Thursday, April 30, 2015

# 199 The Gardener

“It was such a pleasure to sink one's hands into the warm earth, to feel at one's fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” 

Tis the season I cherish.  Digging in the dirt. Mulching (maybe the results and not the actual dirty job). Planning where the annuals will go and the new perennials.  What's not to love about this time of year?  Everything right now is fresh, sprouting and turning that magnificent green that gets me out to the yard looking around and... salivating.

Yes, I picture this House and Garden looking yard with flowers gently waving in the warm breezes of a summer day.  In reality there have been garden catastrophes that I'd like to forget.  Too many bunches in one place, dying petunias because I forgot to water during a drought and other similar instances where the heart was there but the ambition of following through was stopped in its tracks. August is my waning month but by that time I have spent almost the entire summer enjoying the fruits of my earlier zeal.

But right now with gloves in hand and garden tools prepped, I am ready and eager to get out and help make nature's magic appear in my yard.  It's a cathartic recipe for my soul and overlooking the small boo boos, I am always pleased with the results. Fortunately gardening is pretty foolproof because even the disasters can project an image of success.

So, back outside today to dig, replant, rework, uncover and sink my hands into the warm earth for a new season of gratifying eye candy.

Thanks for reading # 199 of 7777.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

# 198 The Village Has Spoken

Again and again I am humbled by people who are unbelievably kind and generous when you present them with your hiccup in life and, after asking, they respond in droves.  Monday's met day at the Firefly was an exhausting yet exhilarating experience as friends, acquaintances and strangers stopped by to offer me encouragement and money for METAvivor.

When my children were young and I either needed advice or relief from the daily grind of parenting, I was reminded of the phrase, " It takes a village to raise a child".  The most helpful neighbors--ever-- were always on the ready for questions or just plain help as we negotiated any mini family crisis with the kids. There were plenty; and now it is coming around again as the village has taken up my cause with an all out "show me the money" effort.

People on Monday had plenty of advice on how to beat my drum louder and to figure out the complexities of the internet.  One person suggested finding a ten year old child since they are the best at social media. Where are these computer savvy munchkins who will be able to completely revamp my media efforts (website, Facebook, twitter, etc. etc. etc.) without any eye rolling or snickering behind my back? Send them over and I will give them a job.

Last night as I slowly wound down from the day, a dear friend sent me this email and suggested another avenue of raising funds for MBC.

 "It isn't much but it will add up.  If you swim it, we will contribute $10 for every lake swim.  Perhaps, more people following your blog and your lake swims will join us.  

You are making a difference.  The engine has started and the cars are starting to roll. Let's hope for craziness and an awareness that we can’t yet imagine."

"Craziness and an awareness that we can't yet imagine"!  Conversations would include let's do it.  We are mad and won't take it any more.  Cancer sucks and it is time for a cure for our daughters, sisters, brothers and sons.  Can you envision what this could do for the coffers at METAvivor or American Cancer Society?  Oh yeah, the ball has only begun rolling in the direction towards a cure.  We can do this.

Kudos to my village.  I feel you covering my back and one of these days I'll return the favor. 

Thanks for reading # 198 of 7777.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

# 197 Long Day But Worth It

The Firefly--the best coffee shop in the world!!!  What a day and what incredible people out there.  I arrived at 6 AM to be greeted by two friends and that was just the beginning of a nonstop friendly day that ended twelve hours later.

Thank you to all who stopped by, ordered a latte or coffee or tea and supported me on my campaign.  I am hopeful that each dollar raised will significantly help change this disease's direction and eventually lead to the elusive cure we so desperately need.

One Woman Many Lakes is now officially off and running/swimming. Stay tuned for the next event. Now I'm off for a much needed sleep.  ZZzzzzzzz.

Thanks for reading # 197 of 7777.

Monday, April 27, 2015

# 196 Firefly Party!

Today is the big day and I am down at my beloved coffee shop, the Firefly.  It is 6 AM and patiently waiting for the crowds to come rolling in to support my cause.  Every cup of coffee or sweet treat bought will bring funds to this organization because the generous owner has stepped up to the plate by donating a percentage of their sales today.

If you have not been following my latest rants about MBC, below highlights why I am up this early and will be here until they close at 6 tonight.

  • 30% of patients diagnosed with earlier stage breast cancer will eventually develop stage 4 (metastasis) breast cancer.
  • 100% of breast cancer deaths occur because of metastasis.
  • 40,000 lives are lost to metastatic breast cancer every year—which is 15% of all cancer deaths.
  • Only 2% of research dollars fund metastatic breast cancer.
  • To support my One Woman Many Lakes campaign go to
  • For more information go to
Hope to see you here!

Thanks for reading # 196 of 7777.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

# 195 Lessons from a Sand Dollar

"When you do a thing, do it with all your might.  Put your whole soul into it.  Stamp it with your personality.  Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful and you will accomplish your object."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
19th Century American Writer

My friend, Barbara, and I were out walking my dog when I worried aloud about my goal to raise money for metastatic breast cancer seems like such a paltry amount and wondered if it truly will  make a difference. There are limited funds for all the ailments in the world and my swimming and roaring about MBC is not even a trickle in the waters of life. The wise woman that she is suggested rereading the story of the sand dollar.  I did and it set me back on track of my mission and will follow Mr. Emerson's advice to keep active and enthusiastic because it will make a difference to someone.

The Story of the Sand Dollar ~ Making a Difference

An old man was strolling along a beach one day. In the distance he saw a young boy and girl reach down, pick something up and throw it back into the sea.

Drawing nearer, he saw that the sand was littered with thousands of small stranded sand dollars. The children were patiently picking them up, one at a time, and returning them to safety below the water.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Saving sand dollars," replied the children as they continued about the job at hand.

The old man, somewhat jaded by age, thought the children's actions were futile.

"But the beach is littered with dying sand dollars. What possible difference can you make by doing this?"

The young girl bent over, picked up another, and threw it with all her might. With a plop the sand dollar sank safely below the water. Then, turning to the old man, she said with all the wisdom of a child:

"I made a difference for that one."

Thanks for reading # 195 of 7777.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

#194 Muffin, the Cat

You may remember my blog several months ago about our cat, Muffin, and how she and I have butted heads on many occasions.   As ornery as she had always been in her eighteen years of life she began to redeem herself in the past few weeks as she began cuddling on my lap at night and actually enjoyed the neck scratches I gave her.  This morning I knew the end was near as she came into my bedroom, curled up in a little ball and took her last breath. I don't think she heard me yesterday scheduling the appointment for a one way trip to the vet but she was kind to spare me and herself from that trauma.

According to a cat chart Muffin was the equivalent of an 88 year old.  She was scrawny and cantankerous but had stolen the hearts of everyone in my family (except me).  That she lived this long proves that a cat does indeed have nine lives.   When she was around two years of age she had some type of kidney failure and the vet gave us a bag of solution, syringes and instructions on what to do to keep her alive.  He had his doubts that we would return with a living and breathing cat but Muffin survived the odds.  Unfortunately it turned this adorable kitten into a feline with a personality that was mean and feisty proving that she was not going anywhere until she had used up the other eight lives promised to every cat.

This is the end of our cat days.  Despite what my children say about me and the species, I do like cats but am happy to be free at last of the constraints of the litter box, meowing at night, hair everywhere, etc. etc. etc.

Muffin, rest in peace and enjoy frolicking with all the other Gooze cats--wherever they may be.

Thanks for reading # 194 of 7777.

Friday, April 24, 2015

#193 Kindness

We rise by lifting others.

—Robert Ingersoll 

Lawyer, A Civil War Veteran, Political Leader, And Orator Of United States

A campaign has begun in the area to pay it forward and I was quite surprised to be the recipient of one kind action. The story behind this is Rob was down at our local health club doing a spinning class when he mentioned that his wife--that would be me--would love to spin but hasn't been able to sign up at midnight (side note--remember my insomnia attacks?  I probably am awake at midnight but not in the mood to even think about biking) when the bike spots fill up.  Could anyone help her out was his question to the group.

Beth immediately volunteered to bring her own bike and trainer, sign me up at midnight and give me the opportunity to join in on the fun. This would be a huge effort on her part but she insisted it was nothing. What a woman and what a considerate act!

I was struck by her unselfishness and began my search on...Random Acts of Kindness. There are 7,600,000 sites devoted to this phenomenon and each one has anywhere from 29 random acts to hundreds of things you could do for someone else.

That led me on another mission.  If everyone who is physically capable in the US did one act a day for 365 days-- and for some accuracy, we eliminate the youngest and the infirm-- which brings our 300 million people to a possible 200 million acts of kindness in a day times 365 equals a total of 73 billion acts of kindness.  Wow! 73 billion people beaming because of our charitable actions. It would be a record year for smiles.

These random acts are not time-consuming, rarely involve money and often are as effortless as waving hello to your mail carrier. Simple yet what a difference it would make in the receiver's day.

“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”
—The 14th Dalai Lama Head Monk Of The Gelugpa Lineage Of Tibetan Buddhism

Beth, you have shown us with your act of kindness the path to inner happiness and peace so starting today I am paying it forward by doing one, two, maybe three random acts.  Guaranteed the benefits will be tenfold for both the recipient and for me.  

Thanks for reading # 193 of 7777.  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

#192 BUNKO

"Bunco was originally a confidence game similar to three card monte.[1][2] It originated from 19th-century England where it was known as "eight dice cloth".[3] It was imported to San Francisco as a gambling activity in 1855, where it gave its name to gambling parlors, or "Bunco parlors", and more generally to any swindle. After the Civil War the game evolved to a popular parlor game. During the 1920s and Prohibition, Bunco was re-popularized as a gambling game, often associated with a speakeasy. Law-enforcement groups raiding these parlors came to be known as "Bunco squads". Bunco as a family game saw a resurgence in popularity in the 1980s.[4] " 
By Wikipedia

Aha!  Our friendly get together for Bunko could have been raided by the "Bunco Squads".  Wouldn't that have sent the neighborhood abuzz with gossip?  I had no idea this simple--and I mean simple--game originated in the 19th century and was associated with gambling.  I thought it emerged when a group of women tossed some dice, drank wine and constantly laughed at everything and anything.  At least that's what happened here on Bunko night. 

The Bunko women congregated at my house for the evening with the absolute pleasure of hanging out with friends as well as the above mentioned chaos of wine, dice and laughter.  Even though I was  a substitute for a fellow Bunkee, they welcomed me into their circle and we all played on as if the winning envelope at the end of the night concealed a million dollars.  I do believe that historically no one has ever struck it rich playing but I could be wrong. 

There is always a bit of competition floating in the air, however, as far as I can tell there is no skill necessary while playing the game.  If you roll with your right hand, left hand or eyes closed it always comes down to the numbers on the dice. A game of chance yet a few of us continue with our antics yearning for a better outcome.  Hasn't worked for me so I am not recommending anything except yelling, "Baby needs a new pair of shoes". 

That, my friends, was the lucky saying that landed me a second place win and a massive five dollar bill in my pocket (which mysteriously ended up in Rob's wallet).

Thanks for reading # 192 of 7777.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

# 191 Earth Day

Earth Day.  Forty-five years later and it is more important than ever to celebrate and take action on this day going forward.

What will you do to make our home a better place?

Back to Earth Day 2015

2015 - Earth Day’s 45th anniversary - could be the most exciting year in environmental history. The year in which economic growth and sustainability join hands. The year in which world leaders finally pass a binding climate change treaty. The year in which citizens and organizations divest from fossil fuels and put their money into renewable energy solutions. These are tough issues but we know what’s at stake is the future of our planet and the survival of life on earth. On Earth Day we need you to take a stand so that together, we can show the world a new direction. It’s our turn to lead. So our world leaders can follow by example.
In 2015, let's redefine what progress looks like. It’s Our Turn to Lead.
Thanks for reading # 191 of 7777.

Monday, April 20, 2015

#189 A Firefly Monday

Below says it all with my One Woman Many Lakes campaign.  I am very excited about this endeavor and am confident the word will reach those who need to hear it...(e.g.) NIH, congress, billionaires, cancer  survivors and people who are not aware of our diagnosis and its lack of funding.  Our voices need to be heard!  Don't ignore Stage 4!!!  Pass it on.

One Woman Many Lakes
I am pleased to announce the one and only Firefly Coffee Shop in downtown Oregon will generously donate 15% of its sales on Monday, April 27th to in support of my One Woman Many Lakes campaign.
Since my diagnosis in June, 2014 it has been my mission to seek more research funding along with raising awareness for this disease that claims 40,000 lives each year. I alone can not find a cure for Metastatic Breast Cancer but I can swim to raise funds. As I swim across lake after lake this year please also support me with a donation to, an organization that provides 100% of its donations to MBC research.
Come down on Monday, April 27th, grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat at the Fly!

Thanks for reading #189 of 7777.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

# 188 Making Hay

Spending a day on the couch on one of the nicest days in the season reminded me how important it is to make every day count.  I was under the weather on Friday and as much as I wanted to get out and seize the day, it wasn't going to happen.

This confirms my mother's mantra--make hay while the sun is shining.  Feeling rotten on any day is the pits but dwelling on it only reinforces what I was missing.  To counteract sitting on my duff I was productive removing the gel nails (which takes forever), read a book and cuddled with my dog.  The entire time I moaned about the leaves in the yard and all the projects I wanted to conquer in April and this one day stopped me in my tracks.

Back to my mother's wise words.  Today is a good day.  I will get my chores done, bask in this glorious sunshine and make that hay. We all have time limits on our stay here so Friday was a reminder for me to cherish each healthy day...and if I find myself down and out for a day--let Rob rake the leaves.

Thanks for reading # 188 of 7777.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

# 187 Inspired

Not feeling too inspired today so found some quotes to get going.  Don't attempt to read the entire list in one sitting.  Mull them over a few at a time and maybe inspiration will hit.

50 Inspirational Quotes to Live By
By Cris Nikolov on November 5, 2013

1. Talent is given, greatness is earned..
2. Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.
3. Listen, smile, agree and then do whatever you were going to do anyway.
4. Never let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life.
5. The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it
6. It is never too late to be what you might have been.
7. Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.
8. If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.
9. The higher you climb the better the view.
10. With patience you can even cook a stone. (One of the best quotes to live by)
11. Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there’s footprints on the moon.
12. Life is not measured by the amount of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away
13. It’s important to make someone happy, and it’s important to start with yourself.
14. If you settle for just anything, you’ll never know what you’re truly worthy of.
15. In life, you get what you put in. Everything comes back around.
16. Death is not the greatest loss in life; the greatest loss is what dies inside while you’re still alive
17. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
18. Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. – Vivian Greene
19. I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.
20. Dream as you will live forever, live as you will die today.
21. If you want something you’ve never had then you you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.
22. Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve. – Napoleon Hill
23. Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen. – Michael Jordan
24. Life is a stage and you get only one performance. Make it a good one.
25. As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, THINK BIG.
26. Nothing is impossible, the word it self says I’m possible.
27. They laugh at me because I’m different, I laugh at them because they’re all the same.
28. Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.
29. Life is short, live it. Love is rare, grab it. Anger is bad, dump it. Fear is awful, face it. Memories are sweet, cherish it.
30. To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that’s all.
31. Live life to the fullest because you only get to live it once.
32. Do things that count, but don’t count the things you do.
33. Begin each day with a grateful heart.
34. Opportunity is missed by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
35. Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being positive about what could go right.
36. Everyday is a new beginning, take a deep breath and start again.
37. If you wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.
38. Don’t live your fears, live your dreams.
39. We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
40. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously, that you might as well not have lived at all- In which case you fail by default.
41. If you do not go after go after what you want, you will never have it. If you do not ask, the answer will always be NO. If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place.
42. Clear your mind of can’t!
43. All the days that you wake up, you got one job, and that’s to get better every single day.
44. When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.
45. Life is too short to wait.
46. I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me.
47. I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
48. It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.
49. Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.
50. The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

Thanks for reading #187 of 7777. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

# 186 Book Clubbers Rule

“What a blessing it is to love books.” 

Book clubs.  I could change Ms. von Arnim's quote to saying "what a blessing" to share books with others.  I am in two book clubs with women who love to read...and talk... and share their views on books and life.  The discussions are full of wit and wisdom and lots and lots of laughter. I LOVE these gatherings.

Despite the care given to selecting a new title sometimes we admit when we don't particularly care for a book or an author but reading it stretches our imaginations and broadens our perspective.  Case in point--the last book club read The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan. It was not a book many of us might have picked up off the shelf but reading it made us appreciate the war efforts of the men and women during that time period.  We were able to discuss racism, sexism, propaganda, the war and its secrets, patriotism and a whole slew of topics regarding the book.  The discussion was lengthy even with the admission that it wasn't our favorite book for various reasons but we all agreed it is one that is important to read.

Which led me in a round about way to questioning the beginnings of book clubs.  A little internet research found one answer.

From Written by Nathan Heller
"Although the exact origins of American book-clubbing are arguable—talking about texts in private is as old as history itself—the modern domestic book group comes most directly from a push for women's intellectual autonomy. Beginning in the mid-18th century in England, motivated women of means and leisure began hosting salons for each other at home, inviting (male) luminaries of the day over to serve as keynote guests. These salon-goers came to be called "bluestockings," supposedly after one popular guest's signature garment; by 1863, across the pond, The New American Cyclopaedia was using the term as a catchall descriptor for "pedantic or ridiculously literary ladies." The first modern-style reading groups emerged out of this "ridiculously" ambitious culture of self-education, taking form as refuges for women who wanted to get ahead and cultivate their minds outside an educational system to which they had no proper access."

So there you have it.  As popular as they are today, book clubbers have been sharing books, wine and yummy desserts for more years than we have been around.  Oprah has nothing on the "motivated women" of the 18th century and thank goodness women now have "proper access" to an educational system.  So raise your book to cheer on all the clubs out there and may they continue to inspire and whet our appetite for fine wines and finer reading.  

Thanks for reading # 186 of 7777.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

#185 Bloggers Unite

"Should I Blog" is an online course I have been taking the past few weeks that has been taught by women with MBC. It has reassured me that my crazy daily blogging is actually part of the healing process and whatever I have to say does count. I don't think they have read my blog when they made that statement, but I digress. They suggested writing as a way of connecting with others and an important outlet for expressing our fears and anger at this disease.

I had no idea there were that many cancer bloggers out there until surfing the internet.  They are outrageously funny, full of advice and brutally honest.   The range of materials goes from rants about the injustices of funding to the newest treatment on the horizon.  All are passionate about life and it comes through loud and clear in their written voices.

This course taught me to keep writing regardless of the doubts that rage in my head. Someone out there may be listening and if we can educate one person or inspire someone with a new diagnosis it is all worth the anguish of the writer's block we all seem to experience at one time or another. And it is good for our souls to document our lives.

So thank you for reading and encouraging me with your comments and I will attempt (but can't promise) an offensive free blog or content that won't embarrass my children.  The former will be so much easier than the latter.  The latter also gives me great pleasure (wish I could figure out a way to blow them a kiss :)).

Thanks for reading #185 of 7777.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

#184 The Malady

We have been watching the informative PBS special on cancer, CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES by Ken Burns this week. It hits very close to home, obviously, so thought I'd share insights from a person living with the disease.

I'll admit after the first diagnosis three years ago I spent quite a bit of time sobbing, screaming and generally carrying on in a wild woman gone mad kind of way. My legs were pulled out from under me and there was not a place to land so I cried mountains of tears.  How could this happen?  Why me? And all those other questions you ask God, your friends, and anyone else who will listen. My faithful troops rallied around and supported me through the nine months of the holy terror of surgery, chemo and radiation.  But then I was done.  No more.  I was advised by my oncologist to be vigilant with any body changes and to report them.  I remember sitting there half listening to him thinking, "I paid my dues, did what I had to do, now let's get on with living."

I was aware of a possibility of recurrence and in my mind the cancer was "caught early" so I should not have to dwell on what the ugly next step might be.  I am not faulting my oncologist.  He gave it all he had as far as treatments go, however, he and all the other doctors never know who will be hit again with those nasty spreading cells.  It is like losing in the lottery of life--everyone else is the winner and those of us who get the second diagnosis are... well, not exactly losers but looking in, banging on the door from the outside. Statistically 20-30% initial diagnosis will end up with a recurrence.  Frightening to think that many.

The second diagnosis came as a complete shock--similar to the first time around but this time it is different. There is no treatment=cancer free scenarios anymore.  It is here in my body and is here to stay--forever.  Scary and alarming as it is I have a calmer sense going into this diagnosis than the previous one. Yes, there have been tears and rantings and many days it feels like walking on a tight rope--is this back twinge cancer, my stomach is rolling around--could it be cancer, frequent aches and pains from either age or working out too long can set me on a spin of doubt and fear.

On those days self talking reminds me that I do have be productive... and to find a cure. Cancer will not take those away from me now or in the future.  My dukes are up and the fight is on for me and my 155,000 MBC friends as we wind our way through the complexities of this malady. Despite what we hear from the media reports and other voices in our ears, we must never give up.

If you haven't seen the show, tune in--it's still showing--go to and watch  CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES.

Knowledge is powerful.

Thanks for reading # 184 of 7777.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

# 183 Amy, the Kid Whisperer

There are certain people who are naturals at what they do.  Amy Vatne-Bintliff is one of them and the recipients of this gifted talent are her students.  This glowing blog about me should be turned around with a finger pointing directly at her. She is a one of a kind teacher and Rob and I were humbled and honored to witness her magic in action.

7 days camping with middle school children.  Yep, that's when I got to really see Mary up close.  And what I saw astounded me. 

As we journeyed hundreds of miles in three vans, I felt a huge sense of security that Rob and Mary were behind us in their car. They supported me fully as I brought my Westward Bound summer program to Oregon.  They believed in me, our goals and the idea that this adventure could change lives.  Mary's big question was always, "What do you need?"  

There's something magical about that.  That Rob and Mary humbly supported me, never jumping in, never bossing about...always just there for me, my two co-teachers, and 22 students.  We, the three of us, are all Geminis--three Geminis leading a trip!  But even if they had differing opinions, Rob and Mary let us grow within our own mistakes and successes. That is truly something.  Mary would watch my eyes, and was able to read when I needed her help.  She has a knack for knowing.

The majority of us were strangers, yet the two of them honored us like great old friends coming to dinner.

Camping, sleeping on the hard ground, is not Mary's favorite thing. :) Yet she awoke every day, with a steady smile. (Rob was the only one privy to any complaints!) Those early mornings were often when she reached her arms around every student, and could intuitively tell when one needed extra TLC.

And she shared with them.  She let them know of her cancer story, but in a carefully delivered message of resiliency.  As we sat around the fire, circled together, they kids just listened, and understood.

Mary has a light about her.  And what was so inspiring to see throughout this journey is how much of that light Rob adores and respects. Their partnership is a model for us all.  It is a model for me still.  What love expressed through the little things present in our days--the pitching of tents, packing their car, making sure each one was left with something to eat after the kids went through the line.  What love!

Mary is a great treasure.  It's not often people enter your life with the sole purpose of providing support, but that's what she and Rob have done for me.  And I am eternally grateful.

Behind that kindness and generosity, Mary kicks ass.  She's a cool cat under pressure.  She isn't going to let something like cancer define her Spirit. I love her spunk, her powerful stance...when needed, she'd roll it out, if to do nothing more than to vent for me when I couldn't.  I'd want her in my campsite anytime.  Awakening to a sleeping bison ready to walk all over us never even made her sweat!

That campfire light glows within her--there's healing in that light, you know.  

Thanks for reading # 183 of 7777. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

# 182 #MetsMonday

Below is a copy of what I have written to numerous companies requesting help with my Metastatic Breast Cancer awareness campaign.  Please feel free to copy it or revise it to what works for you and send to anyone you think might help our cause.  The companies written have been the following: Target, JCP, Sears, Kmart, Walmart, Shopko, Boston Store, Macy's, Pizza Hut, Subway.  It takes a nanosecond to do this but could last a lifetime for someone.  Thanks a billion.

I am a long time _(fill in the blank_______ shopper and am impressed with _____ social conscience in the workplace but would like to see it expanded in a direction that would help its employees and customers along with over 155,000 people.  Metastatic Breast Cancer affects that many people (myself included) unfortunately the money for research is sorely lacking.  Would _____ be interested in the campaign going on right now #MetsMonday and contribute a percentage of their profits on Monday(s) to, an organization that contributes 100% of its donation to research.  Please contact me for more information. Thank you.

Thanks for reading # 182 of 7777.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

#181 The Master of Life From a Bicycle Seat

"She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life."

 The first bike ride of the year is always the most challenging and I had forgotten about the sore back side from this activity but we tackled the hills with gusto and enjoyed the moderate temperatures of the day.

As we pedaled along I mentioned to my friend that despite having an idle bicycle for eight months we never forget how to ride.  According to Ms. Anthony my success on the bike meant that I must have finally gained the mastery of life.  Wow! All those days when life seems overwhelming I need only to remember her wise words--"gain the mastery of life".  It seems so simple.

Unfortunately I don't think she knew about the remote control for the television in our house.  No matter how many times I have used that contraption I never ever get it right the first (or second or third) time. My thoughts on this vile tool is that it is messing with my mind and randomly changes how it operates.  Of course Rob doesn't agree but that's filed under the category of  "Men are from Mars", etc.  This leads me to the question, is this one of those "mastery of life" experiences I can't master?

But I digress, and Ms. Anthony has a point about mastery of life and bicycles.  I just wish she could be around for assistance when I attempt to fiddle with the television and its evil control.

Thanks for reading # 181 of 7777.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

# 180 Now, Where is Senegal?

News has just reached us that our youngest will be going back to his beloved Africa.  Because I am his mom I want him to stay right here but he has his traveling shoes on and his wings are flapping so I will have to suck it up and let him go. The fact is I don't have much of a choice in the matter (said shaking my head in my hands).

Senegal is the fortunate country that will be blessed with his expertise on agriculture and I know his great grandfather would be proud to have a farmer in the family again.  His job description involves trees and planting and other exciting adventures.  Although he was in the Rocky Mountain High of Colorado, he kept looking for more meaning and experience in his life and I'm sure he will find both in his new (temporary--fingers crossed) home.

Since he will be there a year Rob is on the computer scoping out flights so it looks like our next trip is already in the early planning stages.  Will this be easier than India?  Oh yeah.  Air time only takes nine hours (from DC) and that is music to my ears.

Good luck Dave the Wave, and may the winds carry you to exotic places but safely return you when your roaming days are over.  We eagerly wait to hear your stories and become educated on another country millions of miles away (Okay, maybe not millions but it seems like it --I need a little more time before seeing you leave...again).

What's the saying, make your kids independent and then don't be surprised when they are?  Or something like that.  Ahhhh!  Parenting-- the job that never ends.

Thanks for reading # 180 of 7777.

Friday, April 10, 2015

#179 Flying High

Good news keeps on rolling from my favorite oncologist.  

1. He loves the fact that I am doing so well despite a few minor complaints (sleep issues being the number one problem. His solution--sex.  Guess Rob should get his MD degree because that's always his suggestion...).
2. The doc was excited about a couple of new drug treatments recently out when my present ones stop working.
3. I can skip seeing him next month--just need my monthly shot.
4.  Initial blood work looked excellent--will know more in a few days.
5.  I can start running again if I shuffle.  He said there was an Olympian who shuffled and won a gold medal.  I don't think my running is quite in the same category.
6.  And the biggest reason I love this man is that he has agreed to swim in my many lakes campaign this summer.

Take the good days when you can and fly with it. I'm flying right now! Hallelujah!

Thanks for reading # 179 of 7777.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

#178 Music to My Ears

According to Wikipedia: Straight No Chaser (SNC) is a professional a cappella group which originated in 1996 at Indiana University. In 2006, a 1998 video of "The 12 Days of Christmas," gained widespread popularity and subsequently led to a five-album record deal with Atlantic Records in 2008. The YouTube video has been viewed over 18 million times.

Last night Rob and I went to the concert on the recommendation of our biking instructor after she succinctly barked (remember, she teaches spinning classes and is a bit intense), "Get tickets, you won't regret it."  And she was right.  We bought tickets last fall to the a cappella group, Straight No Chaser, and sat in awe of this group's talent.  They sang, danced and entertained an almost sellout crowd for over two hours.

Since we knew nothing about this group prior to the evening we were pleasantly surprised at the popularity and the fact that the range of ages in the audience began with teenagers and ended with the "olderagers".  Everyone seemed enamored with the group--us included--and the theatre resounded with their extraordinary voices using popular tunes that we have loved over the years.  The spoof on Broadway shows was especially entertaining (Interchange the word "annoying" for the song, Tomorrow).

A heads up to you if they are in your area; follow the advice of our instructor--"Get tickets." Laughing and music are good for the soul and after an evening of SNC your inner being will feel complete and your outer being will have a satisfying smile on your face.

Thanks for reading # 178 of 7777.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

#177 Exercise for the Heart

"The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others." --Albert Schweitzer
Saturday night we were at the lovely wedding of Kelsey and Tim when I reconnected with Kathy, the bride's aunt.  In our conversation she mentioned that she reads my blog every day.  Of course I love to hear that people are actually reading the nonsense I write but she was sincere about being a faithful reader and went on to tell me that she has decided to start a support group in her area for women who are recently widowed.  Since she has gone through the difficult time herself she feels she can offer them guidance on how to maneuver through the emotional trauma of losing a loved one.

I congratulated her on "stepping up to the plate" and passing her knowledge on to others who find themselves in a similar situation.  She kindly responded that I was the impetus for getting her to pay it forward and reach out to grieving women in her city.

What a wonderful compliment and I thanked her but I am confident that she would have found the inspiration to tackle this goal on her own.  Despite the dire world news I truly believe we are all compassionate human beings and are willing to lend a hand especially if an unfortunate circumstance had befallen us.  I am proud that Kathy is taking charge not only for herself but for everyone else she will touch to make their lives more endurable as they travel through a difficult time.

“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” ― John Holmes

We should all be inspired by Kathy's quest so do yourself a favor by giving someone a boost to help them make it through one more day. They will be filled with gratitude... and so will your heart.

Thanks for reading # 177 of 7777.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

# 176 What? No Wife?

Our house was brimming over with family this weekend and the youngest, David, who has worked with refugees in Denver, volunteered (okay, a little arm twisting) to write this blog. Enjoy!

"Mr. David, why don't you have a wife?  You a very strong, handsome man and you deserve a woman in your life".  Who is saying that you might ask?  Is it my mother or one of my mother's friends or perhaps a random person on the street who has taken pity on a poor soul like myself?  It's actually a combination of the three who have taken a liking to finding me a wife.  These people who are so worried about the fact that I am a single, 27 year old man, are the refugees in which I am their English Teacher twice a week.  On average there are around 15 students who attend my twice weekly classes--the majority of them are females.  They have vastly different backgrounds, ages, education, and time spent here in America but they all have one thing in common.  They have all arrived in America as people displaced from their homeland and now consider America home.

When one thinks of refugees, one sees the Lost Boys of Sudan, or maybe a starving African child in a desolate camp.  I have had the privilege and honor of working with these people on several different levels, from teaching English, to working with them on their resumes, to helping their children find scholarships and understand the importance of school.  It all means that I spend a lot of time miming what a proper handshake is in America while laughing at the little older woman from Burma repeat over and over again "Thank you, good morning," the English phrase that she had learned that morning.  Or my favorite, having them sing Happy Birthday to me in about 20 different languages.

I somewhat stumbled into this line of work as my experience in Peace Corps has afforded me both soft and hard skills that work hand in hand with refugees.  I often tell them that I have been where they are right now, not knowing the language, culture, the people and being overwhelmed.  Because the majority of people come from Somalia, Ethiopia, Iraq and Algeria, they get a kick when I can throw out a couple Arabic phrases that I learned from my Peace Corps experience, which causes massive fits of laughter on their side.  With the folks from the Democratic Republic of Congo, I joke with them my love for FuFu, and "public transport" in Africa, which causes mass hysterics from all those involved.  It is the ultimate inside joke and luckily for me, I'm on the in with it.

Some people may feel pity or sorry for these families that have been uprooted and dropped on a different planet.  At first, I had a feeling of sorrow especially for the kids because as one girl told me she didn't have a home because she was born in Burma, raised in a refugee camp in Malysia yet spent her final years in Thailand before arriving in America.  No permanent place to call home, no identity because the country that her parents were from didn't want her.  Yet that pity I had at first was replaced by awe and pride.  She had arrived here in 2013 with no English and with limited education  yet she studied, learned English, succeeded and now has a scholarship to the University of Colorado, Boulder for medicine.

This all comes back to that question, my endless search for a wife and the humor that goes with it.  We feel like our world is in chaos with Putin on our doorsteps, ISIS, ebola and God knows what else.  Yet here I am, working with people from vastly different background, ethnicity, education, language and religion, and yet our laughing fits will take over a class.  So next time you see someone of a different color with a strange accent or perhaps with Muslim garb or maybe colorful clothing, stop and ask where they are from and their story.  One never knows what they might say in English, Arabic, Swahili or French.

Thank you for reading #176 of 7777.

Monday, April 6, 2015

# 175 We Can't Stop Now


Are you tired of reading about cancer?  Me, too.  Let's do something about it now.  It's #MetsMonday so get out your pen and paper/email and write to the people in Washington requesting more funds for the NIH (National Institute of Health) and tell them to stop cutting the budget. Or donate to both, please.  Pass it on.

Thank you and thanks for reading # 175 of 7777.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

#174 On Wisconsin!



Best wedding celebration

Best game

Best time 

Love you, Bucky

Thanks for reading # 174 of 7777.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

# 173 75/25 = 100%

Congratulations are in order for a beautiful bride and her handsome groom.  Kelsey and Tim will tie the knot today and they are blessed with a warm April day to begin their new life as husband and wife.

Marriage is a bond that only strengthens over the years and if it works it is a priceless gift to give to each other.  When Rob and I married we decided that whenever a snafu happened in our marriage (and there definitely were some snafus), the guilty party would take only 75% of the blame splitting the difference with the innocent one.

This was helpful to me since when I was wrong, really wrong about something or did a stupid deed I was comforted that Rob would be taking 25% of my disaster.  Of course, the reverse was true and I had to cover his mistakes taking a quarter of the blame but I always had a smile on my face and never said, "I told you so". (Not! If you recall a few blogs ago about a ramming kayak, an extended shortcut and numerous hiking calamities--I couldn't keep my mouth shut on those and should have been happy to be responsible for only 25% of the debacles).

 Fortunately it has worked out to be about even on the catastrophes which led both of us to never feel 100% in the wrong.  Of course we couldn't relish the 100% of being right either but in the long run this has been a workable agreement and we have mastered it for almost 37 years.

Kelsey and Tim: When disagreements happen agree to the 75/25 rule and neither of you will ever feel completely wronged and the added benefit is that you can share your "rightness" with the one you love.

Happy 100% marriage to a wonderful couple.

Thanks for reading #173 of 7777.

Friday, April 3, 2015

#172 Out of the Car

“Home wasn't a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.” 
― Sarah DessenWhat Happened to Goodbye

We made it after 27 1/2 hours of driving--2 1/2 days on the road-- to our own little home.  It felt good to get back here but what occurred to me that I missed the most was my neighbor's hug and having us over for dinner that night, the neighbor across the street shouting welcome home, and another neighbor asking if we needed anything.  This was within five minutes after arrival.

Did I miss home?  Not necessarily the physical part of it (okay, maybe my bed).  I missed the friends and neighbors who look out for each other, lean on each other when needed and serve you a decent hot meal after being on the road eating sub sandwiches.  It is good to be home but it is even better to be surrounded by the people who love us and are genuinely happy to see our smiling faces.

On the other hand the dog found his old bed curled up in a little ball and hasn't moved except when he hears the dinner bell.  A comfy bed, a bowl of food and this pup is one traveler happy to be home...and the humans agree.

Thanks for reading # 172 of 7777.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

# 171 Dog Talk

Quick travel story.  After our lunch on the road I returned to the car to check on the dog while Rob was elsewhere with the keys.  Meanwhile Yogi patiently waited for us with the windows half down and was thrilled that I had come back to see him.

When no one is around and I communicate with this mutt I use doggie sounding language like, "Oh sweet'ums, we have to wait for your daddy to come back so we can snuggle."  This is all said with a sickening honeyed high voice. I proceeded to coo at Yogi with other endearments I am embarrassed to document but trust me it wasn't for public hearing.

Imagine my surprise and total mortification when the cowboy sitting in the nearby truck innocently asked the breed of the dog.  Scared the a s*#t  out of me and flustered me to the point that I shouted Golden Retriever and rudely turned my back (hiding my crimson red face).

The poor man probably had heard enough --after all this was Oklahoma--and wanted to spare me and him of any continuing mushy sweet nothings to a dog...of all things.

Ahhh! It's been a long day but one more day of traveling and I can babble at Yogi all I want from the privacy of my own home sweet home.

Thanks for reading # 171 of 7777.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

#170 Warning: Pun Attack

On the road again.  My own bed will feel like a million bucks when my head hits the pillow.  Unfortunately that will have to wait a few more days.  Meanwhile, enjoy some "punny" jokes.


Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He's all right now.
I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. It's impossible to put down.

I used to be a banker but I lost interest
A man just assaulted me with milk, cream and butter. How dairy.
It's not that the man did not know how to juggle, he just didn't have the balls to do it.
I don't trust these stairs because they're always up to something.

Did you hear about the guy who got hit in the head with a can of soda? He was lucky it was a soft drink.
I'm glad I know sign language, it's pretty handy.

He drove his expensive car into a tree and found out how the Mercedes bends.

Thanks for reading # 170 of 7777.