Jim’s Love Sweater 6 and Alberta Arts

We’re off again shortly heading to Astoria, OR and ever north moving closer to home in Alaska. It’s been a great few  days with Andy, Jennifer, AbbyTabby and Daisy the dog.

They live in the Alberta Arts district of Portland and right around the corner of  their early 1900’s house is a street filled with small shops, all kinds of food and murals. I so love seeing the young women entrepeneurs and their success ful little shops!

Resale items are always interesting and Portland is no different, Why, I think looking at an halibut tail and a uh um hat rack? How about your ATM. Boring? This one lights up at night.

Jim did a little home improvement with Andy’s help. I like to keep him entertained so Jen and I can go play.


Today we walked to the waffle shop and then I went on to the knit shop, Close Knit for some desperate help to finish the back of Jim’s sweater.

I figured Monday morning would be light but I was wrong, the little door bell tinkled constantly. I waited while she helped two older “Pussy Hat” supporters, gathered some yarn to continue on with my blanket whichis 6 inches long but Jennifer’s is almost done. Inspiration comes in many ways.


Finally my turn and she quickly ripped out (gasp) the offending two rows and then showed me how to shape the armholes to finish the back. She loved the story of the sweater and invited me to attend the Wednesday night knitting group, but alas it’s time to go.

I walked back to the house taking little shots of the Alberta Arts District, so lively, so supportive of all people. Even the pest control for the attic squirrel “Nature First Pest Control only hires vet, retired police and fire fighters.

Jim’s Love Sweater 6 and Alberta Arts

JIM’S SWEATER, Chapter 4

JIM’S SWEATER, Chapter 4

We drove into Maob “the back way” which is almost the best scenic byway I have ever been on. A sunny, warm day enhanced the experience. This is our 2nd visit in year, but a big part of the plan was rest. We love the Grey Panther, but seem to drive around too much. So we booked into a well-rated economy hotel for a few nights. Since leaving Sheridan, I had continued to knit a few rows and noticed a couple of very large errors. Keep them? Or visit the local yarn shop for help?


The door to Desert Threads, was open on the warm day and I went in. I wandered around a bit as customers were being waited on. Yarn shops have their very own ambience, and Desert Threads was no exception. Beautiful yarns, samples of knitted items and specialty items such as a handmade leather needle cases, felted book marks and stunning felted scarves filled the small store. I approached the counter and was greeted by Cathy, one of the co-owners. Her warm welcome eased my anxiety. As she looked at the knitting, she decided the two big mistakes needed help, which she graciously started to correct.

In the meantime, I met 2nd grader Danny playing with complicated lego vehicles he had made. He also told me he had knitted a scarf with other people who came into the shop. Rosalie, his little sister, was having a snack in the little back room. Danny graciously asked if I would like the last apple/honey bar. When I declined, he helped himself. Soon I was holding Rosalie (once a grandmother, always a grandmother) while Cathy continued to work, nonplussed, on the sweater. Rosalie wanted to sit on the counter where she often sits. Meanwhile Cathy continued to fix the sweater while refereeing sibling spats—“Use kind words” she told them. Finally the mistakes were in better shape. She wanted to knit a few rows of the sweater and calmly added length to Jim’s sweater.

Cathy told me it was “stitch night” when the local knitters came together to knit in the shop at 7pm. She was sure many of them would love to knit a few rows. Too often in our travels, we don’t stay long enough to get to know the people of a community. I welcomed the opportunity .Not sure of how they would react to a stranger, I was the first to arrive and sat in one of the folding chairs arranged in a circle. Soon other people arrive, including one man who stated he was a “privileged white male”. He liked to knit while he watched football. An atmosphere of friendship and easy talk filled the room. I relaxed. So many different projects—a mermaid blanket, socks, hats, a reluctant afghan for someone’s mother, still in progress for a year, warm colorful mittens, scarves.

Cathy’s sister, Rosie, sat next to me. She is a teacher and a co-owner of Desert Threads as well as responsible for some of the beautiful handwork for sale in the shop. Conversation topics changed from local issues and asking questions of the mermaid blanket knitter about her upcoming move to be closer to her friends in the Society of Creative Anachronism.

I felt so comfortable. I only meant to to stay the first hour, but I suddenly noticed two hours had zipped by.


Most of the knitters wanted to knit a row or two and the sweater was passed around the circle as knitters put down their own project and without missing a blink, nor stopped chatting, knit a row and passed the sweater on. Cathy was determined that the Maob knitters would add inches to the sweater. And they did!

The little grey panther had come along and hung out in the usual places, helping when necessary. Unfortunately, the little panther slipped away from me, staying in the shop. Cathy emailed me to let me know she would keep him safe for the night. I picked the panther up the next morning, a little anxious as to what havoc prevailed (think Night at the Museum) during the night, but there was still a warm smile on Cathy’s face as she handed over the little panther.

We said goodbye and I left with the spirit of the time spent in the Desert Threads held close to my heart after spending time with new people whose kindness is woven into Jim’s sweater.img_2482

Count: 3 yarn shops; (Wooley Ewe, Telkwa, B.C.; Close Knit, Portland, OR; Desert Thread, Moab,UT) 15 knitters !

JIM’S SWEATER, Chapter 4

Stories along the Way: The Saga of the Chocolatey Lab


img_2140It was a dark and stormy night. Actually it was a stunning star-filled sky kind of Wyoming November night. Jim and Greg went off to roar with the Lions and a Lioness while Debbie worked with the Lionettes serving dinner. I stayed back as roaring lions are unsettling and far too noisy. I much prefer staying with the resting Grey Panther and Little Panther.

Maggie, the lab mix and I were hanging out. She spent several years with a Catholic priest before the Marinos adopted her, and I expected the best of manners and ethics. She did have a penchant for food and quietly laid her head in visitors’ laps during meals, big browns looking up with a well-practiced “I’m starving” demeanor, occasionally accompanied by a sigh.

I heard a small noise but didn’t think much of it. A short time later I went to our bedroom and noticed that my covert supply of TJ chocolate peanut butter cups was turned over and the package empty. DustyKitty, knowing chocolate was bad for cats, walked away from it. I had no idea that dogs didn’t practice responsible eating. I realized, Maggy-who-will-eat-anything had consumed them in one gulp. Oh dear. I know chocolate is bad for dogs and what was worse, I was a little embarrassed about our covert stash (I had brought 3 boxes for Greg, knowing he loves dark chocolate and peanut butter). Even non-Reeses fan Debbie fell under the TJ charm.

Reluctantly, I texted the Lion and Lionette. Soon all three came hurrying into the house, having finished dinner but not the program. Indeed oncologist Greg had just met a new urologist named…..wait for it…..Trojan.

Debbie was on the phone with the vet who recommended pouring a few doses of Peroxide into Maggie to initiate vomiting. It meant a trip to the nearest drugstore, 10 miles away. Maggie was just happy to be invited to go for a ride.

Time passed. We didn’t hear anything. Then Greg texted: Happiness is a vomiting dog. Next came: I know guys in college like this, which made Jim burst out in a hearty laugh. It seemed to take several doses and many walks with Maggie before she would vomit— in the car. Fortunately, as she had consumed only chocolate, it smelled like…..chocolate.

Finally home, Greg pulled the offending chocolatey mat from the car to wash off while Debbie and Maggie went into the house for bed. The next morning Maggie was eager for breakfast, none the worse for wear.


Stories along the Way: The Saga of the Chocolatey Lab

Introducing the little Grey Panther and Jim’s doctor vist

Jim’s only favorite store is Shiptons here in Sheridan, WY. After getting his blood draw at the Welch Cancer Canter, we went off to the store. I was puttering and he quickly didn’t find what he wanted….so he went out to The Grey Panther and I finished. There I found the Little Grey Panther who will now be our constant companion.



We returned for his 11am appointment with Dr. Marino who examined him and then pulled out the blood work analysis. Jim had admitted he was a little nervous and hadn’t slept well last night. I told him that if hadn’t been concerned, I would have his head examined. When Jim had been released from the hospital, I was constantly afraid I would lose this man I love dearly. The fear has settled down but rears its head near doctor appointment time.


It appears the only problem Jim now must deal with is high cholesteral! Liver and kidney functions fine!! A CT in six months. If all ok then, one year to next tests!!  “How nice,” I said to Jim, “to only have to worry about high cholesteral.”

Dr. Marino had raved about the hospital food. Patients had complained and a real chef was brought in. I had the  health “special.”  If here, I would come every day for the health special soooooo good!!img_2084

And Jim is off to a well-deserved nap!! Life is good..


Introducing the little Grey Panther and Jim’s doctor vist

Home and Whitehorse




October 15, 2016

“Welcome home,” said the Canadian border guard as she examined our passports. “Welcome to Canada,” she said to Jim and told him to remove his sunglasses.


I’m always a bit happier when I’m back in Canada and happy to be headed to Whitehorse. It has changed dramatically from when I first came through in 1990—far less eclectic and frontier but still fun to visit

Jim was very tired of driving, but claimed he would be even more tired if he let me drive. It was early evening and the beautiful golden light enhanced the rich brown hides and white antlers of a small elk herd grazing by the side of the road. I checked the “allstays” camping app for a place for The Grey Panther. Several provincial campgrounds, but many closed. I hesitated on Wal-Mart, normally taboo for my snobbish ways. However, a comment praised its off-the-highway location as quiet and safe with free Wifi. I knew there would only be a few campers in October. We selected a quiet spot and put up the makeshift curtains we normally do without. We had a couple of errands and Jim went to Canadian Tire for batteries for the Sprinter keys (“They sell more than tires, Jim”). Two of the three had just failed. Yikes!. Jim started the Wallis stove/heater and I made our first dinner chicken cacciatori on rice. The built in-tile inlaid cabinet with fridge, stove, and sink is wonderful along with the great views, except in parking lots. An unplanned bonus is the warm air blown by the Wallis fan while I cook. We snuggled into our soft, warm bed with Jim quickly falling asleep. With my nerve-damaged painful feet, sleep comes slowly.

Morning and the sun came, the Wallis had kept the temperature around 40 degrees. This is a temperature that would, in previous years, been welcomed to both of us crawling out of a tent in Alaska. But, now, our bones crave more warmth. Next year it will be insulated.


I was ready to prepare tea and coffee on the Wallis, but Jim, the converted American, was ready for Tim Hortons.

We drove past the almost empty Starbucks into the crowded TH parking lot. Tim Hortons is more than a fast food restaurant, it is a gathering place. It is the same in any Canadian city. I can’t think of a chain in the U.S. this is similar, not Starbucks, not McDonalds though both are present in Whitehorse.

I have always enjoyed the courtesy of opening and having opened doors for me. The man coming out of the restaurant went a little further, gallantly holding open the inner door with his back foot. Fresh raisin tea biscuits in the case! Breakfast sandwich menu with one side devoted to healthier choices. Brewed half and half for Jim—half coffee, half half and half, hot steeped tea for me with milk. Ahhhhhh. After eating, I sat back with my tea to people watch.


It was a mix of people in the crowded restaurant—First Nations, Indians (from India), white, Chinese, old, young, single, couples, groups, construction workers and well-dressed retirees. With the exception of one parka -clad wizened old timer who sat at his plugged-in ancient Toshiba taking advantage of the free Wifi, most people were just talking to each other in happy, morning voices. Two singles at adjacent tables had phones in hand, but then put them down to chat with each other. A bank official in logo fleece, came in, got his drink and began greeting people as he headed to his table and chatted with former strangers around him. The murmured sound of many voices felt warm and friendly.

We left with raisin tea biscuits in a paper bag and went across the road and railway tracks to the small park to watch the mists rising on the mighty Yukon River– the lifeline for so many frontier people in Canada and Alaska, still providing millions of salmon each year. The air was deliciously crisp and clean. We crunched across the frosty grass to the bank of the swiftly flowing river. It was hard to image that this is the same river that flows 20000 miles to the Yukon Kuskokwin Delta in Alaska where Jim taught school for many years, and then out to the Bering Sea. When we continued driving, we would see the headwater rivers at the start of the Yukon.


Off to the Superstore for a few Canadian supplies. I love new grocery stores; Jim hates most stores and shopping. Sigh. I agreed to meet him in the bakery……the likes of which do not exist in Alaska—even in Anchorage—from plum pudding, stollen and fruitcake for the upcoming holidays to croissants, reasonably-sized single whole wheat hot dog buns, bagels and breads of all types (including a package of square triangle cut crustless white bread ready for tea sandwiches)…..to a grinning Jim with a big box of butter tarts in hand.

Home and Whitehorse

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