Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Answered Prayers!!

If you are a regular reader, you know what my answered prayer is, a negative sternum biopsy, letting the stem cell transplant transpire!! I got the news this afternoon by phone from my guardian angel, Stacy, who said she was so happy when the news popped up on her computer. The suspicious spot was due to trauma, it happened my first night home from the hospital after Thanksgiving when I tipped the walker over, hit a wooden kitchen chair and then crashed into the fireplace. I had such a sore chest for weeks after, especially since I came home with a rhino virus and had a terrible cough, it nearly did me in.

But Dr. Lunning, reading the PET scan was unconvinced and gave it a 5% chance of not being lymphoma, those odds were disheartening and when I read the actual PET scan results, my heart sank to my shoes. I kept thinking how could it not be from the fall but was prepared for bad news and wondered what was next. 

I've not slept well the last few nights, lots of leg aches and that cemented the thought that is was something insidious in my body since that is what started the whole ordeal. It couldn't have been that I was contorted into an uncomfortable position under the cattle waterer! (That is another blog complete with pictures.)

I still can't believe the good news and may not sleep again tonight but for another reason. I remember the terror that came over me when Stacy outlined my previous pre-transplant schedule and suddenly didn't want to go through with it. What a difference this time, I told her we could be there tomorrow if they had room!

But it won't start till next Tuesday with outpatient appointments and nights spent in a motel with a tentative admission date of Jan 11 for the actual transplant.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart for all the encouragement and tremendous prayer team we've had holding us up.

I feel as though 2017 is going to be very good indeed!

(And I'm really going to have to clean the upstairs bathroom now, yeah, I know I said I would a week ago but you know how that goes!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas 2016 in the bag

We woke up to wind and rain that continued all day, it was a record rainfall for us on Christmas Day. We battled our way to Sioux City to nephew Todd, wife Mandy and son, Jaxon's house in Morningside, watching the temperature on the car fluctuate between 32 (freezing!) and 34 degrees, hoping the wet pavement didn't turn to ice.

We were invited by my sister in law, Susan, to their son's house so we were hoping she had told them we were coming since we were the first to arrive. Even if we weren't expected, they graciously welcomed them into their lovely home or another word for it is 'Legoland!' This is Jaxon with one of his coveted Lego's that Santa brought but he couldn't open it until he had the rest put together.

Have you ever seen inside one of these kits? There are what looks like thousands of itty, bitty, parts reminding me of the time Christmas was at my house at Whiting and several little girls got Barbie Dolls with all the trappings. For months after I found tiny little Barbie high heels and hair accessories.

Soon Ross and Sherri showed up from Nebraska bearing packages and bags but Jaxon was so good and didn't ask if any were for him.

After a very leisurely lunch of soups, sandwiches, munchies and lots of sweets, Bruce and I got to play Jaxon's fishing game, Bruce said he needed a net sometimes when the fish got off. Just like real fishing so buck up!

We played a fun game where you had try to unwrap a present while wearing oven mitts before the person next to you rolled doubles on the dice. I think we all ended up with something, I love my potholder/mitt combination. We also watched Christmas Vacation and The Christmas Story, I cringe when I think of him sticking his tongue to the flag pole.

It was time for presents and Jaxon got another nerf gun to add to his arsenal, this one had 4 cartridges each holding several nerf bullets. When we got there, the rule was that Jaxon could not shoot people, well, that went out the window when Uncle Ross arrived and started shooting Jaxon. But isn't that was male relatives are for, to corrupt the kid and change the rules?

We even got in on the annual family picture, even with the grousing from Ross, "This takes FOREVER!!" (It didn't.)

It was a fun and relaxing day and we reluctantly left as the day was drawing to a close and the fog was setting in again. How it did that with the way the wind was blowing is a mystery but we arrived home safely. As I was building a fire in the stove to drive away the chill, I realized what I should have asked Santa to bring.

 A new pair of Ove Gloves, my fireplace necessities, I've managed to set them on fire and both thumbs and one finger are burned off. They may withstand heat but sparks are a different story!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Christmas Eve Day

Yesterday was biopsy day, I'm always nervous because some have not been a good experience but I should know by now that the crew at NMC does all they can. We drove to Omaha Thursday night because the weather was not going to be good at home late that night and early morning and it wasn't. This motel had a hot tub so we packed our swimsuits but by the time we got there, we were both out of the mood, after all, it was 7:30, nearly our bedtime! When we woke up and saw the cars with snow on top and wet streets we were glad we made that decision.

With any 'procedure' it's hurry up and wait, we got to the hospital just before 10 and my appointment with the surgeon was at noon. They looked terribly busy but surprisingly on time. This biopsy was a CT guided so I was scrunched up in the machine with my legs hanging over the end, my arms above my head, blankets tucked around to try to keep me warm but leave my chest exposed to the world. Then the nurse had the audacity to ask if I was comfortable, I just rolled my eyes.

Dr. Dafoe asked if I did well with sedation, I said I love sedation and he laughed so I was pretty fuzzy during the retrieval of tissue. Since my heart is right behind where they needed to biopsy, he went in from the side. It was scheduled to take an hour and they were right, I was back in my little cubicle when Bruce came in then watched me sleep for a couple more before we were set free. 

We drove in rain for awhile and further down the road we had a glimpse of what the morning commute was like. We saw a pickup and anhydrous tank on a trailer upside down in the west ditch, the pickup top was smashed and all four door were open. Just a little ways up or down the road I guess, there was a car in the medium still there. We were doubly thankful that we had not been in that mix master.

Today is the annual Wilcox Christmas get together with family and, after being up and around, I'm ready to go and spend a few hours. I might have to hang a sign around my neck, Hug Gently! Sister Sue just invited us up to SC for Christmas dinner, you can't beat that.

I've had this photo that I wanted to use, who is this masked woman?

Is she a celebrity trying to disguise her identity while skiing and hobnobbing in Aspen?

No, she is a dedicated farm wife helping her hubby do chores in -20+ temps in Iowa! Lisa is a great friend who has let me live vicariously through photos of her lovely decorated house. Knowing I wasn't going to get any up, she made me this cute Christmas tree out of clay flower pots and presents magically appeared.

It graces the dusty top of our TV armoire and makes me smile when I see it. I hope you all have the joy and warmth in your hearts that comes with this holiday season as we remember the birth of a tiny baby on that cold winter night.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A roadblock on the road to the transplant

I couldn't write this until I had a lot of time to mull over the news we received yesterday, a (pretty) good nights sleep and a strong cup of coffee liberally laced with International Delight Peppermint Pattie creamer brewed with my new Ninja Single serve coffee machine. Finally I have a coffee maker that brews coffee hot enough, I don't have to put it in the microwave after! I love it!

But I digress.....Bruce and I traveled to Omaha yesterday for yet another PET scan and we were cautiously optimistic because my blood tests had been getting progressively better and I was getting stronger. I've come to really detest the PET scan but I was so hopeful this one would be my friend, it was not.

It takes a long wait to get results but at least we get them the same day, Dr. Lunning came in and said "I'm going to cut to the chase, there is a suspicious spot on your sternum that needs to be biopsied." The rest of the scan looked good and this was not there 30 days ago when I did the last one. Before he could go on I told him that my first night home from the hospital I fell in the night, crashing into a kitchen chair and the fireplace and really injured my sternum. It was terribly painful for such a long time, especially since I had the rhinovirus and was coughing my head off, when I sneezed it felt like my chest was splitting apart. It still is a little tender and I showed Dr. Lunning the spot and it's pretty much the same place they saw on the scan. He knew I had fallen, didn't know the entire story so he went back to call the radiologist and came back with the news that it didn't look like a fracture injury and they have to know for sure. 

Bruce asked him what he thought the odds would be that it is not lymphoma and Dr. Lunninng said 5%. He said he has given me the strongest chemo that they have in their arsenal and I don't do well with it. He said I would breeze through the transplant if I ever get there. But he has to have another plan and that would be to try to control the dragon, not eradicate it, perhaps using a pill based regime.

To my credit, I've had so many set backs that I no longer burst into tears at bad news and I'm sure that is a relief to Dr. Lunning! We were very quiet on the way home, each digesting the new turn this is taking. Beth, Dr. Lunning's nurse, called and said they got an appointment for Friday at 10, it's nice to have a Dr. with pull, otherwise it would have been next week. We will have to wait a week for results but at least we are a few days ahead of the game. We stopped in Correctionville and shared a pizza, then home and at 7:30 we were both headed up to bed, emotionally shot. In the night I was playing musical beds, to the couch with Clyde and back upstairs with Bruce, lots of thoughts swirling around my head.

In the end, the sun did come up this morning, the temps have moderated, the snow is melting and I'm reminded of this poem, it says it all.



God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
many a burden, many a care.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love
Author: Annie Johnson Flint 

Edited to add, don't sympathize with me, that opens the floodgates. I'm now dressed and ready to face the day and the first thing on my agenda is to clean the upstairs bathroom since the cleaning fairy, once again, did not show up last night and do it!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The best Christmas Pagent Ever

We are a hardy bunch here in Iowa, even though our car temperature read -27, we didn't wimp out and cancel church like some in the area. The wind did not whip up the fresh snow to blizzard conditions and we found, to our delight, that the county road to the west was finally open after having a bridge replaced, Yeah!!

It was our last Advent coffee Sunday, the first I attended since returning from the hospital after Thankgiving. Shirley and Cheryl provided a plethora of delectable treats along with coffee and hot apple cider.

Then it was soon time for the program and 5 year old Treton stole the show with his flawless performance. He knew his lines as he told the Christmas story, in plain words, such as "We had a baby, but it wasn't mine." 

(Do you think Joseph had a Superman robe?)

This was Treton's cousin, Isabella, who was the inn keeper...

....he didn't let the antic's of his sister, Addison, corralled by their father, Tracy, or runaway Isabella, even the camera couldn't keep up with her, interfere with his words or song. 

Tracy finally got the girls settled for the grand finale when suddenly Addison remembers baby Jesus by the stable. It was a great program and they received a rousing round of applause.

With no change in the weather, we did wimp out on the caroling, I wasn't going anyway, I didn't want to go to a nursing home not knowing what might be going around in there. The rest of the places we would have gone, we would have stood outside and that would really put a crimp in the night with the -0 temps. I had promised a pot of chili for the party after so we went home from church to a crock pot bubbling away, guaranteed to thaw our cold bones. Coupled with grilled cheese sandwiches and a cold glass of milk, it was a great meal.

Bernice, our church organist, blessed us with her yummy pickles, we know how much work it is and appreciate the effort.

This fat little squirrel was warming his hands, trying to get the courage to come down out of the tree and eat the spilled corn by the garage. With Mollie in the doghouse on her heated bed, he really didn't have much to worry about.

Tomorrow it's supposed to be in the 30's, if you don't like the weather in IA, stick around a day and it will change and we are looking forward to a change like that.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

These are the times that try men's souls.....

Days like these have Bruce thinking how much easier life would be without the cattle. It's very, very cold and he discovered a frozen cattle fountain and the pipe frozen to the fountain. To top it off, he discovered water in the bottom of the pit, which should not have been. My first clue something was wrong was when Bruce called to see if I had a sump pump and hose he could use, yes I did. Even though I had drained the hose, it still broke into a 6 ft. piece but it made it easier that way. 

Soon I got a phone call, "Can you come help me, I've called Grassy and dress warm." He had squeezed himself under the fountain and was dipping muck out of the bottom of the pit, when he tried to take the pipe apart, it broke, adding insult to injury. While waiting for Grassy, I took ice cream buckets of muck from Bruce and dumped into a 5 gallon bucket and then dumped it onto the floor. Soon Grassy came and took over and there was nothing for me to do but go back home to the warm house. My gloves were filthy with muck but not much else. Bruce's coveralls, on the other hand, were covered and went right in the washing machine.

He did not sleep well that night, worrying about what to do with the fountain and was up before dawn. He ended up calling Marcus Lumber, Grassy came back and helped him remove the concrete fountain from the base so that guy didn't have squeeze himself into the small hole that Bruce did the day before. It's a good thing because he was a big guy and had a hard time putting a new pipe in. Bruce said he was kind of grumbling but at least he didn't have to dip black, stinky muck out of the pit. They capped off the pipe, Bruce and Grassy put the fountain back in place to wait for nicer weather to hook it up. He also found out the water bowl had a small leak, that is why there was water in the pit and why it shorted out the electric heater keeping it from freezing.

Today Bruce is shopping for a new fountain, his grandfather bought all these fountains from Shorty Treptow in Cleghorn years and years ago. I agreed with him.

Tonight is going to be very subzero and the question is whether the wind comes up and produces ground blizzards and we have to cancel church in the morning. It's the Sunday school Christmas program so I hope not, I look forward to it every year. We put together the goody bags at session the other night and tomorrow night is caroling. I made a crock pot of chili and will make a pan of cinnamon rolls tomorrow, whether we have it or not, we will eat good.

Just so we don't forget what it can be like, Becky sent me a picture of her granddaughter, Ryann and I with Mollie and Murphy in the back yard.

Oh, those were the days.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

From the inside looking out

This is a very different winter for me as I'm pretty much confined to the house because of very low energy, my hemoglobin was down and that causes lack of oxygen to vital organs. So I know I'm not just lazy. But life is pretty boring, I'm not out and about and taking pictures of snow and cold and the animals I love. Or Bruce! I spend a lot of time looking out the windows to see what is going on, late yesterday Mollie went crazy and I looked out just in time to see 4 or 5 deer run across the pasture, over the fence, across the road and on south. They were running like their tails were on fire so we assume there were hunters involved.

Bruce was heading out to the front pasture to cut up some wood when I saw 4 pheasants, two pair which is really exciting because we have very few around, tip toeing down the fence line. We hope they stay around the house where they are safe from predators like.....,

.....the two coyotes we saw this morning on the way to Cherokee for the latest blood test. One crossed the road just east of us and the other was standing in the field across from the pond. 

Why can't we just all get along?

I'm still fighting the mouse (mice) in the bee hive, I have two traps set with a mini marshmallow taped to the trigger. When the bugger(s) tripped one twice, I upped the game and put a sticky trap inside. But two days have passed and nothing has happened, I'm just hoping he found the package of poison I put inside also. It's way too cold to disrupt the hive to find him.

Speaking of cold and it's only going to get worse before it gets better, we have a quirky weatherman on Channel 4, T.J. Springer who must have come from a warm climate because as soon as the weather changed, his constant mantra during his report was, "Stay inside, it's too cold to be out there!" Well, how would our animals get fed? How would the bridge get built on our road? How would you ever get mail delivered? It was getting annoying and I think someone finally told him to shut up, because we have not heard that in the last couple of days. But the jury is still out when the temps are dropping on Saturday night to -18 or so. I'm glad that the chickens have a heater at night and all the animals have warm heated beds. I just wish all animals were so lucky. 

People are still being incredibly kind to us, we have a lot of food in the freezer to tide us over when I don't have the strength to cook. Knowing I wasn't going to get out any Christmas decorations, another friend, Lisa, brought us a mini Christmas tree she made from flower pots, it's so cute! And she brought food. The Christmas cards are coming in and I hope people understand that right now I'm not in the mood to reciprocate, maybe in the New Year?

Last night Becky called, concerned that I hadn't blogged or even emailed and I told her I was boring right now. So she told me I could even use the picture of Crazy Becky that I snapped a couple of years ago, how could I pass that up?

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Of Mice and

Those of you who live in a vermin free house, count your blessings, for those of us living in old farm houses, it is a constant battle. Not only can they flatten themselves and slide through the smallest crack, I saw this for myself one night in the upstairs bathroom, we have Naughty Zoe who thinks it's great sport to bring a mouse in from either outside or the garage and dash to the basement or upstairs to play hockey with said mouse in the upstairs bathroom. They slide so nicely on the linoleum floor. (One got away and scooted under the tiny crack between the closet door and the floor, it was like Houdini, one minute it was there, the next it was gone. So at 10:30 at night I was tearing Bruce's closet apart to find the little devil, by that time Zoe has lost interest and it was up to me to whack him with my Croc and flush him down the stool.)

We hear mice in the walls and ceiling of the living room, Bruce said to put poison out but then you have to contend with the dead mouse smell. So after much thought, I bought sticky traps and installed them behind the door that leads to the plumbing in the upstairs bathroom. That worked pretty good, I was able to catch and dispatch 5 or 6 and the scrabblings are few but the war was far from over as we discovered when the dishwasher quit working.

We determined it was a faulty water intake valve, thanks to You Tube, so ordered a new one from our local guy. When Bruce pulled it out to work on it, there was evidence of a mouse party to end all parties. I knew Zoe had been very interested in the cracks around the dishwasher, I should have paid more attention to her. We set traps and caught 3 in about 5 days. They made a mess, there was evidence that they probably raised a family under there and that counted for the small mice that Zoe kept finding and taking upstairs to her playroom.

I was trying to clean out the mess from under the dishwasher and was concerned that there was water, Bruce replaced the water intake valve, started it up, shut it off and as the water ran out, we could hear drips. The darned mice had chewed on an outlet hose!!! When we called back to Ebert's, Mike said that he has only seen that trouble on Bosch washers, they must really like their brand of plastic. So I spent another couple of days, doing dishes by hand before the new part came in. We both held our breath when all the new parts were on and started the washer, water coming in, water going out and no drips, YEAH! We've heard that dryer sheets deter mice so tucked some around the plastic hoses and on both sides of the crack, just to be on the safe side, we still have the baited trap waiting.

Whew, I thought, I think we have a handle on things - au contraire, Murphy's Law interceded. I had not been to the bee hives for a long time, Bruce put the hay bales around when it got cold and I thought it was time to see how the sugar bricks were holding out. The first hive had finished their pan so I pulled it out. The second hive had a nasty surprise, a mouse popped out when I opened it, I tried whacking him with a top bar but he got away into the woods. That is not what I wanted to see. They still had a little sugar brick left that I pulled out and up popped another mouse head but he quickly retreated back into the hive. AAUUGGHHHH!!!! To make things worse, the bees started coming out and they don't do well in cold weather, I wasn't dressed to deal with them so we shut up the hive and went home.

I had to make sugar bricks, find where they got in and figure out what to do with the one or more, still in there and try to protect the bees from coming out. I messed up the sugar bricks, the sugar caramelized and that is not good so jettisoned both batches. I took the old car, with all my bee supplies in the trunk over later armed with mouse bait and a trap, hoping I could convince the bees to stay in with smoke while I ousted the mouse(s). The bees were not cooperative, they wanted to do battle with me so I left the poison in one end and the mouse trap on top and shut it up as tightly as I could. I thought the stiff piece of Styrofoam had left enough of a crack for the little buggers to get in.

I didn't sleep well last night, trying to formulate a plan and woke up to the snow that was predicted. Bruce found some rolled insulation to replace the blue, I took a flashlight, newspaper and the rest of the bag of sugar. Some bee keepers just lay newspaper down and put granulated sugar over it instead of making fondant or sugar bricks and they say it works well. I didn't want the hives open long so quickly stocked the first hive, when I put me ear to the top bars I could hear buzzing down deep so that made me happy. I had the smoker ready when I opened the second hive and was happy to find a fat mouse in the trap. I decided against moving any of the other top bars because again the bees were wanting to come out, I slapped down their newspaper, covered it with the last of the sugar, tucked it full of insulation, re-set the mouse trap, and made sure all the edges met with no cracks. As I was looking at the front, I saw a bee start to come out, one board had warped just enough to leave a crack that I'm sure a mouse could get in. I had run out of energy so called Bruce to the rescue, he brought a lathe and Makita and screwed it over the crack and called it good. 

I'm afraid that I would have lost a lot of bees, had I messed around more, now I can go over and quickly check the trap. Obviously the mice really like the mini marshmallow I tape to the trap. It wasn't what I wanted to find over there but in the grand scheme of things, it's also not the end of the world. Just another one of those potholes that seem to line my path.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Wind chill 9 degrees, hot dinner required

After an extended balmy fall, old Mother Nature did a switcharoo and opened the door to the cold north winds along with a couple of snow flurries. More is predicted this weekend but we hope the weatherman is wrong. While I hole up in the house with the fireplace going, Bruce still has to do his outdoor chores along with a few wrenches in the works, like a frozen fountain this morning in the cattle yard.

I know the easy way to thaw him out, with a pot of beef stew, easy, hearty and oh so satisfying! When Bruce was dishing his plate up he said, "You need to take a picture of this!" That was all I needed to hear.

'Beef, it's what for dinner!'

Did you notice my new pan? Yes, it is the square deep Red Copper pan that is all over the infomercials on TV. I took a long time to finally order one, in fact I waited until Cyber Monday to get a discount and I truly love it! I've used it nearly every day since it came and it's winner and believe me, I'm not getting paid to say this. I've always loved all my cast iron but they are heavy, this one is so light and cleans up like a breeze.

What goes better with beef stew than cornbread? But this is no ordinary cornbread but a Thanksgiving Sweet Skillet Cornbread, compliments of Heather (Waugh) Bircher. She has a special recipe in each of her hubby, Aaron's, newsletters and I saved this one and decided today was the day, and was not disappointed. Baked in a cast iron skillet, served warm with butter and honey, it was more dessert than bread.

But Bruce is a tough sell, as I was 'm-m-m-ming' my way through my slice, I noticed he did not say much so I asked him what he thought. "It is alright." That means he would rather have the 39 cent Jiffy mix or 89 cent Betty Crocker mix from the store, a travesty!

For your own comparison, here is the recipe:

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 stick unsalted butter
2 large (French Farm) eggs
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup sour cream

1. Whisk the cornmeal, sugar, baking power, baking soda, flour and salt in a medium bowl. (plan ahead so you don't have to use yet another, bigger bowl, like I did.)
2. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes.
3. Whisk eggs and honey in a bowl, and then mix in milk, sour cream and browned butter. Add to flour mixture and stir until batter is combined.
4. Melt the remaining butter over medium heat until it foams. Add to the batter. (I used my 10 inch cast iron skillet to melt the butter and then baked the cornbread in it.)
5. Spread batter in medium pan and bake at 400 degrees until the cornbread springs back when pressed, about 20 - 30 minutes. (20 was perfect for me. I learned the hard way you do not want to overbake cornbread or it is dry and unpalatable.)
6. Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting. (Ignore #6 and eat it hot with butter and honey.)

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did and I think Bruce is going to have to get used to it.

I hope you are have your tummy full of warm, satisfying food.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Make their day!

Things are kind of boring around here, there has been nothing of note to photograph much less write about with me pretty much house bound. A bunch of chicken treats, leftover popcorn, bread crumbs, etc. had piled up so when Bruce was ready to go outside after dinner, I asked him if he would like to make my chickens day. 

He gave me the 'look' you know, the one that says, "HUH??" He just doesn't understand. I had the camera and stressed that he had to quiet going out the back door, if they hear me coming, they  stampede out the chicken house door and that is what I wanted to avoid until I was ready. Unfortunately the lens cap was stuck on the camera and I couldn't get it off, AAUUGGGHHHH!! So most of the girls were already milling around his feet, the black hen at the back is trying to get airborne.

They are still coming...

"Here chick, chick, chick!!"

Finally, the good stuff is falling and the little serama hen just out of the coop takes to the air.

The fastest way to get there and not miss out on the goodies.

They love the leftover popcorn.

He who eats the fastest, eats the mostest.

A latecomer, "Well, are you coming?" says Bruce

She wonders why no one told her about the party going on.

I've taken back the dog, cat and chicken chores, the horses are easy because Bruce has them on a big round bale self feeder, I just have to make sure they are upright and taking nourishment. The chicken coop could use a cleaning but it can wait, yesterday I stepped in and my eyes began to water, "What is that smell??" 

Broody Poop!!

The little red frizzle's goal in life is to be a mother and she is not to be deterred just because it is winter. She trolls the nests until she finds an egg that needs to be kept warm and settles on it, happy that her life is fulfilled once more - until one of us comes and rudely yanks the egg out from under her. Broody hens only get off the nest once a day and do their business and you know when they do it, you just need to watch where you step.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Home, day 2 and it never felt so good.

But it didn't start off well, I slept down stairs, assuring Bruce I would be fine and I was until I crashed and burned into a kitchen chair and then into the base of the fireplace. You can't believe how quickly the weakness comes, I was on my way to the bathroom with my trusty walker and next thing I knew, I was on the floor with a bruised chest and nose. I left the carnage and crawled back to bed so Bruce was rather upset when he found it.

I spent the day cautiously motoring around the house, reading some of the piled up mail, trying to make sense of more bills, what is paid and what isn't, it gives me a headache. Blowing and sucking on my little breathing machine then coughing my head off, scaring Clyde into the next room. In his delicate condition, any loud noise sets him off, someday I'm afraid he is going to have a heart attack. He still tip toes around the walker, waiting for it to lurch at him and being scared all over again. Zoe is still being a little standoffish, she hasn't quite decided if I'd paid penance for abandoning her so long.

I'm happy to have my tablet loaded with good books and even a jigsaw puzzle to break up the day. I decided to sleep upstairs last night so Bruce solicitously helped me up and get ready for bed. Then I couldn't sleep, isn't that just the pits? But Zoe graced me with her presence, tucked in under the covers by my side, so I had to stay until I dozed off just before Bruce came up then woke at 11, wide awake. I sat up on the bed, ready to sneak downstairs and he came full on alert, had the light on and the walker ready. So I went to the bathroom and back to bed to lay for another hour. My second escape attempt was better, I'm so thankful for Bruce putting railings on the stairs and down to the basement, I hung on for dear life and was ready to plop my butt down on the stairs if I saw stars again. I fixed a cup of 'Sleepytime Tea' compliments of Jean and a piece of cinnamon toast and was going through more mail when I heard the creak of feet on the stairs and Bruce was there, checking on me. What a loving hubby! I'm sure he was just glad he didn't find me laid out on the floor.

After sleeping on the couch with Clyde and a Hallmark movie running, I finally went back upstairs only to sleep fitfully the rest of the night. Beth, Dr. Lunning's nurse extraordinaire, called yesterday and said I needed to get a blood test but I told her I just wasn't up to it so she let me go till today. Bruce woke at 6 and told me to stay in bed till he got back from chores so he could help me shower, who was I to disobey? Thanks to a loaner shower chair that went well and we got to Cherokee to find Carey, my guardian angel nurse, was assigned to me. We can't say enough about the care and compassion of this outstanding young woman. She was very concerned about my cough and the fact that I felt I was getting another UTI so she called over to the other side of the hospital to Dr. Vandelune to get the okay for more tests. I know I have Rhinovirus which is a step up from the common cold and as a virus, antibiotics do nothing to cure it. So I peed in a bottle again and warned them of the blue color, this stuff isn't leaving my system anytime soon and Carey wanted us to stay till all the tests were in clear me to go home, in case I needed some fluids. 

This is the way it is supposed to work, not call SC and not get any answers for hours, we are extremely grateful for all the loving care I have received. It took about an hour but we had a TV to watch (Hallmark!) and Carey brought us drinks, I'm supposed to be really pushing the fluids yet, I feel as though I will float away sometimes. Dr. Vandelune also told me to take some Musinix DM and Bruce had just bought when he first caught cold, how fortuitous! My potassium was a little low which could lead to weakness so we stopped at the store for bananas, the one food that I always associate with high potassium. No apparent UTI but the 'Blue' antidote has a history of irritating the bladder and they found glucose so told again to push the water. I was masked up and stayed in the car, then we stopped at Dollar General for some personal items and headed out of town. Halfway home, I reached in my pocket for the phone and it was gone! I wore stretch pants and was reclined in the chair at the clinic so just assumed that was where it was lost. But a call to the clinic brought negative results from the office gal. By this time we turned around and were headed back to Cherokee, so we turned around again toward home. Then I got the bright idea to call my phone, it took 4 times and then we heard Carey's voice, "Well, hello Bruce and Julie French!" Very welcome words indeed. Carey said a patient told her, "there is something ringing under this chair!" I was relieved they found it and said we would pick it up on Thursday when we are back. So if you are trying to call or text, give it up now!

I've been up more today than yesterday, finished with the mail and washed some dishes, our dishwasher is on the blink for a few days. I fixed meatloaf for dinner, had some frozen just for this reason and then collapsed on the couch.We are still blessed with people wanting to feed us but we are fine for now. Love to you all.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Day 5 at NMC and the scenery hasn't changed

I never thought the events that would unfold when I came in for the 3 days of chemo, Bruce was here, waiting to take me home Thursday night when he noticed I wasn't myself. I was having a bad reaction to the Ice regime and was out of my head. When I was asked to open my eyes, I opened my mouth. When I was asked what year it was, 1969. When asked where I was, Cherokee and in the morning I ammended it to Marcus. The scary thing was I knew I was talking crazy but couldn't do anything about it. In the middle of the night they did a CAT scan to make sure it wasn't a bleeder and thankfully it wasn't.

Bruce was here all night with the PA coming in often, they started me on a blue antidote to remove the effects of the reaction, I thought it removed the chemo from my body and was bummed, thinking I had to go through this again. But that was not the case, just the side effects.

They had a terrible time getting me up to the bathroom, it took 3 people and they finally brought in a comode.  I remember  at one point Bruce telling me to sit back on the commode or I will make a mess, he's always there with the good advice. It's humbling when you realize someone else wiped your bottom! Bruce said at one point he thought I was nearly in a coma, totally unresponsive. By morning the cobwebs were clearing, I was getting a big syringe full of a beautiful blue every 4 hours so I was peeing a beautiful blue. One of the aides was rather taken back and said, "Do they know your urine is this color?" But I was able to answer a little more coherently although I still had to search for my words. Now I know how my brother, Denny, feels.

Late in the morning the doctor on call came in and ran me through my tests, he said it was very lucky that I wasn't home when this hit, this is why they do it in hospital. It is rare but can happen.He also said I avoided a lifeflight to Omaha, me who hates to fly but guess I would have been out of it anyway.

Bruce went home to do all the chores and came back to spend the night again, poor guy was running on empty because he hadn't got much sleep with people in and out all night. Rosanne met him in Smithland with a complete turkey dinner that we thoroughly enjoyed and Bruce got to of see the Iowa Hawkeyes pummel Nebraska. Then he crashed on his pull out bed at 7:30 and slept off and on, depending on the nightly interruptions, till 5:30 this morning. Then it was off to home again to do chores and catch up on his lost sleep.

I got no sleep Friday night, whenever I closed my eyes I saw pictures on a slideshow, letter writing, scenes from something I had seen, it was so wierd kind of like my brain couldn't rest. Besides that my cough started coming back and you know what it's like to try to sleep. By Sat morning I was so exhausted I felt sick and they started looking for something to help me. The best thing was this machine I had to blow and then suck into, I guess it expanded and exercised my lungs. They also gave me a codeine laced cough syrup along with some adavan that left me relaxed enough the sleep. 

I got better all day, still searched for words and that is frustrating. Thank heavens for my cell phone and texting, believe me, that is something coming from me but I would be up a creek without any communications were it not for the phone. Their wifi stinks, it only lets you on occasionally and then will kick you off with no advance notice. I know by the time I'm ready to send this I won't get on. It was a relief to get a decent nights sleep but eating is a struggle, I tried hot chocolate and cinnamon toast for breakfast and had carton of Yogurt while waiting for Bruce. He fixed me a  Thanksgiving dinner and that tasted is good in small amounts. Saturday night my niece, Nancy, hubby, Frank and kids, Vanessa and Joshua showed up unexpectedly with a care package from Sister Sara, more Thanksgiving. It was greatly appreciated, Nancy fixed me a small plate, Bruce doesn't get the word small! Nancy did but I had to send the rest back home with them because there was no more room in my little fridge. But I'm sure they will enjoy it.

This morning I asked for a shower and clean clothes and by the time it was over, I couldn't even dress myself. I made it to the bed and the aide helped me, I feel like a piece of limp spaghetti. When the doctor came in I told him I wanted to go home and he asked who would take care of me, Bruce would, that's who. Of course I haven't told Bruce yet!! But I know he's all in, we are in this together.

So we are now back home in our nest, both of us slept most of the evening away and I convinced Bruce to go to bed, it's obvious he is exhausted also. I ate a little supper and might go for some sherbet before bed. We made a stop at the old house and got a walker so I have some support, I feel like an old woman! As usual Zoe had to play hard to get but she finally settled down into my lap and slept, her Mama was back. Clyde staggered over, fell in my lap, laid awhile then went back to his end of the couch, his job was done.

I'm sitting here looking at the east window and its lightening! Bruce drove most the way to Omaha in rain and most of the way home, but it's better than snow.

The virus I have is contagious so people need to stay away and I will be holed up here at home trying to regaine my strength. But feel free to send all the prayers you have in your reportar. We love you all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Day 2, try, try again

After trying all day to no avail, I was finally able to access the guest network at Ne Med Center so making good use of it by updating. The chemo last night went well but the steroids keep me from sleeping well and I've been awake since 3:30 am with only a couple short naps. Luckily I found the Hallmark channel that was not on their TV guide and vegging out on Christmas shows, interspersed with reading the books I downloaded on the tablet.

It takes 13 laps around this ward to make a mile and they encourage you to get out and walk. I can only make a couple laps before huffing and puffing so I go out more often and think I put in my mile today. I'm still swilling down my 64+ oz of water everyday, it washes out the dead dragons from my kidneys and hopefully will prevent a repeat performance of dehydration. Dr. Lunning did some adjustments on the dosages to help with that also.

Food is still a struggle, I have a refrigerator in my room and a microwave down the hall, they encourage you to bring food from home that you like. Last week I brought a container of Rosanne's chicken and noodles but I felt like I was jinxing myself so left them home this time. What a mistake, they have a great sounding menu but it never tastes as good as I think it will. The dietition was in today to see how things are going and she encouraged me to keep trying, to lose an significant amount of weight now, even though it wouldn't hurt me, could set things back. And I don't want that!

I'm looking forward to Bruce coming tomorrow and spending the day, I even promised him the TV to watch Vikings as long as he did some recording at home for me, guess? Yes, Hallmark. Rosanne said she will send leftovers from dinner home with us when we come through Smithland and you know it always tastes better the second day, but it will be a late night. I'm on my last of three chemo drugs and this one goes for 24 hours so wherever I go, my pole goes with me, even for walks.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, enjoy and appreciate your friends and families tomorrow, they are precious as you are to me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Hot Damn and Hallelujah!!!

I'm comfortably ensconsed in room 7482 at the Neb. Med Center, eagerly awaiting my first dose of chemo. If that sounds crazy, you don't know the roller coaster I've been on for the last few months. I was supposed to be here last week but elevated liver functions lead to an ultrasound that showed suspicious lesions on my liver. The ones that were supposed to be gone after the last round. So another PET scan was set up for today, a week of thinking of the 'what ifs.'

The dragons in my body are constantly on my mind, having a cold and not feeling well anyway didn't help. The PET scan is a 2 hour ordeal and then the wait for Dr. Lunning to see the results. Janet came with us today and it was appreciated. She not only has family home but they are celebrating their Thanksgiving tomorrow so it was extra special to have her along.

I just had the feeling when I saw Dr. Lunning come in the room, he didn't bounce in with a big smile and shout "Good News!" But he said it was good, the PET scan showed what was on the ultrasound was dead and dying tissue on my liver so it was onward and upward with the chemo to keep the bastards on the run! I never thought I'd be so happy to be in the hospital, his nurse, Beth and Stacy, the transplant nurse case manager already have the schedule set up for transplant, they are that sure it will happen. The 20th of Dec I will begin the pre-transplant stuff so be home for Christmas.

It all feels rather sureal, after all the road blocks it seems as though we are finally on the right track. I sent Janet and Bruce on their way so they could get out of town before it got very dark, this city driving is not for sissies. Besides I'm in good hands here, I only have one complaint, they don't have Hallmark on their TV! How can that be?? That is unamerican!!

Thank you all for your prayers, just when I was ready to throw in the towel, they have been answered abundently. 

Oh, me of little faith....

Monday, November 21, 2016

The first snow

We have had wonderful fall weather, still in the 70's and gazebo time, much to Zoe's delight. Then last Friday blew in with wind, rain, snow and plunging temps.

When the snow blows and the temps plunge, a fire in the kitchen can't be far behind. And, no, my kitchen is not this clean, I lifted a couple of pictures off my blog because I've been down with a bad cold.

With a fire going, bread baking can't be far behind, we were out and I didn't feel like going to town so got out my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer and turned to Pinterest. I tried a honey, wheat, oatmeal bread on Saturday but it wasn't very good, never fear, we like meat loaf and meat balls so I simply ground it into bread crumbs for another day.

Sunday I turned to my favorite, buttermilk, honey white bread, it never fails. It made two normal sized loaves and a bit left over so I made it into cinnamon bread. YUM, YUM!

The house was toasty warm and smelled heavenly and I needed someone to enjoy it with me so texted, yes, I'm texting, Kim "What ya doing? I know it's cold but the fire is going and I just pulled fresh bread out of the oven?" 

I just stepped out the back door to shut up the chickens when I heard a 'ping' - "I'll be right over!"

Thursday, November 17, 2016


I don't even know what to call it any more, a bump in the road, a detour, one of those damned roundabouts but again we were stopped from proceeding full steam ahead at the doctor appointment yesterday. It was to be my 2nd round of ICE chemo, leading to the stem cell transplant but Dr. Lunning wanted me to have an ultrasound first on the liver to see what was going on. Nothing, that is what was going on, the lesions had no significant change and that did not bode well. Something else that didn't bode well was when Dr. Lunning came in the room and started beating around the bush, he can't just come out and say, "GOOD NEWS! WE ARE WEARING THE BASTARDS DOWN!!"

He explained that this ICE treatment was good for 28 days, yesterday was day 21 so it still had another week to work. But because he is such a conscientious doctor, he couldn't and wouldn't send me through it again without knowing exactly what the dragons are doing. So the next plan is for a PET scan next Tuesday, depending on the results, I will go into the hospital for the ICE chemo, if it isn't good I will get a chemo on outpatient and come back home that night. Dr. Lunning keeps telling me he is working toward a transplant but when he started talking about clinical trials, cold chills ran up my back, that seems like a last resort.

After braving the rat race and seeing a traffic stop on Interstate 29 on the way home, found out it was a guy who tried to entice a young girl into his car in Onawa, BUSTED! we called both Rosanne and Sam and Larry Waugh to see if they would meet us in Sloan for Pizza. Everyone but Larry made is since he just got home from trucking. It was good to see them and not have to think about things for a bit.

Then we wound our way home across country, it probably took longer that if we'd gone straight to SC but it was kind of fun. Bruce has had a bad cold and I woke up with it myself this morning, great. This is supposed to be our last nice day so in between bouts of lying comatose on the couch with Clyde, I get up and do a few things outside. Luckily I did most of them earlier in the week.

I know I have all of you in my corner, pray that I'm in the hospital over Thanksgiving, that would be the best scenario.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Working cattle on a balmy November day....

.....and we don't get to say that very often! Bruce has been hard at work doing odd jobs with the cattle working lurking in the back of his mind. He finally bit the bullet and scheduled it last week for this morning, not knowing what the weather might bring. But Mother Nature looked down on us with kindness, it was a chilly morning but sunny and less windy.

Bruce has been baiting the cows, who are running out on stalks and pretty wary about being shut in, with corn and dried distillers grain, a highly nutritious by product from our local ethanol plant. It is a tasty combination that the cows can't resist and they paid the price yesterday morning when Bruce slammed the gates shut behind them.

He was off and running early this morning to get the calves in the barn, the cows up in the pen by the barn and the runway to the chute that the vets would bring, set up. My job yesterday was to make rolls and I turned to Pinterest. The guys love my caramel pecan rolls but I've been wanting to try the raspberry rolls so made a double batch, Oh, my, come to Mama!

Raspberry with cream cheese frosting.

The old favorite, caramel pecan.

Dr. Lisa, running the show, pouring for parasites, shots for health.

Bruce, very happy that things are going smoothly,

Jade, Dr. Lisa's right hand woman, deftly manning the hydraulic chute, last spring a big cow got stuck in the manual chute and it took 45 minutes to get her out. Since a lot of our cows are big, Bruce wasn't going to risk that again.

Roger, one of the invaluable wranglers...

....and Freddy Boy.

The most important job they have, besides guiding the reluctant bovines through the alley way so Bruce can convince them to go into the chute, is to check the barn for any wayward calves. One year a little one bedded down in a dark corner and was over looked. This group looked like it was eager to leave.

They worked the cows first, then drove them back to the dry lot so they could go to the field and they wasted no time. This little girl is the last baby born so she is still with her mother and what a live wire. I don't think the cows quit running until they reached the far end of the field.

A hard working crew deserves a break, rolls and pop, they didn't seem to mind eating in the shop.

We couldn't ask for better help and Bruce says with the cattle worked, it is the official end of fall!


Sunday, November 13, 2016

My thoughts on the election

The election is over, thank heavens, and little did Bruce and I know the day we rode on the Trump bus at the Marcus Fair, how far he would go.

We didn't start out supporting him, like others, we thought he was just a flash in the pan. Dr. Ben Carson was our man and I hope some day we see him in the White House, such a good, honest, christian man. But as the field winnowed down and Trump was left standing, we threw our support to him. We were both so dismayed by the antics of the Clinton's, they feel they are above the law and have managed to get away with so much for so long. Also the entitled feeling that this was her time, she deserved it. Really, that is how you pick a candidate?

It was such a brutal, nasty, long campaign that stretched everyone's nerves, I quit watching national news, stuck to my Hallmark and muted any commercials that weaseled their way in. More and more I sought the solitude of my gazebo with Zoe and my tablet loaded with easy reading books. I avoided any political conversations with friends, it was just upsetting. We are in the 60+ % who were troubled with the direction this country was taking. We felt like Obama thought he was King rather than president, what he couldn't get through in the lawful process, he dictated with his 'pen and phone.' 

We've been looked down on by the elites on the East and West coats as being 'fly over country', that we were told we had no voice. As everyone knows, most of the pundits gave Trump no chance of winning. But as we, and others, drove around the country, what we saw were Trump signs, every where, and hardly any for Clinton, was that the first clue that something was brewing?

It was a stunning turn of events Tues night, early Wed morning when Trump came out the winner with votes still being tallied. When I saw the map on Fox News that had more red than the Verizon cell phone map, I was in awe.

There really was a silent majority and they stood up and shouted. But there is another theory by Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son, who I have great respect for, the God Factor. Hundreds of thousands of Christians across the country have been praying to stop the godless, atheistic progressive agenda from taking over the country.

We love the fact that Trump is an outsider, never a politician and owes no one.

We love the fact that Trump is a business man, yes, he has been shown to be rude and crude but the alternative was unpalatable and proven to be downright dishonest. 

We are confident that he will surround himself with smart people, no one person can run this country, and will listen to them.

I think it's hilarious that Trump is downsizing, moving into the White House, it's smaller than his digs in Trump Tower.

I realize that there are a lot of people who vigorously disagree with everything I've said and I respect that so please keep any comments respectful. We are disgusted and appalled with the demonstrations that are destroying property belonging to innocent people because of the hired thugs. Compare this to 2008 and the Tea Party - no wait, there is no comparison because there was no rioting and destruction of property, we all went back to our lives and accepted the results.

Our wish for this country is that the vitriol will end, people will stop and think before tweeting out or posting vicious words. We are all adults here, aren't we? The internet has contributed to the rudeness of American's you can spew out anything and very few ever take responsibility for their actions. 

The gridlock has to end in D.C., they seem to forget why they are there, that we sent them and they work for us. They should each be required to read the Robert Fulcrum book "All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." If you haven't read it, please consider it. Wouldn't it be a movement to send a send a copy to your Senator or Representative, would they get the message?

We have a long way to go in this country, over the last 8 years the division has grown so much, I just hope Trump takes this opportunity and doesn't blow it.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Odds and Ends

It's Friday, Veteran's Day, did you thank a vet today? It's a beautiful sunny day and I'm feeling much, much better, no more close encounters with the floor. Still eating small amounts and drinking copious amounts of water, I was ordered to drink at least 64 oz a day so that kept me tied pretty close to the 'loo', as Gary Puckett put it one summer when he played at the Cherokee Co Fair. He said he had to drink a gallon of water a day to keep his vocal cords lubricated. I've always drank a lot of water but not that caliber and, at first it was hard but now I find my body has adjusted to it and I think I'm going over. The water is to protect my kidneys from the dead dragons that the chemo is slaying.

So I thought I'd just go back through the last few weeks and catch you up to speed. I was doing laundry one day and went upstairs to strip the bed but found Clyde comfortably ensconced in the comforter.

Now be honest, could you look in those eyes and boot him off the bed? I couldn't either and he stayed up there most of the day so the sheets waited for another day to be washed.

Bruce loves his new load out from the drying bin, it cut 2 hours off the time he spent unloading and that is big in a farmer's day.

He's checking the moisture of the corn that is coming out to make sure it's not too wet. If it goes to the ethanol plant he gets a dock and if it is being transferred into another bin, it won't keep.

He still loves his new combine and is all done with the crops.....

....even 200+ round bales are lined up neatly for winter feed and bedding.

The anhydrous ammonia is on all the fields, thanks to some good help from Ryan at the Coop for hauling tanks this year.

And friends Opal, Alex and Becky are keeping us well fed.

This is Becky with too many Red Bulls in her system but she means well.

I might add that since it is Veteran's Day, don't bother to go to the mailbox, don't ask me how I know.