Saturday, March 21, 2015

Happy Spring

Happy Spring everyone. We thought this day would never get here and after all this snow, we are ready for the warm weather that comes with the new season. Of course, it is currently snowing outside, but let's not quibble about the details.

We saw the oncologist on Wednesday. Some numbers are going up and others are going down. We are seeing continued very slow upward (undesirable) movement on the most important one, but others are better. The doctor wants to stay the course for at least a while longer. I am on a clinical trial and the drug I have been testing has just now been approved which gives him a bit more flexibility. Also there are more drugs coming down the road. Meanwhile, I have felt particularly good during this cycle, though yesterday, I was knocked down pretty by a cold. Recall that I have a minimal immune system these days. Barbara even took me to my primary care doctor. He was ready to put me in the hospital, but he talked to the oncologist and they decided to give me some pills and send me home instead.  I feel much better today.

But Spring also means that it is Maple Sugaring Season. I have been particularly lively over the last few weeks, spending about 15 hours up in the woods on the tractor plowing a route to the trees through a foot and a half of snow. I then installed more than 20 "spiles"  into the trees complete with little tubes going into 5 gallon buckets to collect the sap. I have even managed to gather about 30 gallons of sap. That was before everything froze up.

But, before heading down to Fox Hill Village, I cranked up my automatic sap evaporator. Many of you are aware that I am quite proud of this due to the double fail-safe design. Not only does it refill itself automatically, but if this should fail for some reason, it detects the low sap level in the boiler and automatically shuts itself off. This is good because if the sap level ever goes  below the heating element, the heating element is certain to burn out. But it is a very solid "fail-safe" design.

It burned out the the night before we came down here to Fox Hill. Apparently everything froze. The pump could not refill the boiling pot and the system would not tip to shut itself off when the sap level got really low. At least I was right about my theory that it would burn out if this happened. But don't worry - it can be repaired in a half hour for about $10.

So, I am writing this from Fox Hill. Fortunately, our friend Jerry as agreed to gather sap if necessary while we are away. So far, there has been almost no flow since we have been away due to the cold. My one fear is that the 20 gallons I have in the workshop will freeze, rupture the bin holding it all and spread sticky sap all over the workshop floor.

But Fox Hill is at least as exciting this week. They are replacing all the keyed locks on our apartments with locks that use little fobs. You would not believe the excitement this is causing for a number of reasons. First of all, it is different and this is not a group that likes change. More importantly, the doors  now lock automatically when you leave. This used to require a key. Many residents are used to leaving their doors unlocked - especially during short exits - such as to the trash room or to pick up the paper. They can no longer do this. Apparently, there has already been one resident who has found himself outside his locked unit in his boxers with his newspaper, but not his key. It wasn't me - at least not this time.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Glass Blowing and Art Pictures

Barbara is in Florida and I am here in Westwood on my own. I don't know why she would want to be in Florida when the snow here is so beautiful.

I am currently in the middle of chemo cycle 12. You would think I would be getting pretty good at this by now. It would be great if I could report that the numbers are rapidly heading down, but they are not. But they do seem to be holding fairly steady - possibly dropping a little, so I am satisfied with that.

I am feeling pretty good this week. During my last "break week" two weeks ago, I had a couple of days where I was very tired and all I wanted to do was to sleep. So I slept. No problem there. My feet are still pretty numb and possibly getting more so, but that is not really all that bothersome. There are occasional minor pains in my back which may or may not be caused by the disease. The doctor tells me that as long as the numbers are where they are, the disease should not be causing bone damage. Hopefully he is right.

I did manage to come up with one new symptom to make life more interesting. A couple weeks ago, while checking my pulse, I noticed that my heart seemed to be skipping beats. It might beat 2, 3 or 4 times and then skips a beat. For a while last week, it would beat once then skip once. Kinda freaks you out if you know what I mean. I was worried that it might start skipping more than one beat or stop all together, which could severely limit my range of activities.

So, Monday morning, I called me primary care doctor and suggested that I come to his office to try to catch some of these skips on an EKG. Of course, once I got there, the skipping mostly stopped, but we did manage to capture a few of the skips on the EKG. He told me that there were "premature" beats - not actual skips and that he was not overly concerned. But why would he be concerned; it wasn't his heart that was skipping. But even so, I felt better about this, so I am not going to worry about it.

On the way back from the doctor's office, I stopped at the glass blowing studio. I had signed up on GroupOn for a Glass Blowing Lesson which I attended on Saturday and I wanted to pick up the "Art" that "I" had created. I put the "I" in quotes because the "lesson" turned out to be mostly the instructor making a piece of glassware while I stood there and watched. Sometimes he let me put my hand on the long pipe while he manipulated it. So, it was not really the "hands on" lesson that I was expecting, but it was still interesting. "I" made a paper weight and a bowl. Here are some photos:

I also stopped at Ocean State Job Lots where I purchased two 30 gallon stock pots in anticipation of "Sugaring Season". Yes - it is coming to that time of year again. I am hoping to produce a lot more syrup than I did last year. This assumes that I can actually get to the maple trees. In case you hadn't noticed, there is two feet of snow on the ground and the woods don't typically get plowed. Last week I spent three hours up there on the tractor clearing snow and maybe got about half way to the trees. I actually managed to get the tractor stuck a couple of times. I am hoping to spend some more time up there once I get back to NH and maybe break through to the trees. Hopefully, I will have a positive report for the next blog update.

So that wraps up the report except for one thing. Art Pictures. After the last blog update, a few of our faithful readers requested pictures of the Art we had purchased for the apartment. So here are the photos.

That's All Folks