Category Archives: cancer

Any Room At Your House?

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Tis the season of busyness and preparations for the holidays.  Presents bought and wrapped.  Baking.  A surprise visit and present from my son.  It is Dean and I’s heart to get these holiday greetings sent via postage mail long before Christmas week. Please know that you are in our hearts year round. Christmas joy has filled our home, peace with God and grace to all people despite any differences.  This snowy Christmas Eve is the slow-down to reflect on His Gift, Jesus, lessons from 2017 and what is hoped for 2018. The 4 Advent Sundays reminded us of this moment. Father Peter shared at Mass tonight the Christmas story, how there was no room for Joseph, Mother Mary, and the birth of baby Jesus.  A meager manger would be the chosen place of His birth. It was asked how many of us would say the same “no room at our house”? “What would you do if Joseph and Mary came knocking on your door tonight?  Do you have time to deal with this?  Can you make space in your house without resentment or casting judgment?  Would you empty the tool shed or a spot in the garage?  Would you charge high $$ to profit from this situation?  Or worst yet, steal their possessions, what little the guests have?  Scriptures tell us “What you do to the least of my brothers, you do unto Me.”

“Family” would summarize our year of 2017.  As a reminder, Dean and I have 6 children, 5 in-law children, 6 grandchildren, 3 parents, 5 siblings and their families, and we cannot forget our dog, Midnight and cat, Celine, the 7 grand dogs, and 3 grand cats.  Dean and I began 2017 in Key West, Florida with his parents and siblings, an 80th birthday celebration for Dean’s mother.  Such a while ago, but lovely memories of the beach breezes, discovering new sites, and time with family.  We still have our greeting card boxes that niece Amelia made each of us.  After the hurricanes there, I suppose the scenery is quite different.  In a couple of days warmth awaits us in San Antonio, where we will meet up with Dean’s son, AJ, Nancy, Elise, and  Nancy’s family there.  Spiced rum eggnog, homemade chicken soup, Christmas carols, and having each other will keep us warm tonight …

In February my daughter, 33-year old Elisabeth was diagnosed with 2 types of breast cancer, stage 1 and stage 2. Elisabeth went through a strict regimen of chemo treatments, hair loss, zapped energy and strength. She had a double mastectomy and reconstruction this summer. We are so very thankful to our Father as she has been given a cancer-free diagnosis in July.  Elisabeth is regaining her strength and hair while under hormone therapy and low-dose chemo.  Her husband, children, family, friends, and all the supportive, praying communities continue to surround her. Her bravery and fighter personality helped Elisabeth stay above.  I reached out for prayers by many women, visited church 1-block from my office to take part in many noontime prayer vigils, and Dean and I together continue to provide a quiet and calm home while she heals.

Refreshing spring brought us to the completion of our 2-room addition.  It took a whole year, but it is beautiful and has provided the much needed space to our home.  At this season of our lives we share our home with my daughter and her family.  More warmth with the woodwork, a set of barn doors matching the stained doors in the rest of the house as well as a high ceiling to heighten the spacious floor layout.  We use the 2 rooms as a family room/dining area and an extra bedroom that Elisabeth and Mark can rest their heads in. In May Dean and I spent almost a week in the Smoky Mountain region of our beautiful states.  Experienced the AirBnB hospitality for this vacation. We loved Gatlinburg, TN and Asheville, NC.  Antiques, the arts, and foodie places were our hangouts. Of course, a few walks in the woods. There was a sign warning us, and you know the saying “hindsight is 20/20”. Dean drove the Dragon’s Tail Highway with all its hairpin turns, not understanding what we were in for.  I was very close to losing lunch during that ride. We tried the glamper scene one night in the middle of nowhere land. And we stopped in Nashville for a night. Love the nightlife there with all the honky-tonks and country music.

Weekend trips to Lee’s Summit and Farmington keep us on the road at least once a month visiting with children, grandchildren, and Dean’s parents.  When we are home we read, write, catch a music venue or new foodie joint in St. Louis.  And there is always those weekend chores.  We garden and mow at the greenhouse site on Boone Hollow Farm near Defiance 7 or 8 months out of the year. This year’s gardening included a voluntary cherry tomato plant that literally took over the whole vegetable bed from July until the October frost killed it.  We dubbed this plant as “Audrey” from the play/movie Little Shoppe of Horror. We made a delicious green tomato marmalade from the abundance of fruit left after the killing frost.  Our perennials are inside now, and our bird of paradise is about to bloom again under the plant lights in the garage.  Autumn brought Dean and I a steal-away weekend to Pella, Iowa.  We loved this Dutch town so much, we are planning a Mother’s Day weekend there with our mothers.

My occupation as the employee wellness coordinator of St. Louis County is the work God called me to this season of my life.  We had our Billion Steps Challenge using Fitbits and a web portal called One Community.  With two 8-week walking challenges this spring and summer, we cleared the 1 billion steps goal and went well over 2 billion steps amongst 2800 participating employees and spouses.  I have been asked to speak along with a panel at the St. Louis area American Heart Association’s Wellness Forum in February discussing employer wellness budgets on a shoestring.  Personally, my biometric numbers were improved substantially with the walking challenges, and my primary care physician is thrilled.  The walking culture continues through winter.  Dean, Midnight, and I still take an evening constitutional almost every night.  At 20 degree temps, I declined tonight. Hives or worse a visit to the emergency room would not be good.  Dean’s occupation with the National Archives keeps him going, and work he was called to as well.  He loves the hunt for military records especially for his family and friends.

Our youngest granddaughter, Elise has captured her Grandpa Dean’s heart.  I think he counts the days until he can see her again.  This Father’s Day was a wonderful gathering of Dean’s children and their families with us at our home. The red children’s swing in our sweet gum tree remind us of that special weekend.  We had a Gall Family Thanksgiving  at Rainer and Erica’s newly bought house in St. Louis City, and a birthday gathering for Dean the following day at a local bakery cafe. Another day that weekend we celebrated my oldest grandchild, Hannah’s 16th birthday.  Church every Sunday and occasional birthday celebrations and plays keeps us in touch with my mother and family. While celebrations and victories punctuate our year, so does illness and death. Dean’s extended family lost a cousin recently. Cancer, this wicked stuff.  Keep Mike’s wife, Terri and 2 daughters in your prayers please.  Another extended family member is undergoing treatments ; please say a prayer for Marion, our son-in-law’s father.  My oldest daughter, Rachel has multiple medical conditions, her conditions declining, which cause severe pain.   In 2018 I plan to take more time off from work each month to help Rachel with the kids and house.  Please bathe Rachel in your prayers.

What room do you have in your heart, home, and life for the least of these My brothers?  What has God prepared you for this very night, or the 365 days in 2018?  Blessings to you this eve of Jesus Christ’s birth.  As the carols sing … “Christ was born to save!  Christ was born to save!”… “He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love, and wonders of His love, and wonders, wonders of His love.” Joy to the world!

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March Is Mad

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March is mad. It seems to be mad at the world with its destructive tornadoes earlier this week and dive-bombing temperatures this weekend after spring was introduced weeks ago. The below freezing temps continue for 6 days, not just one night. And snow in the forecast!

I had my early spring sprouts emerge from the organic soil of the raised bed at least a week ago. Dean and I went to the farm last night between the spring showers and by lantern light we covered the vegetable bed with a plastic tarp. This bed is inside the screen house, so the baby plants just need an extra layer of protection the next few days. See what happens. Gardening is definitely one science experiment after another.

March is also the month to celebrate a few birthdays. Today, my father was born 81-years ago. He is no longer amongst us on earth, but they must celebrate birthdays in heaven! Happy Birthday, Dad!  Hope you are celebrating with Grandpa and Uncle Lee!  I miss you dearly!  I hope you are proud of your family and what we are in our lives presently. That makes me happy to think you are. You must know about your granddaughter fighting a battle with cancer. I have asked for prayers and for the angels to watch over her. You and God must hear these supplications daily, hourly. Thank you for listening. In God’s hands…

A Sprout

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A sprout, green shoots of hope appeared in the garden bed today.  My chives have surfaced from its winter hibernation.   It had been 10 weeks when we left the Deanna Greens greenhouse in Defiance, just before Thanksgiving.  By lantern light we harvested all the herbs and greens chive-sproutswe had left that evening. There had not been need to get to the farm since snow has been close to null, no need to check on the 3-season structure. Dean, Midnight, and I observed signs of where an animal had laid on the other side of the bed.  Our labrador sniffed the area thoroughly “who has been sleeping in my bed?!”

This mild sunny afternoon in early February called my name to the countryside.  Perusing our 3-season structure, and then for a long walk around Boone Hollow Farm with Dean and Midnight.  Midnight lead the way up the hill, passed the farm neighbor’s sprouting garlic field we help plant in November.  Then a stroll along the cedar ridge, down another neighbor’s gravel driveway, back near our greenhouse, then over to the barn, and circling the brush piles before our return to the greenhouse. Our landlord must have set the one brush pile on fire as there were a few lasting embers and a small trail of smoke surrounded by ashes.  Present moment, mindful observations of nature. The walk and fresh air revived my soul after this weary week.

Hope is like those February sprouts of chives and garlic.  Perennial faith believes a flourishing crop and bountiful harvest in the not too far future.  Lasting embers will once again ablaze a fire to light up the darkness and give warm comfort.  The ashes of cancer lie on the ground while my daughter lights the world with her strength, faith, and love.

Summer Kinships Bloom

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As the summer solstice approaches we relish the vibrant blooms in the gardens and roadside, as well in our homes.  Our dream is to bloom with our kin folk.  Dean and I refurbished our living room, a blend of fresh and vintage.  Midnight, our Labrador is ready for the companionship of kin, and is on the welcome committee at our home.  In the meantime a few recent travels take us to our families in other Missouri towns.  Dean is such a proud father and grandfather.  He carries his digital camera to capture the moments and shares his finds with zeal.

Late April we were blessed with another grandchild.  Elise is Dean’s first born grandchild.  Beautiful baby.  We took the occasion and traveled to meet her early May when she was less than a week old, and another one this past weekend.  The last Saturday in April we honored my deceased father, aunt, and uncle with a Relay For Life team of kin at the cancer relay held downtown St. Louis. Mother’s Day was a visit to an old lookout point in St. Francois County  with my daughters and their families. We had another May day trip to the Missouri Botanical Gardens with my brother and sister-in-law.  And there is summer league baseball with our oldest grandson, Brendan. The first weekend in June we celebrated the 30-year birthday of Dean’s daughter, Liz as well as the birth of our youngest grandchild, Elise.

“Let us be grateful for the people that make us happy, they are the charming gardeners that make our souls blossom.”  Marcel Proust

A Few Good Men

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I have been missing a few good men and women who left the earth in past 2 years. My father, my best buddy, my favorite uncle, my grandfather, my aunt, and my cousin. My father would have been 79 years old today. As the Employee Wellness Coordinator for my employer, I attended a forum discussing onology care for patients this afternoon. After three oncology experts and a HR professional presented their perspectives, a woman shared her experience in caring for your husband who died of brain cancer. Very emotional for me. Much what this woman shared related to my mother’s story if she would speak about it. I have kept to myself as well for reasons I cannot write about at this time. Such to God’s plans for my day, I ran into one of my cousins, the grandson of my favorite uncle who passed a year ago. This cousin was the IT/sound man for the oncology forum I attended. My guess there were a few tears shed in that conference room today. He, too lost his grandmother (my aunt) to cancer. And last week I met with American Cancer Society folks in regards to the local Relay For Life event held in May. They are soliciting support and a possible team to form. They struck a chord with me last week, but not quite like the woman sharing her story today. Just cannot get away from cancer, as it is prevelant in our aging population at work as well as with my kin folk. I will write later about the Relay For Life event held at Soldier’s Memorial in St. Louis. My Dean & I will form our own team if my employer does not. This is just one way to honor my father. This day, the anniversary of your birth day, Dad I reflect on you and the things you found joy in … earth, plants, fish, birds, dogs, and of course Mom. You are loved and missed today!

My Herbal Bed

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Dean and I delivered a trailer load mixture of compost and top soil to our greenhouse site at Boone Hollow Farm a few days ago. I inquired from a local farmer who I know from my childhood as this farmer uses sustainable practices at his top soil farm less than a mile from our home. Last weekend herb seeds were sown, and in less than a week we have garden cress seedlings sprouted. This warm, humid air has made the ideal conditions for my herbal bed. From what I read garden cress is very prolific. I seeded many culinary herbs such as parsley, sage, thyme, basil, chives, marjoram, dill. Garden cress is one herb I have not used in my dishes before, though I inherited a packet of seeds somewhere in my farmy networking. I do not discard gifts no matter how small or big, so I will come up with some uses for garden cress. I understand it makes flavorful tangy sprouts for salads and sandwiches. In England it is added to egg & mayo tea sandwiches. Sounds like a country tea party with my green garden tea plates & tea cups in a couple of weeks at the greenhouse. Garden Cress
I have found photos of such darling herb gardens these past few weeks. We have a retailer’s greeting card holder we bought for $5 from the local library moving sale. I want to repurpose it to a herb garden, particularly for my daughter who lives in an apartment with a balcony. Vertical gardens are trendy now, and very practical for urban dwellers. I will work with this idea later this summer into autumn. We went semi-traditional, a 12 x 6-foot bed raised 6-inches from the floor of our greenhouse on the screenhouse side. There is some protection from the sunrays with the black cover now. I need this for skin protection. I have battled basal cell cancer 2 years ago. The semi-indoor herbal bed will be protected somewhat from weeds as we have a landscape fabric under the gravel floor. We cleared most of the gravel before shoveling the compost-top soil mixture in the bed. We will see what happens in regards to pests and bugs. We found a 3-foot snake skin in our greenhouse last week. Critters can still get inside. Let’s hope Chuck, the groundhog who lives under the barn down the hill stays out! As well as his skunk, mole, and rat friends!
How do you grow your herbs? Containers? Raised beds? Vertical beds? Are your herbs for culinary or ornamental purposes?
Pallet Vertical Herb Garden

Spot Of Tea Or Maybe A Brew

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Tea SetHot tea has been the beverage of premium choice for the 3+ long months of winter. Wild cherry is my favorite, seems to cure whatever may ail my body. Then there is the tea garden green or pomegranante green tea that brings a bit of spring or summer into my day, healing to my mind. Of course, the classic Earl Grey with a tad of half & half brings me to my days as a young mother. My sister-in-law introduced me to this tea after spending a year in England. The more contemporary, spicy, citrusy flavor of Chai filled my tea cup several times as well this winter. The tea set in the photo is a gift to my daughter, Elisabeth who celebrated her 30-year birthday a few days ago. I want to share my love for tea. It can change the tone of a day after a few sips. It must be taking those few moments to savor that saves the day. The mentioned teas and tea set are all compliments to the Olde Town Spice Shoppe in historic St. Charles, a local small shop for all your teas, accessories, spices, and gourmet foodie items.
ApricotAle
Spring visits Missouri again this week, and a spot of tea does not quite fit the bill. I make a change with the temperature of the day. It is a celebration drink with the good news. My bloodwork showed no auto-immune or cancer! Just an allergy to the cold, which this winter was the worst for me since this allergy appeared over 5 years ago. Pyrmid apricot ale is poured into a clear glass, sharing the bottle with my hubby as I am feeling a bit woozy-headed and tired this evening. The apricot ale pairs wonderfully with the sweet chili Thai noodles with sweet peas and grilled chicken. I think this ale would accompany a dark chocolate dessert very nicely. My Weight Watchers weigh-in is tomorrow, better hold off for another day when I feel up to baking and can work off the extra calories (or points) before weigh-in.
I sip a cinnamon vanilla herbal tea as I write. What is your choice of beverage? And what food do you pair it with? I would love to hear!

Miss Kitty

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Miss Kitty
Our beloved Lily, “Miss Kitty” passed this morning. Lily had many names, “Miss Kitty”, “Lucy” short for “Lucifer”, and many more. She has been Dean’s household companion for almost 12 years, mine for over 3 years. Miss Kitty was full of piss and vinegar, but loving her own little ways. That kind of spunk you grow to love. I remember the first Christmas she spent with Dean & I as a couple. While a cranberry-nut loaf filled the kitchen with a lovely aroma, I placed a holiday towel in a basket on the kitchen island awaiting the warm bread. I turned away to pull out the loaf from the oven, as I spinned to island with my hot holiday goods, there sat “Miss Kitty”. In my basket. I left “Miss Kitty” to enjoy the comforts of her new snug bed, and promptly found another basket and towel.
More recently, she cuddled in our laps with frequency. Tumors … assumed cancer. We will miss you, our “Miss Kitty”. Glad I got to know you.

Blessing Jar

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Blessings come in different forms.  Counting my blessings is a mindset when I buried my father less than 3 weeks ago after his 9-month battle with brain cancer.  Still grieving.  But I came across this website blog about a blessing jar:  http://thefrugalgirls.com/2012/11/the-blessing-jar.html.  Cute  craft idea!  The photo below comes from this blog. Reading the blog, it reminds me to recall all the wonderful things that took place this year.  It’s been a very difficult year, so I think  a bit of a challenge with this blessing search …  I will start with my family, my big, big family!  To begin my husband, Dean is just want I need.  He is multi-talented, jack of all trades. And he is so patient with me, my ideas, my projects, my moods, etc.  And on top of that Dean is affectionate and thoughtful.  My hubby rubs my stinking feet after a long day working in the greenhouse.  And then there is my children … my oldest daughter, Rachel has a smile, kind word, and humor that will turn any sour day into a sweet one!   And then my Elisabeth, her beautiful acceptance of this diverse life is such an example to me.  She grows more saintly with her patience!  Both of my daughters suffer with degenerative disc disease, but continue to bring joy to the people  around them despite their pain.  My son, Ben has the most tender heart that permeates through this tough world we live in.  He held his arm around me during my father’s memorial service.   Probably an uncool thing to do in most 19-year old young men’s eyes, but he does not care what others think.  My grandchildren, well read about all five in my earlier blog:   https://deannagreensandgardenart.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/they-are-mine-alright/.  And then there is the extended family.  My family grew closer through my father’s terminal illness.  My sister traveled 3 trips from the west coast to be at my mother’s and father’s beckon call for months.  My two brothers took over the needs of my 97-year old grandfather as my father could no longer take this role.  My mother did not give up on my father’s wish to die at home.  So she had many endless hours as his nurse, you know,  24/7.  My employer was so patient, allowing me time away to run errands for my mother and visit my father.  Co-workers and vendors I work closely with, asked how Dad was and I am doing even today.  And the solace the greenhouse plants and soil gave me from this tiresome world we live in.  So how I can summarize this year  is “God is good”.  He takes care of us!  We are truly blessed!  What will you put into your blessing jar?   Funny thing about this photo, my Dad’s nickname is Marty.  I wonder what musings he is having in heaven today?

 

The Autumn Winds

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… I love the year’s decline, and love
Through rustling yellow shades to range,
O’er stubble land, ’neath willow grove,
To pause upon each varied change …
Now shatter’d shades let me attend,
Reflecting look on their decline,
Where pattering leaves confess their end,
In sighing flutterings hinting mine.
For every leaf, that twirls the breeze,
May useful hints and lessons give;
The falling leaves and fading trees
Will teach and caution us to live…

These verses are from a poem “Autumn” written by John Clare (1821).  I walked down the Clayton street to another building on campus for a training class this morning.  I felt and heard the autumn winds in my hair and the rustling leaves.  In the wind I feel  my father’s presence.  Autumn was his favorite season.   Brain cancer did not win, as my father has eternal life with Jesus.  I had to go out again at my lunch break, just so I could feel the winds and know my father is present in my day.   Did you know, my Dad, you built so much of my character and personality?   That steadfastness, strong, and stubborn characteristic I shared at the ceremony in your honor on Saturday, but tenacity would be another trait I forgot to mention.  This greenhouse business, Deanna Greens and Garden Art is requiring tenacity.  It is a sunny, warm, and blustery October day, with another cold front meeting with the current 80+ temperatures which will produce  storms in a few short hours.  I see the clouds coming from the west.   A 40+ degree drop in temps is to come this evening.  Dean & I moved many plants to safer shelter last night.  Up into the wee 1:00am hour.  We have been in the process of moving for weeks, and have found homes for many of our tropicals.  But my potted geraniums, wandering jews, swedish ivy, and other hanging baskets needed to be someplace warm.  The greenhouse rebuild has come to a halt with the question of electricity ampage for heat, fan, and light resources.   Dean met with an engineer from the electric company. Our prayer is that the barn down the hill from our greenhouse has 300 amp, so we can connect.  Waiting for an answer as we have permission to do so from the landlord.  The side walls and plastic liner should be completed this week, delayed a week for more important matters such as my father’s funeral.  See the lovely autumn canvas from my parents’ home in Pike County, the photo taken by my cousin during our gathering in Dad’s honor on Saturday.