Friday, December 23, 2016

It is Almost Christmas

Christmas will be here in two days, so now is the time to record photographs and what has been happening in our neck of the woods this month.  We have not put up a decorative tree in years, but I do make displays of angels and votive candles and Madonna and Child icons to commemorate the season.

On Tuesday, friends came over for coffee.  I was so bold as to ask that each bring a refreshment, otherwise I just did not believe I could host a small coffee.  Why, getting up from bed or resting would have required an hour of standing! I am only half kidding here, because I do spend most days fatigued and prone on the bed. Thank you, everyone, for bringing tasty treats.

This is Marianne and Janice's boys putting together origami trees. Marianne brought tasty biscotti and entertained the young guys for quite a while; the boys seemed to enjoy playing with the papers.

This is Janice, the boys' mom.  We lost her mom, Maureen, to metastatic breast cancer (mbc) almost three years ago.

The ornaments above are like ones that Julie chose to give to the workers at the manor.  Every one of the workers at Mesa Manor received this small gift, along with a candy cane.  After going back four times to Michael's to supply the goodie sacks, ensuring no one was overlooked, we made a total of 52 sacks.  Julie and the last few bags are posing below.

This picture was taken prior to our holiday lunch last week and pasted on FaceBook by Verda, so I am reposting it here.

Healthwise, it has been a rough couple of weeks since pneumonia germs seemed to have found a nice spot to multiply in my lungs. Talk about a fatigue maker, pneumonia and its fighter, capsules of Leviquin, combined to create an atmosphere for feeling awful.

A PET scan and an MRI are scheduled next week to determine if the Ibrance is working to keep tumors at bay.  The oncologist decided to change medicines and will make further decisions after he reads results of the scans.  "Scanxiety" is the term for wanting to know, yet not wanting to know results from tests scanning for cancer growth.  Actually, I do not have scanxiety. as I will never be abandoned or lost (Hebrews 13:5).

Leaving you with a favorite Norman Rockwell Christmas painting:

Monday, December 12, 2016

Afternoon Tea

Wine Country Inn, located in Palisade, Colorado, offers tea during the Christmas Season and for Mother's Day in the spring.  This hotel is a luxurious hotel nestled among its grape vineyards and is a popular resort during all Colorado seasons.

Accomplished, elegant, savvy friend Beth invited me to attend one of the seasonal teas yesterday.  (Note I did not characterize Beth as "sweet," although she is a very sweet woman.)  We both recognized other friends there (hi, Shirley!).  There was not one space available for the 11 AM seating.  Needless to say, it is a popular Christmas venue!

We were served tea and four courses of sweets and savories, oh my!  What a lovely time!  From Wine Country Inn,

... If Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, had not been a little peckish one afternoon in the 1840's we probably wouldn't celebrate a proper British Afternoon Tea.....Soon the common folk emulated the Upper Crust, and a new custom of having afternoon tea was common place.  It was an occasion to entertain friends and relatives for simple conversation, and maybe a little gossip. 
The First Course: scones, crumpets or nut/fruit breads, served with Devonshire cream, jam and Lemon Curd. Second Course: cress or cucumber finger sandwiches, chicken salad pastries and other imaginative small treats, and delicious nuts with herbs and sugar glazes.  Third Course: bite sized cookies, small cakes, and Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.

It was a sweet treat.  Thank you, Beth, for a lovely time out.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Roses with Other Names

In this case, I knit three roses using different yarns and dissimilar centers.  But they all looked pretty much like red roses, even if their names were changed to fit their purposes.

Here is the last of the four roses knit, Miss Priss.  It was knitted with 1/4 inch grosgrain ribbon.  It used about 15 yards of polyester grosgrain.  Disadvantages of grosgrain ribbon was that it was too stiff to easily handle, causing problems in pulling through loops and resulting in cramping hands, and the back was not flat.  Advice: use a lighter weight ribbon, and flatten down ribbon before sewing it to make a backing. It has a good heft to it.  A found silk covered button was sewn into its middle.

This rose I wore yesterday on a black mock turtleneck pullover, giving a bit of color to the outfit.  The name Miss Priss seems to fit this rose.

Below is another rose, we'll call her "Libby's Sunday Rose" for use on a hat brim.  Libby was the reluctant model.  It was knit from two strands of fingering weight wool yarn, without a middle button. It gives a bit of "Je suis belle et ├ža ne demande aucun." Translated it means "I'm beautiful and it requires no effort." And it required no effort on the part of Libby other than to hold still.

Then there is another red rose, "Two Tones Floozy" that is my favorite.  It was knit from worsted wool, with the inner petal knit in a darker, warmer reddish blue yarn.

Two Tone Floozy might get knit again in contrasting colors of yellow for a summer scarf.

Here is a blue flower with ribbon and blue acrylic yarn with a rhinestone button used for a stamin:

The pattern for the roses shown is the same pattern: Knitted Flower by Absolute Knits.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Closing in on Thanksgiving

Yesterday at the manor, almost 200 residents and family members were served a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  It seemed to come off without a hitch, and everyone was in good humor.  Julie even had the opportunity to play with a tiny puppy brought in by a teenaged family member.  The puppy was less than two pounds, named Bentley.

Ed, Food Manager

There were two seating times, and Gene and Julie and I ate during the later time.  We were seated with Louise and her daughter Linda, and it was almost like any other weekday lunch, except my usual soup was not packed and reheated, and it was a tasty and festive holiday lunch. Activity Director Cindy made place cards and pretty table decorations.

Marianne made some delicious artisan bread last week and forwarded the recipe that you can pick up here.  Another loaf of bread that I made over the weekend was also pretty darn delicious, but it called for half a cup of olive oil, so it was more calorific. That recipe can be found here. Both recipes are delicious and easy to make.

Nephew Jeremy and his family are driving up from Georgetown, Texas this week.  I will try to get some old fashioned Quaker Oats Vanishing Cookies made for snacking, along with a few loaves of the no-knead breads.  We will be having our Thursday noon meal at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic parish along with a few others sharing in a Thanksgiving potluck. Jeremy and Martha and Evan and Edie will be staying at a bed and breakfast in Montrose this week, but we plan on getting lots of visiting in while they are here in Colorado.

Remember the St. Brigid cross that my friend Sharon was on the lookout for while she was in Ireland over the summer?  I put all the crosses, including St. Brigid's, on a wall mount for display. The red makes me happy! The cross on the right is made from olive wood and was crafted in Bethlehem.  The cross on the bottom left is from the youth group fund raiser as they are collecting money to go to an alternative Spring Break in El Salvador

And then, after two weeks without posting, I feel compelled to update knitting news.  I am making this free headband pattern as my hair is thinning and a cover-up can't be beat, especially when it is cold outside.  I have made a couple of knit flowers that are fun and look pretty on the headband.  That flower pattern is here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Our Animal Friends' Visits

It was a dog weekend to roll over for.  Friend Kathy in MN and her daughter adopted Olivia last night.  Olivia is a loving catahoula mix, who came all the way from her foster family in North Carolina to live in her new forever home in St Paul.
On Saturday, two friends came over at separate times with their animals.  Maggie is a Moxie Doxie, very smart and street savvy in a grand dame manner of sophistication and good breeding. She and her owner of 14 years have a wonderful, symbiotic relationship.

Then Cookie visited our sister dogs with Abbye, a Shit Tzu.  Here are some of her glamour shots.

You better believe that Cookie and Abbye are one hot number; they travel everywhere together.

And here is a photo of some of Sister Maggie and Sister Libby together, prior to Maggie marking her spot just below Libby. Libby was NOT the alpha dog that day!  In "air quotes" imagine that Maggie is telling Libby that she is the one who is in charge, in no uncertain terms.  (Beth was mortified.)  It was actually quite funny. Sister Maggie gave no apologies for her "appropriate" doggish behavior.

St. Francis is credited with being saint of animals, merchants and ecology.  He is beloved. More information about him here.

When he considered the primordial source of all things, [St. Francis] was filled with even more abundant piety, calling all creatures, no matter how small, by the name of brother and sister, because he knew they had the same source as himself. —Saint Bonaventure (1221-1274) [1]

And now I know why I refer to our dogs as sister dogs. Because St. Francis always knew their of their relationships under God's creation.

Friday, November 4, 2016

A Skylight, A Recipe for Rice Pudding, Carol's Thoughts on Knitting

Husband disapproves of blog posts that have more than one topical area as he thinks writing should be "on topic." When he reads this post, it will be understood that he again thinks I've gone a ramblin'.

Getting on with it, here is a picture snapped yesterday of one of the Tile Meister maestros performing his job of setting in a skylight in our relatively dark kitchen area; he had to go up twelve feet from the top of the ceiling through an attic area and onto the roof to get the job done.  Yay for him and great that we now have God's own natural light coming into our work area. 

Today's work in this new sunlight should be completed by 10 AM at the latest, to include this recipe (rice pudding with oranges) and this recipe (pumpkin snack cake).  I must return containers once filled with tasty, very much appreciated foods supplied by friends (apple and pumpkin pie and homemade chicken soup), so why not go ahead and make some foods that my tummy can handle as well? Brilliant. (oh, and no sleep last night because of steroids and I forgot about that insomnia issue until it was too late to take a sleeping pill). Not Brilliant. Latest bone scan this week showed progression of lesions on ribs and spine, uptake of dye inside the skull.

Treat yourself to some Trick or Treat Candy; I'll turn on the coffee!

Thoughts on Knitting (Guest writer is Carol Weber from New York). Carol wrote this a few weeks ago, and it has such a fall flair, an autumnal air, that I wanted to share it.  Carol went to the now Very Famous Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival in September.  At this event, many knitters spend more time and probably even more angst creating just the "right" sweater to wear to this weekend event.  (I would love to just go there and take pictures of the knitters showing their creations.) But I digress, and on with Carol's notes:
Hi Nancy, I wish I could have packaged up today to send it to you, to cheer you through these dark hours. My two knitting friends and I were at the sheep and wool festival. A heavy duty day of yarn shopping, punctuated by some muffins and cider, with a bright blue October sky above. The best part was meeting so many fiber folk, most of them dressed in their beautiful Rhinebeck sweaters that have been months in the making. 
...I was so excited to read that Mary Lou was going to be there at Rhinebeck that I went straight to her table when we arrived. And right next to her were Ann and Kay from Mason Dixon Knitting! I felt like a complete groupie. I got to tell them in person that it was their first book that got me back into knitting after a long dry spell. Blog land is certainly an amazing place!
And in a prior email... 
The best part of the day for me was meeting Mary Lou Egan of Yarnerinas. She's the only person I know who's actually met Jean Miles,; we had a nice chat. She is delightful. Mary Lou and her friends have a new book out, Drop Dead Easy Knits. I bought us each a copy.

Carol, please know I have looked through the book many times, and like I told you, the striped socks on size 5 needles are in the queue!

This is my newest screen saver, and I wish I had the nerve to pull it out when someone starts whining about ANYTHING.  Maybe I just will do that.  A few manor staff and residents will like this, Julie and Louise and April and Cindy for sure.  I'll record their reactions when I go in this morning.  I have missed being at the manor more than a few days this week due to health issues due to radiation of the pelvis. Enough said.
Chin up, dahlings!  

Monday, October 24, 2016

Mary Prayer Garden Establishment

Two enterprising Mesa State University coeds worked over the weekend in our new back patio area to help create a meditation garden. "Before" pictures three days ago would have shown aspen tree branches hanging down to the ground, completing obliterating the view of a raised tree bed area. If only pictures had recorded progress from Friday through Sunday... 
(Friday afternoon, half way finished pruning)

Megan's dad, a horticulturist, Face Timed with her and helped us decide which aspen branches to remove (all below fence line). Then Allie and Megan put their shoulders and backs to the test and trimmed branches, hauled gravel away from the bed, raked in a dozen bags of topsoil and compost, and planted a stature of the Virgin Mary in an elevated pot, placing St. Frances in another small stand of trees in the corner.  Water added, task completed!

(birds and bunnies placed beside St. Frances)
The young women are helping to finance their Alternative Spring Break to El Salvador in 2017, sponsored by The Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Parish.  What a win-win proposition for us! 

Allie and Megan did excellent work and created a peaceful, spiritual, meditative space. We are all anxious to see how this space looks after the ajuga gets rooted in for the winter, with future herbs to be planted around the border of the bedded area. Thank you, girls!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Kinsey Visit; Furniture Replacements

Gene's brother, Pat, and Pat's daughter, Jackie, came from Missouri for a weekend visit.  The two of them, Gene and Pat, used to really look alike in their younger years but not so much now.
(1994: Pat and Gene)

(2016: Pat, Jackie, Nancy, Gene)
Furniture Front:

Last week, friend Beth and I went to several re-store places in the Aspen area.  She convinced me that I could find beautiful old, used, and even restored or replaced items for a song.  Was she ever right. 

A new (old) mirror that we both really liked.  The margins of the mirror are painted in what appears to be Swedish, or rosemaling flowers.  The outside dimensions of the mirror are 32"x 39" and it will be hung atop a new (old) sideboard previously belonging to its former Aspen area owners.

(close up of mirror corner)
Then we picked up this piece six foot long sideboard and brought it home in the back of her SUV:

(close up of middle section front)

Tuesday, I bought a few factory produced furniture items for our newly established homestead that are to be delivered today: two end tables for the bedroom and a desk and filing cabinet for Gene along with these two pieces for the living and dining room area:

TV console

curio cabinet
Medical Front:

Just to keep a sort of medical diary, here are excerpts of emails sent to a new virtual friend in New York who also has cancer, and we have become a sort of support system for one another (as least she has become one for me)...

Today I have an appointment with a RO to map out the next two weeks of radiation treatments.  But I am having second thoughts about this and will discuss my concern with her, of course. Maybe it will help to clarify in my mind why we are doing this, so here goes my thought process:

1.  Yes, hips are hurting but in three weeks since MO suggested radiation, things have changed.  Three weeks passed and that was a necessary delay because I had another PET scan, then another MRI to further delineate where the Rays should be targeted.  But now, ribs are hurting as much as hips.  Question is " how do you decide where to put radiation and why, if there are more than one or two spots giving trouble?"

2. PET scan did not prove anything was worse, and that the Ibrance medication was helping the rib tumors to remain stable, perhaps decreasing in size, but also showed a new lesion further down, where it now hurts, 9th rib.  Question: "radiate here now?  Benefit?  Radiate both hip and rib, BOTH places ( on left side where original cancer was found) ?  Again, three weeks since MO said radiation would help hip pain.  Things change.

3. Hip pain is tolerable, ditto with rib pain. It seems we are doing radiation too soon.  Should I not wait until pain level increases to start radiation?  And how many times can you radiate same area?  Does more radiation help or hurt the same areas of concern?  Will I be back in another six months for more radiation?

As you can see, Sue, I am a bit troubled by jumping in with rads too much, too soon.  I don't expect you to have any answers, but am kind of wondering if you had or have any of these thoughts, or similar ones, as you trudge through this.  I believe you, however, are having many more and deeper issues with pain since you are pretty much home bound, as you say.

Thanks for being a sounding board.  You and the onsite cancer board are now my support group of those who have cancer, Sue.

Then, yesterday afternoon, this email was sent to my friend:

After brief discussion with the RO, it seemed that the prudent thing to do is to have rads to both lower rib and the hip and the base of spine.  I got mapped out with markers and clear sticky tabs that are supposed to stay on for the two weeks.  Ten days of twenty minute sessions.  Side effects are fatigue and diarrhea, oh my.

How are you? What are your medical treatments now? Are you a reader? Books have been neglected for too long here.

Thanks for your emails, Sue.

Long story short, I am mapped out for radiation and will start a ten day regimen beginning October 17 targeting left lower ribs, pelvic area and spine.  Side effects will not be much of a treat come Halloween, given the optimistic fact that I can answer the door for trick or treaters without interruption from bathroom breaks.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Moving Accomplished

Two dogs are looking up at my mug of canned chili with extra added tinned tomatoes, microwaved to perfection, their salivary glands on overtime, trying to convince that they really do need just a morsel of meat from the mug.  "Just a minute" means nothing to either of them.  There.  They each had a bite and now are off to their other person for an additional sniff in a different room where more unpacked boxes abound.  All of us were up at 4 AM, and morning nap time now looms.  As do the unopened boxes.

The move of households has been accomplished.  Yesterday was the final hurrah as the last of the plants were loaded up, the patio hosed off, and garage hoovered out.  A few cob webs are likely still lurking in the corners where the cars spent their evenings over the past nineteen and a half years, but the new owner will be too busy moving himself in to notice such a minor detail.  I hope.

September was hard on the husband: I vacationed and dined on luxury cruise cuisine while he ate from cans and used up frozen foods.  He made note of that fact more than a few times as he made up lists of tasks that had to get done involved around changing addresses.  He packed up and labeled boxes with tons of accumulated house hold items.  And he discarded many items, he tells me.  Changes are hard for him, and this move about used him up. He is resting now and well deserves a month or so off from Honey Do's.

Julie fared well over the past month.  Last week, Activity Director Linda at the manor took her (and Louise) up in the van and over the mountain to see the changing of colors in tree leaves, especially the aspen, in the high country east of Grand Junction.  She had no health crisis this autumn!  Playing Phase 10 continues to be her activity of choice, as well as dinking around with Word Chums, and throwing in Bingo on the weekends.  Gene finished reading to her the 11th book in the liturgical mystery series book on those September afternoons while I was vacationing. Eye surgery for Julie is scheduled with the ophthalmologist for October 12 to pull in eye muscles, helping to correct the crossing of both eyes (strabismus). She is actually looking forward to that surgery as she knows it will improve her appearance.

My health is holding, and the PET scan from last week proved Ibrance is doing its job since the metastasis in ribs has not increased.  On the breast cancer web forum, reports are coming in that Ibrance has helped other women keep mets at bay for up to 18 months, on average. However, MRI's are scheduled next week for suspected growth in cancer activity in the femur. We will deal with that when the time comes.

In the meantime, have a lovely first week of October.  What do you have planned for this new month?

Saturday, September 24, 2016


Andrea and Nancy al fresca 

Sidewalk art in Old City of Quebec

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Saguenay. Canada

An old town settled by trappers and fishermen with the assistance of Jesuit priests in 1640 or thereabouts, Saguenay was a welcoming community of about 140,000 souls.  They decked out n period costumes to provide a welcome to Azamara visitors (tourists equals money to the town).

We were greeted with fresh blueberry pie, a sawing demonstration, maple syrup and smiles abound.

And I scored goat wool, spun and wound.  Beautiful!