Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Miscellany

Happy Monday! Thought I would take a few minutes to update this blog with the latest "news".

Nancy had chemo on Tuesday, the 21st, and was feeling much better today after five days of fatigue and nausea. She had blood work this morning and, because her white blood cell count is low, her chemo for tomorrow has been cancelled. She will have to avoid any chance of infection and delay chemo until her white blood cells have had a chance to regenerate. This happens sometimes with chemo as it kills good cells along with the nasty ones. There is good new though...Nancy's CA125 level, the marker for ovarian cancer, is now down to 8.2! The normal range is 0-35 so her numbers are looking really good now, especially compared to the 83.9 she was at in July. Nancy will start chemo again in two weeks, on November 11th, assuming her blood count is back to normal. Meantime, she can enjoy two whole weeks of feeling good!

The memorial service for Nancy's dear friend, Deb Reid, was held on Wednesday at the Arundel Yacht Club in Kennebunkport. Deb died of cancer on October 17th. The setting for her service was chosen because it looks over the Kennebunk River and Reid's Boatyard where Deb and her father spent many hours sailing together. For the service, Nancy went through her photos and found many of she and Deb, ranging from high school, through weddings and trips together, to this one from January of this year. I thought I'd post it because it says a lot about how close the two of them were. Debbie was a wonderful friend and will be missed by so many people who knew and loved her.

In other news...for those who know Hank, you would not be surprised to learn that, now that he has cleaned up the "haunted forest" behind our house for this year, he is on to his next project. Yup...not being one to waste a moment in the house when he could be outdoors, he decided that he needed to build a "pasture gate" in our yard. No...we don't have a pasture, or any animals to keep in or out for that matter, but the gate will come in handy if we decide to get some, I guess. is Hank's "gate in a day" project, all done except for the paint.
Sometimes I'm afraid to leave for work...I never know what new addition I will find at "Winn Farm" when I get home! Do I dare call it the "gate to nowhere"?

I got an e-mail from our cousin, Steve Smith, last week asking about how to access this blog. Steve...I hope you've found us and that you and Brian and Aunt Ann get a chance to read some of the posts that we have dragged you into...the earlier posts about Bayberry Hill and Wells Beach should bring back some memories for all of you.

And to Aunt Marion...we love all of your comments on this fact, you are our #1 commenter...we love them...thanks for thinking of us.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pumpkin Politics

No matter who you plan to vote for in the upcoming election, you have to admit that these pumpkins say it all! Our daughter - in-law, Wendy Lawson, carved them for us...that would be Obama on the left and McCain on the right. The hardest part of the job according to Wendy? Carving out all of John McCain's teeth!

The Haunted Forest

Yesterday was quite a day at Winn Farm! In the afternoon, we had Kristen's 33rd birthday party and then, from 6:30 to 8:00, we opened the "Haunted Wizard's Forest". For those who don't know, Hank has created something of a rural theme park in the woods behind our house which he calls the "Wizard's Forest" because of the faces he has affixed to the trees along the path. There is a bridge and a treehouse and all sorts of other surprises which he enjoys bringing friends through (actually, he drags everyone through...) all during the year. But for Halloween, we decided to go all out and create a haunted forest back there for friends, family, and especially everyone's kids and grandchildren to walk through at night. Hank and our grandsons, Robert and Brian, worked for days getting the forest ready. A generator was dragged out so that there could be lights and spooky recorded sounds. Over 30 torches were filled with lamp oil and placed along the paths. Cobwebs were hung and pumpkins were lit. Then all we needed was a cast of volunteers to play the roles of wizards, hags, trolls and other creepy characters along the way. But who could have the starring role of the witch??? Informal try-outs were held in the afternoon with Nancy as the clear winner of the competition. Hank filled a big pot with dry ice and, as the kids walked by, a strobe light illuminated Nancy stirring a rubber fish in the pot with a big stick. Needless to say, the kids were happily scared to death! Among other family members in the "cast" were Nancy's son, Kit, as the Wizard, Hank's sister, Lillian, as the hag, and Andi's husband, Dave, as the Demon working the lights along the stream. Robert was a demon hidden on a bench, Brian was a dead man rising from behind a tombstone, Anthony was the troll on the bridge, and Nancy's husband, Aaron, was a monster hidden under the treehouse. Andi held the crowds back while Hank and our daughter-in-law, Wendy, led the visitors two-by-two through the forest. Our neighbor, Don even got in to the act, manning the cider and donut table, while "hag" Lillian distributed treat bags to each child who "survived" the trip through the forest. There was a huge campfire for everyone to warm up by during the evening and a great time was had by all. About 50 people went through the forest, including 30 children. It was such a success that we've decided to make the haunted forest an annual event (assuming Nancy's is available to play the witch again!).
Thanks to all who made Kristen's birthday and the haunted forest such a
success and...
p.s. This is Nancy's "week off" from chemo so she is feeling well right now...the next round of chemo starts on Tuesday, 10/21.

Friday, October 17, 2008

In Memorium

to my friend
Debra Jane Reid

April 16, 1952 - October 17, 2008
"May you have fair winds and following seas..."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Camping at Pawtuckaway

What a great Columbus Day weekend! Hank and I met Joanne and Mark at Pawtuckaway State Park in Nottingham, NH for a long weekend of camping. Joanne and Mark set their red "fab t@b" up on site #65 and we set up our orange tab right next door on #66. It was warm and sunny all weekend and the foliage was at peak. The park is beautiful and all of the sites are tucked in the pines on the shores of Lake Pawtuckaway.
When we arrived on Thursday afternoon, Mark and Joanne were already set up and Joanne had left a surprise on our site...our picnic table was set with a tablecloth, flowers and an anniversary card! We were all married 20 years ago...Joanne and Mark on August 27th and Hank and I on October 8th.
Joanne and Mark cooked on Friday night and
there was so much food! On Saturday night, Hank made a one-pot "camp supper" in the dutch oven and Mark liked it so much that Joanne is going to try her hand at dutch oven cooking too.
Last night, Joanne and I paddled her inflatable boat around the lake at dusk (actually, she paddled, I sat) was least until we got tangled in the line of a nearby fly fisherman in a canoe! All along the banks we could see campfires blazing as we watched night fall. It was dark when we got back to the campsite but Mark and Hank were watching football so we guessed they weren't too worried about us!
Joanne and Mark gave us another gift too- orange LL Bean baseball caps with LIGHTS in the visor (they have red ones!). These are at the top of my "what will they think of next" list...the light is so bright you can walk around at night without a flashlight and read by the campfire. Thought you would enjoy this photo of Hank and I modeling our new camping hats in front of the t@b.
In spite of the fact that the Patriots lost, it was a great weekend and a good chance to reconnect with Joanne and Mark. This will be our last camping trip of 2008 but we're already looking forward to returning to Pawtuckaway next year.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Why Do I Teach?

Every once in a while, since I've been home sick, someone will ask me if I miss teaching and going to school each day. After 32 years it must be nice to stay in bed after 5:15 am. and not have ten thousand meetings (many of which accomplish little) as well as trying to multi-task a million small jobs and make sure you have your data base up to date etc. etc. And you think "yeah--I don't miss that at all". But, I think--I do miss the kids. But they are probably just fine and don't even realize I'm not there. Then out of the blue a note or in this case an e-mail will just touch your heart and let you remember how lucky you are to get to go to school each day, and that yes sometimes your efforts do make a difference in a child's life. I got one of those the other day, when I was feeling especially down and wishing this whole cancer thing wasn't a part of my life. I got a email from the wonderful Mom of a terrific girl, Elise. I had Elise for the last two years in my 3/4 looping class. She is just a gift--smart, kind, funny, unique the kind of student every teacher wishes they could have a whole room of just once in their career. She moved on to 5th grade this year--where I knew she would be successful. A few weeks ago, it was Open House night at our school. Not only do we get to meet the parents of our new students, lots of "alumni" students with younger siblings come back for a visit. That's always a favorite part of the evening for us--seeing all those old familiar faces coming back to reminisce and tell us how their new year is starting. After Open House night, I got the following e-mail from Virginia, Elise's Mom. I hope she doesn't mind my posting it here:

I have an angel of a daughter fast asleep with you in her heart.

We went to Sean's open house tonight. Elise was beyond excited to see you.

She had heard rumors of your health. In fact the other day I held my precious daughter in my arms as she sobbed.

She did the same tonight when you weren't there.

I have to say..once have no idea what you did for my daughter or the magnitude of love she has for you. I'm not sure I have any idea either HA! But somewhere in third or fourth grade Elise made a life long connection to YOU!

She misses you and longs to see you.

UGH!!! I feel so stupid. You have cancer. A cancer that left and was never supposed to return. I just have a daughter who loves you to pieces and wants to hear from you.

Here goes......... could Elise write to you? Could you write back? Could she see you?

Tonight as we drove home from open house Elise said," I just wanted a hug from Mrs. Tufts,"

Elsie went to bed holding you in white healing light and I am doing the same.

Be well!
Thanks! Oodles of blessings!

So for everyone who wonders why I teach--these rare gifts are the reason why--thanks Elise and Mom, you made my day--I'll fight on!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chemo Day

Hi All!
Well, Tuesday was chemo day again-gemzar and carboplatin. I'm trying hard to come up with an interesting story about my chemo experience but there really isn't one. The treatment itself was pretty routine--as routine as it can be to have bottles of poison sent through your veins. I did meet another woman , Gail, traveling the same path as me-also on gemzar/carbo, so we were able to chat a bit and share side effect stories. Other than that, the only big news of the day was that after two rounds of treatment, my CA125 is down to 11.3--terrific news!! It makes it possible to bear the side effects, when you hear it's working. The worst side effect of this treatment so far is fatigue. I literally have been sleeping half of every day since Tuesday. So, this will just be a quick update since it's almost time for my next nap. But thanks to everyone who checks this and is following my journey and our crazy family stories--we appreciate it! Nancy