I got up early and it was another beautiful day, so I woke G and Aidan, then we picked up LB (she babysat for Brody last night, so she spent the night), and then we went hiking.  When I was young, hiking was my favorite pasttime.  I still love it, despite having lost a decade to lyme disease, but boy, do my feet hurt!  Carrying laundry down stairs after we got home was an ouch! procedure each time my feet touched a new tread.  Sort of like when I practice skating backwards, and remember muscles that I never knew I had!

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures of G and Aidan:
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I showed Aidan all the acorn tops without nuts and after that he filled his pockets with acorns when he found them, to feed to the squirrels.  We also saw fish, salamanders getting "close" with one another, a snake eating a frog, and a lot of mosquitoes.
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If you've never been to New England before, I need to explain what we're like before continuing or you won't understand.  We are masters of understatement.  If someone asks how you are, you answer not bad.  That means you're actually good.  If people say great! you wonder about them-are they a little weird, possibly drunk, possibly manic?  If you are a visiting minister at church or a performing artist and nobody speaks or shows any expression during your time before them, don't let it get you down-chances are, they love you!  If you talk about your own health and well-being with any frequency, you must not have any interests in life or too much time on your hands.  So in many respects we keep things close to our chests. 

My mother is a typical New Englander.  Add to that the fact that she is a quiet woman with an overabundance of modesty and you definitely have to know how to read her when trying to find out how she is doing.  She is not being secretive; there are no hidden meanings or innuendoes in what she says.  She just doesn't say much.  So when I ask, how are you feeling?  and it's bad, she says with a shoulder shrug, Eh.  If it's good, she says okay or not bad.  This week she had her first oncology appointment and is now waiting for an appointment for further tests.    After her appointment I called and asked her how it went.  She said, well, we got one piece of good news, at least I think it's good news.  I said oh, yeah, what's that?  and she proceeded to tell me that the thing (growth) on the outside of her liver turns out to be accompanied by six or seven like it on the inside of the liver.  So that's one less thing to worry about (her words-translation, they can't do anything about it).  Most people wouldn't put it quite that way, but you can't argue with it when it's true.
 
 
Tonight was Aidan's spring concert.  I guess he was supposed to say a couple of lines with another boy-opening, welcoming remarks-but decided he wasn't comfortable.  He was completely comfortable singing on stage, though.  I just wish there weren't as many flash cameras going off as there were, because half of the photos are junk-eyes reflecting double flashes-but here are a couple anyway:
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I cropped this one to get rid of most of the glowing eyes around Aidan.

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The blond girl in the purple and white dress is my son in-law's niece.  I used to babysit for her mother and am named for her great grandmother/my son in-law's grandmother.

 
 
Okay, first, the temperature has dropped to a mere 80º outside, which is a relief from the midday heat we had.  Second, the humidity is only at about 50%, which is really great.  But that won't last, of course.  The temps will drop into the 50s tonight but the humidity is going to be 100% before dawn breaks, climbing at about 10 % every couple of hours from supper time forward.  It has been a beautiful weekend.  Sunny and hot, but with a breeze.  So of course it will change.

This week my cousin's wife was named community citizen of the year by our town Grange.  That was a very nice ceremony.  I love our Grange.  When I was young, that's where our school Christmas programs were held.  Even the smell of the building makes me happy.  Suppers, square dances, Christmas programs, it all comes to mind the moment I walk into the building.

Mom made it to church today.  She has had a great week, probably because she hasn't been vomitting constantly and actually has had a return of her appetite-a nice change from two Saltine crackers a day for an 81 year old weighing 85 pounds!  Her best friend is also back for the summer-she goes to Florida each winter-so Mom can now get out with someone her own age who enjoys a lot of the same things that she does.

Yesterday we had our monthly family breakfast with "the big kids" and their children, this time at our daughter's house.  The three grandsons are all so different.  RB (Ricky) is bright, loving, serious, stubborn, and eager to be good.  He showers me with affection, so of course I think he's just great.  BB (Brody) is a little reserved, doesn't waste words, is happy, stubborn, extremely smart and amazingly sure-footed.  He never talks baby talk; his vocabulary is extensive and he speaks in sentences at 20 months old.  He adores G.  Then there is MB (Matthew).  He is charming, snuggly, a little bit precocious, and not afraid of much except being away from his mother.  We expect him to be the one that comes up with all the neat ideas for the three of them to pursue.  Then, when they get into trouble, the older ones will say that it was the baby's idea (and it will be), but most people will think that they should know better than to follow the youngest.  So we can't wait to see if this comes to pass. 

Today MB went to church with Aidan and me.  Afterwards, we played outside on the swings and in the sandbox.  It felt just like summer-I hope that when summer actually comes it doesn't feel like spring!
 
 
Mom finally got an oncology appointment set up yesterday.  She'll go next week to DHMC and get the doctor's input on her file.  I know that she doesn't want chemo, I know that they'll want to give it to her if she accepts any treatment, so we'll just have to wait and see.  She's old enough, at almost 82, to go for it if they say that she has a really good chance of living another decade, but if they say, well, you have a 50/50 chance but we'll attack it aggressively, she'll probably just come home without anything more than a pain management plan.  Dad was the same way.  I think they'v watched too many people have an awful quality of life at the end fighting against something that took their lives anyway.  So we'll just have to wait and see.
 
 
My niece finished her master's degree today in education-mental health counseling.  She already has the job she wants, but now she has the degree to go with it.  She has spent years working with adolescents in outdoor adventure and outdoor counseling type of situations-in Denali, Olympia, the White Mountains, the Rockies, even the flatter lands of New Jersey.  But today she graduated so we celebrated.

This is the niece who looks strikingly like I did when I was young, so here are some current and old pictures of us.
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My niece today at 28 years old

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My niece sharing the stoop with a cousin

Here I am a couple of years younger than my niece-celebrating my 25th birthday, then pregnant and with my third child.  As soon as I figure out how to rotate the scanned images, I'll do it.
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And some additional pictures of party goers
 
 
I didn't go to my high school prom.  Although I loved dancing, I didn't go in my junior year because I didn't have a junior year-I skipped it.  I didn't go in my senior year because I was already dating my husband, and although he liked one particular teenager, he did not want to spend a night in a room full of them.  So last night I chaperoned my students' prom.  It was really nice.  I spent most of the evening talking with one small group of chaperones.  You know how middle aged women start to talk about how kids dress these days, and how they bump and grind and don't really dance on the dance floor?  Yeah, that group; I'm not one of them.  As teachers, you become sensitized to certain things.  I tend to be oblivious of all but the most blatant dress code issues and I love to dance so I don't really see their dance style as being any more or less than the current trend.  Language is my sensitive area.  The way you dress and the way you dance is often about personal expression, but the way that you talk about and to other people, that's about manners.  So, anyway, I wasn't adding to that conversation last night; I was having too much fun watching them have fun.  Here is a picture of my carpool buddy and I-definite incentive for that spring/summer diet!
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You've probably all got stories like this to tell, if you're unlucky.  A stranger posts an advertisement to my blog-the blog about my sick mother-so I delete it, contact the sender to say that it is both insensitive and crass, and contact the organization being promoted to ask that they speak to the sender, in the strongest possible language, about advertising on a website they have not been authorized to advertise on. 

I get a what?  where? response from the sender and an abject apology from the organization.  I delete the sender's response and thank the organization.  Not done yet, though. 

The sender then writes an email saying I should check my facts before I post things about people and to stop harassing and slandering the sender.  I copy and paste the blog comment/advertisement and return it, clearly showing this person's email address listed three times-how else could I have sent an email to the sender in the first place, right?  So I think that will: 1.  Either be the end of it because now the person will try to find out who has infiltrated their email account, or 2.  They will apologize and explain that they didn't send it. 

No, instead I get an email with all caps saying that's fine, but I didn't post this message and something along the lines of me, again, needing to check facts before I bother people.  Okay, who bothered whom?  Anyway, I respond with okay, but your email is on the bottom.  So I would suggest that you change your email address or try to find out who has misused it.  Goodbye. 

It should have been goodbye, right?  No, of course it wasn't.  I then get an incriminating email where the sender says that they actually did write this advertisement and send it out to a bunch of people, so maybe one of them forwarded it to my blog.  It then goes on to say that I'm not a person they want to help since I write nasty notes "strongest possible language" (given as an example of my nastiness) and then I'm asked not to contact them again. 

No problem.  I blocked the email address.  How do we get these psychos who can convince themselves that when they have wronged another person they are the victim?  And why would I need that person's help?  Unless, of course, their email wasn't compromised at all.  An innocent person's  first response would have been, I don't know what you're talking about, and then when they got a copy of the email they didn't send, it would have been,  I'm so sorry.  I don't know how you got this, but I'll try to figure it out with my email provider.  If you get anything else from my name, please let me know.
 
 
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Little Baby turned nineteen early this week and Aidan turned six.  On Saturday we had his party with puppy dog decorations and toys, including pin the pawprint on the dog.  Then in the evening we went out to eat with the two youngest kids, Golden Baby and his son.  Pretty Baby's boys were wiped out from the birthday party, so they stayed home.  Today G and I went with Aidan to Mom's sandpit and filled buckets of sand so that he could fill his "big" gift-the covered turtle sandbox.  Our oldest dog will go to the bathroom wherever it is most comfortable for her-soft sand, freshly tilled garden, shoveled walkways, etc.  So a cover is a must at our house.

Mom had a rough afternoon and evening yesterday, was not able to go to church today, but recovered somewhat as the day went on.  She hadn't eaten anything but a piece of toast by lunch, so I made some corn chowder for her, put the leftovers in the fridge, Little Baby made cookies, we went to the store for some of her favorite foods, and Pretty Baby is going to make baked beans tomorrow night for her.  Mom has been craving her mother's baked beans.  My grandmother died before I was born, so Mom hasn't had them in more than 45 years.  She says she follows her mother's directions, but her own are never as good, and thinks it's because my grandmother's beans were made on the woodstove.  But we'll see how she likes Pretty Baby's beans-my daughters can really cook!  Pretty Baby excels at baked beans, corn chowder, meatloaf, and pies.  Little Baby makes the greatest banana bread-she's going to make some for her grandmother tomorrow.  So hopefully we can keep her eating and she can keep the food down.  Wednesday is her biopsy.  She did say that one kidney had spots and there is, of course, the liver tumor.  A lot will depend on what else they find.  They think the cancer has spread from somewhere else-the question will be, from where?  When that is answered, Mom will know what comes next.  She's okay with living without part of her liver and without a kidney.  So we'll have to wait and see what this week brings.