Today, after having postponed this appointment three times, I finally went for my annual checkup with the oncologist.


I like my oncologist. He’s a very pleasant, easy-going, friendly guy. Low key. Not an alarmist. Sensitive and sensible. But, in the end, he’s the one who will tell me if I have cancer. Again.

So, as much as I like the guy, I’m not eager to see him. Too much history.

I’ve been doing well. I’ve got more energy than I used to, probably because of all the heart surgery a couple of years ago and having a pump that actually is delivering oxygen to my body. I think my breast bone has finally knitted. I no longer hear it grinding when I move.

Fake breasts

My double round of breast cancer is now 5-1/2 years past. This makes me an official survivor. I have no symptoms, no lumps, no nothing. I have exactly the same chance of getting some (new) kind of cancer as anyone. Maybe a little higher because it runs in my family, but basically, I am (finally) regular folks.

If you think of “refresh” as that thing you do on your computer monitor to clear up garbage and update your open apps? Today was my “refresh.”

I’m clean. My panel of tests are spot on normal. The lab lady found a live vein on the first stab, too!

It doesn’t get better than this.


How fast time flies! It’s a day short of two weeks since we brought Gibbs home. Amazing how he has become part of the family.

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He was a little scared when he first arrived; he’s not scared now. Suspicious of strangers (probably not because he’s a rescue, but because he’s a Scottie), he barks at everyone and everything. Otherwise, Gibbs is as close to fearless as any dog I’ve known. An incorrigible sock and slipper thief, he will happily snag the sandwich from your hand.

Gibbs discovers spring and sunshine

Gibbs discovers spring and sunshine

Brazen … and funny.

In the presence of roast chicken, watch your fingers. Gibbs thought one of mine was a bonus piece of white meat. Ouch! He has quite a pair of jaws on him. His excitement in the presence of dog biscuits is epic. He looks like he is going to explode. I am guessing his earlier life didn’t include a lot of treats.

He eats faster than any dog I’ve ever lived with. He inhales his meals. I’m assuming he’ll slow down. Eventually.


He is also smart. Very. Smart. A single-correction learner. Assuming he agrees with you on the subject. If he doesn’t agree, he will do as he pleases because like all true Scotties, he’s sure he knows better than us.

He has the energy level of a puppy. It’s difficult to believe he’s nine.

So far (fingers crossed), this is the smoothest integration of a new dog into our household ever.


Ode to Spring

“Spring has sprung,

The Grass has riz,

I wonder where the flowers is?

The little bird is on the wing,

But that’s absurd!

Because the wing is on the bird!”

A ditty by Unknown

It will be near 70 degrees tomorrow. That’s 21 in Celsius, by the way. Weather just doesn’t get nicer than this.

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This is it. We wait for it all year. We dream of it while we shovel tons of snow and wash the residue of salt from our car’s under-body.

Solomon's Seal

Solomon’s Seal

We yearn for it through mud season while mopping the mess off the floors. Will winter never end? Will spring never come?


Winter ended.

Spring came.

I wonder where the flowers is?



At the peak of my child-raising years, I lost my voice. I went hoarse and stayed hoarse for months.


When finally I realized it wasn’t a sinus problem or a lingering virus of some kind, I went to a throat specialist.

“You have children?” he asked.


“You yell at children?” He was Russian, so imagine his accent, please.


“You maybe fight with husband?” We would soon be divorced.

“Um, kind of.”

“No more yelling. You must not yell. Not at children. Not at husband.”

“Yelling? That’s the problem?”

“Yelling is problem,” he agreed. “You must whisper only. No yelling. For one year, also not talking. S-h-h-h. Like this,” he said, demonstrating a loud whisper.


I had a full-time job, a son, two step-children and a crumbling marriage … and I was supposed to whisper for a whole year? If I wanted my voice back, that was the only way.

It didn’t happen. I’m not sure I could ever have disciplined myself to whisper for a year at any time in my life, but definitely not then. As a result, my singing voice never came back. I lost it for good and all. I can speak normally, but I can’t sing. I also can’t yell. One yell and I’m hoarse for a month.

Don’t yell. It’s very bad for your voice.



This week’s topic is alleys, driveways, parking lots, and dirt. I have new material for this and a lot of archival pictures that apply. So many, in fact, that I’m going to have to restrain my enthusiasm.

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Arizona desert road – Garry Armstrong, photographer

Our driveway, looking down from the street

Our driveway, looking down from the street

Handicapped parking at the medical building

Handicapped parking at the medical building

Alley behind the Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston

Alley behind the Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston

Our path through the woods

Our path through the woods

Down by the sawmill

Down by the sawmill

cee's fun foto chall



1 Corinthians

11   When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12   For now we see as in a mirror darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I too am known.

I’m not usually big on quoting the bible, but sometimes — and this is one of those times — no place says it better.

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I was an “old” child. When I was very young, I talked like a much older person. I read “adult person” literature and thought of myself as very mature. I wasn’t. I was intellectually precocious, but still a child. Who used big words and almost understood many adult things.


Almost. There are a whole lot of things that simply don’t make sense until you’ve lived a life. Reading about life isn’t living it. A child, no matter how smart, is never more mature than his or her years and experience. That’s perspective.

Perspective isn’t static. At 10, you see things through 10-year-old eyes. As years and decades roll on, you see the same things differently, sometimes extremely so. Perhaps you really do see through a glass darkly. Or you should. If decades of living don’t change your perspective, something is wrong — with you or the life you’ve lived. We are supposed to change. The only things that don’t change are dead.

I hear people my age or even younger saying “Well, that’s the way I am. I’m not going to change.”

Yeats' Grave

There’s a terrible finality in that statement. A sad finality, like a eulogy for “self.”

Someday, I’ll be too old or sick for change. The end comes to everyone. But until then, I hope my perspective keeps changing. I hope I revise my opinions often and contradict myself frequently.