Wednesday, November 30, 2011


NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, our setbacks this year have brought forth more prayers in our behalf than we've experienced in the rest of our long lives added together. There have been prayer circles here at the Manor and in the churches of friends and we've hardly ever stopped to chat with anyone without the talk ending with "I'll keep you in my prayers."

All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena is well known for its outreach programs and when a friend and former fellow merchant called and asked me if I'd like a prayer shawl I answered in the affirmative. 

I found myself too overwhelmed when Gerry delivered it, to remember to retrieve my camera. Luckily, she snapped a photo of me with her iPhone, but even then I didn't think to get a picture of her. She had a most wonderful children/ladies store right next to ours and we used to daydream about opening the wall between our stores, but the idea never came to fruition. Now she's moved and doing a lot of business online and if you like the Flax line of women's clothing, I urge you to take a peek. Other things to look at, too, but that link will get you started.

Before things became medically complicated we used to go out for Mexican food with friends Susie and Bill twice a month. Susie's the one who brought me beautiful bouquets from her lavishly blooming garden. Once in a while she'd bring me something that she had purchased at our estate sale, knowing I really didn't want to get rid of it. Last time we ate Chinese food for a change and she brought me a quilt, boomeranging it back in my direction. I loved what she wrote on the card that she enclosed under the ribbon.

Jane dear,
    When you moved from Buena Vista to the
Manor, Bob was editing......I held back some things.
     This (yours) was washed and hung up to dry in the subshine.
      The little angel will be sending you light and energy.

I'm grateful for the prayer shawl and the quilt to keep me snuggled with comfort. And all those prayers.

At the end of my third day of chemotherapy, I'm feeling just fine, possibly better than before I started it. In the afternoons my shoulder's tendinitis is less noticeable and my right knee is not as painful (is that the prednisone, do you suppose?), but a dull headache appears in place of the earlier discomfort; a fair trade, I suppose.

Mr. Bob has been having a challenge with a low white blood cell count. We'll find out more about the CAT scan he had earlier this week when we see the oncologist next Monday.

"Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us."  ~Socrates


Sunday, November 27, 2011


HOW I WISH I had kept a record of our 59 Thanksgivings. Each the same at its core, but with variations on the basic theme. This year it was decided that eating here at the Manor was too good an idea to pass preparation (I love the image of women at church services, hands smelling of onions on the morning of the holiday) and better yet, no clean up. 

Remember 2010 when Roger was recuperating following a lengthy illness and we brought turkey  to the hospital cafeteria? (for the curious amongst you, Fiona is still going strong, but this year chose to go with lady friends to dinner and a movie.)

It was Chef Darin's first Thanksgiving at the Manor and along with oven roasted bird, he offered deep fried turkey which unanimously we voted the "best turkey we'd ever eaten". The rest of the feast was quite traditional. Good, good, good.

Roger and Mr. Bob wore their Reyn Spooner holiday shirts, dated 2008, Roger's with a darker background than Mr. Bob's, but the same design. 

After dinner we repaired to Diane and Roger's beautiful home for pumpkin pie and to decorate their Christmas tree, using the fairytale ornaments that Diane bought at our "estate sale", finding them under a pile of junk. 

It's a good thing to see them used properly. Most years, after the kids were grown and gone, we didn't put up a tree and when we did, only a few of the fairytale ornaments found their way to the limbs along with our other baubles. Diane knows how to do it right and her tree was a marvel to behold.

Tim's height helped to place the messenger of God at the tiptop where angels belong and voila!

Let Christmas begin!

"The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect!"
                    ~ Charles S. Barnard

Friday, November 25, 2011


Unflattering, perhaps, but Tim took this panorama of us on Thanksgiving evening, passed out like stuffed dormice. I'll tell you about our actual day when I have the photos downloaded, maybe later on today.

Thursday, November 24, 2011



We do indeed have fall color here in Southern California!

This was taken about a week ago when we enjoyed dinner with Tim and Susan before she headed back home to 5 feet of snow and a temperature of 4 degrees. Our appetites are good.

I'll try to resume blogging before the weekend is over, although double doctors' appointments on Monday will reveal even more.

Enjoy your Thanksgivings, hopefully with people you love and cherish. At the top of my list is the collective body of you good people who have been at our side throughout our current situation.
I can't possibly express fully the gratitude we feel in your being here with us. God bless each and every one of you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


MR. BOB IS HOME now, doing better, looking better and on a restricted diet. No dairy, no high fiber, no sugar. He's asleep.


THE PAST 24 HOURS have been a bit of a blur. Try to piece some sense out of this.

  • my staples removed by a wonderful doctor (with Susan's help)
  • drainage tubes yanked out (causing my eyes to get big as saucers)
  • Mr. Bob getting weaker and weaker
  • when we hurried him to the doctor's it was discovered he'd lost 9 pounds in less than a week.
  • he's extremely dehydrated
  • at the moment he's being hydrated by IV at the oncologist's
  • Susan's with him
  • I stayed behind for delivery of a La-Z-Boy chair that supposedly will propel me from a sitting position across the room.
  • found i could easily rise without the new feature
  • I'm seated so high that it feels like I'm on a royal throne. Keep your eyes open for a tiara
  • If Mr. Bob's legs are still weak at the end of dehydration, he's to be taken to the ER
  • Thank God for text messaging
  • I may opt to go through life flat on one's sort of like getting wrinkles.......proof of what you've been through
  • will keep you posted

Sunday, November 6, 2011


CHRIS SENT A NEW BATCH of pictures. The above is my favorite. It was taken minutes before I left for the hospital at 5:30 a.m. on my way to have a radical mastectomy. Since discovering the sizeable lump a couple of months ago, I've wished that Mr. Bob could show a little compassion and offer some comfort, but none was forthcoming because he's so understandably centered on his own battle with cancer. Intellectually, I could grasp that; emotionally I sobbed a lot. Amazingly, Chris caught the moment I so yearned for and I'll treasure it all the days of my life.

Minutes later I wended my way down the Hallowe'en decorated halls of the Manor on my way to the car. All three of our offspring went with me. Mr. Bob voiced the desire to go, but was voted down because we all felt that too many germs lurked in our destination.

Angels stand guard outside the Verdugo Hills Hospital, offering comfort. My mother died here, our first grandson greeted the world here, cataracts were removed, a hernia repaired. Let's say we have history with this place. It makes it no easier to go through its portals.

Something I've learned in my advancing years is that tempus does indeed fugit without our doing anything to hurry it along and soon enough I was in my hospital room although I don't remember that part very well.

There was some reassurance in the realization that I had come through what the doctor referred to as "High risk" surgery in my case, having to do with age, weight (ahem), problems with circulation, etc. There was some feeling of "Hooway!"

The next day Mr. Bob went to the oncologist's office for a day full of hours of it. Chris accompanied him and saw to it that he drank the copious amounts of water recommended to guard against kidney damage with lunch added midday, after which he was driven home and tucked into bed for a long sleep in response to the battering his body had taken. Meanwhile, Susan and Tim were keeping me company at the hospital. 

And the next day it was time for me to go back home after Mr. Bob had his one hour treatment, more medical goings-on than we ever would have asked for, given a choice.


A week later, I'm trying to convince myself that I feel as good as I did upon homecoming. I really wasn't prepared for a surgical drain being necessary. I dislike the sight of it as much now as I did nearly a week ago. I think the tubes should be black with a little peek-a-boo window for the curious, of which I am not one.

Chris returned home yesterday. Was he really here a week? 

It went by in a blur and a hazy one, at that. The doctor called to tell me that of the twenty-five lymph nodes removed, only two showed cancer, which I take it was relatively good news. I'm a novice at this. Susan attended church today, while she was gone I made an attempt at getting dressed (we'll get through this, but we won't ever look the same), but she said, upon her return, that I could wait until tomorrow for make-up when I'm due to visit the doctor. Mr. Bob is sleeping and sleeping and sleeping as his body tries to cope. Quite honestly, this is not our finest hour. Or might it be, after all? One wonders.

"Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one."
                                                                                         Hans Selye

Saturday, November 5, 2011


FUNNY WHAT MEMORIES remain in your head. It's been forever since a friendly customer told me that when his friend was suffering something traumatic, he loaded up a basket with candy bars, popcorn, sodas, cookies and took her for a ride. They parked by a lake and talked and ate and listened and talked some more. That struck me as such a caring thing to do and while I've never found the opportunity to employ the method, it's there in my head if the need should arise.

Something akin to that happened this morning.  Chris bid us adieu.

How quickly time passes. He arrived last Saturday and so soon the time came to part.

Susan came back from taking Chris to the train station where he was to board a bus to Bakersfield from where a train would return him home. She was carrying a sizable box from the mail room. Inside the package was a veritable wealth of chocolate. Chocolate cookies, chocolate kisses, chocolate truffles and something new to me, chocolate kettle corn. Accompanied by the perfect greeting card, this assortment brought a smile to Mr. Bob's face and I actually swooned.

To appreciate the card you need to know that Owen is very much into Star Wars these days, as evidenced by the Halloween costumes their family made. (Much as we love to shop, in our family, we think Halloween costumes should be made. Chris' boots consisted of three layers of duct tape and were a challenge to remove.) 

Inside the chocolatey card, Owen had drawn a picture and dictated a letter to Frances:

Dear Granny,

I hope you feel better soon. I wrote a funny Star Wars joke book. When you feel better you should come over to see the book. There are no pictures or stories about heffalumps in Star Wars. There is no Play-Doh in Star Wars.

I love you, Granny.

"After about 20 years of marriage, I'm finally starting to scratch the surface of what women want. And I think the answer lies somewhere between conversation and chocolate."
                                                                                                       Mel Gibson

Friday, November 4, 2011


AFTER ALL THAT DRAMA, what does one write about next that's likely to hold your interest? I'm open to guidance from you as to what subjects would be likely to pique your curiosity. Our world has shrunk yet again and as it gets smaller, the day to day reports become more humdrum. One needs to become cleverer in the quest to command an audience. 'Tis possible, but tricky.

I'm snuggled into my oversized bathrobe, it's raining outside and today we've gone through my accumulation of Once Upon a Time memorabilia ...... old ads, including the ones we first did individually by hand, when my mailing list was small. Photographs, every monthly newsletter, for which Christopher did the artwork and I did the writing. He always came up with a seasonal border and not until the mailing piece had gone to press would I discover the pregnant girl standing in line to board the school bus on the September edition or the human heart, complete with valves in the Valentine's Day issue, hidden in the margin of hearts. Letters from authors, yellowed newspaper articles, notes and articles for a workshop I gave on the importance and joys of letter writing. So many memories and the agonizing decision to throw it all away. 36 years of a splendid, self-satisfying career, the record of which went into the trash chute today. Happily, there were customers who enjoyed my chosen profession too, but it would be dishonest to say that I did it for the good of mankind, when it was pure and simple self-fulfillment. How fortunate that other people benefitted, too, and that our own interest helped to forge a love for books and the written word in others. Among our customers were adults who discovered the joys of reading as their children's love of literature flourished.

I don't know why it seemed so devastating to get rid of all tangible trace of that experience, but some tears were shed in the process. The person in charge of Once Upon a Time now has a lot more business sense than I did which allows the business to continue; even so, it's a challenge and Maureen is largely responsible for the forty-fifth anniversary the shop recently celebrated, no mean feat in this day and age.

Now comes the tricky part of this blog. It may be a test of your comprehension, so pay attention. You'll need to read the rest of this and then go back to the notification email and play the sound file to get the whole story.

In our apartment there are two speakers over which are broadcast announcements and reminders of events about to take place. Imagine our surprise to hear this in the midst of our Once Upon a Time purging: (Because a sound file can't be imported to this blog, you'll now need to go back to the email notification and play the sound file there. Best I could do!)

"It is the ability to take a joke, not make one, that proves you have a sense of humor."  ~Max Eastman

Thursday, November 3, 2011


LET'S JUST SAY it wasn't a whole lot of fun, this past phantasmagorical experience of mine. But you all played a large part in helping me get through it and so did our three remarkable offspring. Susan has a huge amount of past nursing experience because Justin has had so many surgeries; Chris, even with his finely tuned sense of humor, is the most serious of the group and his logic is to be listened to. Tim has been close-by and understands the lay of the land and arrived at my bedside the first day with a slender vase holding 2 gerbera flowers and a little box of truffles (which might not have been endorsed, but what a healing thought!)  All of them make me laugh........the best medicine, after all.

Susan was appropriately attired in her "Fight like a girl" shirt complete with the pink ribbon logo. In the past we've not been in the habit of being a highly demonstrative family, but kisses and hugs abounded the past few days, a highly moving experience for a mama.

We kept Mr. Bob away from the hospital and possible germs. While I was in the hospital, he was busy receiving his final chemotherapy treatments. 

Irene, who asked for my
blog address.
Evy, on the
night shift
In my two days there, I had a sort of slideshow of impressions of things that transpired. The staff changed with regularity, rarely with any one member working two days running. Lots of names to learn.

Out of the blue, a customer from long ago appeared with her dog who visits hospital patients. She used to be a guide dog trainer and one summer her son and a dog came to do storytime weekly at our bookshop. So much for "no visitors".

One night I was persuaded to don my robe and shuffle down the hall to a little balcony for a breath of fresh air. I'm swallowing a fair amount of pride to post this picture but it's not nearly as bad as this one:

I hope that lump on my backside is the drain. Doc Martin and I share the condition of hemophobia and catching sight of the drain or the tubing is more than I can tolerate. Hopefully it can be removed (help!) next Monday.

Upon arriving home yesterday, Chris captured an unflattering  shot of his sister and she was brave enough to sanction my posting it. We whisked our way through the halls and up in the elevator, seeing barely a soul........entered the apartment and the first thing I caught sight of was a bunch of tulips.........

tulips from our never-seen friend in Pennsylvania........... thank you, Val!

"We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world."      

                                        Helen Keller