Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Summer in New Hampshire

After a very slow start, summer finally arrived in New Hampshire. We had to wait until July for this, but the last couple of weeks have been spectacular.

I started this blog post while sitting in a Chemo chair at Dana Farber. I am now in the middle of cycle 70 (3 weeks each). Nothing much has changed - including the fact that numbness in my feet continues to increase, but very slowly. They tell me not to worry about that until I start to have trouble walking. Thanks a lot for that.

I have been concerned with my overall level of physical fitness. Other than now having insufficient endurance, there is no particular reason that I should not be hiking and bike riding. So I need to work on that. We have an old stair-master and I have spending a few minutes every few days exercising on it. I have a portable DVD  player, and I decided to watch something would be culturally enriching. I have started The Complete Works of the 3 Stooges. Amazingly, they are not as funny as they were when I was in Jr. High School, but the episodes are all the perfect length for a workout.

We are now back at the lake for the summer. One downside of that is having a boat. This year, I set the record for getting the boat into the water. And (miracle of miracles), I had it running by Memorial Day. To do this, I had to replace the starter. Twice. I am getting so that I can swap out a starter in about an hour. The boat now starts easily - first time every time.

Unfortunately, as soon as I put it in gear and tried to make it accelerate, the engine stalls. For a while,  it ran well enough for cocktail cruises. What else does one need? But now, even that has become a bit questionable. A friend suggested that it could be a clogged fuel filter. I took the old one out and went to local marina and bought a new one. Also, I bought a new boat. I should get it by the end of the week. (The boat - not the fuel filter. I already have the fuel filter.)

I continue to spend a lot of time making wooden bowls. Back in April, the people at Fox Hill suggested that I do a show of my "Art". Eventually, they talked me into setting up a display of about 25 bowls and other turnings. When people asked, "How much for this one . . ?", I started by telling them that I was not trying to sell them. Eventually, I relented and added a price list. Much to my dismay, almost everything sold. I was pretty excited about all the money until I realized that I had not covered minimum wage.

So, I am not working on building up another "body of work". I am rather proud of two pieces that I have recently finished. The bowl is 10 inches in diameter. The vase is 22" high.

I do have one very sad thing to report. One of our cats disappeared several weeks ago. We assumed that she had snuck out when we were loading the car several weeks ago and got lost. Barbara and U had both spend hours walking and searching and calling. This morning, we discovered that our precious cat had hidden behind a desk and died. Very sad.

That's all for now. Enjoy your summer.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Sweet Springtime

Spring is here. I know that because I have spent much of the last four weeks traipsing around in the snow gathering sap to make maple syrup.

But before I get into that, I will give you the report on the cancer which is what this blog is supposed to be about. Fortunately, there is little to report. Well, the numbness in my feet is still slowly getting worse, but it is still not too bad. I guess it is better than numbness in the brain. I am now on "Cycle 65". A year ago, the doctors were amazed with how long this had worked for me. Let's keep our fingers crossed for another year or two.

I still have to visit Dana Farber two out of every three weeks. A month ago, I invited a former boss to Fox Hill for lunch. When she asked, I told her that getting the chemo was a lot like having a job, except that when I worked for her, she never had me bring in a 24 hour urine sample.

My other "job" is woodworking. I have managed to complete a few more wood turning projects. Here is a photo of my most recent favorite:

But lately, I have been focusing on making maple syrup. I did not make any last year, Sapping sneaked up on me and I missed it. I determined not to let the same thing happen this year. I decided to tap my trees in February. 

Even though there was some snow on the ground, I put my truck into 4 wheel drive and it easily drove down the dirt road. No problem. Until I tried to turn around. I got the truck totally stuck. Which meant that I had to walk home a quarter home to get the tractor. I drove the tractor up there to pull out the truck. I got the tractor stuck too.

Eventually, I freed them both, but it was a long afternoon. After that, my rule was to back the truck in so that I would not get stuck again. My new truck has a backup camera, but this does not show you trees that are beside you. I would have though that hitting a side mirror would sort of break it off in one piece. Nay Nay. It pulverizes the $300 mirror into about a thousand pieces.

Here is a photo of the earthly remains of my mirror:

But I got satisfaction, I just happened to have a chain saw in the truck and I made that tree pretty darned sorry, let me tell you.

Once I did not have to worry about the mirror, backing down the road got a lot easier.I could then carry the sap in 5 gallon buckets from the trees and load them into the back of the truck. It worked very well. Here is a photo of my sap boilers in action:

Barbara does not come with me to New Hampshire. For reasons that I do not understand, she prefers being warm and cozy at Fox Hill Village to the cold, darkness and snow of New Hampshire. Besides, she is getting deeply involved with the governance of Fox Hill Village and has been nominated to the Board or Directors. That should keep her busy.

The other problem with Winter in New Hampshire is that the Magic Basket does not work. In the summer, there is a basket in the laundry room into which I can throw my dirty socks and undies. A few days later, they show up in my socks and undies drawer all clean and folded. For some reason, this does not work in the winter. Barbara asked me what I do when run out of undies. I told her that I go to Walmart and buy more.

So, that's the quarterly update. No news is good news. Let's hope it stays that way.

Best regards to everyone for a happy Spring.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year

It has been a while since my last post and I decided that it is time for an update. Yesterday, I started "Cycle 61" at Dana-Farber. Today, we are both at Fox Hill Village looking  out the window at the snow that is supposed to hammer us. We don't mind because we don't have to go out into it.

Mostly, things are pretty much the same, though I have to report that the numbness in my feet got worse all of a sudden a couple of weeks ago. It had been a slight numbness just on the bottoms. Now, my whole foot feels funny. I call it "numbness" but it is really more like feeling like there is a sock bunched up on my foot. Not that big of a deal really. It doesn't hurt. It is just very strange.

So, the oncology team talked about possibly reducing my Velcade dose, but decided against it since mostly things are going very well. I asked if we could try reducing the dose and then going back up if that did not work. They said that would violate the protocol of my clinical study. 

There are a couple of other weird things going on, but nothing too disruptive. An occasional headache-like pain in the back of my neck. Cramps at night in my legs and sometimes in my hands during the day. And of course, reasons for frequent use of Imodium. There is no way to know if these are symptoms, side effects or stuff going on that has nothing to do with the cancer.

But all these things are quite minor in the grand scheme of things. I can still entertain myself in the wood shop and I have been doing that a great deal at Fox Hill Village. Here are a couple of bowls I created over the last month or two.

I have lots of projects in mind that will keep me quite busy. And that is just wood shop projects. Let's not forget pottery and computer programming.

I also managed to send out this year's holiday newsletter. Most of you have probably already seen this, but if not, you can find it by clicking the following link:

2017 Holiday Newsletter

There is one thing that was a bit funny. In the newsletter, I said that Barbara is now a "Professional Mah Jongg Player" because she plays with some friends for money. Each of them brings five dollars and usually wins or loses a couple of bucks. So, technically, she is now a professional. But a few days ago, she overheard one woman at Fox Hill pointing at Barbara and whispering to another resident, "You know, she is a professional Mah Jongg Player."

So, that's the update. I will probably hold off on another one for two or three months unless something interesting happens.