Now that spring is here with warmer weather, our long overdue “do to” list is underway. You know the usual stuff, raking the mountains dead leaves that have wintered in every nook and cranny around the house, getting the gardens ready for tomatoes, peppers and this year potatoes. Another item on our “to do” list is to stain the outside window trim. The trim has been looking especially shabby and weathered, so I decided to go with a darker stain around the windows for be a fresh new look. New stain meant a trip to the home improvement store and shopping for the perfect color, one of my favorite things to do and one that makes Mitch crazy. As I was perusing the colors trying to decide which one would be the right choice, Mitch stood there looking like he’d just passed a kidney stone.
I wasn’t sure how much we would need, so just to be on the safe side I bought four gallons. We have twenty three windows of which six require an extension ladder to be used to get to; the rest can be done with just a six foot stepladder. I am not fond of heights; in fact one could say I am almost terrified of heights. The height is not the real fear it’s the fear of falling off the ladder that is the scariest part of climbing a ladder. I started with the easiest windows first leaving hardest for last. Climbing up the step ladder, reaching what I could, repositioning the ladder and repeating the process went very well for the back side of the house. I moved around to the kitchen side of the house and kept up the momentum of the morning, everything going very well, too well I should have known.
I had just finished staining the trim around the kitchen door and carried the can of stain, paintbrush and the hand broom I used to whisk away spider webs around to the front of the house. I came back, grabbed the stepladder, closed it for easier carrying and stepped off of the porch to carry the stepladder down the hill and around to the front of the house. I’m not sure what exactly happened, but the next thing I remember was taking a header off the porch and doing a somersault across the yard with the ladder. I sat up looked at my right arm which had a big chunk of flesh gone and was bleeding. The right leg of my jeans was ripped and my shin had a two inch long scrape down it. It didn’t take very long for the bruises to show up, they formed quite quickly in fact. There are three dark ones on my forearm and a really spectacular six inch bruise on my shin. I thought that the most dangerous part would be climbing up eighteen feet or so on the extension ladder and leaning out to reach as far as I could to stain the trim on the front of the house. I had no idea just carrying the stepladder would be my downfall.
Mitch has dubbed me “Dances with Ladders”.
The dogs and I went for a short walk and found some signs that Spring is finally here.
Photos taken with my Canon Rebel
There is a house in our little burg that is unloved and forgotten. No one lives there anymore. I imagine that at one time it was filled with laughter and people coming and going. Today it sits vacant with tree limbs lying on the roof and seedlings have sprouted in the gutters. The weeds growing on the roof are healthier than the ones in my yard. How weeds can grow on an asphalt shingle roof is beyond me, I have places in our yard that weeds won’t even grow. A giant tree has fallen over and lies across the ground. To call it rundown and shabby is an understatement. The roof is sagging in spots giving it a rippled look. Every day when I drive by the house, I am surprised that it still stands.
There is a padlock on the front door, I assume to keep people out, but surprisingly enough there is an open window on the side of the house that has been open for a year now, through the summer and winter last year. I can only imagine what creatures have made it their home seeking refuge from the cold and snow over the past winter. It’s probably pretty cozy for squirrels and raccoons dry and out of the wind. I don’t think I want to go in and find out who or what has taken up residence. I’m not that brave.
The house reminds me of a series on cable a few years ago about what the earth would look like if the entire human race was gone and how Mother Nature reclaims her world bit by bit. When it starts getting warm again and everything is greening up and growing, the house may become totally overgrown with vines. It is truly a very sad portrait of our society that we create something live in it then cast it aside without a care. I’ve never been in the house, but I think that had someone still loved the house and cared for it, then the house would not have gotten to this state.
There is a story that the owner found his true love and moved to a warmer climate, or perhaps the house is haunted and the ghosts of the long ago past haunted the house forcing the man to flee afraid to go back in the house. The fact that the house still stands after such a long time of vacancy helps to fuel the haunted thoughts of a creative mind. Besides I would rather believe the house is haunted than the boring truth that it is just unloved.
What do you think, is the house haunted or just unloved?
Have you ever watched your dog sleep? The way they curl up in a tight ball tucking their nose under their hind leg and wrapping their tail on top of that to ward off the chill. Or when they get too hot and roll over on their back and splay their back legs out to cool off. You can tell a lot about a dog’s life just by watching the way they sleep.
A dog that has been abused or abandoned sleeps very lightly sometimes laying on their stomachs front legs bent jutting out between their head and rear legs tucked under ready to leap up for fight or flight. It takes a long time for a dog that has had a rough life to relax and begin to trust that danger is not waiting just around the corner.
Our dogs, Charlie and Orso, are the poster dogs for living the good life. We got Charlie at the young age of ten weeks and has never know anything but pamperhood. We rescued Orso at nine months from a young man that couldn’t keep him any longer. Charlie is now nine years old and Orso is seven and a half years old so I have had lots of time viewing their sleeping habits.
Charlie snores, and very loudly for a seventy pound dog, louder than Mitch sometimes. Orso breathes heavy, sometimes he works up a snore but nothing like Charlie. Charlie sleeps so deeply his eyes are closed tight and lays stretched out taking up as much real estate as his little body can. He juts out his legs straight away from his body and at times they are limp and relaxed and other times his legs are stiff as boards, earning him the nickname “Rigor” for rigor mortis. Which is especially fun at night when he is sleeping next to you pushing against you with those stiff legs. Yes we are those weak people that let their dogs sleep with us. We lost that battle years ago.
Orso at one hundred pounds takes up a bit space when he stretches out and gets even heavier when he lays his head on your legs sound asleep. You will not easily escape the dead weight of a dog that is so sound asleep. His eyes roll up in the back of his head when he is sound asleep. He looks like a big brown speed bump when he stretches out to his full fifty-three inch long tip of his nose to the end of tail body.
Both dogs dream and it is a hoot to watch them deep in throes of R.E.M. Charlie’s eyes roll back and forth under his eyelids. Sometimes he squeaks and sometimes he growls, I guess it depends on what he’s dreaming about and who he’s chasing. It usually starts at his front legs with a slight twitch, then growing stronger adding his back legs, then his legs run at break neck speed chasing whatever it is he is after.
Orso does it a bit differently from Charlie, his back legs jerk first, not a mere twitch, oh no, a full on jerk and you don’t want to be anywhere close when he start jerking those legs, he has left marks. Then he moves up to his front legs and then in concert Orso’s legs run in tandem after the unseen target. His eyes roll back and forth and his lips twitch sometimes working up a growl or moan.
I’m telling you watching a dog sleep is better than the reality TV shows on cable.
Yesterday was a very busy full day. There was the normal Saturday grocery store excursion and walking in the dogs, plus it was also my birthday, so I had a few extra planned outings. A friend and I got manicures and lunch, margaritas included, then a birthday party for my three year old granddaughter and dinner out afterward. A very full fun day, except for one little thing, Orso.
All day long Orso was just lying around doing his usual dog thing, eating, sleeping and more eating. Orso was lulling us into that false sense of security where we believed that when we left giving each a rawhide chew, both would be happy and content until we came home. Not! We weren’t even gone that long, only four hours. Of course it was all my fault.
As we pulled back into the driveway, the dogs were at one of the windows barking away, glad to see us. I walked into the house to let the dogs out while Mitch put the car in the garage. The first thing that greeted me was the can of lunch size soup on the dining room floor. Unopened, but it had definite teeth marks in the plastic lid. I continued on into the kitchen and saw some large white flecks on the floor. Closer inspection revealed they were crushed eggshells I was saving for the garden. Must not have been too tasty. The bag on the counter that held the ten cans of soup I planned on taking to work was missing two cans and I had only found one so far. I turned and noticed that the butter I left on the counter height kitchen table was missing in action also.
The reason we bought the counter height table was to keep the dogs from reaching the table top and liberating any contents residing on said table. Evidently we were wrong again! Now I was on a hunt for one more can of soup and a butter container. I found the soup can in the living room with lots of teeth marks. Orso must have really wanted to try the chicken noodle soup. There were indentations in the metal lid but didn’t quite get through it, lucky me. Found the can of soup now in search of a half full container of butter. I found the empty container of butter and its lid lying inches away on the bolster bed. Orso carried it in to enjoy in a more comfortable setting. The container had multiple teeth marks punched through the plastic and the inside had been licked so clean there was nothing to wash out for the recycle bin.
A half pound of butter, mind you not margarine, oh no, it was real dairy butter that he consumed in a matter of minutes, meaning he’ll probably be very poopy for a few days. Some dogs might get sick after consuming a half pound of butter, but not Orso, he’ll breeze right through this and go on like nothing had happened. Because Orso is a lab, I am not worried a bit. Labs are built different, land sharks that eat anything that doesn’t eat them first and nothing seems to bother them. I know this from experience, first with Buddy our yellow lab, then with AJ our black lab, whole consumed thirty chocolate candy bars and the wrappers at one sitting and never even burped.
Why am I blaming it all on Orso, because in nine years Charlie has never initiated any counter surfing, no he waits and lets someone else do the dirty work and then enjoys the buffet too. Orso is a lab through and through, his stomach is his number one concern. I think it talks to him all day, “Feed me, feed me”.
What a fitting end to an otherwise great day.
This afternoon I was doing my weekly wall check for slobber bombs and there were a lot as usual, there were even a couple way up high on the wall. I thought to myself, “what does Orso do, stand on his back legs put his front paws on the wall and sling his head around to whip a slobber bomb as high on the wall as he can?” Is this a game with him that he keeps score with Charlie over, “I can shoot a slobber bomb higher than you?” I sprayed the Fantastic antibacterial cleaner over each dried gross blob and scrubbed them off the wall.
I stood back and surveyed my handiwork and noticed the walls now have clean spots where the slobber bombs were, standing out starkly against the rest of the walls. This means that in order to not have lighter colored spots dotted around the room I need to wash all of the walls and clean off a year’s worth of pipe tobacco smoke, dust and god knows what else. I filled a bucket of water and cleaner, grabbed the step ladder and washed all of the walls in the living room. I stood back to admire my work again, and decided that no amount of soap and water were going to improve the look of the walls.
That means only one thing, time to paint the walls. Since I have to paint the walls, I might as well freshen up the room with a new color, a new look. If I’m going to go with a new color on the walls I need to spend some quality time at Lowes and Home Depot staring at paint chips for hours, searching through the myriad of colors and hues in my quest for the perfect shade. For some this may seem to be a chore, but to me this is one of my most fun things to do. Every time we go to Lowes or Home Depot I wander off to the paint department and load up on scads of paint chips. Even if I have no painting project planned I can stand there for hours, just looking at all of colors, thinking about which room I would paint with the different shades. It makes Mitch crazy, when I come home with an armload of paint chips and paint books. Mitch’s idea of painting a room any color other than white is off white. He’s very adventurous don’t you think?
In order to spare Mitch the agony of living through another painting project, I just won’t tell him. I’ll go to Lowes early when he’s at work, stock up on paint chips and stick them all over the wall in the living room to see which one I like best. Then I’ll head back over and buy my paint and paint the room before he gets off work. It will be a surprise and I can guarantee you it won’t be white.
I realized the other day I’ve been holding my breath since October 22, 2013. That was the day my surgeon called to tell me I had breast cancer. The next thirty-six days were a gut twisting, pulse racing rush from doctor to doctor trying to make an informed decision that would hopefully be the best choice for me. On the thirty-sixth day, November 26th, I underwent a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. The surgeries (2) one by my general surgeon to remove both breasts and one immediately following by my plastic surgeon to start the reconstruction process by implanting tissue expanders to stretch the remaining breast tissue over a period of time to a size of my choice. After I reach the size of my choosing, I will go back in for more surgery to remove the tissue expanders and put in the implants.
A few days after my surgery the results came back as Stage 1 cancer with nothing in my lymphatic system. Outstanding news and I thought I was done, but no I was told that I needed to call and make an appointment with an oncologist. I did and had to wait six weeks to get in to see the doctor. I had no idea that there are that many people with cancer. When the day finally came I thought for sure that it would just be a simple in and out, no cancer, pay your ten dollar copay and thank you very much for stopping by. But that wasn’t the case. The oncologist wanted to run another test, called an Oncotype DX test, where they test twenty-one genes of the cancer to see what the chances of it returning and then score the results. I told the doctor that I didn’t have any more cancer to share and he said that the lab saves it. Why would the lab save my cancer? If it was me, I would have tossed in the trash and been done with it.
The oncologist spent an hour just explaining my type of cancer and what different types of treatments were available. It was so overwhelming, because I kept thinking that was what I had the surgery for, to remove the cancer and my breasts so that there was nothing left to get cancer. Even my surgeon had said that he didn’t think I would have to have any extra treatment, eg. Chemotherapy because the cancer was so small and only stage 1. No matter how hard I tried to remain detached not getting my hopes up that this would all be over, I started believing that I would walk out of his office with a clean bill of health. So news of an additional test threw me back a few steps.
I went online to read up about the oncotype-DX test and found that the lab tests 21 genes of the cancer cell to check the likelihood of the cancer returning scoring it from 0 to 100. A score of 17 and below puts a cancer patient in the low range of the chance it returning, a score of 18 to 30 puts the patient in the moderate range of the chance of the cancer returning and a score of 31 to 100 puts the patient in the high risk range of the chance that the cancer will return.
Because the cancer was so small, .5 centimeters, when it was found, I decided that the score would have to be way below 17. Foolish me. When I went back for my appointment to get the results and score, I looked down at the report and all I saw was the number 23 screaming at me. I am in the moderate range, meaning I have a 14% chance of the cancer returning or an 86% chance of the cancer not returning depending on whether or not you are a pessimist or an optimist. My doctor was explaining what it meant and what we needed to do for treatment, but all I heard was a roaring in my ears, my throat closed and my eyes started to well up. Damn I wanted that score to be way below 17 so badly. I had to stop and focus and quit feeling sorry for myself. There are a lot of other women out there that would have given anything to get a score of 23 and I needed to sit up straight and stick out my chin. I can take it, I kept telling myself.
In the end, the doctor told me he was putting me on an estrogen negative drug, Arimidex, as a treatment. The drug is used for treating postmenopausal women with early breast cancer. I asked about the side effects and he said it causes hot flashes, bone softening and can cause joint pain and those are just some of the common side effects, the really bad side effects are a lot scarier. Goody I thought, I will be a bent over old woman walking around in the dead of winter wearing a sports bar and shorts. I am not looking forward to start taking the drug, but I don’t really have much of a choice, I haven’t come this far or gone through everything to date to give up now.
I go back to the doctor every three months for blood work for the next two years and take the drug for five years and if after that I’m still here, then I’m considered a breast cancer survivor. Now that I know what and how we’re treating me, I have a goal and can start planning life again and stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s time to exhale.
Three poems for Tuesday
The reddish glow of the setting sun
Gives way to the twilight skies
The rising moon orange and bright
Casts a warm glow on the earth below.
Glowing eyes searching for
Movement in the forest barely seen
Ears cocked listening for
The slightest sound almost unheard.
Swift legs and strong body leaping
From its vantage point
Giving chase to the fleeing prey
The creature draws near with deadly accuracy.
The dark night sky moonless
With only stars to light the way
The forest below cloaked in blackness
Masking all from view.
The hunter waits silent and still
Listening for the slightest sound
Searching for any noise
That might give him the advantage.
Eyes black in the darkness
Open wide scanning the forest floor below
Sitting on his perch high up in the branches
Ready to fly swift and sure.
Stepping carefully and slowly
Ever on guard
Eyes darting furtively back and forth
Scanning the forest for movement.
Ears cocked listening for sounds of danger
A crack of a branch or crunch of fallen leaves
In the distance
Cause the body to stiffen.
Nostrils flare sucking in the air
Catching the whiff of peril
The legs rear and the body bolts
Desperately trying to outrun death.