Monday, December 21, 2009

Nancy Jane McCullough Keeler Katzen 1955-2009

Nancy passed away yesterday, December 20th, in the afternoon at home with her family surrounding her.

I came home last saturday to be with her, and Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle David came to visit last Sunday. Grandpa and Uncle David returned to the Farm the next day but Grandma stayed and Aunt Janet came on Monday. Monday night about 20 sacred harp singers came to the house and Mom sang with them for an hour and then laid on the couch for an hour and listened to them sing. After Monday, mom lost all of her energy, Caitlin was able to come home on Thursday and Grandma headed back to the farm Friday morning. We had Christmas on Friday, and Mom passed away in the afternoon on Sunday.

Her services will be held on Wednesday December 23rd at Hope Lutheran Church, 601 N Front St. Reading PA 19601. The calling hours will be from 11-12:30, the service at 12:30. After the service the interment will be at Charles Evans Cemetery, and a reception back at the house at 33 Laurel Ave Reading 19606.

Contributions in her memory can be sent to: Family Nurse Partnership 230 N 5th St. Reading PA 19601

Please feel free to post any memories or stories of Nancy in the comment section.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tough Time at the Cattle Ranch this week

Ever since Thanksgiving, I have been feeling more tired and my legs are weak. I asked our sonagrapher to give me a quick ultrasound. She told me that the liver didn't have tumors to measure: that it was all metastisized. If that was the case, I didn't want more expensive, ineffective treatment.
My oncologist ordered a CT scan for Tuesday night night at 8:o0 PM. That went ok until we got home. I was trying to get up into the house from the garage when when my legs went out from under me and I went tumbling two steps down to the garage floor. My eye was bloody, my wrist, shoulder, elbow were bruised. So, we hopped in the car and went to the emergency room.
I got a CT scan of the brain, chest, and abdomen, 2 x-rays of the shoulder and ribs. Everything was clear (I was particulary happy that the brain was clear.)
After all that testing; they told me I was clear, they slapped ONE steristrip on!
One the way home, we discovered it had begun to snow. The P.T. Cruiser couldn't make it up the hill, so we hiked up, Marty pulling me up the hill by one arm.
I felt better the next day and went to my to my 5:00 PM nurse visit. The oncologist called and said : she is still driving!!! He also said we had a good sonagrapher, that she was right about the metastisis.
Marty was very brave, and asked for a prognosis. The doctor said weeks or months. So there you have it. I am stopping any kind treatment. We are all so surprised it progressed so quickly.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Birds and Snow


We had a wonderful snow yesterday. It started around noon and didn't stop until 10:00 PM. It blanketed our mountain top with about 6 inches of snow. Marty put these feeders outside window. I set up a tripod for the camera and have been having a great time watching and photographing birds.
Fortunately, the driveway melted enough that I could get out and sing today in Lancaster. I've been short of breath, tired, and have had a dry mouth, so I wasn't sure how it would go. We were a small group, but I thought we sounded great.
Back to work tomorrow: looking forward to my visits.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Lori, my cousin and florist by trade, brought me this beautiful wreath.

Cardinal detail of wreath
Purple Kale on front porch.

My cousin, Lori, and her daughter, Megan came to visit and get a 3D ultrasound of Megan's baby. Fortunately, Evan cooperated very nicely and showed us his chubby little face. We will be excited to see how he looks on the outside the beginning of February.

Good news. My agency generously allowed me to apply for partial disability for 3 more months, which will maintain my full time status, and allow me to figure out my insurance. Working full-time is too hard for me and the insurance is only for full time workers. I can get a subsidy for Cobra from the government if I quit all together, but I feel better when I work. Bob Casey has introduced legislation in the Senate to subsidize part time workers who have been down-sized. Hopefully is works for illness too , or I guess the agency could downsize me. It is a big relief not to have to worry about this before Christmas.
So for those of you are confused about changes in the Health Care System:Think of me.

Work=Good Health Insurance
Get Sick, or lose job= lose health insurance.
Continue insurance on Cobra=no money, not working remember?

Also small businesses need relief.
Sick employees= raise premiums. My agency's premiums went up 37% this year based on usage.
Too bad they don't lower them if everyone stays healthy.

I am so disappointed that the Republicans won't get on board with novel ideas instead of just shooting every thing down. If everyone would work together, the Republicans could keep an eye on the money and look for ways to cut costs, and the Democrats could work on access for everyone. I thought that was how the government was supposed to work.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Wedding

Bride and Groom

More pictures of Cory's Wedding click
Cory hugging Uncle Marty
Amanda's dad Ken and me

I guess all my activities over Thanksgiving wore me out, because I have been dragging. I think I might be a little depressed because it has been a year since I was diagnosed. I got myself to work yesterday and that perked me up a little. I went to the outlets after work and finished most of Christmas shopping, so that was a relief too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thanksgiving, Wedding, The Messiah

We were too busy on Thanksgiving to take pictures: but someone did snap this one of Isaac and me. We had a nice full house: Allie, her friend Alison and boyfriend John, Caitlin, Lisa, Nora, Jason, Kyle and Isaac.
Thanksgiving Menu

Cider Brined and Glazed Turkey
stuffed with bread stuffing
Pennsylvania Dutch Potato Filling
Aunt DeAnn's Corn Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole with Ginger
Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Butter and Slivered Almonds
24 Hour Salad
Marty's famous spring greens salad
Pumpkin Pie

Caitlin arranged 5 or 6 little vases of flowers that still remained in my garden. This cone flower is in a vase that my cousins, Linda and Gladys gave me from my Aunt Mary's vase collection. I also had snapdragons, some yellow daisy-like blooms that my friend Jean gave me for the garden this spring.
On Saturday we drove to Manhattan for Marty's niece's Corbett's wedding, which was a lovely affair. Kyle was the ring bearer and did an did an excellent job performing his duties. He also did an outstanding job of quietly holding still for the ceremony, which is quite a feat for a 4 year old boy. Of course, he couldn't have looked any cuter in his little suit.
It was a long night for a four year old ring bearer.

On Sunday we arrived home in time for me to attend the "Do it yourself" Messiah, which marks the beginning of the Holiday season for me. I have attended for 6 years now. It was held at First Presbyterian in downtown Reading this year, which has lovely acoustics. They publish a date in the newspaper, everyone shows up with their score, there is a live local orchestra and local conductor and soloists. It all comes together sounds heavenly.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

3rd Week of Chemotherapy

Caitlin knit me this fancy little shawl.. It has an interesting name but I can't remember what it is!
Fancy Knitting email.
I posted twice today, so go back if you want to see some pictures of Ball, why it is called Double Cut and a history of subscription Balls.
I had my third week of chemotherapy, so I have no treatment next week. My blood levels were a little lower than last week, but they assured me that every thing should bounce back after having a week off.
I'm taking tomorrow off work to do the shopping and start Thanksgiving preparations. Allie, her boyfriend, John, and her friend, Alison will be coming in late tomorrow night. Caitlin and Lisa will be flying in on Thursday morning, and N0ra and Jason and kids will come for evening dinner. We'll have a busy day cooking, but that's the fun of Thanksgiving

The Double Cut Ball with pictures

Anna, one the hostess, with her dress that Elizabeth created
Elizabeth with the Martster in her self-designed dress
Scottish formal is apparently acceptable

Folks were asking about "Double Cut"and subcription Balls, so here are all your answers!

Double Cut: Refers to one couple cutting in on another and switching partners.

Dancing: The Ward Marston Band will play an array of toe-tapping music from the era of the classic dance bands. These familiar tunes will lead your feet in the right direction – be it a lively two-step, an airy waltz, or a barreling polka. Fear not if you feel that your dancing feet need a brush-up. The music will make it easy. Local dance workshops (see below) will help you polish your steps.

Attire: Ladies are asked to wear a floor length evening gown. Long white gloves are encouraged. Gentlemen are asked to wear a black suit with a white dress shirt and a black or white tie. “White Tie” and “Black Tie” dress are optional. White gloves are encouraged.

Dance Classes: To help you brush up your dance steps, we will host two ballroom dance classes in West Philadelphia the weekend prior to the ball. The first class will be on Saturday, November 14th, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm and the second class will be on Sunday, November 15th, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Both classes will take place at the Community Education Center (CEC), located at 3500 Lancaster Avenue, and will cost $5 per person. Please email if you plan to attend.

Subscription: We are pleased to arrange a festive evening for our friends which harks back to the subscription balls of years past (see below). The Double Cut Ball is intended to be a “break-even” occasion, not a benefit event, and the subscription charge merely enables us to meet the expenses of the evening.

A note on subscription balls, from Household Companion: The Home Book Of Etiquette
by Alice A. Johnson, Mrs. Janet McKenzie Hill, and Dr. Henry Hartshorne, 1909:

Subscription Dances

In most of the large cities several series of dances are arranged by certain leaders in the social world to which people are invited to subscribe. Each subscriber is usually entitled to a number of invitations for distribution, though in some instances the price of the subscription is small, and only permits one person to take advantage of each.

The subscription balls take place in some public ball-room, as a rule. In New York, for instance, at Delmonico’s.

Several ladies are selected to form the reception committee, and they stand in one of the outer rooms, bowing to the guests as they enter. On such occasions, no one shakes hands; the ladies curtsy, and the gentlemen bow.

No unmarried lady should go to one of these balls, or to any large party, without a chaperon, and invitations should be sent to an elder member of her family, in order that she need not look outside for proper attendance.

In the West and South it is customary for gentlemen to take unmarried ladies to evening entertainments, but in the East, and in the best city society generally, such a thing would be considered the greatest breach of decorum. At a small dance in a private house a young lady may dispense with the services of a chaperon, if desired, but she should be escorted to and from the house by a servant or relative.

A good floor is essential to the enjoyment of dancing; when the carpet is taken up, care should be used that no roughness of surface is presented. Some ladies have their dancing-floors carefully polished with beeswax and a brush. A crumb-cloth or linen diaper, thoroughly well stretched over a carpet, is the next best thing to a polished floor.

The question of music is important. If it is a large ball, four musicians is the least number that should be engaged piano, cornet or flute, violin, and violoncello. In small assemblies the violin and piano are sufficient, or, on occasion, the piano alone. In such a case a chance pianist should not be depended upon, but a professional one be engaged.

The orchestra should occupy what is considered the top of the room. In cases where it is not convenient to adhere to this rule, the end farthest from the door is usually chosen. The position of the orchestra needs to be considered by the dancers, so that, in quadrilles, their movements may be regulated thereby.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Grandma truckster
At the Double Cut Ball
Yesterday was a busy day. I had some things to attend to at Baby Preview. I hired some help to put away the porch furniture, move the woodpile closer to the house and help Marty cover the boat. I finally potted my kale for the front porch. I still have geraniums and snapdragons and the pointsettias are holding their own. I feel better with things battened down for the winter.
After a nap, Marty and I went to Double Cut Ball in Philadelphia. My singer friends, Elizabeth and Anna, organized it last year and it was so successful that they did it again this year. It was fun seeing all the beautiful 20 and 30 somethings in their fancy ball gowns and tuxedos, but it was a late night. Pictures to follow.
This afternoon, I worked on Thanksgiving recipes and a few other little projects. And, (drum roll) I finally took a picture of my car.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I found my camera!

I cleaned the floor and flat surfaces of my office. I checked the trash, organized the bills and decided to go buy a new camera. Then I went through the bag in which I carry my little computer, that I had already checked 3 times, and there it was in the outside pocket! So I wouldn't have had to clean my office after all! But I am glad I did.
By the time I got home it was too dark to take pictures, so I'll get on that tomorrow morning.
I was very tired today. I took one of my graduates and her 2 year old to the Jump Factory. We had a great time. I am off to bed shortly. I have a busy day tomorrow, celebrating another graduation with more jumping.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I had my second chemotherapy with Topotecan late this afternoon. All my blood work was fine, even the anemia was better (10). The only monkey wrench in gears was that the nurse didn't hook up the first bag of fluids. When the alarm went off to change bags, she came over and said,"That's funny it is still half full." and reset it. I was looking over the set-up and it looked like the tubing was just hanging there, connected to nothing. I rang the bell, and told them that it appeared the tubing wasn't connected. They exclaimed and made jokes and hooked it up. My only revenge was that it was at the end of the day and they had to wait for me before they could go home.
I made some progress in my office today, but still no camera.
I am feeling bereft.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

For the time being, I have given up on finding my camera until I can clean up my office.
The surprise:
When I arrived home from visiting my mum and opened the garage door, I saw the back end of a red car that I had never seen before. Apparently Marty thought my almost 15 year old Saturn was looking too sad and he bought me a PT Cruiser. It is bright, shiny red with wood panels, very retro and kinda cute. I was not a big fan of PT Cruisers, but this one is really nice: 2005 with only 60.000 miles, heated leather seats and a sun roof. So I've been tooling around in my new red car. It is nice for hauling mothers and babies around because it has all the right latches and hooks for the new car seats. I've been waiting to blog a picture, but the missing camera has delayed things.
I worked 40 hours this week for the first time in a long time. I got caught up with all my current clients. One even came out out the woodwork that I thought was lost forever. Turned out she went to Mexico for a two months and just got back. Working was good, although I spent a lot of time sleeping this weekend.
I just got back from shape note singing. I thought I would be too tired, but the singing really perked me up. It seems if I find something interesting to do, it distracts me from feeling tired.
Although as everyone likes to remind me: We all get tired.
I'm planning to work full time for the next few weeks to see how that goes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I still haven't found my camera, but I haven't looked very hard.
I went to chemotherapy yesterday for my first dose of Topotecan, Aztec God of strong medicine. No real side effects. The steroids didn't perk me up like the last time, but it kept me going to go back to work afterwards. I felt fine today, just a little tired. I saw clients and did paper work.
I even wrapped a few Christmas gifts tonight! I don't want it to all pile up at the end.
I have a surprise when I find my camera.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Everything is cool.

I have been visiting my mom since Monday 11/2 and didn't realize how long it had been since I had blogged until I started to get emails from people concerned about my status. I forgot my camera and that makes blogging less interesting. The weekend before I left for my mom's, Marty and I spent the weekend in Philadelphia with his nephew Everett and wife Amanda. They had a very fun Halloween Party and a surprise wedding shower for Marty's niece ,Cory the following day. they graciously invited us to stay over between the the two parties.
My mom has been keeping us busy. She is a ball of fire with the new pacemaker in. We did take naps everyday.
This morning we went to the Wesley Grange buckwheat pancake breakfast.I have heard about this event for years and have never had the opportunity to go. My Grandma and Grandpa Riddle started it in the '30s and used my Grandmas' recipe. They were delicious.
We went to see 'Where the wild things are" yesterday. Thursday we had lunch with my aunts and uncles and a few cousins and had a great visit. Wednesday I did some shopping with my SIL DeAnn. Of course we watched the World Series.
I'll be staying home for most of the rest of the year.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I was poking around in the garden the other day and noticed that the lilies, which I had brought home from church and planted on Easter were getting ready to bloom. I cut them and brought them in, afraid they would be ruined by all the rain. They are opening very nicely inside.
Flowers last Easter.
I had to get up early this morning to go to community conference that had representatives from the utilities and other agencies we use to assist our clients. It is always a worthwhile event. I also made a visit to see one of my new babies. Her little brother was very interested in the baby. I showed the mom and her brother how to listen to the heartbeat, breath sounds and stomach gurgles.
I would really like to take on a few more clients. We'll see how Toptekan, god of strong medicine works.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Back to work

Cauliflower Cheese Pie with grated potato crust.
The last of the garden flowers
I went to back to work today. I am not coughing anymore and Marty's cough has decreased considerably. I am still short of breath, probably because I am anemic. I raked a few leaves and that wore me out. Our driveway with wet leaves is worse than snow.
I got the results of the CT scan. The tumor in my lung is essentially the same. There were new tumors on the liver. Dr. Dan is going to switch me to a different drug, called Topotekan. Doesn't that sound like the Aztec god of Strong Medicine? I'll start it on the ninth of November when I get home from visiting my mom.

Monday, October 26, 2009

CT scan after all

This is Tipper licking his chops. I was bribing him with pretzels, trying to get a picture of him on the porch. He would "sit" for the pretzel, but he wouldn't "stay" on the porch until I could get the picture taken.
In case you missed my Ecuador photos: click here

I called bright and early to reschedule my CT scan and was told they had fixed the machine on Friday, hadn't anyone told me that I still had my appointment? (no). Fortunately, it wasn't for a another hour so I had time to get there.
I made chicken soup with matzo balls yesterday to try to cure Marty and I of the last dregs of our cold/flu or whatever it is. We are both feeling better, although the cough is hanging on. I did a little leaf sweeping and was short of breath. I think that is why I am so tired, everything makes short of breath. My friend (and pastor) Mary, brought dinner tonight. That was a real treat.

I texted my oncologist, Dr. Forman, to call me with the CT results, as I don't have an appointment with him for two weeks. He texted me back (which I thought was pretty cool) to call him after 5 today. When I called, he hadn't gotten the Radiology report yet, so he is going to call me tomorrow with the results.
I was planning on going back to work tomorrow, but I don't know if I'm quite up to visits. I have things to do a my desk and I can call clients and see how they are doing and schedule them.

Friday, October 23, 2009

No Chemo for Me Today

Who would have thought I' d be upset about not getting chemo? It wasn't because I am sick, it was because my white blood cell counts, especially the immature ones that my bone marrow is supposed to be making now were too low.
The really unfortunate part was that I forgot to put the lidocaine on my port site to numb it before I went to hospital. So after she stabbed around for a long painful minute and finally accessed the port and got my blood, she was back in 5 minutes to tell me she couldn't give me chemo and pulled it out.
When I got home there was a message on the answering machine saying that I have to reschedule my CT scan which was to be Monday because the machine broke.
The sun went in, the wind began to howl and the rains descended.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Beautiful Weather to recover from the flu

It is much nicer to recover from the flu in the fall than in the winter.

Anti-procrastination project between naps

marty took a little sunshine to see it that would make him feel better
Woods behind the house
Our leaves don't rival New England, but could the sky be any bluer?
I feel a little better today, as my cough isn't as frequent. I have been coughing so much that the muscles in my solar plexus hurt. I took lots of naps and ate Chicken Soup with Rice and worked on my procrastiation list of things to do. (15 minutes at a time) At least, I feel like I have something to show for the time that I have been slacking at home. Tonight, I'll watch National Treasure and do some mending.
Marty is improving too, but felt dizzy after a little walk in the woods. We are both better than yesterday.
The hospital said to come in for chemo is I don't have a fever.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Marty shared the flu

I should have done before and after for the whole effect.

I put a bunch of new pictures on my flickr site of Ecuador.

I started coughing and having chills yesterday. It really stinks. I am so tired. Marty and I flip coins to see whose turn it is to take care of things. I stayed home from work because of all the H1N1. Our babies are at high risk and I don't want to endanger them.
I have to call the hospital tomorrow and see if I can get chemo on Friday or not.

Allie is coming home this weekend to see Circ du Soliel with her Dad. I recommend she avoids us unless we are a lot better.

The pictures are of my closet, which I cleaned during my decadron energy frenzy, before I got sick.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Weekend Over

Little Girl and her little brother at our visit to the indigenous house.
pool at night
pool and dining area
Dining area

I am starting to wind down from my steroid high. I got a lot done this weekend and feel more prepared if I run out of steam later this week. I went to sing shape notes tonight. It feels good to stay home for a few weeks. I'll be working and getting chemo once a week for two more weeks.

I'm still working on putting jungle pics on my flickr site. There are a few there now. It takes a long time to edit and upload. I'll keep putting pictures of Ecuador on this blog site because they are obviously more interesting than me doing laundry and paying bills.

I feel good, but poor Marty is sick with flu like symptoms. He has a fever tonight

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Congratulations Allie!!

Where Allie's dart hit the monkey
Allie called today to say that the research paper, of which she is second author,will be published! It was their first choice of the journals too. If want a laugh, ask her what the title is and what it means. Dare you.

I get a big whopping dose of decadron, a steroid, with my chemotherapy to avoid nausea. It works, but it hypes me up for a couple days, until I crash. I take pills to supposedly taper it off. I really like all the energy I have the day after chemo. I did many loads of laundry, sorted through my paper work, and made dinner tonight (pork chops with apples in sauce, roasted root vegetables with fresh herbs (finally used up the turnips), and spinach salad.
I promised myself I wouldn't stay up too late tonight, so I will have to post my jungle pictures tomorrow.
Band from the Wedding

Friday, October 16, 2009

The jungle of Napo River

Linda, Natalie and Dawn, our traveling companions with palm crowns and Klinger
Relaxing in the hammock on our little terrace

River Napo
We learned to make palm crowns in the jungle
La Casa de Suiza...our jungle home

For wedding pictures, go to
Tomorrow, back to chemo, but now off to more adventures in Ecuador.

On Monday, our full day in the jungle, we set out early to visit the Animal rescue place as I mentioned before. We had planned to take a 2 hour hike, but I knew I couldn't make it. Our traveling companions, Dawn, Linda, Natalie and Michelle graciously offered to take the 1 hour hike instead, so that I could go along. It was hot and sticky, but our guide Klinger (his real name)
was very knowledgeable about the plants and made it interesting and fun. They all pushed me up and down the hills.
Hopping into our tubes and floating down the river was just perfect. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures, as tubing with a camera seemed like a bad idea. The best part of the day was watching kids play in the river and swinging out from shore on a rope swing. I was wondering why these kids weren't in school, when we floated by a gentleman who told us he was the children's teacher. It was too hot in the class room, so they went up the river for "Phys ED". He was a Swiss teacher on sabbatical for year with his wife and two kids. As we floated down the river, the kids came over and attacked Klinger, whom they knew. He gave them his tube and they played a lively game of King of the Mountain. Pretty soon they were climbing all over all our tubes. I thought "what a way to grow up!" Can you imagine a teacher, his wife and 20 kids swimming in the river in front of the school? Without life jackets and signed permission slips? The teacher told us that the kids swim like fish by the time they are five. They also pole their canoes up and down the river and walk through the trees. They soon climbed out to go back to school and we kept floating. We all agreed it was the best part of the day. Tomorrow: Visiting the indigenous home, Allie and blow gun and making ceramics.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The jungle

Our form of transportation on the River Napo
poison frog
I have more pictures to upload but my little computer isn't op-operating.We are back in Quito after 3 days in the jungle. We met up with 4 of Allie's co-workers in Quito On the way there, we stopped at a hot springs for a soak. The ride down the other side of the Andes took about 4 hours and it every mile was beautiful. When we arrived the river, we had a 20 minutes motorized canoe ride to the Hotel Suiza. It is a beautiful tropical resort.
On Monday, we went to a animal rescue zoo. They accept exotic animals that have been a abandoned or abused. Some can be released in the wild but many of them have to protected because they are too familiar with humans.
then we went on a jungle walk, which was hot and sticky, but really interesting. It was heaven to jump in the river in our intertubes and float down the river.... to be continued