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

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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.

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

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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”: http://www.cleaningforareason.org 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.

 

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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 , , , , , | 12 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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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

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He likes his nose in the flowers.

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The landscaping reflected in my window

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

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Yes, yellow became orange.

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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.

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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

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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.

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And my own favorite lion/tiger descendant….Diavolo

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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.

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

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

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Early morning sun can intensify the colors.

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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.

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Night time elegance.

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Reflected glory while waiting for the vaporetto.

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

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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:

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/chemotherapyeffects/peripheralneuropathy/peripheral-neuropathy-caused-by-chemotherapy-what-is-cipn

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!

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

Lounging..in the lounge

Lounging..in 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!

Honest...it's not a pina colada...it'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 beautiful...it 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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.

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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

Free Hair!

Really! On Monday of this week I went to a class at the Highline Cancer Center where I receive my treatment. The class is called Look Good, Feel Better and it is put on by the American Cancer Society and the American Cosmetics industry. It is pretty much a make-over class with tips for women going through treatment. The gift you get there, besides the tips, is a make up bag filled with very high end products (Estee Lauder, Dior etc) that they say the value is about $400. I googled the products when I got home and they were correct. Since I tend to wear a head scarf most days (I do have a lovely little short wig that I’m just not ready to wear yet that I bought when I was first told I would need chemo) the presenter asked if I had gotten my free wig. They have a room behind the gift shop that has wigs and hats that are free to the women in treatment who have hair issues (either completely lost their hair or it’s only beginning to grow back). Well, I’m not usually there when it’s open because of their limited hours and only open when I’m getting my treatment. So I had time when the class was over and stopped in. The walls are lined with shelves of wigs in every style and color. And this red one called to me. It was the first I tried on and I walked out wearing it.

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That is also the makeup from the make-over. Not much different than my usual makeup…just a lot more expensive if I’d had to pay for it.

The wig is the most beautiful shade of red….okay, I have been saying that in real life it’s the color of an Irish Setter dog. I love that color and back in my 20’s I dyed my hair that color. Until L’Oreal stopped the shade and I decided it was too much trouble trying to duplicate it and went back to my dark blond/mousy brown. Funny, it may have been a prophesy of something to come…the shade was called Venetian Titian.

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I love it and so do the friends I’ve shared the pictures with. And considering that it has been an otherwise bad week because the neuropathy is really getting me down I needed a treat. And sorry but I don’t have the energy to clean the mirror so the smudges are on the mirror as I take these pictures in my bathroom mirror with a “real” camera. Not a phone. I use my phone for calls and now that I’m finally in the 20th, if not the 21st century, texting.

Yes, I’m still upbeat and I know I am more than halfway through the chemo and my prognosis is really good but…

I’m only 67 and really tired of walking like I’m 90. The numb toes from the neuropathy throw off my balance so I walk very, very slowly with a cane. I’m driving because I’m not dizzy but even a mundane trip to the grocery store is extremely tiring. I have to rest when I get home before I can put things away and this morning I thought I was going to have to ask them for a chair while I was waiting to check out. Sometimes I have to rest for an hour before I can start putting the stuff away. Usually I manage to get the frozen stuff put away faster than that. The cat food still isn’t put away from this morning…it’s still in the bags in my shopping trolley that I had to have a neighbor help me get up my three (yes, only 3) back steps. If he hadn’t been coming out the door I would have called my friend in the complex to come help me.

I have always been a very independent person but I am learning to ask for help. After all, I need it.

Okay, that’s my gripe. I feel better getting it out. No, I’m not going through chemo as beautifully as I thought I was. The red rash on my hands is getting better with the prescription I’ve been using. I found mixing the L-Glutamine powder with Greek yogurt is easier than trying to mix it with juice and drink it but I’m doing it both ways. I can only eat so much yogurt in a day. If you mix it with juice you have to keep stirring or you end up with grit at the bottom of the glass. It is tasteless so doesn’t change the taste of what you put it in. I have not noticed it making the neuropathy better but at least it is not getting worse. That’s a good thing.

I’ll leave you this week with another lovely picture from the City of My Dreams.

But such wonderful reflections

And dear Diavolo sends purrs for all of your prayers. He is doing well.

Really? You have a camera setting for "pet portrait"?

Really? You have a camera setting for “pet portrait”?

Posted in Cancer, Cats, Chemo, City of My Dreams, Diavolo, fotografia, friends, Hair, Home, me, Photography, Transformation, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

More Than Half Way

I have decided this post to share some of my favorites from several trips to Venice. As many of you know I have a passion for doors (and windows, gates, door knobs, bells and knockers). So I’m sharing some of the ones I have found particularly interesting. And of course we have to include i gatti. The picture shown as the featured image is the Dingo cat shelters at the deconsecrated church of San Lorenzo where I visited the cats on my first trip in 2008. I have been back to visit each trip since and although it has changed a bit the gattare (cat ladies and a few men) are still caring for the feral cats who live here.

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You can get great pictures of doors just by wandering the calles or even from the vaporetto as it carries you down the Grand Canal.

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The weathered shutters are another favorite of mine.

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I would have thought it would have been better to have the gate to keep you from going in the water….or maybe that’s the point for unwelcome visitors. But note the life ring…just in case.

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The choppy water in the canal demonstrates this last couple of weeks.

And now for my update. Wednesday for my visit with Dr. X. he was very concerned about my neuropathy and if it is progressing. He also gave me a prescription for dealing with the rash on my hands (they look like I’ve been doing dishes with harsh chemicals). He says it is an allergic reaction probably to the Taxol that sometimes, like the neuropathy, doesn’t show up till about halfway through. He also suggested I start taking a supplement called L-glutamine for help with the neuropathy. I started taking both and so far no results but it is early days. He said if my numbers (CA-125) remain good …the last one was 8 which is well within the normal range of 0-35, we may be able to stop chemo earlier than planned. Most normal people (people who don’t have cancer) score about a 5-7. We would do another Pet Scan to be sure and I may or may not need radiation. My current plan is the recommended dosage for people with my type of cancer. He would not stop it if there was any chance the cancer was still there.  His plan is to give me many happy years and get me to Venice.  So we shall see in the next few weeks what happens.

The neuropathy has been really getting me down. So far it is numb and sometimes tingly toes and fingertips …try typing with fingers that feel strange. It throws off my balance and limits my mobility and independence. I am taking the L-glutamine powder (15 grams twice a day) stirred into apple juice although it dissolves better in my green tea I’m not sure putting it in a hot beverage is okay. So I’ll continue with juice. A friend is picking up my favorite today…Oceanspray’s Cran Mango. If you haven’t tried it…it’s delicious….even without the L-glutamine.

Thursday continues to be my best day of the week when I have the steroid high from the treatments on Wednesday although not as good with the neuropathy. Fridays and now Saturdays I feel like I have the flu and don’t want to try to move.  I do get up and get dressed. There is no TV in my bedroom.  I try to read, listen to music, sleep a lot. Absolutely nothing gets done. I have stopped even going to the lobby to check my mail on those days. I was warned by both my doctor and the nurses that the fatigue would increase and it has. I never believed the simple act of taking a shower would be so tiring. I just allow myself to rest when I need it and listen to what my body tells me. And I keep reminding myself that it will be over soon…or maybe “sooner’.

Diavolo

Diavolo continues to do well and shows no outward signs of distress.  He is enjoying spending lots of time out on what has become known as the catio. Since we have had a recent raccoon sighting he makes sure our patio remains a “raccoon free” zone.

Posted in Cancer, Cats, Chemo, City of My Dreams, Diavolo, fotografia, me, Memories, Photography, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments