Sunday, July 12, 2009

2009 updates thus far.

Here are the 2009 updates up until now. I will put future updates on here as I now know how to deal with the HTML issues that hampered me previously. Stay tuned...

January 2009-

So... what has been going on in my life in January? Well, for starters, winter arrived in a big bad way. It got COOOLDDD!!! Have I mentioned lately that I don't like the cold? I used too... but no more. So, I've been keeping busy inside trying to keep warm and not think about being cold. I have spent a fair amount of time in the basement cleaning, de-cluttering, and organizing. Starting the new year cleaning up my life from the ground (actually a bit below ground in this case) and working my way to the top. For too long I've had too many irons in the fire, and the parts and pieces of those irons have been in the way tripping me up at every turn. It's hard to let go sometimes, but in the long run I know that if I don't let go of some of these things, I will never get any of them done at all. Wow, I am getting awfully philosophical lately eh?

I have also been on Facebook a lot during the past month, reconnecting with friends from High School and family (you know who you are) and I have been absolutely loving it!!! This has led me to look for old friends that weren't necessarily in my graduating class. I found Jason Pryor who moved away in 7th? grade and I only saw briefly once or twice after that. Then I found the best man from our wedding, Todd Dunn. He was a very good friend from the Air Force and I missed these fellas terribly. I have watched "the Secret" a couple of times and I just kept putting it out there that I wanted to reconnect with them and like magic, it happened! I can't explain it, but I promise you it worked and I'm a believer. Well met old friends and it's good to have you back, real good. I have, because I care about the two of you, included you in on this month's update. If you'd rather not receive these updates (approx. once a month) then just let me know and I'll remove you from the list of recipients. So, good friends, reminiscing about the good old days, oh! I uploaded some photos from back in the day to the Flickr page too along with some new ones. However, I could not upload any more as I have apparently reached the limit for free accounts as regards the amount of data I can upload. I guess I'll have to scrounge up enough money to upgrade my account to what they call "Pro" for unlimited upload amounts... Always something. Sometimes I feel as though I am single handedly bailing out the economy the way everyone seems to want my money. I wish the people that owed me would be as diligent...*sigh*

Well, there is more news and it may be saddening to many of you. No it's not health related, at least not in the respect that it means my health is getting worse. Sarah and I have, for various reasons, decided to try to move back to California. There it is. I said it. Some of you knew, and some did not. Please understand this was not an easy decision, but we think it's for the best for us as a family. (this is the part where I start to cry, damn emotions!) In the unfortunate event that I should not be here (and we have to accept that as a possibility) this would mean she would be with her family and not 2000+ miles away and looking at making this move on her own. I know that you all love her and the kids, and they know it too. But in all fairness, if you take a little time to think it through, it's not the same as being with your family in such difficult times. I certainly hope that I am preparing for something that is a looong way off, but just in case... I have to take care of my own, and I hope with all my heart that you can understand that.

Well, I feel better now that that is out of the way! (deep cleansing breath) So, Molly has another loose tooth, Kenyon is inventing like a mad scientist on Little Big Planet, and Connor is testing the teenage waters with some attitude. Sarah and I have started the P90 workout program (I am a bit ashamed to admit that she is further along than I, but I think that given the ever present 800 pound gorilla I live with, I am doing well) Also, the West Michigan Cancer Center offers some free classes for Yoga and Tai Chi that we are going to look into. I still go in for a transfusion every two weeks and yesterday was the latest with my Hemoglobin count at 7.6 (remember it should be from 12-16). I'd have sworn it was lower than that given my history as regards how I "feel" because the second week was rough, however I think it was just the workout program because two weeks ago it was 7.0 so I am calling that good news. I'll take every point I can get and if the exercising is helping, I can surely tough it out! If it doesn't kill me, it'll make me stronger... or something like that. I'd like to start taking the dogs for a walk too but it has been so cold that I have talked myself out of it thus far. (this would be the part where you all try to encourage me to get out there and do it!)

In other news, I have planned a spectacular Valentine's Day treat for Sarah and I... and it's killing her that I am not giving her any details.... Torture torture, I'm so mean! I have also started planning a weekend get away for our anniversary to Detroit where I have a couple of friends in and around the area scoping out some cool things for us to do. I'd like to send a shout out to Ame and Shad, thanks for your help in the anniversary trip department. And work continues on planning the trip to DC later this spring. Busy busy! Look for photos on the Flickr page as these things develop.

In photo related news, a pair of Bald Eagles has been spotted on the St. Joe River right here in town. I sense a stake out is in my future. I'll let you know if I can catch them in the cross hairs of my camera, this would be the crown jewel in my photographic career thus far. Sarah, the kids and I first saw Bald Eagles on one of our many trips to Rochester last year and they have remained in my thoughts ever since. I took it as a sign that they are watching over me, along with the Red-tailed Hawks that I constantly see around here and saw a ton of along every one of my trips to Mayo. We also saw some Turkey Vultures on one trip and my Mother-in-law had some in one of her trees the next day. In Native American folklore, they represent healing, and I think they showed up for me, all these birds. I like to think that all your prayers, best wishes, positive energy or whatever you have sent my way, brought them all into my life. There are powerful things working for me and though I cannot explain them, I accept them. Although a very large part of my healing must come from me, I cannot do it alone. I need you all, in whatever capacity you can spare. And know too that I love you for it, truly and wholeheartedly. Thank you. I'll let you know next month how my Eagle Vision Quest goes, wish me luck!

Well, that's about it for this month. As always, I look forward to your comments and questions so keep 'em coming.
Till next month, I bid you peace, love, and the company of good friends.
Love, Tracy

February 2009-

Good morning everyone, I trust this finds you all well, warm, and patiently awaiting Mother Earth’s re-awakening. I know I can’t wait to sink my fingers into the soil and bask in the sun while lying on my back in the grass…

Well, February was a month of extremes in my house. On Valentine’s Day, I surprised Sarah with dinner at the Black Swan followed by “Rain” (a Beatles tribute band) at Miller Auditorium. There has never been a more perfect evening spent by two people in love. We followed that in the next couple of weeks by each taking a turn passing around the stomach flu… not very much fun at all. So, as you can see, it has been a month of extreme highs and lows.

I do however have some good news though, my blood count yesterday was 7.9. It has been steadily climbing by .1 or .2 for the last few months. Not a huge accomplishment, but I will take it none the less. My next doctor’s appointment is near the end of March and I intend to speak with him about what this could mean. Please keep sending your prayers, positive energy, or whatever you feel led to (so long as it’s good) as I believe that helps the most.

So, I’d also like to share a little something with you that happened to me while I was sick in bed last week. I have been looking into and practicing putting what I want in my life out to the universe, like in “The Secret”. Sending out the vibrations of the things I would like to manifest in my life so that the universe knows that I am ready to receive them. Then, while I was in bed with the flu (it may have been fever induced) it occurred to me that one of the things I had always wanted, I had already received. See, when I was a little boy growing up on the farm, I really wanted a little brother. Don’t get me wrong now, I love Becky, but toy tractors, bikes, and Star Wars action figures are way cooler then Barbie dolls and Smurf’s. I wanted someone that would build a fort with me, and then defend it from marauding Indians, someone I could show how to spit for distance, to catch frogs down at the pond, little boy kind of stuff. Now, fast forward 25 years or so, and I got one! As it turns out, my biological father has three other sons too, and one of them wanted to be a part of my life. Wow. I realized the other day that what I had put out to the universe (I never really stopped wanting a little brother) finally manifested itself. I got my little brother.

This past fall, as many of you know who follow these emails, I took a trip up north to the U.P. and spent the weekend with him. We even spent a couple of days together when he was down here last summer and we got to spend a day on the water fishing with our kids. How cool is that? Now I spent plenty of time with Becky when we were growing up and I will always love her too, but it’s just not the same somehow. I can’t quite put my finger on it, can’t put it into words… just different. I even used to load her and the cane poles and a can of worms from under the silo feeder into my Radio Flyer wagon and pull it all down the lane and cross Pulver road to the pond and we’d spend all afternoon fishing for Bluegills, or I should say she’d spend all day fishing! My job was to take the fish off and re-bait the hook while she caught another one with the other pole. Good times too… good times. I guess the point is this, never give up on your dreams, and keep putting them out there to the universe. Some things take time, plain and simple. And anything truly worth having is worth waiting for.

Well, that’s about it for this month and a far cry more than I thought I’d have to say.

Hope to see you all down at the fishin’ hole this summer. Until then, tune up your rods, restock your tackle box, and dream of warm sunny days on the water. I know I am…


You get a line, I’ll get a pole baby.
You get a line, I’ll get a pole gal.
You get a line, I’ll get a pole,
Meet you down at the fishin hole.
You get a line, I’ll get a pole… baby.

March 2009-

So, here it is, the end of March. What a roller coaster ride this month has been. First the weather turning warm enough to tempt me to hook up the disc and tear through the garden and start sewing seeds, and then right back down to freezing a few days later. I guess I won’t complain too much. All of our snow is gone and has been for a while now, the river got pretty high but I never even had to think of sandbagging our house to save it from flooding. Things surely could be worse and they’re not, and for that I am very grateful.

It is early here in River City and I awoke to an indescribable urge to simply get up. I know that doesn’t make much sense, and it didn’t to me either until the fog of sleep cleared from my head. After I was up and moving around a bit, and after a generous amount of orange juice, thoughts started to pop into my head. As I awoke, I sat at the edge of the bed trying to decide why I was awake at this hour. I finally decided that I would try to go to the bathroom and see if I could go back to sleep afterwards. On the way from the bedroom to the bathroom, a funny thing occurred to me. I had walked this particular route hundreds upon thousands of times. It may not seem like much to you, but it hit me like a revelation… I mean, I boldly walked through the darkness, bare toed and with out a second thought to the safety of those little piggies. I strode through this house with all the confidence in the world that my path was clear before me. The kids know by now that the Lego’s stay upstairs (the most prevalent enemy of any bare foot is a stray Lego!) and even the dogs know not to lie in the path that joins these two rooms. This place, this home, is very familiar to us all. With the exception of a few years where we tried to make a go of life in California before, this has been home. The place where I have thus far raised my children, buried more than a few pets in a quiet spot in the back yard. I have put my heart and soul into this house and I had such dreams and visions for our future together. A new kitchen, bathroom, an addition to the barn… but now it is time to let those things go. I can no longer give this place what it needs, what it deserves. In a way, I guess it’s like letting your child go and make his or her way in the world on their own. I have done what I could, the best I knew how to do but in the end, this part of my journey has run it’s course and it’s time to move on. I will miss this place to be sure, there are a lot of very fond memories here, the kids first steps, the first time they rode a bike without training wheels, the bonfires out back, Connor sneaking out through the dog door to pick blueberries before Sarah and I woke up one morning… in his diaper! The list goes on and on and I will take those with me, but go I must. Someone sent me some words of wisdom recently that in effect said “God has great things in store for each of us, but sometimes we have to let some things go so that we are ready to receive them.” I have held onto a good many things for quite a long time and always thought I’d have the strength to carry them all while picking up other stuff along the way. I now know better… and I am more than willing to let all of it go for what is in store for me, my hands are empty and I am willing to receive. I know I will not get more than I can handle, and that if it seems like it is more than I can handle, help is only a phone call away.

In other news, there has been a rather nasty flu bug making the round here and I think we are finally getting the upper hand. I knew I was truly sick when I was cold, I never get cold. We still have perhaps a few more days to go on the road to recovery, but I can see the light at the end. The worst part of all that is the fact I am at the end of my two weeks and I need another transfusion. Yeah, that’s a bit much… but no one ever guaranteed that life would be fair did they? At least it will be over and done with by my birthday and most importantly to me, our anniversary. Not that they are particularly momentous ones, like my 40th birthday, or our 20th anniversary, but I have a new perspective on the world. I don’t feel like waiting for the big ones to roll around. I want to make the best of the ones I am given and if the next one rolls around, so much the better.

I also have some rather sad news to pass along. Gandalf the Gray (our cat) passed away rather unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago. He is already sorely missed. I have had to resort to traps in the barn to catch the mice and even caught one in the kitchen just the other day with the trash bin door! It tried to escape when I opened it to throw something away and as I slammed the door shut (ok, I’ll admit that is was more in surprise then any killer instinct) I just happened to catch his tail between the door and the jamb. Sarah was kind enough to “rescue” him and then let him go outside… but should we ever cross paths again, I will know him by the crook in his tail and he would do well to steer clear of me. I thought long and hard about whether or not to get another cat and after much discussion with Sarah, it has been decided that we should wait until we get to California. We think that two St. Bernards and three kids is enough for such a long trip. Work also continues on trying to find new homes for the rabbits and the chickens, I have had a couple of bites on both accounts but nothing concrete.

Well, that’s about it for this month. I added some more photos to the Flickr page a couple of times during the past month so check them out. I will add some more in the next week or so as well as I once again hit the max for a free account. (sigh) If you have any questions, feel free to write or even call. I will make no promises save one, I will do my best to answer them. And as always, if you know anyone who you think should get this, please feel free to pass it along, or if you do not wish to receive this, speak up and I can fix that too… no hard feelings, honest.

Until next month, stay healthy and know that you are in my thoughts.

Love, Tracy.

April 2009-

Well, here we are, already into May and there is still no slow down in sight. Sarah and I started off April with a BANG! by getting away to Detroit for our eighteenth anniversary. Yeah, eighteen years… wow. It seems like just yesterday that my palms were sweating as I stumbled through trying to ask her out. Now, nearly two decades, three states, two dogs, a host of cats and three of the most wonderful children I could have asked for later, we are still going strong. Stronger than ever in fact! We stayed at a rather swank hotel as there were few other options, something about some final four hootenannies or some such. Friday night we met a friend of mine from high school that I had not seen in twenty years and had dinner at perhaps one of the nicest restaurants I have ever had the pleasure of attending and she picked up the tab. Then Saturday we went to the Henry Ford Museum and spent the better part of the day perusing the stuff there. Sunday was spent just puttering our way home along US-12 through the occasional rain shower and stopping along the way now and again to paw around in some antique stores. No treasures to be found but a good time none the less.

I also celebrated my 38th birthday, though no real accomplishment there save for the fact that I am in fact still alive. It all was kind of a blur as I had my sights firmly set on the anniversary celebration. I have started a little project, I am making a list of the 38 things I would like to accomplish before my next birthday and will be making a journal of sorts to keep them all together. It’s just in the list stage so far as many things are being packed up and I certainly don’t need to be starting another “project” just now.

On the issue of “The Big Move”, acquiring new health insurance was the big stumbling block and it looks as if that has been resolved. I had emailed a few of the in-laws in Cali. to see if they could ask around and find a recommendation for a new hematologist/oncologist. Long story short, one of Sarah’s Aunts got wind of our dilemma and is in the health care profession and made a few phone calls, sent a few emails and called in a few favors. All this led to both Sarah and I having appointments at the VA in Battle Creek this coming Wednesday and it looks like a done deal for us getting signed up through them for health care. I cannot tell you what a relief that has been, and how much we both appreciate it, thanks again.

Now for the cats, as you may recall (or not) our cat Gandalf passed away rather unexpectedly last month. Almost immediately mice started showing up in the kitchen and we all began to long for a new feline companion. We had initially decided that we would wait until we were settled in out in Cali. but plans being what they are, we soon found ourselves scouring the local shelters and rescues for a new cat. What did we find? Well… not one but two lovely cats at the St. Joe County Animal Control. We struggled for a few days to name them with all of us coming up with some of the silliest names until finally I decreed that we would let the cats decide what their names would be. The larger of the two came into heat a day or two after she came home and would do this little dance all about the house so Wiggles is her name. The other is quite content to lay in your lap for hours on end and give you the cutest look at every turn, a look that is cute as a button and thus Button was named. They always seem to know the proper name for themselves, no matter what we think.

As for the rats and turtles part of the month, we were visited Friday morning by a painted turtle, a lonely muskrat and a family of Canadian geese. There is a pond and a swamp some ways behind our property and it struck me as somewhat curious that all these “aquatic” creatures had all come to our house on the same day. We have had plenty of rain and in fact the water levels in the area are still rather high so why they would have all left their “comfort zone” is still a mystery to us. Perhaps if I had more time I would investigate the matter further but for now, I am content with the answer that they just came for a visit, all on the same day…

I started collecting all the camping gear I could get my hands on and checking it all out for leaks and to make sure it all functions as it should. We leave in just over a week for our next great adventure as we travel to our great nations capitol to see the sights and take in all its majestic history. We have even made tentative plans with Sarah’s friend “secret squirrel” for our tour of the White House. Keep your fingers crossed that maybe we get to meet somebody famous! I am excited too to finally get to go to Colonial Williamsburg. I have wanted to see it for as long as I can remember and I hear they have one of the premier “period” cabinet shops around. Who knows, maybe Roy Underhill will be there too and I can scratch two of the big items off my bucket list. Wish me luck on that too…

I also had yet another long lost friend from my Air Force days contact me through FeceBook. We had a wonderful conversation that lasted into the wee hours of the morning, well over two hours! It was so good to hear his voice again and he still sounds just the same, even after all these years.

Well, that’s about all I can think of, as if that wasn’t enough for one month! May looks to be even busier with June and July even more hectic than that! So much sorting and cleaning, packing, selling, even giving away to those in need. Continuing to pay it forward so that others may have it just a bit easier in their times of need, and lets face it, there are going to be many such times in all our near futures. Let’s all do our part to help each other out and see ourselves through these rough times. Before you know it, it’ll all be just a memory but hopefully one we can all learn from so that we don’t make the same mistakes again. Well, enough of that, we all know what to do so just do it.

In closing, I would like to say to all of you that I miss you and think of you often. Yeah, all of you. I have plenty of time on my hands to do just that sort of thing. I have made some plans to get together with some of you and I have had a wonderful time doing so. Still others I have run into just doing what I do about town. I have an idea for the very near future to see yet more of you and I hope to finalize those plans after our trip. I’ll keep you posted as this develops so stay tuned. I am also looking for suggestions for a new title for the monthly update and I have received a few suggestions from some of you already. Thanks for those and keep em coming.

I love you all and miss you more than you can know. I look forward to seeing you all soon. Peace, love, and happiness… Tracy.

PS. If any of you have saved any of the past updates and can forward them back to me, I would appreciate it. My intention is to put them all together for the kids to have and look back on sometime in the future. Thanks.

May 2009-

Hello everyone!

I hope this finds you in good health, good spirits, and good company. May turned out to be more action packed than I ever could have imagined. We spent two wonderful weeks in and around Washington D.C. For the first part of the trip we camped in Greenbelt, Maryland at Greenbelt National Park. The campground was wonderful and we were able to see lots of deer (I know, something you NEVER see in southwest Michigan huh?) and a red fox kit as we drove through the park. A hawk swooped down through the trees right in front of me while I was walking, and we heard a barred owl hootin’ it up at 5:30 one morning. Except for all the ticks that we picked off of ourselves and each other, the wildlife was most agreeable.

Each day we drove a few minutes to the Metro station to hop on the train and head into D.C. proper, where we enjoyed touring the Smithsonian’s Museums of Natural History, American History, and Air and Space, and the National Zoo. We also saw the monuments to Presidents Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson as well as visiting the WWII Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial. When I was in the Air Force I purchased a POW/MIA bracelet that honors the missing heroes from Vietnam, as does the wall of the memorial in D.C. I didn’t have the bracelet with me, but the name on it is forever etched in my memory, so I was able to find it on the wall. I made a rubbing and paid my respects to A1C Stuifbergen, who was also from Michigan. It was a very sobering reminder of the cost of war… We also went to Arlington National Cemetery and saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown. The dedication and commitment of the soldiers who volunteer for this honor reflect great credit upon our brave young men and women who serve today. These fellows are truly the best of the best and it shows. Also of note, as it was close to Memorial Day, we saw hundreds upon hundreds of American flags placed in front of each and every headstone in the cemetery. This is done every year to honor the nation’s fallen. A truly humbling experience…

The campground started getting crowded on Memorial Day weekend, so we decided to pack up our camp and drive down to Williamsburg, VA to see Colonial Williamsburg, something I have wanted to do for a very long time. When we arrived there we got some rather good news, due to it being Memorial Day weekend, and the fact that Sarah and I are veterans, we all got in for free! That saved us over a hundred dollars. Good news indeed. After leaving Williamsburg we drove a bit further east to Virginia Beach to spend the night, and we woke up very early the next morning to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.

After our side trip to Williamsburg and Virginia Beach, we met up with John Roberts (Sarah’s friend from high school who happens to be a Secret Service Agent) and he showed us around some of the nicer spots in D.C. that the locals know about. We visited the National Cathedral, which was simply breathtaking, the Air Force and Marine Corps Memorials, Ford’s Theatre, where President Lincoln was shot, the Secret Service Headquarters, and the Naval Observatory where the Vice President lives. We toured the command post for the VP’s Secret Service detail and the kids got to sit in the bulletproof limo. Kenyon actually sat in the driver’s seat! Very cool. The next day John chauffeured us down to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate. Sarah was very excited to see the home and gardens of her favorite President. On our last day in D.C. we got an exclusive behind the ropes tour of the White House. We saw parts of it that are only seen by the residents, honored guests, and the select few people who work there. My favorite room was the Presidential theater where the first family gets to watch movies. We were told that filmmakers send the White House copies of every movie that is released before they have even premiered. We sat in the front row seats and I was informed that the seat I sat in was the very seat that the President sits in. For a brief moment in time, my butt was the most powerful butt in the world! I am sure some of you would say it always was…

We also were shown the China room, with place settings from Presidential sets of china all the way back to President Washington, and the Diplomatic Reception room, where the President meets with visiting dignitaries from all over the world. While we were in the China room, the Agent who was giving us our tour pointed out a private restroom and said we could use it if we wanted to. Well who in their right mind would pass up the opportunity to pee in the White House? Not any of my family! I found the White House to be an incredible place to visit. It is part residence for the first family, part museum, housing some of the nation’s most unique and valuable treasures, and part office building. I certainly feel more patriotic after having been there.

After getting home, we immediately started to prepare for my brother Joe to arrive from the Upper Peninsula. He came down to spend the week with us before we move to California, and to pick his son Austin up at the airport in Chicago. We spent the majority of the week fishing on Fisher Lake and in Constantine on the bridge over the St. Joe River. We did really well with Connor landing a 4-1/2 pound largemouth bass (The jury is still out as to whether dad or Connor is more proud), and Joe and I met up with Brandon (another brother) for cat-fishing, and I landed the biggest catch with a fish that came in at 30 inches long and weighed 12 pounds! More importantly, we all came away with memories that can never be lost. I always wanted a little brother, turns out that I always had three and although I am getting a late start on spending time with them, I am making up for lost time real quick. It makes me wonder what the get-togethers between Connor, Kenyon, and Molly will be like in 25-30 years… I hope they have as much fun as my brothers and I did.

Well, with just about seven weeks left until the big move, work can now begin in earnest. There is still a lot of “stuff” to go through and we have to decide what goes with us and what goes to someone else. Then we can start packing things up and get things in motion. All of the loose ends seem to be tied up now so all that is left is to get things around the house packed and/or gone. No small task to be sure. Wish us luck!

Medically, there remains no significant change. Before our vacation, the doctor gave me an extra unit of blood so I am not sure if my hemoglobin count is still rising slightly or not. Don’t worry, I am keeping a close eye on the numbers and will keep you all informed. I just keep on keeping on, and as with our vacation, living life like there is no tomorrow because let’s face it… there truly are no guarantees are there? So don’t just wish you could do it, find a way and make it happen!

Until next month, I hope I get a chance to visit with you and I love you all and would love to hear from you,

PS. There are more photos on the Flickr page from D.C. as well as my fishing fun here at home, so go check it out. and check back later in the month because I still have more photos to post.

June 2009-

June 2009 Update

Hello again everyone. I am getting a bit of a head start on this months update as I just got home from my Survivor Lap at our local Relay For Life. I wanted to take this opportunity to write down some of the things I experienced today and to share them with you all.

I first got just a bit before 10am which is when the event kicked off. After signing in I put on my new Survivor t-shirt and tried to mentally prepare myself for what lay ahead, I could not have known… I stood on the track during the opening ceremonies and looked around me at all the other purple t-shirts. There was a fair number of people there… surviving! But as I looked around, I began to notice that there was no one there like me. By that I mean they were all old and many of them looked like they had been run through the ringer at least once. What was I doing here? Why was I on the track as a Survivor? I felt like I didn’t belong there, like it should not be me. Then, they asked that all the caregivers go to the other side of the track and wait there for their survivor to meet them half way through their lap. Suddenly I was alone, surrounded by people that were alien to me. Feeling as though I didn’t belong. Then we started to walk and I found solace in doing something. Feeling like I was going somewhere at least.

As we neared the half waypoint of the lap, I started to look for Sarah. When I saw her, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Like I suddenly knew that I could make it, no mater what obstacles may lay in my way. As we started to walk together though, I looked over at her by my side and I saw her crying. This was the first time I had seen her cry because of my being sick and I felt so much guilt that she should have to go through this. I know it’s not my fault. I know I didn’t do anything to deserve this and neither did she, but it still hurts to see her have to suffer through this. I would endure all the transfusions and bone marrow biopsies a thousand times over just to keep her form having to go through this. That made the last half of the lap extremely hard for me, but I endured. I SURVIVED! And I will continue to survive.

Well, it is now July 2nd and I am trying to finish this to get it out to you all before it turns into August… Work continues on sorting and packing everything in the house and barn. It is quite a task, but we are keeping at it. We hope to have a ‘packing party’ here on the 1st of August with maybe a hog roast to reward everyone for their help. Watch your email inboxes for further details…

We have sent the rabbits on to a new home as well as ½ of our flock of chickens; the other ½ will follow them tomorrow. The vintage travel trailer that was left here has also found a new home as well as a few odds and ends around the house. So, just over three weeks and counting and work is shifting into high gear. So much to be done, so much to get rid of. Things that I haven’t laid a hand on in over a decade along with things that I really don’t want to get rid of. This will truly be a brand new start and I look upon it with a mix of emotions. It feels so good to be rid of some of the clutter and I look forward to keeping the new place clutter free. But, some of the stuff I had such plans for and now it must go. I am sure there is a lesson to be learned in all this, but at times I find it hard to find that lesson sometimes. There are a few things that I am holding onto very closely. Things like my old truck. It holds a lot of memories and it is my hope that it will help me to create a lot of new memories for Sarah and the kids and I. It occurs to me that maybe I need to get rid of some of the things that I want to keep because I have not been able to focus on any one thing like my truck. My attentions were spread too thin among too many things. Maybe, if I only have one or two things to focus on, I can finally get them completed instead of dragging them out. I’m going to go with that, sounds good.

I did accomplish one thing this month; I put together a photo book and got a couple of copies printed. It has been getting rave reviews from all who see it and I had an opportunity to show it to the owner of our local downtown bookstore and he asked that I bring it into the store so he can look at it further. I am hopeful that maybe he wants to get some copies made and try to sell them. That would give me a great sense of accomplishment. For so long I have just sat around the house with no purpose for being here, no sense that I contribute to the household other than to pay the bills and that is just a check in the mail. By that I mean that I don’t feel that I “earn” that money. It’s hard to explain I guess…

Also of note, my brother Joe was down for a week and stayed here with us. It was the first time that my brother and I got to go fishing just the two of us. I also was given the opportunity to meet with my other brothers Derek and Brandon. Brandon joined us on the bridge in Constantine a couple of nights for some cat fishing and I caught the largest one (warning, blatant boasting follows!) which was 30 inches long and weighed 12 pounds! By far the biggest fish I have ever caught. Joe and I took Connor, Kenyon, and Molly out in the boat and Connor caught a large mouth bass that was over 4-1/2 pounds! That for me was by far more special than my own fish. There are a few photos that I will (eventually) upload onto the Flickr page. Perhaps tomorrow… we’ll see. I would like to say thanks you to Brandon and Derek for spending time with me and to Joe for all the memories that he and I have made with my kids. I waited all my life for a little brother to play with and I finally got three! Not that I was or am unhappy to have been given a little sister, but a brother is somehow different. All this business of finding my siblings has brought a lot of emotion as well as raising more questions than it answered. I no longer want to explore the past. I realize that I cannot change the past and even if I could, it would only change who the players in this game are anyway. I am happy to let the past be what it is and work toward building upon the future. I may not have grown up playing cops and robbers with my brothers, but I did get to go fishing with them. And my kids know them and are excited whenever I tell them Uncle Joe is coming, of we are going to see Uncle Brandon and Uncle Derek. You simply can’t replace that.

Well, I think that’s about it for June. On to July and all it’s new adventures as we prepare for our new start. A new home in a new place. Well, it’s not a ‘new’ home and the place is rather familiar to us, but neither has been our home. I am excited!

I love you all and I hope to see you soon.


Some of the past monthly updates.

I have decided to put the previous monthly updates on here as well. I hope you enjoy reading them, or at least get to know me a little better. It should be noted that I am unable to find the August 2008 update.

July 2008-

Well good warm sunny afternoon to you all! Just a quick email to keep you all updated in my progress.

The counts continue to drop between transfusions but the Doctor here says to give the new meds time to "kick in". Last week I was at 6.6, and this week 7.1, that's up from 5.3 the previous week. My energy levels are up and down, but I think that is due to some difficulty sleeping. As some of you know, I have begun contemplating some rather deep spiritual questions and trying to find my way along that path, whatever it may be. I don't know where I'm going, but I know someday I'll get there and I am sure to enjoy the journey!

On a lighter note, we celebrated Molly's 6th birthday last Friday. Cupcakes and ice cream all around with some friends and family. I know you were not all invited, but we like to keep these things kinda low key so please don't be offended. I have some pictures I'll post to my Flickr page later on this week as my energy permits.

Until then, I'd love to hear about how you all are doing... really I would. How about letting me know what you think of the quote at the bottom of the page. I found it while at the doctor's office last week. I think it says nicely how I feel about life.

All my love to you, and as usual, please pass this along to those not listed in the "To:" section.

Love, Tracy.

September 2008-

Well I met with the Vascular surgeon today to get the results of the MRI and the ultra sounds. If you recall I was sent to him after seeing the Ophthalmologist. Neither of them could find anything wrong with either my eye itself or with the veins. The surgeon said there was one vein that made a weird (not quite normal) curve in the back of my neck and therefore they were unable to see any flow through it. It could be blocked he said but it didn't feed the eye and there is another twin vein on the other side of my neck and it is functioning perfectly and even if the other is blocked, it's capable of handling things all on it's own. Long story short, I guess all they could tell me was that it was "likely" a clot that worked it's way to my eye and then "dissolved" 2 hours later. So, another scare. Another close call, as it could have gone to the brain... but all in all, nothing to worry about.

Things around the house are going pretty well. We have two and a half weeks until the big trip to Cali. and I for one can't wait. With the recent deluge of rain, nearly 12 inches in about three days, everything has greened right up again... which means I have to mow. We found a few week points in the roof bringing that need into sharp focus again. The stuff needed to keep a house up never ceases to amaze me, especially one as old as ours. We are all dry though and didn't have any chickens sprout webbed feat, that would have been something.

Everyone else here is in good health with the exception of Sarah's nasty cold. I seem to have gotten it too, but with the elevated white blood cell count (think immune system) it seems to be unable to penetrate my defenses.

Not much more to tell. I am glad for that as there could be lots of bad news to spread around... Thank you for keeping my family and I in your prayers, I believe that they have helped considerably, especially with the "eye" issue.

I hope that all of you are well and know that I think of you often and I am grateful that you are in my life.

Take care, Love,

October 2008-

Greetings all! I am sending out this months update a little early. As many of you know, Sarah, the kids and I are traveling to California next Tuesday for two weeks for a long over due vacation. Therefore I will be gone until the end of the month, so I'm sending the update now. Plus, I have a bunch of pictures of a little trip I took to the U.P. last weekend to visit my brother Joe and clear my head a little.

As for my health, I was doing well until today... While taking the dogs for a quick visit to Uncle Bill, they spied an enemy... a CAT! and decided that they should give chase. I kept up for maybe six or seven strides and then hit the deck, which was wet with the dew. My foot made brief contact and apparently decided that it too would like to chase the cat and I was not going fast enough, so it tried to go faster and down on my rump I went. My back is very stiff now but the cat is safe and the dogs have been duly scolded.

Other than that, I am trying to work through some emotional issues one at a time. So far so good. I have gotten some things off my chest and resolved the ones I have tackled so far. My biggest problem is getting up in the middle of the night and having these sorts of things creep into my brain and keep me awake, hence my strong desire to work through them.

I would like to take a moment to say thank you to all those who continue to send prayers and positive energy out for me, I really appreciate it.

Well, not a whole lot more to report about this time around (and that's a good thing!). Please feel free to check out the new photos on the Flickr page and also leave your comments on them.

Love you all,

November 2008-

Hello all, I trust you are all up and mobile again after partaking of way too much food for thanksgiving. I would like to apologize about this being just a little late. I was just a little bit under the weather the last few days of November when I'd have liked to have gotten this out to you all. But then again, it's not like I have an editor hounding me about deadlines, so I guess it'll get done when it gets done.

I will try to post some more photos in the next day or two as well. I continue to have a ton of fun playing with the camera and have even completed a small "job" taking photos of Martin for his yearbook. It was fun and challenging just trying to get him to smile, doesn't that boy know how to relax? Well, hopefully I can continue to grow in my knowledge and skills with this and maybe make some money on the side, it would at least be nice if it could pay for itself... some of this stuff is expensive! I have even started inquiring at the local colleges regarding taking some classes, we'll see how that goes. Truth be told, as long as I am having fun with it, that is what is most important to me right now.

As regards my health, I seem to be at a standstill, neither losing nor gaining but physically holding my ground. Emotionally I will admit that I have been struggling of late though. I think that the mental aspect of having something like this has caught up with me. I have been having what I would call mild depression and a few instances where, what later seemed like rather simple things really made me angry and upset. Unfortunately I took a lot of that out on my wife and that really pains me. She already has a lot to deal with and certainly doesn't deserve that type of attitude from me. I have spoken to the doctor about it and he says this is typical for people dealing with such severe sickness (I just can't bring myself to say the "c" word...) and that he could put me on an anti-depressant but that would mean more side effects. So for right now, I am aware of what's going on and I am trying to keep a handle on it so as not to have another medication to have to take. Sarah and I have talked about this and it is of great comfort to know that I have someone like her to keep an eye on me and keep me in check, so no worries from any of you. I am living life to it's fullest and trying to do it with as few modern "medicinals" as is possible.

On a slightly related note, I am looking into what hobbies I have had in the past and what still interests me in order to try to find something to occupy my time. I am going quite stir crazy just sitting around here with nothing but the computer or the tv to occupy my time. I have been reading some rather good books by Jack Whyte about the Arthurian legend with a lot of historical information written into them. More of a late Roman, Celtic, Saxon viewpoint and I really like his style of writing. Sarah and I are also thinking real hard about getting back into the SCA. Though I don't know if I will be able to fight, it at least will be something I can do with her and even bring the kids along with the added bonus of rekindling some previously established friendships. I'll keep ya posted on how that pans out.

So... what else... I had a really good Thanksgiving dinner (actually two) and it was good to be able to take some time to reflect on what I had to be thankful for. Chief among those things are all of you, my family and friends. The wonderful support and comfort I receive from you all on a daily basis is a huge part of what drives me through all of this. Thank you, from every fiber of my being, thank you.

I am also looking forward to x-mas. Not only being with family, but that also means that I made it through the first year since the initial diagnosis. WOOHOO!!! In the upcoming year, we would like to be able to tour the Eastern states and see the sights up and down the coast. The trip is in the initial planning stage right now, no date set or exact route planned, but we'll get there. I also look forward to getting my '71 truck back on the road. I really miss driving that thing, I have made a lot of good memories in that and won my fair share of street races also. Now with a new engine (new to the truck anyway) I am very anxious to see what it'll do. With the last engine in it, she ran very low 16's in the quarter mile at the "official" track. I'll keep you posted on the progress of that as well.

Well, I am running out of things to say, I know that seems shocking to some of you but it's true. So in the interest of keeping this short and interesting so you'll all want to read the next one, I am going to close this now and wish you all a very, very Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Joyous Hannuka or whatever you are led to celebrate at this wonderful time of year. I look forward to seeing you all in 2009, even if I have to buy the beer. First rounds on me, come sit a spell and lets talk a while.

With all my love,

December 2008-

Well, it's been one year now since I got on this crazy roller coaster, I am more than ready to get off now... I will say that this x-mas was by far a better one than last year. Not so much in terms of what I received, but more so what I watched others get. I am certainly thankful for the gifts I did get, make no mistake, but I was far more aware of watching the kids open their gifts and the joy on Sarah's face. Much more in the moment if you will. I also am very grateful for the things that didn't come wrapped up in boxes with fancy bows attached. Things like your prayers and well wishes. I don't care who you are, I don't think there is a person alive today that fully appreciates what their friends and family truly mean to them until they have gone through something like this. I cannot be any more sincere when I say that I love each and every one of you and my most heartfelt wish is that you all might know the kind of love and friendship that I have come to know with out having to go through something like this. I am truly blessed, give yourself a big ole hug from me.

Well, on to more lighthearted things. I received a new lens for my camera, it'll go out much further than the other two so I am anxious to try it out on some of the local wildlife. I haven't taken a lot of photos this month, but it was pretty busy around here. Sarah and I along with Jeff and Desiree went to South Bend on the 5th and met up with an old friend from high school for dinner and some Irish music at Fiddler's Hearth. We all had a really good time. I have recently reconnected with a number of other high school friends through Facebook. I've had a page there since last winter and all of a sudden people started sending me friend requests. It's funny how it just sort of happened all at once. It's nice to see how they all have progressed throughout their lives as well. My twenty-year reunion is coming up this year (2009) and it'll be interesting to see them all in person too.

We also drove to Grand Rapids in some of the worst weather I have seen in recent memory to welcome home my friend Ryan and his brothers in arms from Iraq. They completed a one-year tour and got home the Sunday before x-mas. Wow! What an awesome x-mas present that was. I am so glad that we (Sarah, my friend Chris, and I) braved the foul weather to see him home, that is something I will never forget. I am so proud to have known someone that brave, you are truly my hero Ryan!

Work on the house continues, albeit it at a snails pace. The drywall work in the downstairs bedroom is now done and it needs paint and carpet, some trim, the doors stripped and refinished and then it's done. Then on to the parlor, the bathroom and the kitchen... will it ever end? We have also started to de-clutter the basement and a huge load of unused stuff went to Goodwill to find a better home. The truck is also almost full for the dump and maybe one more load to GW then she's done too. Then on to the barn and all the projects therein. A piece at a time, one foot in front of the other.

As I try to reflect back on 2008, it all seems like a blur. There were certainly a few highlights, some that I will cherish for a long time and some I'd rather forget but I guess we don't always have that option do we? I think that they all happened for a reason, and I could spend countless hours contemplating why, but in the end, it doesn't change the fact that they did happen. I think what is important is to look back on all those things and see what good I can take from them, for if we look hard enough, we can find good in all things. Sure it's not always the easiest thing to find, but it is certainly the most rewarding. For example, being unable to work was a really hard thing to accept, but it has given me so much more time with Sarah and the kids. All the trips to Minnesota for the clinical trial that turned out to be ineffective also gave me the opportunity to visit with my cousins Marcie and Kathy which I would not have otherwise had. Even just going through this whole sickness thing had brought me so much closer to all of you and had I not gotten sick, I honestly probably would not have even been in contact with some of you at all. For all these things and so much more, I am thankful. I certainly hope that I have touched your lives in a positive way as well. I look forward to 2009 with the utmost excitement. Sarah and I are planning a trip to the East coast and the nations capitol this year. I look forward to finally finishing this house, getting my shop set up here again and building some furniture, working in the garden, driving my old truck. I thought for a while that all my dreams and goals had been taken away from me by this disease, but I see now that I simply had too many irons in the fire. This has forced me to shed some of the things that were holding me back and focus on the things that are truly important to me. And with the help of some of you, I may just realize my dreams. You know who you are, be ready for my call... we are gonna have a blast in 2009!!! I promise. I told a long time friend of mine last year that I wanted to have a big party for my birthday and his response (along with his puzzled look) was "This isn't your 40th is it?" I said heck no, is there a rule that says I can only have a big party on certain birthday's? I told him, if it's going to be my last, I would like for it to be one to remember. Well, it ended up not happening, but I think I can make a more concerted effort this time around. Roast pork anyone?

I did have a lot of opportunities to get to see many of you this past year. It is my hope that the ones I didn't get to see, I'll have the chance to see in the year ahead. I think we should all make a more conscious effort to do so, anyone with me? You know where to find me and I am certainly willing to come to you, just let me know when and where (wink).

In closing, I would like to thank you all again (I don't feel like I can ever do that enough so get used to it) for all that you have done. Some of you went far above and beyond what I think would normally be expected of you and I don't know if I can ever repay you for that, though I will certainly try. It's certainly not a competition so if you didn't get to go above and beyond, that's OK, know that what you could do, can do and have done is enough for me, I gather strength from it all, large or small.

I love you all and I look forward to seeing you soon. Until then, I bid you peace and prosperity and send you all my love.


Ps. Keep a weather eye on the Flickr page for more photos, I should have some there in the next couple of days. (wink)

I will put the 2009 updates in another post.