Day 110 – Insights

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Day 110

Happy Monday!  I know – keep it down Don it is Monday, but we all had another day to receive God’s gifts, whether we took the time to enjoy them or not. We have had an action packed couple of days since I shared with you last Wednesday.  Let’s see – Thursday started with me going over to UF Shands to meet with Kim, my lymphedema physical therapist.  She shared with me the “technique” for the massage needed to start the lymph flowing and it is 13 quick massages after you wear a compression bandage for 30 minutes.  I have to wear the bandage when I sleep, but you can see and feel the difference already.  I did yoga that evening but ended up with a primarily sleepless night.  Don’t know why, but I just laid and relaxed.  I got up early Friday because I had a busy day.  Our friends and artists Graeme Priddle  and Melissa Engler from Asheville were spending the night with us. They are traveling to do an installation in Miami for a client.  That means I had to pick up and clean the house and run some errands.  First I picked up the compression bandage – what a joy – not!  It wasn’t bad it is just that medical equipment people, to me, can be very cost driven.  I suppose it is just a necessity of the trade, but they seem more focused on what insurance will and will not pay than they do taking care of your needs.  Next was off to see Angela at Dr Moy’s for my hearing aid fitting.  Guys – WHO KNEW?  I have been re-introduced to a world that I had previously forgotten or didn’t even know about.  If I knew what an impact this would have on my life I would have done it years ago.  The TV is half volume, I can hear all the birds, the noises my truck makes, the washing machine, the sound water makes in the drain, leave crunching under my feet, everything said at a meeting, the rain.  I am blown away by what I can now hear – what a gift and blessing I have received!

Friday night was a blast catching up with Graeme and Mel.  We had BBQ from Gators off Beaver Street; ribs, brisket, sausage and turkey – delicious!  They all consumed “adult beverages” and we swapped stories until we were all tuckered out.  Small world, Mel asked about how I picked UF and I was telling her about this angel doctor that helped us when she suddenly asked if it was Mitchel Turk – It turns out that she is friends with Mitchel and Nadine.  We said our good nights and goodbyes because Saturday morning we had to depart before they did to get to our  SoMMa meeting in Ponte Vedra by 9:30. Here are the links to their work Graeme’s Graeme Priddle Melissa’s Mellisa Engler. We had a demo by pastel artist Lyn Asselta and it was eye opening to see what you could do with pastels. Lyn’s work can be seen here Lyn Asselta.  After the meeting we took a side trip to Ponte Vedra Arts and Crafts, what a cool store!  I looks small from the front, but it has the most amazing collection of fine art, basic art and craft items that Kat and I have ever seen.  Each isle is filled with some many products, techniques and ideas that we had to get out of there before we spent the retirement account….LOL.  Here is their website if you are interested  Ponte Vedra Arts and Crafts.  We then headed to one of our favorite 2018-03-17 13.55.59restaurants for lunch, Safe Harbor.  It is on the Inner Coastal on Beach Blvd. and we sat on the porch and stuffed ourselves.  Oysters, blackened and fried trigger, beautiful weather and the best lunch companion in the world!  It is soooo good to be me! We got home about 3:30 and immediately hit the bed. We napped until about 6, got into our pajamas and watched “The Wizard of Lies,” a movie about Bernie Madoff.

Saturday night and Sunday morning were rest catch up for me.  We were in bed by 10 and I slept until noon while Kat worked on finishing her alcohol ink class. Sunday afternoon I made it to the shop to work on Christmas presents until Jan, Albert and Finn stopped by for a visit.  We sat on the porch and collapsed while we caught up with each other’s lives and threw the ball for Finn. We made it to bed early again and I got up about 9 to work on a project for Eric at Farmtastic Creations.  I made it to Home Depot and worked in the shop until about 4.  I got cleaned up and had leftover ribs and turkey for dinner waiting for my baby to get home.  The days are still tiring and I am stringing more of them together – I just might be getting well.

I have enjoyed the rain today  Last night while we were sleeping we had “thunder boomers” and I don’t remember the last time I was awakened to them.  While I lay there I remembered my parents telling us that it was just the angels bowling.  I don’t know how to explain it other than I felt so relaxed and calm waiting for the next strike.  It probably started Saturday night before we went to bed.  I shared with Kat that I had no idea 5 months ago how much my life would change as a result of having cancer.  It’s not just special toothpastes, compression garments, hearing aids and sleep patterns – it is a new life.  Like sobriety and the loss of Sally it is another wonderful awful experience in my life.  New friends, and a new appreciation of old ones, a renewed relationship with God, the cigarettes are gone, the hummingbirds are back, the sky is bluer, the season more spectacular, I can hear and I love Kat more than ever.  It is like we are dating again and appreciating what we have.  I am thankful, grateful, blessed, excited and full of awe for the world around me.  It gets a little better every day and I still have a way to go, I cannot imagine the things to come.


LESSON OF THE DAY – “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” —Willie Nelson

Day 105 – Living Life

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Day 105 – We have Beard!

I can’t believe it has been a week since I last shared with you, but time flies when you are having fun!  It has just been good but a bit frustrating.  By the time I get done with my day I have just been ready to go to bed.  Last Thursday I had an appointment with Louise and it went really well – I have been extended to a month!  Then I headed over to yoga and made it home about 8.  Friday was a thrilling day of cleaning house, but I made it all the way through this week including laundry.  Now it took me until 7 and I was pretty worn out but felt really good about getting it done.  Saturday we got to go to a “reveal” party for my nephew Will and his wife Jessa. Apparently this has become the real hip thing to do even to the point where Krispy Kreme sells donuts that are filled with pink or blue filling for the parties.  We all bit in at the same time to find out that it is going to be a boy.  It was fun and Albert and Jan, Daryl and Val are really excited about the prospect of a grandchild.

Sunday was a sleep in morning, it was really funny I was asleep and opened my eyes about 10:30 and the house was so quiet that I thought it was Monday and that I had overslept for my therapy appointment.  I jumped out of bed and went running into the kitchen and saw Kathy with her headphones on the computer!  I just turned back around and fell back into bed and was immediately sleeping again!  I slept until 12:30 but I spent the afternoon in the shop working on a project for Eric at Farmtastic Creations and finishing up a mortar pestle Christmas present. 29133005_10214874070781182_2656956538417053696_n Keoni and Amy stopped by for a minute to pick up some leftover donuts for the pigs then Kat made chicken piccata for dinner with black bean pasta. With the time change and all the activity it was back to bed!

This week hasn’t been as adventurous but Monday I did go to the physical therapist for the lymphedema therapy.  Kim is my therapist and she spent the appointment doing baseline measurements. She is very optimist that we can shrink the “waddle”  and we will get down to it Thursday.  Kat and I ended the day at the woodturner’s meeting where we had a demonstration on turning long thin objects by Ed Malesky.

Then the wall appeared.  I did not wake up until 2 o’clock Tuesday and had to force myself to go to yoga then today I got up about noon and have spent the day on the couch licking my wounds.

Barbara helped me to put it into perspective Monday night.  I have had 5 good days.  They may not have been 100% and I may have been tired and sleeping a bit but I did string 5 together before I had to quit.  That is so much further than I was a month ago and while the last 2 days would have depressed me a month ago, today I can feel good about the accomplishment and understand the need to rest.  I still do feel a little selfish when I tell people I cannot do something, but I  am trying to make intelligent decisions and I have quit imagining what they think.  I am doing the best that I can and cannot help it if that is all that I can do.  We were going to go to Atlanta this weekend to see the American Craft Show Saturday and spend the weekend with my nephew Chaz and his fiance Jovie until Kat pointed out to me that I probably didn’t need to spend all day Friday driving, all day Saturday at the show and all day Sunday driving home with some visiting thrown in the middle.  That is why I love that woman so much – she is so practical…LOL

A kind God, sage advice, prayer and taking action has been very good to me. I feel myself getting healthier and stronger daily.  The best part is that I have been able to to it with a smile and forgiveness in my heart.  Instead of waking up today being mad and disappointed at where I am, I am able to be grateful for the progress and thankful for the time given to me to heal without the pressure to perform. And then I have you, my loving and faithful friends who check on me daily and cheer me on toward healing.  I love you and appreciate you.


LESSON OF THE DAY – “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”   William James

Day 95 – Trudging

2018-03-03 17.51.36Hey what is with this weather??? Come on I was really digging this heat, but it’s still another day in paradise! Typical of the recovery it has been another “pay to play” week.  After the 12 hour day and sharing the good news with you Tuesday I slept until about 2 on Wednesday and picked Ms Kathy up from the airport about 7.  Her trip and my activities had us both in bed by 9 that night.  Thursday I got up to go see the crew at Dr Breitmoser’s and get my teeth cleaned.  I was feeling pretty good and had scheduled a meeting and lunch with my friend Peter to catch up, but by the time Kim finished cleaning my teeth and I caught up with Jan I had to get in the bed.  I called Peter and canceled and was in the bed by 11:20 and did not get up until 4.  I did go to yoga but was back asleep by 9 that night.  Friday I had to cancel on Peter again because I couldn’t get up until 2 but I was able to change the sheets, gather up the laundry  and pick up the house a little bit so by Saturday I was feeling pretty good again.  I felt so good that I hit the shop and finished that “ball cap” job!

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Finished! and still have it!

Turned 3 more of them and was so happy the only problem was cleaning up all that PVC.  It was stuck to every tool I used, my lathe was white and I know there will be white streamers out there for weeks.  But it was so cool to be there and get something done.

Poor Kat had to catch up on her Alcohol Ink class this weekend because of her traveling  and spent 7 hours on the computer Saturday – needless to say we went to bed by nine last night!  Today was pretty nice too, we started the day having brunch with Jan and Albert and Will and Jessa.

Sunday Brunch Bunch!

We all met at the Uptown in Springfield and enjoyed a meal and some catching up.  It had been so long since we had seen them that we finally gave Jan her birthday present – it was only 3 weeks late.  Next stop was the Jacksonville Gem Society to pick up our glass projects from last week.  Not only did we get to do that, Heather was teaching a silver class on making fidget rings. They started from flat sheet silver and silver wire and it was pretty cool. I think that this membership is going to be interesting.  We finished the afternoon with Bernard and Susie.  Kat had made

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Fused Glass

pot roast and we took them over some dinner.  Susie is doing better with her shingles, but she still needs prayers – she has been at this for 5 months.

So that gets you up to date.  I can tell you that I am really doing much better.  The little successes have helped me to come to a peace with the rest.  If I have to sleep – I have to sleep.  It is just a part of the recovery.  Do I want to do it?  Oh no – I would rather be spending my days in the shop and catching up with all of you that I haven’t seen for months, but I’ll take it today.  The good days are better and the down days are predictable. And with yours and God’s backing I am golden.  The post that I made Tuesday saying that we got this had 139 likes and 90 comments and that does not include the blog comments and likes.  I keep telling you that God loves me and I’m blessed with wonderful friends and family!  Thank you for being by my side.  Next week – follow up with the ENT, Dr Moy that did the biopsies that found the cancer in the throat.  Yippee – another scope through the nose and hearing tests.  The chemo and radiation have effected my hearing and he is going to check that out.  I have an appointment with Louise to check my mental well being and finally a gender reveal party for Will and Jessa’s baby.   It’s going to be another great week!


LESSON OF THE DAY – “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”       Marie Curie


Day 86 – Ups and Downs

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Day 86

It’s Friday and I think that I just heard the chirp of Kathy’s car in the driveway…YEA! It has been a long day.  Thursday was incredible.  I went over to Farmtastic Creations to help my friend Eric work on some barn doors then came home and ran the vacuum and cleaned the bathrooms and felt great. I made some overdue phone calls and tied up some junk that had been hanging out there, Kat and I joked around and it was just as close to normal as I have felt in months.  Then came the morning, or more real, afternoon! Every bone in my body aches, my eyes won’t stay open and I have all the motivation of a slug. But today it is all okay. I just got up and did what I could.  That consisted of some emails, laundry and the couch.

I know that someone watching from the outside would think that it is a total hoax.  How does a guy go from normal to stop in a 24 hour period.  Hell I wonder that myself, but I am not going down that rabbit hole again.  My life is to short to waste my days, no matter how I feel, on a sick mind.  Yes depression will happen but with awareness, treatment and prayer I don’t have to let it take me to places I don’t want to go.  The committees have been dismissed and the squirrel cage has been greased – what a relief.  My thoughts this morning were “Isn’t this curious – I felt so good yesterday, so we have this all day class on Saturday you better relax and make plans for a soak before an early bedtime.”  And the simple act of being proactive rather that reactive has made today tolerable. Yes I wanted to do more, yes I wanted to feel better but because of the work I am OK and that is good enough today.

Tomorrow we have an all day class with Heather Furman. Heather is a glass artist and is going to take use on a trip through glass fusing and planets unknown.  It starts at 9:30 and runs until 5 so I better get some dinner and work my way to bed.  Don’t worry I’ll take pictures.


LESSON OF THE DAY – “We would like to live as we once lived, but history will not permit it. “        John F. Kennedy


Day 84 – Cruising

Day 84 Gratitude!

My life is so incredible – what more could I ask for?  Sure there is plenty but what I have is just right.  This morning I woke up with a headache that was bad enough to make me nauseous, so I stayed in bed until 12:45.  Was I happy about it – no, did I have to let it ruin my day – no so I choose to not let it.  So I prioritized the day and got started.  No rushing no fussing just trying to make the best of it.  I choose the shop instead of walking and that makes the second day in a row that I was out there.  Now it took me 2 days to turn a ball cap  that normally takes me an hour, but it is the 1st time that I have turned since the week before Christmas and it is all to spec!

Monday Kat was off and we had lunch at Hawker’s Asian Streetfare.  We love that place.  I had the presence of mind to ask if my favorite, Kim Che Fried Rice, could be fixed with less heat and low and behold they could.  What a difference it was enjoyable – I guess I’ll start asking more…LOL   Next we were off to the tax guy and got 2017 filed then decided to check out IKEA.  We really had a great day for her last day of vacation I was really sad to see it end. 2018-02-09 08.25.07 We did get some cool kitchen ideas for the future.  But as usual, I paid for the day out on Tuesday and that is just a cost of doing business.  What are the choices again?  I have decided that my life is too short to be pissed off or miserable.  I have wasted enough days fighting things not in my control and I hope that I am done.

I finished the day by running over to Susie’s and Bernard’s to check in.  I love spending time with those guys – they are really important to Kat and I. We are blessed by wonderful friends – I could not imagine life without them.  Finally, home to see my wife and hopefully get to bed early.  I wish you all a wonderful night.



LESSON OF THE DAY – “When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.”

 Winston Churchill

Day 81 – The Beat Goes On

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Heading out for a walk

Sunday night the weather is glorious and the smell of alcohol ink is in the air!  The past 4 days have been spent in repair mode after the 5 day push last week.  I have consistently been sleeping 12 hours, but I have been going to sleep and staying asleep so it has been much better.  It is amazing how letting go and not getting hung up on what you should be doing eases your mind at bedtime.  I have also been taking a nap each day so I guess the symposium and testing was harder on me than I realized.  Today was the first day that I felt like walking this week, 2 nights of yoga was enough extracurricular activity.  My activity with Louise, the weather, prayer and personal work have eased the depression to barely negligible.  I even did okay with Kat spending 3 days cleaning the shop, I worked inside on the taxes and got them ready to submit.  It was probably a good thing I didn’t go out before yesterday.  I went out to help for about 3 hours at the end and wore myself out.  After the group left I could not move or keep my eyes open so I took a nap at 4 and still went to bed by 10:30.

Amy, Keoni and the crowd surprised us with lunch from Fire House and a birthday party for our great niece Baylie.  She doesn’t turn 3 until February 28th but she wanted to make sure that she celebrated with Grandma and Grandpa and we were blessed to be included. We sat outside on the patio and enjoyed a beautiful day.  The only downside was when Baylie’s 5 year old sister Rylie wanted to go out to the shop and turn tops.  They spent a day with Kat and I about a year ago and we spent the day in the shop turning tops and making wooden boats. I had to tell her next visit but we did get out the tops and had spinning competitions to her delight.

Today we got up with aspirations of attacking the world with gusto but settled for another quiet day at home together.  Kathy worked on her alcohol ink class and homework and I went out for a long walk.  I was so struck by the colors and flowers and how fast that they are showing up – God’s palate!

We had an excellent steak dinner and enjoyed a nap together.  I am consistently amazed at my life when I do the things that I am supposed to do.  Of course you have to trust God, set aside your ego, try and help others and take particularly good care of yourself – and we can all read through the history to see how well I do with that…LOL  The good news is that I seem to be getting there more quickly anymore. They keep telling me “Progress not Perfection” and it is starting to maybe sink in.


LESSON OF THE DAY -Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.  Charles R. Swindoll

Day 77 – WoooooHooooo!

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Day 77

I know, I know where the HELL have I been??? Dancing with angels that’s where!  What a great week – thank you for helping me get here. Thursday I saw my therapist, who to my dismay just got done with her round of cancer treatment.  Talk about being able to empathize and help me out.  Again it is miraculous  what God puts in my life when I get out of the way and ask for help.  I had not seen Louise in a year and a half and it was like we never missed a beat and I came away recharged.  Of course she wanted to see me again yesterday – but I had improved enough that she unchained me for 3 weeks.  After I left her office Thursday I picked up Sydney and Finn and delivered them to my nephew and niece Will and Jessa so we could go to the Symposium.  Friday morning Kat and I were on the road by 8:30am for our next big adventure.  We drove to Lake Yale Baptist Center for the Florida Woodturning

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Don & Kat’s Excellent Adventure # 2134

Symposium and my 1st venture into the world. Lake Yale is in the Eustis, FL area and is a beautiful drive 21/2 hours away from Jacksonville.  I’ll be honest and tell you that I was scared to death but excited at the same time, but I had a plan to escape to a quiet place if I needed to and was surrounded by understanding and supportive friends so that fear had melted by the time that we finished lunch.  There were 250 turners, and 8 rotations of classes in which you got to choose one of 4 to see.  So I saw 8 different national and local turners who came to share their projects and techniques.  It is an awesome opportunity to learn. There is also a Vendor area to see and buy all the new and trusted goodies available and two evening programs. The attendees are encouraged to bring finished work for the instant gallery to share with the participants. Friday night we had a critique of the instant gallery by the nationals  and a drawing for a 6 $250 shopping sprees with the

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$250 to Spend!

vendors and I won one of the shopping sprees!  OK I’ll wrap up the symposium with one story.  Kat and I shared a room with our friend Tina, because she is so kind and the 3 of us have a freaking blast together.  Friday night we all settled in for quick nights sleep and 1st off a previous occupant had set the alarm and it went off about 1:30 in the morning.  I was slapping the clock radio turning on the radio and finally got it off, then Tina spit out her snore guard and poor Kat was up all night while Tina and I slept like bricks.  After a grumpy Kat start to the day I got some earplugs for her from a friend who is a vendor, Paula, and Kathy slept like a baby Saturday night.  For as much as I was worried I made it each day until midnight and was up at 6:15.  Now I won’t tell you that I was not worn out – We got home about 3:30 on Sunday and I was asleep on the couch by 4, but It really gave me the confidence that I am capable of pushing it if I need to.

This week hasn’t been any better.  Monday I had to be at UF at 9am for a blood test and you know how that goes.  I showed up and signed in then parked it in the waiting room until it was my turn to register.  After I settled in and handed the woman my ID and insurance card she quickly apologized and told me because of my insurance I had to go to LabCorp and oh and you need to go to the Proton Therapy Center to get your orders so they can do the draw. It was alright, but I felt sorry for the tech who had to stick me 3 times to find a vein.  Next was running by Jan’s to pick up Sydney and home for a nap before we headed out to the Woodturners meeting.  Kat was our demonstrator sharing how she makes her amazing rain-stick.

Dazzling Execution

Tuesday was a 9am meeting for my CT scan and PET scan.  These are the 2 tests that will show us if we got the cancer.  They get read on the 27th at 10am and I am a little nervous but like Kat said to me -“If we didn’t get it we will go at it again.” (Easy for her to say!)  They took about 3 hours and I was back home to eat and catch a nap before an appointment with Louise and yoga.  Today I slept until noon and took a nap at 3, I just couldn’t go anymore.  But today it was okay.  I could take solace in the fact that I knew it was time to lay down and I don’t feel bad about the need to do it.  I asked God for the willingness to face my fears, held my breath and took the plunge.  It helped that I was surrounded by people to watch me and give me guidance and I will not do it every week……..yet, but damn I’m a lot more confident and secure than I was. Tonight my beautiful bride and I went out for dinner to celebrate Valentines Day.  I really love this woman it was so nice to spend the evening with each other, as a matter of fact this week has been amazing.  We have shared our versions of the journey and I have been able to walk her through my feelings as they occurred.

So tonight I sit ready to retire with my confidence back, my mood better than it has been in weeks and not constricted by my perceived limitations.  Life is good and I am blessed by God, friends and a wonderful life – what more could I ask for.  Happy Valentines Day my friends, good night.


LESSON OF THE DAY – “We should not judge people by the peak of their excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.”

Henry Ward Beecher