Wednesday, December 31, 2008
And those who don't love us,
May God turn their hearts;
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles,
So we will know them by their limping.
Happy New Year to All! We will all look forward to good stories to tell in 2009!
For last year's words belong to last year's language And next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning. ~ T.S. Eliot
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
On another note: I had an epiphany about complaining yesterday. I have done my fair share of that in the past and even recently. I realized that for every minute spent complaining to someone I like, it takes away time from enjoying their company. Complaining is a character flaw I'm going to work on.
“One act of beneficence, one act of real usefulness, is worth all the abstract sentiment in the world.” In other words, “No one wants to hear what you believe. We’re watching. Show us.” - Ann Radcliffe (Source: Monday Morning Memo© of Roy H. Williams, the Wizard of Ads®)
Monday, December 29, 2008
The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
The holly green, the ivy green.
The prettiest picture you've ever seen,
Is Christmas in Killarney.
With all of the folks at home,
The door is always open,
The neighbors pay a call.
And Father John before he's gone,
Will bless the house and all.
How grand it feels to click your heels,
And join in the fun of the jigs and reels.
I'm handing you no blarney.
The likes you've never known
Is Christmas in Killarney.
With all of the folks at home
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Today, I'm remembering "Gladys." She was a family friend and the grandmother of Gina, Jay and Dana, who were friends from elementary through high school. I was in the same grade as Gina. After 95 years of making those of us who knew her feel special, she passed away on the 23rd of December. I have countless memories of her, but the one that I hold closest is her handwriting. She had miraculous handwriting. A few years ago, I started saving every Christmas or Birthday card she sent me and right now they are framed and hanging in my bedroom with the nice comments that she wrote. I always felt that the beauty of her handwriting was a glimpse into the beauty of her soul (SEE SAMPLE ABOVE). I got to visit "one on one" with her in September of this year. She told me stories of her younger years. I will never forget her.
Today is the anniversary of the death of Benazir Bhutto. In February 2003, I had an opportunity to meet her, exchange pleasantries and have my picture taken with her (SEE PICTURE TO THE LEFT) through my employer's association with The Richmond Forum. In those few minutes, she also allowed a glimpse into her soul.
May Gladys and Benazir Bhutto rest in peace. May their spirits always continue to be a gentle, persistent fire that lights the world.
Matunda ya kwanza!
Friday, December 26, 2008
I had another chemo treatment on Christmas Eve and the amount of time it takes is being compressed due to my being able to take the bigger doses of it when it is being injected. When you first receive chemo, they drip it in through the port in small doses (you still get the same amount every time you go), to determine at what level of volume you can tolerate. The first time I went in, I didn't finish until about 5PM. The second one finished at 4PM and I was done the other day at 3PM. I'm on the 5 day steroid regimen and feeling well and also the 3 day "hiccup" drug regimen that ends today and let me tell you, I'm winning the battle of hiccups this time. I only had one episode of hiccups in the middle of the night last night and I promptly told them to leave me alone and let me go back to sleep. My command was honored. The day after I come off the steroids, I have been OK in the AM, but the afternoon has usually been a washout. We'll see what comes this time.
The chemo nurses also told me that my oncologist and nurse practitioner are ecstatic with my progress and I wasn't to worry about the weight loss (I am now 68 lbs. lighter than I was on November 4 - again, alot of it was fluids and "the alien"), and that I am doing well in their eyes.
So...I'll wait until the results of the CAT scan on Jan 13 to see exactly what is going on with the alien, spleen and liver. Blood work numbers are good and platelet numbers continue to improve. Hopefully, some of that is the effect of chemo. I get a Neulasta injection (to help stimulate platelet production) the day after my chemo treatment (however, this time I get it today since yesterday was Christmas) and that is also helping with platelet production.
Took a two mile walk yesterday. Felt great! Today, I am going to do some weight lifting and also some yard work in a bit. The caregivers are encouraging any and all physical activity I can get in.
Had some Preston County,WV Buckwheat cakes for breakfast yesterday, today and will have some tomorrow. That's some good energy food!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."
Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I was going to post my "Christmas Epistle" that I wrote a few years ago in response to a newspaper editorial that bemoaned the need to wish "Happy Holidays" in order to be politically correct. However, I could not find it in any of my files. Since it is over 500 words, I took it as a sign that I can present it in a short synopsis (since one of my friends complimented me on the brevity of my blog posts). I will preface it with the fact that I was raised in the Christian tradition of observing Christmas and adhere to that tradition. However.........
1) The Christmas observance has taken on traditions of other cultures and traditions throughout the ages. It wasn't until the mid 1800's that it was recognized as an official holiday in the United States.
2) Christmas isn't mine to keep. It is mine to give away.
3) Christmas isn't over at 11:59PM on December 25. Christmas "starts" on December 25.
4) I believe society is being called to bridge the gaps. When the blending of observances occurred in the past (as mentioned in item 1), history didn't relate the gnashing of teeth and civil unrest.
5) Some day, when we all have the opportunity to gaze upon the Creator of this world, I believe we will see a figure that will seem familiar and yet will be very strange to us in that we could never imagined such a figure. We will stand in amazement at what we see and question It's origin. At that point we will hear, "You could have done the same, I gave you all of the ingredients."
6) Unless I know how a specific individual observes the holidays, I will wish "Happy Holidays" with all the joy of the season I observe. That's how I give away Christmas.
May all the joys, hope, desires and peace of the holiday you observe be yours until you get to meet the Creator of this world!
"That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown."
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Every day means one day closer to new hair. I could maybe even get a pool going on whether it comes back curly, darker, lighter, etc.
"Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good."
From - "Ring Out, Wild Bells - A Christmas Poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Monday, December 22, 2008
I told him I wasn't interested, didn't have time and then.....made reference to my medical condition and shut the door. As soon as I shut the door, I wished I hadn't included the last sentence in my "blessing." Funny side note, the first time I ever heard the term "blessed out" was when I moved south of the Potomac River. When I asked for it's definition, I was informed that it was the southern version of "cussed out," but with more charm.
A friend of mine told my my reaction was probably one of my "anger and resentment" moments over my medical condition. May have been, but it still wasn't right for me to do that.
Confession is good for the soul.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Hanerot halalu anachnu madlikin
Al hanissim ve'al haniflaot
Al hatshu-ot ve'al hamilchamot
Bayamim hahem, bazman hazeh
Al yedey kohanecha hakdoshim.
Vechol shmonat yemey Chanukah
Hanerot halalu kodesh hem,
Ve-ein lanu reshut lehishtamesh bahem
Ela lirotam bilvad
Kedai lehodot leshimcha
Al nissecha veal nifleotecha ve-al yeshuotecha.
We light these lights
For the miracles and the wonders,
For the redemption and the battles
That you made for our forefathers
In those days at this season,
Through your holy priests.
During all eight days of Chanukah
These lights are sacred
And we are not permitted to make
Ordinary use of them,
But only to look at them;
In order to express thanks
And praise to Your great Name
For your miracles, Your wonders
And your salvations.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I had never had to do that grown up of a thing before, but I said I would do it. When I met Jackie during the first visit, she looked pretty rough, but still was able to communicate and said she appreciated my visit. I went back one week later and stopped in my tracks the minute I saw Jackie. She was sitting up, her eyes were bright and she said, "Hi Greg, how was your week?" The only words that could come out of my mouth were, "You look fantastic." We had a good visit and she was released from the hospital a few days later.
I will confess that I didn't stay in touch with Jackie as it was an awkward family situation and her friend recommended that I not visit Jackie at home.
About 5 years later, the movie, "The Jackal" (with Bruce Willis) was being filmed in Richmond. There was an article in the local paper about it and in the article, there was a picture of an extra wearing a mini-skirt suit, looking like a million bucks. You've figured out who the extra was, but just in case you haven't, it was Jackie. Need I say more?
A friend of mine has a magnet on her refrigerator that reads, "Why limit happy to just an hour?" That's one of the million or so reasons she is my friend.
Friday, December 19, 2008
1) "Burger King launches beef-scented body spray" - this is a true story!
2) LONDON (AP) — A British pilot said he ran into an unusual hazard while making an emergency landing — a cow. Accident Report (PDF): http://tinyurl.com/4tlltn
3) Couldn't find any other funny headlines, but this is a pretty good website with offbeat stuff. http://www.newsoftheweird.com/index.html
"To you the earth yields her fruit, and you shall not want if you but know how to fill your hands. It is in exchanging the gifts of the earth that you shall find abundance and be satisfied. Yet unless the exchange be in love and kindly justice, it will but lead some to greed and others to hunger......And before you leave the market place, see that no one has gone his way with empty hands. For the master spirit of the earth shall not sleep peacefully upon the wind till the needs of the least of you are satisfied." - "The Prophet," Kahlil Gibran, 1923
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Main blood numbers and platelet counts are good (platelet count is back in the normal range for now).
When they weighed me today, I was concerned and they said it's OK. I have lost 65 lbs. since I met with the oncologist after I left the hospital. Heck of a weight loss program (a lot of it was fluids and the alien, but a lot of the other gobs of fatty matter that were there before are also gone).
They are encouraging me to start walking and doing some weight lifting, which I will start this afternoon.
Appetite is good, except that I can't eat large quantities of food at any one time (went through that experiment last Friday and it requires lots of reading material afterwards). They recommend that I "graze," eating smaller portions throughout the day.
Going to take a nap and then go for a walk later on.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
"WEATHER ADVISORIES IN 37 STATES!!!!" - So does that mean the other 13 aren't having any weather? I know that bad weather affects travel, etc., but I will tell you there are more kids PLEASED with the weather than adults who aren't.
"FED CUTS INTEREST RATE!!!!!!!!" - one finely coiffed "expert" initially said there was nothing else the Fed could do and then later on, listed some other things that could be done by the Fed.
Since I have been sick, I bet I have watched a total of less than 60 minutes of "news." Every news story is delivered with a sense of impending doom and frankly (to quote the great philosopher, Popeye), I'se had all I can stand, til I can't stands no more!"
"It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you "Be of good cheer"
It's the most wonderful time of the year
It's the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It's the hap- happiest season of all"
Note about tomorrow's post...I have a check up at 9AM and will post after that so I can give you some up to date medical info.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
One of my caregivers was doing an interview with me a few weeks ago and asked, "How do you deal with stressful or challenging situations?"
I replied, "I'm too lazy to deal with them. If it's something I have to deal with, I will. Otherwise, I move onto something else that I think I would enjoy."
I used to have a habit of finding and focusing on at least one good thing about the day when I would wake up. I have gotten away from it. Sometimes, waking up is enough. Yesterday, it was going to church and hearing amazing music in the regular morning service and then attending a concert at church (which included Vivaldi's "Gloria") later in the evening. WOW!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
"Graham Zusi scored from 18 yards midway through the second half to lift Maryland to its second NCAA men's soccer championship in four years, a 1-0 victory over ACC rival North Carolina at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Tex., today." - source, The Washington Post
Cultural reference alert! From the movie "Popeye" (with Robin Williams) my ode to the "alien"...
That ain't on the up and square
I biffs 'em and buffs 'em
And always out-roughs 'em
And none of 'em gets nowheres.
If anyone dass'es to risk his fisk
It's boff and it's wham unnerstan'
So keep good behavior
That's your one lifesaver
With Popeye the Sailor Man"
Saturday, December 13, 2008
From ground level to the very top of the rocks is about 1,000 feet.
When I was in college, one of my Phys Ed electives was a rock climbing class. Our "final exam" was a caving and climbing weekend in Franklin WV and then we spent Saturday and Sunday at Seneca Rocks.
There is a nice hiking trail up the front of the rocks and the view from the top is pretty amazing. I've always wanted to sit at the top at the rocks when there is snow on the ground. It's a pretty inspiring place to visit.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
All of this has helped put things in perspective. Last year, when I addressed and mailed holiday cards, I multitasked by having a football game on in the background while I worked on the cards. Last night, I turned on some Christmas music, lit some candles on the dining room table and addressed cards. Much nicer than what I have done in the past and miracously, the cards are getting mailed out earlier this year.
Yesterday was first day off of the 5 day steroid regimen that I take after chemo treatments. The fatigue hits somewhere early afternoon and I am wiped out most of the afternoon. Then, I get a little energy back for making dinner, and some TV before I go to bed. Looking forward to constant energy when this is all done. Have I told you about the big party in the back yard in May?
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Chapter 4: I WISH I WOULD HAVE GOTTEN INTO A FIGHT IN HIGH SCHOOL
Not really, but it made you wonder what this chapter was all about, didn’t it? I have to tell you the truth; I have said that in the past and am not sure if I may never say it again.
There were lots of opportunities to get into fights and I got away from them. A senior did rough me up once when I was a sophomore in high school. In my mind, the senior was doing an injustice to a sophomore who was learning disabled and I questioned the senior why he was doing that. You’ve heard the saying; "There’s no such thing as a stupid question." I’m here to tell you that, "Yes, there is," and the one I asked the senior was a good example of one. His explanation came in the form of getting shoved into the supply closet and getting punched by him for what seemed like 3 or 4 hours (in reality. It was most likely 5 minutes).
Another time, I was in a class setting with a group of people including one guy I just didn’t like. We traded some witty repartee and I knew I was going to take him down with my brilliance. That was until he countered with a sucker punch to my mouth and split my lip. I walked away.
I guess my favorite was the time I was a senior and a sophomore wanted to fight me. I am sure there is something I said or did that annoyed him about me. We passed by each other every day in the hall and he never failed to give notice of his intentions. He equally annoyed me, and I vented by creating scenarios about him in my typing class when I had free time and we were free to practice our typing as we wished. I was probably about 2-3 weeks of getting into my first fight in school ever (about 5 weeks from graduation and carrying a 3.4 GPA), when he backed off. I attributed to him moving on to better challenges until I asked a mutual friend of his and mine about the "cease fire."
My friend told me, "I told him to leave you alone."
I replied, "I can take care of him by myself OK."
The friend replied, "No, you don’t get it. I told him to leave you alone because I told him you could take care of him pretty easily. There is no question in my mind you would win. Face it man, you are bigger and stronger than he is. It wouldn’t be pretty."
"Yeah, but," I said, "I could graduate knowing I beat a kid up!"
"No man, you do that and you will mess up being able to graduate, with a suspension and all. Don’t do it. Enjoy the legend that I created for you!"
Wow, that guy thought there was a legend quality about me. I am not egotistical enough to believe that I have been or ever will be a legend. What I do like is knowing that by holding it in when it would have been easy to let it all hang out, I appeared stronger in other people’s eyes.
I don’t know if I would have been suspended had I engaged the sophomore in a fight. I don’t know if I would have had to take summer school classes in a summer when I needed to work and make as much money as possible to pay for college. I do know that I wasn’t suspended and I do know I made some money that summer. That was only one potential situation and had there been others, it might have established a pattern of behavior for me that would have led to a different life experience for me.
If all that resulted from a fight in school was a bloody nose or black eye that would eventually heal, I don’t know how worked up people would get about it. Our animal instincts are all about establishing territory and supremacy. It’s natural.
I think people get worked up about fighting because as humans, it isn’t natural. We have the additional asset of a brain that works better than the other members that make up our animal family. We know how to turn the switch on and off. Sometimes we don’t know when.
Uncles can antagonize you and make you "fighting mad." Next time an uncle does that to you, show him a light switch and ask him if he knows how it works. - Greg Frazee, 2006
Monday, December 8, 2008
Today is the next to last day of steroids after chemo, so I'm feeling OK. Probably will be a little sluggish towards the end of this week, but I know what's coming, so that's OK. Knock on my noggin, but I have not had any neck pain at night. I haven't taken any over the counter pain medications in several days. Even though I have been credited with a great attitude, etc., there have been times when anxiety has caused some symptoms (i.e. the neck pain). Amazing what a good pillow and asking the doctor questions will alleviate!
This is cool: If you go to "Google" and type in "Greg's Alien," I have the two top responses.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Most of you must agree if you've thought it out.
Well who is rich and who is poor, who has more than me.
Why I have quite enough to eat, And my mind is free.
Miracles, miracles that's what life's about"
Lyrics - Don Williams
Tune-Dvorak, New World Symphony - 2nd Mvt Part 1
Yesterday started with bluebird hanging out on a holly bush in front of the house and ended with a dusting of snow on the yard. Enough said.
Medically, some side effects (water tastes funny, chocolate tastes the same though!) Some muscle aches. Sleeping better at night. Hair should all be gone by the end of the week.
What I'm learning: It's easier, and more fun, to make people smile.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I just had a conversation with a good friend and one of the things we talked about is his appreciation of this blog and nice comments left about my style of writing on this blog. I told him that it's easy for me to be positive when I think of others who have more difficult challenges than me. We talked about Kay Yow (the Women's Basketball Coach at NC State) and her determination which inspires the rest of us.
From "Wide Awake" by M. Night Shyamalan (another movie I highly recommend)
Frank Benton: Hey Josh, is today tomorrow?
Joshua A. Beal: No Frank, tomorrow's tomorrow. Today's today, and tomorrow's tomorrow.
Friday, December 5, 2008
[Arthur suddenly laughs uproariously]
Gloria: Why are you laughing now?
Arthur: Sometimes I just think funny things.
I didn't know where to put the humor today, so I thought I'd do it first.
I'm thinking about a news story out of Wake Co. NC that has affected my friends that live there. The story involves 4 teens who have been charged with murder of another teen. The story is unfortunate in that the 4 teens had labeled themselves as "outcasts." None of us know what events brought on this label they gave themselves and none of us have a right to judge them. The event does bring to light the power of positive communication.
I remember a "barn cat" that came to live in our barn one fall while I was a farmboy growing up. The cat would stand at the top of the hayloft and watch us each night as we fed the cattle below. I started having a conversation with the cat each night (telling it about my day, asking about it's day) and would work myself closer to it (if only inches at a time) each day. I have no idea how long it took to eventually be able to get close enough to pet it (and maybe I did sneak food out to it), but it did happen. The following spring, the cat had kittens and I remember playing with them in the barn and recalling how the relationship with the mother cat began and being amazed how it all transpired.
It all began with positive conversation. I was having a conversation with a client friend the other day we talked about how the most powerful tool in the world is our brain and how we only use a small fraction of it. No one will ever confuse me with Norman Vincent Peale, but as I have gotten older, I realize I have no time for negativity. Come with solutions to challenges. Ask how you can help alleviate pain. I gave blood platelets because I realized that even though I wanted to write a big check to cancer research, I couldn't. At the recommendation of a co-worker who was already donating platelets, I decided to give of myself instead and not once did I regret it.
Don't judge the kids in NC. Send them your thoughts and prayers and during that time, ask for insight on how you can be aware of the same type of situations where you live. Realize that as one person you can't fix it on your own, but also realize the power of positive conversation that you have the gift of delivering, in all parts of your life.
I'll never forget that cat in the barn.
P.S. I promised medical information. Still on the disabled list. Stomach distention going down, a bit anemic (part of the process), allowed to do some light exercise, no neck pain last night due to new memory foam pillows that I'm using. Hiccups back due to medicine I take for 3 days after chemo (hiccups beat the alternative).
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Let's hope it's not as bad as "Home Alone-Part 2" or "Caddyshack-Part 2."
Learning that my body does not like it very much when I take a non-gel form of acetaminophen in the middle of the night. Will spare you the details.
Hat attire today will be the Scottish Hat.
Will fill you in on blood work details, etc. tomorrow.
Wondering if sound of crowing carries all the way to the state of Michigan from the state of Maryland today.
"Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!......Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!" - Pink Floyd
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Gimme head with hair. Long beautiful hair. Shining, gleaming. Streaming, flaxen, waxen."
The above means that the chemo drugs must be working because it's starting to fall out. Even though you know it's coming, it's a little freaky when it starts.
Then...creative thought kicks in and one says to themselves, "Wonder if I could sell adspace on the cranium?" You know, it could be a combination of Craigslist and My Space and I could call it "Greg's Space."
Then, another thought is to really have fun and find a talented makeup artist who could draw eyes, nose and a mouth on the back and freak people out. Of course that would echo what alot of you have said in the past about me ("He doesn't know if he's coming or going").
On another note, I really like the older Christmas songs like "Coventry Carol" and others from that era.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Another piece of wisdom I'm going to pass on from a good friend is his use of the expression, "Let it go." I was talking to someone the other day who was still wound up about a issue they had with a billing error that was resolved in their favor. I told them they still seemed upset about it. They replied that they were even though things worked out in their favor. "Let it go." If you are still carrying resentment over something that is over and done with, it seems you are preventing yourself from directing any positive energy towards other things you can make better for yourself or others.
Heck, even Carl Spackler (so many great quotes in "Caddyshack"), was an optimist: "Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a miracle... It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!"
Monday, December 1, 2008
My smart friend Bobbi R posted a comment with words that had me puzzled, but I found their translation on the internet. She refers to my "meanmnach and àbhach personality!" What I found was a Gaelic translation site and the words translate to: àbhach - humorous, merry;
meanmnach - high-spirited, mettled, magnanimous, brave,courageous. Well, I'm not so sure those kind words apply 100% of the time, but I will take the compliment.
I will tell you there are doubting times, but as I told one of the nurses the other day, "I think about the bad stuff sometimes and then I realize I'm too lazy to worry about it, so I go do something else like call clients, read, watch a movie, or take a nap (the best therapy for getting away from the concerns of the world).
I think I figured out the headaches - it's a matter of my head position when I am sleeping, so one of today's distractions is getting pillow that supports the neck.
Other than that, the next chemo party is Thursday of this week. A very funny friend of mine is going with me to that appt. and we have our plans to pass the time figured out - there is some "concern" that we may get in trouble, but we're adults we'll behave (or drag everyone else in the room down with us - which is the ultimate goal.).