Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer on the Downside

  It's hard to believe but the summer gardening season is on the downside and school starts in 10 days!  We have been harvesting large quantities of produce from the garden. We are giving most of it to family and friends, plus 2 large bags to the chemo doctor's office for doctors and nurses. Dozens of ears of corn, honeydew and cantaloupe, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, onions, potatoes, sweet peppers and even still gleaning a few blackberries. We don't preserve much anymore, but Rita has frozen some cut corn, blackberries, peppers, onions, and made freezer jam from blackberries and peaches. Wendy and the girls made a 4 day trip to Orlando recently and brought us a box of delicious Georgia peaches.
  Yesterday was lawn mowing day but I was under doctor's orders to lay low, so Wendy and Steve came over and mowed for us and then stayed for some pinochle .
  I had chemo last Wednesday, then returned Friday feeling puny. My electrolytes were low, so got a liter of IV fluid. Also, my hemoglobin was low, on the verge of needing a blood transfusion. I got a shot of Aranesp, which builds hemoglobin, and return Monday for another blood test.
  The chemo has been progressively affecting my feet and legs and some of that can remain permanently, so the doctor thinks it may be time to stop the chemo and start radiation. I have a CT on Wednesday and return on Aug. 6 to see where we go next.
  Please pray that my blood levels will normalize and that I will tolerate the radiation side effects.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Great Garden Harvest Continues

Closeup of zinnias and glads in the front garden bed

Beautiful sunset after a 1" rain last week

The Honeydew melons are just loaded with large melons

Cantaloupe are a bit later but loaded as well

Summer Slice cucumbers are plentiful and tasty

We are inundated with sweet corn. Seems it is all maturing earlier than suggested maturity date. The Cloud Nine is the best followed by Peaches and Cream, then Kandy Korn. I won't plant Spring Treat or Quickie again. I pulled about 50 nice sized Walla Walla sweet onions this week, like this one.

This is after 3 minutes in the microwave, then I enjoyed it!

The Butternut squash are loaded too

The near row is butternut....I count 10 visible in the picture.

Medical Update
  We had another great report last week...the cancer marker test declined again down to 527 (originally 36,000 and a month ago 1788). Just 500 points to the normal range now! Praise God!  Chemo continues.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Blackberry pie and 4th of July

  We enjoyed a great Fourth of July. All the family was here plus Katie Bug's friend and her mother as well as Brittany's friend.

   As usual, there was about three times as much food as we could eat! Check this out....

   We are inundated with garden produce and are giving it away to anyone who stands, friends, neighbors, the mail lady.  Sweet corn, tomatoes, blackberries, cucumbers, squash, green beans.. There are several honeydew melons 8" diameter already. I'll get some new pictures for my next post

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Garden Bounty

   First some beauty......first row of the garden beds with glads and mini zinnias.

Tall zinnias on the back of the calf shed.

A 4"x4" Yukon Gold already! An early Girl tomato and a Walla Walla sweet.
Harvest is in full swing; the past week included Quickie sweet corn, yellow squash, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and loads of blackberries.

The back garden; setting on lots of Butternut squash, cantaloupe and Honeydew measuring several inches. Just planted the rest of the bed in the foreground to the last planting of  Kandy Korn sweet corn and Connecticut field pumpkins. 

This picture is too distant, but l to r, flower row, then Annihilator bush beans, then onions and potatoes, all of which are maturing rapidly, then first and second plantings of sweet corn. We'll have Cloud Nine corn maturing next week, followed by Kandy Korn and Peaches and Cream.

Even a bunny shaped tomato!

Medical Update

   Pretty much "same old...same old".  Finished month 4 of chemo last Wednesday. Next week is an off week and then start month 5 of the same. Will have the next cancer marker test in less than 2 weeks....we pray for another decline in the number.
   The cumulative effects of the chemo are catching up to me a bit, but it's nothing I can't bear. It is working and that is the main thing.
   I thank those of you who continue to remember me and pray for me. It means so much.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Garden Harvest Begins

  Harvest I'm digging under the most mature potato vine to "steal" a few Yukon Golds.

Took a Walla Walla, sweet too!

Breakfast featured fresh boysenberries on Bran Flakes. We had some yesterday over ice cream when family was here.

Cucumbers and Fortex pole beans are climbing; we are working hard to protect the pole beans from the pesky wabbits! Bush beans are behind me and will bear soon. (That's Uncle Charlie the scarecrow in the picture, not me!!!)

First planting of sweet corn looks great! Corn-on-the-cob within 2 weeks.

We have been picking the first tomatoes for a week now. Yumm!

This is the "back" garden. Yellow squash being picked now, butternut, cantaloupe, honeydew melons, watermelon, more cukes and pole beans, and late corn, with 1 more planting of corn plus pumpkins next week.

My 2 favorite modes of transportation: John Deere and the golf cart.

Medical Update
  Great news on the Pet scan last week. All normal! We are praising God for this. Started the chemo again last Wednesday after an extra week off. I was beginning to feel more "normal" but the chemo really knocked me back. I have trouble with fatigue and weak legs. Hard to walk very far at a time. Also had a pretty good bout of nausea. But we persevere, knowing the chemo is working and God has a plan. Pray that we stay faithful to Him...His plan...His timing.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Blossoms and Berries

   We had a very dry May but received a welcome 1.25" of rain the past 2 days. The weather is unsettled and we'll likely receive more rain.
   The Knock Out roses and day lilies are blooming profusely and the garden is jumping.

On the right are the first 2 plantings of sweet corn. 5 varieties that should ripen in sequence, the first in about 3 weeks.The Walla Walla onions are rounding nicely, the Yukon Gold potatoes are blooming and falling potatoes soon! Bush beans, Fortex pole beans and cucumbers on the left.

Boysenberries are ripe. Tart but sweet! Blackberries are very late but we should have a good harvest soon.

   Blueberries still promising a nice harvest.

   Not shown is the "back garden" where cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, summer squash, butternut squash and more sweet corn plus pumpkins are doing well.
   We actually harvested one tomato and one summer squash already!

Medical Update
   Prayer needed!  I had a CT at Vanderbilt last week and Dr Gian sees some "suspicious" areas on my liver that need further attention. So rather than start the 4th month of chemo Wednesday, I will have a PET scan next Tuesday and we'll go from there when it is determined what is going on, if anything, on the liver. Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Celebrating Granddaughters

   A major milestone this month as Brittany, our oldest granddaughter, graduated from Eagleville High School. Here is a little pictorial history of Brit and Katie since we moved to the South 9 years ago. How time flies!

Miss Brit will be a freshman at Middle Tennessee State this Fall, staying at home and commuting about 20 minutes.  Miss Katiebug will be a freshman at Eagleville.

This is 9 years ago at the airport as they first arrived for a new life in the South.

Southern ballerinas!

Here with cousin Jackson (now 10)

   We are so proud of these girls. They are both sweet, loving, family oriented and Jesus loving believers with a strong faith. And they are beautiful.....just like their Mother and Grandmother.  Just sayin'...from a proud Granddaddy.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

More rain and cool, but garden is growing

   Rain clouds linger this morning as the owl and a whirlybird try to keep the birds away from the ripening strawberries. We may cover them with garden netting if this doesn't work. We got 1.5" of rain in the past 48 hours which was needed and appreciated. What isn't appreciated so much is 62 for highs and mid 40s for lows for a few days!

    Right, first planting of sweet corn, to it's left, second planting, just up a couple inches. These 2 beds will ripen every 5 days or so in July. 

    These 2 pictures above show the bean row, Annialator bush beans first pic and Sweet Slice cucumbers and Fortex pole beans on the fence. We have trouble with rabbits nipping the early seedlings off at the ground, so we covered with plastic mesh garden fencing. Seems to have worked! We have seen rabbits sitting alongside trying to figure out a way inside! 

                            Looks like we'll have some thornless boysenberry production this year.

                           And the thornless blackberries look good in spite of being late this year.

    The blueberries are loaded as well. We just keep pouring on the Miracle-Grow for acid loving plants. It's the only method we've found to keep them acid enough. 

    See the 4 Kildeer eggs in the center of the picture. Another set of 4 hatched out 2 weeks ago and we thought they were done, but here's more!

                              Just finished mowing this morning when another shower moved in. 

    Yesterday was the second of this set of 3 chemo treatments. Next Wednesday will be the 3rd, then the last week of May will be blood tests, a CT scan and appointment with Dr Parikh, my surgeon, along with Dr Gian to see where we go next.
    I feel good today. My blood counts are still low and I can't gain weight. I'm eating tons of protein at Dr.'s orders, but all in all, I am good and very thankful for each new day.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Garden Update

    I can't believe it's been 2 weeks since I posted. I guess we have been busy. The storms moving through this weekend were supposed to have totaled over 2" of rain, but have fizzled so far....maybe a tenth or so. Not enough to register in my big rain gauge. I have 2 repairs to make on my distribution water lines so I can turn the drip hoses on. It is quite dry now.
    My continuing lack of stamina from the chemo treatments limit me in what I can do, but Rita has been a real trooper and is doing much of the work. The potatoes are growing very well; I pulled all the loose dirt up to them last week and now we will mulch deeply with straw. The Walla Walla onions are growing well too. The first planting of corn is 4-5" tall and the second planting will be up this weekend, along with pole beans, cucumbers, summer squash and melons.Monday we hope to plant more sweet corn and butternut squash (the squash was waiting on a roto-tilling task). I will continue to plant sweet corn through June and make the last planting about the first of July, along with pumpkins at that time. That should allow for mature pumpkins and dried corn stalks in Oct/Nov. Wendy always gets some for her classroom, and last year I planted pumpkins too early and they were rotting before time to decorate with them.
    One of the easiest tasks for me to do is mowing, and I love to mow. But yesterday I about over did it. I got the John Deere fixed (needed a fuel filter and fuel lines blown out). The south pasture was over knee high in thick lush grass and clover. Oh my, how my cows would have relished it! But I bush hogged it and did about 4 acres total yesterday, which was too much bouncing and steering I guess. I was beaten down when I quit. But the pasture looks like a lawn this morning; very beautiful.
    I just completed the 2 week regimen of antibiotics and it was effective in stopping the clostridium diarrhea. We started the 3rd month of chemo last Wednesday, since there are still cancer cells present, we will do 3 more weeks of chemo. The last week of May I will have a CT and we'll see where we go from there.
    The GREAT NEWS is that the Ca 19-9 marker test is down some more. Remember, it skied to over 36,000, then dropped to 6000? Last weeks test was 2550! Going the right direction. "Normal" is 0-37, so we still have a ways to go, but the chemo is working. Praise God.