Saturday, December 06, 2014
The most significant development is the progression of my sister Mary Ellen's brain tumor. She was dealing with it pretty well for a year without suffering much pain, but she had some seizures in August of 2013 that left her with little use of her left side. It's been an honor and a pleasure to be so close to her ever since I moved to this area, in fact I credit her living here and introducing me to Ithaca as a primary reason why I ended up here. The cancer has meant spending even more time with her and helping with her care. This past September she came down with a case of shingles which left her in a condition where she could no longer remain at home and has moved into Hospicare. It is a six-person residence offering hospice services to people who need a higher level of care than they can get at home, without the constrictions and regulations of a nursing home.
Fittingly, in August Gail participated in their largest fundraiser and one of Ithaca's most cherished events, Women Swimmin' For Hospicare. She helped raise about $400,000 towards their operating budget by getting sponsors for swimming across Cayuga Lake. She's not pictured here, but you can imagine she looked just like this on that beautiful August morning. The swimmers are actually Nancy and Amy and their boating companion, Beth, took the picture.
I've since taken a sort of leave from work, I go for the morning and if no other family members are in town I go up to Hospicare in the afternoon and keep Mary Ellen company and do what can be done to make her comfortable until my brother-in-law, Frank, comes back up in the evening. As you can tell from the top photo this has led to a mutual adoration. The picture below it is from GrassRoots Festival in July, she says she looks frightening in the picture, but no one looks their best after a day at GR, especially when they have a medical condition that forces them to drink so many fluids that they have to use a port-a-john just about every hour.
As for Frank, he's proven Mary Ellen's skepticism expressed in the look in this photo from our niece's wedding a few years ago was unwarranted:
Missing Tori, the guy pictured in the top photo, that's Sarah, not a student, in the second one, the third is cropped to protect the "innocent" and kids gather on the dock before taking a lake cruise.
Mt. Irenaeus to spend a couple days felling trees with Brother Joe in a forest improvement effort.
The festival was standard fare, wonderful times with good friends and lots of great music, some of which I even played. Red Dog Run had a blast playing their set, Julie and Andrea are siblings loving the festival they get to put on at Julie's place every summer. Lori and Pat Burke stay dry during a shower, looks like they must be talking about Dan's motor home. Lori, Dan and another friend, Fred Parker, all made it to Ithaca/Trumansburg for GrassRoots a couple weeks later. Steve, Julie (hosts) pose with Jenn who runs the program that keeps tons of recyclable products from going to the landfill.
Sadly, it was the last time I saw good friend and coworker in HQ, Tracy Burt. She was able to make it to the festival but succumbed to a brain tumor a little over a month later. She and Tammy Rayborne have been holding HQ together for about ten years, I sit around and play banjo to keep everyone calm. Tracy is on the left. We miss her.
A couple weeks ago an annual reunion of sorts happened when many Westfield friends got together in the Catskills. We've been doing this at different locations every fall for almost 25 years.
Gail and I got to spend a good deal of time on two of our favorite lakes, Cayuga and Piseco.
After a brief visit to Ithaca we took our niece, Mariana, with us to Piseco to visit the Arend camp and meet our new nephew, Dusty. Like a good uncle I held him while he napped, and also gave older brother Harper a banjo lesson. Harper also made his first trip up Panther Mountain, about 30 years after his mom's first. We hiked in some old growth, the last stand I knew about from and article that I cut out more than 15 years ago, the tree pictured is from a hike Gail and I took to T Lake.
Andy was also in on the special project at GrassRoots set-up (as always), building new bathrooms for the Trumansburg Fairgrounds. Alan spearheaded the project (as always). It was great to be part of such a creative and appreciated effort (as always). The picture on the bottom is from a previous year when we built the pavilion that is now the musician stand at the Trumansburg Farmers Market, it came in handy for a few dozen people in a rain storm that visited GrassRoots (as always).
Google Street View has added Trail View to some of the more popular trails around Ithaca including the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve on Six Mile Creek. This screen shot is from just below the 30' Dam, or Joe's Dam as it's titled in their picture. I was honored by the renaming when I made some efforts to get them to remove videos from youtube that have been drawing hundreds of people to the dam and causing much degradation to the area. The videos are still up and this summer was particularly bad for various reasons. The bottom picture shows most of the trails contained in Ithaca College's natural areas. Gail and I have been commuting through there to get to Hospicare with some regularity, up to ten times a week for me. I only recall skiing there a couple times for some reason, but I'm really looking forward to getting up there a lot this winter.
Come to think of it, we also walked the Black Diamond Trail from Taughannock to Ithaca in the spring.
I'll take some pictures, maybe even video. and post again before spring.