Friday, May 25, 2018

Popcorn - Books, Gardens, and Supports Systems

Random thoughts.

- Occasionally I visit a cancer forum. I usually find them depressing. Glioblastoma stories are not typically encouraging.

But what I find more chilling is how many people have very little support. Some are even abandoned by their friends, family, even their spouse when given a glioblastoma diagnosis.

Last week was my birthday and if I needed a reminder of how much we are supported, I got it. I had five casseroles given to me, besides homemade bread, a bucket of cookies, and two ice cream desserts. Gorgeous flower arrangements were delivered to my door. Friends called, stopped in for a visit, emailed, and sent cards. Another friend offered to babysit so Ed and I could have a date. By the end of the week I felt embarrassed by my flood of riches.

Especially when I think of those who are alone. I wish I could share my support system with those who have none.

And Ed shampooed our carpets for my birthday - which might tell you something about his energy level - or love language. (But I won't mention how many years it has been since they were shampooed.)

- A very rainy May has made sunshine something to celebrate. It also means that my garden has grown a carpet of weeds. The last few days I've attempted to find dirt under the green. Last night it was dry enough for Ed to roto-till so now I can see my garden rows again.

I'm planning to keep my garden simple this year. It is mostly filled with potatoes and green beans, with some onions, corn, and a few other items. Some days I think that I shouldn't have a garden and spend more time with Ed this summer. I don't need weeds adding more stress in my life.

But then I bring in a pan full of fresh broccoli, asparagus, or lettuce and remember why I garden. And hacking through some chickweed and watching a tidy row emerge is therapeutic. I'm almost never disturbed in the garden by the children, probably out of fear that they will be handed a hoe, so maybe a garden is worth having for just the thinking time.

- I've been discouraged about growing tomatoes since we always get tomato blight. I thought maybe this year I'd make a new garden out in our pasture since the blight spores are probably living in our garden soil. But a larger garden doesn't sound like a good idea this year.

Then a friend offered to grow tomatoes for me. (Yes, another example of our amazing supporters.)

But I thought I at least needed one tomato for fresh eating. So I planted it in the front flower bed, hopefully far away from blight spores. My children think I'm crazy. But I think it will be hidden by the flowers and no one will notice I have a tomato in the front yard.

Or maybe I'll just pretend it is hip to grow tomatoes in the front yard.

- Ed was tired for the first week after his seizure, but he is now back to nearly normal activities. At least his normal since his surgery. He seems to be reacting well to his meds and his blood work has been perfect. This week in the doctor's office we chatted with another patient in the waiting room that is on the same clinical trial. She was not able to tolerate the medication, and I was reminded me to be thankful that Ed is doing so well.

- Now that school is over I'm on a cleaning spree. I make no apologies for the areas of my house that have been neglected this past year, but by now they are driving me crazy.

Like gardening, I wonder if I shouldn't spend time cleaning and instead focus on Ed. But Ed appreciates a clean house, so maybe my goal should be to have the cleanest house possible. Yes, I think in circles. So I'm just chipping out housecleaning in tiny bits, keeping my focus on the more important things like relationships, but enjoying the clean. Yesterday we tackled the game closet. I find that I'm much more willing to throw things out now; life seems to short to waste with stuff.

- One of my problems with housecleaning is that I want to do it myself. My children help with general tidying, laundry sorting, dish-washing, vacuuming. But they could be doing more and it takes time to train children to new jobs and I'd prefer doing it myself. I'm forcing myself to train them. A checklist is helping.

With all our interruptions the past couple weeks, house cleaning isn't a fast process but we are celebrating small victories. Ice cream cones after the children's bedrooms are finished? Yes!

- I've been asked to write about how to encourage your children to work. I actually started a post years ago. But every time I think of writing on the topic we have one of those bad days with terrible attitudes. Then I don't think I'm qualified to write about anything.

- I just finished what I think is the best book I read all year. But I chose a terrible time/place to read it.

Not Quite a Miracle by Jon Franklin and Alan Doelp is a fascinating book about brain surgery. It is well-written; Franklin won the Pulitzer for his nonfiction short stories because he is a master of his craft. The book follows four neurosurgeons and places you in the operating room and by the bedsides of five patients.

I was loving the book so threw it into my bag when Ed and I went for his monthly appointments to the clinical center. I knew I have lots of waiting time to enjoy a good book. But, whew, reading about brain surgery in the same building where Ed had surgery a few months ago was brutal. I was nearly shaking and had to get up and walk around to regain composure.

The book reads like a novel with heart-pounding drama. I've said that I don't like medical stories, but I think I'm changing my mind. I don't like poorly written medical stories that are a pity-fest. Not Quite a Miracle is hopeful even if harrowing. It made my appreciate the medical teams that dare to take risks to help their patients.

Not Quite a Miracle (affiliate link) was written in the 1980's which gives a picture of how brain surgery has changed in thirty years. The book is out of print, but I was able to find a used copy on Amazon. I don't recommend the book if you are close to someone with glioblastoma unless you are willing to face the reality of the diagnosis; it doesn't mince words. But if you want an example of great nonfiction writing; it won't disappoint.

- I've been reading lots of good middle grade fiction too. But this ramble has gone long enough. Another day.

Back to cleaning and weeding, loving and training, reading and hoping.

And look for a giveaway or two next week if all goes as planned.


  1. I don’t know how I came to find your blog, but I love it and think of your husband and pray for you often. I hope that this summer, among other things, you get all the tomatoes you need.

  2. Since, my brain does popcorn best.... Support, it means the most. Over and over we were told by staff how amazed they were at the support we had. It didn't stop either, it continues...
    Garden... I'm not a gardener by any stretch of imagination.. I don't mind canning, but weeds are always so plentiful in our garden. Tomato among the flowers, yes that's the best. We have done that,a grape tomato plant just out from the door is the best place. Our garden is going to be very small again this year. Some of our children think vegetables should be planted by the house.
    Blessings of grace and peace to you each day.

  3. Gina I admire how you are trying to keep things as normal around your home as you can. I think it helps to temporarily take your mind off your concerns. Sending you hugs!

  4. Gina, we are so grateful that God's family is showing up once again to surround you and support you during this journey...we know you do the same in those seasons for others. Continuing to pray across the miles. ~Eunice

  5. And when you think of the people who support you in prayer! I'm one of them:) I have a community of friends like yours. It would be desperately sad to not have a supportive prayer or church group.

  6. My husband and I often wonder out loud what people do without the support of a church family. Our children are all grown and living far away and so it’s our church family that is close by. I am amazed at how normal you’re trying to keep things for your family. I would like you to know that you have people here praying for you. Your support system reaches far and wide.
    Blessings, Betsy

  7. Gina, I love how real you are. Your blog shares the good, the bad and the ugly. You have our prayers for all it!

  8. I loved the ramble; good to hear from you. Love and prayers continue.

  9. Hello Gina
    I found your blog a few months ago while looking for bread making. I have been following your journey and I admire your commitment to family.
    I am helping my sister who is alone deal with her new leukemia diagnosis. Your blog has helped me be a better support to her. We have been planting a winter garden full of healthy easy to grow vegies. We are lucky to have a mild climate in Queensland Australia and I agree with the tomato problem. But I keep trying, finding the old varieties do best in large pots.
    Thank you for your gentle words and inspiration. I wish you well.

  10. Belated Happy Birthday! Warms my heart to see how your friends and family are support you. Have a wonderful summer!

  11. Hi Gina, I know this is controversy, but have you though of trying cbd oil? I was reading trial studies of people who had the same tumor as ed, and used cbd oil had an 83% survival for the first year. I wish I could find better news than that....

  12. Gina, gardening is therapeutic so it is great that you are spending some time there. Praise God that Ed has the energy he has at the moment and I am sure that he would like life to go on as normal as possible. I am continuing to pray for you and your family.

  13. dear Gina, thank you for this lovely ramble. It's inspiring - your frankness about all the parts of your life. I pray for you all - not even sure what to ask God, but I lift you up to God. (I love edibles mixed with flowers!! I always do it)

  14. Happy Birthday - I am so glad you received so many wonderful treats. For Mother's Day this year, my husband deep cleaned our living room, kitchen, sunroom, bathroom and my daycare playroom for me. My husband is a stage four cancer survivor - his cancer was in his throat and lymph nodes - he has been cancer free since Feb 2017.

  15. I am so thankful that you do have support...what would we ever do without our church people, family, friends, and most of all God!

  16. It is always so good to hear how things are going. My heart delights to hear of all the dear ones who worked to make your birthday so special. You are a wonderful lady, Gina and I wish you a belated merry birthday. Thankful Ed is doing well and yeah for a man who shampoos carpets. Now that is a gift for sure! You are very generous to share so much with us. As I have said before, I know those of us who observe (or read) are in God's classroom. He is teaching us, of that I am sure.
    Praying on,

  17. God bless you... especially in the training your children stress and strain. I wish and my mom wishes that she had spent more time teaching us (me especially, I think) how to do some of the things she liked to do herself.

    We'll keep praying for you from here, and are thankful you have a support system there.

  18. Dear Gina!
    I'm reading your blog for about two years, but never wrote you.
    I'm a ministers wife, like you,and a mom of six children, living in Hungary, Budapest.
    Through your writings you gave me a lot of ecouragement.
    I'm really thankful for you being so open, honest and also humble and for shareing your life and faith with us.It means a lot for me. I will continue tó pray for your husbands healing and for the whole family.
    I wanted to write you a half year ago but didn't know if it was a good idea...
    To make it short:My sister in law is a nurse. A half year ago the whole hospital staff got a training. It was taught, that every cancer-patience has to get a ketogenik diet, wich immensly helps the medical treatment to be successful. The patience aren't allowed to eat carbohydrates, especially sugar. It is a low carb high fát diet. Cancer- cells can only use energy from carbohydrates but if they only get energy from fat and whites,they starve and shrink. Healthy cells have no problem with this diet.
    If you think this information might be helpful, please check it out.
    Please forgive me, if you feel hurted or me being rude.I only wanted to help.
    God bless you all!

    1. Angela-
      Thanks so much for writing. I love when readers introduce themselves.
      Ed has been on a ketogenic diet since right after his cancer diagnosis. For him the diet has not been totally successful in shrinking his cancer, but his doctor encourages him to continue the diet.


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