Saturday, August 17, 2019


Another perfect lake day up north. After I post this, I am going to get outside and enjoy it. We went to Duluth this week to say goodbye to some friends who are moving to Texas, meet our new great-niece, Margaux (who took to Richie like a duck to water....and apparently she doesn't do that with strangers). He lives up to his nickname, The Baby Whisperer. She is so precious. So glad my niece didn't have to work that morning and was home with the kids.

Then we went out to Morgan Park and surprised our dear friend Kay. When I went on bed-rest with Sam, Kay pretty much ran our lives. She took over as office director, (we owned a PT clinic), called me daily to encourage me, did library and grocery runs for us. We owe her so much that can never be repaid. 

We then drove up north to Ely to see my brother Mike and sister-in-law Shirleen. They have a cabin on Burntside Lake and had added an addition onto their log cabin we had not seen yet. So beautiful. Mike grilled us up lake trout he caught that morning and we stayed overnight. Left the next morning after he grilled us up a sumptuous breakfast. They have this huge deck overlooking the lake where we ate.

Sam came up for 2 days before we went to Duluth. It is always a happy time when he comes home. The Vikings had a couple of days off.

Getting mentally prepped for the brain and lung scans when I get home. I never enjoy them. But I am anxious to see the results of the gamma knife. Last week was my 9th year anniversary living with cancer. Praises to God for letting me live this long.

Enjoy your last weeks of summer.

Richie and Margaux

9 years walking with lung and brain cancer

Thursday, August 8, 2019


I just ache to think of summer being so close to over. It has been a perfect summer. EXCEPT that the blueberries did not come out this year. Dick and some of his guy friends all checked out our blueberry patch and there was nothing but a berry here and a berry there. They all agreed it was not worth going back to check later in the summer. 

So for the first year in 32, we are not coming home with any berries. We had so many berries last summer that I had to give my last 4 packages to my friend Jill before we left. We did go over to our widower friend Bill's and picked a 13x9 size pan full of raspberries from his lush raspberry garden. So yummy with cream.

Had an accident the other day. Just shows my muscle weakness from the chemo. Got stuck in the lake. Could not get into a standing position from squatting or kneeling or sitting so Richie had to lift me out of the water and help me stand and told me to just walk up our 6-ft incline where we launch our fishing boat. I started up the tiny incline, and gravity simply overcame my weak legs and I stumbled and fell backwards into the shallow water onto my back and head. The mobility and stability and flexibility I have lost astounds even me.

Richie finished making his wood-chip path between the garages, he filled the two turnarounds on our land and it looks great. We still have enough chips to cover an acre, I'm sure.

I have read so many books this summer, I can't remember the names of them or the characters in them. My memory loss plays into this too. I finish one and start another within 30 minutes and then I think the characters from the book I just read are in the current book. I really should take a few days between books, but my reading addiction won't allow that!!

We are driving to Duluth next week to see our good friends Sandy and Darrell. They are leaving to move to Texas and we want to see them. Hopefully some of my family will be there, but the girls both work and my brother and sis-in-law might be at their cabin. We'll see what happens.

 Sam is coming up tomorrow for 2 days. Can't wait! Gretch can't take any more time off work right now.....we will miss her being here. 

Here is a shot of our wood chipped path down to the big garage.

Friday, July 19, 2019


We are home from our Mpls trip. The Twins lost to the Mets, but we had fun anyway. Sam secured us great seats behind home plate and under a balcony in case of rain or bad sun. We also put in several hours picking ivy off a side of their house. It had embedded in the stucco and nothing but hand-picking works. the fingertips of both our hands were raw. Felt good to help the kids in their big project. They can't paint their new house until this job is done. We offered to come for a work weekend just to finish it all up.

It was a sauna in the Cities. It felt good to get back in the cooler northland without humidity and extreme heat.

Today would have been my mom's 99th birthday. How I wish she were here and waiting for her party to begin. I miss her so deeply. She called me every night at about 8-9 "just to talk." When I'd answer the phone, she would always say, slyly, "This is yo mama." Said in jest, as if I would not recognize her voice!! Being motherless has left quite the hole in my heart.

We had 21 "widowmakers" taken down around our woods that were in danger of hitting the cabin or blocking our driveway if they were to fall. Fun to watch those guys climbing those huge popples and pines with dexterity and cut the chunks off from the top. Dick grubbed out the brush from around where they cut and it really opened up our driveway and valley. 

Right now he is outside creating a long curvy path from the concrete sidewalk down to the lower garage. He is lining it with bricks and making the path out of wood chips. The woodcutters left us two truckloads full of wood chips. Leave it to my husband to find a functional use for them.

I am studying the book of Kings right now. Interesting. I have no memory of what I read the day before, but I am enjoying it day to day. All the killing is a bit disturbing, but that was the life of the Israelites.

I just finished a great (and awful) book, GRACE WILL LEAD US HOME by Jennifer Berry Hawes. It is the saga of the Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard Journey to Forgiveness. It was unbelievable reading the details of Dylan Roofs intentional evil acts and the drama of the aftermath. Richie is reading it now. It is graphic and raw, but very real and authentic in terms of what survivors and family members went through. The book spans from the day it happened til the trial is over.

 The cedar shutters Richie made for me for the cabin

The four of us at the Twins game.

The summer is flying by. Enjoy every day. The 20-below days will be upon us soon enough.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019


I am sort of sad today, thinking that we only have 2/3 of the summer left to spend at the lake. It has been so perfect. We do not have that horrific heat that is at home. The air is clear and refreshing and the breeze off the lake is daily.

The only fly in the ointment are the mosquitoes. When we've had no rain for 6-7 days they die out and then after the rain, a new batch hatches out. Today I haven't felt one on me. We did however have the biggest, fattest, grossest spider in the house we have ever seen. I saw it on the window ledge in our bedroom, and it must have been 3 inches in diameter if not more. I reacted like a typical "girl" and ran outside to summon my husband to deal with it. It was one of those many-legged creatures that runs away from you if you miss swatting him dead. I'm glad we have one brave soul in the family! Though even he admitted this one was not pleasant.
I have been sleeping a lot. At least one 1.5-2 hour nap after lunch, and sometimes before dinner. Maybe I'm just overly relaxed, but it does make me feel like I wish I had a hobby up here. I've also been reading some really good books from the library. I just started my 3rd book for the week.

I have been trying so hard to gain weight this summer.....whole milk, butter, etc. but I just can't put the pounds on. I can eat until I am sickly full but by the next morning, I remain the same. I guess I inherited my mom's high metabolism. My doc in SF wants me to have a blood test in July just to check on everything. He's letting me off of my scan cycle for the summer and not making me come back to SF so this is the least I can do!

Richie made me beautiful cedar shutters for the cabin and also 2 fences, one at the entrance of our drive with our name on it. That man works his tail off out here. Wish I had half his stamina. He caught a nice 3-4 pound bass the other morning, and he cooked it up with beer batter, and I never eaten such a delectable piece of fish. I could not stop oohing and awing with every bite. I would eat beer batter bass fresh out of the lake 5 days a week.

Sam came up last Friday to spend the night with us and drop off his dog to dog sit for a day and a half while he and Gretchen went to her big family reunion an hour away. Their Captain loves coming to the lake, running around the acreage, wading in the water. He is a sweet dog.

Do you know what I love about being in the woods without anyone around? I can wear the same clothes (baggy and definitely worthy of the Civ) for a whole week, then wash them and wear them the next week. It is nice not to have to think about how I look (usually like an old haggard woman)!!!!!

We are headed to a Twins game with the kids in a couple weeks. Too many injuries......they need to get the roster full again and start playing like they did in May and June.

Hope the summer is going well for anyone who is reading this.

God bless

Monday, June 10, 2019


We are back up north. And NORTH it is. We've only had 3 days that have hit 70. It gets plenty cold at night....the propane furnace goes on quite often. But still, just looking out at the lake warms my soul.

I started my vacation with 6 days of chest pain. I ended up in the ER in town where they did every test imaginable on me and were able to rule out a heart attack and a lung clot. I left with probably a $20,000 ER bill and no certain diagnosis. She guessed maybe "esophageal spasms." and gave me an RX.

I sent out a mass email to my prayer warriors and within about 48 hours, the chest pains were greatly reduced and within another day of that, they were gone.

I have the most powerful group  of prayer partners you could ask you. They are incredible intercessors.

We didn't have mail until Saturday. The Vermilion PO had a snafu in their forwarding system and were a week late in getting our stuff sent out, but at least it is here now. Our USA Today newspaper even got screwed up and was sending our copy to our home everyday. We finally got that resolved.

Sam was free for 2 days to come and help Richie with the heavy-lifting in getting the place opened up, dock in, boat lift in, boats in the water, shutters carried down to the garage, etc. 10 years ago, I was still helping him but cannot do anything like that anymore. Sam was a godsend.

We are still not 100% moved in and organized, but getting there. It is getting to be quite daunting to pack up our lives and come, and then pack up our lives to return. It is no longer easy.

A bright spot was stopping by Brad and Karol Broderson's new cabin on Marion Lake on the way up. We stayed overnight with then. Their new digs are beautiful. 

Well I have a bunch of business to tend to online, so must go now. We got fiber-optic cable put in and now have email and Wi-Fi. Still no cell service so texts rarely come or go, but the internet is great. I hope you are all enjoying your summer.


Friday, May 17, 2019


This will probably be my last post before moving north. The house is total chaos as we gather things out of closets and drawers and set them all around so we remember to pack them. While gathering up stuff, I am able to purge along the way. A line from my purging bible helps me let go: Use it up, wear it out, make it work or do without. Much of the stuff we have saved is already used up and worn out!!

Spring in Vermillion is beautiful. Our grass is so green, all of the fruit trees have the most fragrant blossoms that waft through town. Daffodils and tulips are up and so colorful. Lilacs in bloom. Can’t get enough of sitting on the deck, reading, and taking deep breaths of God’s fragrances in nature.

My eyes are still adapting. I badly need a good pair of cheaters (I have 6 pair from the Dollar Store, and have no idea what the strength is. In another 2 or 3 weeks they should be able to determine what I need. I no longer can see the computer or my cell or anything else within about 18”. But boy, is my distance vision unbelievable! There hasn’t been a day yet that I haven’t gone to the bathroom to take out my contacts. I can’t seem to break the 50-year habit of doing it. Muscle memory is tough to break.

I bought a car for myself (Richie approved). I have resisted getting a car to replace our 18 year old Caravan, because I think she could go another 50000 miles (she is at 200000). Car shopping was horrendous last year, but by a series of God-directed fingerprints, I found a used Odyssey that is like absolute new-from-the factory. 

Immaculate, no bells and whistles (which I didn’t want), simple dashboard buttons and knobs. I cried when we gave our keys to Rosie to the salesman. She has been dear to me through all the years of Sam’s growing up years and she has held some of our most precious memories. When I see her in the used car lot now, I wince. BUT, within 2 days, I was all about my Odyssey (as yet unnamed). Tears dried up and all smiles for the new wheels!

I saw my oncologist on Tuesday. I refused to come back to SF for scans in July. I said I was going to wait til September and he agreed to it. The only medical task I need to do is have a blood draw in July. First year I have not gone back. Be bold about your own healthcare.

Well, I will miss our work at the Food Pantry every Wednesday. Dick and I have enjoyed the “giving back” by serving shoppers who can’t afford food. We have met so many great people, shoppers and volunteers alike. And we will miss the move to the newly constructed pantry downtown, ready for move-in in a couple of weeks. We will appreciate all the extra space.

I should be able to post FROM HOME this summer. We are getting fiber-optic cable on May thirtieth. No more library trips, an hour away, to have to email someone!

May God bless your summer in every which way, and rain down safety and peace and good health to you and your families.


  First pic is of Rosie and me  before we left to adopt her out. Second is the new used car.                                                         

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


What great author said, “These are trying times?” Oh, yes they are. My two cataract surgeries are over and now I am in the healing/adjusting phase, still needing to patch my eyes at night, still needing to do eye drops every morning, and still adjusting to being able to see. It is not 100% clear yet and I have some double-vision that may or may not get better. I can’t do much for 2 weeks so I spend a lot of time sleeping and laying on the couch listening to music. I did conquer a pot of potato knofle soup for supper tonight.

It is sort of weird. I keep wanting to go and take my contacts out and be able to see up close like my watch and computer, crosswords, cell phone and remote  (I need cheaters for all that). There was something great about seeing under your fingernails or file a fingernail with no glasses on.

Patience, Mary, patience. It could take up to a month for total healing. I am praying God will work quickly on that. We have a date with the north woods in 3.5 weeks.

My skull numbness has improved but the right side of my head is still numb and hard. The front and back and left side are ¾ “thawed.”

Dick and I are still purging the house. We went thru our bookshelf and packed up 60 books that we will not read again.  They are like new; I wish I could have a book yard sale. Finally able to part with clothes that I’ve had for 25 or more years. It leaves me with very little, but I HATE shopping. Don’t need much at the lake; maybe this fall, I’ll be able to see well and feel like getting some new stuff.

Bless you for your prayers.
Happy May Day!! 
 They wanted me to wear these goggles to bed for 2 weeks, but I had to switch to an eye patch 
on both eyes because they were just too uncomfortable

This is my night-time eye attire. On both eyes.