I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Marching into the future

Snowdrops and daffodils
Yesterday was a beautiful day in Bellingham. Instead of walking with the ladies, though, I went for a nice five-mile walk by myself. I simply didn't feel like making the long drive back to the same area I walked on Thursday. But since it was such a nice day, I went along Boulevard Park to Fairhaven, stopped for a stroll inside the bookstore, and then returned back the way I had come. I saw these snowdrops and daffodils almost ready to bloom, reminding me that spring is definitely on the way.

This is my first Sunday post using my new MacBook Air. It is the third one I've owned, and after five years of use, my old one had become slow and unwieldy when trying to download files, and I often had to wait for the spinning ball to disappear. This new one has twice the RAM and a retina display, which I love. It also has the controversial butterfly keyboard, which clacks instead of clicks as I type. Fortunately, the sound doesn't seem to bother SG, who sleeps quietly next to me as I compose. I've already gotten used to it, although the touch is entirely different from other models. And I was given a hefty trade-in discount for my previous laptop, so all is well.

Today is the anniversary of my first marriage in 1961, almost sixty years ago. It was what was called back then a "shotgun marriage," as I was pregnant and forced to marry a man I didn't even like all that much. I say that now, but in reality I realize that the real reason the marriage didn't last more than five years was mostly my own fault. Derald is now gone, along with both of the children we had together, and the only one left from those days is me, now an old woman in the twilight of her life. I have many regrets and have made many mistakes during those years, but somehow I have ended up in a good situation with many people around me whom I love, and who love me back in return. I could not ask for more.

Last Thursday, we hiked to the end of the new Chanterelle trail, which is so lovely, and I am happy to realize I can still hike that far, going up a couple of thousand feet, but I must admit I was really sore on Friday, with my legs protesting as I took my class at the gym. It does help me get over the soreness more quickly by working out, working through the soreness, and yesterday my walk was very pleasant and pain free. Or almost, anyway. When you get to be my age, you don't pay that much attention to every ache and pain. I've learned what to ignore and when to slow down and smell the flowers.

Last month my husband and I changed our phone carrier from Verizon to Consumer Cellular. Other than a couple of glitches getting started, it seems to be working just fine for us, and boy what a difference in price! We will pay a third for a much better plan. I did find out, however, that there are places where I used to have coverage that are now showing "no service." When we stopped for lunch last Thursday, I realized I didn't have a signal, while some of my companions did. One person said, "oh, you've moved to the old people's carrier." Hmmpf! I guess he's right, as old people don't hike around in the wilderness all that much. I had grown familiar with having to put my phone on airplane mode when in the High Country so that it wouldn't keep searching for a nonexistent signal and drain the battery. I guess I'll be doing more of that on hilly hikes around town, too. Otherwise, I'm thrilled to have unlimited text and talk available to me for such a cheap price.

My friend John got his test results back after they gave him a bone scan and a CT scan to see if his aggressive form of prostate cancer had spread, and it has not. Everything came back clear, so they gave him a shot of a hormone that will block testosterone in his body. He doesn't have to go back for six months. The side effects are usually developing hot flashes and fatigue. I found this fact sheet about what he might expect from this therapy. In other words, I think this is all good news, although it's cancer, and it's always difficult to predict how one's body will adapt to treatment. No surgery and a simple shot seems like a good outcome, but we won't know for sure for a few more months.

And my friend Lily will return from Guatemala this coming Tuesday! She has been visiting her mother, who has a form of throat cancer that returned after a twelve-year remission. I know it will be hard for Lily to say goodbye to her, as well as the rest of her family, but I will be very relieved when she gets here. It is becoming very difficult to travel anywhere these days, with the coronavirus spreading, and she only has a green card, which makes me worry about whether she will be detained. Fortunately Central America is still not showing signs of spread. I fear that will all change, as more patients are diagnosed. It's a bit scary to have had the first death from the virus happen right here in Washington state.

I know it was probably not a good idea, but I rented the movie Contagion, made in 2011, that I saw in the theater back then. I remembered that it was about the spread of a similar virus, and I wanted to remind myself how that movie ended. It was a much deadlier virus, with a 20% fatality rate, as compared with this one, which has a 2% (or maybe lower) rate of death. The movie is really good and was an eye opener for me. Watching on TV what has happened in China, and how many people have had their entire lives disrupted for long periods, has caused me to consider what will happen in the next few months. It could be terrible, or not so bad, but I'm a bit on edge over it. I have to remind myself that we have some of the best health care available to us here in the US, especially compared to other countries like China. I am washing my hands more often and more thoroughly than usual.

We know the world is a dangerous place, and we know it's also not possible to protect oneself from all harm. But there are many things we can do to mitigate our risk factors. It is also very important to stay aware of what is happening around us, and to help each other however we can. Living in a community of like-minded people and watching out for each other is more important today than ever. And also it's important to stay positive and send out message of love and caring to one another.
Virtues, like viruses, have their seasons of contagion. When catastrophe strikes, generosity spikes like a fever. Courage spreads in the face of tyranny.—Nancy Gibbs
And with that quote, dear loved ones, I will leave you for today. My dear partner sleeps quietly next to me,  my friend John will join me at the coffee shop for talk and give us the opportunity to share lots of laughs and humor. In other words, life is good and it's well worth looking at the bright side. Until we meet again next week, stay safe and remember to give your loved ones a hug. I wish you all good things.


Rian said...

DJan, we also have 'an old folks' service through T-mobile with unlimited talk and text. It was the best thing we ever did. Cost is minimal and our service has always been fine...
As for your friend with prostate cancer, I'm wondering what made him choose the hormone treatment over radiation. Age is a factor in deciding against surgery (DH is 74), but DH chose radiation for 6-8 weeks over hormone treatment. Just wondering... (you have my email).

gigi-hawaii said...

We have a landline and 2 flip phones. It's good enough for us. I am glad that John's prostate cancer has not spread. David takes testosterone therapy because of Low T. I hope it doesn't lead to prostate cancer. He takes the testosterone because Low T causes brittle bones and lack of energy.

Linda Reeder said...

New phone service, new computer, good news for old friends, a walk in the sunshine. It all sounds good!
We are Marching out this morning for the city, to have breakfast at The Market, be at the stadium at noon for the opener of the Sounders season, and out to dinner with family this evening to celebrate Jill's birthday. A great way to start a new month!
Enjoy today. Clouds are on the way.

Elephant's Child said...

Wonderful news about John, and I hope that Lily's return is completely uneventful.
Community and kindness are things to cherish and protect. And hooray for a walk in the sun.
We too have had our first death from the coronavirus. Watch and wait - though I grieve that Chinese people and businesses are being ostracised.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Such good news about John! I am very happy for him! AND for you too as I know you have been worried about him. Hopefully Lily will get home safely.

The Virus is scary especially for us. WE have a plan that he will quite Pulmonary Therapy and do his exercise totally at home and will only go out for his weekly infusion which he must have. I will be the only one going out for groceries etc...

Oh well we are kinda hermits anyways and Spring is coming.

I am feeling a bit better this afternoon. I just had a long nap. Time to wake up and do a few things around here!

Hope you have a good week! :)

Gigi said...

I thought of you this morning as I read about the first fatality. It is nerve wracking, isn't it? But everything I'm reading says to take the usual precautions - the main one being to wash our hands.

I am so happy to hear that the cancer hasn't spread for John. And will continue to keep him in my prayers. I'm also hoping that Lily can get back without any trouble.

Spring is definitely on the way here - daffodils have been up for a while now and I just noticed that the tulips are on their way.

Have a wonderful week!

Marie Smith said...

Glad to know John had such good news! My friend will begin chemo soon.

Red said...

Interesting that you remember the anniversary of your first marriage. I was wondering when I would hear from you on caronavirus. It's too close to home when someone dies in the area.

Galen Pearl said...

My daughter's ex-husband is a Chinese citizen here with a green card. He went home (to China) to see his family for Chinese New Year and then got stuck there when much of the transportation was locked down in China. When he finally made it back here (to Portland), he was not allowed to go back to work, or back to the room he has been renting in a family's home. Hard to know what is reasonable precaution and what is over-reaction. Meanwhile, there is plenty of regular flu going around to keep everyone busy. We have now had a death in the Portland area from corona virus, so we will see what happens.

Anvilcloud said...

What a nice, newsy and positive post.

Arkansas Patti said...

Great news about John and I so hope Lily gets back with no problems. Hard to worry about our friends and so happy when the news is good.
We all must use common sense and follow the guidelines given us on the virus.
Enjoy that old folks phone:))

Rita said...

Wonderful news about John. I hope Lily doesn't have any problems getting back home.

I hope you are all safe. I thought about you guys with the virus being on the west coast so far. I know you'll be careful.

William Kendall said...

Good news about John.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, thanks so much for updating us on what is happening with your friends Lily and John. The virus seems now to be spreading here in the United States and in Europe. It truly may become, perhaps already is, a pandemic. I'm so uninformed about business and the economy that I truly never realized that a health issue could affect the markets and bring with it the reducing greatly of what people have invested--just as the recession of 2008 did. We truly are a global community--interconnected. One. And it's essential that we stress that we are One in a spirit of compassion and generosity. That we truly are "our brother's keeper." Peace.

Glenda Beall said...

Good news about John. My brother was in hospital last weekend and we thought we would lose him. He will be 92 this month, but is a strong and active man. Now he is home and we are grateful.
I am concerned about this virus. I have been a germaphobe for a long time, but I am overly cautious now.I keep a spray bottle with alcohol and water mix with me at all time and use it lots.
Stay well and keep walking. Walking will keep you healthy.

Linda Myers said...

Twilight of your life? Hard for me to agree with that.

We think often of friends and family in the Seattle area. Several years ago I visited a friend in the Kirkland nursing home, and I have a sister and a son who are nurses at one of the Seattle hospitals treating corona virus people. We will stay in Tucson longer this year, for other reasons.

Trish MacGregor said...

Florida now has 3 cases, over on the west coast. This admin is ill equipped to deal with it.

Andrea Charles said...

Hello DJan, looks like you had a productive weekend!! Congrats on your new laptop and new connection. I was happy to read that your dear friend’s cancer hasn’t spread much-You must have been relieved. Coronavirus is spreading its deadly tentacles all over the world and it is becoming so scary to step outside. I wish all these may come to an end as soon as possible. Hope you have a great week ahead, DJan !!