Sunday, December 29, 2013

Glory Be

In this past week I have witnessed the  physical rebirth of my personal angel and adopted daughter, Catherine.
Accompanying her on one week of the journey was my Christmas celebration.  For the last six months chemotherapy has been the steady menu, as the oncology specialists employed the most powerful drug cocktails to wipe out her blood cells carrying mantle cell lymphoma. At this stage of the journey of course the danger is infections.
 On December 16 at Stanford she received back her stem cells for transplant.  And in the last week when I stood at her bedside (or more often sat at the sidelines, as she was usually surrounded by nurses and doctors) her white blood count rose from .02 to 1.6 and continues to shoot up. This means the harvest has worked and she is now reproducing her own cells. Cross your fingers she will be discharged to daily outpatient care today. She will be required to wear an impressive mask whenever she is out of doors or in the public. And she will no doubt be wearing one of many chemo caps friends have provided.
Having been hospitalized a few times in my life I have some ability to judge nursing care. What I want to add about the team in the transplant unit at Stanford is that they are all saints. Not only that, the team for daily rounds was led by a woman nurse practitioner! Yeah yeah yeah.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Especially this last week as I recover from pacemaker surgery I have been dwelling on my gratitudes, especially the loving kindness of friends new and old, who keep bringing me cookies and books and soup and holiday cheer.  My new neighbors across the street have a shimmering tree in their front window which I see clearly from my study.
At Cathy Lane Lee and I would often just cut boughs from the monterey pines in the driveway and arrange them on the mantel making the whole house smell delish. It comforts me that the new owners love the place as much as we did, and I know they are enjoying the December sunsets.
It looks like Northern California is moving into a drought, alas. Some of us went out two weeks ago to photograph the Laguna de Santa Rosa, where there is supposed to be a lot of water and avian habitat. As you can see, there is practically no water. Still, it was a lovely outing.

Residents tell me after a rain one can kayak in these waterways, and its only half an hour from my house. I can hardly wait. I look forward to many more discoveries as I settle into mostly peaceful and very beautiful Sonoma County and the Valley of the Moon.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Week To Remember

After giving the offeratory at Glide in San Francisco last Sunday Catherine (above), laden with fresh crab  and salad makings, drove up to celebrate the season with me. Here she is modeling her new purple boots. Doesn't she look smashing. As I write this she is struggling with the latest dose of cytoxine in her room at Stanford Hospital, where she has been since Tuesday, preparing for her new birthday on Monday. when she will receive a stem cell transplant (her own cells).

We stuffed ourselves with the sweetest crab ever and said our goodbyes until Dec. 22 when I will be staying in the Palo Alto area for several days to be near her.
Meanwhile, Thursday I became the lucky recipient of a pacemaker to treat my atrial fib. The surgery went very well and I'm getting feistier every day now. Nothing will really change for my heart until this surgery is followed in January by another, called an ablation. (It takes a while for the pacemaker to seat itself in place). At that time the pacemaker will regulate the beat instead of ME and my heart rhythm will be more normal.

Watch Catherine and I; we're going to remold the world, one purple kick at a time.

If you know me well you know I've never had much hair, mostly baby fine wisps, whereas Catherine has always had thick naturally curly locks. So for once, I can boast I have more on top than she has.
But it won't be long before she overtakes me again.  Oh well, enjoy the moment.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Bounties in Different Colors

Hot topic at Current Events yesterday was the cold snap we are having (19 on my deck) and the plight of the homeless in Santa Rosa. I jumped into the discussion to remind folks how many of the homeless are there because of mental illness and emotionally unable to access the limited resources available. Like so many problems in society, lets look under the top layer. We wound up with donating funds to the Redwood Food Bank, etc. and sharing stories about the life and good deeds of Mandela.
If I thought I'd never see a persimmon again after leaving Cathy Lane I'm delighted to enjoy the bounty of Oakmont residents. Persimmons seem to thrive here as well.  (see below).
On a personal note, my fatigue has increased from my long standing atriall fibrillation so I've decided to have a pace-maker. Same day surgery is scheduled for next Thursday.  I hope to be back at this post Friday.
Cheers to my former East Bay painters group, Watercolor Connection, who are once more enhancing the lobby of the Hayward City hall lobby gallery with a spectrum of color.
Hope all of you find time for quiet reflection and counting your warm blessings---brilliant orange, or other.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Growing Old and Growing Young

Back in the Valley of the Moon after a busy visit to the East Bay to find the landscapers had almost finished replanting my front yard. The tiny blue flower above (?) is about the only thing of color right now, though by spring there is supposed to be a mass of flowers for me to learn, admire, and paint.  I can't wait. On my Thanksgiving trek I saw many, many old friends, some of fifty years standing. Now one has to be old to say that! Still, I was not quite the oldest at the Thanksgiving table. Stace's dad, 90, sat at the head of the table and led us all in conversation and calories. I toted along my new iPad and scored lessons from Andrea and Jan Hagan. I can tell its going to be a slow learning curve, but isn't that what keeps us all young? Below are photos of the yard as I was driving up. 

I think it shows great promise for color and growth. I hope the old lady living inside does as well.