Constance Ore is a retired Teacher, Choir Director, and Organist. And a formidable cook.

September 29, 2006

Filed under: — Constance at 3:00 pm on Friday, September 29, 2006

When the forecasters spoke of winds and rain coming down the plains from the north, we could see the weather on the maps and be true believers. At the walks into the pasture and forest, there was a palpable sense of something coming in the actions of the creatures around. The robins gathered in the top branches of the dead cottonwood on the west side of the pasture, and sitting right below them were seven flickers, an usual sight here. There were innumerable moths of yellow, white and light green moving over the fall blooms, sharing the space with dozens of bumblebees, and no less than eight squirrels were stuffing themselves with sunflower seeds at the feeding stations. I had to think that it requires weather maps and weather experts to inform us while right next to us an entire population of creation is propelled forward by ancient wisdom far too subtle for us to fathom.

Change is the order of the day. The time has come for the annual trek to the basement storage area to gather clothes designated for fall and winter and exchange them for the white summer pants, short sleeved shirts, and other lightweight favorites. Sadly, I overdid the moth ball bit, and the first garments brought forth carried a scent powerful enough to not only deter moths of all sizes and ages, but possibly able to wilt the flowers in the living room. There is work to be done in this area, or else we will be identified in the next season by people sniffing and saying, “Here come the Ores.”

In the past three weeks, I watched my blood counts slowly moving downward, and called the oncologist’s office for reassurance that this was not a concern. As I mentioned, I had intended to say that as long as the blood counts were in the normal range, I would dearly like to hold off the ten days of Chemotherapy since the treatment makes me feel generally rotten. Shortly after that determination, the blood went below the “normal” range. Today I had the blood checked again at the oncologist’s office, and it had turned around and the counts were going back up again. Apparently, this downward trend was indeed caused by the chemo, and now, perhaps it will continue to return to the normal levels. I did ask about delaying the next round if possible, and was told that this would be ill advised. Just then, a man came up and said, “Are you Constance?” I said yes, and he said, “I’m the person who has been on Vidaza now since it came out, and I’ve never felt better! I’m the person the doctor told you to call at the beginning of your treatment, and you talked to my wife.” He was beaming with delight. I asked how frequently he had the therapy and he said, “Every four weeks.” “Mercy, what are your side effects?” I asked, “Why, none to speak of,” was his reply, “just some aching in the shoulders now and then.” Though I do try to live according to the commandment, “Thou shalt not covet” I felt a surge of envy at his good fortune, but I congratulated him heartily and commented that he surely should wear a special shirt covered with stars. He smiled even more largely and said, “I had hoped to be on TV by now.” Considering the high incidence of life threatening illness at a cancer clinic, there is an even higher level of joy at happy stories in that place!

September 23, 2006

Filed under: — Constance at 8:22 pm on Saturday, September 23, 2006

Yesterday we marked summer’s end with a party that began in the pasture next to the sumac with its bright red colors made memorable by the setting sun’s light shining from the west. It was a perfect evening for the celebration that said goodbye to one season and hello to the next. How grand it felt to proffer the toast “To Life!” with thanksgiving for the privilege of being present at the onset of another autumn.

Trees are turning gold, grasses and wild flowers are abundant and the blackbirds are gathering in huge flocks that fly into the tree tops with a great clatter of bird communications. (Are they discussing the weather? Who’s in charge? Which way to go?) Today, the first day of fall came in as though it was following the almanac with low, fast clouds dropping a light rain, and winds from the north carrying the restless feeling of something different coming. Our bird community was silent so the forest walk took place to the sound of the wind and an occasional defiant cricket chirp.

Time moves so quickly! I have my blood checked weekly to see if it is holding up and last week’s reading indicated a white blood count dropping to below the normal range. This quite possibly is a result of the chemotherapy, because I am no longer taking injections of Neupogen, but it stayed my hand in writing a letter to the oncologist in which I planned to say, “As long as my blood counts remain in the normal range, I would like to propose holding off with the next round of treatment until such time as it drops, etc., etc.” Perhaps I will say “blood counts remain somewhere near the normal range”. I feel good again, and I am told that I look well by people who see me. Considering that years have gone by when no one commented at all, I can only rejoice at the positive reinforcement.

September 15, 2006

Filed under: — Constance at 3:14 pm on Friday, September 15, 2006

Now we are having the “perfect days” of September; with many gold and purple wild flowers and the Monarchs still in the forest. I counted 44 of them as I walked through the trees, then I remembered the statistics printed in the Lincoln Journal about older peoples’ “death by falls” and started to look down again. The far-fetched hope is that should I trip and injure myself out there, Alphie the good will either gently drag me home by the coat collar or go and get help. More realistically, I likely should carry the cell phone as Charles sternly and frequently advocates.

I received the last injection of the ten Neupogen shots yesterday, so now I am once again “in full remission”. I feel wonderful and have big plans for the rest of September and the month of October. They include some entertaining, starting two of the granddaughters in piano lessons and accompanying Charles to California for a hymn festival that he is presenting at Concordia University, Irvine.

Alphie is off to reform school for the month of October. I believe, using the measure of seven years of dog to one year of human, he will be receiving the equivalent of about nine months of higher education. This dog is a mixture of great sweetness and appeal and moments of “Oh dear, this isn’t working, is it?” Now over a year and four months of age, his great size and energy coupled with a wild exuberance must be gotten in hand. It’s difficult to say gaily, “Oh, he’s such a pup!” as you are being whipped up and down at the end of the leash while gazing down at a former friend lying there wiping muddy paw prints off nice jeans. After reading many books about dogs and their wants and needs, we have concluded that Alphie needs a teacher who knows more than we do. Mike, the trainer, has gotten acquainted with our dog because we board him at his kennel. He tells us that he feels Alphie is very intelligent and strong, and also very trainable. He told us that he will need two weeks and then we will come and work with him and Alphie so that we will know how to go forward. I truly foresee a lovely future for all of us. Stay tuned.

September 9, 2006

Filed under: — Constance at 7:55 pm on Saturday, September 9, 2006

Today I am feeling much better – the nausea was gone quite suddenly; after viewing food with a lackluster eye for ten days, I woke up in the morning and found myself thinking about recipes and good things to eat. Now I just have five more days of the Neupogen injections and life will be back to full remission mode once more. The other unpleasant side effects have also receded and I am again thankful and filled with good cheer. The words of encouragement sent my way were a great help. I met an acquaintance yesterday who shared her story of breaking ribs and the subsequent lengthy healing process. . . all happening outside of my awareness. It occurred to me that almost every person I meet in each day likely has a burden of some weight being carried behind the “Fine, thank you” response given to the “Hello, how are you”. For me, it is so very fortunate that others come forward to provide the strength of community love and care.

Quiet rains came today. So often, the moisture over our part of Nebraska must be wrenched out of the clouds by electricity and winds and violent contentions in the skies, but the recent gifts of water have come sedately falling straight down. It seems as though nothing can rejoice more greatly than the plants and earth accepting the rain – the scents are rich and wonderful and the drops of moisture resting on each leaf and flower shine even without the encouragement of sunlight. A reminder that this isn’t quite paradise is the presence of many mosquitoes waiting for lunch, dinner, whatever. One always wonders how these insects slipped into the creation sequence. Their numbers appear to be greatest around the bird feeders so I suppose they are taking advantage of the ready supply of warm blood that flies in.

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