Wednesday, April 30, 2014
.... in a week that finds me really beginning to question some aspects of my medical journey. I really want to believe with all my being that the medical profession is there to support and help us along our cancer journey and to find the answers we need to survive.... the reality is.... they don't know everything and utlimately, they address just the illness itself and not the whole person who is comprised of mind, body and spirit.
I began to feel last November that somehow I could be pro-active and make a difference in my own healing. I started to look at naturopathic remedies and yesterday, I contacted a homeopathic healer. I will be starting a regime that will help the body to heal itself by providing the nutrients that the body may be lacking. For starters I cannot have any wheat, dairy products or sugars of any kind. This I should know as soon after I ingest any of these, I feel upset and out of sorts. Over Easter I had a handful of chocolate Easter eggs and suffered with a dull pain under my right ribcage... where the liver resides.... I have learned to pay attention to my body and how it feels with the foods and beverages I feed it. Food should energize you not make you want to lay down and go to sleep.
A good homeopathic healer is one who understands and supports the balance of homeopathic remedies and western medicine. The two need to work together in order to help the body. A good doctor should support the patient in their desire to improve their medical outcomes by understanding a healthy outcome needs to be a balance of what needs to be done and what the patient needs to do.
Often if a patient feels that they have some say or control in their medical health, they tend to feel better and have a more positive outcome. With all the research i have done and all the people I have spoken to, just following one path may ultimately run you into a dead end.
The past few weeks have left me considering what my life options are while my friend lays dying in a hospital bed. We were diagnosed within months of each other both times, only she is there and I am feeling guilty somehow? I tell myself that our paths were meant to cross but not to parallel each other. I consider and weigh out whether I would go on chemo again.... there is always a price to be paid for trying to extend your life by months or sometimes years. I would like to think that we can keep it controlled without having to spend every summer taking chemo. I hate chemo and the thought of having toxins washing through every single cell and making me feel horrible makes me cringe. Last summer I chose to take chemo because I couldn't breathe from the lesions pressing up against my heart and lungs. Within a few doses I could breathe and was able to work through the year... which happened to be one of the best years of my life despite how I was feeling physically. It brought new opportunities and a renewed belief that there was hope.
That being said.... I have taken much more responsibility for what goes into my 'temple' and each food is for healing.
My morning meal
I juice every morning and this morning I put in: spinache (2 generous handfuls), 2 apples, 1 handful of baby carrots (I prefer to use ones pulled out of the ground and washed off), Kale, 1 slice of lemon, and zested ginger. I place the juice into my AIM shaker with 2 tablespoons of Barley Plus. I will take two more drinks of Barley Plus on an empty stomach a few minutes before I eat using 2 tablespoons each time. It has been suggested that because my digestive track is not functioning correctly, that I eat a lot of fresh, lightly steamed vegetables, soups and other foods containing liquids. I have been told to also keep well hydrated to flush the body and to keep the kidneys and digestive track moving.
I will also be taking a regime of natural additives that are being shipped out this week. I will follow this regime to the letter and in 2 1/2 months, will compare that CT scan to the one I just had a few weeks ago. The neck lesion is easy to track as it is now laying conveniently on top of my clavicle. The dull ache under my rib cage is still there but not nearly as painful as it has been this past week.
Keeping as stress free as possible is key to maintaining a healthy attitude, mind and spirit. I have been too busy this past week trying to do too much and failing miserably once again at pacing myself. I however have found working in the local high school's greenhouse has brought me much joy. I will try to get there by Friday to see how well the misting system I set up is working. I will also be substituting for a few days and I am looking forward to that!!!
Our urban garden is a project that not only provides us with nutritional home grown local foods but also helps with the mind and spirit. I am a teacher. I am using this opportunity to teach my children and those around us to take responsibility for what we eat and how to cultivate our food. I am running a myriad of experiments to see what works and what does not.... and the fact is.... I am looking to the future and not dwelling on the present. I am continuing to live my life and enjoying what I do each and every day. I think we have all lost that in our modern world.... lost the ability to connect with nature and the very earth that helps to sustain our lives. We are becoming immune to the signals our bodies send us. We are distracted by too many things to just sit and listen to the birds singing out our window in the morning or to enjoy a cup of coffee in those quiet minutes when the world hasn't yet fully awakened and the natural sounds drowned in the noise of traffic. We stay up too late and get up too late or just in time to rush rush rush out the door and to our lives.... for some, they have jobs that give them no meaning and no passion for what they do. That is sad and a waste of a good life. Money.... well we sorted that out this year... took out a longer mortgage, rolled my car payments into it and decided that we had all the stuff we needed. We will save for a trip now and enjoy the life we have. It is so true that you cannot take it with you so why we accrue so much 'stuff' is beyond me. Use your money to bring happiness in creating an environment that brings you joy and peace. De-clutter your life and your home.
It has been raining and windy for days now and I love it. The seeds I planted on Will's birthday (Sunday April 27th) have had a wonderful long drink to help open up the hard outer coating and to awake the plants within. The plants in my garage greenhouse are growing wonderfully now that most of the tomatoes have met with an unfortunate demise which then prompted the purchase of the greenhouse grow light. What did not make it will be replaced with plants purchased through a local horticulturist garden.
There is much excitement with most of my neighbors about the new garden beds... some don't like it and they do not understand why we are doing this and that is perfectly OK. I catch the odd confused look and I find it funny that the neighbor with the plastic play house in the middle of his lawn gives me that sidelong look. It has become a meeting place for other neighbors and friends. I believe that gardens bring out the common element in many people who love anything that grows. Passing along hints and tips to help each other is always welcome!!! LIFE IS GOOD
Live Love and laugh!!! xoxoxo
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
....in this journey.....
I arrive at the clinic after spending most of the day at a local high school getting familiar with their greenhouse and then heading off to a local greenhouse grower to ask them a few questions and to pick up some seeds. It seems I know someone everywhere I go and within minutes of arriving at Parkway Gardens, righting a fallen tree outside the entrance doors, I spot Mario but first he has to attend to a curious furry visitor who is now making its way between the two layers of roofing plastic that forms the greenhouse. Upon his return he notes that he has only a few short minutes until they can locate the travelling raccoon. Thumping noises announce the ascent of an employee on an external ladder...an eerie shadow cast on the gloomy roof covering and the sound of muffled voices has Mario keeping a close watch over his shoulder. The humidity hangs in the air. Its a sharp contrast from yesterday's sunny and warm temperatures to today's cool, windy and overcast skies. Questions answered in a common sense manner and quick as Mario is called once again to attend to the re-discovered 'bandit'. A quick wave bye and I head over to the seeds. The majority of my plants have expired.... too cold with the garage door left open so long. We have a gameplan for next year to remedy this. For now, the urban garden has been built and we are just awaiting soil this week.
I head home to write letters of reference for my students and get lost in time until I stare at the clock.... where did the time go? I have to head out to the hospital to see the oncologist and to discuss my CT results. Today will be an exceptionally long wait. It doesn't often happen but then there are always reasons why. The reason became clear when I asked the lady sitting adjacent and a few seats down if she was OK? She turned and smiled and then we both began to chat. Her hair above her ears is sparse in comparison to the hair on the crown and down her neck. She has a brain tumour. Most of it was removed by surgery but there is still some in there which is growing. She was told that she only has a year at best. She asks me if I have ever been depressed? Yes, it spurts and then it culminated at Christmas when all I wanted to do was sleep and let the world go by....and then that spark of hope in the form of radiation which got me going in a really positive direction. It helped that I had the support of family, friends, colleagues and students. She tells me about her brothers and how they rallied around her in her time of need. She is alone otherwise and I cannot imagine what was going on in her thoughts when she had one seizure after another and not being aware that she was growing a sizeable tumour in her head and no one to notice until it was almost too late.
A man approaches us and asks Deb to move to another chair. He has to set up a ladder next to the railing in order to guide a rather oversized poster into place. I watch as they swing it into place on cables and note that the rope attaching these circular posters one beneath the other is tangle around the uppermost one. The gentleman had to return step up onto the ladder to right the situation and then voila, success!!! He looks down and grins widely. He has been joking with me since Deb was called in for her appointment.....when she was finally called, she stood and we shook hands and wished each other well.... then she turned to look at me and thanked me for asking her how she was. I just knew she needed someone to talk to.... and I recognized the anxiety written all over her face. I watched as she moved through the door and silently wished her all the best. Now she and the man are gone and it is just me and a few others left in the waiting room. The patient reception is closed and the staff are chatting in front of the closed window planning out the next day's activities.
It has been a long wait but finally my pager comes to life in my hand. BRRR BRRR BRRR. The nurse heads out of the door from the patient reception and guides me to an exam room. The doctor will be right with you but first she asks how I am feeling? Are you in pain? Any concerns? Are your bowels a light colour? Well, they were red today because of the beets I juiced this morning! She laughs and says that she loves beets but never considered juicing them? She heads out the door once she is satisfied she has collected enough information and within a few minutes Dr. Locke steps through the door. How are you? He reaches out to shake my hand and we smile at each other. Let's talk about the report....
The report indicates an active spot in my chest and neck and of course there is now a shadow in the liver near where we have effectively killed the first liver lesion. Do we know if there are any more in there? No. That's the thing about cancer.... there could be hundreds of lesions but not detectable until they become large enough for the contrast to light them up in an MRI or CT scan. Good news - the lesion targeted by radiation in the liver is gone. Bad news besides the shadow in the IVC of the liver is the lesion in the neck is larger. Of course it is. I can feel it. Other than that, he grins, you are perfectly healthy. I laugh at the irony of this. I feel good and am keeping active. What's next? Well, he says, we have an appointment for you on the 2 May with the Chemotherapist and of course your ultrasound in the morning on that day. He likely will not do anything with regards to chemotherapy but yes, there are still options available for you should the need arrive. By 'need' he means life saving.... Any questions? No, not at this time. OK, well then, we will see you in 3 months for a follow-up with CT scan but for now, you will be with Dr. Younis. We shake hands and I leave to go home....2 1/2 hours after arriving.
I call Max on my way home and let him know the good news bad news scenario. No surprises there. So we do what we always do.... turn up the radio, drive through traffic and contemplate life... today's life exercise...how I will section off the garden to plant the vegetables...life goes on.
***note: We build the entire above ground vegetable garden during the long weekend when our obnoxious neighbors went out of town.... wonder what they thought when they came upon this... my lovely beautiful new Urban garden. I want to thank my soul mate for spending time with us to create this wonderful garden with me..... I weaved the willow fence in the front.... thank you to Mitchel who helped and to Lydia for making yummy lunches for us. xoxoxoxo
Thursday, April 17, 2014
...... started hours ealier with the expectation of a number of students in attendance for catch up labs. Two days worth of hours upon hours in support of the next generation of workers in the technological trades. I will miss this very special group of students who went through this cancer journey with me. One student lost his father at Christmas and today I hugged the stuffings out of him and let him know how proud I was of the effort he put in despite the tremendous challenge of supporting his mom and siblings while mourning the loss of his father. He was unable to save his father when the tractor crushed him... most people would have quit school but here this young man was driving 3 hours home and back a few days a week making sure the farm was operating.
Handshakes, hugs and best wishes from support staff, cafeteria workers, our friendly electrician Deb and my students.... would never have prepared me for the wonderful suprise from our course coordinator and dear friend John who stepped into the last formal lab to present me with a bouquet of flowers. A long hug and exchange of words of appreciation made this a special and emotional moment for both of us. John will always have a very special place in my heart... he is extraordinary and a true gift to all those whose lives he touches. He has always been there for me and through his support has made it possible for me to flourish as a professor. Such a difference coming from a previous 'job' of being micro-managed to someone who understands that allowing people to find their groove creates a truly happy and beneficial career. I feel truly blessed being in a career that gives me so much joy. Yesterday our Chair Vertha popped in with Joel... thank you for your kind words of support and a wonderful semester!!
I am heading into more testing on the 2nd of May with the Liver. While the two lesions that have been treated with Proton radiation have proven to have shrunk, there is a larger shadow near the lesion just treated in the liver. The ultrasound will be used to inspect the liver and gall bladder. I do have a feeling of fullness under the rib cage to the right and sometimes it gets uncomfortable. There was nothing found on the CT scan with respect to anywhere else. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed, we can solve this next step in this journey. Yes, it is somewhat frustrating at times but I am grateful that we are keeping on top of this. I feel good and am eating well and getting enough sleep these days and now that I am completed the semester, I will be occassionally volunteering my time and spending most of my free time creating our urban garden. As my doctor and I agree... it is always best for me to keep busy... which for me, is never a problem!!!
I am wishing everyone a very Happy Easter.... count your blessings every day and find something nice to do for someone. Sunday we will be having dinner over at my Mother's retirement residence.
For my dear friend Melina, who is losing her battle.... there is not a day that goes by that you are not on my mind and in my prayers. You have made an impact on those whose lives you have touched. Enjoy the visit with your father who has travelled a half a world away on the generosity of so many people who have fundraised so he could spend your final days with those who know and love you best. I wish you a safe journey into the next chapter in your soul's journey to be reunited with those loved ones who have gone before you. I love you so much and will miss you dearly xoxoxo
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Today I have marked on my calendar a trip to Fayez Spa. I have asked a friend Mauricia to come with me because she so desperately needed to get away for a few hours of relaxation after an incredibly stressful month. Having cancer or healing from it is already stressful enough but it was truly time to start our spring with a rejuvination time. Mauricia brought lunch and we caught up while eating. Max joined us from his office beneath the dining room and scooted back down after finishing his spicy squash soup. I graciously declined the soup and stuck with the sandwiches. Then it was off to the Spa!!!
We arrived a few minutes later and it was fun to see the look on Mauricia's face.... It has taken her the better part of 70 years to book a luxurious spa and I turn to see her face break out into a smile. She will be having an exfoliation with steam and a massage and I am having an exfoliation with a mud wrap and massage. Victoria leads me down a narrow candle lit hallway while Marta C. takes Mauricia down an opposite route.
The room is small and lit in the corner with another flameless candle and small lamp. The table has been set up with a foil sheet on top of the well padded bed. Victoria smiles warmly from her youthful face and quietly explains that I need to strip down and put on the paper underwear she hands me. She promises to return. I undress and I can see my reflection in the horozontal framed mirror hanging from the wall opposite. I am always slightly surprised by the aging in a body I keep thinking is still 30. My hair has begun the post chemo curl and I silently promise to not cut it for as long as I can...it will just become bone straight again. I note that the 'artic blonde' is changing to a dirty blonde with 'highlights' offered up by the new virgin growth. The depression in my breast from the surgeries is now a dark shadow. Even the low lighting accentuates every physical flaw. Victoria had offered a few courtesy hand towels to cover up my 'sensitive' areas. I decide to just not use them and be accepting of this body that continues to give me life and of the children whose lives would not exist without it. I have earned each and every scar (many of them) and the tattoos that adorn the arms I use for hugging and holding. Satisfied with my decision, I pull on the paper undies which look like a black rectangle folded in half with a string running through the ends creating what I laughingly think of as sumo undies.... they do not fit and decidedly sag. I would laugh if I didn't look so pathetic in them... but realize that not even a supermodel could make these look good!! I sit down and the foil crinkles beneath me as I shift into position with all my bits for the world to see.... the door opens and before I know it, I am explaining away the scars. Victoria looks at my face and says with a lovely smile "you look just fine, now enjoy!"
Being exfoliated with a fresh salt based concoction feels like being rubbed with sand until she finds a wee knick in my finger and I spend the next 15 minutes pretending that the stinging just doesn't annoy me... I now understand why you do not shave the day of treatment. I reroute my mind to think of lovely ocean side thoughts as I drift along with the asian music that is now filling my ears. I can almost hear the ocean I am smelling. Victoria paints on the Hungarian mud on my now exposed back as I sit up to begin the second part of the treatment before she wraps me up. I lay back down and I note that the mud cools on my skin and I feel a slight chill as she is careful to paint it on my exposed belly, upper chest, legs and arms. She pulls up the excess foil from both sides and completely covers me from the tops of my feet to my neck and then uncoils a heated blanket from under my feet and gently tucks me in. She lets me know she will be back in 10 minutes. I can hear the foil crinkle with each breath I take. Its a quiet reminder that I am stil breathing. I close my eyes and drift into a half sleep ignoring the burning feeling in the nicks in my thumbs. I am grateful I can feel.
Victoria arrives and gives me instructions to wash off in the adjoining shower after she lifts the foil off. It is now rather cold as I step through the opaque blue glass door and find myself in a gorgeous large shower with a rain head a foot above my head. There are pebbles cemented into the middle of the floor and my eyes follow the river flowing into a drain cleverly hidden out of view under the wall. I feel the warm water cascading down my back as I wash the mud and salt from my neck to my toes. It is sheer luxury to find a fresh towel place on the head of the bed which has now been converted to a massage table. I dry off and then place the towels and sumo panties neatly in a folded pile on the floor out of the way. I hear a soft knock as i cozy in to the pillow under my chest. My face is down into a terry cloth covered frame. The 45 minute massage begins and it is just sheer heaven. All my aches are rubbed away with an aromatic moisturizing lotion. I am drifting off into la la land. She is speaking quietly letting me know that I can get dressed now. She wants to know if I would like something to drink while I wait for Mauricia..... yes, I would love a camomile tea. I get up, dress and then follow her down the hall to a little vestibule off the main hall and find myself in a very cozy waiting room.
I find myself chatting with a very expectant mother and noting the excitement on her face as she announces her due date is mere days away. I remember those days and wonder how the years went by so fast??? The woman and her mother leave just as Mauricia appears. We sit chatting with her masseuse while we ready ourselves to go. Thanks Mauricia for coming out today!!
Today starts out OK and by the end of the day..... it is just tears. I begin teaching at 8 am and by noon, we are done. Sara and I grab lunch and head back to the office. She is always a great gal to talk about anything with and we know each other well enough that we can just express our feelings or opinions. I tell her that I am nervous about the CT scan today.... and note that I am not crazy about being poked again in the poor vein that is hosting many scars making it quite tough. I get to the hospital and manage to find my way to the CT suite.... whatever happened to the colored stripes on the floor???? All the signs are the same colour and same print making it difficult to find what you are looking for. I manage, after asking a number of employees, to find the full waiting room. The receptionist is in training by an obviously pregnant employee. It takes 12 minutes and many phone interruptions later to finally get booked in. Oh dear, I have to drink a contrast.... So the appointment, which was supposed to be at 2:00 pm has now stretched into 3:15 pm. The contrast is supposed to be ingested over a period of 1 hour but I didn't receive it until 2:45 and then sipping it until 3:30. The technologist comes to get me and asks me to get changed. The pants supplied are sitting on the bench in the change room with a sign above stating that there is only one size. I pull the pants on and understand why they threw the note up.... one size does not fit all!!! The front gapes open but I don't worry as I pull on the gown which will cover it. I rarely can tie these darn things up and as I bend over to put my things in the locker... the waiting room gets a view from behind of my now naked breasts. Oh well...
A lovely young lady comes over to greet me and bring me to the lab chair to insert the I.V. She realizes right away that the main vein in my elbow is very scarred and she is hesitant about inserting a needle so she finds one in the upper arm. She manages to put a smaller needle into the vein and tries to slowly inject saline to guide it. Oh dear, I blew your vein. She now has to remove the needle and find another spot. A vein just under the ink on my forearm is the next site chosen and this time, she eases the needle in expertly and we are good to go. She apologizes profusely and I let her know that we are just fine. OK, off we head to the CT scan. There will be a few scans done. The upper chest, neck and throat will be done while puffing out my cheeks - this, I was told in the last one I did, is done so that a picture behind the tongue can be taken. The other series is taken to check the liver and other organs. It only takes a few minutes and I get the thumbs up that I am done. We chat about dogs while my I.V is removed and she walks me out. I give her a hug and thank her.... she lost her Mum when she was a young girl to colon cancer..... this is one of many stories I will note today. Earlier I wished the man beside me best of luck and the woman whose journey, much like mine has been ongoing for years and whose hope to have a clear CT scan echos mine as well.
I will head up to the Oncology in-patient ward C7 to visit my friend Melina. I find her room and step in and past the patient bed nearest the door. Melina's bed is past the curtain separating the two beds. I peek around the corner of the curtain and see my lovely wonderful friend sitting upright gently pulling at a tuna sandwhich in a plastic container and pushing the morsels into her open mouth. She looks up and says a quiet hello and the faintest glimmer of a smile crosses her lips. Her eyes are dull and her colour is off. She has no makeup now to cover the obvious loss of facial hair. She is speaking slowly and choosing her words. I look into her eyes and I tell her I have just stopped in to say Hi but the words catch in my throat as the tears catch me off guard. "no tears, oh, no tears Marita". I turn to look away because I do not want to upset her, so I lay my head on her leg and touch her gently. I am fighting the tears and the deep sadness I am feeling. She is my friend..... I try to be light when I bring my head up to catch her looking at me. I ask her if there is anything i can do for her. She has done everything she assures me and there is nothing left to do. She lets me know how grateful she is and that she hopes she has made an impact. My tears escape and roll down my cheeks... "you have made such an incredible impact on my life with your laughter and your wonderful spirit". She admits that she has two wonderful children and she is grateful for them. Damir and Ella walk in..... her husband of over 20 years and her daughter. They are amazed at how many people have come to visit and of the generosity of those who have donated to the fundraiser to bring her father back to say good bye to her. It is not a surprise to me that there are so many people who want to help her and her family and to let her know how much they love and will miss her. A doctor pops his head around and asks if she is comfortable. She is. Is she needing anything. No. He lets her know that he is in for the weekend. I know she is tired and I will leave just minutes after arriving. I do not want to take any more precious time she needs with her daughter. They are working on a project together. I look at her again and tell her I love her. I gently cradle her head in my hands and kiss her cheeks and then crazy kiss her forehead. She sighs out a smile and tells me she loves me. I touch her one last time and linger until the threatened tears spill over. She can't see my face as I say bye to her family. A sob catches in my throat in the hallway as I pace to the elevators. I get on and ask a nurse beside me what floor I should get off on to leave.... she suggests floor 2 even though she noticed I had originally gotten on the elevator on the 1st floor to come up. I thank her and punch the number 2 button. I want to flee and never come back... I catch myself almost running as I slip past a woman with a double stroller and step into the warm spring air.
All around me are signs of spring. Sunshine, birds singing and the buds breaking on the trees adorning the parking lot. The tears are coursing down my cheeks making it hard to navigate and the sobs begin to rack my shoulders. I want to scream!!! The parking lot which was overfull when I pulled in at 1:20 pm have emptied considerably in the 3 hours since I arrived. I easily spot my car parked in front of a still sizeable snow bank. 'Happy' by Pharrell Williams is playing on the radio and I feel anything but. My friend will not see the spring. I open my driver's side window and the roof window.... and then I blare the music trying to drown my thoughts. The world around me is full of life and happy that the weather has finally begun to change. As a child, I would look forward to putting on my runners and feeling the crunch of sand beneath the soles and skip along the sidewalk breathing in the fresh new air. I don't care to pass anyone and am OK with just following the car in front.... I can hear a horn blare in the late afternoon traffic and wonder if they know how unimportant that minute they saved ruining someone else's day by being pushy.... is worth everything to those waiting to take their last breath. The tears start to roll down the cheeks again. Melina wanted to know that her life counted for something, that she made a difference. Don't worry... you had an impact on all those who have had the pleasure of meeting you. I make it home in time to wander around the backyard distracting myself with the early spring crocuses. Lydia comes out to see how I am doing after holding her and sobbing when I first arrived home. She heads back to the house to make me a decaf coffee.
I sip the coffee while checking my e-mail and a few FB posts when I get a message from a friend. I note the location is Toronto. He has just received his second diagnosis and asks me for advice on breaking the news to his new bride. Tell her straight up and the two of you will figure out what to do next.... I am here for you both, whatever you need. xoxoxo Love you.
After dinner as I am laying in bed texting my sister, I note a lovely picture from a friend half-way across the world. I comment and ask who the gentleman is behind her? It is her father and she is making arrangements to fly out to see him before cancer takes his life. I am so sorry. Hugs and best wishes you get to see him and talk to him. Safe Journey.
...... for those who are starting a journey or nearing the end of your journey, healing and moving forward or for anything in-between..... take time today to take in a healing breath, feed your body, soul and mind and be eternally grateful for the life you have been gifted with - it's not perfect, maybe not what you expected or wanted.... but it is yours and make it the best it can be.
To my loving friend Melina.... thank you for being my friend and for being someone whom I deeply admire. I love you and yes, I will miss you dearly. Enjoy your moments with your Dad, who wil be arriving tomorrow. xoxoxoxoxox
Friday, April 4, 2014
.... and getaway for a quick fix to a local spa. I have not been to one in years... at least not since my last cancer journey. My friend Mauricia is not feeling well and sure could use a relaxing moment, worry and care free. So, today I am booking us in!!! It will be a great way to welcome in the new season.
We have finally drawn up the list of items we need for our above ground garden and sent off to see if we can have some or most of the necessity list filled so we can get started. Our new design is friendlier and easier to create but not cheaper. The initial investment will run us around the 1500 dollar mark if we are frugal. The plants which we are growing should produce enough seed stock and virtually cost us nothing to obtain other varieties if we seed swap. Creating a catalogue of seeds and sharing with others will pay dividends. Currently, my green house is really sprouting and doing exceptionally well now that the daylight hours is steadily increasing. I am doing some experiments with cold-framing in the back yard to see what in fact survives.....if anything.
Yesterday I was outside sweeping and raking up the remnants of a long winter from our driveway and front lawn. Without getting into detail.... some of which are hysterically funny........ the neighbor and I have decided that 1. we will never speak to each other again and 2. I will never speak of their property again as I remind him that they cut down city trees, broke a few noise and animal bylaws, park in the neighbor's driveway without permission......I could continue but that has already been covered in a previous blog last year. "Perfect!!" I declared as he 'na na boo booed me' (complete with tongue ) while stating that our neighbours think I am wacko too!!!! I love it, when is the last time I heard that line? Oh, yeah.....when I was like, five. It is usually indicative of someone who is losing ground in an argument and needs imaginary support. I guess he should ask the neighbours first before making that statement or accusing me of calling the city about his endlessly barking dogs. Amazing that the city sent him a letter after the neighborhood has been subjected to years of this nonsense and how quickly they learned to control them after they received it. This was after they apparently received a letter from the city with regards to the unceremonious cutting down of city owned trees on their property which succumbed after the wife hacked them down every year. He defiantly points across at the spindly tree at the edge of my yard and declares that if they hadn't cut them then they would look like mine. Only it isn't mine I remind him, and sweep my hand to encompass an entire street that is lined with city owned trees for the exception of his lawn and you have no tree left to compare with that one, I point back to the tree on my property. He has nothing left to say and stands gaping as if in mid sentence.
"I will offer that you as well never speak to me again and mind your own business when it comes to my property" I call across the road to him. DEAL. I smirk as he turns to get into his vehicle saying something under his breath I can not make out..... I stand in the road sucking my thumb as he blares his horn all the way down the road. Not my proudest moment for sure but it felt good standing up to this overgrown bully.... (I took a few lessons from my feisty Italian neighbour who even at a very slim 5' to his 6'4 large frame took him on when he tried accusing her of imagined wrongdoing - I adore her but heck, I wouldn't even try taking her on!!!!). It will feel even better when construction on my front lawn begins. I at least called the city to ask permission and got the facts before breaking ground. My husband and I will take great pains to ensure that it looks as beautiful as it is practical out of respect for those living around us.
We have already offered up our urban garden website to our neighbors and have let them know what we are up to. So far, we have a great deal of support and one neighbour who is ready to swap plants he is growing in his greenhouse!!! So I am hoping to see a warm up soon and can't wait to compare notes.
I have 2 weeks left until the end of the school year with my college students. It's been a tough year filled with challenges but a really great one too!! It will be hard to say goodbye to the students but I am excited that so many have job prospects lined up before graduation. I am so proud of all the hard work and effort they have put in this year and of their support. My colleagues and I will be hosting a pot-luck lunch for the students to celebrate the end of their school year and the beginning of their adult life.