No Spring Chicken #8
The world may just be going crazy. I'm not sure, though, it could be me. Surely my memory is in the trash (not that I'm remembering garbage, but that I can't remember worth beans).

Yesterday I was awakened to the sound of a woodpecker working on the roof of our house - virtually right over the bed. Now, I could see this when we had a cedar shake roof. Although, cedar does tend to repel bugs. But it is now a metal roof. He wasn't working as hard as we hear them working on the trees, so he must have known this roof was too tough for him. But he was definitely going at it - tap, tip, pause, tip, pause, tap, pauuuuse, tap, tap, tip, tap, pause. You could almost hear how much softer these were than his usual "tap, tap, tap" on a tree. Maybe, I thought, he is tapping on a branch that fell on the roof. But no, there was that difference in tap sound like he had to be careful. I know we have some excess pine needles built up on the top of the roof (where he was working). Perhaps we have an infestation in that that he is cleaning out for us. Ah, well, if I could explain all of the vagaries of the universe you couldn't tell me from an omniscient being. Heaven help us then. Iconoclasm and Heresy!

The first treatment of chemo ended Saturday (18th) just before noon. Since then things have gone down hill a bit (not unexpected). I've got to be careful what I eat because not everything agrees with me any more. It used to be old liver, raw eggs and tongue were the only things I couldn't eat (the tongue was a psychological problem caused by my older brother detailing for me just what a cow did with that tongue every time just before mom served it). Now, not a lot appeals to me and even less tastes good. Did I mention that things taste funny on chemo? They do. The only thing I've found that is truly as good as always is chocolate. But the chocolate with salt on it (new yuppy food, apparently) upsets things rather severely. Poor little me, doomed to a diet of chocolate while recovering. But life is not all beer and skittles (actually, both of those are right off the list now). I'm eating so much chocolate that I've lost several pounds. When you aren't hungry you don't eat if eating makes you nauseous. So I looked at the scale and found I weighed 198 on Wednesday. I haven't been under 200 in two decades!

Yesterday I needed to send an email to one of the guys working Harmony College Northwest. He has been working on it for the last 4 years and I probably average 200 emails to him each year over that time. So it only took me 45 minutes to remember his name. I could see his face, and knew who he was and where he lived and which chorus he sang with, but would the dang-nab name come out? Not on your life. Or mine, for that matter.

We are ready for Christmas, just a small gathering of us two. I haven't done as much as usual, but Janet has picked up the slack. I can do actual real work for about 5 minutes before I wear out. Or I can sit and do some busywork for about 30 minutes at a time. Either way I have to rest afterward.

We had a nice quiet Christmas morning, with lots of chocolate changing hands, along with some clothes (I got a "Sarcasm, just another feature I offer" t-shirt) and some courses from the Teaching Company, who make some pretty interesting courses.

Remember when I said hell on earth was an erotic dream with a catheter in? I've found something worse. Janet outdid herself today. Christmas dinner was a marvelous spread of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, peas and sitting over there on the counter is an apple pie. Home made, from scratch. If you haven't had Janet's scratch apple pie you haven't been to heaven. So we put all this great food on the table and she ate a goodly plate and had seconds. Me? Two bites of turkey, three of potatoes and five of stuffing. Small bites at that. That was all I could eat. It all tasted great. But my stomach was telling me that if I had one more bite of anything I'd regret it. She had wine with dinner and offered me sparkling cider, but I had three sips of wine over a four hour period earlier and knew I couldn't drink either of them. So I watched Janet eat her fill of a marvelous dinner and got to eat a total of ten tiny bites. It tasted great. But I just couldn't eat it. I almost cried. See what I mean about a crazy world? Now there is that whole pie sitting on the counter just waiting to be eaten - by Janet. Sigh. Maybe I'll get a couple of bites. Don't bet on it, though. I sure hope the second set of chemo isn't as bad as the first. I'll tell you this, though, I don't care if they do put me to sleep, I'm going to start taking the lorazepam regularly for the nausea 'cause I'm not gonna miss another meal like that!

Tomorrow is our first real trip after the chemo. We are going over to see Mike & Jan. Taking a half case of beer (ooh, the stout was good when I bottled it - the entire tablespoon I got to drink). This is a test run for going to Portland to visit Jeff next week. I don't know how long I can drive before I wear out, but we'll see. We can always pull off and rest (while listening to a book on CDs).

In an earlier letter I talked a bit about Pop. He lead an interesting life. Born in 1897 (back when the average life expectancy in the US was around 45), he ran a still during prohibition. He was an alcoholic, but you never saw him drink except rare occasions because he found early on that when he got the craving if he ate some fruit it would get rid of the craving. So he usually had fresh fruit around, and kept a jar of water and a bag of raisins under the seat of any car he owned. Oh, and a couple apples in his pockets when he was out plowing the fields. He was held up when he was working in a gas station and he told me that you never know how large the barrel of a pistol looks until you are staring down it. He was a bit over six feet tall (I think 6'1" when he was younger), and played center on the basketball team in high school. He might have got a scholarship to pay for his college, but he was knocked out in one game and his dad wouldn't let him play any more after that. He always regretted not getting a degree. "The Sheepskin" as he called it. He outlived his wife, his children and most of his friends, but we have a picture of him with 5 generations of his progeny. I don't know one person who knew Pop who didn't love him. You don't get that from a sheepskin. You get that from being a kind, loving, gentle individual, which he was. Pop & Grandma would winter down in Apache Junction, AZ, and summer up at the island (Henry Island in the San Juans), where mom & dad built their retirement home. Some time after grandma died mom lost track of Pop on his way north in the spring so she started calling relatives. She finally tracked him down over in Idaho at Brenda & Mike's place. She didn't get to talk to him right way, though. Seems he was out in the field buckin' bales of hay onto the flatbed. At 88. Oh, and the temperature was somewhere near his age, too. Mom started to chew him out and he said, "Oh, gosh, Monkey. They don't make them as heavy as they used to!" Since he died in his 90's I guess he lived more than twice his expected age. Man, that is quite a feat!

There is a God in heaven. Janet decided it was time for the pie. She asked if I wanted some. I allowed as how I would try a narrow slice. Well, it not only went down well it tasted just as good as I expected. My nose has a good idea how a pie will taste before I ever cut it open. My stomach stayed calm, so a few minutes later while taking my evening pills (take with food) I had another slim piece of pie. Man does she bake scrumptious pies. Heaven, I'm in Heaven, and I may not get it swallowed for a week, but there's apple pie filling up my mouth, and I really have it stuffed there cheek to cheek!

More later,