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reflection


day in the life

Highlighting the everyday life of a couple living well with a slow-growing cancer. Life isn’t always easy, and there will certainly be sorrows and losses along the way. But being alive is good. It is very good.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wilderness therapy

Hubby, on chemo, has low energy. Which is to be expected. Not to mention the swollen leg and foot thing. Yesterday, he went grocery shopping with me and was exhausted when we got home. Concrete floors; fluorescent lighting; waiting in line; stale air.

Here’s an observation I made today as we explored along the Deschutes River that flows through the middle of town: our version of wilderness therapy left him tired, but it’s an entirely different kind of tired.

April sunshine. Breezes blowing off the river.

   
 

Scrambling over large boulders.

 Sawyer Park - Bend, Oregon  
 

Capturing wildlife on camera: a mountain goat in a cowboy hat ...

 Sawyer Park - Bend, Oregon  

 

... chipmunks scurrying across sun-baked rocks ...

   
 

... geese announcing their landing and take-off.

   
 

Not to mention the calming chorus of the river rapids. What’s not therapeutic about all this?

 Sawyer Park - Bend, Oregon  
 

I will encourage Hubby to take in as much wilderness therapy as he can possibly handle during this clinical trial phase of his cancer journey.

That’s the plan.

Side note: Here’s a factoid that you may want to tuck away in your brain bank. There are 65 miles of trails within the Bend Park & Rec District. We’re not talking about the hundreds of miles of trails in the nearby Deschutes National Forest, Three Sisters Wilderness, Smith Rock State Park or Badlands Wilderness. Just the town’s park and rec district. Sixty-five miles of trails.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

And we believed her

Today’s basic “Walking for Wellness” class—led by the lovely Michelle Poirot—involved lessons on how to sniff a Ponderosa tree.

Yes. You heard that right.

Michelle talked us all into sticking our noses between the cracks of the bark.  

You’ve heard of Pacific Northwest tree huggers, right?

Well, meet Pacific Northwest tree sniffers.

 Shevlin Park - Bend, Oregon  

Michelle Poirot (kneeling) demonstrating how to sniff a Ponderosa

Apparently, this time of year, the Ponderosa has a pleasant odor. Some smell faintly of vanilla; others of pineapple.

Or at least this is what Michelle told us. And we believed her.

Week Five of this basic walking series for cancer survivors and caregivers found us at Shevlin Park this morning.

Normally I don’t attend all the groups and events I help plan, but we had more RSVPs than anticipated, so I’ve been serving as trail sweep. Which has been a pleasure - hanging out Saturday mornings with Michelle and this fabulous group of people. 

 Shevlin Park - Bend, Oregon  

Walking 4 Wellness group in Shevlin Park

 Shevlin Park - Bend, Oregon  

Crossing Tumalo Creek

What more fun could one ask for than exploring the trails along Tumalo Creek on a sunny April day with courageous people who have faced down cancer and are now getting on with their new normal? It just doesn’t get much better than this.

No, wait ...

It does get better. Michelle had arranged for coffee, muffins and chocolate-dipped strawberries afterwards, shared around a sunny picnic table, a creek burbling (burbling? bubbling? gurgling?) nearby.

OK, now we can say it: “It just doesn’t get much better than this.”

   

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Clinical trial round three

Of course I’m anxious every time Hubby takes off alone on his day-long, round-trip, multi-vehicle excursion (read: planes, trains and buses) to Seattle for clinical trial treatment.

And not because he can’t take care of himself, but because he’s probably having more fun than I am back at the office.

Per usual, I left explicit instructions: “Text me every step of the way.”

And of course he texted with his famous (infamous?) stunted messages:

Hubby: “On light rail.”

Me: “Don’t fall asleep and miss your stop.”

Hubby: “I will try not to. Love you.”

Me: “You will try not to love me? I’m not sure I understand what your last text means.”

Suffice it to say that Hubby came home exhausted last evening but feeling relatively well and in high spirits after this, the start of round three.

Which is really all that matters.

Side note: The views from the plane window via this Pacific Northwest route are part of what makes the journey fun.

 Mount Hood - Oregon  

Mt. Hood in all her spring glory

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Home crowd

We’ve been guest presenters at small support groups and large medical conferences. From the Pacific Northwest to New Mexico and Texas, from Wyoming and Colorado to Florida and up the Atlantic Seaboard.

But we faced what I thought would be our toughest crowd last evening. The home crowd.

DEFEAT Cancer - Bend, Oregon 

The home crowd - 97 in Bend; 17 in Redmond

As it turned out, they were pretty gracious. Well ... except for that time when they laughed at a story Hubby told.

“I’ve gone through a lot, and Marlys has been right there beside me,” he said. “I’ve had two neck surgeries. Back surgery. Three wrist surgeries. Cancer. And last year when I was hiking, I fell and broke these two fingers. And Marlys has always been right there by my side.

“You know, it’s taken me all these years to finally figure out ...” and here Hubby pauses reflectively, “... that Marlys is bad luck.”

It wasn’t all that funny, people.

Cancer Adventures

Just wondering why the photographer captured

 me with the mouth open ... and not Hubby

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Beautiful tree

I first met Julie as a young college grad when she came for Thanksgiving dinner a few years back. She and a friend, Jo-Jo, had just moved to Bend from Nebraska.

After dinner, we spread out on the living room floor in front of the fireplace to play games. Our oldest granddaughter plopped her diaper-padded bottom down in the middle of our game – thinking that the cards and conversation and laughter were all about her.

My friendship with Julie grew when we became mentor and mentee ... and then Thursday Girls was formed because of Julie ... and Nate, who would become Julie’s husband, entered the picture ... and we hosted Christmas parties and dinners with all the Thursday Girls and their friends and Julie’s brother Mike.

It wasn’t until later that we met Julie’s parents, Jim and Sandy, when Nebraska got too lonely and they moved west.

Eleven months ago, Jim was diagnosed with an aggressive and rare form of prostate cancer. We got together over coffee, and exchanged e-mails, phone calls, texts – comparing cancer notes.

And then Jim was gone. Too soon. 

His Celebration of Life was held yesterday afternoon at a beautiful ranch with the Cascade Mountains as backdrop. Jeans, boots and cowboy hats recommended attire.

Live music. Food. A slide show. Hundreds of church family members, co-workers, friends of his wife and children, bikers in black leather, band members, veterans with flags that lined the driveway to the ranch. And words of affirmation of a life well lived.

For Jim was husband, father, son, brother, vet, biker, drummer. He attended church, worked at a local insurance company, and impacted the lives of Julie’s and Mike’s friends.

   

Thumbprint leaves in honor of James Dean Weiner

A co-worker of Julie’s painted this tree on a beautiful slab of wood. The idea was for guests to press a thumbprint into a shade of green, stamp it somewhere on the tree and then sign it.

Thumbprint leaves representing so many people whose lives were touched by Jim’s. For isn’t that how we should live – investing in and impacting others?

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Best bran muffin recipe

They’re called Six-Week Bran Muffins. Not because they’re so filling you can go six weeks without eating again.

And not because the muffins can last six weeks without growing green fuzz on them.

And certainly not because they take six weeks to make.

The batter is actually pretty easy. First you soak bran in boiling water.

   
 

Then you stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. (Or is it dry ingredients into wet?)

   
 

And lastly, don’t forget the raisins. Or little chunks of fresh apples. Or nuts. Or all of the above.

   
 

Fill a muffin tin almost to the top. (Note, the fabulous second hand store find. I think my mother had a few Ekco baking tins in her kitchen.)

 Six-Week Bran Muffins  
 

And then you eat the muffins hot, slathered with butter and honey. Or plain, because they’re that moist even though they’re made with whole wheat flour and bran.

 Six-Week Bran Muffins  
 

You wanna know why they’re called Six-Week Bran Muffins?

You can keep the batter in the fridge for up to six weeks ... and bake fresh muffins for breakfast as often as you’d like.

Or lunch. Or midnight snack.

Whenever the mood hits.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Best April Fools’ joke

For those of you in central Oregon who woke up to snow this morning, Mother Nature played a pretty good April Fools’ joke, didn’t she?!

  

On my way to the office this April Fools’ morning

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thats just swell

Hubby woke up Friday with swelling in his right leg and foot. Only he neglected to tell me about it until halfway through the morning.

I get his call at work. Hes made an appointment to see his primary care physician. An ultrasound indicates no blood clot. Thankfully.

He is consigned to a compression sock with leg elevated all weekend. Ive actually let him up once or twice on good behavior. 

  

If it isnt one thing, its seven

I’m quite pleased to report this morning that the swelling seems to be subsiding.

If it isnt one thing, its seven.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

A little welcome back celebration

I may or may not have a job next week. 

It all started innocently enough. We were just going to decorate our bosss office to let her know how much we missed her while she was on vacation.

  

Welcome back, boss

You know, hang a “Welcome Back” sign, splash the place up with a few polka-dots and some ribbon.   

And then one of us got the idea to blindfold the bosss stuffed dog. And then another of us tied the little critter’s feet up.

  

No animals were hurt in the producing of this blog

And of course you know how these things go. One thing led to another. A ransom note was produced and a little fluffy dog went missing.

  

For those who need to know,

ransom note was created off company time

The boss will be back on Monday. Fortunately, I dont work Mondays. Which means if Im getting fired, it wont be until Tuesday.

But Ill say this, if I go down, Im taking someone with me (her initials are AD).

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Succinct conversational skills

Hubby flew to Seattle by himself today for his second clinical trial treatment. I gave him strict instructions: “Text me every step of the way.”

Hubby: “At airport.”

Hubby: “Through security.”

Hubby: “On plane.”

Hubby: “On train.

   
 

I did get a longer message around noontime, albeit a little disturbing: “They are bringing me a runs sandwich.”

Having never heard of a runs sandwich, I texted back for clarification. Wanted to make sure the sandwich wasnt going to give him the runs.

Hubby: “Your phone translates my words wrong.”

Oh sure, blame it on my phone. Turns out, he had a tuna sandwich. Much better.

Later in the day, me: “How do you feel? Are you tired?”

Him: “No, feel good.”

As you can see, Hubby has very succinct conversational skills.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Walking for Wellness

There are so many ridiculously amazing volunteers who help us facilitate some fabulous programs and support for central Oregon families dealing with cancer.

One such volunteer is a licensed oncology massage therapist who also works at the FootZone, a downtown athletic shoe and gear shop. The lovely Michelle.

Michelle approached us with an idea that would marry her two passions – working with cancer survivors and encouraging more movement, preferably outdoors.

My kind of person. 

Michelles approach for the walking class is this: First, basic instruction; then warming up (you can see were getting the arm-propeller-stretch-thing down pretty well) ...

  

The lovely Michelle in pink coat (middle),

warming up walkers in 34-degree sunshine

... after that, splitting into different levels of difficulty with mentors per level; and finally, meeting for coffee afterwards.

We named the class Walking for Wellness (clever, huh?).

But after two weeks of walking with this group and seeing how important the coffee aspect is, Im thinking we should have named it Jaunt and Java.

Or Meander and Morning Mud.

Or how about this: Daily Gait and Daily Grind.

Wander and Wakey Juice? That could work, right?

Or how about Ramble and Rocket Fuel?

Because its not just about the exercise, as important as that is. Weve found that the camaraderie piece is critical, as well.

Its about drawing strength and encouragement from one another; its about seeing that were not alone on this cancer journey – that there are some pretty terrific people also traveling this way.

Last Saturday, the first day of the six-week series, 22 people showed up.

Today, there were 30 participants, which means 30 very smart (and coffee-fueled) people are just now getting home after a productive morning.

Side note: You remember the homeless guy who sits year-round on a bench downtown? Today, he and his buddies were sporting new head and neckwear.

I like the matchy thing theyve got going on here.

 Downtown Bend Oregon 

Head and neckwear in matching green

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

First clinical trial treatment

We took off from our hometown airport before dawn, turned left at Mt. Hood ...

 Mt. Hood  

Mt. Hood on the way to Seattle

... and then caught the light rail to Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle (me trying to look chipper since Hubby rolled me out of bed at 4:00am).

 Seattle's light rail 

Riding Seattles fabulous light rail system

Hubbys first clinical trial treatment began this morning at Virginia Mason Medical Center.

Seattlites (Seattlistas?) are pretty fabulous people. Theres Jeremiah, the MA who got Hubby settled into his recliner and took his vitals.

 Virginia Mason Cancer Center 

Jeremiah, medical assistant

And the medical oncology nurses who kept Hubby plugged into drugs for several hours.

 Virginia Mason Cancer Center

Marion and Mary, chemo nurses

And of course, Mark, the clinical research coordinator who brought all this together.

 Virginia Mason Cancer Center 

Mark, research coordinator

After hanging out for a full day with these fabulous people—who are all younger than our own children—we find ourselves wondering if were getting old. That, or the medical profession is recruiting a lot of Doogie Howsers these days.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Popcorn Lovers Day

Today is a national holiday. In case you missed it, the entire country is celebrating National Popcorn Lovers Day (always second Thursday in March, for those of you who need to mark your calendar for next year).

  
 

In honor of this important day, we popped up a large bowl of the wonderful, white, crunchy, salty stuff and popped in (pun intended) a DVD of Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face.

You may or may not know how Hubby feels about musicals. Any singing or dancing that shows up in any movie is entirely a waste of the viewers time, or so goes his twisted way of thinking.

In the case of Funny Face, he wasn’t allowed to fast forward through more than three songs.

(How can you not love songs with words like *swonderful* and *smarvelous*, I ask you?)

  

(Photo not taken by Hubby)

That was our Thursday night date, and we still have our Friday night date coming up. How lucky can a girl get?

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pacific Ocean ambiance  

We got a call late yesterday afternoon from the clinical research coordinator in Seattle. After the oncologist studied Hubbys scans, it was determined that the tumor-in-the-bladder-cloggage issue needs to be taken care of first. Keep the kidneys functioning before moving forward, which makes sense.

Meanwhileturning an out-of-town cancer appointment into a weekend datewere at the Oregon coast (which is sort of on the way home from Seattle, if you use your imagination).

 Lincoln City, Oregon 
 

Hubby has the little corner fireplace burning and is sitting almost on top of it. Maybe because Ive cracked open the window the better to enjoy the crashing waves and the seagulls lined up on the deck railing below.

 Lincoln City, Oregon 

 

Whats more important, I ask you Pacific Ocean ambiance or Hubbys comfort levels? (Its a wonder hes kept me all these years.)

We had dinner at Mos. Blackened salmon with garlic mashed potatoes. I ordered the shrimp cabbage salad with mine, while Hubby had the worlds best clam chowder.

 Mo's Blackened Salmon 

 Mo’s Blackened Salmon

I texted our kids: Were at Mos ... worlds best clam chowder!

Daughter Summer from the east coast texted back: I googled worlds best clam chowder and only places in Boston showed up. Do you mean Oregons best New England-style clam chowder? Or have you actually tasted all the clam chowders of the world and are now an expert?

Smart aleck. She gets it from her father.

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Clinical trial prep

Were in Seattle. Beautiful, gray-skied, green-treed, rainy, cold Seattle. (How is it that rain is colder than snow?)

Olympic Mountains, Washington 

The Olympic Mountains across from the seaport

Hubby is in the process of getting registered for a clinical trial. Yesterday involved meeting with the research coordinator, going over paperwork, signing consents, an EKG, blood work and meeting with Dr. Chatta, the oncologist overseeing the trial.

Today, we go back to the medical center for bone and CT scans.

This is a new phase of our cancer journey. A whole new team of people interested in keeping Hubby alive. I love that thought.

After yesterdays appointments, Hubby talked me into celebrating his half-birthday instead of waiting for March 22. (For those of you not familiar with Hubbys self-written birthday and half-birthday rules: He gets to eat whatever he wants, which inevitably means a juicy steak and something chocolate-y for dessert.)

I am sorry to say that we ordered a slice of cheesecake. Chocolate cookie crumb crust, chocolate ganache, real whipped cream. It just doesnt get more decadent than this.

I have to report here that we shared one slicetwo forksand left half of it on the plate. Seriously. Thats how rich it was.

See for yourself. 

  
 

Side note: You can’t come to Seattle and not have fish and chips at Ivar’s on the waterfront and not save most of your chips for the sea gulls.

It just wouldn’t be right.

 Ivar's - Seattle, Washington 
 

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

In the eyes of the beholder

We invited friends over for dinner and games. They came bearing flowers an amazing arrangement of spring color.

And then we woke up to a couple inches of snow, which meant Hubby and I played outdoors with our *his and hers* snow shovels.

Its hard to say which is more beautiful spring roses on a wintry day ...

  
 

... waking up to winter white ...

Bend, Oregon

We purchased a blend of nuts and seed and suet,

but apparently the locals dont appreciate gourmet. 

... or this.

Hubby disappeared into the back room, and then

I heard the musical whir of the vacuum cleaner

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March 2014

Thats just swell

Welcome back celebration

Succinct conversational skills

Walking for Wellness

First clinical trial treatment

Popcorn Lovers Day

Pacific Ocean ambience

Clinical trial prep

In the eyes of the beholder

February 2014

Green scrubs

Hometown tourists

Not exactly as planned

Lost and found

Get outdoors

Early Valentines Day gift

Popcorn stitch

January 2014

Three-part date

Weekend forecast

Winters art

Spa Chemo day

Seeing beauty

Pilot Butte challenge

Award rescinded

Ambition restored

Annual award

Meet the team

Must be present to win

December 2013

New Year's Eve news

Thoughts on gift receiving

Secret cure-all

Guest blog by Hubby

Non-compliant patient

Caught. Red-handed.

Tree-hugging

November 2013

A little trim

Giving thanks

A few of my favorite things

First in a series

Focus

The years are short

Travel

Cabin in the woods

October 2013

Leaving on a jet plane

Color

Knitting season

Pumpkin season

Things that matter

Fallin' and flying'

September 2013

Return to civilization

Another day in paradise

Happy birthday and anniversary

Love of barns

Leaving Wyoming

The Tour Guide

This nice big thing

Celebrating a lot of stuff

Fishing expedition

August 2013

Worst fears multiplied

This Friday night date

Mountains to climb

Hiking & oncology news

Out on the range

Cancer camp

Instead

July 2013

The boy who asks questions

Ten-year-old in tow

Tourists

A happy birthday

Music by the river

Mondays off

June 2013

Splash for Pink

Kids at Disney World

Male designed

Happy Father's Day

Pacific Coast thoughts

On track

May 2013

Aware. Appreciative.

MS Office 2010

Family get-togethers

It's just a number

Last trek, part two

Hardy gardeners

Mother's Day

Crunchy, sweet and savory

That time of year

April 2013

Swimming lessons

Getting off the ground

Chunk of asphalt

Stress-free zone

Two Portlands - part 2

This Boston Marathon

Earlier than the TSA

Shopping woes

March 2013

Half birthday ... again

Last trek

With each passing year

Keep the old

Tech nerd

Not the hardest thing

How hard can it be?

Just what the doc ordered

Two Portlands

Mini family reunion

February 2013

Shout out

Marvelous

There is today

Doing it up right

Happy Valentine's Day

Speaking of beans

Snow angel

Simple winter fare

Moving west

January 2013

Flat Stanley on snow-shoes

Water colors

Happy chatter

Flat Stanley visits again

Extended hope

Take that, cancer

Compromise

The commonplace

Bringing in the New Year

December 2012

Making investments

Winter wonderland

Random acts of kindness

Gift giving

The good, the bad and the ugly

Peace on earth

Cancer Club

Mission accomplished

Culture

Fantasy football

November 2012

Those darn numbers

Dreaming of a white Christmas

Back to reality

Favorite things, part IV

Complaint department

Even more favorite things

More favorite things

Favorite things

October 2012

Happy Halloween

Baking weather

Graduation day

First snow

Swans in pairs

A great fall

Date night(s)

DEFEAT Cancer

Country girl

Tis the season

September 2012

Back in the groove

Last hurrah

Teton hiking

Wow, Yellowstone

Reconnaissance in Jackson

Barn sightings

The power of tenacity

Winnie the Pooh wisdom

Long-time survivor

Perfect marriage

August 2012

Five dollar bill

Out in public

Guest blogger, Steffany

Think outside

Survivor camp

Camp this weekend

Living in a wonderland

Sacred space

High country

July 2012

High country

Simple cooking

Locks of Love

Attitude

Average, ordinary weekend

Close of birthday week

Day before

Get outdoors

Human beans

Mission: Accomplished

Night sky display

Journey with a mission

June 2012

Aint no sunshine

Favorite thing

In our possession

Over the hills

Camp Sherman on Father’s Day

In search of wildflowers

Building a cancer center

Southwestern surprises

Irrational fears

Reason to celebrate

Intention

The Space Noodle

May 2012

Reunions

Hiking posse

Powered by optimism

Mothers Day weekend

Heart tug moment

Vermont hospitality

Happiest place on earth

Supermoon

Unlikely source

Baby geese season

April 2012

Not found out west

The rules

Guess what state were in

New Englanders

Jersey weekend

Beantown

Easter blessings

Milestones

Bean soup day

March 2012

Fashion statement

Sharing the experience

Second day of spring

Half-broke horses

Simple pleasures are the best

Best to live your own life

Words With Friends

February 2012

Got your back

The entire snow-shoe team

Grand Canyon

Perfect day

Arizona in February

Springtime?

Super Bowl Sunday

Favorite audience

January 2012

Something in common

Some system

In such a community

Coming home

Headed for OHSU

Checklist for the coast

Welcoming Twenty-Twelve

December 2011

Snow in town

Filling Christmas weekend

Socks

Coolest date night ever

Dressed in pink

Butternut squash day

Making connections

Painted hills

November 2011

Beauty from junk

Taking nothing for granted

Grateful for - part 4

Grateful for - part 3

The child in all of us

Shepherd's House

Grateful for - part 2

Marathon epidemic

Unconquered

Grateful for - part 1

October 2011

My orthidontical twin

Last wilderness hike?

The view from 7,800 feet

Colonoscopies and fall colors

Welcome back

To make a life count

On our way to the Poconos

The Parents

Autumn day in the city

A few numbers

September 2011

Country girl signing off

Off the grid

What are sisters for?!

Try something new

For a limited time only

On the NCI web site

August 2011

I dont make this stuff up

Brothers

Addictions

A lifetime

Club membership

Detours

Date night can’t get much better

July 2010

Beauty in the high desert

Another shot at life

Happy Hour

Almost perfect

Enjoying the journey

Birthday week kick-off

Ive become my mother

Bobby McFerrin + OBF

50 things to do Part II

June 2010

Like what you do

Colorado wildlife

Life is good wisdom

Sad day

Rocky Mountain high

Cowboy sing-along

My kind of town

Please dont feed the bears

Naming buildings

Low expectations

Heaven Can Wait

Because nice matters

May 2010

April 2010

March 2010

February 2010

January 2010

December 2009

November 2009

October 2009

September 2009

August 2009

July 2009

June 2009

May 2009

April 2009

March 2009

February 2009

January 2009

December 2008

November 2008

October 2008

September 2008

August 2008

July 2008

June 2008

May 2008

April 2008