Sunday, March 23, 2014

Memories of Months Gone By....Part 4

Spring has finally arrived and although it is bright and sunny, it is still very windy and cold.
 There is quite a bit of deep snow on the ground but that didn't stop my son Tim and I from a nice walk around the meadow.

This is what it looked like yesterday as we walked toward the meadow. 

As we strolled along on the snow trail looking up toward the house, Tim reminded me of the white post our friends had painted next to the new deck. A feeder and a bird house had once been hanging on the post. In August, after my daughter and girl friends finished the stone wall, I had the idea of digging up that post and moving it to the front of the house.  

Here you can see the post after it was painted during the July "Friendship Work Day". In this picture you can also see some of the new deck. Honeysuckles grew at the bottom of the post.

 I knew we should have a lighted path at night but also knew that I could not afford to hire someone to install electrical wires in the post. Thinking more about it, I realized that there was an easy solution!  I would just buy a simple solar-light and the problem would be solved!  

Here is what it looked like just after my daughter Bekah and friends helped finish the front stone walls. 

 I talked about the front post with Tim and he immediately offered to help me. After measuring, we decided where the best post place should be. We then cut and dug up the post from the back yard and drove it to the front yard in our orange rider mower.

This is where Tim began digging a deep hole for the post in the front. You can also see the post in the back of the rider mower.

After we leveled, cemented and filled the deep hole, Tim and I then removed the sticks and bird houses on the post. We patched holes, sanded the wood and then repainted the entire post.   

This is Tim patching holes on the new front post.

When my Uncle Henry and Auntie Ann were alive, they lived in a small house in Warwick, Rhode Island. For over fifty years, a metal name sign hung from their front steps. I always wondered if my Uncle made that sign when he worked as a bridge builder in the early 1940s! The sign was given to me a few years ago and I was finally able to hang it at my home this past summer. I think of my Aunt and Uncle often and cherish their sign.  The Day After...Remembering Relatives, Roosters and Rome


Here is the sign after we hung it onto the post. 

From the Mathews sign, we hung a basket of pretty, pink flowers. Next, we screwed a black iron hook onto the front of the post and hung a solar-light from that. A humming bird feeder was then added to the back of the post. Although I love watching humming birds, my favorite feathered friend has always been a heron. For my birthday years ago, I received a copper "weathervane" heron. Finally able to have a place to put him, Tim and I installed the heron on the top of the post. This spring we will add a  pointed wood cap beneath the weathervane! 

Once the post was finished and set, I dug up several variations of hostas around the yard and planted them at the base of the post. I also dug up the honeysuckle that was in the backyard and planted it in the front. 

You can see all the hostas and honeysuckle at the bottom of the post. 

A few days after finishing the post and its new garden, I dug up the grass from the area behind the little stone wall by the house. I also filled in the front path with more gravel.

Here you can see the grass still on the right side behind the little wall. The new gravel can be seen on the path that we filled and raked. 

Here is the garden completely dug up and filled with more plants from around the yard. There is also a matching solar-light that hangs from a metal hook stand. Now there is plenty of light at night!

It was so much fun to create a front post without spending very much money! We are looking forward to what it will look like this summer after all the plants have grown into the garden.

My boy Tim is a perfect son! Not only is he handsome and kind, he is also hard worker and always ready to help me in anyway he can. He is loving, gentle and a true joy to have in my life. I have been truly blessed to have both of my wonderful children.

 Here we are after we finished building the front post. It's hard to believe that I had a brain operation just 4 months before this photo was taken. It just goes to show you how cared for and happy I am because of my wonderful children, family and friends! (Photo by Patrisha McLean)


Friday, March 14, 2014

Memories of Months Gone By.....Part 3

Well, it's Friday March 14th and in two days I shall be celebrating my 53rd birthday! 
I'm still alive and other than a very rough bout of chemo therapy every two weeks, I feel good! A lot of my hair has fallen out and I am fairly weak, pale and forgetting words but hopefully as the brain tumor shrinks, I will need less chemo and be able to grow stronger and more energetic. 
                                                     
When I had my chemo session this Tuesday, a fabulous nurse named Kim Ripley Legace surprised me with a birthday cake, ladybug pin and a silver-spoon charm as gifts! Thank you so much "Angel" Kim. 


  
☝This is me on Monday morning and this is me the very next day with the Birthday cake.☝  
                 
When I came home after chemo, all I could do was lie down on the bed. I was only able to look outside the window and reminisce of warmer days gone by. Thinking of how beautiful the yard had looked before all the snow covered everything, I started to remember my daughter Bekah and my friends Libby Simon, Carolyn May and Marianne Smith. They had visited my house a few weeks after the big work event (which I wrote about in the last post) to finish up the stone walls in the front yard.       

Here is Carolyn, Libby and Bekah as they lay the flat stones on the wall top.

Because I did not have enough flat rocks to finish the stone wall top, I decided to use the rocks from the path. By using those stones, it helped to insure a safe and smooth walkway and it perfected the wall.

The side front garden was then dug up and rounded with big boulders.

Here is one of the giant boulders used to form a garden rim. 

(L~R)  Carolyn, Marianne, Libby and Bekah after a full day of digging and building.

Thank you beautiful Bekah and my dear Angel friends.
You have helped to make my house a loving home! 

        After the stone wall was finished and the side garden rounded, I began planting roses, ornamental grasses and many different flowers.

This is my wonderful daughter Bekah with me last July! 

Hopefully I'll be back to a healthier looking self this summer. I certainly am surrounded by lots of wonderful Angels!

March 17th

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Memories of Months Gone By....Part 2

Today is Sunday, February 23rd and although it is cold and overcast, I can't help but remember that wonderful Sunday,  just seven months ago, when angels descended upon my home and my heart was filled with joy!  

It was on the morning of July 14th. The weather was sunny but the temperature was already well into the 90s. As I sat on my porch, wondering if anyone should work in that heat, the cars began to pull in!  It was so difficult to accept the generosity of friends working for me. I was always so independent, strong and more comfortable helping others rather than they helping me. Through fellowship and enlightening, however, my friends helped me learn to accept and enjoy their labor of love.   
                                                                                               
Here I am on the porch so comforted to see everyone arrive. 

Within minutes and a loving hello, everyone got right to work. The blackberry patch got raked and weeded, a front walk was laboriously dug and lined with flat stones and the driveway stone wall had finally started to get built. With precise measuring, the cedar fence posts and rails also began getting built and taking shape.   

Here is Sheila Polson and Carolyn May weeding the blackberries.

The amazing Becca Swan who never stopped working, was last to leave that day.  
There was also Brian Bardsley who worked so hard on the front pathway.

   
                                                                                      ☝Libby Simon and Cindy Dunham☝
                                                                                       also worked hard on the front walkway. 

                                            
 The stone wall was worked on by many folks including Chris Beebe and my son Tim Neilson.

  Jim Dunham, Tony Oppersdorff,  Andrew Oliver and Chris Polson worked on building the fence. 

As the day progressed, many friends worked on painting bird feeders, house posts and door steps. They also dug up stones and weeds in the gardens.   




Jane Babbit painted a post and bird 
☜  feeder.



Vicki Doudera 
and Shannon Thompson worked on several different projects. ☞


  Des FitzGerald and his daughter Caitlin FitzGerald, 
cleaned out large rocks and weeds from the vegetable gardens.

Des's sons Ryan and Alex FitzGerald were also there to help me that day.

 
          ☝ Kathleen Oliver & Lucinda Ziesing (Alex's Mom) 
                       worked in the flower gardens.
☜ Marianne Smith painted stairs and also weeded the garden. 


Some folks took a break to cool down and have some lunch. Des FitzGerald and Michael Crockett not only worked hard building but also spent many hours planning and preparing for that day.




       
 
           
☝Des FitzGerald sat on the cooler talking with Stuart Smith (in green) and Chris Beebe (in blue)
 while Michael Crockett used a tool to measure the height and level of the deck boards.☝

                         Lots of measuring, cutting, covering and nailing took place to build a lovely deck off the back of the house. 

                                                                
Wyatt Philbrook measured and sawed posts and beams while 
George Wheelwright and Ed Doudera cut and wraped boards.  ☝

Finally after a long, hot and hard-working day, it was time for my friends to say goodbye. As they packed up and waved so long, I began to weep. How beautiful my home had become and how truly blessed I felt for being so well cared for. What a joy to know that there are so many wonderful people in this world who care enough to show their love and support.  

Here is what it looked like at the end of the day........

Here is the new back deck and painted bird post. 

Here is the stone wall and front pathway.... 

                                                                   and here is the wood fence surrounding the front yard. 
Thank you my friends for showing me your love and generosity. I have been truly blessed by each and everyone of you and I will not soon forget it. You have created a "Heaven" for me, one that I cherish each and every day. I pray that THIS is the "Heaven" I get to partake of for many, many years to come.
You are always welcome here.



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Memories of Months Gone By..... Part 1

As I gaze out the window this morning and marvel at the deep, white snow that covers the meadow and the yard, I can't help but reminisce on how different this place looked last year at this time.

 
The Cottage late last January, 2013

I remember that after my brain surgery, while recuperating at a friend's house, my cottage was being shingled thanks to the help of my dearest friends Pat and Don McLean. When I returned home, I was so happy!  My son Tim and I started to work outside, digging plants from out back and making new gardens in the front.

                                                 Here is the beginning of May, 2013 with new shingles and new gardens.

 Because I started working outside, I strengthened quickly and was feeling quite good...almost like my normal self again, even during seven weeks of radiation and chemo therapy!

                                                                                                     Brain Radiation Treatments 

I walked four miles each day and mowed the lawn every week. Several weeks later, the McLeans helped me hire a contractor to finish building the front porch and hang the window shutters.

                                                                       Here is the beginning of work on the front porch.

During that same time, I hired a friend to bring over his backhoe and clear a huge pile of rocks from the back of the yard to the front of the house. This was to create a stone wall I had always wanted. I also had him clear the driveway and smooth it with new gravel.


                                                                          This is the front of the house with the porch finished                                                               
                                                                                     but the stone wall still needing to be built. 
                                
At the end of June and finally finishing my radiation and chemo therapy sessions, I got to enjoy my dearest girl Jackie at her wedding. I was able to pick and arrange flower bouquets, take hundreds of photographs and celebrate the joy of this wonderful family, the McLeans!
                                            Newlyweds Shawn & Jackie Strack with Don, Wyatt, Pat McLean and me. 

That summer was going beautifully, although it was very hot. One Sunday, on July 14th, I heard that 35 friends would be arriving to help do some work at my home! I will tell you all about it in my next post! I hope you'll join me very soon. Thanks for reading my blog and have a glorious day!


                                                                                         This is my Catch Meadow Cottage today!

                                                   
                                               














Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Finally Back Again....

An early February day showered fresh, falling snow upon the meadow, while the wild turkeys hid in and under the trees. I sat beside the fire inside my cozy cottage and began to, once again, write in my Blog.



 It has been quite a few months trying to figure out how to get back into my Blog account. I guess the account setup changed, unbeknownst to me. My brain has also had difficulty remembering words or reading, due to the radiation damage. I exercise my brain each day, to strengthen and heal it. The Glioblastoma tumor still exists in my head but continual chemo treatments help to slow and perhaps even eliminate the tumor. It has now been ten months and I am still here and feeling much like my old self again!

When I was at the Duke MRI Center in Durham, North Carolina last week, I met a beautiful woman named Letha. She is just a few years older than me and she too has... Glioblastoma! However, Letha is finally tumor free after two years of her trial chemo treatments! She is a believer in hope, prayers and miracles and was searching for another "Glio Gal." During an unexpected encounter, we met each other and became friends! She was a joy to talk with and an inspiration. She gave me a "rubber ducky" as her happy, good luck charm! I am so glad she and I know each other now.

                                                                          Deborah Newman

 I also found another new friend...a "Glio Guy" named Peter. He was casually standing in line at an airport several weeks ago. My traveling brother in-law, standing beside him, casually introduced himself to Peter and discovered that, like me, he also has Glioblastoma! My shocked brother in-law gave him my email address and now Pete and I have been communicating ever since. Not only that, but we discovered that we have the same doctor, the same chemo, the same State in which we grew up and are the same age!  I believe these "Unexpected Encounters" are often "Amazing Miracles!                        
                                                  I am so very grateful and blessed.
                          Someday soon I will share the most "Amazing Miracle" in my life yet!!



                                                             Beauty after the big storm!