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More Lemonade

Well, it’s ironic that my last post, just yesterday too, was about making lemonade when life gives you lemons. I’ve been given some lemons that I’m not sure I can do anything with.

In 2018 I was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. It was locally advanced, meaning that all of the cancer they could detect was located in the abdominal area. So, I went for the cure – surgery, followed by 35 weeks of radiation, followed by 16 weeks of chemotherapy. I also started ADT when I was first diagnosed and continued that for 2 years.

I’ve been off all treatments for 2 years now and my PSA has been 0.000. My oncologist was becoming hopeful that we had beat it and was going to change my checkups and labs from every 3 months to every 6 months, but my last PSA came back at 0.014. We retested again 6 weeks later (yesterday) and it came back at 0.049. It has not reached the level to be considered a biochemical recurrence, but it is on the way and moving quickly (it tripled in 6 weeks).

So what does this mean? It means I will go back on ADT and stay on it until it fails. ADT lowers your testosterone to castrate levels. It keeps you alive, for a while, but there are side effects. Tiredness, weight gain, constant hot flashes. Also, long term use can lead to osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

How long will ADT give me? No one knows. Two years? Maybe five? Maybe longer, but the answer is no one knows. It varies from person to person. What will I do when it fails? I will probably try Provenge, a therapy that turns your immune system against the cancer. This is not a cure either, just another therapy that will also eventually fail, but it might buy me a couple more years. After that? Maybe Zytiga, although that therapy shuts down the adrenal glands and I will likely be on prednisone for the rest of my life, however long that may be.

Anyhow, I’m dealing with a terminal disease now and being only 59 years old, it is highly likely I will die from this. If I were 70 years old, all of the therapies and treatments available would possibly keep me alive until I died from some other age related ailment. My hope is that the therapies available will keep me alive until some breakthrough treatment becomes available.

Anyhow, I am facing a giant and I need to focus my energies on getting my affairs in order and making sure my precious wife is taken care of if God decides to call me home. This is my last post on the blog. It was never my intent to gain a large following or to monetize this, I just enjoyed writing. For the handful of people who follow this blog, thank you. For Sebastion, who “likes” all of my posts, thank you.

As far as the farm goes, it’s not my dream anymore. The days I have left, however few or however many, will be spent loving my family.

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Lemons or Lemonade?

I’m sure you have all heard the expression, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  The meaning behind that old adage is that being a victim of any given circumstance is often a choice.  For example, let’s say you win $1000 on a scratch-off lottery ticket and before you can blow that money on something fun, your car breaks down and it costs $989 to repair it.  There are two ways to look at this…

  1. We can play the victim and react with a negative attitude of, “Every time I get a little extra money, something breaks!” or…
  2. We be thankful and react with a grateful attitude of, “Every time something breaks, I get a little extra money!”

See the difference? 

Lemonade

Life has served us a big dump truck of lemons recently and we’re having to make a whole lot of lemonade with it.  We had some water damage to the hardwood floors around an interior chimney.  This damage occurred in a small room that we never use.  The floors were covered with a large area rug, so we did not know the extent of the damage until we moved all the furniture out and rolled up the rug.  It was bad.  

Years ago, we had the underside of our floors sprayed with closed-cell foam.  The guys who sprayed the foam on the bottom of the floor also sprayed it on the brick surface of this interior chimney, from the floor all the way down to the foundation.  This plugged up all weep holes and effectively sealed the masonry structure so that water could not escape.  Over time, water accumulated in the structure and had no where to escape until it reached the top of the foam.  Then it had an escape path over the top of the foam, beneath our floors. 

To shorten this story a LOT, suffice it to say that Nationwide sent an engineer down to determine the entry point of the water and his ridiculous claim is that our crawlspace is excessively damp and this “dampness” somehow managed to penetrate through 6 inches of closed-cell foam and a layer of asphalt roofing paper to warp our hardwoods and rot the subfloor beneath them.  This “engineer” never even examined our crawlspace, but none-the-less, Nationwide has denied our claim based on his report which has led me to hire my own engineer and a lawyer.  We will settle this in court, but until then, I must make these repairs myself and pay for these expenses out-of-pocket.  How much?  I don’t know, but ServePro, who specializes in water damage repairs, estimated the costs at approximately $23,000.  That’s a LOT of lemons!!!!

So how do we make lemonade from that?  It would be so easy to despair and very difficult to view this as anything but a major catastrophe but, it’s quite simple.  Changing one word does the trick….

From:  This is a major catastrophe.

To:  This is a major remodel.

Gratitude

For years my wife has been wanting to open the den up to the adjacent room by tearing out a built-in entertainment center and bookcase.  Sounds simple but doing this would require tearing out existing crown molding, patching the ceiling, re-routing electrical wires and HVAC ductwork, tearing out baseboard and existing hardwood floors, patching sheetrock, putting trim back up, putting new floors down, and repainting everything.  This was a job I did not want to undertake, not only because of the costs involved, but also because of the time and effort.  But now I must do it, so we are shopping for new floors, picking out new colors, new rugs, and new curtains.  We are planning on whitewashing the brick and building a floor-to-ceiling mantle in the den as well as hanging a new exterior door to boot!

The point of this story is that this “tragedy” that should have brought us “despair” has turned into an “opportunity” that is bringing us “joy”.  You know what month this is?  That’s right!  It’s November and you know what holiday we celebrate in November?  This year, count your blessings.  Look for something positive in everything life throws your way.  Choose to be thankful and grateful.  They are the two key ingredients in the recipe for happiness.

Thankful

“It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude.  It’s gratitude that brings us happiness.”  ~ Anonymous

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OCTOBER

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came –
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples, 
And leaves of every name.
The sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.
Then, in rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly “hands around.”

~ George Cooper

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Hometown Happy

I love my hometown of Pickens.  Whenever I checkout at Walgreens, Doris always greets me with, “Well hey Dale!  How are you doing?”  I tell her I’m doing fine and then I inquire how she is faring.  She tells me what’s going on in her life and then she asks, “How’s Willie doing?”  (Willie is my dad)

I leave there and run by Bee Well Natural Market to get some coffee or deliver some eggs.  Adrian always me asks about Mister Boone, my oldest son’s miniature schnauzer.  I ask her about her recent family hikes she’s posted on Instagram.  We chit chat for a while and more often than not I leave with a free coffee which, by the way, is brewed from beans that are woodfire roasted in small batches by Trey, a super nice guy who works for the forestry service down the road in Pumpkin Town.  His coffee business is called Silva Coffee.  Look them up.  Their coffee is hands down the best I’ve ever had.

General Store

Anyhow, you get the gist.  Small hometown, everyone knows everyone.  Well, almost.  The town is growing by leaps and bounds and becoming more “artsy” every year.  We have a craft brewery on Main Street called Appalachian Ale House and another one at the end of town called South Cack.  South Cack offers a charcuterie board although I’d bet most of my hometown folks have no idea what a charcuterie board is.  And that segues me to my story. 

This evening, Melody and I went to eat at a new café on Main Street called Revyve.  It’s more than just a café, it is a juice bar, a coffee shop, and a boutique as well.  Very quaint, and they offer a charcuterie board too!  That’s two places in Pickens where you can get a charcuterie board.  Who woulda thunk it?

Anyhow, this was our second time eating there and we both ordered the same thing we had the first time.  Melody got the chicken-salad croissant with chips, and I got the chicken-salad salad.  While we were eating, Dr. Pam comes in to pick up supper for her and her husband, Steve.  She places her order and then comes to sit with us and talk.  She also picked up a piece of pumpkin cake from the counter and ordered a cup of coffee which she brought back to the table to eat while waiting for her order.  We had a great time catching up on some gossip and laughing.  Dan, who works down the road at Farm Bureau, walked by and saw us through the window.  He popped in to say hello and talked for a little bit.  After Dan left, they brought Pam the food she ordered for supper and sat it on the table.  Pam proceeded to finish her cake and coffee, and continued fellowshipping with us.  We were all having a great time, but then suddenly Pam jumps up and says, “I gotta go, I got someone waiting in car for me and I forgot all about them.” She grabbed up her food and rushed out, leaving her pocketbook hanging on the back of the chair.  The funny thing is, she was parked in front of the café, so the lady waiting in the car could see her inside eating cake, drinking coffee, laughing, and having a great time.  We called her and told her she left her pocketbook and we met her at her office to give it back to her.  We had a good laugh about it. 

Off to School

The other day, I watched a video on YouTube that was made on Kensington Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Watch it if you get a chance. It will make you appreciate your small hometown and you’ll quickly realize it’s good-living in a small town and it’s good living in a small town.  

And who knows?  We might get adventurous one day and try one of them charcuterie boards. I’ll probably call it a chartootery board when we order it, just to embarrass Melody.

“In small towns as well as large, good people outnumber bad people by a hundred to one.  In big towns the hundred are nervous.  But in small towns, it’s the one.”  ~ Paul Harvey

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Thirty Days Hath September

Remember this poem?

Poem

Or did you count off the months on your knuckles to see which ones had 31 days and which ones had 30 days?

Ever heard of the expression, the “ber” months?  September, October, November, and December?  Every year, especially after a brutal August, I am ready for the “ber” months.  This year is no exception.  We have had so much rain and so much heat this year, that it feels like we have been living in a tropical rain forest, but hurricane Ida blew the heat and humidity away, giving us a brief respite and a small taste of autumn.  It was glorious.

Southward Bound (John Sloan Art)

I had a doctor’s appoint last Friday and now I am having emergency surgery Wednesday.  That’s another story, but the doctor sent me home and told me not to do anything.  No lifting, no physical activity, I was not even allowed to ride the lawn mower to cut grass!  However, the following morning was so cool and refreshing I could not resist a slow and leisurely stroll down our driveway.  The early signs of autumn are everywhere, I just have not been looking for them.  The black walnut trees have dropped their nuts, wrapped in fat green hulls all over the ground and their leaves are showing hints of yellow.  Dogwood trees are also changing, morphing from green to a dark russet red.  I can smell muscadines somewhere in the woods too.  They have a very distinct aroma that makes my mouth water.  Along my walk I discover some Black Eyed Susans blooming profusely among the Goldenrod and Joe-Pye Weed.  Further down the road, a persimmon tree is loaded with sun-kissed fruit and the branches of a honey locust tree bend beneath the weight of hundreds of long, curly seed pods.  You know, old-timers used to make beer from those! 

Harvest Gold (John Sloan Art)

There’s another sign too, but one I cannot put words too.  It’s a “feeling”.  If you love the outdoors and if you love autumn, then I don’t have to explain it to you.  You already know what I’m talking about.

The Golden Month (John Sloan Art)

“By all these lovely tokens September days are here, with summer’s best of weather and autumn’s best of cheer.” ~ Helen Hunt Jackson