Jim’s sweater made great gains in Sheridan WY as we spent several days with Alaska expats Greg and Debbie. We are still working on the back of the sweater, but several inches of beautiful soft sweater emerged during the laughter filled visit. Debbie is an expert knitter and was happy to correct my many knitting mishaps as well as whipping out several rows herself. My knitting confidence grew as she showed me some techniques in her best gentle teacher  way. Sometimes we both knitted and talked—something that didn’t work well always for me. So sometimes I knitted and sometimes we talked!!

The first part of the trip included other guests that the Marinos take in stride. “Rocket shoes” Debbie left me in the dust quickly fixing fabulous meals for 7 visitors including ANMC oncologist Matt and his 14 year old son Jack, who shot his first deer, as well as their long time friend, retired teacher and pilot 80 year old John. I never seem to have time to visit Matt in Anchorage so I was delighted to see him for a few days. Matt, Jack, Greg and Jim, while out hunting, became involved in a rather bizarre incident involving a deer, a competitive game warden and a gun-waving rancher. But that’s another story.

Soon there were four of us plus Maggie “the chocolatey lab”.

In addition to giving Jim’s cancer check up a green light,img_2082

Greg took him flying on a stunning day, landing in Coalstrip, MT where a fridge held 50 cent sodas and the offer of a retired police car to drive around for guest pilots.img_2126

Dr. Marino was responsible for Jim getting cancer care before he died. when I  had texted  him a picture of his blood results t in WY.  His local doctor was dithering. He urged us to quickly head to Anchorage.  After 2  days in Anchorage, it was 51/2 long months in Seattle. So there is a very special relationship between Jim and Greg

The next day Grimg_2145eg and Jim went hunting, with Jim shooting his first white tail deer while Greg shot a mule deer. As is the Alaska custom, they both thanked their deer for “giving itself” to them.

It was beautiful weather and wonderful company. We stayed an extra few days to help Greg and Debbie celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary with a great dinner img_2168and wonderful conversation. Sheridan friends Mark and Tibby came along with expat Alaskans, Chris and Dave. The best part was that Tibby was so moved by the story of Jim’s sweater, she knitted a few rows as we talked. Chris doesn’t knit but did bring her favorite mitts that needed a little knitting repair work.

The love and warmth in Jim’s sweater increases along with the inches. I can feel it.  It’s getting softer and warmer every day.

Count: 2 yarn shops, (British Columbia, Portland Oregon)  7 knitters.


Home for Respite


We are home in Anchorage, Alaska. Already at 6,400 miles TheGreyPanther has completed ¾ of her maiden voyage. The trip will be complete when we fly back in June to WY to pick her up and drive the ALCAN hwy. She is tucked in with friends until we return. We thought about driving up the ALCAN—but with unscheduled wintery weather and weak bodies, we knew it wasn’t safe. For all our adventures, we lack the feeling of immortality of the younger generations. While it was a wonderful, wonderful trip enhanced even more by spending time with friends along the way, home is so much—letting down, beloved routines….and peace.

It’s hard to remember everything is not tucked behind us in the Sprinter and gathering our belongings and wits to fly again took a little bit. Good news was that I only needed one wheelchair for airline transfer (in Seattle) instead of 3!! But for the kindness of strangers, I would be missing a few things, my special cushion I must use, I left on the Billings plane. More importantly my trip journal with notes of many things, I left on a plane—a woman from Salt Lake City called saying she had picked it up on an Alaska Airlines plane and would mail it back.

Like it or not, it is a time of medical appointments. Time for Jim’s series of tests one year post bone marrow transplant. For me, getting help addressing ongoing medical problems, including knee problems brought on possibly by foot and ankle out of wack?, screaming nerve pain in right foot, paralysis altered walking and rosa the stoma hernia getting bigger, but oh the joy to be home.

I thought you just went to the store.

DustyKitty was beside herself with surprise when we came in the door. So surprised she forgot to be aloof and purred and purred. I had to carry her around for hours and of course she was right in bed sleeping with us purring away. Who was happier, Dusty or us?

Hang on though. The stories are not done. We still must share Moab and WY. In addition the real stories will be written: “Traveling in a Sprinter van with altered body functions,” “Post-lymphoma treatment side effects on the road”; “Loving, loving life, the world, the people, Nature and each other;” “The new normal—accept or fight?”; “Longing and wishing”; “We used to……”; How does the Mercedes Sprinter rate after 6400 miles” and much more.

Home for Respite