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I want to share the latest info on the success of....

Monday, December 31, 2007
our 2nd annual Phenomenal Hope for a Cure.
The following is a copy of the "report" that I just posted on the PHA discussion board. I'm going to try to post the same info here. Thanks for all of your support, love and prayers with this event. As you will see, it was EXTREMELY successful!

Thanks for reading!


On November 17, 2007 we held our 2nd Annual Phenomenal Hope for a Cure Fundraiser in Omaha, NE. We were all very nervous since last year, our first year, was such a success. Well, I'm here to report that the 2nd Annual Phenomenal Hope for a Cure Fundraiser was significantly more successful than last year! We have so far (we got another $1,000 donations this last week!) raised over $51,000!!! That is at least $10,000 more than we raised last year! Included in that is well over $3,000 that was made from silent and/or oral auction items that were made and/or donated by phriends from all over the country!

Just to give you a quick synopsis...We had a sit-down dinner for about 250 people. The mayor of Omaha, Mayor Mike Fahey was our honorary chairman. He declared November 17, 2007 as Pulmonary Hypertension Day in Omaha. He also presented us with the proclamation at the dinner. We had a local sportscaster, Mr. Dave Webber as our emcee. We also had a local and exceptional auctioneer, Mr. Glenn Evert donate his time as our auctioneer.

While people were shopping and bidding on the numerous silent auction items, there was a slide show on a big screen showing the "PHaces of PH." It was a slide show of phriends that I put together with music.

When the attendees "shopped" at the silent auction items, they immediately knew if they were looking at an item made and/or donated by a phriend, because I had their picture and name displayed by their item.

The evening "officially" started with my sister, Kathleen, introducing Mr. Webber and then Mr. Webber thanking everyone for coming and acknowledging the sponsors (drug companies, medical groups and individual businesses and physicians) then introducing the mayor. Mayor Fahey then spoke about pulmonary hypertension using talking points provided by PHA. He then presented the proclamation to the four phriends that were on the fundraising committee.

Following that, we had a local pediatric ph specialst, Dr. Paul Sammut spoke specifically about pulmonary hypertension in children.

Following his talk, my youngest son, Chris presented the documentary he made for this years event, "Hope." This year he focused on 4 children with ph. Of course, it was amazing. (even if I am a bit biased)

I was then introduced. I asked for a moment of silence for the 3 local phriends that we lost to ph since last year’s event. Then I gave my "speech."

"Pulmonary Hypertension is a life-changing diagnosis.
Many of us lived with symptoms for several years before we were diagnosed. These symptoms included shortness of breath, light-headedness and even chest pains. Then once we were given an actual name for how we had been feeling, our lives really began to change. We started visiting the doctor more frequently. We began taking many new medications. Some of us started to use oxygen. We began to learn what our physical limitations were. We began to learn about the potential problems and negative outcomes associated with Pulmonary Hypertension.

PH IS a life changing diagnosis.
Many of us have learned that our physical limitations cause us to slow down and even many of us have had to quite working. We may not be able to do things we once took for granted like walking up a flight of stairs, going swimming, riding a bike or even walking the dog. Our days now include schedules for mixing medicine, taking medicine and even resting.

You see, PH IS a life changing diagnosis. BUT, we are the lucky ones.
With a slower pace comes a better appreciation of what life has to offer. We no longer take things for granted. Time with our family is precious. Time with our friends is precious. Time spent reading a book or listing to music is precious.

You see, WE ARE the lucky ones. Never before have there been so many choices in treatments for PH. Never before have we had so many scientists and physicians working to find more treatments and even a potential cure for PH.

You see, we ARE the lucky ones.

Just look at the people in this room. They are here for us, the people with a rare disease. They are here to support us and to support the hope, the hope we ALL have to find a cure. Thank you for coming."

We then went into the oral auction and the evening closed with Mr. Webber thanking everyone for coming and reminding all to take the information about ph and PHA with them.

So, that's about it. I hope this short report and some of the photos from the evening help you feel like you were there. Because, you WERE there, you were ALL there, in my heart.

Thanks for reading.
Much, much love,

ps First picture is the mayor presenting us the proclamation. I'm shaking his hand.

I have been a BAD BLOGGER!!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I'm hoping this picture makes up for it! I don't have a good excuse for not writing. I've been tired. But, I've mostly been lazy! Although Rod, Chris and I were suppose to go out of town for a wedding reception last night, but I had a terrible headache and was really tired. So, we had to skip out on that one. I feel bad about missing it.
Chris is still in town and it has been great seeing him. We've seen several movies! On Christmas night, we saw "National Treasure." It was an excellent movie! Chris, Rod and I also went to "Charlie Wilson's War." It was also an excellent movie! The three of us also went to "The Great Debaters." ALSO an excellent movie! Kathleen drove up from Lincoln and we saw, "P.S. I Love You." It was pretty good. But, I had no idea what it was about before we went to it. It was good, but I hate paying money to cry. I can do that at home for free.
Well, I've got to get going. We're going out to dinner with another family who has all of their kids home for the holidays also. I took a nap this afternoon so I should be good for another couple of hours.
Again, I'm very sorry for being such a bad blogger. I've decided that "cheating" on my blogger promise is very similar to cheating on my diet. When I've already eaten one handful of Fritos, another handful is not such a big deal. When I've already missed one day of blogging, another one (or two) doesn't feel like as big of a deal either.
M-m-m-m-m-m-m...where is that bag of Fritos?

Thanks for reading.

On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Two puppies playing

Two cousins playing

One dad a-smiling

One son a-ginning

and Rod in a motorcycle helmet!

Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday, December 24, 2007
I am so sorry Jacque, I completely forgot to get to my blog these last couple of days.
As it is for everyone, it's a crazy time of the year!
I figured out why I've been feeling so crummy. Bending over is really hard on people with pulmonary hypertension. I realized that I was bending over ALL of the time with the puppies! I would have to bend over to get one of their toys, pick up a mess, etc. So, Rod went up to Lowes and bought me a couple of heavy-duty grippers. It has helped quite a bit. In fact, Asa was getting ready to squat and "do his business" in the family room when I grabbed his rear end with the grippers! Fabulous!!

Chris got home last night. Tonight we go to church then have dinner at our home with Rod's brother and his family. Rod, Nick and Chris took over the Christmas Eve cooking a couple of years ago. We have a delicious prime rib, potatoes, rolls, pie, etc., etc., etc!! Then tomorrow we have Rod's brother and his family and my sister and her girls over for lunch and presents. Usually, Rod,the boys and I open gifts to and from each other first thing in the morning before everyone else gets here. But, Nick won't be around. He's on the transplant rotation and is on-call on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. So, we'll do presents whenever he gets some time off. Also, my sister's oldest daughter is still in Taiwan teaching English and won't be home until the fall. So, it's all going to be a bit "off" this year without our oldest "kids" around.

Well, I suppose I should get something done. Again, sorry for missing the last couple of days. Merry Christmas everyone!

Thanks for reading!
much love

Another quick "hello."

Friday, December 21, 2007
I'm really tired tonight. I'm going to mix my Flolan early and go to bed early. Chris is coming home Sunday night, so I want to be finished with shopping, wrapping and resting by the time he arrives.

Thanks for reading (what little there was :) )

An escape!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007
So, "the boys" and I are having a really good day. We were playing inside and they actually would actually lay down once or twice and kind of relax! I had also taken them outside a couple of times and they "did their business" and stayed right with me, coming in every time I told them to! So, we were inside and they started smelling the floor, which is a big "tell" that they need to go to the bathroom. They had been doing such a good job of listening to me that I figured I'd take them out like before. Well, as you have probably already guessed, their "listening time" was over! Not only did they not listen to me when I called them, they started going further and further away from me! I kept walking towards them telling them to "come" and they just kept looking at me and running further away. They were out in the field and heading towards the street! I couldn't drag my sorry rear through the snow drifts to get to them. So, I went to the garage and got Rod's big, giant Ford 350 diesel truck. I revved it up and drove it right out to the middle of the field! I grabbed Haver, since he kind of seems like the dominant one. He's also the HEAVY one. I put him in the cab and grabbed Asa. Of course, before I got Asa inside the cab, Haver jumped OUT of the cab! You have to try to get this visual. Here is this little 35 pound or so yellow lab jumping out of the cab of a giant pickup truck! He looked like he was flying! The only good part of his flying so far was that when he landed he was pretty deep in a snow drift! While he was stuck, I was able to get Asa in the truck and then grab Haver! I can't imagine what a sight I was driving this giant truck out in the middle of the snow-filled field chasing a couple of puppies around!
Needless to say, when we all got back to the house, we ALL took a nap! They, of course, had to take their nap in the laundry room as a "time-out!"
And yes, I am going to bed early!
Thanks for reading.
(the tired, but very happy old woman!)

Another "Pantyhose Dinner"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007
It is now 10:30 p.m. I just finished mixing my medicine and I have to go to bed. These long and late nights of being nice and behaving myself are wearing me out! Sorry for the short post.
More tomorrow.
Thanks for reading.


Houdini in Action!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Just thought you might want to see what Haver does with his free time!

Dragging my kiester!

Monday, December 17, 2007
Well, I think I managed to get the bug that knocked Rod out last week! I've got cold sores on my lower lip, I ache more than normal and I'm also more tired than normal. If this actually turns into something, then I think it will be the first time I've gotten sick (a normal sick) since I started Flolan in July, 2004! Rod has wondered if the Flolan boosts my immune system since I've been so healthy (relatively speaking)these last 3 1/2 years.

The puppies had their first training session today. Haver is a bit stubborn and bullheaded (he takes after his father) and Asa was not really understanding the process (he also takes after his father.)I'm sure tomorrow will be better. In the meantime we're suppose to play with them around the training unit to have them get used to the noise. I'm not really sure I understand the point of that practice (I also take after their father) but, I'll be a good "mom" and do our homework.

Well, I'm going to take some Tylenol and be a bum.

Thanks for reading.

A lazy day!

Sunday, December 16, 2007
It was such a nice, relaxing day! I slept until almost 10:00!! Then, I spent the rest of the day eating leftovers, playing with the dogs and watching tv! Nothing exciting to report!

Oh, I guess there was one small piece of excitement. I decided it was a good night for a fire and I forgot about starting the fire and letting the fireplace warm up for about 10 minutes to make sure there is a good draw. I put the wood in and then started it. So....after the security company called and all of the fans cleared out the smoke, then I came here to write a bit and then head of to bed. (cough-cough-cough)

Thanks for reading.

I'm pooped!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007
Just another quick posting to let you know we "survived" the all day party! The weather didn't really cooperate. We had about 3 inches of snow last night and then maybe another inch or so today. The roads were kind of "iffy." In fact, one of my friends ended up in the ditch on her way here!(Thank heaven's she is ok!) But, we still ended up with about 200 people. It is such a blast getting to see so many wonderful friends! It's also fun to see people make new connections or reconnect with old friends.

OK, it's time to go to bed.

Thanks for reading.

Another quick "hello!"

Friday, December 14, 2007
I've been working all day on getting ready for the big party tomorrow! The puppies have been great (no accidents) and I'm really pooped and my lungs are really tired. I spent way too much time sneaking around without my O2 today. (I was just being a dope. I'd do something that was out of reach of the concentrator tubing and was too lazy to get the Inogen..portable concentrator..out and use it.) So, aching lungs are in direct correlation to me being a knucklehead!
So, I'm going to bed while Rod finishes up baking his cinnamon rolls. I have waited long enough for the first batch to finish so I can get one. They are soooooo delicious!!
OK,goodnight. Don't let the bedbugs bite!
Thanks for reading.

I'm just all full of good news!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007
Well, every time I take the pups outside to the yard, they are now "doing their business!" It's huge! Plus, they're also getting the idea of being outside with their leashes, also good news! AND (drum roll please....) the Invisible Fence people have agreed to come to the house and train both pups for me! That means that I don't have to go outside and walk around the entire perimeter of our acreage to train them, in the cold! Yahoo!!! They are going to be coming next week. So, things in the puppy world are pretty darn good right now.

On the flip side, I went to the vet's tonight to pick up Charlie's ashes. Boy, we miss him. We're glad he isn't in any more pain, and that he is with Oscar, but boy we miss him.

Topic change! We are having our annual open house this Saturday! We invite just about everyone we know (and if you are reading this and you didn't get an invite, consider this your invite!) to come by and have some goodies and visit. People can come anytime between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. No, that is not a typo! Rod's mom did this for 25+ years at their home in Lincoln. When she felt that she couldn't do it any more, we decided that we would pick up the tradition! Rod's mom and dad were our greeters! It was fabulous! Then when his mom passed away, his dad became the greeter. Last year, after Bud passed away, we had some friends volunteer. I'm thinking maybe I'll be the greeter with Asa and Haver this year!!

Thanks for reading.

Ok people, you can start relaxing...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rod's idea with using the training collars and the retractable leashes works beautifully! I've taken the puppies outside three different times today and all I had to do was walk around with them and get them unstuck from bushes or each other a couple of times! Right now they are taking a nap and I'm very, very seriously thinking of doing the same thing!

I really appreciate your concern and your lectures. I honestly needed them. I get a "little stubborn" sometimes and it helps to be reminded that I need to take care of myself also. Although, having these balls of love is taking care of myself, it's just getting that whole balance issue taken care of. Ok, nap time!!

Thanks for reading.

I am very, very, very, very tired!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Asa and Haver now have only one thing in their minds when we take them out...running to the horse pasture to retrieve and eat horse poop! Eating the horse poop is bad enough, but the horses making the poop are very, very large and they live in the same area where their poop is located. So, the first time today I had to pick up Haver and carry him back to the house. Asa followed along just like it was the thing to do. The problem is that Haver weighs about 3 billion pounds. By the time I got back to the house, it took about two hours for me to be able to breath somewhat normally again and for my heart to get back to a more regular beating. When Rod took them out when he hot home, they made a bee-line to the "food bar!" This time the horses Doc and Dude took notice of them. They did manage to scare Asa and Haver out of the back pasture but then the dogs just went into the front pasture and dined on the "outdated treats!" So, my brilliant husband in a moment of brilliance ran up to the store and got some training colors and retractable leashes! He tried it once tonight. They weren't very happy,but they did do their business and didn't need a breath mint when it was time to come in! Whish us luck! My lungs are killing me.:=}

Thanks for reading.

Crap! It's already 10:00 pm!

Monday, December 10, 2007
I'm going to have to try this again tomorrow! Sorry! I can tell you that Asa has discovered horse poop and he loves to "retrieve it!"


I'm too old to be a new mother!

Sunday, December 9, 2007
It is 9:15, the puppies are sleeping, actually, Rod is almost asleep on the couch also, and I'm going to go mix my Flolan so I can go to sleep! I'll write more tomorrow and even add a picture or two. I'm not really complaining. They really are so very, very cute and so very, very good! The only problem I'm having is that they're not really good at steps yet and there are two to go outside to "do their business" and then the same two to come back in. So, I'm having to lift them a bit. Did I tell you that they weigh over 30 pounds? But, they are getting better. We are so very happy to have these guys!
Thanks for reading.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Asa and Haver Markin! Asa is on the left. He is a little lighter color and a bit lighter- weight wise. He probably weighs about 32 pounds. Haver (prounounced haa-vair) is a bit darker and weighs about 35 pounds. They are brothers who were born on August 29th, 2007 somewhere in Nebraska. (They told us and I can't remember....maybe Spencer?) We were trying to figure out some perfect names. We talked about focusing on one of the places we've visited on our trips. I got on the internet and found some favorite dog names from different countries. We really enjoyed out trip to Israel and so I checked out those names. That's where we got their names. Asa means "healer" and Haver means "friend."

So, you may be asking yourself how all of this excitement came about. We have really been missing Charlie. Instead of getting easier, everyday seemed to get harder. So, we decided last night that we really needed a dog. We also decided it would be best to get two again. So, on the way the the Pathology Christmas party last night, we stopped at the humane society. We found 4 labs. I spent the rest of the night trying to explain to Rod why 4 dogs was too many! Anyway, I called the Humane Society this morning to ask about the adoption rules. I was told that you can only adopt one pet at a time, unless the dogs were already together. There was a 30 day waiting period between adoptions. So, that idea didn't work. Then we thought about Tully's Kennels here in Omaha. We got Charlie and Oscar from Tully's and were very pleased with their facilities and of course, we loved Oscar and Charlie. So, we went there and checked things out. They had quite a few lab puppies, mostly chocolate and black. Then, the lady who sold us Oscar and Charlie ten years ago, told us about three older yellow labs, a sister and two brothers. They were a bit older and were living in the larger kennels and were already working on being house-trained. So, we asked to see the brothers and within an hour we were driving home with the new Markin brothers!

I'm worried that I might be too old to be a mother! Haver has already figured out how to climb over the baby gate that we have blocking off the laundry room from the kitchen! But, Rod is so very happy, as you can tell by the next picture. I'm just planning on resting as much as I can when he is home and things will be fine. If worse comes to worse, I'll just shut the door to the laundry room and have them sit on my lap one at a time. In fact, Asa seems happiest when He's on my lap or when I am scratching him.

Well, I've got to find something to eat. I just wanted to share the good news!
Thanks for reading!

A quick check-in

Friday, December 7, 2007
It's 10:45 pm and I need to get to bed. We had the UNMC Pathology Holiday party tonight and I didn't want to go to bed without doing a quick post.

Here's my quick post.

"A Quick Post"

Thanks for reading! (what little there was! :0 )

Another Winter Wonderland!

Thursday, December 6, 2007
It was such a great day to "hunker down" at home, put out some Christmas decorations and read! Omaha received about 4 1/2 to 5 inches of snow today! It was beautiful! Life has been very surreal today. I was just getting use (sort of) to not having Charlie around and then the mall killings happened yesterday. I forced myself to shut the TV off a couple of times and turn on some Christmas music. I either let my mind focus (which can sometimes be a tall order for people with PH, am I right phriends? :0 )on decorating or reading my new book by Alex Kava. Granted, she writes a pretty creepy murder mystery, but I know it's fiction. Reading has always been a solace for me when life gets a little too intense....well, reading and eating ice cream!!!! :)

I did get to have a very, very delicious dinner tonight! A friend that I used to teach with made Rod and I a roast with potatoes, onions and carrots! It was amazingly delicious! I have to admit though, the best part of it was when it was delivered. The doorbell rang, and here on my front porch was my former first grade student and now graduate of the Annapolis Naval Academy! He ran our dinner all the way up the driveway from the street so his Dad wouldn't get stuck in our snowy driveway! Plus, I got a HUG!! It was a wonderful surprise! I had no idea he was in town visiting!

So, decorating, reading, eating a delicious home-made dinner and a hug from a former student. I would call this a GOOD DAY!

Thanks for reading!


A Horrific Day for Omaha!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007
As many of you know, there was a horrible shooting in Omaha this afternoon. Some troubled 19 year old kid stole a shotgun from his step-dad and walked into the Von Maur store at the Westroads Mall and began shooting. He randomly shot 14 people, 9 of those at the time of this posting have died. There have be no reports of who these victims are. It is believed that some of them were employees of Von Maur and the others were customers. After the kid killed all of these people, he turned the gun on himself and died.

We are ok. My sister was up from Lincoln and we had just had lunch and we were on our way to that mall to shop. It was about 1:20. Then she remembered that she had to get back to Lincoln by 3:00 for a meeting so we went to Target instead. The shooting started at 1:45. We would have been there. It is just overwhelming to think about what has happened here. The kid left a couple of suicide notes. In one of the notes, the kid mentioned that he wanted to "go out famous."

I'm fine. My sister is fine. Rod was out of town but is now back. Nick is working at the hospital and Chris is in Chicago. I greatly appreciate the phone calls and emails that I received from friends and phriends outside of the Omhaha area.

Please pray for the victims, the shooter, those who witnessed this horrible event and for all of the friends and families who have been touched by this tragedy.

Hug your families tonight.

much love

Just a quick hello!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007
I really need to mix my Flolan and get to bed. But, I didn't want to worry anyone and I didn't want to not fulfill my promise to Jacque's memory by not writing today. So, hello! I'm fine. The day has just gotten away from me! Take care and have a good night!
Thanks for reading!

I'm afraid that this is going to be a boring post!

Monday, December 3, 2007
You might want to grab some coffee to stay awake!
1. I woke up.
2. I took a shower.
3. I cleaned my site and changed my dressing for my central line which is how my Flolan gets into my heart.
4. I got dressed.
5. I blew my hair dry.
6. I went downstairs. The elevator is broken. :(
7. I let Veronica, the cleaning lady and her brother and her mother into the house.
8. I had some toast.
9. I loaded the dishwasher.
10.I affixed wrestling medals into shadow boxes to hang on Chris' walls.
11.I filed some papers.
12.I started the next Alex Kava novel, "A Necessary Evil."
13.I read my lesson for bible study.
14.I picked up delicious Santa sugar cookies for treats for bible study from a friends daughter. If you need some delicious treats check out: petalsandpastries.com
15.I cooked a meatloaf for dinner.
16.I ate some meatloaf and bread for dinner.
17.I went to bible study.
18.I ate two cookies. :)
19.I came home and mixed my Flolan, switched my pump and took my oral drugs.
20.I "blogged" and "exciting" entry.
21.I went to bed.

Thanks for reading the most exciting blog posting that I have ever done!

Nice, quiet day!

Sunday, December 2, 2007
We got up early to try to get to church on time. But, we didn't see the horses in the front pasture and we needed to check on them. Last night when we went to feed them (feeding the horses was always a chore that Rod and Charlie did...so I've taken over for Charlie for awhile to help distract Rod) we couldn't find them. Rod started looking around and discovered that they had gotten into one of the extra stalls where we keep their sweet feed! Rod thinks he forgot to latch the 1/2 door. They pushed it open, came into the stall and TOOK THE LID OFF OF THE CONTAINER!! They managed to eat at least 1/3 of a 40 gallon container! Anyway, Rod couldn't find them last night and assumed they were in the back pasture sleeping of their grain binge! But, when we didn't see them this morning, we wanted to make sure they were ok. So, before we headed off to church we stopped over at the barn to look for them. They were both there, standing in the back with their butts to the wind, looking a little tired. I have a feeling they might have had a late night, maybe with stomach aches!!

Anyway, we headed off to church (now our usual 10 minutes late!). After church we met up with Nick at the Village Inn for some brunch. Nick came over to the house after brunch and took a much-needed nap while Rod worked on some little projects around the house. I spent a good part of the day trying to finish up my latest book, Alex Kava's "One False Move."

Rod cooked some salmon and rice for dinner, we watched some football and called it a day.

Not too exciting, but also a very pleasant day.

Thanks for reading.

Winter Wonderland!

Saturday, December 1, 2007
I thought you might like to see what a "mild" ice storm looks like in Omaha! This is one of the lilac bushes in our front yard.

I also wanted to share a special gift that I received from a special friend. Yesterday afternoon the doorbell rang and at my door was a floral delivery lady. She handed me a beautiful poinsettia plant with a Willow Tree angel tucked in among the leaves. It's called, "The Angel of Friendship."

Rod summed it up when he came home and saw the plant and the figurine when he said, "We really have some amazing friends, don't we?"

Thanks for reading, my amazing friends.

Very, very quiet day

Friday, November 30, 2007
It was such a strange day. I kept talking to Charlie or thinking I was hearing him. I realized that this is the first time in nine years that I've been home alone. I think we're going to have to get another pet sometime. It's just too darn quiet around here.
Thanks for all of your kind words and prayers.

For those of you outside of the Omaha area, we are due for a major winter ice storm here tomorrow morning. I'm going to have Rod bring in some wood so we can have a nice warm fire tomorrow while the outside world is turning into skating rink!

Thanks for reading.

Charlie is gone...

Thursday, November 29, 2007
Rod and Nick took Charlie to the vet tonight to be put to sleep. I've been the one in the past that had to take Charlie's brother Oscar and our previous dog, Cody in when this had to be done. Since they were both available to go, I decided to sit this one out. Logically we know this was the right thing to do. It's just tough.


Nothing new...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Charlie's really having trouble. We're going to talk to his vet in the morning. We'll probably be taking him in within the next two days. It's so difficult. He'll be hurting so much and be really uncomfortable and I'll think, "Yah, it's the right thing to do." Then he'll get all happy because he sees his Twizzlers or he is begging for some meat from our dinner or he wags his tail because Rod comes in the room and I think, "Why would I even consider 'putting him to sleep' when he's so happy?" Nick just stopped by so he could see Charlie. Charlie went running across the room, dragging his leg because he's so happy to see Nick. I asked Nick, "How can we consider killing him when he's so happy and looks so cute?" And Nick says, "Well, he have to look at his leg and then we know." Nick says that the skin is so tight on Charlie's thigh, leg and groin area that he's afraid if it gets much tighter, there might be a problem where Charlie's skin won't get enough blood flow and potentially the skin could die.

Now, look out, there is a pity party about to start.......

I'm really tired of having people and pets die. We lost Rod's mom two years ago. Then we had to put our other dog, Oscar down a little over a year ago. Then Rod's dad died last year. Then my friend Jacque and now Charlie. I hope I haven't insulted anyone by including Oscar and Charlie in this group. AND, I hope I haven't sounded to whiney. It's just tough. But, I guess it's just life. I keep reminding myself that God promised us he would be with us during tough times. He didn't promise us a smooth-sailing life, but he did promise his love and support. It does help to know that and to feel that.

Thanks for reading.

A semi-productive day!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I have been extremely tired over the last few days...actually more like the last few weeks. When I went to bed last night I decided I was going to get my butt out of bed in the morning and get something done! And, I did! I did some organizing of bills and receipts and such. I downloaded some pictures to the Walgreens website to be printed. I called in some prescription refills. I even went to Super Target to pick up some cheese for hiding Charlie's pain meds and some little chew treats for him. I figured, "What the heck! What better time to spoil my guy than when he's so sick and he hurts?" So now it's 9:00 pm and I need to mix my Flolan and take my other night meds and get going to bed. I think I'll try this approach again tomorrow!

Charlie update: I just don't know how much bigger his thigh and leg can get. He's still eating, he's got a new addiction.... Twizzlers! (What the heck, right?) He still wags his tail when he's sees one of us or when we say his name. But, he's putting almost no weight on his left leg at all. "Doing his business" is getting tougher. The poor guy. I'm so glad that he doesn't really know what's going on.

Thanks for reading.

Honoring and remembering my friend Jacque!

Monday, November 26, 2007
I would like to thank all who have read yesterday's post and those who either responded here or who sent me an email. Your kind words and understanding mean so much. So, I've been trying to figure out all day what I could do to honor and remember Jacque. I made a donation to the Naivasha Women's Hospital in Kenya fund in her honor, but I kept thinking that I could do more. It needed to be something simple but important. I was preparing my things to go to bible study tonight (which I need to get going to so I won't be late...:) ) and it dawned on me the perfect thing I could do to honor and remember Jacque! I'm going to do my best to post at least a little bit on my blog every day! It was Jacque that helped me get set up to do a blog. It was Jacque who guided me on how to add pictures! It was Jacque that gently "nagged" me to go ahead and write just a little every day, but I never seemed to get it done. It was Jacque who blogged every single day, even when "The Beast" was doing it's damage. So, in honor of Jacque, I will do my best to get on here every day. You are loved and missed, Jacque! I will try to do you proud.
Now, I better get my butt in gear! It's really bad form to be late for bible study!!
much love

So, I went to a funeral today...

Sunday, November 25, 2007
A friend, PEO sister and fellow teacher was laid to rest today. Jacque fought a tough fight against breast cancer. (She called it, "The Beast.") She fought it with grace, guts and glory. She kept her spirit strong and her faith stronger. She loved music, especially religious music and jazz. Music was a huge part of her ceremony today. She even had a couple of local jazz musicians play, "A House is Not a Home." It was an afternoon of celebration and sadness. I was visiting with a woman after the ceremony. I said, "It was quite a service. I keep bouncing around with my feelings. I'm happy for knowing Jacque but also sad because she's gone." This lady said, "I disagree. I think it was the most uplifting funeral I've even been to." I thought that I must be in a morbid mood. I just felt incredibly sad. When I visited with another person, I got the same positive response. She also thought it was such a great celebration. Then it dawned on me. I actually did have a different "take" on Jacque's service. You see, Jacque was 54 years old, just three years older than me. Jacque had two "boys" that are the same age as my two boys. Jacque had a wonderful husband who loved her. I have a husband who would lay down his life for me. She was a teacher until she got sick. I was a teacher until I got sick. I went to a funeral today and I guess it just hit a little too close to home.
Goodbye Jacque. I'm so glad that you are finally free from "The Beast."

Sorry I've been away so long. It's been busy!

Friday, November 23, 2007
It has been a very, very busy couple of weeks! First, let me give a Charlie update. He's still with us. He's still able to get around a little bit, he's still eating and he's still happy. His leg/hip area is extremely large and swollen. We took him to the vet last week to see if they could drain some fluid off to make him more comfortable. Unfortunately there was no fluid, it's all tumor. We'll just keep working on keeping him comfortable.
November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month, which is one of the reasons I've been so busy and haven't written for a few weeks. During the second week in November I delivered 30 hand-knitted and crocheted scarves to Together, Inc.

Together, Inc. is a non-profit organization in Omaha that reaches out to a significant number of needy people in Omaha. These scarves were made by three PHriends (friends that have pulmonary hypertension) and myself. These PHriends live in different parts of the country. When they finished several scarves, they would mail them to me and I would sew on these special labels that I had purchased.

I'm going to cut this short. One of my PEO sisters passed away on Thursday from a very brave and hard-fought battle against cancer. We have her visitation tonight and funeral tomorrow. I really need to get some things done around here. I promise to get back into the "writing mode" and do better at keeping up with things.

Thanks for reading this "short" update.

From Vacation to a sad reality....

Monday, November 12, 2007
I've been avoiding this post like the plague. But, I also wanted to share it with all of my friends. When I returned home from my "lovely" colonoscopy X's 2, I noticed that Charlie's left hind leg was really, really swollen. He was also limping more than normal. (He has bad hips, so he always has a bit of a limp.) I called the vet and got him in right away. Charlie has a lot of fatty lumps all over his body so Rod and I both assumed that he just had another fat lump growing in that muscle. The vet wasn't so sure and ended up doing an x-ray and took some fluid from the area to try to figure out what was going on. She didn't get any definitive answers so we had to keep "The Big Guy" overnight so they could do a biopsy in the morning. The vet was not happy with what she saw. But, we had to wait for the results from the biopsy that had to be sent to the specialist in Colorado. Anyway, the results are back and Charlie has an aggressive form of cancer in his left hind leg. This type of cancer usually goes to the lungs. They tell us he probably has 6-9 months. The only thing we can do is keep him comfortable with pain meds. When it goes to his lungs and he starts coughing and/or he is unable to walk we'll have to tell him goodbye. Right now he's comfortable. He's eating well and is generally his happy, normal self. He spends 90% of his time on the couch (much like his mother!) and is still able to get out and about to "do his thing." So, anyway, such is life.
Thanks for reading.

Annette (and Charlie)

One more thing....

Saturday, November 10, 2007
Sue T. asked me about what kind special things we did on the cruise ship and I realized that I never really talked about the ship! So, if you'll bear with me, I'll do one more post and share a little about the actual cruise!
We had a fabulous room! We had an actual bedroom, bathroom, sitting room with a couch and table AND a deck!! Some very good friends had previously been on the exact same cruise for their honeymoon! So, they surprised us with some "Bon Voyage" decorations!!

Look at how HUGE our bedroom was!!

Cruise ships are known for their food and this ship was no different! There was a buffet for breakfast, a buffet for lunch and, if you wanted to, you could also have the buffet for dinner! Usually though, we ate dinner in the formal dining room. We shared a table with a wonderful bunch of people from California!

When we weren't busy eating, we lounged around reading books, visited the on-board library, dropped a couple of quarters in the slot machines, went to movies at the on-board movie theater and.....went rock climbing!! (Just Rod, not me!)

OK, now this is REALLY the last posting about our vacation! Thanks again for reading!


The big finale....ROME!!!

Friday, November 9, 2007
This was, by far, the highlight of our trip! It was so bizarre to see buildings that were constructed during the 1st century, sitting in the middle of a bustling, typical in some ways, big city! There are over 3 million people that live in Rome. The history of this ancient city includes such famous names as Caesar, Octavian, Antony and Cleopatra! There is so much I could share but I don't want this blog to turn into a BOOK, so, I'm going to just try and hit the highlights.

The Colosseum was completed in 80 AD during the reign of Titus. It is basically a huge concrete amphitheater containing miles of stairways, tier upon tier of marble seats which accommodated more than 50,000 spectators! This was a very barbaric time in history. Gladiators, which were trained slaves or prisoners, were forced to fight to the death, just for entertainment purposes. Sometimes gladiators were even forced to fight lions, tigers and other wild animals. This first picture shows two of the world's most famous and dangerous gladiators.

Trevi Fountain is one of Rome's most popular attractions. Our guide told us that there are a couple of different traditions when it comes to this beautiful work that was built in 1762. One is to throw a coin into the fountain with your back to the water to guarantee a return trip to Rome. Another one is to stand in the same position and to throw in one coin to find true love, two coins to stay with that true love and three coins if you want a divorce! There was actually a guy in our group that threw in 3 coins when he wife wasn't watching! When he noticed that I saw what he did, his eyes went big and he put his finger to his mouth and shook his head "no" to let me know that he did NOT want his wife to know! What a pig!! Well, as you can tell, Rod and I had no trouble stopping at two coins!

St. Peter's Basilica is the world's largest church. While standing in the "Piazza San Pietro" which is St. Peter's Square you can easily see St. Peter's and the Vatican Palace with the balcony used by the pope when he addresses "the faithful." You can even see the window of his private room.

Next door to the Vatican Palace is the Vatican Museum. It is actually a complex of eight museums and five galleries that contain things from Egyptian artifacts to the famous and quite beautiful Sistine Chapel. This picture is of the hallway of the museum! We were pretty restricted with what we were allowed to photograph.

Well, I think I'm going to FINALLY bring this vacation to an end! Thanks to all of you who continued to "travel" along with Rod and I on our once in a lifetime excursion!

Corfu, Greece

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It is believed that when Homer wrote about a luxurious and joyful island named "Phaeacia" he was actually writing about the island of Corfu. It is a very green and fertile island. Unfortunately it was raining the day we visited. It was also unfortunate that the garbage companies had held a strike that was over by the time we got there, but, you couldn't tell by the piles and piles of garbage, everywhere!

We has our guide take a quick picture of us when we stopped for coffee and pastries.

Here is a picture of Rod in front of our "little boat!"

Dubrovnik, Coatia

Dubrovnick is an important seaport and tourist resort. The primary spot to visit is the city's historic section, which is a medieval fortress. Stone walls up to 20 feet thick surround the "old town." This amazing little town has withstood an earthquake in 1667 and damage done while Croatia was under siege by the Yugoslav army. In fact, it was not unusual for us to see large bullet holes in the walls of the churches, fountains or other buildings within the city walls.
This is outside the "old city" walls.

A 14th-century Franciscan Monastery houses one of Europe's oldest and still functioning pharmacy! It was founded in 1317.

Rod went up about 50 stairs so he could get a peek at Europe's 2nd oldest synagogue. He was sneaky and took a couple of pictures so I could see it.

This is a very typical and beautiful example of what we found in the many, many churches. This one was in the St. Blaise Church which was constructed in the early 1700's.

I appreciate you all continuing to "travel" with me as we sail through the Mediterranean. We only have two stops left, Corfu,Greece and Rome, Italy!


Saturday, November 3, 2007

I just realized that I'm running out of adjectives to describe each of these amazing places! Venice is, quite honestly, the most unique stop we made on our trip! It is built on 118 islets within a lagoon. It actually began as a small fishing village in the 5th century, AD. Throughout the centuries Venice became prosperous and became a target for pirates. This led to the building of castles and the creation of the Venetian Army. Venice continued to grow and prosper and it's unique design lured artists and musicians including Vivaldi, Verdi and Wagner. Another "famous" Venetian was Casanova who supported himself by writing, gambling and seducing women. He was imprisoned and later escaped from the prisons which were attached to the Doge's Palace via the "Bridge of Sighs." It was named because people could literally hear the prisoners "sigh" as they were led across the bridge and spotted their last look at their beautiful city of Venice.

St. Mark's square is the meeting place for anyone who comes to Venice. This large square is surrounded by St. Mark's Cathedral, The Doge's Palace, The Clock Tower and lots and lots and lots of shopping!!

The other extremely odd thing about St. Mark's square is the thousands and thousands of pigeons that "hangout" in the square. People were actually buying bird seed from a vendor so they could feed these disgusting birds. Of course, being that they ARE disgusting birds, they don't just walk around and politely eat. They jump on people, on their heads, their arms and just basically hang all over them! I'm sorry, but I just don't understand the lure of spending money to have dirty birds dance on my body!

One last thing about "________" (fill in your own adjective) Venice is the historical and beautiful gondola boats! They are very beautiful and it was very fun going on one of these famous romantic symbols!

Goofy picture, huh?

Thanks for reading!

A long and eventful day in the port of Naples!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Did you know that Sophia Loren grew up in the slums of Naples? Did you also know that the great tenor Carusa was also from Naples? There is quite a bit of history in the city of Naples. But, it's actually mostly famous for some unique "attractions" just outside of the city. One of these is a beautiful, picturesque region called the Amalfi Coast. It is one of the most scenic areas in the Mediterranean. Sorrento is a seaside resort that is home of the legendary sirens who tried to lure Odysseus onto the rocks. We walked along the narrow and steep streets of Sorrento and stopped at a small restaurant to enjoy a cup of coffee and some delicious pastry.

Another famous city in the area is Positano, where John Steinbeck lived. Our day tour included having a delicious lunch at a very fancy hotel. We even had champagne on the balcony, with a view of the bay.

I have to admit that even though I was excited to go to the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento and Positano, I was really, really excited to go to our next stop which was Pompeii! Did you know that Pompeii and another local town, Herculaneum were both recovering from an earthquake in 63 AD when disaster struck again with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD? The 20 feet of ash that covered Pompeii did provide a safe "tomb" until archaeologists discovered the site in 1748. It is amazing to see the well preserved wall paintings, store fronts, forum baths and beautiful mosaics that adorned the floors of the town's upper class.

This picture shows a "fast food" store. The big clay pots held stew or other meals so that someone coming through town could grab a quick meal.

These pictures show impressions that were made by pouring liquid plaster into the hollows left by the disintegrated bodies. These "bodies" show us what the people of Pompeii were doing in their final moments.

This was such an amazing and exhausting day! My poor, dear, sweet husband got the raw end of the deal, though. It was almost impossible to roll my Inogen around the streets of Pompeii and he ended up carrying it most of the time! So, when we got back to the boat, we both took a much needed nap. In fact, we didn't even bother going to the dining room for dinner and ordered room service instead!

Thanks for reading!

Back to the Mediterranean!

Sunday, October 28, 2007
Our next stop was Florence and Pisa. Pisa was absolutely amazing! The "Leaning Tower of Pisa" is actually just one of three impressive buildings in the "Field of Miracles." The plan of the residents of Pisa was to create their own Holy City. The bell tower (the leaning tower), a baptistery and a cathedral were unfortunately built on the unstable soil of this former port city. According to our tour guide, after the first three levels were complete, the tower began to "tilt." Instead of trying to fix it or tear it down and rebuild on more stable land, the builder of the the tower, Bonanno Pisano, left town! He didn't return until shortly before his death. He is buried at the base of the tower.

The Baptistery was modeled after the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

Florence is a magnificent city! The Italians call it "Firenze," which means the flowering city. The Medici family was a very rich family that had a real love of art. They commissioned work from such artists as Michelangelo, Donatello (not the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle) and the poet Dante. Probably the most famous work of art in Florence is Michelangelo's David. But, Rod and I fell in love with the church of Santa Croce that holds the tombs of Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Galileo!

I must say that with all of the beautiful art in Florence, Rod and I decided that our favorite "piece of art" was the delicious ice cream that we had at this restaurant!!

Thanks for reading!