Saturday, November 19, 2005


Life Snip

It is now November 19, 2005. Another season wanes. In this Utah desert “blossoming like a rose” things are still growing, but slowly. Since October I have done nothing, absolutely nothing in my garden. I feel sad about this as I wander the pathways, seeing overgrown plants flop this way and that, unkempt, like a bunch of drunken sailors. There is a reason for this lack of care in my garden. I’ve been struggling with the discovery of another lump in my lower abdomen. Since a diagnosis of ovarian cancer last February, a lump is a major call for alarm.

So September and October were spent squeezing doctor visits around work schedules, as I was gearing up for a major event the first week of November which necessitated 12 plus hour work days for two weeks. “Just a hernia,” the doctor said. No reason for fear—often happens after a major surgery like I endured last January. But tests, just to be sure. Then blood in the stools one weekend and a colonoscopy and more surgery—but the news is good. It was just a hernia. They opened me and poked around for a visual confirmation of what the tests showed—no cancer. Now I’ve been taped up from the inside out, sealed with staples on the final layer of flesh and laid out in my bed to heal. I roll slowly to my side, like a floundering whale. The incision bites and stings.

I wander my garden paths unable to make order from the chaos, unable to bend, squat, reach, stretch. The earth is forgiving though. She swallows the seeds spilled from the dying season. Next spring she will unfurl the miracle of life again. It is winter and I will wait. I will heal.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A little over halfway through August. Things seem to be dying right and left in my garden. This is partly because I went out of town for a week and left my dear hubby in charge of watering the few pots that aren't on the drip system. He neglected four of them. I came back to discover brown ratty twigs with clinging vegetation where once bloomed flowers. Oh well. This is life in a garden. No water, no life. To the right is a memorial shot of the plants in their prime. So long star zinnas, petunias and alyssum. Thanks for the memories. Sorry you had to go through slow dehydration. Not a way I'd like to die. But lest anyone think ill of DH, please know that he has many stellar qualities. He does most of the cooking around here and builds amazing structures for the garden. At right is a shot of him standing in the pond he dug by hand in 2001. It's a wonderful oasis now. I will focus on that and forgive the four dead pots.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

This dwarf Korean lilac gives me the fragrance I love in a yard where space is at a premium. Where a normal lilac gets 8 feet or taller, this one maxes out at 4 feet high and wide. It blooms at the side of my pond in my north facing front yard.

What is it about the scent of lilacs in May? It reminds me of grandma, the springs of my teen years, first love. Like Sister Mary Leo sings in Nunsense, "Every time I smell lilacs /I remember my first romance. I was putting on a ballet in my backyard /When I fell in love with the dance." Maybe it's because lilac blooms coincide with the time of spring when things warm up enough to spend comfortable time outside after a winter cooped up indoors. Lilacs always smell alive to me. Alive is something a cancer survivor notices.

Why am I musing about lilacs and spring in the heat of July? Because it's been so hot here all month. After several weeks of 95 plus degree temperatures, my garden is gasping. Even regular waterings can't seem to cool the plants. Their transpiration process has kicked into overdrive...more like crying, begging for relief. And today it was a mild 83, which felt like spring all over again after the last three weeks. And so I thought about lilacs, even though it's the lillies that are blooming now.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Okay, so it's been more than a year since I posted to this blog. Thanks to my good friend, Brian, who steadily encourages me to get back at it. A year changes a lot of things. In January 2005, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I hate writing that down and seeing the word CANCER stare back at me. It's seven months since diagnosis. I have been through the surgery, the chemotherapy, the rotten side-effects which are too numerous and make me too whiney to enumerate. I am now bald and tired, but I am alive and so is my garden.

All during the chemo process, people would tell me to slow down, rest, blah, blah, blah. They usually said this to me after I had spent the day puttering in my garden while they had watched TV inside. What I can't seem to get anyone else to understand, and which I don't really understand myself, is that being in my garden makes me feel better. I can forget the numb hands and feet, the nausea, the metallic taste of everything. I focus instead on the green sprouts pushing their way out of the moist earth, the flowers that so joyously spring from pots and beds, the weeds that try disguising themselves as worthy plants and hide among the keepers.

The weeds. I often think of the cancer as I yank them by their roots. Weeding has become great therapy for me. With each one I grasp and extract, I imagine myself doing so to cancer cells hiding among the worthy flesh. "You're outta there!" And I am getting better. The hair is slowly growing back. I have more days that I'm not tired than days when I am. My garden is healing me.

Another great change this past year is in the family structure. My married daughter, her husband and baby son moved back in with us in September. It's a little crowded and the messes are a little more, but the compensation of their continual company more than makes up for it. Especially Jacob. Jacob, now two, loves to be "outhide" with "Mima". I'm Mima, and he doesn't say his s's very well. (Left is a picture of Jacob and me taken three days before my diagnosis of cancer. I had hair still!) Watering is Jacob's favorite outhide job, followed closely by deadheading and anything that has to do with a "shubble". Finally! Someone who will dig in the dirt with me. He's great company, although I admit I spend a lot of time chasing after him to make sure he's still in the garden, not wandering out the gates or trying to swim in the pond. All of this checking up on him gives me a lot of breaks, which is probably good for me. I've never been terribly smart about pacing myself in the garden.

I promise myself--I'll get back to blogging more regularly. For now though, roses need deadheading, I've got to figure out what to plant now that I ripped out the peas (and the peas were wonderful this year!), and Jacob wants to go outhide.