came alive at the end of someone's pen.  Remarkable, simply remarkable.

The books this week.  Stay tuned for more titles and if you care, please share some of your favorites.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr--Set in France during the time period of 1940-1944.  Trust me, this story will keep you riveted to your seat.  No spoiler here.

A Hundred Flowers:A Novel by Gail Tsukiuama--Brilliant writing.  A story I did not want to end.  Please, Ms. T., a sequel.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd--This will make you cringe at the cruelty of humans and at the same time be astonished at the strength of the human spirit.

Thanks for reading # 30 of 7777.

Monday, November 10, 2014

# 29 Paradise?

“Certainly paradise, whatever, wherever it be, contains flaws. (Paradisiacal flaws, if you like.) If it did not, it would be incapable of drawing the hearts of men or angels.” 
― Henry MillerBig Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch

I know I won't get much sympathy from polar vortex central but we found that a place we called paradise had a slight glitch tarnishing our image of the Perfect Place to be.  Mr. Miller was spot on with his assessment.

 So all is not lost, I need to prod my memory of why we didn't want to leave this newly discovered setting.   We were enthralled by the warm rays of the sun, the sleeping in kind of days, the seafood delivered fresh off the boats, the above and beyond friendly people...and on and on and on but I digress.  Why, you may ask, was there a flaw to this bliss?  In two words--thirteen hours.  Another couple of words--four airplanes. Yes, it took us that many hours and that many planes to get us from point A to point B. The belief has now been proven that paradise has its limitations, however, the journey of getting there and back made us even more appreciative of all that is good and wonderful about Belize.

 Keeping those memories in the forefront of our cortex as we freeze in the upcoming vortex will be our objective until we return.

Thanks for reading #29 of 7777.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

# 28 Halleluiah!

 Off flying with wings today.  Enjoy!

Thanks for reading #28 of 7777.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

#27 Sunrise

Thank you Belize, for sharing a bit of paradise and healing powers found in the tranquil natural settings and your congenial people.  Our wake up call today was this magnificent sunrise.  It captures the essence of our entire visit and we are grateful for every moment.  As I pack my bags, I'm grabbing a few warm breezes and fond memories and stuffing them in the side pockets to bring home to Wisconsin. Airport security will have to understand and look the other way.

Thanks for reading #27 of 7777.

Friday, November 7, 2014

# 26 My Choice

"It takes the same amount of energy to worry about the worst thing that can happen as it does to hope for the best. It's up to you to choose." A quote from A Hundred Flowers: A Novel by Gail Tsukiyama

Could anyone say it any better than Ms. Tsukiyama?  If you haven't picked up one of her many books, I'd highly recommend running out and getting one today.  Wise words fill the pages.

This quote hit me on the side of the head.  Choose--now I get it.

Thanks for reading #26 of 7777.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

#25 Watch out for the Jellyfish

Snorkeling is on the to do list today so will make this one short.  Yesterday Rob convinced me the waves were manageable and I should do a swim from our resort to town--a little over a mile.  Dodging the jelly fish could have been problematic, but that was not the problem.  Dodging Rob in the kayak became a problem.  As I was swimming along with one eye on the lookout for the ugly old JF, Rob temporarily lost control of the kayak and slammed smack into me.  Gulping a mouthful of salt water resulted in me screaming bloody murder because in my mind I thought I had just hit one of those nasty "free-swimming marine coelenterate with a jellylike bell- or saucer-shaped body that is typically transparent and has stinging tentacles around the edge" according to Webster. When I realized the bump was Rob, the screaming was directed at him to get out of my way, mon. (I think we've been here too long, I'm sounding like the locals).

Other than that traumatic episode, the swim went as planned. Another open swim under my belt and ready to tackle the next one on the horizon.   Take that cancer and shove it up your jellyfish a%#!

Thanks for reading # 25 of 7777.

From the shoreline to the opening on the right was my goal.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

# 24 Falling in Love

Yes, I am in love...with Belize.  What could be finer than a lip smacking sumptuous seaweed shake, or fresh-- right off the boat--fish, or the friendliest people on the planet and did I mention  Hummingbird Highway? Who names a highway after a bird?  It doesn't get much better than this.

 I'm not sure if my newfound love is the result of this magical place or is it magical because life after my diagnosis has changed my perspective on just about everything. Something to contemplate as I sit on my
lounge chair digging my toes into the fine warm sand and letting the cool ocean breezes lift my hair...oh stop it!  Perspective, spersplective--the place is priceless regardless of my post diagnosis assessment.

 Mehmet Murat Ildan said, “In matters of healing the body or the mind, vacation is a true genius!” Well said, Mehmet, the healing has just begun!

Thanks for reading # 24 of 7777.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

#23 Happiness is...

I know, I know, this song has been overdone but for some reason it always makes me smile.
David's fellow Peace Corps volunteer made this video for a conference on gender equality highlighting the girls of Togo.  Pathways is an organization that partners with the volunteers and has been instrumental in providing education and opportunities for the people of Togo.
 Fascinating stuff. Here is the link to their website

If you are having a grumpy day today, this toe tapping hand clapping four minutes will put a smile on your face.

Thanks for reading # 23 of 7777.

Monday, November 3, 2014

#22 Made it with Seconds to Spare.

A very quick update since the pool has my number and is calling.  Our arrival came this close (fingers pinched together) to being delayed because of the over efficient efforts of my husband.  Falling back an hour for Daylight Savings time meant the clock needed to be changed in our hotel room.  Little did the overachiever Rob realize that hotel clocks do this on their own--after all-- this is the 21st century.

All I recall from the morning is waking up to a phone call from the desk clerk asking if we were planning on taking the shuttle that was leaving in two minutes.   A mad dash ensued with clothes thrown on our bodies and shoes pulled on while hopping down the stairs.  We made it with no time to spare. Luckily airport security doesn't have a ban on flying with scary bed hair, bad breath and disheveled clothing.  Despite the harried beginning, the vacation has begun with a --"leave it alone Rob"--ban on fiddling with the clocks.

Thanks for reading #22 of 7777.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

# 21 The Great Escape

Bags packed--check
Bright orange toenail polish applied--check
House sitting son properly lectured --check
Plants watered in case son didn't listen--check
Airline confirmed--check
Meds filled--check
Double med check--check
Resort set and confirmed--check
Weather report scanned--check
Passports secured--check
Books added to Kindle--check
Swimsuit ready even if the body is not--check
Escaping Wisconsin in November--check
Time to skedaddle--check
Good times on the horizon--check
Warm sunny BELIZE--check check check!

Thanks for checking in and reading #21 of 7777.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

#20 Only 7757 more to go.

Oh boy, this might be a tough one.  Number 20.  What was I thinking when the number 7777 popped into my head?  Wouldn't once a month rantings suffice or even one a year?  As crazy as it may seem, the benefit of writing every day reminds me that I must keep it up for the next 7757 days--and that, actually, is the best thing to remember.  Yes, it certainly is a lofty goal but a good one to focus on as I greet each morning contemplating the next twenty-one years and asking myself, "words, where are the words?".  Challenging it is, but the positive feedback keeps me pounding away at the keyboard.  A heartfelt thanks to those willing to read and encourage my rants.  As I have always told my children, practice makes perfect so hang in there while I practice away at blogging.  Let's hope it can only get better...for 7757 more days.

Thanks for reading #20 (Wow!) of 7777.