Thursday, July 31, 2008

"For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand." - Wm. Butler Yeats

Sometimes the world is too much to bear. Today we learned of the death of a man in his late thirties who was married to my former assistant, while playing hockey last evening. No warning, no idea that this might happen. He leaves behind poor Georginette, as well as a small son. She is surrounded by family and community, but that is the only comforting fact that I have to report today.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home..." -- John Newton

I had a great lunchtime walk today along the waterfront with Tracy, before she goes off to her second chemotherapy treatment tomorrow. We ended up talking so intently that we missed the turn back up Harbor Steps from the waterfront -- figured it out down around Yesler, and trecked back. She is truly managing her own care, including a consult with a dietician, ready to apply lessons learned from the first round. She has grace, amazing grace, in spades.

Today's photos are from Day 3 last year, including the closing ceremony in Memorial Stadium. Over 2,300 walkers last year, and another 500 or so crew members. Should be just the same this year, if not larger. We walk for feisty patients and survivors -- Tracy, Julie, Diane, Cindy, Anne, Judy, Denise, Lisa, Andrew, Teddy, Mary, Jobeth, and Sabine.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Slowing down.

Too tired to sleep past 1am, I ended up not going up north today to the Snohomish Centennial Trail to walk. I need to rest up from this vacation so that I am ready to go back to work early Monday morning....when Leroy climbs on the Harley to drive off to music camp across the mountains.

Friday, July 25, 2008

"When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

And when you have your poplars trimmed, you can see either the sun or the stars.

Here is one of the Ravenna Arborists in the Douglas Fir.

Today has been pleasant. I started with a four mile walk, then came back to work on the basement flat while these guys climbed our trees and rebalanced the amount of light we get inside and outside the house. I talked to James this afternoon. His plane was delayed then replaced so he arrived in the wee hours of the morning in Chicago. He is staying with his ArtWorks friend, Jesse, who will be back in Seattle in August for another exhibition.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Packing it in.

This week is going too fast. It's been a blur of four mile walks, some physical therapy, some work with my trainer, and some elbow grease to help our son James get to the point where we are now -- a portable storage unit that is nearly completely packed, which will be picked up tomorrow, the same day that he flies out for Chicago for a few days, then Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh on Sunday. Here are he and Leroy, tying everything down before adding his bike and two wheels. James has stood firm against all efforts to get him to take "enough" stuff, noting that he will be the one hauling it all up to his new apartment.

I am reading Tracy's blog for an up close look at a patient in chemotherapy. I recommend it strongly, especially the most recent posts, in case any of you see Tracy on the bus or at work:

I had tea with my good friend Jenny yesterday. I've been so focused on either training -- or not being able to train -- and fundraising that she gently reminded me that it's time to think hard about what I want to get out of the walk itself this year.

Walking is still important to me -- there are now 13 names on my honor roll hat. My walking is but a small token of my respect for their personal battles against cancer, and a means to participate in a cause that is larger than any of the 12 or so walks held this year across the United States.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Pain is temporary...." -- Lance Armstrong

Meet Brad, my physical therapist, who gave me thumbs up this morning. I'll be going back the week before the walk to get checked out one last time, but unless something untoward happens, I am released on my own recognizance. Brad is a member of a wonderful team that includes The Sports Medicine Clinic at Northwest Hospital and the Manual Therapy and Advanced Rehabilitation Group in Ballard.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Day One 2007 -- We see the best in everyone.

These photos are for Tracy, so she can see how much support she and other patients have. These same walkers are out training every day for this year's 60 miles.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Checked back in.

Often when we walked last year, we were greeted by breast cancer survivors alongside the road.

I have a second week of vacation now. I'm turning my full attention to family and home and training, where I'll be focused on getting my speed and endurance back....the kind I had when I came out of the starting blocks on Day 1 in 2007 (above).

I sent a very direct appeal to senior colleagues at work to see if I couldn't get my fundraising cranked up a level, especially since any gifts at work are matched by the company. No response yet, but then many folks are on vacation.

Nnow that we are eight weeks away from the walk, I'll looking back to 2007 from time to time and pulling out words or pictures to psych myself up and show blog readers what it was like.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Psyching Myself Up.

Here are two of my personal coaches for last year's 3 Day Walk: my son James, and his girlfriend and my friend, Lauren. When I begin to walk this year, they will each be graduate students on the East Coast. James will be at Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh, and Lauren at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Last year, they flew back from Paris the morning I began the walk. On the second day, James came for lunch with all the walkers. If you read what he posted to my blog after that lunch, you will see why I will miss his clear eye in residence this year. And why I am so very proud of him -- he gets it.

"Watching the long, snake-like procession of pink-clad warriors walk along the strip mall lined streets of Des Moines, WA, I could not help but be amazed by what Annie, her team, and all of the participants and volunteers are doing. Essentially, a large group of people (mostly women!) have devoted themselves to an idea, one that does not make claims for an ultimate truth or represent a political end but rather one that fully asserts the need to care for one another. Many people my age are quite cynical -- I at times certainly am -- yet watching this spectacle, I came to realize that many of the people throwing their legs forward, foot after foot, enduring tremendous pain, walk in the memory of lost friends and family, and quite a few themselves are survivors. They walk not only for themselves and their immediate circle, but for all threatened by a horrible disease, and no one could be a cynic in the face of such a diverse group of motivated and positive humans. This is the sort of activism and thinking we speak of in sad remembrance when talking about the civil rights movement (one that Annie was a part of), or the sort of energy we dream about when we talk about changing our future as a community or a country. What Annie and all involved in this walk are doing shows that the times aren't so dark as they are serious. Today after eating lunch with my mother, father and Mary Gardner, I drove back along I-5 with a giant smile on my face and felt so so proud of my mother and honored to have sat alongside all of those who walked today."

We are about nine weeks out from the event now. Amy is working with me twice a week in the gym. I got in a 3 mile walk along the waterfront today, like Mary G. and Lisa and I did last year on lunch hours -- and it felt both familiar and possible. I have tried to persuade those two to be my "stretchers" for the walk this year (like Daria Torres has stretchers before she hits the pool), but so far no luck.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A high honor.

Above, the "Circle of Survivors" for the 2007 Opening Ceremonies, themselves all walkers -- and they are flanked by the flag bearers, whom you can see at the periphery. The photo below shows how the flags are being carried in through approximately 2,500 walkers and 1,000 crew members, plus family and friends who saw us off that first day last year.

I got invited today to be a flag bearer at both Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2008 walk. I will be wearing my special hat.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"The future is no more uncertain than the present." -- Walt Whitman

I have not fallen in nearly a month.

I remember now to take my reading glasses off before I walk anywhere.

I got in several nice walks at lunchtime this week, including one from my office to a Seattle Public Library Foundation meeting. Starting next week, my assistant is trying to clear out lunch hours so I can do a quick four miles along the waterfront, like last year.

I walked this morning at Green Lake, and have just finished three glorious hours in the garden, getting ready for the party for James & Lauren tomorrow.

Life is good. As James said at about age eight, "we live like kings."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Two more names.

While I was on vacation, a colleague found me on the 3 Day Seattle Top Fundraisers list, and let me know she is starting chemotherapy for breast cancer. We had coffee yesterday, and I pulled this excerpt from her blog to show other Kindred Spirits team members who read here what a profound impact our fundraising has in ways we don't think about.

I also had the chance to meet with someone who fundraising for the Susan G. Komen 3 day in a big way. Her team has a fundraising goal of 500,000 dollars. She has never had cancer so this isn't something she does for her personal gain.... It was very uplifting to realize that not only are breast cancer patients and survivors involved in the fight against breast cancer but many people who realize that someday they may be affected, or someone they love will be. They want it gone as much as I do.

So that's how it looks from the other side. I've added her to my website and my hat... also a woman I've known for 25 years, whom I just found out is also a breast cancer survivor. I don't know how many more names can get embroidered on to my hat...but it seems possible.

To date, Kindred Spirits has raised over $100,000 to date this year toward its goal of $500,000.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Real progress.

My physical therapist indicated that he was almost ready to put me in maintenance mode with the progress I've made. He feels that the work we've been doing has loosened things up so that the new orthodics and the lift on the left one won't be such a hard transition. I have two more exercises to add to the ones I already do, and will go back in two weeks to see if I've now got the proper hang of things. Today I also saw my chiropracter, who concurs with both doctor and physical therapist that the chest injury will take up to six months to go away. But it will not keep me from walking the 3 Day in September.

I've picked up a second pair of training shoes and thanked Ty at Super Jock & Jill for having put me on the sports medicine path. All this diagnostic and physical therapy work started from a suggestion he made in April, which will lead to much improved stability and a better spine, feet and knees.

Looking back on this blog, I see that I've been fighting with various physical challenges since mid-March. This past week of vacation has been wonderful. I feel that I have the energy for the walk, and the more abbreviated training from this point on.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Another Baby James.

We had a splendid Fourth of July. We got up early and drove to catch a ferry for Victoria, where my cousin Mary Siobhan and her husband Tony live. Visiting them were her sister Kathleen and her husband Howard, and their son, James, all the way from Prague.

Is it any wonder that I have no photos of adults or architecture or gardens when there was a small person this interesting to photograph? We had a wonderful afternoon with them, great conversation and an excellent meal, then drove back to catch some fireworks as we came across the border at Blaine.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


The best way to lose track of time is to garden. I have been at it the past couple of days, hoping to smarten things up. Last year, walking took precedence over gardening and things got a bit out of hand. Yesterday I went to Swanson's in Ballard and picked out a new red dahlia bush, red geraniums, deep blue lobelia, a white trailing flower, some replacement Irish moss, and a few other exotics. I both planted and cleaned out garden beds in the back yard.

Here's a full view of the terrace and most of the gardens around it shot from our dressing room window on the second floor after I finished in the back garden, before I started on the rockery areas on the outside of the fence. There's a lot more still to do, but it's very rewarding work.
I got my new orthodics this morning, complete with a lift in the left one, to compensate for 9mm (roughly 1/2") difference between left and right leg...just what Brad, my physical therapist, thought might be part of the reason that I am so tight on the left side. Nowhere to go now but up -- and back out into the garden for the rest of this week!