When I read about a new Poetry of the Wild outdoor sculpture installation at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum it seemed like a great opportunity for a “new” place walk. So off we went, four days after Tim’s surgery. It’s hard to believe how much energy he has now!
It was one of those beautiful June days with bright sunshine, blue skies, greenery everywhere, low humidity and perfect temperatures. To get to the sculptures and poetry we walked down a grassy hill, enjoyed the antics of a catbird (they’re everywhere this summer!), crossed a picturesque wooden bridge and found ourselves in a lovely garden.
It’s hard to see in the pictures below but part of the sculpture is branches growing up out of the chairs. It’s difficult to distinguish them from the branches of the tree behind them.
There were three poems on display like the one below but because of the angle of the sunlight the camera couldn’t capture the other two. But this poem touched me, especially at this point in our lives when it would be nice to find it possible to live it all over again.
I ask you to pass through life at my side to be my second self and best earthly companion. ~ Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)
When the hot an hazy days of summer land on us it will be nice to think back on this lovely day shared with my best friend. ❤️
The patient is safely home from the hospital and all seems to have gone well and as planned. Tim has a resting pulse now!!! So many thanks to you all for the healing energy, well wishes and prayers. ❤️
A couple of days before the surgery to put in the pacemaker we took a long Sunday walk at Avery Point. It was a gorgeous day, with beach roses blooming!
This song sparrow was singing away, claiming the beach rose shrub for his territory no doubt. We listened to him for quite a while.
Then we moved on to some smaller rosebushes farther down the path…
The lovely flowers embarrass me, They make me regret I am not a Bee — ~ Emily Dickinson (The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #808)
Another song sparrow staking his claim on his bush with the sweetest melody. The adjacent garden no doubt provides plenty of buggy delights for his dining pleasure.
We’re planning to try a post-surgery walk here again on this coming Sunday, a week after this one. This was also the first place we took a walk after Tim’s heart attack and by-pass surgery in 2007. It’s so hard to believe that was almost 15 years ago!
Finally Connecticut’s daily covid positivity rate started to go back down this week, even if ever so slightly. It had been creeping up for weeks. Let’s hope the downward trend continues.
Friday evening my sister and brother-in-law invited us to go with them to Music in the Meadow, a family-friendly outdoor concert in the Connecticut College Arboretum. We brought our lawn chairs and enjoyed the beautiful weather and setting. After walking through the woods we found a spot for ourselves up on a hill overlooking the lawn where most of the audience was seated.
After we got settled I took a little walk and tried to capture with my camera some of the plants growing in the meadow. Suddenly I spotted an eye, a little bunny was looking at me, frozen in place. I kept my distance and used my zoom lens, delighted with my discovery.
The bunny wasn’t there when I checked back later so I worried about it. But I think, although small and young, it was old enough to be on its own. Phew!
Baby rabbits leave the nest when they’re 3 weeks old and about the size of a chipmunk. If you find a chipmunk-sized but fully-furred rabbit with eyes open, ears erect, and the ability to hop, they are meant to be on their own. As small and helpless as they may look, they are not an orphan and doesn’t need your help. ~ The Humane Society of the United States website
The first performer was an amazing folk singer-songwriter, Kala Farnham, and the four of us agreed her hour of singing was the highlight of the whole show.
Nestled away in the Quiet Corner of rural Connecticut, a pint-sized songstress set out into the world with one vision: to inspire and heal through the transformative power of music. Decades later, Kala has performed at listening rooms across the country, garnering numerous awards and media attention, including The Rose Garden Performing Songwriter Contest 2019 winner, 2020 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Grassy Hill Emerging Artist, and Great American Song Contest Finalist. Drawing from a classical education and a professional background in musical theater, Kala presents a hallmark reinvention of the folk tradition. Her passion for fairytales, ancient history, and storytelling draws audiences from around the country into the reinvented worlds of alternate times and places. ~ Kala Farnham website
However, our attention kept being drawn aside to the excitement of lots of children playing on the glacial erratics at the back of the lawn. Their shouts of glee as they darted from stone to stone, climbing and jumping… it was pure joy to see. To be young and that quick and flexible again…
When Kala Farnham was done with her set and The CarLeans were setting up for their hour, I took another little meadow walk. They were good, too, a blend of styles, folk, Cajun, Latin, and Americana.
It started getting dark when The CarLeans were done and then Ward Hayden & The Outliers (“a mix of old school country, early rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and country rock”) started setting up. We stayed for one of their songs but then headed for home because we were getting cold and tired — old folks — as my father used to say. It was a wonderful evening.
We’ve been busy the past few weeks getting ready for another change in our lives. Tim’s heart disease has progressed to the point where he now needs a pacemaker. He will be having surgery to put it in on Tuesday and will spend one night in the hospital. His cardiologist hopes this will help with his shortness of breath, abnormal fatigue and very low pulse. Time will tell. ❤️
Once I realized I was old enough to die, I decided that I was also old enough not to incur any more suffering, annoyance, or boredom in the pursuit of a longer life. I eat well, meaning I choose foods that taste good and that will stave off hunger for as long as possible, like protein, fiber, and fats. I exercise — not because it will make me live longer but because it feels good when I do. As for medical care: I will seek help for an urgent problem, but I am no longer interested in looking for problems that remain undetectable to me. Ideally, the determination of when one is old enough to die should be a personal decision, based on a judgment of the likely benefits, if any, of medical care and — just as important at a certain age — how we choose to spend the time that remains to us. … In giving up on preventative care, I’m just taking this line of thinking a step further: Not only do I reject the torment of a medicalized death, but I refuse to accept a medicalized life, and my determination only deepens with age. As the time that remains to me shrinks, each month and day becomes too precious to spend in windowless waiting rooms and under the cold scrutiny of machines. Being old enough to die is an achievement, not a defeat, and the freedom it brings is worth celebrating. ~ Barbara Ehrenreich (Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer)
A year after my cancer surgery it seems like a good time to mention a book that tumbled into my life at just the right moment. After my brush with a life-threatening illness, the ideas set forth in Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, Natural Causes, make a whole lot of sense to me.
I spent many years carting my mother-in-law, my aunt and my father around to those “windowless waiting rooms,” getting test after test, some of them downright painful. My aunt finally put her foot down and proclaimed, “Whatever I’ve got, I’m taking it with me.”
She lived to be 103 in spite of refusing all the standard tests recommended for her in the last years of her life. When she died, it was from an infection. After accepting treatment for a day or two, she finally refused treatment for that, too.
Nothing ever came of those countless tests.
In my own case, because my mother died of breast cancer, I have submitted to many “required” mammograms and wound up with three false positives, causing weeks of anxiety. Now I refused to have any more. At this point in my life I am old enough to die, and if I wake up one morning and feel a lump in my breast, so be it.
The endometrial cancer I wound up getting? Well, there is no screening for it. Irony.
Fortunately I’ve found a general practitioner who understands my feelings and treats my “urgent problems” without pushing me into a “medicalized life.” Barbara Ehrenreich’s book has all the facts and figures I needed to convince me that as a culture, we are indeed killing ourselves, or at least making ourselves miserable, in order to live longer. All these expensive, invasive tests have not increased our lifespans.
Therefore, I have chosen to enjoy spending whatever time I have left to me without borrowing trouble.
So, I was walking at the beach last night when there I spotted my gull friend with the mangled leg sitting on a post, one of the posts he used to sit on while Tim & I were eating. !!! After chatting with him for a minute I took out my cell phone. But, my cell phone skills are limited and it was set for taking a selfie and I was at a loss for how to change the setting. Grrrrr… The gull looked puzzled by my not eating and not having the regular camera. He might even have been wondering where Tim was. Then he flew off. Sigh…
I always had the feeling he was a bit smarter than most of the other gulls. He must be learning to ignore the fake gull alarm noise. So when I was finished with my walk I sat down and figured out how to switch the selfie setting on and off. I will refresh my memory before I start my walk tonight. I hope I get to see him again.
It’s feeling very good to be walking again. Surgery and radiation interrupted my morning walks but it’s kind of nice now having a fresh perspective and a different routine, evening walks. My body feels so different now. Much better. Even the things I reflect on while walking are a little different.
Last night I had a new thought to add to my tired story of having too much stuff to sort through from the ancestors. Tim’s father and my mother died before their parents (our grandparents). All this stuff would have gone to them! Our parents never had the chance to go through their parents’ things. Realizing this makes me forgive myself a little more for being so overwhelmed for so long.
Wonder what new perspectives might come to me tonight. 🙂
It’s been a whirlwind here since December, with lots of traveling to visit loved ones, surgery, radiation treatments, and exhaustion (for me), unemployment, an unrelenting cough and a diabetes diagnosis (for Tim). After a few months of contemplation Tim has finally decided to retire. And so begins a new chapter of our lives.
We won’t be bored, that’s for sure. One thing we did was visit Mystic Seaport on a weekday to renew our membership. It was an unseasonably hot day and we had a good chuckle over the sign inviting us in to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa. 🙂
The Draken Harald Hårfagre has spent two winters at the Seaport now and the crew is planning to leave in June for “Expedition America – East Coast Tour 2018.” I hope I will be here when the Viking ship sets sail because I missed her arrival. I’m also looking forward to a special exhibition coming May 19: The Vikings Begin.
One of the world’s finest early Viking-age collections is coming to Mystic Seaport. Priceless treasures, including helmets, shields, weapons, glass, and other artifacts are safeguarded at the Gustavianum Museum of Uppsala University in Sweden, Scandinavia’s oldest university. These collections, dating as early as the seventh century, are now the focus of a major research initiative designed to significantly advance our understanding of how the Norse culture evolved. Thematic sections on Viking warfare, trade, the Baltic Sea, a ship burial, Norse gods, and relations to other cultures will employ rare archaeological finds in the discovery of how this maritime society lived more than a millennium ago. This exhibition represents the first instance most of these artifacts will have ever left Sweden. ~ Mystic Seaport website
Tim has been enjoying more time for his ham radio clubs and activities. We signed up together for a Tai Chi class at the senior center. And I signed up for a Photoshop class. Katherine has been here for short visits several times since we left Ireland. We love our busy and playful little munchkin! Life is good.
One morning you might wake up to realize that the knot in your stomach had loosened itself and slipped away, and that the pit of unfilled longing in your heart had gradually, and without your really noticing, been filled in — patched like a pothole, not quite the same as it was, but good enough.
And in that moment it might occur to you that your life, though not the way you planned it, and maybe not even entirely the way you wanted it, is nonetheless — persistently, abundantly, miraculously — exactly what it is.
~ Lynn Ungar (The Way It Is)
After recovering from surgery and the bad cold I then had about a week of feeling good. I couldn’t wait to get back to my chores and even happily spent a morning giving the bathroom a thorough cleaning. It was fun to go food shopping with Tim, run errands together, cook a few meals, do some laundry, and enjoy a lovely long walk on the beach.
Then Wednesday I had my first radiation treatment and it went very well. But the predicted side effect of fatigue hit the next morning and I wound up sleeping most of the day. If that is the only side effect, though, I am grateful. I still feel sapped. Being a morning person usually full of vim, vigor and vitality, I woke up this morning wondering why on earth I felt so sluggish and it took me an hour or so to figure out that it must be lingering fatigue from the treatment. (And why was I looking for the eggs in the dishwasher?)
So Tim volunteered to do some food shopping today. And I am going to make a packing list!
Tim and the kids planned visits to fill the two week period between my 2nd and 3rd treatments! I will be getting my 2nd treatment (at Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven) on Wednesday and then going straight to Providence to catch a flight to Ireland to see Larisa & Dima and Katherine!!! And then the next week we will go to Georgia to see Nate & Shea!!! We will arrive home the night before my 3rd and final treatment.
I may be a tired blob but at least these trips will help pass the time and my radiation oncologist thinks they are a great idea. I do hope I get to see Blarney Castle and more of Cumberland Island National Seashore. But whatever happens it will be wonderful seeing the kids again. ♡
I love the deep silence of the midwinter woods. It is a stillness you can rest your whole weight against. Not the light silence of summer, constantly broken by the sound of leaves, bird-song, the scurry of little beasts, the hum of insects. This stillness is so profound you are sure it will hold and last. ~ Florence Page Jaques (Snowshoe Country)
When I was a child I loved winter, still do. There were so many moments when time seemed to stand still. Outdoors playing in the swamp and in the woods behind our house. The magic of ice-skating between clumps of earth surrounded by ice in the swamp. At dusk. Sometimes there were snow flurries, too, adding a silent thrill to the spell.
Only now do I discern the concept of stillness. My life happens in a small city these days and I have been complaining to Tim about the racket the snow plows keep making in their ceaseless efforts to keep the roads and our parking spaces clear. I find myself craving to be away from the noise, to enjoy snow flurries out my window without the inevitable pandemonium.
Maybe I’m just cranky these days. A couple of days before my six-week surgery follow-up I came down with a bad cold. Tim had it for three days before I succumbed to it, so we have been very miserable together. As soon as I got the go-ahead from the surgeon to resume normal activities I was too sick to enjoy the freedom! And now that the cold is almost gone I will be going to see the radiation oncologist tomorrow to consult about the next round of treatment.
A few years ago I wrote this on one of my posts: One early wordless memory I have is of lying on the cold winter ground in the woods and eyeing a little princess pine peeking through the snow. I was astonished at the connection I felt to the small precious life, and how thrilled I was to be aware of its presence!
One little princess pine in an endless sea of snow and trees. I thought of that moment once again when I read Florence Page Jaques’ words about “a stillness you can rest your whole weight against.” One little cancer survivor in the endless flow of here/now.
So, we’ve had a couple of nasty surprises in the past few weeks.
It turned out that my uterus was not only full of pre-cancerous cells, but also was harboring endometrial cancer that had spread more than 50% into the myometrium layer. So while I was still under anesthesia the surgeon took some lymph nodes to be examined to determine if the cancer had spread any farther. We had to wait two weeks for the lab results. Thankfully the lymph nodes were negative. Good news. Hopefully all the cancer has been safely removed but I will have to have two weeks of radiation in January out of an abundance of caution. Meanwhile I have three and a half more weeks to heal from the surgery. I’m not allowed to lift anything over 5 lbs. but have begun puttering around the house between long naps.
My sister-in-law came for the first two weeks and took very good care of me and cooked all of our meals. Tim’s brother came after the first week ~ it was fun having both of them around and helped the waiting-for-lab-results time to pass more quickly. Thank you, Dan & Fran!!!
They say when it rains, it pours. Well, Friday was Tim’s last day of work. “Workforce reduction” to use corporate-speak. What a “thoughtful” Christmas gift…
Time for another nap. I understand fatigue is par for the course, all energy going to healing. But I wanted to let my readers know how I am doing. Hope to be back visiting blogs soon. Steady as we go.