Thursday, September 7, 2023

19th Wedding Anniversary & Scan Results


For starters, we celebrated our 19 year wedding anniversary!

(Photo above - we spent a night away in Michigan City, Indiana, a weekend before our anniversary where we saw one of my favorite comedians and enjoyed pickle-backs and a giant, buttery, salted pretzel at the oldest bar in town.)

This time we didn't get each other the same greeting card, but we definitely picked good ones. His read, "The fact that I wait to watch our shows together shows the highest testament of my love for you." And mine was "Let's grow old and hold hands forever until I need to use my phone." Ha! They are both so true. 

As for watching shows together, we have most recently seen SiloPlatonic, and Hijacked on Apple TV and finished the last season of Peaky Blinders on Netflix. So good. Silo is based on the book Wool, so I will be checking that out soon! Books, by the way... We are reading ... (Dan) back-to-back Andy Weir--Project Hail Mary and Artemis. I am loving Butter Honey Pig Bread, while also dabbling in poetry and nonfiction (War Is Not My Mother and The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the new Culture Wars) and sideglancing a huge pile of to-reads about crystals, chakras, home decor, and health/wellness. Ha! 

Anyway, other mundane information is our hobbies of fishing, golfing, and walking for Dan, and retail therapy for me. (Truly. I am working on getting a better hobby...Word on the street is that I might start walking or yoga? I do have a new tattoo of a bee standing on a flower in Warrior I pose.) Stormy keeps us laughing and Raine is a joy, Grandpa Don is doing well, so our little house is cozy and nice. Plans to travel again are in the works...

Our actual anniversary weekend we spent time together as a family camping, also with Jim, Char, Doug, Rita, and the kids. Boating, sitting by the campfire, and celebrating one final stay in Jim and Char's camper. They have been camping together for 50 years and will now pass on the keys to another family. Next time we go to Apple Canyon, we will be celebrating at Doug and Rita's new lake house. 

On our actual anniversary--the 4th--we slept in and then Dan made pancakes and mimosas. We exchanged gifts. We enjoyed tacos and margaritas for lunch at Blue Margarita with Raine. We were happy. And still very much in love with each other.

As for scan results, Dan's CT came back stable. Again! And all bloodwork was good.

We did celebratory pickle-backs. (This is the thing we do, you know? For celebrating--Except when we have them because I get a writing publication rejection. That is just to soften the blow.) 

Feel free to celebrate with us in your own way.... Cheers to some good things!!!!

Sunday, June 11, 2023

8 years, 8 months

"Can we keep going and find a way into chronic management of lung cancer? Can the drugs keep developing and give Dan an extended life with disease? I feel fortunate to even be asking these questions eight months after his diagnosis. And yet, I haven’t found my peace with it all. Does one ever?" - Eight Months 5.18.15

I wasn't prepared for the changes that came. Major life changes. Changes that were connected to Dan's disease or perhaps just circling on the periphery. Moving. Dan having multiple surgeries. His disability income with no hope of earning more than he does, ever again. I wasn't prepared but I have tried to accept it all. 

Changes that were unrelated came with brutal force. My mother died. I spent this Mother's Day at the cemetary for the seventh time. I watched my father drift into some sort of point on the Lewy Body Dementia spectrum. Rachel and I became surrogate mothers to him-helping with his medical care, finances, medications, and sometimes personal care.

If you had spoken to me eight years ago I would have anticipated Dan being taken care of such as this, or worse. At one point I believed finding my mother lifeless or showering my father were preparing me for those moments with Dan. This is just where my mind ends up. Isn't every experience preparing you for the next? However nothing has surprised me more than being here right next to him, so many years later, in our same side by side spots in a nest of sheets, fingers intertwined as we fall asleep. And I am living life as if he doesn't have cancer. My only reminders are his CTs and MRIs every few months. And they continue to show everything unchanged. So I feel peaceful about his cancer. Most of the time.

I am just following his lead of focusing on positive things--including making future plans.

The unbelievable...Sweden celebrating Midsummer Day. I'll bring a white sundress and wear a crown of flowers. We'll move onto Amsterdam with crowded streets of bicycles and canals, flower festivals, and poignant places to visit. Make Raine's dream come true and visit Paris. Let him sweat and consider going back down as he climbs those stairs, but then finally reach the elevator that takes him to the top of the tower.

And the ordinary: Let's have lunch together tomorrow; a new restaurant. Savoring al pastor or tacos de lengua, guacomole with the right amount of lime, a cuban cocktail with tequila and squirt with a splash of coke. A tall glass of smooth horchata with cinnamon.

Let's spend the evening on the patio and play with our beautiful son. Our crazy dog.

I am hopeful for another year, and then maybe another 8 years. To sit down and write another blog post like this. Wouldn't that be amazing.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

So, Paris Happened

I celebrated my birthday last October with a last minute trip to Paris with Amy. A few pictures here sum up a little bit of the weekend--

The view from our dinner cruise boat on the Siene.

Just like Italy, gelato was had numerous times for no reason other than Gelato.

The same can be said for macaroons!

Two of my all-time favorites that I found at the Musée d'Orsay --- Petite danseuse de quatorze ans by Edgar Degas and Le Lit by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec... Along with hundreds of amazing impressionist and post-impressionist works.

We went to a show at the Moulin Rouge and dined outside afterward at a cafe until midnight. 
We make each other laugh so hard that I cry.

Cheers to the tower and all of the other parks where we sat and ate baguette, drank champagne or wine, and people watched, took photos, read, and talked. 
It is true that it is the city of love. There were people making out everywhere.

Until next summer, Paris. Raine can't wait to meet you!

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Four Weeks

Four weeks driving from work to the hospital.
Brisk walks on the icey pavement.
Steam in my glasses with my mask.
My father.
Covid and pneumonia. Another stupor.
A thin cloth gown that he leaves untied in the back.
He moves from bed to chair, chair to bed.
Squeaky shoe basketball games on the television.
White walls, white floors, white light.
The beating shrill of the bed alarm.
His memory is folded in upon itself--
like a paper plane lifted, 
then falling.
Remembering someone who wasn't there,
who didn't bring him lunch.
What day is it?

Saturday, July 23, 2022

15 Hours in Istanbul

We flew Turkish Airlines to Rome and TA has a generous tour option for those who have a long layover in Istanbul. The day we flew back to Chicago we had a 15 hour layover--3 pm to 6 a--and chose the free tour option (you can also choose free accomodations--but not both.) It happened to be a cruise on the Bosphorus Strait! 

Highlights included... A trip to the market prior to the cruise, where we sampled chocolates, baklava, and tea. Dan smelled spices and picked 'Ottoman' spice and Sumac to take home. (They were generous portions so he will be sharing them with anyone and everyone who is interested.) I got some fresh baklava pieces boxed up and Raine picked his favorite chocolates. Everything was vaccuum sealed for our flight. 
...The cruise absolutely blew us away. It started in the late afternoon so we were able to watch the sunset and enjoying the night lights. We were able to float along the European side and then the Asian side so Raine was pretty excited to have been "on 2 continents." :) There was ice cream for Raine on the boat and dinner was provided. We shared a beautiful moment as we listened to the call of prayer echoing among the walls of the city and over the water. After sunset, we enjoyed a gorgeous full moon. All evening Dan and I kept kissing and saying we loved each other. It was such a special moment that we had never even dreamt of, especially when he was diagnosed with stage IV cancer 8 years ago. We will always be so unbelievably grateful for this experience, and all the time we have been given.

...Our last night - about 10pm in Istanbul. We had celebratory shots and beers and talked about everything we did and what we would remember. My words and our pictures don't do it justice! However I do hope that it will all help Raine remember as he grows up...Watching him experience everything brought us so much joy!

Monday, July 18, 2022

The Herzing Three Do Italy! The Basic Overview


Tip toes in the Mediterranean! We spent our first night in Fiumicino
a 'suburb' with the airport and about 35 minutes to downtown Rome.

Raine's #1 favorite thing to see in Rome was the Trevi Fountain
We were expecting a little fountain like the one we met our tour guide* at (Turtle Fountain
in the small Piazza Mattei, so when we turned the corner and saw Trevi, we were in awe! It is huge!!!!

Other favorites were the Colosseum, St. Peter's Square / Vatican -The smallest country in the world! 
And the Keyhole of the Knights of Malta. (IYKYK.)

Lunch in hilltop town Pienza, near our villa. Side note: The small town road trip is very curvy and up and down hills. Be careful. I totally threw up in the car.

Tuscany treated us well. We stayed at a beautiful Villa in Chianciano Terme, southwest of Siena in the Val d'Orcia. The special occasion for our visit was the marriage vow renewal for our friends Amy and Ross Mulder. We were honored to be present for their beautiful and touching ceremony. The  family of the Stinson/Glick/Mulders made us feel very welcome and we enjoyed hanging out, playing games, going out to dinner, and swimming. Raine also had fun with Harvey and his cousin Alfie playing tennis and jumping on the trampoline.

We were also able to spend a day in Florence, which is the city I always dreamt of returning to and I was thrilled to find my old apartment and show Raine and Dan where I studied. The same pastry shop was still below the apartment so we chatted with the women and ate some sweets!

Raine's #1 fave in Florence was the stunning Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Florence Cathedral).
He was so impressed with how large the cathedral was that he had us time him running around the entire thing. (He clocked in at just under 3 minutes.)

We visited Florence's "town hall," Palazzo Vecchio, with a copy of Michelangelo's David in the Piazza della Signoria. That led us to Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge spanning the Arno, where I had wished upon a star that I would someday return with the love of my life....!

Our time in Italy was far too short ... Just 5 days. Raine became a true world traveler and the most enjoyment I had was watching him marvel at the cities and excitedly take pictures and videos. He also had a relaxing stay at the villa even though I forced him to participate in a cooking class! He actually did really well. He didn't last the entire 3 hours but he cooked the panna cotta that we all enjoyed for dessert!

*We had an amazing tour experience in Rome with Arvin, a guide with Turtle Tour Rome. I booked it easily through Viator and I can't recommend it enough. He was knowledgeable and fast, as well as interested in involving Raine and teaching him. He had great recommendations for restaurants, too!