Click on picture to read Chaco's poems

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Leaving the WE CARE HOUSE in the Morning


When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.” – D. H. Lawrence

Today our rent is up at the We Care House and we decided not to pay for January. We are going to move out in the mornning and put what little we have that we do not need on the road in the strorage unit. Tomorrow we are going to head in the general direction of New Orleans, with Pensacola Florida our final destination. We would like to head for the Florida Keys but have to be back to see the doctor on January 12. The plan is to head east along the coast stopping whenever we feel the urge and camping out at State Parks along the way. We are going to leave Sheila's Miata at her daughter for now and hopefully it will sell soon. Well that at least is our short term plan and we will have plenty of time to make future more detailed plans.

Update: Our plan now is to try and make it to Pensacola Florida to kayak or canoe the Blackwater River for 2-3 days camping overnight on the many sugar white sand bars along the 31 mile stretch of the Blackwater

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Call of the Wild

“. . . each day mankind and the claims of mankind slipped farther from him. Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest.” -jack london

             The Tufted Puffin
Lazy day today, laid in bed until both morning episodes of Fraizer were over then me and Sheila headed over to FUZZY'S TACOS for a late breakfast early lunch. After eating we put Sheila's beloved Miata on Craig's List to sell it. Yes she really does want to sell it! We have decided that once the doctor clears her for more than a couple weeks between treatments we are going to hit the road and see more of the country. We want to finish our AT hike and also see all the National Parks and also Alaska one more time. We want to take the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry all the way from Bellingham, Washington to Dutch Harbor, Alaska camping on the open deck, getting off and back on whenever we want. Now that we have seen the Whooping Cranes we think it is about time we see the Tufted Puffins! We also have been thinking once we sell her Miata we may also sell the Focus wagon and get a Subaru Outback all wheel drive wagon or ........maybe an old VW Westfalia Camper. Either way we want to get back to being homeless and free, living out some more adventures on the road and on the trails! Time again to EXPLORE- DREAM- DISCOVER !            After all.......  -Home is where you hang your food bag

                      Route of Alaska Marine Highway

Monday, December 28, 2009

Whooping It Up In Rockport Texas!

 Last night we got back to the WE CARE house about 10:30PM after a 6 hour drive from the Texas coast. We spent 3 days tenting out at Goose Island State Park. The first night we set up our tent it got down to 34 degrees and the winds on the coast were gusting to 50 MPH! Thank God for 850 Goose Down and a 4 season mountaineering tent!!! We also chose to camp in the Oak Motte right next to a small marshy pond and creek and though somewhat out of the wind, we were swarmed by Texas sized saltwater mosquitoes!! Before setting up our tent the park ranger told us that there were several Whooping Cranes down by the "Big Tree" and that we still had some time to check them out before setting up our camp. We drove to the Big Tree and soon saw the Whoopers. We had never seen a Whooping Crane and since there are now only about 270 wild ones left in the entire world and since they only winter on this one small spot on the Texas Coast after a 2500 mile migration from Woods Buffalo Wildlife Area up in northern Canada, we sure wanted to see them. They are 5 feet tall and quite a sight to see and to hear! They got as few as 15 birds in existance before they got serious about saving them. People come from all over the world just to see them!

   The next morning was Christmas and we spent the day biking down to the water and riding through the park checking out all the other birds that winter or stay on the Texas coast. The weather was still cold and windy but the  rain held off and we had a good ride and saw Osprey, Brown and White Pelicans, Black Skimmers, Oyster Catchers, Black Bellied Plovers, Great Blue Herons, Norther Shovelers, Little Blue Herons, Caspian Terns, Royal Terns, Lesser Sandpipers, Belted Kingfishers, Ruddy Turnstones, Common Loons, Willets, Curlews and Laughing Gulls. It is simply amazing the sheer numbers and varieties of birds that can be seen there. We also took a walk out onto the long pier to check out all the birds out on the oyster reefs and bars. The water at the end of  the pier was only about waist deep and it is that way throughout the region. You will see people a half mile out in the water wade fishing and they are only waist deep!

 The day after Christmas was our day to go aboard the Skimmer, a tour boat that takes people right out to the Black jack Pennisula to see the Whoopers up close. The ride out took about 20 minutes and there were all kinds of birds to see along the way. We saw our first Perigrine Falcon and White Tailed Hawk. On board were people from all over the world and most were serious "birders" with camera lenses about 3 feet long and toting massive tripods to support them. I can only imagine the pictures they got. Sometimes we were only few hundred feet from a pair of Whoopers and I could even get some decent pictures with our tiny point and shoot! After getting back off the boat, we went to a Mexican Restaurant and had Fajitas since now everything in Rocport had opened after Christmas. Sheila took a short nap in the tent while I went out in the light rain for another bike ride and tried to spot any new birds I had not seen yet.

Later that day we went to a Ranger Program down at The Big Tree. The Big Tree turned out to be the largest and oldest Coastal Live Oak  in the State of Texas and it was truly massive and something to see. The Ranger gave a great talk about the trees history and the area in general. This tree first dropped as a tiny acorn more than 1000 years ago!
They truly do not know how old it is and it could well be several thousand years old. They can't tell for sure until it dies and a cross section on the truck is cut so they can count the rings. In the mean time Texas Parks is doing everything possible to make sure it survives!

Our last day at Goose Island we attended the Ranger Program in the morning that showed how early settlers made "shellcrete", a concrete substitute made out of oyster shells which are abundant in the area. All the old park buildings are made of  of this material and built in the 1930's by the CCC. They also talked about the area's history. The Ranger and his wife and daughter gave a good presentation and even made some "shellcrete" bricks to show how they were made by the CCC. They still have no idea how earlier settlers made the oyster bricks used in the area's very old buidlings of the 1800's. Just the one buidling being used for this demo had about 15000 bricks made one at a time like this and cured for 6 weeks before they could be used to build  with.  A funny side note was this Ranger went to school as a kid at St. George's in Middletown, Rhode island.

   About 11AM we left Goose Island and headed for the Aransas Wildlife Refuge about 45 minutes north of  the State Park. We had been tenting out for 3 nights and since we forgot our camp towels we hadn't showered in that time so we were starting to feel like heading back home. Once we got to Aransas it was clear we would be spending some time there. We drove to different areas and hiked several trails, dodging those pesky saltwater mosquitoes again. We did'nt see many new birds but did spot some Whoopers in the distance from one of the observation towers. On one trail we did manage to find an alligator up on the bank just off the trail sunning itself with one of it's tiny young also sunning its self on the head of the mother gator! That was really something to see and I managed to get within a few feet of it without it getting alarmed or worse.....coming  after me!

All of the pictures we took are posted on Facebook and there are about 80 of them. I am also going to try and post a video we took of the alligator with the baby gator on its head.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Southern Migration of the Camo Colored Beer Bellied Bud Sucker

Nothing going on today, we decide to leave for the coast tomorrow morning. My last poem I wrote after taking note of all the "so called' hunters every season who head down to the Texas hill country to "hunt" deer. I have nothing against real hunting and have shot many, many deer back when I used to go hunting......but what these yahoos in their 3/4 ton 4 wheel drive  trucks towing trailers of 4 wheelers and Kawasaki Mules, wearing head to toe camouflage, so they can RIDE from their deer cabin straight to their HEATED deer stands that have been "scouted" all summer with digital game CAMERAS and solar TIMED feeders that attract deer the same time each day to their stand so that they can then be shot with over powered 7mm MAGNUMS........IS NOT HUNTING!!!! Most of these idiots have TEXAS TROPHY HUNTER decals on their truck windows and pay 3-5 THOUSAND dollars to hunt on a FENCED in game preserve with biologists on staff to "manage" the all but captive animals! Like most things that start out as a perfectly good way to enjoy the outdoors has turned into a big business catering to those people stupid and rich enough to buy into this nonsense and call themselves outdoorsman! I doubt if any of them have ever overnighted in the woods in all their lives!

The So Called Hunters

I see them almost every season
Why they kill I see no reason
They are so fat, it’s not for food
Maybe to boost a macho mood?
The solar feeder, it’s seeds abound
Same time each day sprays food around
So deer will gather at it’s feet
This “hunter” sits on a cozy seat
Only fifty yards and through his scope
Of 9X power and still he hopes
That he can hit that buck and put it in the bag
And around a campfire with beer and brag
To all who will listen he will tell
Such tales of tracking and shot so well
How he bagged that buck and packed it out
No need to say in a "four by "Scout
I used to hunt and quite a lot
But quickly found a sport it’s not
When deer are taught a timer’s dance
Scoped magnums roar, they have no chance
They can have it all, I want no part
I just wish the deer would start
To learn to shoot and get them first
Those so-called “hunters” with blood thirst


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Doctor said "as total a remission as is possible"!!!

The doctor visit today and the final results of the bone marrow biopsy showed Sheila is in as much total remission as is possible!! We now have to have periotic blood and marrow tests that will get further and further apart as long as the results show the leukemia is in remission. So now we are least for the near future! Our plan right now is to get away from the big city and head out on the road for Christmas!

The plan so far is to drive to Rockport, Texas (366 miles due south of Dallas) and tent camp at Goose Island State Park

Spend Dec 26th on board THE SKIMMER a boat/birding tour to see the Whooping Cranes that makes this their only winter home.

Texas Country Reporter Story about the Whooping Cranes and Tours to see them.

After this we need to decide where we will live and how often we need to come back for blood work....but for right now we are going to forget all about cancer and get back to nature and just the two of us on the road.......where next we have no idea.....stay will definately be interesting.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fort Worth Nature Center

Today we went to Fuzzy's Taco Shop for a late breakfast then headed 30 miles to north Fort Worth to check out the Nature Center and Refuge. We have heard about it but somehow never got around to going there. It turned out to be another nice sunny day in the 50's and perfect to get out and do some walking. When we got there they were having a Canoe Fest and for 5 bucks you could rent a canoe and explore the ponds,  marshes and islands of the nature center. The center is right at the west fork of the Trinity River and Lake Worth so there is plenty of water and waterfowl to look for. We spotted two American White Pelicans out on the water while walking the Greer Island Trail. They have 20 miles of hiking trails to walk and this one took us over a levi to Greer Island. It was a nice walk. Then we drove to the headquarters and gift shop building and looked that the owls, turtles, bobcats and prairie dogs they have on display there. After checking that out we hiked a couple more trails and went to look for the prairie dog town and bison. We only saw one bison but there was quite an extensive prairie dog town and the little guys were running all over the place and standing up at each of their dens making sure they kept an eye on us! I got one pic but it isnt too good because I had to zoom the camera all the way out and the quality gets terrible. Some day I am gonna break down and get a good DSLR camera.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ruddy Ducks and Chicken Spaghetti

Today we slept in since now we have the house to ourselves. Mikey and Greg left yesterday and Josh and Leetha went back home to west Texas today. We went to breakfast at IHOP then later went for a walk at the Arlington Veteran's Park. We have not been there before and it turned out to be a nice city park with trails in the woods, a concrete path all around the perimeter and an 8 hole disc golf course. There was also a small duck pond that was ful of the usual white tame ducks and mallards but we also noticed quite a few ruddy ducks that come to Texas in the winter only. After our walk we went to Walmart and bought the fixin's for making our "'famous" chicken spaghetti. All in all another very good day. It is nice to be able to do things like normal people without a daily visit to the cancer center! When we got back to the house I dug out my birding guide book to look up the ducks we have seen to make sure they were in fact ruddy ducks and it made me think about another poem I wrote about the apparent new discovery of  the long thought extinct Ivory Bill Woodpecker. All the famous Orthinoligists around  the world got all in a lather about the many reports from a remote part of Arkansas of sightings of the Ivory Bill. The news accounts showed all these yahoos in canoes and kayaks, all camouflaged setting out to be the first one to catch an Ivory Bill on video! It reminded me of the scene from the movie Jaws when all thoses yokals set out in anything that would float to catch the killer shark. Anyways as far as I have heard no one to this day has really seen an Ivory Bill and if anything they are spotting Piliated Woodpeckers that look almost the same and Sheila and I have seen them all over Caddo Lake and other places. Unfortunatley the Ivory Bill or the GRAIL BIRD as they call it now....people are still trying to find still EXTINCT!

The Grail Bird

I heard they found the Ivory Bill
Once thought extinct it lives here still
They found it in the woods so deep
A secret life it tried to keep
Far from man in old growth wood
But it’s call was heard and understood
They came in boats and some on foot            
All camouflaged, on faces soot
Decoys spread so that they might
Track it down and film it’s flight
So now it’s found and made the news
The world all kneels on birder’s pews
The Grail Bird’s out and on display
I’m glad it’s safe but don’t hurray
For sixty years it hid about
It’s secret safe, but now it’s out
So this must be it’s second chance
Can we not spare the song and dance?
Just stay away and let it think
That we’re the ones who went extinct

Link to full story here--->

Sufjan Stevens song .....Great God Bird:

Pic today is of Sheila coming ashore at Cheecat Cove in the Misty Fjords of Alaska. Snow on top of the mountains, grizzlies in the surrounding woods, killer whales in the 1000 foot deep waters and the nearest towns at least 40 air miles just cannot get any better than that!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hiking at The Trinity River Audubon Center

Today we all got up early to see Mikey and Greg off and help them load up the truck. They are heading back to the ranch in Kansas for Christmas. Afterwards Sheila and I went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast then headed out to the Trinity River Audubon Center to check it out and do some hiking. We have never been there and it has only been open for about a year now. It is free on the 3rd Thursday of the month and we thought that would be a good time to go. It turned out to be a nice place with a 14 million dollar education building and about 4 miles of trails. We spotted 1 Osprey, 3 Red-Tailed Hawks, 1 Kingfisher and a Turkey Vulture.We checked out the Ed. Center talked to the lady working there and hiked all of the trails they had.    (Note: double click on picture to see full size)

The WE CARE HOUSE Christmas Picture. L-R Josh, Sheila, Leetha, Mikey,Greg

Sheila in front of the new 14 million dollar Triniity River Audubon Center Building

                  Chaco and Toesocks at one of the overlooks with the Trinity River in background
Toesocks the Tree Hugger

Sheila approching the Bird Blind

Sheila inside the Bird Blind

I don't see any birds!

Time for a Tea Break

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Alligator's Lair

Today we ran some errands and went to our storage unit to get some warmer clothes and hiking boots and to put up some stuff we no longer needed here. Last night we had dinner at home because Josh cooked a big brisket and Mikey and Greg and Josh and Leetha and me and Sheila all dug in! It was great! Mikey and Greg leave tomorrow to go back to their ranch in Kansas. Me and Sheila still have no idea what we will do for Christmas but we would like to get out of Dallas! Not much else is new, Sheila is still improving and we may go for a short hike at a new nature center in Dallas tomorrow. When we were in our storage I found some old poems I have written and decided I would put a few up here from time to time. Hope they aren't too bad or boring! This is one I wrote after we went paddling our kayaks for the very first time at Caddo Lake. It was our first time in a real swamp with alligators, cypress trees in the water and Spanish moss hanging everywhere. It is so primitive looking we wouldn't have been surprised if a Pterodactyl came flying out of the trees on us! Hope you enjoy!

The Alligator’s Lair

Today we paddled to the alligator’s lair,
Through cypress trees dripping mossy wet hair,
Past beaver lodges, through spatterdock,
Deadly silent, but I heard they can bark,
Our paddles slice through stagnant duckweed,
In this quest to see a gator, indeed!
Too late to turn back, or even around,
Blackwater, my boat, it completely surrounds,
The weeds, the moss, tower above my ducked head,
So low in the water is what I most dread,
Pressed on in our search, the noises and sounds,
Of buzzing and screeching and my heart when it pounds,
The water, it looks like I could just step out,
And walk on it’s surface to look all about,
Then I see up ahead in the swamp she is trapped
in the knees of the cypress her kayak is wrapped,
I hear such a scream, then a scream once again.
Is the nightmare we feared about to begin?
As the screams and the splashing begin to subside,
I see she still lives, her paddle held high!
To strike it with might again on it’s head?
The closer I paddle it’s clear I misread,
The danger was not huge teeth and great tail….
as long as the boat and covered with scale.
The danger it seems was all in our head,
Just a little fish jumping and bravery was shed!
We laugh when we paddle that place now and then,
Remembering what nimrods we surely had been.
Now we still go, when it rains and it’s dark,
When the swamp closes in and in the distance they bark.
I don’t worry what happens if a gator we meet,
In a paddle for life, her……I know I can beat!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Alpha Imp's Reiki Pays Off Big Time!

We just got back from seeing the doctor, this time just to see if the Pneumonia was getting better and it is! We knew Sheila felt better and was coughing less but the doctor says her lungs sound better and she should be 100% in no time. Also the BEST news was that the PRELIMINARY results of her bone marrow biopsy show everything COMPLETELY normal!! We have to go back on Dec. 22 for the FINAL results of the biopsy and also a chest x-ray to make sure her lungs are clear but right now everything is looking great.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Finally a Nice Day in Dallas

Today we skipped breakfast and went to feed the ducks at Lake Arlington. We had all kinds of old bread, cereal and crackers so we drove (we usually walk but Sheila is still coughing and didn't want to walk) down to the lake and fed all the mallards, coots and gulls. The weather was in the high 60's and sunny and it was just perfect weather for a change. When we got to the lake there was a little girl and her dad near the water's edge and Sheila gave the little girl most of the bread so she could feed the ducks. It was nice just to get outside. Tomorrow its off to the cancer clinic to check in with the doctor about Sheila's pneumonia.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Long Distance Reiki Working!!!

"Like one that on a lonesome road Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turned round walks on, And turns no more his head,
Because he knows a frightful fiend Doth close behind him tread."
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Today Sheila actually feels better and she did not cough so much during the night. She has been taking antibiotics for weeks now so the only reason we can find for the improvement has to be the Reiki that sister Imp sent her long distance. THANKS IMP!!! Today as yesterday we have nothing planned except a few errands to run.. Tomorrow Sheila goes back to the doctor just to check up on her pneumonia condition. I think it is finally improving. We still have no idea what and where we will go for Christmas, it all depends on how she does getting over the pneumonia and what we hear of her bone marrow biopsy. Not much else is going on here.....below is a poem I read recently and it made me think how lucky we all were to share this past Thanksgiving with so many family members from all over the country and best of all in the old house at 705.

Thanksgiving by Edgar Albert Guest

Gettin' together to smile an' rejoice,
An' eatin' an' laughin' with folks of your choice;
An' kissin' the girls an' declarin' that they
Are growin' more beautiful day after day;
Chattin' an' braggin' a bit with the men,
Buildin' the old family circle again;
Livin' the wholesome an' old-fashioned cheer,
for awhile at the end of the year.
Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin' our stories as women an' men.
Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we're grateful an' glad to be here.
Home from the south land an' home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an' best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We've come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an' be frank,
Forgettin' position an' station an' rank.
Give me the end of the year an' its fun
When most of the plannin' an' toilin' is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin' with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An' I'll put soul in my Thanksgivin' prayers.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cancer Center for a Money Transfusion

"Give me the scorn of the stars and a peak defiant;
Wail of the pines and a wind with the shout of a giant;
Night and a trail unknown and a heart reliant " -rw service

Today we slept in having no treatments or any appointments. When we got up we went to IHOP for the Garden Scramble and some Gingerbread Pancakes. Then it was more Christmas shopping for the Grandkids and finally to the Cancer Center, this time to give THEM a transfusion of cash! At least that is the way to go if you MUST go there! We are now back at the house where we had seven people staying last night. Mikey and Greg who are always here with us and Josh and Leetha who come just a few days a week and also Darren a guy who has been here just a few times now and then. Don't know what the rest of the day holds for us but Sheila needs to just rest up and take her antibiotics so she can get over this pneumonia. I might run over to our storage unit and get some things out of it that we need now that the weather is cold and also put up some things we do not need.

Pic today is of Toesocks and me in the Smokey Mountains on our 2008 AT Thru-hike. It had been raining for 2-3 days and in the 40's and 50's. We were soaked through and through and our feet and socks were cold and very wet. When we woke up in the morning in one of the shelters it had snowed all night and our socks and sandals were frozen solid! We had to put them in our sleeping bags with us to defrost them enough to put on and continue our hike!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Well today we went in for Sheila's bone marrow biopsy. She had blood work done first and all her counts are all perfect! The biopsy went OK and it will be 10 days until we learn the results. Because of her cough the doctor sent her down to get a chest x-ray and the results showed that she has pneumonia. So now Sheila has two more powerful antibiotics to take and goes back to the doctor on Monday to see how she's doing. She feels fine except for the cough and we are still trying to figure out where to go for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"driver's license?......we don't have no stinking driver's license!

Yes that's right Sheila has been driving with an expired driver's license. We did not realize it until going through airport security when we flew to Connecticut and it was pointed out to her. Well today we realized we had forgotten about it when we got back to Texas, so today we went and got it renewed. We also finished some Christmas shopping for Sheila's grand kids and got my car's oil changed, new back brakes and replaced a burnt out resistor that kept the car heater and AC working. Glad that is now all fixed and the car is ready to hit the road again. Now if we can only figure out where to go for Christmas...we sure don't want to spend it here at the cancer house. Tomorrow we go for the bone biopsy and then won't know the results for a few days after that. We are both counting on good news!!!

Pic today is of Sheila, sister Carol, Scott, myself and a very STRIKING dog, RASCAL. We are walking the Sakonnet Greenway Trail on Aquidneck Island.

Monday, December 7, 2009

No Global Warming in Texas

Since we left New England and drove back to Texas we have had the nastiest, cold, damp, drizzily weather. Today we went to IHOP for the breakfast special then to the library to print out resumes to get in the mail, then to Walmart for Sheila to do some Christmas shopping for her grand kids. This is the first day we have taken two cars to run errands and the first time since leaving Texas for the trail that Sheila has driven her car. after the library I caught up with her at Walmart and so only had to endure a small bit of the Christmas shopping. At least it was a weekday and so the hordes of stampeding wilderbeasts that pass these days for holiday shoppers was at a minimum! We are still trying what to do and where to go for Christmas and have not come up with anything yet. I would like to spend it somewhere remote and unpopulated, preferably in a tent, but we will have to wait and see what the word is from the doctor when we go in for Sheila's bone marrow biopsy on Wednesday.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Do We Still Own This Much Stuff!!??

Back from IHOP after sleeping in today, tired from the drive back to Texas. I cleaned out the station wagon this morning and though its nice to have some more clothes to wear it is surprising how much "STUFF" we still own. By most people's standards we own next to nothing but after being on the trail with just a backpack containing the basic "survival" necessities, I still have to wonder why we have so many pairs of shoes, jackets and other stuff. A person sure does not truly NEED most of the stuff they work so hard to accumulate. Obviously there is still some more downsizing we can do. (We did drop off at Goodwill this morning, 3 pairs of shoes and a pair of pants) I recently have been reading about a guy who for one year was going to live with just 100 possessions, well Sheila and I have been doing with much less than that for the last year and I now cannot understand why anyone would collect all the stuff we used to own. I look around at houses while on a walk and cannot believe that with houses getting larger and larger and their garages full of everything BUT their cars, people still have to install sheds in their backyards for the things they think they need to make them happy. If you only stop and think about all the marketing and advertising we are bombarded with 24/7 you begin to understand how the average American has been brainwashed into thinking that their overworked underpaid stressful lives will only improve and be happier if they but buy this product or that product! I only wish I woke up to that fact when in my twenties and not my fifties. I DO know this....I will never own a TV, a new car, a closet full of clothes, a garage full of kayaks, motorcycles or other "toys", more than a room full of minimal furniture, or a house again! Right now the only question is where can we escape to for Christmas??

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Long Anticipated Trip is Through - Crossed Into Texas with Dylan's Tangled Up In Blue

We are back "home" at the WE CARE house and it was good to get back after 5 days on the road. Sheila and I had a 3 day visit with her sister Nancy and Nancy's daughter and kids, then a easy drive back to Texas. We only drove about 3-400 miles per day due to Sheila being tired and still suffering from that persistent cough she had since leaving Dallas. It seems we have been gone for a month because each day was filled with so much to do and so many friends and family to see. It was just fantastic for us to temporarily be footloose and fancy free after so many months confined to the hospital and cancer center. It was so good to see both our families and that they all seem healthy, happy and doing so good! Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible for us to be able to see so many of you! Some of you traveled great distances to be there, others worked so hard on cooking, and gathering tables, chairs, decorations and making the house available and comfortable for me and Sheila and we know and appreciate how much work it must have been. Then to also have to clean up afterwards.....THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!!

Pic today is one sister Imp took of the Newport Bridge. Taken right from her island farmhouse in Jamestown.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Blinding Snow all the Way Through Mississippi

Well it is about 10pm and we just made it to Vicksburg, Mississippi. As soon as we left Birmingham about 430pm we noticed it looked like snow. When we got to Meridian, Mississippi it started snowing, then started snowing hard! Lucky for us the ground was still warm and it didn't stick anywhere except on parked cars and the grass and trees. It was great to drive at night at 70 miles per hour with the highbeams on so that we could really see the snow coming down sailing along listening to Crosby Stills and Nash. Tomorrow after a good breakfast (Cracker Barrel is right next to the motel) we will have only 380 miles or so back to Dallas. We were hoping the snow would keep on all night but just watching the Weather Channel it looks like it will all end soon.

Some pics from Birmingham: Nancy and Sheila at the computer looking at pictures.
The other pics are me and my new friend Rosie, Kelly's Cocker/Golden Retreiver mix. What a great little dog.....looked more like a golden retriever but the size of a cocker spaniel. I wanted to take her home with us, but then I wanted to take Sadie, Cally, Lucy, Shasha, Rascal and Ruger home with me too!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day 2 - Still in Birmingham

Today we went to breakfast at the Cracker Barrel next to the Jamison Inn then went to Lowes to find a bathroom light fixture that would work in Kelly's bathroom. We found a nice Hollywood type vanity light and headed to Kelly's house to see Nancy and install the light fixture. They also wanted me to install towels racks and paper holders and a shower caddy. These things were all standard simple installations and I was done in no time. Then the the new light and exhaust fan decided not to work. I knew the fan worked before I even installed the light fixture but now both failed to work at all. I took apart the switches on the wall to check all the connections and found everything was OK. After taking apart all the nearby switches and turning all the switches in the house on to see if a bad "make up" was causing the problem. Still no luck! Finally I decided to trip the bath GFCI outlet on and off and sure enough it turned the light and fan on and off BUT did NOT turn the outlet itself off when tripped. This meant that if you dropped a hair dryer into the sink the GFCI would not trip off and prevent a possible fatal shock! Once I took that device apart and rewired it properly everything worked as they should have.
We spent the rest of the day taking Nancy to lunch at Ruby Tuesday's and then to Walmart to by a baby outfit for Kelly's oldest daughter Sarah who is expecting a baby girl in February. We also showed Kelly and Nancy pictures of our AT hike and other trips we have been on. After it got dark we decided to stay here another day and go back and get our room at the Jamison back. Getting out of Kelly's neighborhood especially after dark is one of the most frustrating drives I have ever taken, and we have already been there back and forth once. Every street seems to run into others with the same name......8th Street runs into 8th Place then 8th Terrace and so on and so on. The different numbers do not even seem to go in any one general direction either and some street with no turns just turn into another street with a different number! My GPS did not have the street levels here loaded onto it and therefore was of no use. Being totally lost in the woods less maddening!! We even wrote down instructions right off of Mapquest and it did no good, we still got completely turned around! No matter what direction we drove off in we ended up back at the same little shopping center about 4 times! Tomorrow we will visit again ...IF we can find our way back into the maze!

Pic today is of the Chase Clan at 705 many years ago?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dodging Tornados and Rain All the Way To Birmingham

We got an early start today and made it the 400 miles from Kingsport, Tenn to Birmingham, Al. dodging tremendous wind and rainstorms. The weather was really bad as we headed out and we even heard that Dallas got snow last night. That's really funny seeing how we went to New England for Thanksgiving and the only snow was in Dallas! We got to Sheila's niece's house today about 2:30PM and had a nice visit with Nancy and Kelly and her kids and dog. Then we went and got a nearby motel for the night and will return in the morning so they can visit some more and I can start the electrical project they have laid out for me. One bathroom has no working lights and I will fix that tomorrow after a visit to the nearby Home Depot. We just got back in from eating at Applebee's with a motel discount and plan to go to bed early and be rested up for tomorrow. We called Sheila's doctor in Dallas about her cough getting worse and the nurse told us to keep taking the antibiotics and to also get some expectorant at a local drug store. That should be all she needs until we get back to Dallas in a couple days.

Pic Today: Sister Sue and her daughter Sydney walking arm in arm in the "Woods of Morton Park"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Driving Through Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virgina and Virginia with Bob Dylan and Neil Young

Today we left Pine Grove, Penn. about 10 AM and drove about 500 miles and through four states! It was a nice sunny day and with Dylan and Young playing on the CD we passed city after city that we walked though on our AT north bound hike. Front Royal, the Shenandoah's, Marion, Akins, Buena Vista, Pearisburg, Damascus and others passed by and we remembered things about the hike. Also countless picture perfect postcard-like farms and rolling green hills kept the scenery varied as the miles went by. We didn't make Alabama but will tomorrow if we get an early start. Sheila is anxious to see her sister Nancy and see how she is doing. So we will most likely hit the Cracker Barrel Restaurant for breakfast in the morning and then head south. We still have a long way to drive before we get back to Texas.

Pic Today is of sister Deb on her horse

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pine Grove, Penn.

Short update: We are in Pine Grove,PA., a place we had hiked into while on the AT in 2008. Found a discount coupon for the Comfort Inn while eating at McDonald's tonight. Sheila is tired and coughing alittle more so we only went about 300 miles today. Will still try for Birmingham, AL tomorrow. Rain all day, enjoyed driving through the Bronx, the George Washington Bridge and even stopped in Delaware Water Gap and set foot on the AT! Took a pic of Sheila near an AT double blaze! Nice to be FREEEEEEEE again!

Chaco and Toesocks On the Road Again!!!

Well after a whirlwind visit in Connecticut and Newport, RI with all my family from four generations we are back on the road heading toward Alabama to visit Sheila's sister Nancy then on to Dallas. Thanksgiving was just unreal and will take a very long time for all the memories from that day to begin to fade. We saw so many relatives from all over New England and Florida, many who have not seen each other since they were small kids! It was just fantastic! Staying in our old family home and sleeping in my childhood room was just icing on the cake! Thanks to EVERYONE who made this trip so unbelievable! Walking in the WOODS with Sue and her kids and dogs, watching Deb ride her horse , hiking with Carol and Scott on that new trail and having dinner and REIKI at sister Imp's....well in could just not have been more enjoyable. We love all you guys! If a man's wealth was measured in the kind of people his sisters turned out to be .....I must be freeking Howard Hughes!!!!

Picture above is sister Imp's license plate....and I DO BELIEVE!!!! I believe I have the BEST sisters in the world!!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Newport Keeps Getting Better


Thanksgiving at the old house with all my sisters and all their kids and our Uncle Robert was out of this world! The food was outrageous, the house was overfilled with about 30 people, dogs...LOTS of dogs, good cheer, funny stories, sad stories, remember memories and lots and lots of food! Everyone brought something to eat. There were TWO turkeys, one cooked here at 705 by my sister Deb, another cooked by sister Carol's boyfriend Scott, sister Imp's boyfriend Bob cooked several pies, brownies baked by Beth Allen who stopped by to say HI and grew up with us just two doors down, beer and wine by Uncle Robert who came dressed up as an Indian. It was just a mob of people who have not been together in a very long time, noisy, unruly, unorganized confusion of people with dogs running throughout the house, one table full of food collapsing into the floor and just the best damn time imaginable!! Thanks to all my sisters who pulled together to bring all this food, fun and family together after all these years!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Haven/Newport.....WE HAVE LIFT OFF!!!!!

Today is Sheila's birthday!!!! We just got home from running around town, to the doctor, to the pharmacy, to go out to eat, back to the pharmacy.....WE GOT THE ALL CLEAR TO LEAVE TEXAS FOR THANKSGIVNG!! The blood work was all good, the doctor took her CVC out and we do not have to be back for ANYTHING until December 9th! On the 9th Sheila will have a bone marrow biopsie to determine what, if any future treatments are needed. So look out New we come!! We cannot wait to see all my family again and spend Thanksgiving in the old house we all grew up in.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Two Days and A Wakeup!!!!

Just got to the hospital by 11AM for Sheila's two units of whole blood. We started the day at 10AM at the Parks Mall Carousel for her grand DAUGHTER'S birthday party. I had to correct my error on yesterday's post because I said it was her grandson's party. I thought that because we just received the birthday gift Sheila ordered for HIS birthday just the other day. We had to leave the party early because we had to get to the hospital. At least we made this one, Sheila just missed another granddaughter's birthday party last month because she was getting platelets. We have NO treatments tomorrow and then Monday we see the doctor for blood work and to see how long and IF we get to travel to Newport on Tuesday. Talk about taking it down to the wire! I think we should be OK because her white count is climbing now and she has had platelets and whole blood and she feels good. Sheila has had a few rough nights due to bone and joint pain but that is only the nuepergen shots causing that. Once those shots stop so will the pain.

Party Pics>

Friday, November 20, 2009

Blood, More Blood and Birthday Party Tomorrow

Well today we went to the Cancer Center and had Sheila's blood work done and her white counts are at 3.3 (they were just .3 on Wednesday) , so they are looking pretty good for flying the hell outta here on Tuesday!!! Her red counts are still low though and so tomorrow we go to the hospital to get TWO units of whole blood! This is bad niews because Sheila has her grandaughter's birthday party tomorrow at the same time. When we got to the house she called and had her transfusion postponed until 11Am so we can go to the party first. So its the party at 10 and then blood at 11. This should work out OK.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Congrats to Sister Imp....She Got the Vet Tech Job!!!!

While sitting in the hospital's blood room getting Sheila topped off with platelets so we can go home to Newport on Thanksgiving we got a call from my sister Imp (Christine) and she told us that she got the Vet Tech job she had been hoping to land!! She has been volunteering at a Wildlife Rescue , working at Ruff Life (a doggie daycare), adopted a rescue dog of her own, and working toward getting her Vet Tech credentials. CONGRATULATIONS IMP!!! They could not have hired a more dedicated person to help care for animals!!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mikey and Greg Go Home Tomorrow

Today we went to have lab work done in addition to Sheila's neupergen shot and antibiotics. Her counts are SLOWLY coming back up and she needs platelets so tomorrow we go to the hospital to get platelets. Then Friday another set of labs and on Monday we see the doctor. Hopefully he will tell us that we can travel and how long before we have to be back. Also Mikey and Greg are doing better and they are OK'ed to travel home, so tomorrow they get on the road back to their ranch in Kansas. They have not been home in over six months! So all is all things are starting to look up for NOT having to spend Thanksgiving here!

Pic today is of our kayaks on Winstanley Island in the Tongrass National Forest Alaska. We had stopped there to dry out at the Forest Service Cabin on the island during our one week kayak/camping trip to the Misty Fiords in 2005.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Getting Down To The Wire

UPDATE : Sheila

Last night Sheila had some bad back pain and was up most of the night. A long massage and some Advil seemed to help. When we got to the Cancer Center today we told the nurses about the pain and as we already knew the neupergen shots she has been getting daily have a side effect of intense pain in the joints and bones. The plus side is they are supposed to help get her white cell count to come back up. Since we got home she took half of a pain pill and went to sleep.


I just got off the phone with Dan and he sounds like he is doing great. He went home on Sunday from the hospital and tomorrow goes right back to work. He is sore and black and blue where the inserted the catheter in his leg to run the stints near his heart. I am surprised he went home and is doing this good this fast. Technology is amazing!

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Week-Repeat of Last Week

Today we saw Dr. DiStefano and his plan now is continue Sheila on Nepergen shots and antibiotics all this week because her counts are still low. He thinks they have bottomed out though and hopefully will start back up this week. She is to have lab work on Wednesday and Friday to see if the counts improve. Its going to be right down to the wire about knowing if we can travel to Newport. He thinks it will just work out that we can fly out on the 24th.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dan the Man Goes Home

After we finished with the Cancer Center today we called Yolonda to find out how Dan was doing. She said he was feeling good and waiting to be discharged. WOW, he really dodged a bullet on that one. In the hospital for intense chest pains one day and sent home the next after having two stints placed in his arteries! I am so relieved he is OK. We just came home from Cheddars where we had lunch and are going to relax at the house today. Nothing new here except trying to make sure we are able to fly to New England for Thanksgiving. Sheila is wearing her surgical mask when we go out and trying to avoid any crowds and are using Germ-X like there is no tomorrow. We just have to get her blood counts up to normal so that we can get out if here on the 24th!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Brother Dan Dodges a Heart Attack!

Well today while Sheila was receiving platelets at Arlington Memorial Hospital we got a phone call from Yolonda telling us that Dan was in the ER at Mansfield Methodist Hospital. He was having chest pains all night and agreed to go to the ER the next morning. By the time we got there they had him getting 2 stints put in due to the blockages they found during tests. Luckily the doctor said he did not have a heart attack but was very lucky he got into the hospital. When we left he was doing fine and cracking jokes about quitting smoking for sure this time! I sure hope so.

Not Many Miles Out of Last Fillup....In for Platelets Today!

Right now we are at the Hospital's Blood Room getting Sheila 2 units of platelets. We knew yesterday that she would need platelets because yesterday the nurse scratched Sheila when she gave her the nupergen shot and it was still bleeding last night! So after the lab's blood work came back they showed she needed platelets....big surprise! The hospital orders said, under, "when needed"...NOW! So here we are getting the platelets we knew yesterday she needed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We Care House Preparing to 'bug out' for Thanksgiving

We went to the ACC today as usual for Sheila's antibiotics and nupergen shot. Tomorrow we have lab work to see if her blood counts have bottomed out yet. I think they probably have and she is wearing a mask now when she goes out just to be on the safe side. No other treatments are planned as yet but i think she will probably need more blood or platelets before the counts return to normal. Tomorrow we will know more. Mikey and Greg have been having a rough time of it lately but today got good news from the doctor and it looks like they will make it home to their ranch in Kansas for Thanksgiving. This is fantastic news because they have been here so long without being able to go home. Josh and Leetha are here but keep mostly to themselves in their room so we don't really know how they are doing. Everyone hopes to get out of here for the holiday though. Sheila is feeling quite good since she got the whole blood and that should only get better as long as she doesn't have to endure any chemo. So far things are looking good for everyone to get home!!!

On another note two of my sisters (Christine and Sue) have adapted dogs recently even though they both have a dog or two already. I know that the two dogs they rescued are very lucky to have found homes with them!! Here are some pics of Sadie and Cali

Sadie needs a good home!

Sadie safe and happy at home with Ruger

Cali also needing a good home

Cali safe at Sue's with Chase!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In for a Fill-Up!

This morning we went to the ACC to have blood work and antibiotics and Sheila's nupegen shot, then on to the hospital to get her TWO units of whole blood. When we got to the hospital's infusion room (The Blood Room) we were the ONLY ones there! We told the head nurse that we were SUPPOSED to get blood yesterday but were told by the oncologist's nurse that Tuesday they were "booked up" and we would have to wait until Wednesday for blood! The nurse then told us that the have been SLOW for days!!! They don't recall anyone even checking with them to see if Sheila could get in on Tuesday!! This really pisses me off! If you don't stay on top of things you WILL get jerked around.....and this IS one of the best cancer centers in the country!! I try not to be a total jerk when dealing with Sheila's medical needs but with few exceptions many of them just don't know what the hell they are doing or don't care! I am used to dealing with this kind of stupidity and apathy when getting my car's oil changed or waiting to be served in a restaurant but will not get jerked around again. After so long a process of getting treated everyday I guess I got lulled into a false sense of security that by now they KNOW what exactly Sheila needs when she gets there each day. This is the SECOND time they have dropped the ball and I have went blindly along....this will NOT happen a third time! I feel sorry for the cancer patient who goes it alone during this long process because they should not have to second guess each procedure while feeling as bad as many of them do while going through this treatment. Right now we are still in the hospital blood room and Sheila is on unit (bag) number 2 of whole blood. She also had lab today before we came over here and I am making sure they get the results over here before we leave. I will not get Sheila halfway home and they call us to come back because her platelets are low and she needs another infusion. I would think that that would happen automatically but the nurse said she wouldn't count on it. So we will wait and see if the results make it over here........I know it is ALL THE WAY NEXT DOOR!!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Running on Empty

This morning after IHOP we went to the ACC (Arlington Cancer Center) to have Sheila's daily infusion of antibiotics and a nupergen shot. She is really worn out due to lack of hemoglobin in her red blood. No red blood cells means she is not processing oxygen and she gets winded just walking around. We normally would have been to the hospital for whole blood but they are booked up and we cannot get in till tomorrow. Once she gets the whole blood she will perk right up and start improving, at least related to her energy levels. Her counts will continue to drop further for at least the rest of the week and I am sure we will be back to the hospital to get her some platelets before she rebounds from this last very powerful dose of chemo. It is called HIDEK (not sure of the spelling) but it is about 60 times the potency of the regular rounds she had in the beginning. We also found out she has subtype M-2 AML and at least that isn't the most devastating subtype to have and it has a slightly better than average prognosis for a recovery. We have met a young guy who has subtype M-8 and it does not respond to chemo so he is right now undergoing radiation and a bone marrow transplant. I hope he makes it!

Sheila is resting now and I am doing some laundry before going to meet my daughter Ashley for lunch. She is also returning some clothes she had of mine in storage and I could use them because we don't have much here with us. Most of whaat we own is still in my car up in Connecticut! Hoping to drive the car back to Texas after we visit my family in Newport for Thansgiving. Things look like they are working out as far as making it up there, all we have to do is get Sheila strong enough and get on the plane! My sister Sue is having new tires put on my car and I can't thank her enough. I planned on putting new tires on it after we finished the trail and moved to Virginia. I know they were getting bald and have squeezed every possible mile out of them. Thanks to Sue and Mike for taking care of this before we get up there!

The pic today is Sheila at a unique shelter on the AT. It is an AT Caretaker's converted garage in his yard just down the street from where the AT crosses a road. The Caretaker is a volunteer who lives in the house and maintains the shelter, the house and the yard. He also takes care of the hikers who stop there for the night. There were showers and toilets and even rumors of ice cream, although he had stopped selling the ice cream on the "honor system" for obvious reasons, by the time we came through! THAT was a BIG disappointment!

Monday, November 9, 2009


Today we went in to see the oncologist Dr. DiStefano and after looking at her blood work said although her counts are in the basement they should come right back up just as they have done all the times before. He plans no more chemo! At least not in the near future. The plan now is to let her counts come back up with the help of antibiotics and nupergen shots all this week and blood work on Wednesday and Friday. Then see the doctor again next Monday. At this time he does not see any reason we shouldn't be able to travel for Thanksgiving!

Pic today is of Sheila looking down into Lehigh Gap in Pennsylvania after climbing all the way to the top during our 2008 AT Thru-hike.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Zero Day

Today we did nothing except went out to eat breakfast at noon at IHOP. Sheila is feeling really tired and run down and has spent the day just resting in bed and sleeping. Mikey and Greg are in the same boat today and have spent the day doing the same with Greg sleeping and Mikey watching football. Greg has been having a rough couple of days with alot of pain. So it has been extra quiet around here today with everyone mostly staying in their rooms. The other couple we have had here from time to time, Josh and Litha were here for a few days and have gone back to west Texas until sometime next week. Tomorrow we go to see Dr. DiStefano and to have blood work done. I guess next week will be like all the others after a round of chemo with Sheila getting whole blood and platelets and antibiotics. The main thing we are hoping for is for her blood counts to come back up in time to go to Newport. The other thing we hope is that this will be the last round of chemo like the doctor has eluded to. We will know more next week!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Last Round of Chemo Completed!!

Well today we had Sheila's last round of chemo with her backpack disconnected and hopefully it will be last we see of that contraption! Next time she dons another backpack it will be while hiking a high, wild and lengthy trail of the Appalachian variety!!!! I HOPE!!! Anyways that's the plan. We go back to the doctor on Monday to have blood work done and I am sure will do the same every three days or so until all her blood counts come back up to normal. I hope that's the way it works out. It is so hard to plan ahead and we have seen many other patients thrown wild curves by the cancer and/or the treatments. Sheila feels good but is a little tired and run down by the chemo and also the eyedrops she has to use have a side effect of lethargy. Today after the cancer center I raked leaves up in the yard and then went and had lunch with my brother Dan at El Fenix. I had a good visit with Dan as Sheila stayed and rested at the house. Tonight Mikey made us all dinner and right now we are sitting out in the sun room relaxing before devouring the peach cobbler she also made.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Slackpacking Today!!!

Today Sheila picked up her slackpack at the Arlington Cancer Hostel. Since today is our last "scheduled" day on this Leukemia Trail (hopefully!) we will only carry it till tomorrow when we summit Blood (count) Mountain. This trail has been very much like our last great adventure thru-hiking the AT. We have met many people on this trail, some we saw almost everyday and others only now and then as they either hiked ahead or fell behind us or off the trail altogether. Our backpacks weight has varied from time to time depending on how far the next resupply point was. We have used far more hand sanitzer than we did on the AT trying not to pick up any "nasties" from other hikers or the "townies". The food generally has been poor and we have been subsisting on whatever we can pick up along the way prefering as we did on the AT not to cook! We have not had many zero days on this trip trying to complete this thru-hike as quicky as possible. Most of all just like the AT hike it has been about the people. We have met many great people on this hike who have stopped to help us along the way. Some offered shelter, others made sure we got a good meal before heading out on the trail again! Ours plans after we summit tomorrow is to rest up and get healthy enough to make it up to the now famous Thanksgiving Day Hiker Feed in Newport Rhode Island. Fellow travellers from all over the country are expected to make it there this year! We hope to see everyone there!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Home Stretch Tomorrow!

Tomorrow (Friday) we go to get Sheila's LAST day of scheduled chemo! She will get her chemo pack installed and it will run until Saturday morning. Then on Saturday we go to have it disconnected and it is ALL OVER! Well at least for awhile. Then we wait to see if all her counts come back up on their own. I am sure she will need whole blood and platelets like all the other times after chemo, but if her counts check out OK in the 16 days we have before we are due to fly up to Connecticut...WE CAN GET OUTTA HERE FOR THANKSGIVING!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sold Old Sleeping Bags.....Sheila Got a New Backpack

Went to the Cancer Center as usual today to get Sheila's second chemo backpack hooked up today. Back tomorrow to take it off, then Friday back on for the last day of chemo. The last day EVER we are hoping! The next step is just to get her blood counts up enough to travel to Trumbull and Newport!! Sheila's hair is still trying to grow back and I have even let mine get as long as hers.....about 1/2 of an inch! Today I finally put on Craig's List a couple of sleeping bags we have that we don't need.. We have 7 sleeping bags total and it was time to get rid of some stuff! The ad was on Craig's List only about 15 minutes before I got a call. A lady and her husband heading to the Grand Canyon came by tonight and bought both bags. That Craig's List is amazing for getting rid off stuff quick!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Day at The Cancer Center

Sheila sweeping the patio at the WE CARE house
(note her new chemo backpack)

Today we got back to the daily grind of the Arlington Cancer Center. First we went to the lab to get the tubes for Sheila's blood work. We will not let the lab draw her blood because she has a CVC line and I don't want them sticking needles into her when they can just draw it out of the CVC. Well the lab is not certified to draw blood from the CVC so we just pick up the empty tubes for the blood samples and take them to the Infusion Center next door. The Infusion Center can draw the blood samples but then we have to takes the now filled tubes of blood back to the lab for the testing. I think it is a small price to pay for avoiding all those needles! Remember that just one needle stuck in her arm back in New York cause a massive infection and alot of grief for both of us! Next we went upstairs to see Dr. DiStefano after waiting more than an hour for the blood work results to get over to him. He said all Sheila's counts are great and chemo would start back up today. As I type this we are back at Infusion getting her premeds infused so they can hook up the chemo pack and send us home. Mikey and Greg are here today also and he is in alot of pain since they temporarily took him off chemo so he could build himself back up. His legs and feet had swelled up so much that he could not even put shoes on and had to use a walker just to get from the house to the truck. He is one tough guy and like me has a major problem letting other people help him for ANY reason. I guess it's just a guy thing! Mikey and him finally just had a weekend with no treatments and wouldn't you know it, he started to have alot of pain. They start chemo again tomorrow and maybe that and some pain meds will help him. At least his swollen legs and feet have gone down somewhat. Sheila and I have been very lucky in that she has not had any of the serious side effects or radical treatments many of the people here have been through. We have been VERY lucky, compared to most of the people we see here at the Cancer Center, Sheila comes and goes pretty much like a healthy person and except for the bald heads (hers AND mine) you wouldn't even know there was anything wrong.

Picture Today: "A top notch looking couple" an elderly lady called us as we resupplied during a town stop on our AT thru-hike. Here we are in Damascus, Virginia during the three day celebration called TRAIL DAZE. Twenty thousand AT hikers from past and present attend the festival and the whole town comes out to throw water balloons and spray garden hoses at all the "smelly" hikers in the Annual Hiker Parade!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chemo Tomorrow (Hope it's the Last One!)

Tomorrow 9AM (Monday) we have to go to the Cancer Center for lab work, which I am sure will be all good thanks to a week off. Then at 10AM we go to see the doctor and should be scheduled to start Sheila's last "planned" round of chemo. If all goes as planned she will get some premeds then start a backpack full of chemo to run one day. Then on Tuesday the backpack will come off. Wednesday another day of with the backback and off for Thursday. Friday it should run for one last day, then lab work every 2-3 days to watch her blood counts come back up. We are hoping it will all come back quickly enough for us to fly up north for Thanksgiving.

Pic Today: Tents on the Appalachian Trail 2008

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Homemade Chili and Trick'r Treaters

Today we made a giant pot of homemade chili and its was excellent!! We were visited by Sheila's daughter with her kids all dressed up for Halloween and also my daugher Jacki and her boyfriend Joe came by on their way to a party. Here are some pictures.