Category Archives: Oregon

May Check-in

A hill nearby covered in Crimson Clover…

I will start with an apology for not checking in sooner and for leaving this blog sitting too quietly for the last while. It has been an up and down month, a very emotional month, since my last post. The update on my husband, Byron, is that he has continued with his chemotherapy treatments with infusions every three weeks, and we have played the waiting game now for 9 weeks to see if the chemo is actually working to [temporarily] halt the progression of his cancer.  We had to wait until a certain period of time had passed to repeat his CT scan. The scan was done last Saturday, and we finally received the results yesterday. At this point in time, it is working. *Big sigh of relief here!*

So he will continue with his three-week cycle of infusions, and our lives are adjusting accordingly. The infusions are on Mondays. That first week is a challenge for him, with deep fatigue and other struggles. The second week, he feels better but not great. And the third week, he is almost back to “normal,” feeling well enough to work on projects (although his stamina is low), and have family come to visit. Then, the cycle is repeated …until it no longer works, or the side effects become too much to offset the benefits.

With this major change to our daily/weekly routines, plus the anxiety about whether or not this treatment is working, I simply couldn’t focus enough to read a book, and writing a post seemed too difficult. But, I am very thankful that we have a lovely grief counselor who is helping us through this roller coaster time, and she recommended a book that she thought I would enjoy. I downloaded it onto my Kindle directly after my appointment and read it in just a couple of days.

 The Last Bookshop in London: A Novel of World War II, by Madeline Martin, brought me back to my reading.

Inspired by the true World War II history of the few bookshops to survive the Blitz, The Last Bookshop in London is a timeless story of wartime loss, love and the enduring power of literature.

The Last Bookshop in London is an irresistible tale which showcases the transformative power of literacy, reminding us of the hope and sanctuary our neighborhood bookstores offer during the perilous trials of war and unrest.”
–Kim Michele Richardson, New York Times bestselling author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

My counselor was right! I enjoyed it very much, and all of a sudden, my world seemed to right itself again!  She added one other recommendation for me:  she suggested I get myself over to Powell’s Bookstore for an hour of wandering.  Do you see why I love this counselor?

Back to my apology for leaving you without an update on our situation for so many weeks… I will try to check in with you here, dear blogging friends, at least once a month as we continue on our current health journey. And thank you so much for your care and concern.

Byron heading into Kaiser for his CT scan…

 

Back to my Walking

Painting: The Garden, by Pauline Palmer (American, 1867-1938)

There have been many disruptions in my daily outdoor walking ritual in the last few months, cold and darkness accounting for most, but I am happy to report that I am back to my early morning walks! Two photos below, taken yesterday and the day before, show how beautiful it is out there and why I love these walks.

Our Incredible Cedar Tree


We live on Cedar Street, and although I don’t know this for sure, I suspect the street was named because of our incredible Cedar tree that has been here for 100 years. The street was originally named something else, and I have no proof whatsoever that a change was made because our tree grew in such an amazing way. But it is unique and majestic, home to all kinds of wildlife, and worthy of having a street named after it, in my opinion.

Winter Entertainment

Although reading books (and listening to audiobooks) is the favorite entertainment at our house, Byron and I are also avid birdwatchers. We have always enjoyed watching the birds that frequent our yard, no matter where we have lived. However, watching birds has become a major entertainment since we have been mostly housebound in the last few months while continuing our Covid precautions because of Byron’s impaired immune system, and because of our recent snowy and icy weather.

A few months ago, with our daughter’s help, we expanded our bird feeding station, added new platforms and a suet holder, bought a 40-lb box of Audubon bird seed at Costco, and put our binoculars and our favorite bird book in the drawer by the kitchen window. The birdwatching entertainment has been endless!

I’ve been keeping a list of the birds we’ve identified. There are two other birds that don’t show up at the feeders, but that we know are keeping close tabs on the entertainment below (the Great Horned Owl which we hear often in the early morning, and the Cooper’s Hawk that has taken two of our scrub jays in the last few years). And of course I must mentioned the squirrels that add even more drama and entertainment out our kitchen window.

Here’s a collage of the winter birds we’ve had visit our yard recently and keep us highly entertained by their endless antics. (Photos from the internet)

In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.
~ Robert Wilson Lynd

Winter Wonderland

Many of you live where you get a lot more snow than we have here this morning, but it’s unusual for us to see much white. So I was really excited when I awoke to a winter wonderland this morning! And we won’t be going anywhere today. After we shovel the snow off our sidewalks, we are just going to stay warm and cozy inside and spend the day reading!

illustration by Bee Johnson

Autumn Ritual

Our house is the one on the right. Photo taken in 1912, we think.

Our neighborhood is called “Old Town.” The trees that shade our streets and houses are very old. The oaks that surround our next door neighbor’s house, and stand tall on our property line, are over 100 years old. Their shade is wonderful in the heat of the summer, but they drop tons of leaves in the Fall. (My neighbor rolled down his window as he drove past us the other day and called out, “Leafageddon, again!”)  The sound of leaf blowers (which my husband hates) is deafening on the weekends. We use our big rakes, raking leaves the old-fashioned way, and despite an occasional blister, we enjoy the job. Once each month, October through December, the town’s leaf vacuum truck comes by and vacuums up the huge piles of leaves that are raked or blown to the curb. Watching for the vacuum truck has become a delightful Autumn ritual.

*Note: This post is from the archives of my old garden blog.

I Cherish: Beautiful Autumn Days

Byron at the wetlands…

Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful Autumn day. After our recent rainy spell, it was so nice to be able to get out and enjoy the sunshine and fall colors. Byron felt up to a walk with the aid of his cane (didn’t need his walker!), so we headed for Fern Hill Wetlands to enjoy watching all the wildlife and soak in the colors of a lovely autumn day. A cherished time together!

The Turning

The Turning, by Emily Whitman, won the 2019 Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children’s Literature, Oregon Book Awards. I was completely carried away with it when I read it recently and feel it was a worthy winner of this prestigious Oregon book award, as well as the Oregon Spirit Book Award, which it also won!  A coming-of-age story, beautifully written, it is highly recommended for middle-grade readers. I so enjoyed the magical aura I was immersed in while reading it. A young boy, half-human and half-selkie… where does he really belong? On land or in the sea with his selkie clan?

from the publisher:

Aran has never truly fit in with his selkie clan. He was born in his human form, without a pelt to transform him into a sleek, strong seal. Each day he waits, left behind while his selkie family explores the deep ocean. What if his pelt never comes? Does the Moon even see him? Is he putting his clan at risk?

When his mother undertakes a journey to the far north to seek help, Aran is left in the care of a reclusive human woman on remote Spindle Island. Life on land is full of more wonders–and more dangers–than Aran could have ever imagined. Soon Aran will be forced to decide: will he fight for his place on land, or return to his home in the sea?

 

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “WANDERLUST: Reading the States,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each of the 50 United States. This book was written by an author from Oregon and won two Oregon book awards.

Subtle Alterations

 

But day by day there are slight changes, subtle alterations in shape, in the mood of the season, it is as though everything is slipping and sliding very gradually downhill, like some great high hayrick sinking softly into itself as it dries. The year has turned and it is autumn, though we do not fully acknowledge it.

~ from The Magic Apple Tree, by Susan Hill