Saturday, May 30, 2009

Gotta Know

Okay. I'm receiving some surprising e-mail. I'm going to ask the question outright. What kind of follow-up are the rest of you who have been treated for breast cancer receiving?

Feeling Stupid

Now that the cancer treatment is behind me (except for the daily tamoxifen), I realize that I have questions. Trying to decipher the vast quantities of information available is difficult. Sometimes it is scary. So when I went back to the Cancer Center yesterday, I had questions. Like, for instance, if breast cancer is going to metasticize, generally it will go to the lungs, the brain, or the liver. How are they monitoring for that? What's the game plan? What am I supposed to be looking for? What is the standard follow-up care for breast cancer? How do you tell the difference between scar tissue and a tumor? The doctor there was nice. It wasn't her fault. She was filling in for my own doctor on maternity leave. She kept saying, "Ma'am, I cannot believe that Dr. B did not discuss this with you." "Certainly Dr. B. has covered all this with you..." I walked out of there feeling like a jackass.

Now I have another question. Why did I feel like a jackass? They were valid questions. I've really got to snap out of my self conscious, bumbling, easily embarrassed manner of dealing with this. After everything, I'm surprised that I still have to have these conversations with myself.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Nothing Much

Man, it was a gray day.
Water everywhere.
Mosquitos popping out all over the place. Another pair of reading glasses bit the dust. This is the silo from the first picture, at the base, inside the barn. It has standing water in it, and was chock full of skeeters a while back. I treated it, and checked on it this morning. I stuck my head into one of those openings and dipped out some water. When I pulled back out, I knocked my glasses off my head. I saw them fall into the water. I tried to scoop them out with my dipper, but only succeeded in stirring up the water.
Luckily, I had a spare pair on my truck visor. (I also have a spare spare pair in my glove box. I go through reading glasses like some folks go through socks.)
I've never shown you my third office. I spend a lot of time in this truck.
This is the Cancer Center. After a month off, I had an appointment. I think the thing that surprises me about cancer is the lack of closure. I just thought that at some point, I'd be done with cancer. I guess that's not how it works.

I guess that nobody really knows where the road will lead you.
It's sure a beautiful trip though.

On His Way

Hang on, Yorrick, I's a-coming.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Office

You know, I want to make something clear. Yesterday, when I was talking about the Amish, I don't want you to think that I was being critical of them. I don't understand the difference between tilling with a tractor yourself, or asking your neighbor to do it for you. I don't understand the difference between having a phone and using someone else's. While I might not understand their ways, not completely, it doesn't matter all that much. What I can tell you about the Amish that I have met is that they are nice, and that they are genuinely hard workers and very good craftsmen, which is why they don't have trouble finding work outside their farms. This is not to say that they are all like that. We did business with one that cheated us. He never made it right, despite the fact that we sent him letters and drove to his house several times. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you can't stereotype them. They've got their peculiarities like most everyone else, their good folks and their bad folks.

Today, I had to go back to collect my traps. I'd set one up across from an Amish farm. Two of the younger children, maybe 8 and 9, watched silently from across the road. They were so cute and wide eyed, the little girl in her bonnet and long dress and the little boy in his black pants and blue shirt and suspenders, with his broad brimmed straw hat, both in their bare feet. I spoke to them cheerfully when I left, but I don't think they quite knew what to make of me. This morning, I left the house early, stopping at the local Walmart. I bought bubble soap, balls that sparked when they bounced, screaming balloons, glow in the dark bracelets, just small stuff, a large bag of peanut M and Ms and a two pound bag of Twizzlers. I don't know what all. Our agent from NRCS threw in some children's books about farming. I found some mugs left over from our Envirothon. I packed it all up, and put it in my truck. Sure enough, when I got to their house, they were all lined up and watching as soon as they saw the truck. I handed them a box and said, "This is from the Conservation District. The very first thing that you have to do though, is take it to the house and ask your mother or your father if you can have it. The oldest boy, maybe 12, very seriously, took the box and said, "Fine." As he was carrying the box to the house, the younger children followed along beside him chattering quietly. Someone flipped the top back, and when they saw what was inside, I heard a collective "Oooooh!!!!" and they broke into a run for the house, all of them. I turned my truck around and was headed out when the mother came out the door. She flagged me down. We had a nice chat as the kids all stood behind her grinning and excited. Kids aren't really so different no matter how you dress them.
Anyways, I collected my traps and counted bugs and then headed back to the office. I had callbacks, and paperwork to be done, e-mails to answer, the busy work.
My office is pretty sparsely decorated. I don't spend a lot of time inside. My fuzzy blanket over the back of my chair comes in darn handy for when I get soaked in the rain and am freezing. I usually have a pair of slip on shoes in there for when my feet get wet.I shipped my adult samples. They go out on dry ice. The larva are preserved in alcohol so they are not so time sensitive. These are my samples from the week so far. I'll probably end up with several more samples tomorrow. I'll ship these out Monday.

I also charge my batteries for next week. Tomorrow morning, I'll pull these and put two more on. These batteries run my traps.

Once I was working and a guy rode by on a motorcycle. He stopped to see what I was doing. He was visiting from Baltimore, and he was very interested and interesting. As we were heading off in different directions, he said, "You seem to enjoy your job a lot." "Yes," I said, "I think I have one of the best jobs around." He looked around the woods and said, "Well, I have to say, I really love your office." It made me laugh.

Not all days are like yesterday. Sometimes I have to play inside.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I live in oil country. This is a pump jack, which brings the oil from the ground. The blue tank is an oil tank. They are all over the place here. Both of Tim's brothers make a living of the oil industry. One is a driller. The other repairs the rigs, builds tanks, etc.

This neck of the woods is also farm country. We have dairy farmers and meat farmers. These rolling hills are also home to a pretty extensive timber industry. I didn't pass by any of those operations today. Maybe another day.

This car looks pretty heartstopping doesn't it? The picture was taken out behind the high school. The seniors will be graduating soon. The car was towed in and set in the parking lot, a reminder to celebrate sensibly. See the blood on the door? There was blood on all the seats, and a dark stain on the floor by the front passenger side. Creeped me out. I couldn't help but say a prayer for the people who had been in that car. Side note: some parents provide the alcohol for their kids' graduation parties. They think that 'kids are going to going to drink anyway', so providing them a safe place to get drunk is the sensible thing to do. I don't believe in that. I think it is enabling kids to make the wrong choice. Providing alcohol to minors will also get your ass in a lot of trouble, jail even.Here is an Amish buggy. I wanted to take a picture of the mother and the little boy and the little girl with her. They were wearing sunglasses with round florescent frames. Mama had green, the kidlets had orange. It looked so out of place with their bonnets and wide brimmed hats, and their somber clothing. I actually did not think that they were allowed to wear bright colors like that, but the kids were so cute that they made me laugh. I did not take a picture of them, so as not to give offense.

See how black the buggies are? They are impossible to see at night. They have flashing yellow strobe lights on each side. It looks like the lights are floating on nothing. You simply do not see the buggy.

The Amish are interesting. They don't own cars, but they will ride in yours. They don't own phones, but will ask to use yours. They don't have electricity, but will use gasoline engines to run their sawmills. A friend of mine knows an Amish man. He roofs houses for a living. He put a roof on theirs not too long ago. Her husband asked him if he would like him to hunt up an air nailer to make the job go faster. The man replied, "No. I think I can come up with one." Turns out he has one. He keeps it hidden. He got in trouble with his sect once for owning a modern convenience. I'm not sure how he got out of it. Probably repented to his group. The thing is, he also owns a cell phone. He keeps that hidden too. My friend asked him why they were not allowed to have things like that. He replied with a smile, "Oh, we're not allowed to be happy." He's a strange charactor as far as the Amish go. Sort of caught between two worlds, the Amish one and ours. He and his wife fight like two cats. Once he commented, 'If the Amish were allowed to have a divorce, I'd have me one of those, too.' I can honestly say that I've never heard of another Amish man quite like him, but I imagine that he's in a hard place. If he leaves the sect, he will be shunned. No one in his family will ever acknowledge his presence again. I imagine that, like any father, he loves his children, and could not bear to think of not being a part of their lives. So he doesn't believe, and and doesn't leave.

Just goes to show you: don't ever think you can judge a book by it's cover.This is an Amish school house. I didn't get it properly centered. The little building is an outhouse. You can just see the side of another one by the telephone pole in the lower right corner. One is for the boys and the other for the girls. You cannot make it out, but there is a black bell they ring for school every morning in the front, on the roof. The other thing poking out of the roof is, of course, the chimney for the woodstove inside.

This is one of 'my' swamps. I once saw a fish stuck in the mud during a dry summer. I waded out to turn him lose, but he thrashed his way out, all in a panic at my approach.

This is what I see, every single day. What the pictures don't tell you is that the wind was strong today, bringing in rain. It was muggy and the breeze felt good. You can't hear the birds singing, or hear the bees droning. You cannot hear the distant thunder. You can't watch the clouds move and change shape. I didn't get a picture of the fox I saw yesterday. You can't hear the bullfrogs croaking, or the geese honking, the bellow of a distant cow. It's a shame, really. It was a dandy day.


Today, I was out in the rain, wearing my visored 'NYC' ball cap. When I came home and took the cap off, I noticed that I had two tiny little curls above my ears. I guess that my hair is growing back, but it seems to be growing oh. so. slowly.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I remember the first day that I walked into the Cancer Center with my friend, Mary. I did not want to go. I procrastinated getting ready, I dragged my feet to the car, and I drove very slowly there. Finally, I stood looking at the building realizing that simply by walking through those doors, I was a cancer patient. As foolish as it sounds, I did not want to go inside. Because I am sensible and responsible, I gave myself a shake, and I walked into that building to face what needed to be faced.

Treatment ended a month ago. I have my first post treatment appointment with the oncologist on Friday. After a month away from the Cancer Center, I dread going back. As foolish as it sounds, I realize that when I walk through those doors, I am, again, a cancer patient.

Monday, May 25, 2009

For Jeanie

Jeanie is Bush Babe's sister, and since they were both well raised by their fine mother, Anonymous, they are singularly nice people. However, since they live in Oz, they get confused about Yank expressions. Jeanie was intrigued by the word 'huaraches', and wondered just what I had kicked off before wading out into the Conewango creek to miss perfectly good pictures of a bald eagle.

Jeanie, dear, they are shoes. Huarache is a Mexican term for a type of flat shoe made out of leather thongs braided, woven, twisted decoratively to form the upper part of the shoe. I have two pair of huaraches and one pair of fisherman sandals that I wear almost exclusively in the summer when I am not at work.

I kicked off my shoes before wading into the creek. Just wanted to be clear.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Just Like Bush Babe

Bush Babe is always after me, to take pictures. And she's so nice about it, always asking puh-leaze. She's very polite. Her mother, Anonymous, has raised her very well, no doubt about it. Anyhow, I suck at pictures. Big time. Tim and I were going to the lawn tractor races in Russell. (We live in a small town.) Part of the to-do of these lawn tractor races is the hats. Our friend Danny made a hat, and we were going to get a picture of it, a large green flower pot filled with artificial flowers. The flowers nodded and bobbed as he went by. On the front of the pot it said 'Blooming Idiot'.It was funny. Hilarious really. You'll just have to take my word for it, because, wouldn't you know...the flipping batteries, the ones that I just took off the flipping battery charger, were dead. The camera didn't work and it made me kind of mad.
So we got in the car and headed off to the local K-mart to grab a package of batteries. Coming out of the parking lot, what to our wondering eyes should appear was a real life honest to goodness BALD EAGLE swooping and soaring up and down the Conewango River. We were thrilled. We also had a camera. This is about the time when I flipped upside down over the back of the seat, rummaging through the bag to grab the batteries to stick in the camera. Tim parked the car, and we ran across the busy intersection to stand on the bridge and take pictures. Unfortunately, by the time we go there, our bald eagle friend had stopped soaring, and was sitting on a tree limb considerably down stream.
Not to be disuaded, we headed down the road to the local lawn and garden shop, approximately where the eagle was roosting. We were going to get some awesome pictures for the blog.

The local lawn and garden shop is pretty cool. There's a covered bridge there to walk from one part of it to another.

Pretending that I was BB, I tried for 'artsy fartsy'. Yeah. Didn't work.

We did not see the eagle. Not to be disuaded, we clambored down bank and jumped from one stone to another to a small island of river rock. Still not able to see him, I kicked off my huaraches and waded right out into the water. I was determined. I stood there in the water my camera at the ready. I got distracted a little.

It was about then that he flew farther up the river. Not to be disuaded, we clambored back up the bank and headed followed the river.

I got a nice picture of an Amish man's horse. He brings his buggy and two little kids in and sells his wife's stuff along the highway. We did not take a picture of him and his two children, a boy and a girl. The Amish do not believe in picture taking. It violates the rule about 'not making any graven images'. We did not wish to offend. We did cheerfully call out to them as we passed by. They had not noticed the eagle soaring up and down the river behind them.

We passed phlox.

Lily of the valley.

Dandilions gone to seed are always interesting, but I did not stop to pick one to make a wish on.

The shale bank across the road was kind of cool.

Finally, Tim froze, and motioned. There sitting on a branch studying us was the bald eagle. He was beautiful and we watched him. I remembered the camera and raised it. And that moment, the thing shut itself off. I hurriedly turned it back on, and by the time I brought the camera to my face, what I saw was a branch bobbing back and forth where an eagle had just been sitting. I was not a happy camper.That eagle must have felt sorry for us because he began to fly up and down the river. Eagles as fast. I kept missing the shot. I swore. I swore and started to get just a little weepy.
Tim grabbed the camera. By now the eagle had soared high into the sky and was making lazy circles around us. Tim captured the shot. See that little block dot, right there in the middle of the picture?
Right dead center in the middle. That black spot? You don't see the eagle. This ones a bit clearer. He disappeared into the clouds.
BB, I tried. I really tried to make you proud, but the sad truth of it is, really, I suck at pictures. Here, however is the robin's nest on the back deck on top of the step ladder. These birds aren't moving yet. It was a little bit easier.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Old Column

Oh, gosh, I was looking through old columns. I remember when turning 50 seemed like a big deal. This one brought back some happy memories, of Ken and Peryl, and of a time when it seemed like when you turned 50, why it ought to mean something. Two years ago, 50 was a big deal. Now I'm 52.

First, Tim got hit with it. Then a full month later, it was my turn. I am not talking about the flu. We both turned 50. I was not bothered by it, because I've been comforting myself with the proverb 'with age comes wisdom', so I expected that when I turned 50, there would be some sort of *poof* and I would suddenly be wise, because I've been sort of an oblivious, bumbling fool on a fairly regular basis up to this point.

Tim's a sensible, practical guy, and if something gets screwed up at our house, you can pretty much bet the ranch that Tim was not anywhere around. (You can also pretty much bet that I was.) But when we had his birthday party, we had some of Tim's friends from his days at Sheffield High School. Imagine my surprise to discover that I wasn't the only person who had been young and stupid. Renee, Larry, Denny and Sue had a lot to tell about Tim's young and stupid days. It was great fun to listen to the tales. (This leads me to the very next question...why is it so hilarious when you hear young and stupid stories about your husband, but when your son calls with a young and stupid story of his own, it makes you mad? But I digress.)

Back to the whole 'with age comes wisdom': I was really feeling pretty good about turning 50, and heaven knows, I was sure anxious to become wise. Then our neighbor, Ken, told a story about how he fell off the scaffolding when he was siding his house. He was on the second story level when he sailed off, head first, into some bushes by his house. Peryl thought for sure he was dead until she saw his foot move. He was banged up pretty badly, and managed to scare poor Peryl witless. He told me he felt so bad about it all that he went out and bought himself a hat with STUPID printed across the front. He said that whenever he gets to feeling less then humble, he gets out his hat and wears it around for awhile.

I went away from their house in a pensive mood. If 80 year old Ken still does stupid stuff, what hope did I have of suddenly becoming a sage at 50? I began to worry about it. On the fateful day, I turned 50. I waited all day. Just as I feared, there was no darn *poof*. I was really unhappy about this.

I was walking through the Walmart when it struck me. I am surely wiser than I had been say, 30 years ago. Maybe, instead of a *poof*, wisdom was a process. The more I thought about this, the more certain I was that this was true. I began to compile of mental list of what I have learned on the way:

I've learned that most people do the very best they can.
I've learned that no matter how hard you try, someone can (and most of the time, someone will) find things to criticize. Ignore them.
I've learned that if you hang around a gossip, you can bet your sweet bippy that when you are not hanging around them they will be gossipping about YOU. Avoid gossips.
Prayers get answered, so pray.
True love isn't effortless, but it is sure worth the effort.
Words are not always necessary.
A mother's work is never done. They may be in their 20's, but there will come a time when they'll need to hear the truth. Your job is to speak it. They may not listen, but you need to say it anyway.
When you love your job, it infuses your whole life with joy. Like many folks, I've worked a lot of jobs that I did not love, out of sheer necessity. My advice? Keep your eyes open, looking for a chance to do something you love. If you get a chance to do it, do not hesitate. Go for it.
Laughter is the very best medicine, but a hug follows in a very close second place.
We all have an obligation to help others.
The most important person is not a person at all.
When you listen to a frustrated farmer vent his spleen and he suddenly reaches across your truck to shake your hand, there's not a lot that is more honest than that.
There is nothing more comforting than to spend a winter night wrapped in an afghan with a really good book, and a purring cat on your lap.
I've learned that a dog knows more about love than a lot of people.
Caffeine is good.
You'll know that you are a good mother when you hear it from your grownup kids.

I wandered into the restroom while still mentally compiling my list. I caught a glimpse of a confused man in the mirror while washing my hands. Never at a loss for words, I cheerfully said, "Well, one of us appears to be in the wrong place." At that moment, I caught sight of the urinal. It struck me as such a Debby thing to do...trying to find evidence of my own wisdom while standing in the men's restroom at Walmart. I burst out laughing. The man left. Quickly. I may have frightened him. It would appear, friends, that I will live for a long time, or that I am destined to die dumb. I don't know. I'd like to write more, but I have to borrow a hat from my neighbor.

Friday, May 22, 2009


I'm going to tell you a secret. I don't like snakes. I know this will generate responses from snake lovers like Mary who respects the earth and the role that each critter plays in it. There's Mikey, who loves rattlesnakes. I've never been able to quite figure it out...other than that, she seems perfectly sane. I'm just not a snake person, like those two. I've gotten better about this phobia in my old age. I don't shriek when I see them anymore. If I'm trekking through a swamp and a snake goes by, I simply do a sharp intake of breath thing, and I repeat, like a mantra 'Snakes are good for the environment. Snakes are good for the environment' and I freeze until they swim by my feet. If I startle a snake in the underbrush, I do the same thing. I freeze, repeat my mantra, and generally speaking they are as startled as I am, and they beat feet (well...figuratively speaking...) while I stand there. So I've gottten better, don't you think?

Anyways, now that I've overcome this lifelong phobia, me and the snakes have set a few ground rules. They have their place, but they need to stay away from the house, because that is my place. Today, I was mowing the lawn. It needed it badly, but the lawnmower decided winter break was not nearly long enough. It extended its vacation by breaking down and requiring a part. Which had to be ordered. From some remote island, apparently. It also happened to get on the slow boat over. So the grass was tall. Anyway, I digress. I noticed a very large snake by the front porch. It was huge.

"Hey," I yelled at Tim from the lawnmower. "HEY!!!!!!!!!!!! There's a big snake out here, and really, I'd do something about it myself, but I'm mowing the lawn."

Tim looked at it, and back at me. "It's not so big," he said. I was a little surprised. I did not know that he was spatially challenged before. I'm kind to the handicapped, so I bit my tongue. This snake was huge, people. Probably a good 30 feet long.

Tim finished visiting with his friend Tom, and came back to the snake. Apparently, it had suddenly remembered that the house is my place, and scooted back to his own place in embarrassment. I was okay with this, but really, I figured that I would have seen a 30 foot snake with a red face beating a retreat.

Later, Tim and I were visiting at the front porch. I glanced over, and (I'm not joking) the snake was curling his way up around the pine tree by our front porch like a redneck Christmas decoration. This got me agitated. Like I said, I'm pretty reasonable about snakes in my old age, but saw right away that this evil creature was absolutely the spawn of Satan. I insisted that my husband do battle with the snake. I would have done it myself, but really, I had a lawn to finish mowing. I ran for the lawn mower. Somehow the lawn seemed just a wee bit more urgent than it did just a few minutes previous.

Tim got a shovel. He made a trip. Holding two fingers up in the air, he made a second trip. I didn't see that one. Two snakes, right there by the front porch, doing the nasty no doubt, procreating right there by the front porch, probably intent on creating a score of youngsters who would spring forth from the snake womb probably 10 feet long. I was just about to finish mowing when I saw Tim moving rocks with the shovel in a quick moving sort of way. A third snake?!!!! A menage a trois?! Dear Lord. Have these snakes no shame?

Later, when I finally dared to shut off the lawn mower, Tim mentioned, "I don't mind them out at the woodshed, or out back, but I don't like snakes all around the front porch. One of them was about 18 inches long."

That man is a machinist, and he cannot estimate length to save his soul. Kinda sad, isn't it?


Say it isn't so! They canceled 'My Name Is Earl'?!!!!! NO FAIR! NO FAIR!

As my friend Dixie would say, "No. There is no fair. If there were, my friend, there would be cotton candy and a ferris wheel."


My Name is Debby. I am outraged.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Where ever you are at in this great big wide world, I hope you have lilacs.

Reading Glasses

I'm hell on reading glasses. I don't mean to be, but I am. It would be a lot easier if I could manage bifocals, but I'm uncoordinated, right down to my eyeballs. I could never get the hang of looking up and looking over, and I fell up stairs. I fell downstairs. They actually made me sick to my stomach, so I gave up on bifocals. I keep a half dozen pairs of reading glasses stashed because I'm so hard on them. Yesterday, I broke yet another pair. I'm not sure what I did this time. Breaking them is a novelty. I've only done that three or four times. Usually, I lose them. I slide them up on my head when I'm not using them, and pull them down on my face when I am. This habit has resulted in reading glasses being whipped from my head by branches while pushing my way through brush. I have tried putting them in a pocket, but they fall out of pockets. I've tried the chain around my neck thing, and have darn near throttled myself many a time. They have also pulled loose and gotten lost that way as well. I got a bright red pair of readers once. They looked ridiculous, but I figured they'd be easy to find when I lost them. I was in Weldbank, when a branch whipped back and sent them flying from my head. I looked high and low, but never found them. I lost a sturdy pair of metal readers in Saybrook. I actually stopped what I was doing to form up a search party. They were not found either. I am down to two pair of readers again, and I'm taking one pair of them to work with me. (That's the kiss of death for those.) That means this weekend, I'll go out and stock up on more reading glasses. Honestly. I have this notion that some day I'll be out and about, and a befuddled looking old bear will stroll by with a pair of bright red reading glasses pushed up on his grizzled old head. I recognize the look right away, and I will lean over and and whisper, "They're on your head..."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


It feels like forever since I've had a chance to sit down and read other people's blogs. I miss you! I did my housework tonight, and then sat down to 'catch up' on my blog reading. The computer is running very slowly.
It's been one of those days.
I'm going to bed.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What a Great Weekend!

My aunt Sher called to see if Tim and I wanted to go out for dinner on Saturday night. We said yes. When we got to the restaurant, not only were Uncle Frank and Aunt Sher there, but my Aunt Linda and Uncle Don from Florida. I was so shocked to see them. Uncle Don was diagnosed with prostate cancer about the same time I was diagnosed with breast cancer. He did not have to have chemo, but he's still bald.
LOL, as they say.
They all surprised me by remembering my birthday. We had so much fun, laughing and joking. I was sorry to see it end.
My nephew was badly injured in Iraq probably three years ago. After a long hospitalization, many surgeries, he and Sarah came back home. We rejoiced then. We rejoiced again Sunday morning, blessed by the birth of their first child, Abigail Joy. My sister became a grandma for the very first time.
My rocks are nearly layed for my little ornamental pond.
Brianna and Buddy came up to have dinner with us. He seems very nice. They brought a cake, and Mall cop. Corny, improbable, but funny. It was a great evening.
This weekend, I gave up my wig. I'm so glad I finally got the courage to do it.
Yes, BB. I will take a picture.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


The elderly woman pushing her daughter in wheelchair was about done in by the time she entered the fast food restaurant. She had every right to be. We'd seen her earlier, clear on the other side of town. She carefully wheeled her daughter to a table and then shuffled up to stand in line. By the time she got her food, she was struggling with her purse and with the full tray. I got up to help her, and she was grateful. She thanked me and asked me to set it on the table by 'her little girl'. Her 'little girl' was a full grown woman, severely handicapped, profoundly retarded. (I know that these words are not politically correct any more. I apologize.) I went back to my table to sit and I watched the two of them, the mother feeding her daughter, wiping her face. They did not speak, but the scene was exquisitely tender, so sweet, infinately loving. 'The desiderata becomes incarnate,' I thought, but I could not have explained this thought, not until after I came home and reread 'The Desiderata' again, after all these many years.


-- written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s --

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Cara left today. She'll be living with Dylan in Allentown for the summer. It will be good for them both, and I am glad they get along.

I took a long lunch today, and came home and had lunch with Tim and Cara. After we saw Tim off to work, she and I headed out for a cup of coffee. She was having some doubts about the move last night but today, she seemed much more sure of herself. One of her big concerns was, 'What if you get sick again?' I didn't really know how to respond to that last night. After thinking it over, I had an answer. We sipped on our coffees and talked about this and that. I said, "I want you to listen to something. I do not want you sitting around afraid to go off and do things because I might get sick again. I've already made up my mind that I simply can't allow myself to be overcome with fear and dread. It would be wasting my life. If you do it, it's wasting your life. Neither of us know what's in store, but we both got lives to live, and we need to focus on living. That's what faith is all about."

She fixed me with those green eyes and she asked the question. What she wants is a guarantee that everything's going to be fine, that cancer won't come back. She wants facts and statistics and odds. "Cara," I said. She looked at me with her chin quivering. "Listen to me. At some point, you'll have to deal with the death of your mother. You understand this, right?" She nodded, not looking at me. I have to be careful here. I don't want to lie. She's an adult. Being an adult is hard sometimes. I give her numbers, because she wants them. I give her the facts because she's asking. We sip our coffee and we talk about life. We talk about the important things. I listen while she talks. She listens while I talk. We laugh. We nod. Anybody watching us would have seen a mother and a daughter having coffee together. It was more than that. I watched Cara mature before my very eyes.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Irish Reunion

Two men were sitting next to each other at a bar. After awhile, one guy looks at the other and says, "I can't help but think, from listening to you, that you're from Ireland."

The other guy responds proudly, "Yes, that I am!"

The first guy says, "So am I! And where about from Ireland might you be?"

The other guy answers, "I'm from Dublin, I am."

The first guy responds, "So am I! Sure and begorra. And what street did you live on in Dublin?"

The other guy says, "A lovely little area it was. I lived on McCleary Street in the old central part of town."

The first guy says, "Faith and it's a small world. So did I! So did I! And to what school would you have been going?"

The other guy answers, "Well, now, I went to St. Mary's, of course."

The first guy gets really excited and says, "And so did I. Tell me, what year did you graduate?"

The other guy answers, "Well, now, let's see. I graduated in 1964."

The first guy exclaims, "The Good Lord must be smiling down upon us! I can hardly believe our good luck at winding up in the same bar tonight. Can you believe it? I graduated from St. Mary's in 1964 my own self!"

About this time, Vicky walks into the bar, sits down, and orders a beer. Brian, the bartender, walks over to Vicky, shakes his head, and mutters, "It's going to be a long night tonight."

Vicky asks, "Why do you say that, Brian?"

"The Murphy twins are drunk again."

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Robins are strange critters. I saw a fledgling on the ground last week. His mother was nearby and he looked big enough to fly so I didn't butt in. But we have another nesting robin in our woodshed. When I go out to collect wood, you can hear little squeaks and peeps from the nest, so there must be baby birds in it, tiny ones, too wee to fly. Now we've got another robin building a nest on our back porch, on a stepladder, of all things. I cringed a little when I saw what they were doing. I figured that Tim would want to take the nest down and move the ladder, complaining about bird poop splatters on the deck. I wanted it to stay. It was kind of neat to watch the adult robins stopping their work on their nest to look at me looking at them. They were pretty fearless. I thought it would be neat to watch that story unfold up close and personal. Much to my surprise, Tim agreed. The nest stays. (Yay!) Some baby robins are ready to fly, others, just hatched, some of the blue eggs not even laid yet.

We've got a junco that has built a nest into the bank along side the entrance to the cellar. She always scares the bejeebers out of me when I walk out the cellar door and she flies straight at me in a frenzy. Isn't it strange that such a little bird would build a nest in the ground?

It's not just the birds procreating. Last weekend, a friend had twin girls, Emily and Molly. My sister will be a grandma for the first time. Her son and his wife's baby was due May 8th. Tim's brother, Norm, and his wife are also expecting a baby any second.

*drums fingers impatiently*

Overslept, and I liked it.

I've made no secret of the fact that I'm really, really having a problem with exhaustion. I get home from work and I am ready for bed. The house looks tidy, but needs a good dusting. I need to get my laundry folded. I am just too tired. Last night I went to bed at 9, but was woke up by two phone calls, and one daughter rapping on the bedroom door. I woke up again three times between three and four for no apparent reason. I lay there at 5:30, knowing I should get up, but it was so dark, and the rain on the roof sounded sooooo soothing....I woke up again at a quarter to eight. I am supposed to be to work by 8. Usually, this would cause me to spring from my bed and begin rushing around like a crazy person. I would skip my shower. Skip breakfast. Drive faster than I would to get to work. This morning, however, it was different. It was raining. On my agenda for today is paperwork, replacing the spark plug in my sprayer, doing time sheets, the like. I made the executive decision that since I was already going to be late, there was no sense in compounding that bad start by feeling cruddy and hungry and uncaffeinated for the rest of the day. I called in, told them that I would be there as quickly as I could. I had my coffee and a bowl of cereal. I took my shower. I was at work by 9. I'll make it up at the end of the day. I'm lucky that I have a job like that.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another Sad Story

I pulled off the road into a bank parking lot today to make a call on my cell phone. I watched a young girl pedal up on a bike. I know this girl. She is beautiful and a very intelligent young lady. She also had a pretty rough life, but somehow she managed to stay sweet. What a hard worker that girl was! She studied hard at school, she was clever with sewing, she helped her mother on their farm. She was always one of those kids that you looked at and thought, "Gosh, keep an eye on this one, because she's going to go somewhere..."

Unfortunately, she met a man of God. The man of God had children that were nearly her age. He waited until she was 18 and then professed his love. There was nothing to be done. This was a very intelligent girl who knew exactly what she wanted. She was a Godly girl herself. She got married right after high school. Since the man of God lost his church job over this debacle, they were going to start over somewhere else. The man of God would take care of them so that she could go to college.

Well, the man of God's job did not work out for him, so they are back. The young girl works two menial jobs. The man of God has not found suitable work after nearly a year, so he stays home all day and plays video games.

This girl pedaled up on her bike. She's such a hard working girl. I know that she is working her very hardest to make this impossible situation work, sacrificing everything to make a go of it. That is just her nature. I watched her from my truck, and, for an instant, I really itch to slap that man of God.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I heard the saddest story. There is a big house that I've always loved from the time that I was a child. I've always been a daydreamer, and I'd tell myself great stories about the house, inventing a history for it, and imagining what it looked like now. I figured that if you lived in a house that grand, well, you must be a pretty grand person yourself. I'd imagine what it was like to be rich, and to be able to do whatever you pleased without giving it a second thought. Things like that kept me well entertained.

An elderly woman lives in that house. Surprising as it is, she lives there alone. She cannot afford the upkeep. The house has fallen into disrepair. The elderly woman travels in the same social circles that she has traveled in for all of her life, but it is a facade. Although she still plays the grande dame, she is not making ends meet. Strangely, she had the outside of the house painted recently. The workmen were not allowed to use a bathroom inside her grand house. The workmen were not allowed to drink from her outside faucet. She was imperious. Sometimes when they showed up for work, she'd tell them to go away and come back in three hours. When someone noticed that a ceiling had caved in, they checked the roof and found that it was in bad need of repairs. The woman didn't have the money to repair the roof, although she had just spent a large sum of money to make sure that house looked grand from the street.

Isn't that sad? Not that she has fallen on hard times. Shoot. That happens to all of us. What is sad that she is unable to adapt to her changed circumstances. In her mind, it's more important to preserve an illusion. What a strange world she lives in, what a strange way to think. I wonder if she is senile, or simply a woman who has been so taken care of for all of her life that she doesn't have a clue of how to take care of herself now that she is alone.

Monday, May 11, 2009

I had the oddest experience. I was a rainbarrel workshop. It was for work. I was presenting the portion on mosquito control. There were enough supplies left over that I was encouraged to make my own rainbarrel, and so I did. I fell into lively chatter with Sylvia, the woman working on her barrel next to me. She recognized me from the paper. Since I am a talker (you may not have noticed), before it was all said and done, I was also chattering away to the fellow on the other side, a white haired fellow with a youthful face and a neatly trimmed beard. We began to swap stories, and soon we were laughing and joking like we'd known each other for a hundred years. Before he left, he stuck out a hand and said that it had been nice to meet me, and I said something to the effect of 'same here, and by the way, what's your name,' and to my astonishment, the name he gave was one that I recognized. My jaw dropped and I said, "What was your father's name?" He confidently told me that he had grown up in Titusville, some distance from here. I said, "Your father worked at the National Forge, though, right?" and watched as his face took on a quiet interested curiosity. As I expected, their names had been the same. I said, "I believe that our fathers knew each other." I gave him the name of my own father, also gone from this earth. I watched his face as the recognition dawned. He remembered. We had played together as children.

A white haired, balding man with a neatly trimmed goatee and a woman with her reading glasses perched atop of her scarved head stood in the middle of a crowded workshop staring at each other, not really seeing each other, looking back through the mists of many, many years....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Alien Abductions of 'Mikes'?

I was a little surprised when I went to one of my favorite blogs a while back, and it was simply gone. I e-mailed him to ask 'what gives?' but never received an answer. Mike, over at the 'Ifs of Og' had removed his blog and simply left the realm of blogdom.

We're currently missing another Mike. Allow me to provide a description: 'Tall, gangly, redhaired, freckled, funny, last seen preaching in his church back in March. Alias: Redlefty. Is undoubtedly in the company of 'Redwifey' aka Jamie, who was last seen discussing poo with Jack on April 12th.

Any one else out there missing a Mike?

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I could barely get out of bed today. 10 hours of sound sleep, but still, I was exhausted. I taught my little class and it went well. There was a lot of laughing, which is always a good sign. Talking about mosquitoes and mosquito control can be deadly dull if you are not careful. Once you get deadly dull, people stop listening. I like to make my point, and usually manage to keep things chatty enough and funny enough that I hold attention. I passed my bottle around with my live larva so that everyone knew what to look for. I passed my bottle around with the treated larva (dead) so that everyone could see for themselves the effectiveness of mosquito 'dunks'. We talked about adding fish to your ornamental ponds to control mosquitoes. We talked about dumping your birdbaths and artifical containers of standing water. "Jeff" offered up the suggestion that one problem could be solved by using a pair of his wife's panty hose as 'screening'. Jeff lives down the road from me. I said, "I'll let your wife know that you're using her panty hose for gardening purposes. She's been worried. It will come as a big relief to her." More laughing. And on it went.

I made a rainbarrel. I came home and planted 10 forsythia and three black berry bushes. Tim went to work, and I simply couldn't stand it. I took a nap. I slept soundly and discovered that my sister had come while I was sleeping. I never even heard her. I slept for two hours. I am still exhausted. Truly have not been this exhausted since treatment.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Strange, the things you remember...

I was just browsing through old music tonight. Harry Chapin, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Young. So many. I came upon Gordon Lightfoot. This song brought back memories. I went to the Shipwreck Museum when I lived in Michigan. I had a baby bird in my purse that I was handfeeding, as if three children and a failing marriage wasn't enough to keep me busy. Strange, the things that you remember. I also remember reading about a ship full of cows that sank on Lake Superior years upon years ago. They did not decay because the bacteria that causes decay that does not exist in water that cold and deep. Without the gasses which form during decomposition, there was nothing to raise them to the surface. That is how a herd of cows remains, to this very day, at the bottom of Lake Superior bobbing lightly on their hooves, a bovine ballet of sorts in the dark, cold waters. Strange, the things you remember.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Once, I was listening to a woman talk about cancer. She said, "Your life will never, never be the same. I did not understand this. I thought she was being just a trifle overdramatic. That was while I was still in treatment. That was when I was expecting that when treatment was done, I, my friends, was going to have a party. I figured that kicking cancer's ass warranted a major celebration. Whoo-hoo! Bring out the party horns.

The reality, though, is a little bit different. I feel a little bit like a child playing hide and seek, crouched in a dark place, the sound of my own heart pounding in my ears. 'It' is cancer. Will 'it' find me again? I don't know. I've got myself in a fairly safe place...treatment is done. I'm mindful of my diet. I'm mindful to stay active. I'm mindful to be mindful. However it is too early to yell 'Hooooooome freeeeeeee' and do a victory dance. I'm not sure how long it takes before a person can do that. How do you know you're safe?

I've been really thinking on people's responses to cancer. I guess that Daria was right. You make the journey. Along the way, you deal with shock, anger, fear, grief and probably a lot of other crap that I can't think of right now. Somewhere along the line, acceptance comes. Each of us stops at the waystations though. Some of us stay angry longer than others. Some of us stay shocked longer than others. Some of us grieve longer than others. We all however, make these little stops on our journey, and finally we get to acceptance. I seem to revisit these waystations, strangely enough. I think that I'm as shocked as I can be, and than *slap* I've discovered something new to be shocked about. I think that I'm beyond being afraid, and then I come across something that scares the living bejeebers out of me. I'm getting to where I need to be, I suppose, just as everyone else dealing with this is getting where they need to be.

I find myself thinking of that woman who spoke about cancer. "Your life will never, never be the same." It sounded overdramatic then, but I'm starting to realize that she was right. There will always be another oncologist visit, there will always be tests. Drugs. I'm physically different then I was. The scars are always going to be there. The differences are not alway a bad thing, mind you. I'm a lot more mindful of the pleasures, the infinate number of 'small' blessings that enrich my life each and ever day. I am aware of the ticking of a clock. If you all stop this very minute and listen, you will hear the ticking of your own clocks. Most people don't notice it until something likc cancer comes along, but once you do notice that ticking, your life will never, never be the same.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bumper Sticker

I saw this bumper sticker yesterday:
"Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons.
You are crunchy and taste good with ketsup."
I've done my part to make sure that this public service announcement gets out. Forewarned is forearmed. If you are devoured by a dragon today, you've got no one to blame but yourself.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


A couple nights ago, I scarcely slept. I don't know why. Last night, I was in bed before 8:30, and I slept like a rock. I woke up early this morning. I was physically tired, but mentally wide awake. I went into work at 6 again. I've been pushing myself, and working hard. I am again tired tonight. Cara is out with friends, so the house is quiet. No thumping music. I need the quiet time. Now that treatment is done, I'm at a strange place. I feel like the battle is done, but not really. I don't know how to explain it any better than that.

I began to read other blogs about people with cancer. Tonight, for whatever reason, the blogs I came across were angry blogs. 'Fuck cancer!' Anger at stupid people, and their stupid questions. 'WHY? WHY? WHY?!!!!!' One blog basically said, 'I'm mad as hell, and that is cancer, and if you can't take it, leave.' The comments were all along the lines of "You go, girl!" and "Thanks for telling it like it is..."

I went from one blog to another, to another. I can't identify. I don't feel that way now. Although my emotions sometimes got the best of me, I didn't feel that way then, for the most part. There were brief flashes of emotion. It was an emotional time. Once I got angry watching a biker riding down the road on his motorcycle. His long hair flew about his helmetless head, and he was smoking a cigarette as he flew by. It just seemed unfair, and the anger bubbled up. But I came home, went to bed, read for a while and contemplated things. That rage didn't last. Reading these blogs, I kept thinking how much energy it takes to sustain a rage. I just couldn't. My energy was going to fighting cancer. As I flipped through these blogs, I came upon this one, and I quickly skimmed an entry. It was so calm, and lovely. She was so beautiful and matter of fact. Her thoughts seemed to mirror my own. I went back to the beginning of her blog and read all of her entries. I understood her thoughts and I loved her outlook. There were longer lapses in her blogging and I thought "She has thrown herself back into life, and living..." There was one final entry, listing her date of birth. Her date of death. It hit me like a punch. It was so unexpected that I just cried. All I could think of was this...what if you need to be mad as hell to beat cancer? What if wisdom and contemplation and praying are not what, in the end, wins? Just that quickly, the bottom fell out of my stomach.

I am tired, and I am confused, and I am depressed. My shoulder has been aching since mid radiation and it is throbbing now. My hands hurt. Suddenly I want my husband. Suddenly I want my children home, and loud music, and the confusion of all their voices. But my house is quiet, except for the gentle snoring of my big old dog. I decide that I've spent enough time on the computer this evening. I've got dishes to wash.

Mary Speaks for Herself.

Mary published a comment, but I wanted to make sure that you all saw it.

"I would like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to all who prayed, sent well-wishes, had thoughts and concerns and sent your strength my way. I go to my Surgeon in a few hours and hopefully will find out the pathology after my mastectomy. (How much was involved) If it was just localized hopefully I won't have to go through Chemo again. I'm doing very well and hope to get out and about within a few days."

Also want to do a shout-out to yet another woman giving breast cancer her best fight. Lesley lives in Bradford, across the reservoir from me. I just got her e-mail. She's had a bilateral mastectomy as well. Lesley, I'll get to your e-mail this weekend, but I am praying for you. Glad your surgery is done.

The Truth Comes Out

Nothing much to report, actually. I worked a long day yesterday, and was so exhausted I was in bed by 8:30. Which explains why I'm up at 4 AM. By 6, I'll be sitting at my desk, taking care of the paperwork. By 7 or 7:30, I'll be back in my truck, picking up 12 traps, setting out 12 more, counting bugs, and labeling them for shipment. The weather has been sunny. Rain at the end of the week. I have forsythia to plant, and a new thornless blackberry called the 'Chester'. I weeded a garden, instead, and worked on my little pond. I'll plant tonight.
This is exciting stuff, I know.
There you have it folks.
My life is going back to normal.
You're about to find out that I'm pretty boring stuff.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Must not have been the tamoxifen bothering my hands, because they are not so painful today. Note to self: ease back on the yardwork, woman! Thanks everyone.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Anyone out there taking Tamoxifen? I been taking it for a week, and my hands are killing me. Mostly my thumbs. I read 'joint pain' as a side effect of tamoxifen, but this does not seem to be joint pain exactly, just a radiating pain from the base of my thumbs up through my wrists. I am working very hard in the yard. It is conceivable that I hurt myself, but seems odd it's both thumbs. Just curious if anyone else has had this.

Friday, May 1, 2009


You know, I've been reading a lot of blogs about people who have dealt with cancer. It's been interesting, and I know that everyone deals with catastrophe quite differently. I've never understood it when people have talked about my strength or my bravery. Point blank and simple, I felt as if I was playing the hand that life had dealt me the very best way that I knew how. I hope that no one takes this as a criticism, because it is not meant to be, not at all, merely an observation.

I've heard people talk about the indignity of cancer. I suppose. I never really thought about it. I'm a private person, and having my breasts on display was a bit embarrassing at first, but I had breast cancer. I figured that I had better get used to flashing my boob and a half. And so I did.

Other people go on about their fear of needles. I never liked shots. Who does? But between chemos, and daily neupogen shots, blood work, radiactive contrast medium, etc. I got used to it. I told a nurse that I really felt as if I did not have the luxury of indulging my fears. Simply put. I was focused on bigger issues, and at the end, I was giving myself my own shots in the stomach.

I've heard talk about all the horrible tests, and the agony of mammograms. The tests were not fun. Being in a tube listening to banging and clanging as you listen to Vivaldi through headphones was not my idea of a really good time, but I also learned that I can 'put myself', mentally speaking, somewhere else. It sounds strange, but Hal's quote from Madeline L'Engle - 'You never lose the other ages you've been' was a huge comfort to me. During long tests, I was able to put myself in some of those other ages and it was a very gratifying (and wondrous) discovery for me. The 'agony' of mammograms seemed like small potatoes compared to the other stuff that was going on. It's uncomfortable, but it has a beginning and it has an end, and really, the two points are not far removed. It was simply something that I endured, and in the big picture, was a very minor thing.

There are many who get teary eyed at the idea that their cancer might return. They are very fearful about that. I would be a liar if I said that this thing did not concern me, as well. Finding out that my tumor was inclined to 'break off' and enter the blood stream, metasticizing in other parts of the body was a shock. A big shock. Reading that the average life expectancy of a person with metatastic breast cancer is 2 years was also very shocking. I reeled from the news. After about a week of pondering it, I came to this conclusion. I have the comfort of a good husband. That relationship has been strengthened by this ordeal. I have children who are learning about life, and wisdom during this time. I have a job that I love, something that gets me outside every single day, giving me 8 hours of solitary contemplation and hard work. I write, and that has made me a local celebrity of sorts. Since the cancer, people have reached out in a very wonderful way. I have a good church family. I have an intact faith. All these things, I have. What a treasure this is. Some people never have these things in their lives. I am blessed. Whatever happens, happens. I have to trust that my life is unfolding just as it is meant to unfold. I think about it. Sometimes, in the dark, I worry, but mostly, I have used this as motivation to really see the world around me, really 'be in the moment', savor relationships. It is what it is.

I'm an emotional person. I am a sap. My children will laugh hysterically about the fact that I cried during 'Ice Age'. I will tell you that the wooly mammoth had suffered great loss. Although I had some really disconcerting mood swings at the end of the chemos, it seemed to be more of a drug reaction thing. As those drugs left my system, I got a handle on my emotions, and I settled down again. For the most part, I felt as if I were facing something very large and very scary, and I put all my efforts into fighting my best fight. Nothing else mattered but that. Nothing. Reading other people's blogs, I see that other people handled things differently. That is not to say that they are wrong. Not at all. For the first time, though, it occurred to me. I am strong. I am brave. I hadn't noticed before. I have come through a hard time. I've no idea what the future holds, but I know that I am strong enough to handle it, that I am brave enough to look it in the face.


I went to a birthday party for Kathy. She turned 60. Her birthday was actually a week and half before the party, but she was celebrating her birthday in Athens, Greece (after a week in Italy), so we had to wait on her to get back before we could sing happy birthday. Kathy is a lovely vivacious widow, someone who just overflows with kindness and generosity. Her family was there, and her husband's family, and her four daughters and her grandchildren. A goodly portion of our church was there too, and I sat with some of them, content in the warm sun, happy to watch and listen. Suddenly, Mr. B. leaned over to tell me how much he enjoyed my last column. 'I'm glad,' I said. He said, 'You know, you are really an inspiration to so many people.' The truly amazing thing is that I had just been looking on these faces and thinking how they had inspired me. Jesus knew what he was doing when he called us to be in fellowship with one another.