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.

San Luis Obispo to Tacoma

This afternoon we will embark on the 27 hour train journey that will lead us to Tacoma, Washinton, and family and family camp.
I am gearing up for the long ride in the confined space, but I have booked a sleeper car on the second floor of the observatory car on the Starlight. This train journeys up the coast of California to Tacoma.
We (Elisha and I) are ready to travel. Our time in Samta Maria has been so relaxing, and we may be transition to bustling activities with my brother and his family. There are bikes to ride, hikes to walk on, sight seeing to,be done in Seattle or Tacoma, so, that means ferry rides and lots of walking. Family camp means cool activities like daily worship services, archery, horse back riding, swimming, biking, walking, kayaking, canoeing, horse back riding, zip line adventures. This year rumor has it that there is a jacuzzi somewhere on the Cascades Camp property…hmmmm.
My determination this year has to do with being able to get n a horse and go for a long trail ride.
Last year, I could not get my tush up over the saddle. Not sure if my core body strength is any different than last year, but I do know that I was much more cancer symptomatic last year than this.
So, I will try to get on a horse again. I will post it if I succeed!

Monday in Santa Maria

The time here in Santa Maria is so relaxing. No schedule. Just hanging out enjoying the company of good friends, eating delicious fresh food, and not having 1 “have to” on my plate. I don’t have to teach a class. I don’t have to go to any infusion of chemo. I don’t even have to get out of my PJs! Elisha and I are just enjoying the freedom from any structure in our day. However, if I want to catch that train tomorrow to Tacoma, then I’d better accept some sort of schedule. I don’t think Amtrak waits for anyone!

Church West Coast Style

Elisha and I attended a worship service at Mary & Rob’s church this morning. Element is the name of the church.
It was a beautiful experience even though the worship songs were unfamiliar, and the setting was new. God’s word is the same east coast or west, and the word brought forth from the pulpit (a funky looking one to look like something that would have been inside an ancient persian tent of yesteryears) was edifying.
This trip is so relaxing, and I am convinced that this is one of the main purposes of our excursion. Elisha and I have been in desperate need of relaxing. This previous academic year had been so intense, and stressful…even though while in it and taking a day at at time it all seemed okay.
I am grateful to have this much needed rest this summer, and I am thanking God for every moment. We set out for Tacoma, Washington on Tuesday via the sleeper car on Amtrak. Let the adventure continue!

Morro Bay Today

The weather in Central California is ideal. I love the coolness of the mornings and evenings. Last evening Mary and Rob took Elisha and I to Avila, CA. It is near Pismo Beach. It was a very special evening. The drive to Avila towards the great pacific was captivating. I loved looking out the window as we drove about a half hour to a very place.
They have what is called a farmer’s market every Friday evening during the summer. It is filled with local venders serving good fresh food at a reasonable price. Elisha had a shrimp taco, and I ordered the tuna burrito! Delicious. Music played in the back ground from a live band. Steps lead down to the beach, and it was there I watched Elisha’s glee! He begged me to allow him to take his shoes off. So, he then rolled up his pants, and he frolicked in and out of the tides. It was magnificently beautiful. The HUGE pelicans above we’re fishing with dramatic dives into the big pacific ocean. Incedible sight. I enjoyed watching Elisha enjoy the water, and in between I’d look up a the great birds. Although the water was cold, and usually only wet suited swimmers venture out in the waters of central Calofornia…he was clueless to the degree of the water. It was frigid. Eventually we all ended up on the pier-walking and watching the sunset. It was pink sky over the rolling hills and palm trees that line the horizon at Avila Beach. Suddenly, we all saw dolphins playing off in the distant. A first for me. It gave me great satisfaction observing this scene from nature. It felt like a gift from God for me. The breeze cooled, and the farmer’s market was winding down. We concluded our evening with ice cream at cold stone. A very sweet experience!

In Santa Maria, California

Our great western journey has begun! We arrived to Santa Maria after a long drive to Ohio over Father’s Day weekend.  I left Boston on June 15th, and inched my way across the Tobin bridge with thoughts and prayers that my trip was not going to be this laborious.  My patwere wasps on trial as my Chevy malibu inched its way across the bridge that leads me out of Boston.  it took about an hour and a half..?painful.  Once we got beyond Worcester, MA the drive to Little Falls, NY was smooth.  little Falls was beautiful with good friends, their lovely old home, the Erie Canal, herkimer diamonds, and a long walk before a long drive heading further west.

We set out for Edinboro, PA the next afternoon, Saturday the 16th…The traveling took all day and the rolling hills and farmlands of NY into Pennsyvania soothed my eyes. I was getting very tired and Elisha was ready to disembark the back seat of my car!  We arrived at Lakeside, my cousin Kitty’s sweet home, that late afternoon.  Hanging out in Endiboro was edifying for both Elisha and I.  My cousin, her husband Buck,and their teen daughter Cassandra, we’re so gracious to us.  We stayed for a bit of a family reconnection until later into Father’s Day.  It was nice and felt important.  My cousin and I had not seen each other for many years. (25).

After a wonderful visit, Elisha and I, and all our stuff,  stuffed into my car, and rolled into my sister’s driveway Sunday, June 17th around 6:00pm…Tired, but so glad to be “home”. I was grateful for the couple of days with my family before Elisha and I got on a plane to SanFrancisco!

However, on Tuesday, June 19th, we got on a plane with one suitcase stuffed with our stuff for our great western adventure, and flew to SFO. We landed in California that evening at 11:00pm Pacific time.  To our bodies it felt like 2:00am, so weary and travel worn, we took a shuttle to a hotel, and crashed until morning.  Elisha awoke at 6:30am.  It was early, but good because it took us awhile to get from the hotel to a 10:30 greyhound to Santa, Maria.  That adventure is to be shared on another post!

“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)