Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Where is Sabine? Guess!

It's Memorial Day and Sabine and I are relaxing at a very well known place in Madison. Some of you may have been there before. Some of you may have spent many nights of your youth there. Some of you can't remember whether or not you have been there...

Well... the chair sort of gives it away! No, that is not Gilda!

It's the Memorial Union Terrace at the University of Wisconsin overlooking beautiful Lake Mendota. Memories? We sure have them...

Relay for Life Events

The theme Sabine is taking on for this year's "Relay for Life" is the "Wizard of Oz." So when you come, don't be surprised.

In fact, why not dress up yourself on one of these Friday evenings?

You can be Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Lion, the Tinman, the Wizard, one of the witches, a flying monkey or a Munchkin!

Follow the Yellow Brick Road....

JOIN SABINE ON FRIDAY, JUNE 27TH -- 6 PM -- AT WISCONSIN HEIGHTS SCHOOL (On Highway 14 between Black Earth and Mazomanie).

OR: JOIN HER ON FRIDAY, JULY 25TH -- 6 PM -- IN MT. HOREB'S GRUNDAHL PARK (from downtown Mt. Horeb take County ID west and turn south at the park sign).

We are all looking forward to seeing you as we all walk with Sabine to fight cancer!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Relaxing Between Therapies

We didn't make it to the cottage this past weekend for our "weekend away" -- too many other things on the agenda! Nevertheless, we are scheduling this coming weekend for Mazomanie and the cottage.

During this past cycle of chemotherapy we have TWO weeks in between. Tomorrow we draw blood to see how the therapy has worked this cycle and a week from this Wednesday we meet with Dr Sheehan to check the results and plot the next attack!

Sabine's hair is beginning to grow as I endearingly call her my "fuzzy wuzzy!" (But she has a long way to go to catch up to me -- who would have thought?).

This Memorial Day weekend we did a lot of yard work at both the farm and cottage. Sabine's mom, Charlotte, has been busy now with TWO flower gardens -- one at our farm and the other at the cottage (which is looking quite "lived-in" now).

This past Sunday we worshipped again at Trinity Church in Mineral Point (see photo below) and we are booked up doing "supply" clergy work during three of the next four Sundays (at St Andrew's Monroe, St Peter's North Lake, our former parish, and Trinity Church in Janesville).

Our cancer support group met again last week and we continue to be encouraged by that group of 15-20 strong cancer survivors! Just sharing our stories as both patients and caregivers seems to strengthen both of us.

Sabine's niece, Teak Nelson, and her two young children, Seger and Malea, will be visiting the farm later on this week. We look forward to seeing them again. It was Teak's parents, Ken and Barb, who came earlier this year for a number of weeks and helped us out after Sabine's diagnosis (truly god-sends for us!).

Sabine continues to build her strength with a couple of two-mile runs on top of our woodland walks and grass mowing. She is truly amazing (but I have always thought that!). I have been getting out on my bike and hammering out some miles in spite of the windy weather we have been having. Sabine is reluctant to get out on her bike giving the increased chance of falling which would not be helpful at this stage.
She continues to monitor our crowd contact by wearing a face mask when we are in large groups and so far that, along with a lot of hand-washing has forestalled infections.

In a nutshell, things are getting stable. I am writing a lot of my life stories down and we both are enjoying the early summer season. Life is good! Carpe diem!

Friday, May 23, 2008

As the week ends -- from Sabine

A great deal has happened in our life since last January. I became sick shortly after Christmas suffering from sudden kidney failure which was diagnosed in January as having been caused by a blood cancer (presently without a cure) called multiple myeloma. I have been in chemotherapy treatment ever since.

(Sabine at St Peter's '06 Relay for Life)

It's hard to imagine, but David's hair is actually longer than mine these days. As shocking as my initial diagnosis was, I am slowly regaining strength and attempting to put it into constructive activity.
One such constructive activity is my planned participation in two local "Relay for Life" events sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
(Sabine with Mary and Diane at St Peter's '07 Relay)

The first is at the Wisconsin Heights High School (located between Mazomanie and Black Earth) on the evening of June 27th.

A second event was scheduled because some folks couldn't make the June 27th date. So the second event will be at Grundahl Park in Mt. Horeb on July 25th.

If you are free one of these evenings please come by the campsite to visit and walk a few laps with me. We will, of course, have some drinks and snacks on hand. But if you plan to sit or camp bring your own chair, blanket, or tent. I would love to see people as I begin to emerge from this long period of isolation.

Some of you have already heard about this on David's blog ( ) and I would like to again thank those of you who have sent in donations to my teams. If you would still like to make a donation toward cancer research (none is too small!), please send me a check made out to the American Cancer Society.

Your thoughts and prayers continue to lift me up. Most of the medical people around me are amazed at my attitude and mental strength given my circumstances -- but then they don't know that YOU are the "wind beneath my wings!"
I hope all is well with you and yours -- remember to love, laugh, stay healthy, and serve. As we well know, time flies!

Thanks for the love,


(Sabine at St John's "Sock-Hop" celebrating its sesquicentennial [150th] anniversary in 2003)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ending Round 5

It certainly is a lot more comfortable writing these blogs on a weekly basis! (Always a GOOD sign!). We got through the last week of chemo without any major problems. Now we have a couple of weeks off until we meet with Dr Sheehan on June 4th.

This past week we have all been busy sprucing up the farm. Saturday was our township "clean-up day" and we brought five pickup truck loads to the dump. We are also in the process of getting the pool up and running. Just relying on Mother Sun, the pool temp has now climbed from 55 degrees to over 70!

This weekend our friend and interior decorator came by and Sabine's brother, Rainer, who was down for a visit from Minnesota, and yours truly got the window coverings installed. Now the cottage is really looking finished! (That was one of our very last steps!) Next weekend we plan on doing our first "cottage vacation" in Mazomanie.

It is hard to believe but Sabine is running again. Though she sometimes has to walk, she is able to do the three mile run along north on Highway K to the bridge and back. (I have taken to walking and thrice-weekly 20+ mile bike rides. They are usually comfortable rides except when my younger friend, Jeff, takes me out and punishes me!

On our early Sunday morning walk in the woods, I snapped a couple of pictures. The picture above this one with Sabine standing on our bridge across the creek and another one with some huge woodpecker holes. I should think that these have been made by our elusive Pileated Woodpeckers who warily inhabit our woods.

We are also in pursuit of logging our woodland flowers. It seems that each day we get to take a picture of another new flower. Sunday, we spotted some ladyslippers coming up.

I would be remiss if I didn't enclose a picture of Charlotte's amazing garden in its early stages. While both Sabine's mother and my mother were gifted with "green thumbs" the genetic material was not passed to either one of us.
On Sunday, we all (Sabine, me, Charlotte and Rainer) attended Trinity Episcopal Church in Mineral Point again. It was Trinity Sunday and a good day to contemplate the incomprehensible-ness of God -- though we all should continue to try. On June 1st I am back to St Andrew's in Monroe for their second monthly encounter with me.

Tomorrow, we meet with staff members at our dialysis center to discuss the possibility and process of doing "home dialysis" sometime during the coming year. On one hand, it is encouraging that there is medical technology available that will permit Sabine to do her dialysis at home and then be able to travel with this unit.
On the other hand, it will be a bit of another transition/change as this most likely will result in having to give up any chance of her kidneys re-functioning.
Well, that's another weekly report from New Journey Farm. We would appreciate continued prayers so that the "cancer numbers" are reduced even lower -- especially that these nasty lambda light chain proteins come down to a "normal" level again.
God bless you and thank you and we love you all!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day Weekend

Aha... another week has gone by and I have NOT needed to run to this blog for solace -- venting -- or reflecting! A good sign.

Last Sunday, Sabine, Charlotte and I went to a very small Episcopal Church in nearby Monroe. It really is a house church in size but has the appearance of a church. I led the worship for a group of about twelve. I think the liturgy made all of us feel at home. The congregation has asked me to come and lead their worship for the next three months until they get organized. Their former priest had come from Madison each Sunday for about the last ten years until he became ill and was no longer able to make the trip.

During the week, Sabine has also been encouraging me to write down some of my “stories” from my childhood, high school, Marines, police and clergy life. So far, I have written down about 100 “story prompters” and titles – now I have to start writing! I think it should be interesting to at least members of our family. And if it has a wider appeal that would be okay.

During the past week we have got a lot of the chores done on the farm. Son Joshua has come out this past week helped us by chopping and splitting firewood, cleaning up the donkey pen, and after years of searching, finding a patch of golden morel mushrooms!

But on Friday, Round 5 of the chemotherapy came on with a vengeance. It really knocked Sabine for a loop with severe nausea and we had to reschedule our weekend plans. Miraculously, after a very long night’s rest on Friday, she popped back – and even went out on a run early Saturday morning and was able to attend a wedding at our old parish in Portage.

Needless to say, I was a little worried when this happened. So our life continues with “flexibility” being the word of the day.

After things settled down on Friday, my friend, Jeff, came by Saturday morning and took me for a little “spin” on our bikes in the rolling hills of Blue Mounds… my legs were a little wobbly as we ascended the four mile climb to Brigham Park (ugh!). I keep thinking I am younger and should be able to keep up with this kid! Then I realize that it takes two days to recover from this hill-frolicking and I guess I should expect to slow down as I enter my 7th decade.

During Thursday’s chemotherapy at UW Hospital, I was scanning my email and found Garrison Keillor’s “Poem for the Day” on his “Writer’s Almanac” entitled “Matinee.” And when I read it to Sabine we both ended up with tears in our eyes. The mark, I guess, of good literature! Here it is:

after the biopsy,

after the bonescan,
after the consult and the crying,

for a few hours no one could find them,
not even my sister,
because it turns out

they'd gone to the movies.
Something tragic was playing,
something epic,

and so they went to the comedy
with their popcorn
and their cokes—

the old wife whispering
everything twice,
the old husbandcupping a palm to his ear,

as the late sun lit up an orchard
behind the strip mall,
and they sat in the dark holding hands.

[“Matinee” by Patrick Phillips, from Boy. © University of Georgia Press, 2008]

Spring has come to New Journey Farm – even though we have had frost the last two mornings. The apple “bonsai” trees are blooming. We have finally found the elusive spring morel mushrooms.

Two geese are sitting on their eggs... the water still flows from the hills at sites that always were dry and Josh got his car stuck on the north hill while camping with his buddies.

Now this was an opportunity that comes only once in a while -- this was a guy thing...

And time for my “new” truck to strut its stuff!

Putting it in 4WD, we tried to tow Josh's car out but the ground was just too muddy.

Now the challenge – would we be able to get the truck out?

Putting it in LOW 4WD we slowed climbed the muddy trail, gobs of mud flying to and fro.

We made it to the top!

And the lads joined us for the trip out.

Now we have a real working truck and Sabine signals our victory!

Life is good. And God is good.

We must always remember that!

On Sunday we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost at Trinity Episcopal Church in nearby Mineral Point. God said in the Book of Joel that one day God's Spirit would be poured out on all of us – men and women, young and old, slave and free!

In spite of all this, Sabine and I feel both blessed and drenched in this Spirit!

And for you, my friends, how has God's Spirit been poured out on you?

When was your last Pentecost?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Spring is Here!

You all know that when I start reverting to weekly blogs that things are looking better -- and they are! We begin our fourth cycle of Velcade chemotherapy today after dialysis. Sabine has felt pretty good since the last cycle and her "numbers" look good and no additional cancer problems. For this we are deeply thankful.

This weekend we got a lot of yard work done -- the apple trees have been pruned (even though Charlotte thinks I did too much -- she calls them the bonsai trees!). With all the rain we have had our hillside is awash with three new springs. We have never in over 25 years seen these new outpourings nor have we experienced a constant flow of water from what we used to call our "run-off" creek which comes down from the hills west of us.

Next to my office I can look out the window and see one of our geese. She has built a nest near our fence and is dutifully sitting -- our "goose in-waiting."

Our son, Josh, has come out and is helping split firewood for us that our neighbor, Sam, recently downed and gratefully off-loaded, near our wood pile.

A couple of weeks ago, St Andrew's Church in Monroe called me and booked three Sundays (one a month) to come and be their celebrant and preacher. We were there yesterday and enjoyed their small, but faithful congregation. I think St Andrew's is the smallest congregation in the diocese and has their eyes set on growing.

One thing nice about supplying as a priest is that all the pre-work is done -- like bulletins and lining up readers and acolytes. I just get to come in and lead the worship (something I have greatly missed since my retirement).

So that's the weekly report from New Journey Farm and our on-going fight with this cancer. Stay tuned. Be good and be thankful!