Monday, August 11, 2008

Our journey continues

The garden at St. John's United Church of Christ in Catonsville, Maryland

Barry’s life partner Rick and Barry’s family in Baltimore would like to express heartfelt thanks for the expressions of kindness, love, and support that they have received during this most difficult time. The memorial services in Jacksonville and in Baltimore were beautiful and moving tributes. Other memorial gatherings were held and masses, condolences and memorial donations have been offered by people who knew and loved Barry.

Barry left us with an understanding of how important it is to live life fully, to make the most of the time that is granted to us, and to cherish the people who are dear to us. Barry mentioned a passage from the Confessions of St. Augustine that he wanted to be shared at his memorial. A copy of that passage is included here.

“And friendship had other joys to captivate my heart. We could talk and laugh together and exchange small acts of kindness. We could join in the pleasure that books can give. We could trifle together. If we sometimes disagreed, it was without spite, as a man might differ with himself, and the rare occasions of dispute were the very spice to season our mutual accord. Each of us had something to learn from the others and something to teach in return. If any were away, we missed them with regret and gladly welcomed them when they came home. Such things as these are heartfelt tokens of affection between friends. They are signs to be read on the face and in the eyes, spoken by the tongue and displayed in countless acts of kindness. They can kindle a blaze to melt our hearts and meld them into one.”

- From the confessions of St. Augustine, Book IV

The garden plaque at St. John's

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Memorial Services

The following notice will be posted in the newspapers in Jacksonville and Baltimore.

Barry Jay Whiteley, 50, Jacksonville, Florida, passed away peacefully in his home Tuesday, July 29, 2008. He was born December 13, 1957 in Baltimore, MD. Mr. Whiteley earned a degree in mathematics and economics in 1979 from Western Maryland College (currently known as McDaniel College) in Maryland. Mr. Whiteley thoroughly enjoyed his 25 year career as Principal Consultant for Ascension Health Information Technology which is associated with St. Vincent's Hospital in Jacksonville. He also worked as a Principal Consultant for Computer Sciences Corporation for 4 years. Barry's passion and excitement for his work was contagious and his enthusiasm motivated all who worked with him.

Barry is predeceased by his wonderful grandmother Katherine Cronise of Maryland for whom he held the greatest esteem.

Barry is survived by his life partner, Richard Overton of Jacksonville, Barry's mother, Dolores Catherine Schuhart, stepfather, Charles Harris Schuhart of Catonsville, MD. He also has six surviving siblings, brothers Stephen Kenneth Whiteley, Charles Harris Schuhart III, and Terry Dean Whiteley as well as sisters Christine Lynne Combs, Charlotte Anne Rouseau, and Sandra Christina Bertanomi all of Maryland.

A memorial service will be held in Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday, August 3, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. at The River House on King St. and the St. Johns River across from the St. Vincent's Medical Center. All friends and family are invited to attend to share your humorous or heartwarming experiences you've had with Barry.

A memorial service will also be held in Catonsville, Maryland on Saturday, August 9, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. in the garden of St. John's United Church of Christ.

Casual dress for both services is appropriate.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Jacksonville Humane Society or Saint John's United Church of Christ, 1000 South Rolling Road, Catonsville, Maryland 21228.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Journey Ends

This morning at 7:08, Barry's journey ended. He died peacefully at home of cardiac arrest with me at his side. The EMTs had been summoned, but Barry was ready for his journey to end. Memorial Services will be held here in Jacksonville in Barry's garden as well as one in Baltimore. Dates are undetermined at this time, but we will post the information on this blog as soon as possible. Both services will be soon. To all of you who have followed Barry's Journey, I thank you. He loved reading your comments and was delighted so many of you were interested in the Journey.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hallowe’en now and then

When we were kids we would go up and down the street collecting candy in brown paper bags. We were dressed in various costumes but there were two that we always tried to use that were made by grandmother years ago. One was a bum and one was a devil costume. They were used by our uncles and Mom and if we could use them we would.

When we got back to the house we would dump out all of our candy and we would re-choose it after Mom and Dad took out all the unsafe candy. We were allowed to have one piece a day until the candy disappeared – which often took until Thanksgiving. Our candy lasted quite a long time.

Halloween in Jacksonville involves buying quite a bit of candy because we get a lot of trick-or-treaters. We try to be generous with the trick-or-treaters and usually the candy will last all night. We’ll get anywhere from 75 to 100 trick-or-treaters which we feel is quite a few. Luckily when we run out they are pretty understanding.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Concerts when I was young

I went to a number of concerts in Baltimore when I was in my teens. Many may be surprised to find I went to several concerts by Johnny and June Carter Cash, the Carter Family and Mother Maybelle Carter. These were at the Painters Mills Music Fair, an in the round musical venue in Owings Mills. A good friend of mine was a country music fan and we attended these together. I enjoyed these more than I thought I would.

At the Merriweather Post Pavilion, an outdoor concert venue in Columbia, Maryland, a number of friends went to several Linda Ronstadt concerts when we were in college. Her concerts were excellent. Her voice was amazing. Unfortunately, we were always pretty far away and had difficulty seeing her. We would take picnic dinners and make an evening of it.

One time, my friend Betsy invited me to a concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion and I thought she said it was going to be James Brown. I said ok, we got there and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was Jackson Browne instead. He was still recording "Running on Empty" and the cut of "Stay" on that album was recorded the night we were there. Every time I hear that cut, I like to think that Betsy and I are singing our hearts out on it.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Easter Egg and Irish Potato Candy Recipes

I got the recipes for the Easter Eggs and Irish Potato candy from my dad. I hope you enjoy them.

Easter Eggs

1/4 lb butter
1 lb confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon real vanilla or other flavoring of your choice

You can add coconut flakes if you like.

Mix together in the shape of an egg.

Cover in room temperature melted chocolate. Bittersweet is best, but use milk if you prefer. Cool on wax paper.

Irish Potato Candy

Use the same recipe adding one cooled mashed potato to the mix. Many add coconut flakes to this also. Make smaller pieces than the full size Easter Eggs.

Coat candy with cinnamon.

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Hotel Adventure in Milwaukee

Several years go, Maddie, Jim and I were working in Milwaukee. We often tried different hotels for variety and to experiment. I had eaten several times at the Knickerbocker on the Lake. The food was quite good, it was in an excellent neighborhood on the edge of the lake.

I inquired and found it was also a hotel. The units were owned by individuals that then made them available for rental. I was assured the units all met quality standards so that we would be pleased with any unit that was selected for us. They were described as elegantly decorated one bedroom units.

After the three of us checked in, it became very clear that elegant is in the eye of the beholder. Jim was fortunate to end up with a unit that was actually quite nice. His had a bit of a 50's retro feel and he was pleased with his unit. His even had an iron.

Maddie's unit was a horror. The bedspread had a huge stain, the pictures were hung just inches from the ceiling as if the owner were a giant. The microwave was blocked by a cabinet. It was not an elegant experience for her.

As I recall, my unit was very drab with lots of brown. It also was not very conveniently arranged and I seemed to be rearranging constantly. It was not a place I would want to stay again.

The elevators were a bit of a challenge also. Everything about the place seemed to be a bit shabby and run down.

Parking was paid in advance, but you weren't guaranteed a spot. That made for interesting returns from work each day.

We learned our lesson that week and were much more careful about hotels in the future. It was very much a case of buyer beware.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Carriage House

I moved from the apartment in downtown Ellicott City to the Carriage House on the grounds of my church in 1998 after I returned from my trip to China. The church property is called Overhills and was built in 1897. There were many of these estates in this area of Catonsville located in the western suburbs of Baltimore. The High School, Community College and Golf Course are all located on former estates. When my church congregation bought the property in 1957, the descendants of the original family retained the corner of the property that contained the Carriage House and made it their home.

We used the Mansion as our church building until 1967 when we built a new church building elsewhere on the 32 acre property. The Mansion was then used by other community oganizations.

In 1998, the family indicated they were moving to New Jersey and offered my church first option to buy. After much consideration, we purchased the property to use as a retreat facility. The house contained an entry hall, a large living room, a dining room, a bathroom, a huge great room and kitchen, a laundry room and another large room on the ground floor. The second floor contained 7 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms on the second floor. There were two large porches, plus a deck in the back. There was also a swimming pool. The basement still contained the horse stalls from when it was a working carriage house. It was quite a house.

It was determined it would be helpful to have someone living there to keep an eye on the house. I volunteered to move into the house as that person. The rent was reasonable and it seemed like it would be an adventure. It took a lot of work to get the house to a state where it could be properly used. Floors needed to be refinished, walls painted, etc. There were LOTS of work parties with church members to get this done. Quite a few went late into the night with a few of us putting in countless hours.

Furnishing the Carriage House was a challenge also. Those 7 bedrooms held 16 beds. If every bed was full, that was 20 people. Church members donated beds, mattresses, linens, towels, etc. There were also donations of tables and chairs for the great room where guests would eat meals and hold meetings. Four dining tables fit in this large great room.

My furniture was used in the living room and we filled in the space with other appropriate pieces. I had just returned from China so a large oriental carpet graced the living room. The living room also had a fireplace that was used frequently.

My bathroom on the main floor. It was small, but we managed to find a really fun wallpaper by Susan Boynton, who had a large line of greeting cards. The wallpaper featured a lot of her characters, particularly the hippo, in various bathroom functions - shaving, showering, etc. It was fun and whimsical.

Once the house was completed, it was a joy to live here. Retreats typically took place on the weekends, other times I had the place to myself. I had a large room on the ground floor as my living quarters. . It served as my bedroom and office. It had five large windows and opened directly into the foyer. It had access to the back deck without disturbing those there for a retreat.

In the mornings I would often come out and find deer gathered in the driveway. I was only minutes from the airport which was quite handy for travel. I could get to BWI without hitting a traffic signal. I was also much closer to the office.

The kitchen was amazing to work in. I have never worked in a larger one. Lots of cupboard space, counter space and a pantry. I quickly became spoiled by the space and convenience.

We held the 25th wedding anniversary party for my parents here, setting up tables and chairs on the large driveway area and front porch. There were about 50 people and we all fit quite easily.

The front porch was a popular gathering place most any time of day. The driveway was lined with maples and locusts. The fragrance of the locusts in the spring was overwhelming and the colors of the maples in the fall was stunning.

We would also have our 4th of July crab feasts on the back deck.

The pool was a popular attraction. It was always refreshing in the evenings to take a dip in the cool of the evening.

Since the house sat in a heavily wooded corner of the property, I also had a lot of birds. I hung a finch feeder and was often treated to a large number of yellow finches on the feeder. It was always a battle with the squirrels, of course, to keep them off the various feeders.

At Christmas, I would put a large tree in the living room and cover it with lots of lights. It looked as if it were on fire there were so many lights. I always liked to take my glasses off to enjoy the lights on the tree as each light then looked like a little star. Try it sometime.

The Mansion has a history of weddings. The property was originally a wedding gift from a lumber merchant to his son. An addition was made many years later to hold a reception for a family member. Before the original family sold us the Carriage House, they asked if they could use the Mansion for their daughter's wedding reception. We agreed and the caterer they selected loved the space and asked to use it as their permanent catering location. The Mansion underwent a major renovation and has become a much sought after location for weddings, receptions and corporate functions. Everything old is new again.

The groups that used the Carriage House were usually church groups from the Baltimore area, but sometimes it would be guests for a wedding. One that sticks out in my mind was a large group from France. I studied French in school, but certainly could not keep up with these folks. The house was also fragrant with heavy perfume for days.

We smoked a turkey one time in the grill on the deck. It was the best turkey I think I ever had. We also made a lot of homemade ice cream there. There was nothing better than fresh strawberry ice cream.

Connie's family were my closest neighbors so we did a lot of socializing together. We shared many, many good times that have led to a very close lifelong friendship.

This house was perfect for entertaining. I can't remember how many cookouts and parties were held here. For New Years I was able to offer over night accommodations for anyone that needed it with all those bedrooms.

I loved to cook, but one particular dinner party turned out to be a disaster. I had invited several of my closest friends for dinner, Jim, Jim and Tracy. I made the mistake of serving dishes I had never tried before. What a huge mistake. I won't go through the menu with you. Suffice it to say they have not forgotten that dinner and neither have I. It was so bad, Domino's delivered.

I was involved in a lot of church activities. I was able to walk to church. One time we had a youth event for about 75 teenagers from New Jersey, Delaware, D.C. and parts of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. They slept at the church, but we used the Carriage House for some of the activities, especially the pool parties. I was much younger then and able to work with all those teenagers.

The pictures here were provided by my friend Connie. Connie did the catering for the Carriage house, providing three meals a day for those staying there. When I moved to Jacksonville in 1991, Connie also became the resident of the Carriage House.

The Carriage House property has since been sold to an assisted living facility called Brightview. The original Carriage House was torn down but the facility that was erected in its place is reminiscent of the Carriage House.

Those were wonderful years at the Carriage House. Quiet, peaceful, exciting and all the room in the world. What a memorable place it was to live.

The Evansville girls at the beach

When Cindy, Linda and Janice were here they went out to enjoy the beach. They sent a few pictures that they have given me permission to share. It was a beautiful day at the beach and it looks like they had a great time.

The first picture is Linda and Cindy.

The second is Janice and Cindy.

I think they all look great.

Third round of chemotherapy complete

Last night completed my third round of chemotherapy by pill. Once again, there were no side effects.
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Update on the Evansville visitors

I got a call from the Evanville visitors, Linda, Cindy and Janice. They were around Clarksville. Weather was good and the return trip was going well for them. Rick and I wish them continued good weather and safe driving. We enjoyed their visit immensely.
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Out of town visitors

I've had a number of out of town visitors this week. One I knew was coming, the others were a big surprise though Rick knew.

Wilma Newton had called to tell me she would be vacationing in Ponte Vedra just outside Jacksonville. We set a time for her to visit on Thursday. She stopped over with some casseroles, fruit and cheese which we greatly appreciated. We had a great visit. Wilma, thanks so much for stopping over and I hope the rest of your vacation was enjoyable.

The second visit was a complete surprise to me but had been arranged with Rick. Saturday afternoon I heard a knock at the door. I then saw a head in the window at the side of the living room. I thought it was a solicitor and thought "wow, that's pretty nervy". Rick went to the door and in through the living room into my room I see three other people coming in.

My mind still was not registering. Finally, I realize it was Cindy Hawes, Linda Clemmer and Janice Elwood. Cindy and Linda are part of my former team from Evansville, Janice is our MS4 and OmniBuyer contact at St. Mary's Medical Center in Evansville. They had driven down from Evansville to surprise me. They sure did that. Cindy said they got 45 mpg in her Pruis. They also brought a Tater Tot casserole from Diane Feyen, a former co-worker. We all had it for dinner and it was delicious. Thanks, Diane. We also enjoyed a friendship cake that Cindy had baked. To quote Rachael Ray, it was yummo.

We had a nice long visit Saturday night. They went to the beaches this morning and afternoon and will be back later today before heading back to Evansville Monday. What a wonderful surprise this has been.

Thanks to all of you for your love and support.
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Tales of Greece

We took a trip to Greece and Italy in August of 1996. The group included Rick, me, Doris - a co worker of Rick, and Betsy - an English professor friend of Doris. This will be divided into two blog entries since it will be so long. We'll do Greece first, then Italy.

The trip was three weeks. We spent two weeks in Greece, one in Italy. It would be longest time Rick and I had ever spent together due to my travel.

We stayed at the Hotel Attalos. Everyone there seemed to be named Kostas. At the time, it was a student hotel. A friend of Betsy's arranged the itinerary for us using one she used to take student groups to Greece. The hotel had very comfortable rooms. The elevator was small, but worked. It would hold two people or one with luggage. Rooms were air conditioned, but you needed to insert the plastic tag from the room key to turn it on. This meant the air conditioning wouldn't be running when you were not in the room. It turned out this tag was the size of a credit card. That made it easier to cool the room off.

Just as New York has the garment district, the diamond district, so does Athens. This area turned out to be the hardware district. It was also within walking distance of the Acropolis. An amazing location for such an inexpensive hotel. I recall it was only about fifty dollars per night. Since our trip started in Athens, took us to Rhodes then back to Athens, we stayed at the Attalos twice. The first stay we didn't have a balcony but the second time we had a rather large balcony. Each time, our rooms did adjoin.

The first night we were there, we took time to attend a traditional dance performance at the Acropolis and to see the light show performed nightly on the Parthenon. In a stroke of luck, my college roommate Rolf and his partner Dominic were also going to be there before they started their own vacation in Greece. I hadn't seen them in some time and had to come to Greece to see them. The dance performance was great. We all commented that the light show needed the Disney touch. The light show was set to triumphant music but the light show itself was nothing more than red to white and back again. It needed help.

There was a farmers market around the corner that we would frequent for fresh fruit. Betsy tried to buy a smaller amount than the vendor wanted to sell. His response was "no two, no two". We had to buy more.

Also just down the street was the most amazing bakery. All kinds of baklava and other pastries, but the one we thought most beautiful were birds nests of the shredded wheat type pastry coated with honey and filled with pignoles (pine nuts) that resembled birds eggs. We would often buy pastries to take back to the hotel or take then with us during the day.

Breakfast was provided each morning. We would all gather for the thick, Greek yogurt, honey, olives, feta and bread the hotel provided. We would often supplement with the fruit we would get at the farmers market. The peaches were always the best, but the apricots were very good also. We would also prepare for the day by reviewing our itinerary. Betsy, ever the teacher, would have prepared by checking out the Frommer's Guide. We teased her when we heard her say "Frommer says" but her information was always spot on and helped us better enjoy the day.

One of the best features of the hotel was the rooftop lounge and garden. Each evening, we would return to the hotel, put our card in the air conditioning slot, go to the rooftop and enjoy the view and revisit the day. We could see the Acropolis on one side, Mt. Lycabettus on the other. Mt. Lycabettus is the highest point in Athens.

At the base of the Acropolis is a neighborhood called the Plaka. It is the oldest neighborhood in Athens. Most roads are closed to traffic. It is a residential, restaurant, shopping, cultural and archaeological area all at one time. Some of the stores are quite nice, we bought some wonderful pottery there. There were also a lot of jewelry stores that Doris and Betsy enjoyed frequenting, particularly for silver and amber pieces. There were also enough low end stores that we referred to the area as the "schloka". There were so many cats wandering the area; we called them the "Acropicats"

We had several tours arranged. The first was to Delphi. As we were waiting on the bus, a woman got on the bus dressed in very body fitting clothing and very high espadrilles that laced quite far up her legs. She did not appear to be dressed for a full day of touring. Imagine our surprise when we found out this was our tour guide. It turns out she was certified in eight languages and was the best tour guide we experienced on the entire trip. I guess the old adage truly applies, never judge a book by its cover.

The tour of Delphi took us up multiple levels of the mountainside. We started in an ancient agora or market place. As we went up the mountainside there were more and more levels. There was the treasury building on one, the "navel of the earth" at another, finally concluding with a large amphitheater at the top.

The next tour was a three island tour. The first island stop was Aegina. It features a monastery that started construction in 1904. It is still under construction. It was magnificent. The next island was known for its pistachios. They were wonderful, but the pistachio ice cream was less than tasty. By the third island we were content to stay on board.

All the restaurants where we ate had wonderful food. Vegetables in Athens tasted better than any vegetables we had ever had. One memorable meal in the Plaka was for Doris' birthday. She had a whole snapper prepared Greek style at a restaurant called Miltons. All of our meals were excellent, but we ate and drank to Doris' health that night.

We're off to Rhodes next. When we boarded the Olympic Airlines flight to Rhodes, we reached cruising altitude. This was a smoking flight and most of the people on board not only smoked, they also had those very loud lighters. It sounded like everyone was lighting up with the old fashioned Zippo lighters at one time.

When we got to the hotel, we were about an hour late. The front desk person looked up our reservation and said "you're late". We thought it odd they cared about one hour. It turns out either Sue made an error or the hotel did. They had been expecting us on another day. Luckily they were able to squeeze us in that night and then moved us to better rooms the next night. The bathrooms in the better rooms always seemed to flood, but we dealt with it.

The ancient city of Rhodes dates from the time of the Crusades. The Crusaders Palace is one of the key historical sites here. The city walls are ancient. Imagine our surprise to find a hole cut into one of the walls and an ATM machine inserted into the wall. I don't think that would happen in the U.S.

At the waters edge there were lots of windmills. This always reminded me of the Walt Disney movie called "The Moonspinners". There were also lots of pastry shops with seating that ran almost to the edge of the water. There must have been ten of them in a row. It was fashionable to go in the evening for dessert, coffee or a drink. We soon discovered that most of the offerings from each place tasted the same.

One evening we ate at a restaurant that was on a second level. As we looked down on the town square below, it appeared as if we were sitting in an Epcot showcase of nations for Greece if one existed. Everything was so representative of Greece it looked perfectly suited for that. That evening was also the first and last time I ate smoked octopus.

We took a tour of Lindos, known for butterflies, pebbled floors and donkeys. The only way to the Acropolis in Lindos is by foot or donkey taxi service. Rick and Doris rode the donkeys, Betsy and I walked. We were constantly approached by elderly women selling laces and linens on the sidewalk. It was often difficult to walk without stepping on them. Most people walk back down as the donkeys know they will be fed and they sometimes move a little faster than people care for.

The oldest synagogue in Greece is in Lindos. We did take the opportunity to visit it. It was worth the time.

One evening as we were walking the shopping district, some china caught our eyes. To this day, Doris and Betsy say it took us until midnight to select our plates as they are all different. We still use them on special occasions.

As we explored the ancient city one day, we discovered a dressmaker that was a favorite of Dame Margot Fonteyn, the great ballerina. Doris bought a beautiful evening garment from the dressmaker. She still wears it still.

One of the interesting options at one of the restaurants we enjoyed was the chance to pick out the fish you wanted to eat that night. Talk about fresh.

At one point, Betsy purchased something where she made the comment that when she got home she would have to rearrange. Rick and I pointed out that we don't rearrange, we redecorate.

Rick and I took a day trip to Marmaris, Turkey while Doris and Betsy went to the Valley of the Butterflies. Upon our arrival in Marmaris, Rick and I went to the Turkish Baths. What an experience. Hot baths with a rubdown, sitting in the steamroom ending with a massage. Talk about being pampered.

Next we went to the street market and purchased spices, especially saffron. Rick's mom had requested a red leather purse and we found the perfect one for her. She loved it when we gave it to her.

Next, we went to look at carpets. We happened upon a carpet store run by someone with the name Attila. He invited us to sit down, enjoy sweet apple tea and then proceeded to show us hundreds of carpets. They were even bringing them in from his other store for us to review. We finally selected two, both still in our living room. Our previous cocker spaniel, Dulcie, enjoyed the tassles a bit too much as has Margo.

As we took a taxi back to the port to return to Rhodes, we ran into difficulty with the taxi driver. There was a torn corner on the U.S. five dollar bill we used to pay the fare. We finally convinced him it was ok to accept.

The mode of transportation to get from Rhodes to Marmaris is hydrofoil. The trip over was uneventful. The return trip was quite rough. The seas were difficult and the ride quite bumpy. I rather enjoyed it, but since most of the other passengers did not I kept my enjoyment to myself.

It was good we didn't spend too much time in Turkey. We would have never been able to figure out how much anything cost. The exchange was one U.S. dollar to 80,000,000 Turkish lira.

We returned to Athens and went to the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. It was a moving experience.

Our last tour was to the Temple of Poseiden. This temple is perched on high on a hill perched above the Aegean Sea. The view is spectacular. On the back of the temple, Lord Byron has carved his name. Not a good example for the graffiti artists.

This completed our trip to Greece. I know this was quite a long entry, but hope you enjoyed it. Perhaps a trip to Greece may be in your future.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A picture of the quilt

When I wrote the posting last night about the quilt, I neglected to include a picture of the quilt Rick received from his unit. I've already had several requests for one. Here is a picture Rick and the beautiful quilt they gave him.
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Friday, July 18, 2008

Rick's retirement party

Rick had his retirement party today. Quite a large number of people attended. The unit of people he supervised arranged to have a custom quilt created for him. The quilt maker is the same person that created the quilt that have on our bed.

The older quilt was designed to match a print hanging over our bed. It is a Mondrian painting that we saw when traveling to Amsterdam. We'll fill you in on all the remaining travels another time.

The new quilt matches the current quilt in tone and color. It is a beautiful and thoughtful gift.

Have a great weekend.

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Snowballs and Easter Eggs

I’ve mentioned many of the recipes that Grandmother and Mom would prepare but I have totally forgotten until now that Dad had two recipes that we would love every year. At Easter he would make Easter eggs, vanilla or coconut covered with rich dark chocolate. Mary Sue move over.

But the best were the snowballs. Whenever there would be a deep, clean snow it would be gathered and a combination of milk, sugar and vanilla would be added to it. And voilĂ , we would have home made snowballs. I can still taste them now.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oncologist appointment today

We did meet with my oncologist today. He is confident that my last round of chemo was successful. I will be starting another round of oral chemo this evening. The first two rounds had no adverse side effects and we anticipate that with the third round starting tonight.

This does not change the statistical prognosis of nine to twelve months that I received two months ago. We realize that this is just the statistical prognosis and hope that there will be more time than that.

Rick and I all along have indicated that quality, not quantity of life is what is important to us. We realize that there are always miracles and we do continue to pray for them as you do. But our outlook has always been to look at the statistical but pray for a miracle.

I continue to feel great. Our days are full of therapy, appointments, visitors, and time to ourselves. So we are making the most of every day as we hope you are.

Being prepared

Before I started any foreign travel, I made sure all my legal documents were in place – my will, my powers of attorney, my living will. Before Rick and I did any foreign travel, we had all of our legal documents revised to include both of our wills, living wills, durable powers of attorney, and health care surrogate documents. I know that these are often topics that people don’t discuss or that they put off. I would encourage you, if you don’t have these legal documents in place, to consider taking care of that for your family’s peace of mind and for your own. There are now software packages, web sites, and of course attorneys that are more than happy to take care of these items for you. What may be required can vary from state to state and that’s always appropriate to investigate also.

I know that many people when they started sending emails in response to my blog have indicated that they have scheduled physician appointments that they had been putting off or that they had been reviewing their workload or their family time - and that’s certainly appropriate. But please make sure that you and your family are protected legally.

Our Christmas vacation in New Orleans

Christmas 2007, Rick and I decided that for the holiday we were going to take a culinary vacation to New Orleans. I had been there many times but Rick had not had the opportunity. We were able to trade my time share for a spot just a few blocks from the French Quarter. Using the web site we set up reservations at some of New Orleans’ finest restaurants. We reserved at Bennan’s for brunch, Arnaud’s for dinner, Emeril’s Delmonico and Emeril’s NOLA Restaurant. We also went to the Windsor Court for Christmas brunch. The food was spectacular at all of them and while I don’t personally care for Emeril’s cooking shows, the food and service at his restaurants were actually a cut above. I had been to Brennan’s many years ago and the Bananas Foster was as fabulous as ever. We of course enjoyed CafĂ© du Monde and the beignets. We went to the Central Grocery – the site of the original muffuletta, a sandwich on a round sesame loaf with olive salad. We of course enjoyed Harrah’s casino just blocks from our condo and a general tour of the city.

We also took a tour of Oak Alley. This was used in the film "Interview with the Vampire".

While we were enjoying the view from the front of Oak Alley we saw a couple walking down the alley of oak trees. We saw him fall to his knee and propose. She did accept.

It was a wonderful vacation full of history, wonderful food, minor gambling losses, and great memories.

Mother's furniture update

I was talking to my mother today and guess what. I had mentioned that the sofa in my mother’s living room is the same one that was from my childhood and that my parents never get rid of any furniture. Well after all these years - and seven recoverings - my mother is replacing her sofa. And I was wrong about the barrel backed chair. It is no longer in my mother’s house. In talking with Mom, she mentioned that she didn’t have the barrel back any longer. It turns out that she has a piece of furniture that I used to have in its place. It had totally slipped my mind. I just wanted to correct my statement that my parents never get rid of anything.