Monday, October 29, 2012


Have I said this before?  This is just the best time of year here on the Central Coast. The sunlight is intense, the air is clear and warm, and there is just the feeling of well being in the air around us.  The trees are just beginning to turn.  The evenings are just hinting at chill and the breezes pleasantly stir the leaves and wind chimes, with just a frisson of mystery.

v is into his first week of his first round of chemo.  He is getting so thin, but he remains strong and positive.  He looks very good for a man who is so thin.  Thankfully he is eating and he rests well.  The hardest part, at the moment, is for him to accept that he is ill and that it limits him.  

We have such loving and supportive friends.  There isn't a day that goes by that we feel we are alone.  They drop by, they email, they text, and they phone.  I come from a small family. My parents didn't socialize very much.  I've learned so much from my friends and neighbors about how large a small gesture is. 

And the Giants won the World Series! 

In bocca al lupo.  m & v

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lonely Old House

With Halloween just around the corner I thought I'd share another view of the old, abandoned ranch house we passed on Saturday's drive.  My friend turned the photo into an eerie representation of that sad derelict house.  The property surrounding the house is so well cared for that it makes me think this must have been a happy, warm, and welcoming home at one time.  The family may have just decided to move closer to town, it is pretty remote out in the valley.  Lonely, isolated, spooky...

In bocca al lupo.  m & v

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Backroads

We took a drive this afternoon in an attempt to cheer ourselves up.  It worked.  We'd waited all morning for the sun to come out.  We left a pot of beans simmering on the stove and took off for the backroads of Carmel Valley.

At the end of this long drive we were greeted with a clear sky at home and the heavenly scent of those beans as we crossed our threshold. 

I cook the beans the way my grandmother and my father cooked them; with a good, smoked ham hock and an onion added to the pot.  My dear friend Maria-Elena suggested I serve the broth to v for strengthening.  I have done this and, thank you m-e! it works.  

In bocca al lupo.  m & v

Friday, October 19, 2012

Giants Baseball and the Monterey Symphony

So we still carry on.  Chemo starts Tuesday, and we hope for remission.  We pray for remission. 

In the meantime we keep up with Giants baseball and hope they hang in there too.  Tonight we listened with increased joy as they won game five of the National League Playoffs.  We also attended the local symphony.  

The Monterey Symphony started off their 67th season this evening.  The concert hall is six minutes from home.  It was a little tiring for v, but the music is wonderful.  Several of our friends are regular attendees at the concerts and v is acquainted with some of the musicians.  

Since starting to attend these concerts I've come to appreciate individual composers so much more.  My ears have been opened to the haunting beauty of Von Williams Pastural which had much more to do with the battlefields of WWI than the bucolic beauty of England.  I have become a devoted Monte Verde fan.  Whenever the Vespers are performed we are there.  The last time we heard them was at the Carmel Mission during the Bach Festival.  We have just become such ardent classical music fans.  

Tonight's program included works by Haydn, John Field, and Mozart.  All were beautiful.  The pianists, John O'Connor and Heidi Hau were delightful to watch.  I'm not a musician so I don't really know which words should be used to describe the delicate touch of their fingers on the keys, especially Heidi Hau's.  Her hands floated above the keys. The final piece was Mozart's Concerto No. 10 in E-flat Major for Two Pianos.  While I listened I thought about how Mozart had a very talented sister who played piano and I wondered if he'd written the piece to perform with her. At the end of the concert I was informed that that actually was the case.  

I love watching the musicians play music that has been played for the past two hundred years, and more.  Music written before radio and iPods.  Music that synthesized the sounds of the everyday, two hundred years, and more, ago.  Consider just how magnificent it would have been to hear music when it wasn't blaring out of a passing auto, or booming out of multiple speakers, or deafening ourselves through ear pieces.  Think of a world where music was an event and not random background buzz.

In bocca al lupo.  m & v

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Agatha (Garbo)

This post is dedicated to my model cat, Agatha.  She's a good sport being the poster cat for our more serious posts.  This is due, partly, to Agatha's advanced age.  In cat years she is well over 100 years old. She photographs beautifully.  My younger cats, Emily and Fortuna, are no where near as photogenic. Agatha is the Garbo of cats.

Agatha was a rescue kitten 19 1/2 years ago.  I'd recently lost a beautiful green eyed gray cat and I wanted another beauty just like him.  His name was Tiger and he'd left his original home to make a home with me.  He was very social and very brave.  Agatha, on the other hand, is painfully shy and agoraphobic, but in her prime she looked very much like Tiger.  

So, to Agatha! The cat the camera loves, as do we!

In bocca al lupo. m & v

Monday, October 15, 2012

Side by Side

Now it becomes harder.  Although we haven't heard from the oncologist we have heard from our other doctor regarding the PET scan v went through last week.  It looks like our worst fears are realized.  Now we find out what can be done and hope we can buy some time. 

We, of course, are so full of grief...I sometimes find just walking through a room, alone, is frightening.  I want to hear his voice and feel that presence.  We hold each other, we cry, we talk about what our lives together mean and have meant so far.  

I am astonished to realize that we have spent nearly everyday, since the very day we met, together.  He joined the cast of a play I was in after another actor had dropped out.  He went round introducing himself to each actor.  When he came to me he sat down and we have been side by side since that day.  He took my breath, and he still takes it.

In bocca al lupo. m & v

Friday, October 12, 2012

Some Changes

Today is our anniversary.  We spent it quietly.  Since last time I posted we have been to doctors and had tests for v.  He's been very tired and very pale but very upbeat, it's the way he is.  Instead of spending our usual Tuesday at the aquarium we spent a long day at the hospital in Monterey.  That hospital is amazing. It doesn't look like a hospital at all, it looks like a five star resort complete with world class artwork everywhere.  The staff are amazing as well, kind, knowledgeable, efficient, and attentive.  

Wednesday we had to go back to the hospital, early, for a scan.  We still haven't heard anything.  It's hard not knowing.

Our friends and our neighbors are wonderful.  They stop by to keep us company.  They bring us comfort and support.  They keep us from feeling that peculiar isolation that comes with illness and fear.  They keep the shadows at bay.  

I have a new challenge in the kitchen. v has acupuncture treatments as well as conventional Western medical treatments.  Our acupuncturist treats him holistically and has advised that he not ingest spices.  At first I thought this is not a problem, until I spoke with her today and "no spices" includes herbs.  And shock of shock: No Garlic!  No pan frying.  Thank God today was the Farmers' Market.  I loaded up with root vegetables to roast and I have been roasting all afternoon.  Julia Child came to the rescue for chicken breasts. Throwing out all the herbs except lemon and salt shortened the prep time for the poaching. One of our friends gave us a huge basket full of pears from her tree and they stewed in simple syrup with a splash of strawberry balsamic. And we can still have our grilled sweet peppers drizzled with a little olive oil.  I'm thankful for this time of year and the bountiful harvest at the markets.

In bocca al lupo.  m & v

Monday, October 1, 2012

A View from Point A to Point B

One of the reasons we love living here:  the views along the daily route from point A to point B.