I love Christmas

I love my memories of Christmases past.  The ones when our boys were little are the ones I cherish most.  This Christmas, after a snow cancelled flight and driving a rental car through the night with friends we just made at the airport, Diane and I arrived for a week’s stay at our oldest son’s house in Michigan’s UP.  It was our first reunion with our grown up sons, their wives and kids (is it a re-union if it’s the first time?).

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One Christmas morning years ago, Diane gave me a 1957 Chevy (click here to read about that).  That’s a memory that’s hard to beat, but this year was our best Christmas yet.  Holding and interacting with our little grandchildren was priceless.  Witnessing how our sons love their wives and kids was rewarding.  Diane got to ski again after many years, and I got to take pictures with my new camera (shot hundreds, shoulda taken more).  We played in the house and we played in the snow.

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Robin took this shot through his phone, from the camera on the drone, before a take-off

My younger son, Robin, gave me a flying camera, a drone. My first flying lesson began by launching it from the ice covered snow in the garden.  I hope it’s a good memory for my three year old grandson, Kellen, when he hugged the gate for protection like I told him, as the nearly controlled drone buzzed over his head to awkwardly touchdown behind him in the back yard.

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Brandon made this ’57 Chevy on his computer

 

This Christmas could have only been better if, on top of being with our kids and grand kids, I received another classic Chevy.  Well, actually, my oldest son, Brandon, did give me a 57 Chevy he made with his computer and router.

I hope this gathering was a preview of Christmases future.

A few weeks after returning home, I was in Portland to help my brother, Mark, prepare to move.  Later, we drove over to see our brother Dan at his Alpha Stone Works shop.  While Dan was showing me the new stone cutter (he went to Germany to buy) he asked how I was, and if my cancer was gone now.  I explained that Multiple Myeloma doesn’t go away, but I’m doing okay right now, and that I get tested every three months to monitor the cancer.  I told him, “I expect to do that for the rest of my life…..  Get it?  For the rest of my life?” Because next time the cancer activates, or the time after that – one of those times will be the last time, and the following result will be my life ending.  Usually quite stoic, he let out a hearty chuckle.  He appreciated that dark humor enough to recount it later at the restaurant with the five of us at the table.  We all enjoyed a good laugh (though some politely tried to resist), not over the inevitable end of my life, but from stumbling upon a little sarcastic humor in the situation.

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On our last visit to the shore of Lake Superior, we were burning our bare feet on hot sand just a short walk from here.

I remain thankful to God for a life full of blessings.

 

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Too busy for Cancer, way too busy to die

Most mornings, I wake before the alarm.  My sleeping mind seems to already be in progress when it joins my waking mind.  I give myself an hour before I must leave for work, but if I deviate from my routine, I’ll probably have to drive.  I like to walk the commute, it’s not a race, but there is no time to stop and smell the roses.  I usually have a few minutes to quickly check email and a news site before the clock strikes eight.  I always try to work at a quick, efficient pace, there’s way more to do in a day than I can get done.  My walk home could be more leisurely, but I hurry to get busy on my unfinished or my next endeavors.  A life overflowing with God’s blessings is a very busy life.  I hurry to get something done before dinner, and chip away at more until bed time.  I might stop and join Diane for a little TV watching, then hurry off to sleep, and begin again.  There’s much to do and time seems short.  I’m too busy for Cancer, way too busy to die.

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Out for a drive in the Chevy – Thanks, Diane MacDonald, for the picture

One day years ago, my job took me to an elderly man’s house.  It was practically on the campus of the university in our town.  The old timer seemed to know everyone there, and they all addressed him, “Grandpa.”  I quickly learned that he was deep in the pursuit of Genealogy, and that he had much yet to discover, record, organize, and share.  He was sure the Lord wouldn’t be, “calling him home” before this massive mission of lineage research was completed.

One day weeks ago, my job took me back to the Campus Grandpa’s house; to his vacant house.  I wonder if he had enough time to feel the satisfaction of a job well done.  Nothing I keep myself so busy with would sway the Lord to let me make a later connection (I don’t believe it works that way).  My projects, my list from top priority on down doesn’t even make a blip on the radar screen of life.  The most important things I’ll ever do, have probably been done, and would probably be done better if done over, but that’s life.

My job took me recently to another house.  There I recognized someone who recognized me.  Our kids were friends in school.  She asked, “How have you been – didn’t you have cancer?”  I told her I’ve had three cancers, and one is incurable, but right now I’m doing okay.  Her tone lowered just a bit, and in a reluctantly accepting voice she said, “Well, I guess that’s life.”  I added yea, or maybe that’s death.

I love the sounds this car makes

I enjoyed the 7 hour scenic drive down the coast Friday to visit my brother.

I almost hit a bird,

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took in some sites,

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and finally made it to the last town before the California border.

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We did a couple computer projects, ran our radio control cars on the beach, streamed an Athey Creek service, ate pizza and drank Mt. Dew.

I got some pictures of my brother, Loren,

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and his Harley.

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I drove the same route home Monday and rolled into the shop just before thunder introduced a powerful downpour.

It feels like time is passing about as quickly as the road under that Harley. For this remission, family, friends, and countless blessings, I remain thankful to God.

Hey, Map Face!

??????????My face is healing where the cancer was removed, but if you look closely you can see a map of Nevada, or maybe its Florida. Many have complimented the doctor’s work. When he finished removing the stitches he said, “You can walk out of here cancer free.” I answered, “Well – actually, there is no cure yet for Multiple Myeloma.” He looked quickly at the floor and muttered. Maybe I just should have said thank you. I never know if I should speak or keep quiet.

Recently when I was in the hardware store, there was a young man having a bad day. The clerk was trying to help him find something he needed quickly. I saw him when I passed the end of his isle; I was looking at fire extinguishers in the next row. I heard him say loud and clearly, “Everything that could possibly go wrong today has gone wrong!” I was tempted for just a moment to step around the corner and ask him if he has cancer. “No? Then you do not realize what an absolutely wonderful day you are having.” Should I barge in with my unsolicited observation? Would it be a welcome point of view not previously considered, or would it be just one more annoyance in his near record bad day?

Doing my car fire repair has been like doing multiple story problems all associated with replacing fuel lines, vacuum lines, coil wires, starter wires, spark plug wires and distributor cap, and finally reconnecting the battery. Before you put cable to post you figuratively add the scores from all the story problems for a tally of, “will it now melt wires, will it burst into flames, or will it crank over and run?” (Story Problem Example: a red wire left the alternator heading west, to the starter solenoid. Midway along its journey it was joined by another red wire that arrived at the starter at the same time. What was the origin of the second red wire, and to30NOV14 048 which of three terminals should it be connected? Answer: take more pictures and make more diagrams before starting a project like this). I connected the battery, poured some gasoline in the carburetor and (with a fresh extinguisher standing by) hit the key. It started right up. That car sounds good, and it was nice to hear it running again.

The color of my car is GM Torch Red

When I ran out of gas driving the ’57 Chevy to see my brother in Brookings, my fuel gauge said I still had 1/8 tank. The first thing I did was pull the fuel filter off to see if it was plugged. If the car hasn’t been driven in a day, I have to crank the starter quite a while before it fires up. I wonder if it’s getting fuel. Because of times like these, I wanted a fuel filter I could see through. I got one. It was on the wall with many others in the fuel filter section of the auto parts store. It was plastic, and maybe that’s why it came off. When I installed it, it was on solid with the same screw down hose clamps that held the previous filter.

I was backing out of a parking space at the hospital. The car began acting like it wasn’t getting fuel. I pumped the gas peddle a couple times and I heard a pop sound, like when the propane in a barbeque ignites. I thought, “Great, I’ve backed over something or a part fell off,” but suddenly a path of liquid flames was streaming away on the pavement in front of my car, and the Torch Red paint in the center of the hood was literally dancing. Instantly smoke and flames were pouring out of every escape from the doors forward.

I quickly turned the key off, got out, opened the trunk, grabbed the fire extinguisher (that had been waiting for this moment for 10 years), opened the hood and sprayed the fire out. It was an adrenalin powered moment. Without that extinguisher I would have been able to do nothing but stand and watch it burn. A couple guys rushed over to see if they could help, someone called the fire department but the flames were out long before they arrived.

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The smoke cleared and the dust settled. Things were burnt and things were melted, but after removing what was left of the air filter and reconnecting the fuel line, I was able to start it up and drive it home.

It was a stark reminder that this car is a thing and not a loved one. It’s a thing I enjoy very much, but a thing just the same. And as I was reminded, things can unexpectedly be gone in an instant, but things can be repaired and things can be replaced.

Loved ones can be gone in an instant. People can not be replaced. I am so thankful for treasured moments and precious memories with friends and loved ones in my life. These are gifts from God, and are infinite blessings to me.

Time Is Speeding

I am really enjoying this summer and this partial remission. Time is speeding, and so am I. I’m rushing to do what I can while I am able. I got a few things done since my last posting here and a few more things nearly done. How do I feel? I feel the best that I have since starting this cancer journey. Last week I had my 3 ½ year post prostate surgery check up. The PSA test came back with the word I love to hear, undetectable. I was showing my urologist the chemouflage on my stomach from the bi-weekly Velcade shots and also my turkey timer belly button, a result of surgery he performed. He said, “That belly button can be fixed, but it’s another surgery.” I told him my thought about tattooing an eyeball on it. He liked the idea but said it would be even better if I tattooed a fish on my stomach (motioning vertically with his hand) and let that be the fish eye. We agree that either tattoo would cost much less than surgery.

Wadia Dooin?

Wadia Dooin?

This summer our younger son, daughter-in-law, and grandson stayed with us for a while. During that time, we watched Kellen go from almost crawling to crawling almost everywhere. I asked Diane if we could make him some chaps and gloves out of dust mop material.

We got to spend a week with them and extended family at Seaside. It was a wonderful vacation.  If you’d like to see some wonderful vacation pictures, click here.

There is a father-son resembelence

Robin and Kellen, I think I see a resemblance here.

 

 

 

 

I was able to attend an event this summer where I love to take a special kind of time exposure. They are low light, slow shutter speed, moving target, and moving camera photos.  If you would like to see more of those time exposures, click here.

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I put a complete set of Dakota gauges in the Chevy. The speedometer broke for the third time (in ten years, that’s not bad for a 57 year old car) and it was time for a more permanent and programmable fix.

New Gauges

New Gauges

Diane and I remain thankful for your prayers and kind words and eternally grateful to God for our every blessing.

Children Of The Story Teller

I keep track of my mileage.  The drive to Montana for my dad’s memorial service would be an exception.  My best with this 1957 Chevy has been about 18 MPG, although the Smiles per Gallon are a lot higher.

Boarder Crossing

So, it was a little disappointing when the speedometer quit working somewhere near Othello, Washington.  Oh, well….  I have a new GPS that will tell me my speed and the posted speed limit.  I just wouldn’t be able to track the mileage.  The fuel gauge has not been something to trust, but it was a general indicator.  When it remained on “E” after the next fill up, I thought we might just have to stop at every second or third town for gas, as my older son, Brandon and I would be basically flying blind.  But, the fuel gage came back to life and was much appreciated.  In Spokane, we stayed the night at my half-brother, Doug’s house.  It was great to visit and catch up with him, Megan, Jed, and Emma.

Brothers and Sisters

In Kalispell, we stayed with everyone at Barb’s house.   It was a house full of half and full brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews.  Most were nearly strangers.  Some had never met.  It’s funny how that can happen.  I was glad for the unique gathering, sad that our dad couldn’t have been there with us.  It was the largest assembly of siblings I have been a part of since my mom married Mr. Kinkade.  There were nine sisters and brothers including half’s together at that time (about 45 years ago).  My total lifetime sibling count I believe is myself, two sisters, five half brothers, one half-sister, four step brothers and five step sisters.  Some of the steps I have never met.

There was a surprise birthday cake, like an indoor barbecue

Cancer Update:  The blood test results that came in just after the last bone marrow biopsy said the protein level is stable at 1.2, same as the last test.  I’m counting the stable report as more good news.