Back From Family Camp

We, meaning, my brother Tim, his wife, Laura, Lucas, Max, Zach, Sarah, Elisha and I headed for Yelm, Washington on July 4th for cascades family camp.  The weekend was filled with much activity, breathtaking beauty, worship services, a 5K walk, days at Elbow Lake, swimming, canoeing, and just enjoying the scenery.  Family camp is also about making new connections with people, and re-connecting with ones from previous years… Since this was Elisha and my second year, it was so nice to see familiar faces in campers.  I felt the refreshing of God in my soul daily.  The days were long and filled with activities for kids during worship times-which were daily morning and evening…

My time spent there with my brother and his family was glorious.

I meditated on some deep issues in my life, and had quiet communion with my Maker amongst the evergreens.

Tim's Family and Mine the day we left Family Camp

View from Timber Lodge

Tim, Laura and boys for swim across the lake race!

Singing Kids Camp Songs


July 4th Let Family Camp Begin!

The Batanian household in Gig harbor is bustling with activity this morning as many kids and three adults plan to leave for the Cascades for 5 days!  It is a glorious day in Gig Harbor, and the Tim B kids thought that Gramma and Grampa B arrived secretly last evening and ushered in the good weather.

It looks like 70 and sunny is in the 5 day forecast!

This part of the trip I have long awaited for since February when I booked my and Elisha’s time at the Family camp in the Cascades.  This is turning into a yearly event for us.

Bikes are being loaded in trailer for family camp

July 4th Breakfast Self serve..


We leave for family camp in three hours!

July 1st in Washington State

Unusual Woodpecker

It is a quiet morning in Gig Harbor.   Elisha left for a day of sightseeing with uncles, aunties, and cousins.  I stayed behind to attend a worship service, count my blessings, and have a day of stillness.  I am fatigued, but not beyond repair.  I sensed a day of walking the city of Seattle might compromise my level of tiredness.  I am trying to avoid being grouchy, at all, towards Elisha.  The time here at my brother’s home before we all go to family camp is so sweet.

There is much to do, see, and feel here.

I feel a sense of belonging because of the relationships.  My brother’s family are all kind hearted, witty, funny, and generous as he is…

I am soaking in the beauty of the great northwest.  It is big country out here, and the ever presence of the tall abounding evergreens startles me in moments.  The mountain ranges in constant view remind me of the scripture of how the psalmist looked to the hills to where his help comes from-the Lord.

So, this whole journey since our arrival at SFO with the rolling hills of central California to the northern states of Oregon & Washington with their mountain ranges…I am reminded.  ”My help comes from the Lord”

In this non-chemo treatment mode I am in, the reminder is timely.

The waiting can be stressful, but I am taking my oncologist’s advice in my last check up on June 6th…”Live in the moment this summer.  Live in the moment.”

Good advice cancer or not.


Rainy Day in Gig Harbor

It is this light spraying rain that comes in the mornings in this area.

I took a brisk walk in it this morning.  It felt great.

I am continuing to walk everyday. That feels great.

I am determined to walk off the poundage. This is a good thing.

This is the Saturday before family camp in Yelm, Washington.

I am excited about getting up there in the Cascade Mountains.

I am anticipating it on last year’s experience.

I am sure it will be all that it was last year and perhaps more.

Olympics (Mountain view from Tim’s home)

A Picture is worth a thousand words…


I have been snapping photos along the way of our journey…

Here are just a few that tell the very beginning of our “Great Western” excursion!
I noticed this Gerber Daisy had bloomed, on the day we left Malden for our summer vacation.

Getting going takes time

Getting over the bridge
Heading West!

Elisha is a good passenger
Ipads help travel boredom!

Road to Little Falls, NY

My old buddy "Buddy"

Farmer’s Market, Little Falls, NY

At the Erie Canal

TT and Elisha

We Love Little Falls!

Lock # 17


Teri & MM In Little Falls, NY

Cousin Kitty & MM

Fast Friends in Edinboro, PA

At the lake with Kitty Alward

Kitty, Buck & Cassandra

On the road again...destination Oregon, OHIO


My Grampa!

Heading West to SFO

On June 19th we left for our “Great Western Excursion” It began with flying to

San Francisco, California!

Dylan Hotel SFO June 19th Very Late at Night!

Took the BART to the city of San Francisco

Found Greyhound in San Fran

On the road to Santa Maria

We arrived to Santa Maria, CA

Lompoc Festival Ferris Wheel!



In neighborhood in Orcutt

At Farmer's Festival Avila Beach

Avila Beach

Californian Kitty!



Sunset on Avila Beach

Morro Bay, CA

Morro Bay, CA was a very special excursion we took with Mary & Rob Saunders on the Saturday after we arrived.

Morro Bay Rock

Sweet Friend, Mary...

Windy day at Morro BaySea Otters of Morro Bay

Conversation with a seagull

Mary & Rob & Elisha after a day in the sand, wind, and ROCK of Morro Bay!A San Luis Obispo Train StationON the Coast Light to Tacoma, WA

Getting Ready to continue on our Great Western Excursion

On Coast Light Heading for Tacoma, WA

Heading north up the Californian Tracks

Rolling on the tracks for 27 hours

Mt. Hood, Oregon

Approaching Portland, Oregon

Weary Traveler

Nearing our destination

Ready to Disembark!

Two Minutes to seeing Uncle Tim!

At Uncle Tim's with Sylvester

Elisha, Uncle Tim, and Alessandro

In Gig Harbor!

The Amtrak rolled into Tacoma last evening around 7:20, and Elisha and I disembarked. I still feel like I am rolling a bit. it was good to be greeted by my younger, and very handsome, brother Timothy. He works just down the street, and was there with big smiles to greet us. It is peaceful here at my brother’s house. They have a menagerie of animals though. Two golden retrievers, a big black cat, a cockatail, parakeet, and various bowls of fish. oh yes, and a rabbit!
My other sister and her family are due in this afternoon, so it is a mini family reunion here in the great northwest.
I am excited about family camp, and we all will e heading there on the fourth of July,
I am feeling mighty grateful today for the time to do all of this traveling this summer.
I am beginning to experience the “silver lining” of being a public school teacher.

“You don’t take a trip, a trip takes you.” J. Steinbeck

I have hung on to this Steinbeck quotes for weeks now. I jotted it down on a business card from the Armenian Library & Museum in Watertown, MA. It was from a conversation I had with my good friend, Teri, as I described the vision I had for my summer travels. Here I am almost on the “eve” of the trip of a lifetime. My lifetime. I am beginning my excursion from Malden to Little Falls, NY-Edinborough, PA-Toledo, Ohio . A weekend reprieve, visiting with family, and repacking much lighter and for air and train travel.
Elisha and I then leave for San Francisco on Tuesday, June 19th, and will stay over one night, and then onto Santa Maria! Let the adventures begin.

Stunned Curiosity

Today marks the day before a season of fighting cancer recurrence with a new combo of chemo drugs.

I am feeling many many emotions as it relates to this news that was disclosed to me on December 21st. Treatment was not an emergency, so I flew out to Ohio for Christmas, and came back with the agreement to call in to my oncologist upon my return.
I did that, and then the motions began to ready my body for the impending treatment of tomorrow.
Power port procedure.
Blood work.
Waiting for skin to heal two weeks-not one-my request.
Boom. Now it’s time to start the infusions-or “fusions” as my word maker mother texted me.
She wanted to know when the “fusions” started tomorrow.
I was amused by her use of hat sounds like…infusion, but she chose to use fusion. I much better prefer the ladder word. It sounds like a sophisticated gathering of a party of sorts. “What time will the “fusion” be happening darling? You’d have to know my mother to appreciate the humor in this. I loved it, and embraced it. I can honestly say the emotion that arose in that word fumble really brought me a chuckle and what felt like “Joy” . Years ago I would have felt annoyed and the need to correct her. Now, I smile, accept her, and her words, and embrace the joy in turning something that feels really medical and borderline terrible as an infusion to a fusion where some cool events could have. A mixing of sorts.

Writing Through Cancer with Sharon Bray

For the Week of January 15, 2012:

Lost and Found

by Sharon Bray

“Before you know what kindness really is,” poet Naomi Shihab Nye tells us,

“you must lose things…”

Loss. It’s often synonymous with cancer. Loss of hair, parts of the body;

loss of self-image, of dreams, or loss of loved ones.

We feel overwhelmed


we face a landscape defined only by losses, hopelessness and grief.

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.

–from “Kindness”, by Naomi Shihab-Nye in

The Words Under The Words ©1994

Here’s a suggestion for writing. First, take a blank sheet of paper and list all that you have lost. Don’t stop there. Turn the page over. Now list the acts of kindness that you remember, the ones that made a difference. And gave you hope, rediscover what you thought your lost or help you see things in a new light? Explore what you’ve lostand what you’ve found

So, this is my writing assignment for this week. The week that begins the first infusion of battling the cancer that came back. Returned. Didn’t retreat. Did NOT stay down.
Was not eradicated.
It came back.
That is the beginning of many losses, but as before in the desolate there were gains innumerable.
I will write on this all week here.
I have lost contact with old friends, and cancer brought them back.
I have lost zeal for living when I endured heart break and disappointment in men I have loved and lost, but cancer brought back the zeal-not the men.
I lost hair during round one, but it came back fabulously curlier, and a bit wild. (women pay for this look)