Category Archives: Family

Say it isn’t so–60 years old???

This is one confused–and gorgeous–Christmas cactus! Apparently it thought it was more important to blossom for my 60th birthday than to wait for the holidays. I am thankful for it’s thoughtfulness! It also may be happy to finally be out of the green plastic pot it arrived in when I was recuperating from my surgery two years ago this month. I am thankful for all the love and support that has been showered on me these past two years and this cactus must know it.IMG_3184

Today the temps are supposed to be in the high 50’s–maybe we’ll hit 60 in honor of my birthday! Then the cold weather arrives (Siberian Express??)….just in time for our trip to NYC to see the Rockettes on Sunday with Joy and kids and Jesse and kids. Sad that Jen, Jeff and their girls can’t make it from Virginia but they (without Jeff) will be at Joy’s for Thanksgiving–awesome! Except Jesse and family won’t be there for the holiday….

It is getting harder and harder to get all 15 of us together at the same time. But Steve and I benefit from having our daughters spread out across the country living where we are delighted to spend time. Joy returns to Arizona right after Thanksgiving–I’m going to have a hard time keeping Steve off their plane and heading for the blue sky, sunshine, and 80+ degrees! We will be there soon enough but nothing is going to drag me away from Christmas in NH. (I’ve already put together the artificial tree for the porch.)

I’m eleven days into NaNoWriMo and participated in the NH region writing sprint last Saturday and Sunday evenings. I didn’t make it to midnight but added over five thousand words toward my 50,000 word count goal, which I’m determined to hit this year. Next week is my last memoir writing class and I’m struggling with what to write about for my final three page submission. After all, there’s a lot of material to pick from out of 60 years. (Let’s amend that to 56 years–not certain that I can conjure up anything from my first four years!)

About fifty years ago today I had a letter to the editor published in the Bangor, Maine newspaper about honoring our veterans on Veterans Day. The beginning of my writing career! At the time, my father was stationed at Dow Air Force Base (now closed) and it seemed important for me to focus on something other than my birthday. It still is. So Happy Veterans Day to all the veterans in my family–my father, Steve’s father, my sister, Bessie, Steve’s brother, Mike, and all our relatives who have served and are now gone. And thank you to all those family and friends who are currently serving our country, including Eric Reid and Ben Roy.

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Lull in the Action

Sunset at Mountain Lakes

Sunset at Mountain Lakes

The Fourth of July is behind us–still a lot of summer to look forward to, followed by autumn, which many people claim is their favorite season in New England. Hmmm….not certain I fall into that category. Or I haven’t in the past as I know it leads inevitably to winter. But now that we spend our winters in Arizona, maybe I will appreciate the foliage, apple picking, sweaters and fleece, crisp mornings and sunny days.

This week Steve surprised me with a Wednesday night date night: Jersey Boys at the Nugget Theater in Hanover with popcorn for dinner. Loved it! Frankie Valli has had an amazing career–and he’s still going strong at 80! We saw him perform on TV at “The Capitol Fourth” celebration. And what about Clint Eastwood, 84, the director of the “Jersey Boys”? This gives me hope. At almost 60 (in 4 months!!) I would like to think that I have another 20 years to look forward to of writing. (And living…..)

Maybe in those 20 years I’ll actually finish something (other than a blog post). As John pointed out in a recent writing group meeting, maybe it was a good idea that I was writing a short story as I had “issues” with completing my projects.

This year I celebrate my 60th birthday, Joy her 40th, and Jesse her 35th (in February, 2015). Time for a girls only trip. It will be hard to top our trip to Las Vegas when Jennifer turned 35. Wonder where we’ll go.

For some reason as I look at the ages of my children I am surprised that I had three daughters within a period of five and a half years. When I was younger, I always was an overachiever. Right now I’m just taking it easy, enjoying life. Feeling guilty about it……occasionally.

In two weeks we will spend a few days on the Cape with Joy and family and Jesse and family. Steve and I have probably put in as many hours coming up with a motel to stay in as we will spend on the Cape! If we didn’t read the reviews–or look at the room rates–we would have made the reservations in a matter of minutes. We’re going to be close to the Mayflower and Corporation beaches in Dennis and that’s what is important to me. As well as a clean room!!

Hazy, hot, and humid

On the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls

On the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls with Joy and kids

(I apologize–my internet was down for five days so this post is late. Thank you, Charter!)

It’s the week of the Fourth of July in New Hampshire. Of course it’s hazy, hot, and humid. With afternoon thunderstorms. But our annual weeklong family reunion rages on, with fishing, canoeing, swimming, kayaking, hanging out at the beach. And lots of eating.

Arthur has developed into a Category 1 hurricane but he won’t bother us. We’ll have our own rainstorm the morning of the Fourth. Not certain how this will affect plans for the eleven a.m. parade, with the kids lining the street ready to fill their plastic grocery bags with candy. Worse case scenario, we throw candy from our upstairs loft….to 14 kids….Now how do we replicate the parade?

Fourth of July at home with mini fireworks

Fourth of July at home with mini fireworks

We won’t have our personal fireworks display this year, a family tradition for many years. After Steve and his brother Mike were almost blown up along with a string of fireworks, we decided that 2013 would be the last year. No one wants to relive the chaos of children being rushed into the house and adults dashing to the igniters, unsure what they would find. Actually, it’s the adults who don’t want to relive that. The kids are disappointed.

My writing has suffered these past few weeks for various reasons, starting with a fantastic trip to Niagara Falls, the New York side, where we stayed at Darien Lake Amusement Park with Joy and family. Niagara Falls was not on my bucket list but I am so glad that we had the opportunity to visit it. And we experienced all of it. My only regret is that I let Steve convince me to throw away the “specially designed” sandals they give you to wear at the Cave of the Winds where we all braved Bridal Veil Falls to experience “tropical storm-like conditions.” Awesome!!

My recent monthly visit to my oncologist was uneventful–except for learning that he is leaving DHMC and I will have a new oncologist, Dr. Sergey Devitskiy. (More) change is good, right?

Everyone leaves this weekend for Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Life should return to normal. Writing, riding the motorcycle, kayaking, painting the kitchen/living room and garage doors, going to the Cape with Joy and Jesse and families, maybe traveling to Acadia National Park–and before we know it, it will be Labor Day.

Making myself “right”

Making myself write

Making myself write

I told my daughter, Jennifer, that I was going upstairs to “make myself write.” She thought I meant I was going to “make myself right.” If only I could do that. If only any of us with adrenal cancer (or depression or heart disease) could just make ourselves better by announcing we were going to do just that.

Coincidentally, (and I am not certain that there are any coincidences), my granddaughter, Laurel, is studying homophones in second grade. Words that sound the same but are spelled differently and may have different meanings. “Right” and “write” definitely qualify.

Writing may not cure my cancer but it does help make things right in my head. I feel better about myself when I put words down on the page, even if it’s just garbage. And as we writers know, what looks like garbage today might shine like gold tomorrow.

Coincidentally, (again!), I am reading “The Right to Write” by Julia Cameron. Actually, I am rereading it. It was published in 1999 so it may have been 15 years since I first read it! I gave my original book to my sister-in-law and by chance ran into a used one at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ. At the bargain price of $6.95, I was lured into buying it. When I got home, I found out it had once belonged to (an unknown to me) M. J. Reck, who had made notes and underlined sections in the first two chapters of the book.  Then nothing. I am usually loath to mark up my books but M. J. seems to have given me permission to do just that.

I have discovered that reading the book relaxes me. I don’t remember it having that effect the first time around (I was much too earnest) but now, when I am amped up over Candy Crush or Words with Friends, I can read this book and literally feel my blood pressure drop.

What I particularly like about Cameron’s approach is that you don’t need to have a large block of time to write. Train yourself to grab your ten minutes here and your half-hour there of writing time throughout the day. It’s a luxury to have hours at a time to write.

Yet I have those hours and still don’t write. I know the problem. I’m a perfectionist, which leads to procrastination…..Maybe if I only allow myself ten minutes to write, I won’t expect perfection. Haven’t we already been down this road? (July 27, 2013 post “Perfection Paralysis”)

Almost Home

Biltmore Estate

Biltmore Estate

In case you were wondering, we did make it to Virginia the day before Easter. It was a long trip but we enjoyed several of our stops, especially the Petrified Forest in Arizona, Nashville and Asheville. On Judy’s recommendation, we visited the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville. So glad we did–it’s a massive resort with beautiful indoor gardens and waterfalls.

Jesse secured us the family discount at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. A one hundred year old magnificent hotel with manned elevators–two of which are in Ripley’s Believe It or Not for being inside the chimney of the massive fireplaces. And we rode in them!

The absolute highlight of the trip was a visit to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. (Unfortunately, we toured it with what felt like thousands of other people–it was the Friday of Easter weekend.) Downton Abbey in the US for sure. The PBS series helped me relate to what life at the Biltmore would have been like (and vice versa). As we wandered the property, I kept thinking how much I would have enjoyed being a guest there. I hope to get to another estate–Mount Vernon–before we leave Virginia.

I am still recuperating from my long weekend at Malice Domestic in Bethesda. It was great to reconnect with Eleanor, Heidi, and Linda after almost five months away from my writing group. My niece, Casey, and her boyfriend, Andrew, joined us for lunch on Sunday. As they live in DC, I did get some inspiration to resurrect my NaNoWriMo novel, “Alex.” The good news/bad news is that I am now thinking about linking my other two novels, “Anne” and “Claire.” And making “Anne” into a murder mystery. Somehow. That’s what happens when you spend three days with mystery writers, the majority of whom have written series. I’m making notes and attempting to process this concept but will rely on my writing group to help me decide if this is even worth putting any effort into.

Waiting to hear what my last mitotane level was. It’s been over two weeks since I had the labs done. This is what happens when you’re away from your regular doctor and medical facility. Must say the medical part has been what has caused me the most stress this winter.

Steve is anxious to get back to NH. I’m not. He wants to golf more than anything–but he claims he wants to do things like use his pressure washer (that he got for Father’s Day last year!). I am happy to  be responsible for just a wee bit of living space. Right now it’s a bedroom and bathroom. I don’t have to worry that the floors need to be vacuumed or the dishwasher emptied though I do try to do my share of cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Babysitting is not a chore! But I am anxious to get back to my NH family (Elise and Sheffield!!) and friends. Maybe buying the fifth-wheel was the thing to do…..

“That’s the biggest black widow spider I’ve ever seen!”

Luke AFB Air Show

With AZ grandkids at Luke AFB Air Show

Which is what you don’t want to hear your daughter say when you are standing by the door to the casita (guest house). After we all admired it, Joy killed it with a sandal. No more leaving the front door wide open!

We had just finished entertaining Joy and family with our photos from our trip to Hawaii. The kids enjoyed the whale watch photos and we adults found ourselves discussing Pearl Harbor and the similarities to 9/11. I particularly was drawn to the pictures of the ocean, which conjured fond memories of me floating on the waves…..

Saturday Steve and I and the three kids spent three hours in the car traveling to Luke Air Force Base to brave the 100,000+ crowd at the air show. It was a production getting to the flight line but we all agreed it was worth it just to see the Thunderbirds perform. I wore my NaNoWriMo 2011 Winners Circle t-shirt for writing motivation.

And it worked. Sunday, instead of going to see Mr. Peabody and Sherman with Joy and Haley or Need for Speed with the men/boys, I stationed myself at Paradise Bakery and, like a real author, wrote. Longhand in a composition notebook. Granted, if a movie would have been playing that I wanted to see, I might have found myself inside a dark theater rather than outside enjoying the sunshine under an umbrella eating black bean soup and writing. And eavesdropping on the couple next to me–something about Boston and three-inch heels and snow.

I free wrote for a few pages (most likely stuff for a blog post that I should be checking right now!) and then I started on Claire. I outlined three different scenarios for the climax, already knowing which one I will go with. And already knowing that easily could change. After the movies, Steve and I took Lucas to purchase his tenth birthday present (a skateboard). He writes fantasy and loves to read. I presented my elevator spiel. Steve said he likes it (and he’s not just saying that) and when am I going to finish it?? Lucas seemed interested in the plot and asked that I change one of the main characters’ names to Lucas.

Since our return from Hawaii and my resumption of mitotane, I find that I am nauseous frequently. Except when I am eating, naturally. I don’t want to buy a new wardrobe one size larger–I just bought one for our trip. I have blood work on Tuesday for my endocrinologist in NH and on Friday I see the oncologist where I will have my mitotane level drawn. It’s possible I am in the toxic level again. Last doctor’s appointment before I return to my “home” at DHMC in May for my quarterly CT scan. (April’s blood work will be done in Virginia.)

Hard to believe our winter is coming to an end….Joy and family leave for CT in ten days while we will stay on for a few weeks. That now may be dependent upon how many black widows have made their home outside our door.

A day away from our winter home in Arizona

River Walk in San Antonio, Texas

River Walk in San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio! Last stop on our way to our winter home with Joy and family in Arizona. Remember the Alamo….well, I didn’t so I had to read up on it. On our way from New Orleans to San Antonio I entertained Steve with an oral history of the Alamo. He was busy passing tractor trailers while I was busy fighting the Mexicans. Poor Davy Crockett.

And poor Steve. He’s done an awesome job of getting us this far—you can’t really blame him for all the u-turns we’ve had to make in Charleston and Andersonville, Americus, and Plains, GA, and New Orleans. There are a ton of one-way streets in those cities and occasionally it is the navigator’s error, I must admit. Sometimes I have a difficult time gauging how far away 150 or 60 feet are and oops…we’ve missed the turn. At least we no longer have to hear that annoying voice on the GPS announce “recalculating.” Our Maps app on our phones uses the more supportive “rerouting” to let us know when we (I) have screwed up.

This afternoon we’ve managed to visit the Alamo, walk the River Walk, eat yummy steak at Saltgrass Steak House and now we are snuggled in bed resting up for our 15 hour drive to Chandler tomorrow. When I mentioned to Joy that our trip through North Carolina was monotonous, she said “wait until you drive across Texas, you’ll think North Carolina was a carnival!” We will find out tomorrow…..

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