Pearls

Hello, my six readers! Did you miss me? I’ve been crazy busy this summer – got to go on a bunch of trips planned so far in advance I almost forgot about them. I’ve seen Alaska (cruise) and Hawaii (Maui) within a month of each other. It’s like I planned a ‘Last-States-In-The-Union’ adventure/excursion/extravaganza!

I’ve also had a couple of C-word issues – an increase in my Timmy-the-Tumor markers that had me very sad for a few days. You might think living with cancer for over seven years would mean it gets easier to absorb the not good news.

It does not.

And sure, I know it could/might get so much worse. I am very grateful to be here. I will always be happy to wake up in the morning, for however long I have left.

While I was traipsing around Lahaina with my family, I got a voice mail from my lovely oncologist – my ears must have been full of sweaty bugs or something and I never heard the phone ring. (It was hot and sweaty and hot and humid. And hot.) But I digress… the voice mail was to inform me that the CT scan I’d had before I left showed no signs of recurrence. Constipation? Maybe. But no indications of a recurrence.

Being the over-sharer that I am, I promptly burst into tears at the local burger joint where we were having lunch.

My family assumed the worst and thought someone had expired at home. As I could get words out, the real information floated down the table, with many congratulations and smiles of relief. I was in something of a daze…I so rarely get good news from a doctor I didn’t know what to say or do.

So when we waddled our way out of the burger place, a few of us stopped at one of those stores where you pick an oyster and get a pearl. Full disclosure, I know the ‘pearls’ are placed, and the oysters have already been dispatched. It’s still kinda fun. (My grandmother and aunt did this with me in 1977 when they took me to Honolulu for the first time. I still have the ring, which I treasure.)

With eyelashes still damp from my over-emotional reaction, I picked an oyster and got a lovely pink-ish pearl.

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This is my glad-to-be-alive-clear-for-now-CT-scan pearl, set in silver. It’s a bit thick, but it’s shiny and has just enough sparkles to be interesting. Kinda like me.

A clear CT doesn’t mean I’m forever cured. I could and most likely will recur in the next couple of years. But for now I’m good. Yep. Good. To paraphrase a Monty Python song I love, I will try to always look on the bright side of the oyster.

Bounty

I could call this ‘Summer, Part Two’, because plants are producing like crazy around the Great Northwet.

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We’ve gotten buckets of blueberries from the garden – these banches have been picked at least twice already. We’ve also gotten probably a gallon of raspberries, a handful of artichokes, and we just now have a couple of cucumbers ready to harvest.

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Isn’t it cute?

But yesterday, my sweet darling husband and I ventured out to the hinterlands and picked marionberries – the ultimate Northwest berry of deliciousness. I was skeptical, since they usually ripen in mid- to late July. But he persisted and found a local U-pick farm who said they had ripe berries.

They were not liars. We picked upwards of sixteen pounds of marionberries.

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They were lovely and easy to pick, although I didn’t even think about the poky parts protecting the juicy goodness. We both had many thorns to remove when we got home.

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Each of these bags was a full bucket o’ berries. I’m now in total berry overload – menu planning and dreaming about scones, pies, jam, ice cream topping, pancakes, waffles, and muffins. Unfortunately, I am not supposed to eat any of those wonderful and tasty things. One ray of sunshine – my wonderful sprogs CAN eat all those things, so I’ll bake for them and maybe sample a little bit here and there. And when I say ‘little bit’, I mean handfuls of whatever I’ve baked. (I have very little will power. Plus there are too many memes telling me to ‘live for today’, and ‘eat dessert first’… so I just might.)

Meanwhile, Forrest the big metal rooster says hello from the blueberry/grape bed by the fence, and reminds me to get my ass out of the kitchen and weed his area of the garden. He can barely see his womenfolk because of the encroaching vegetation. (He likes to use big words.)

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Happy July to all o’ y’all!

Summer

World affairs? Yikes. Politics? Yikes squared.

Gardening? Yes, please. I love plants. Some of my happiest moments are when I get to survey what I’ve planted and how it’s grown/fought off the slugs/managed not to die. So I’ll share some pics I took today, hoping they will make you happy, too.

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The Shasta daisies are blooming, and so is the butterfly bush. I even spotted a butterfly on the bush this morning. Meta, huh?

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My jasmine plant, next to the driveway. Doesn’t this make you smile? I wish there was Smell-o-vision, because the fragrance is heavenly. It sometimes wafts into our bedroom window around the corner and delivers sweet dreams to us.

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My ‘mater plants. I may have forgotten to pinch them off a couple of weeks ago. I’m a little embarrassed, but just look at them! Wow. I may get tomatoes in October, but dang, they look healthy!

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My shady corner on the Riviera. Begonias and impatiens sure love the shade. Bacopa? It’s still not sure and kind of wishes I’d put it somewhere else. Oh, and more jasmine because it’s jasmine.

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My espaliered four-variety apple tree. We just planted it last fall, but we may see a few of the apples make it to maturity. In the background are my artichokes plants preparing to flower, and you can just see the corners of the new raised beds my darling husband built this year.

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And finally, my passion flowers, which have just started to bloom after we gave them a serious haircut in April and May. These weird and wonderful blossoms put a gigantic grin on my face every year – never fails.

Something about dirt under my fingernails and green things around me makes me ridiculously happy. Seeing things grow gives me a sense of purpose, a sense of serenity, and a genuine love of all living things. Except maybe ants and yellow jackets. And mosquitoes. But everything else, yep… we’re good.

Ten

Occasionally I scroll back through my blog posts, cringing at the many mistakes and applauding for the (very rare) apt turn of phrase. Writers and imposteritis: we’ve all got it, every stinking one of us.

That being said, I noticed I started this blog ten years ago this month. Ten. A decade. And just what have I done in ten years? Let’s see… all three of my sprogs are still alive. They seem fine. I’ve had a cancer diagnosis that I’ve lived with for seven years. Our pet total seems to fluctuate – we’re at a single cat now. My darling husband is a little more silver on top, as am I. My royal backside is (sadly) about the same as it was ten years ago, give or take a few pounds. I’m no longer an Irish Dance mom. I only have two jobs. We still live in the same house. We are still driving the same cars. I’m still not published, though my collection of unpublished work is unparalleled and impressive.

What’s changed the most is the country. The politics. The freedoms I took for granted growing up. We have taken enormous backward steps in the liberties we afford our citizens; the one exception being the federal passage of marriage equality. Frankly, I’m scared of where we’re headed, because it does NOT seem like it’s going to turn out well. A very unsettling minority seems hell-bent on pushing a racist, misogynistic, selfish, and infantile agenda onto the national stage.

Just a few years ago, I didn’t have panic dreams about when the other party took over an office. Each person elected was still a public servant, and still expressed (and followed through, mostly) a desire to do the best thing for the citizens they represented. Some of the people I most respected were not members of my political party. My friends and I could discuss why we fell into our respective parties, and still enjoy one another’s company.

Not anymore.

Racist, misogynist, violent, selfish, win-at-all-costs people are being elected. Everywhere. I can’t condone it. Ever. I’m scared for my family, for my children, and for their children. I’m scared for mothers of daughters. I’m scared for non-binary gender/sexual oriented people. I’m scared for people of color. I’m scared for me.

Voting isn’t enough. Voting is great, and if indicators are correct then these people will be gone in twenty years. But look at the damage done in the last two years. Only two. I don’t know if there’s a specific answer, though if I did I’d surely communicate it to everyone in skywriting. All I can say is this – educate your children/grandchildren/young people. Teach manners. Teach civility. Teach tolerance and acceptance of each other’s quirks and foibles. Teach them to be human. Teach them away from screens and devices, and teach them how to engage with other people.

I hope to still be around in another ten years, and I hope to be able to say we changed things for the better. Join me, won’t you?

Ten year card

How Doth It Grow?

It’s been so lovely here in the great Pacific Northwest over the last few weeks. So nice, in fact, that we have already planted most of our garden for the year, including veggies. Darling husband has done the majority of mowing and weeding, but I did help out a little bit. Usually by throwing weeds on the grass he just mowed, but that’s another story for another time.

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Containers on the back patio, aka The Riviera. It’s shady there, so mostly begonias and impatiens. They’ve done really well there before, so *fingers crossed*.

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New containers for the tomaters. The old containers, the square black ones, have been moved to frame the second table on the old pool site. (You can see one of them just past the shadow line.) I believe we have three varieties of ‘maters in the four pots.

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No new plantings here, just the chives, the white lilac, and the artichokes. Oh, and one of the peonies is just starting to bloom on the far side of the artichokes.

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So shady… must have been late in the afternoon… Here are the blueberries and grapes. Weeded with TLC by my incredible darling husband. And watching over everything is Forrest, my metal chicken.

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In the front, I gave up putting veggies in the planter and just planted flowers (impatiens). Some things had wintered over in my containers, like the Gerber daisies, one geranium, a purple salvia and possible some snapdragons. I added other things to hopefully add pops of color to the front.

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For the three hanging baskets, I kept it simple. Million bells (calibrachoa), snapdragons, some trailing small zinnias, and bacopa. My intent is for a round basket of color in about four weeks, lasting to August. *fingers crossed*

I’ve also planted the front planters under the trees with impatiens and begonias, because we lean into the shady areas here. Gotta be realistic with what plants can survive, and those bloom all summer even in the shade.

I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere, but I’m late for work. Smooches and hugs to all of you, and I wish zero slugs, double blooms, and endless temperate sunshine to you and your garden.

Rad

I recently had my fourth surgery to combat ovarian granulosa cell cancer. Everything went swimmingly, and Timmy the Tumor (3rd iteration) was removed from my person yet again. Now that I’m back to normal-ish, my gyn-onc wanted me to have all the information for treatment options open to me. 

Option A was chemotherapy. My visit with the medical oncologist was short, sweet, and ended with a resounding ‘hell, no’ from both my royal self and the oncologist. Traditional chemo doesn’t seem to be the trick with a tumor as slow growing as mine (apparently, Timmy has a mitotic rate of 1). It would be a waste of poison. If it looked like chemo would make any difference at all, or if it would kill any random cancer cells floating inside me, I’d already be in the damn chair with my arm extended for the IV. 

Option B was radiation. And since I have had Timmy the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, the radiation oncologist wanted to basically irradiate everything from my belly button to my nether regions. Side effects? Maybe nausea, maybe some hair loss, probable severe scarring internally that would eventually restrict my bladder volume to a couple of tablespoons, the possibility of my vagina scarring shut (although they provide a vaginal dilator to help prevent that – yay), cancer of bladder, bowel, kidney, liver, bones, or blood ten to twelve years down the road, and, as usual, the threat of a colostomy bag for the rest of my life.  

I… what… I mean… what?

Pretty much a direct quote. I do have a way with words, don’t you know. 

I’m lucky. Timmy hasn’t been invasive yet, and we are praying to all the gods, goddesses, pixies and fairies that he will not come back. If he does, he leaves a signature hormone that is easily picked up with a blood test. After weighing my choices, my decision was to go with neither Option A or Option B, but to keep an eye on my bloodwork and keep living my life. Bob willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll have many years ahead of me to irritate my darling husband and sprogs. I’ve lived for over seven years with Timmy lurking in the background of everything I do. It’s annoying and exhausting and saps me emotionally, but those things aren’t fatal. Radiation might be. 

I am a lucky one. Oldish, graying, wrinkly, fat, and with teeth the color of Irish Breakfast tea… but lucky.

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Mama Bear

My middle sprog texted me a picture last night, and my blood has been boiling ever since. Someone took it upon themselves to throw a container of food at him while his car door was open, and yelled, “Faggot” while doing so.

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Was he draped in rainbows? No. Dressed in drag? Pretty sure that’s a ‘no’. He was simply getting into his 1985 beige Volvo sedan (the most Portland car you can own besides a Subaru Outback). He was going about his own business, which involved no one else but him.

Can we report this? No – it happened so quickly that middle sprog didn’t get a plate number. Will the police care? No. Nothing was damaged. No one was hurt. Would the media care? No, it’s not sensational enough to get any attention.

But think for a minute…what if they had yelled ‘Jew’? Or ‘Bitch’? Or ‘Jap’? Or ‘Nigger’? Or ‘Whitey’? Or any other offensive slur? Would anyone care then? What if they had thrown a brick at his head? (This Mama Bear needs to lie down for a moment after typing that…)

I’m back now.

I am beyond glad that both he and Lola (the Volvo) are okay. Nothing was broken or damaged this time. But the climate of hate is heating up to the steaming point here in, what many believe is, Liberal and Easy-Going Portland. Instances of hate crimes are increasing alarmingly. And that’s my point – these things escalate very, very quickly. It doesn’t take much to let the perpetrators of these crimes think they are getting away with it. By ignoring, we are condoning.

I. WILL. NOT. CONDONE. THIS.

Call it Tough-Love. There is no excuse for this behavior. If your toddler did this, you would put them in a time-out for a century and explain to them why what they did was wrong. Just because some parents have dropped the ball with teaching human decency doesn’t mean I should have to worry every FUCKING day about my sprogs.

No more. NO MORE. Mama Bear is fed up to all fifteen of her chins. Sprogs, consider me mobilized. I will help as much as I can. I’ll give rides. I’ll volunteer with PFlag. I’ll attend Pride. I’ll be the mom giving out hugs to kids whose families have disowned them. Whatever I can do with my middle-aged, middle-income resources, I will do.

Love is love is love is love – help me protect love.