Four Years!

How time flies! WordPress told me that it’s been four years since I started this blog. It was my post “50 Days and Counting” till my first month long visit to Venice, aka The City of My Dreams. According to Delta Airlines I have 151 days till take off for my next visit.

My favorite picture of the trip!

A lot has happened since then, my retirement from my employment with the Department of Social and Health Services after 24 years. It’s hard to believe I’ve been retired for nearly three years. And if you’ve been following along you know that 2016 has not been my best year. Although chemo ended August 29 I’m still dealing with the chemo induced peripheral neuropathy that so far hasn’t shown much improvement. I know it takes a long time but I’m impatient to get my life back.


This coming Monday my radiation treatment begins. Five days a week for 28 treatments. We are praying that this knocks out the cancer completely.

But such wonderful reflections


I’ll be seeing some old friends in Venice and hopefully making a few new ones.

Getting chatted up by a gondolier

Here’s hoping the gondoliers won’t have to be so bundled up in March.


Diavolo is doing just fine and is asking for dinner so I have to stop for now. I’ll be checking back with all of you soon…but just not weekly updates like I was doing. And of course when the neuropathy lets up my camera and I will be back to exploring the local area.

Sunset over Venice

Coming back from the Lido

Posted in Cancer, Cats, Chemo, City of My Dreams, Diavolo, fotografia, friends, me, Memories, Photography, Retirement, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

È finita!

Yes, it’s over! Final chemo was Monday August 29th. I begin radiation therapy, which I’m told has minimal side effects, on September 23. I’m still dealing with the peripheral neuropathy which hopefully will dissipate with time. In the meantime I’m still using L-Glutamine powder and acupuncture to try to alleviate some of it’s issues. Most of you will remember that this all began with a major deep vein thrombosis way back the end of January. So I’ve been “sick” for a very long time. I’m looking forward to getting my life back and planning more of my trip to Venice in March. I have the apartment booked. It’s this one on Giudecca in the Molino Stucky complex:

Of course my price is low because I’m going in the low season and staying a month but they still have very reasonable prices. I also have my ticket booked on Delta and, yes, under the advice of my nurses, I plunked out the money for “economy comfort” at least for the flight over…so I can sleep…if I’m not too excited.

I’ll just share with you some pictures of places I hope to visit on this trip or lovely bridges I have crossed or….just some of my favorite pics from previous trips. There will be many more in March.

Sunset over Venice

Coming back from the Lido…one of my favorite things to do on my first day is take the vaporetto to the Lido and come back down the Grand Canal at sunset.


It’s time for a return visit here.


I’ll bet Luigi can put his hand on whatever title you are looking for.


Maybe my favorite hardware store will have something I need.

An answer to my gatti prayers....sort of friendly

I hope to make some new cat friends in my new neighborhood.


Not a daily treat but maybe once in a while.


Does Giudecca have it’s own vegetable boat? Or do I need to head over somewhere else? I’m sure one of you can tell me.


Maybe I’ll finally have a cappuccino at this cafe across from the Frari.


I’m hoping to do a little shopping here. I missed them last time as they were closed for the Christmas holidays when I tried to visit. I’ll start sooner this time. Yes, they are a coffee roaster.

This one is just for Luca…cats do eat pasta! Living proof at the Dingo sanctuary on the Lido. So let your poor Tuscan cat have some if he wants it. I’m sure he’s quite well fed but he should be able to taste some of those excellent meals (or so I’ve heard) that you prepare. Hope to see you in March.


And, of course, I’ll be wandering the calle searching for the perfect reflections and just the right light.




Posted in Bridges, Cancer, Cats, Chemo, Chocolate, City of My Dreams, Coffee, fotografia, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Sometimes the Heavens smile and give you the light you sought…


Wouldn’t it be lovely to find some oars and take one of these for a little row on the lagoon on a late summer’s eve? With permission of course.


You’d have to be a lot stronger than I am right now…..or probably ever was…maybe I could have a rower?


Ah, there’s one my color….numero tre.

This past week was interesting to say the least. I had chemo on Monday (last Monday a week ago) and had a double dose that I get every third week. I had a good day on Tuesday, what I call my steroid high day. I’m given a steroid cocktail to counteract some of the side effects of the chemo. And they work….I have not been nauseous at all during my course of treatment. But maybe I should wait (but that story comes later). I had an acupuncture appointment. The acupuncture has helped with the pain of the neuropathy and I’m not needing pain meds. And then I  picked up some things at the drug store (Bartell’s is so much more than a drug store) and came home. That evening it became an even better day when I got email from Delta Airlines asking if I didn’t want to complete my purchase. I have been tracking the price of my flights for March for sometime and on Monday they had been at a high of $1483. I mumbled “not at that price ” but thought I would check anyway. I’m a Delta Skymiles member (without enough miles to actually use for anything other than a magazine subscription) and logged in, clicked search saved and there, low and behold were the flights I wanted for $1191. I had already stored my credit card with them so all I had to do was hit the buy button and I did. Now my only real decision is if I want to plunk out the $99 for the extra legroom of “economy comfort”. I don’t drink alcohol so their lure of free drinks (you know “if” I drank I could drink a lot of booze for $99….they’d have to carry me off the plane but..) does not impress me. There are enough of those seats available so I have time to think about that.  Ticket to Venice….check; apartment in Venice….check!!

But on Wednesday the steroid crash kicked in and I was sick through the weekend spending way too much time in the bathroom (details not forthcoming….you don’t want to know) and as usual it didn’t get really bad till the weekend. I googled home-care and used only more reputable sites…ones that have doctors and nurses.  On Thursday I had a house cleaner coming. I mentioned that I had qualified and finally been matched after a three month wait-list for free housecleaning through an organization called “Cleaning for a Reason”: which offers free cleaning services for women cancer patients. I get a three hour clean once a month for four months. This was my first clean and I had hoped to have some of the clutter picked up so she could actually clean. But I was too weak. Although I had no pain or cramping and not stomach issues at all I just didn’t feel like eating. I was keeping up my fluid intake because I knew I didn’t dare become dehydrated. I just could not lift a finger so when my cleaner arrived at 8am (right on time) besides normal cleaning she faced a sink full of dirty dishes. She was cheerful and efficient and I stayed out of her way and apologized for the dishes which she cheerfully did. I had asked her to leave them air dry and I would put them away (really they are almost done) and the few things she did put away I am still looking for although I did find my black handled paring knife this evening. Wow, like having a husband do the dishes. I still remember standing in my kitchen saying “if I were Jimmie Vaden where would I put…(insert name of item)”.  She did make friends with Diavolo….until she turned on the vacuum cleaner. Within an hour of the cleaner’s departure the Safeway delivery arrived. Some of the non perishable items are still sitting where he left them.  The good news on Thursday was that my apartment is cleaner than it has been in a very long time, I went to bed in lovely fresh sheets and it won’t be quite so bad next month. But Friday I spent a little more time in the bathroom, took Imodium (the Safeway version that stuff is pricey and their version comes in a bottle, not those little blister packs that are a pain even without numb fingers) per the directions on the bottle drank lots of water, made myself eat but spent the better part of the day in bed. This is the first time since this started that I actually spent a day in bed….and slept a lot. My son Keith who only lives five minutes away checks on me. If he hasn’t had a text by around 9am he texts me. I asked him to get me some kind of sports drink and some saltines (per the articles I was reading…when I wasn’t sleeping I was reading…mostly fiction though). But then I read you can make your own drink by mixing a teaspoon of salt in a quart of apple juice. Since I hate Gatorade and its ilk that was perfect. I got apple juice. The salt doesn’t change the taste much…just cuts a bit of the sweetness. Sipping that helped a lot. On Monday morning I was a lot better…not great but not spending as much time you know where. I called and talked to the nurse at my doctor’s office and she checked with the Doc and said I was doing everything right. They wanted me to come in so they could do a culture but I had no way to get there. Definitely not up to driving. Guess I could have taken a cab but just didn’t feel like going anywhere. I had chemo appointment Tuesday (today) anyway. Also I was much better. And I was hungry which was a good sign. All I have to say about this experience…I do not recommend it as a way to lose five pounds!

We shall see what tomorrow and the rest of the week brings.

And just when you think you’ve seen everything these little boats (and life) have to offer,  you turn around and the heavens open and grant you the most beautiful light.



Only one more chemo…next Monday! If it weren’t for the neuropathy I’d be doing a happy dance….you can do one for me.

Posted in Cancer, Chemo, Diavolo, fotografia, friends, House cleaning, me, Memories, Photography, Rowing, Sailing, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

It can be a jungle out there…

Or at least it became one in the summer of 2014. My patio faces north and you wouldn’t think that tropical plants would do well but that summer I tried and they really took off. Most of these plants have not been at the Fred Meyer Garden Center since then…I know, I tried last year. I’ll share some of their lushness with you in this post.

As you know I’ve had a bit of a hiccup in my life so the patio is not nearly so extravagant this summer. In fact it was totally bare till last weekend due to power washing and painting of the apartment complex. They finally finished with my place and my kind friends who had been housing my plants and furniture brought them back.  But here are a few favorites from the summer of 2014.


Just on the off chance it might actually grow I bought a little eucalyptus plant. Well, it likes it here and is now about four feet tall (two years later).


Had to rearrange the furniture so the screen doesn’t blow over but it makes a lovely private sanctuary for sitting and reading outside. This was just the beginning.


The plants with the pink in the leaves are called “irisine” and they are the ones I haven’t been able to find…at least not last summer. Haven’t been able to search this year.


Yes, as my aunt said at the time, begonias love me. Here with more irisine.



He likes his nose in the flowers.






The landscaping reflected in my window

The landscaping reflected in my that lovely yellow flower….when it stopped blooming it started again….in a different color.


Yes, yellow became orange.



I’m watching for a new mandevilla…they should have them at Trader Joe’s pretty soon.

And by September it had become a real jungle out there.





As most of you know I had about a five week break from chemo but I’m back to finish off the job. I have another three treatments and if all goes well I’ll be finished by the end of this month. Believe me, I’m ready to be done with this. Especially since it all started way back in January with the DVT. I want my life back. And with that in mind I cheered myself up by booking an apartment in Venice for the month of March 2017. The price was too good to pass up. It is not where I have stayed before because that one was way to expensive. This one is in the Molino Stucky complex next to the Hilton Hotel on the island of Giudecca. This is an area I have yet to explore. Friends are coming from all over to help me celebrate life. Including a friend from Seattle (you know who you are). Most of the others are in Europe…especially Italy. And I’m looking forward to meeting some of the new blog friends I’ve made in Venice herself. So for now I’m still dealing with the peripheral neuropathy which is extremely annoying and affects my walking (and typing) but I have an appointment to meet with an acupuncturist this afternoon who has had some success in relieving the symptoms. I’ll let you know how it goes.

My dear Diavolo is doing just fine and sends his purrs to all of his friends.

Diavolo patrolling the perimeter

Diavolo patrolling the perimeter




Posted in Chemo, Diavolo, flowers, fotografia, Gardens, Home, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

I Leoni

I got the eye of a tiger, a fighter dancing through the fire

‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar

Louder, louder than a lion

‘Cause I am a champion

and you’re gonna hear me roar

Katy Perry: Roar


I don’t have any tiger pictures because so far I haven’t found one in Venice…not to say they aren’t there. I just haven’t found one…yet.  So some of my  favorite Venetian lions will have to do.





And my own favorite lion/tiger descendant….Diavolo


Pet Scan?! Oh, you had a Pet Scan. Whew, I thought you were talking about taking me to the vet.

Yes, on Wednesday I had a Pet Scan to see if the chemo had done it’s work. And it has, sort of. It’s just not finished. All three lymph nodes are gone but the pelvic mass although greatly reduced in size still has an active spot. So it is back to chemo for me beginning on Monday. This is so I don’t have to do this again in seven years. Hopefully never again. I am fine with this. Just want to get the show on the road so I can continue planning my trip to Venice in March. 

And here for your entertainment is Katy Perry:


Posted in Cancer, Cats, Chemo, Diavolo, fotografia, me, Photography, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , | 20 Comments

I Palazzi

“Palazzi swept by on both sides, the drunken promiscuity of their styles competing for his attention.”

Donna Leon: Blood from a Stone

Indeed a perfect description of a ride on vaporetto No. 1 down the Grand Canal in Venice. Try to time your ride early or late to avoid the crowds and snag an outside seat….no matter what the weather…relax and enjoy the show.


Even the scaffolding on a renovation can give you a view of the palazzo on the other side of the canal.







DSCN1259Another view of the mosaic showing the windows and other decorations.








Early morning sun can intensify the colors.


At only 19 degrees fahrenheit it was cold enough!

At only 19 degrees fahrenheit it was cold enough! Remember what I said about no matter what the weather…yes, sitting outside on the No. 1 on a very chilly December morning in 2012. I know, it’s not a palazzo but I couldn’t resist.


Night time elegance.




Reflected glory while waiting for the vaporetto.


A bird casts a shadow on the Ca d’Oro.


And is it any wonder as to why it is called the Ca d’Oro  (House of gold)?

Most are no longer private homes but have been turned into hotels and museums. As Johnny Depp probably discovered when he bought one (and later sold or is trying to sell it) upkeep on an aging palazzo isn’t cheap.

I hope you enjoyed your mini tour down (or up) the Grand Canal. Now to an update. As many of you know I have had a hiatus from chemo for the last three weeks due to my increasing chemo induced peripheral neuropathy. It has improved slightly but as several oncology nurses have told me “it takes time”. My friend told me this morning about another friend who had it and it took nearly a year to go away completely. I can live with a year of incremental improvement. Especially since I’m walking a bit better every day.

So this morning my doctor and I discussed the options and it was decided that instead of chemo I will have a new Pet scan to see the status of my cancer. That will either be next Wednesday or the following week. It’s a mobile unit that only is at the hospital on Wednesday. Okay, I know today is Wednesday but…I have to be fasting so even “if” they had an opening I would not have been ready. If the scan shows the cancer is totally in remission I will be referred for radiation and no more chemo. If it is still active we will proceed with more chemo.

All I can say at this time is Insha’Allah (as God wills).

PS. Diavolo is fine and doing well.



Posted in Beautiful Day, Cancer, Chemo, City of My Dreams, Diavolo, fotografia, me, Palazzo, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Won’t you let me take you on a sea cruise?

Since my chemo is on hold until July 13 so that we are hoping my neuropathy improves I thought I would share a little adventure.

First for those who are interested the American Cancer Society has a really good discussion of Chemo induced peripheral neuropathy:

Now for the adventure:

In the autumn of 2009 a friend and I enjoyed an overnight cruise from Seattle to Vancouver, BC. It’s the time of year the cruise lines re- position their ships for the upcoming season. It’s actually pretty cool as you get all of the amenities of a normal cruise, food, entertainment, everyone at your beck and call and all for less than the price of a downtown Seattle hotel room. If I remember it was just around $150.


And I didn't bring my suit.

And I didn’t bring my suit.

I lost count of the number of pools.

In the evening they showed movies under the stars.

In the evening they showed movies under the stars.

Dining by the pool

Dining by the pool for lunch


Dessert! I was being very conservative….saving myself for dinner.

Those side columns are glass elevators

Those side columns are glass elevators

A place to sit, relax, have coffee or a glass of wine

A place to sit, relax, have coffee or a glass of wine

A little effort to get up but she made it.

A little effort to get up but she made it.

Caught her (both he and me)

Caught her (both he and me)

Our stateroom

Our stateroom

They say by opening the sofa you could sleep four in here.

They say by opening the sofa you could sleep four in here. I thought it would be a tight squeeze.

Seattle sky line

Seattle sky line

Lovely day for a sail

Lovely day for a sail

The ship has a gym for working off all the wonderful food

The ship has a gym for working off all the wonderful food

Here I am...up on the top.

Here I am…up on the top. Note: We haven’t left port yet. It takes a while to get thousands of people on board.

Amazing huge ships

Finally under way…following the leader the lounge the lounge

And then time for dinner. I didn’t get pictures of everything but here is my starter…really, it’s a cold soup!'s not a pina's a cold pineapple soup.

And the main course…for me…prime rib

Prime Rib (sorry vegetarians)

Prime Rib (sorry vegetarians)

I decided to enjoy the solitude of our balcony and the sunset rather than attend the show with all those thousands of people.

So was like sailing a lake.

So beautiful…it was like sailing a lake.

And I got to watch the pilot come up on his tiny boat and make the leap on board to guide this monstrosity through the Strait of Juan de Fuca ( Sorry, he was too fast and I didn’t get a picture.

The next morning I was on our balcony before dawn to catch our arrival into Vancouver.


5:30am coming into Vancouver and Lion’s Gate Bridge on your left decked out in her party lights.

Okay, this is what it is supposed to look like

One of the other ships going under the bridge.

And of course I was at breakfast when our ship went under the bridge so no shots of that.

But I always knew that when my ship came in…

Just then my ship comes in...

Just then my ship comes in…

And he's off.

I’m at the airport!

It was a very long bus ride back to Seattle.

And now a little blast from the past. Probably most people reading this won’t remember this song but I saw this TV broadcast on Saturday night many, many years ago. It was always one of my favorites and always makes me dance…except right now as neuropathy (can’t feel my feet…walking is tiring, can’t drive) prohibits that activity at the moment.

Posted in Autumn, Beautiful Day, Bridges, Chemo, Coffee, Cruise, fotografia, friends, Memories, Photography, Sailing, Seattle, Travel, Vancouver, BC Canada | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments