Sunday, July 30, 2006

Cribbage Night

Marvin came over last night for dinner and cribbage. Ron barbequed and didn't think Marvin would eat the venison (I can't stand it) because it might be "too chewy." Wrong. Marvin loves venison...but he did say it was a little chewy!

In keeping with our routine, the cribbage board came out after dinner. I was determined to win since it's been a LONG time since I have. To start off, we cut the cards to see who would deal first. This is what I cut: Ah ha! This was certainly a good start for me. Now Marvin likes to reassure me that part of the game is the deal of the cards...and I know that's true. But how do you figure that Marvin, the master of cribbage, usually wins? I don't think it's just the deal of the cards. With the pegs, Marvin is always red, Ron is always green, and I'm always blue. Notice who is ahead:
Slow and steady wins the race is an expression I've always heard. Um? Well, at 92 1/2, Marvin is a little slower, although not much...and he's definitely steady...and here's the outcome of the game: Yep, Marvin won!

When I was in Sicily and Malta, I brought home two drinks we had Marvin try. One was an organic Merlot from Malta...and the other was a lemon liquor which was all over Sicily and Malta. The one we drank last night was from Gozo, one of the Maltese islands. Marvin thought the wine was delicious...he said it was "more robust"...which was a perfect description. He said the lemon liquor was too sweet for him, but he and Ron toasted before they tried it.

We definitely had a good time...but I have to leave you with this photo of the results of the last cribbage game of the night:

Uh oh, Marvin decided he better check his glasses to make sure he was seeing the results correctly!

Friday, July 28, 2006

"Textbook" is not always good for Camilla

Life is not going well for Camilla today. My heart aches for her. She now has mucusitis. This is definitely a side effect of the radiation she had and the chemo she was on where she had to bathe every four hours. Last year when she had her first transplant, she never had the hope was that she wouldn't get it this time either.

Two years ago in San Francisco, she had it so bad that she had a pump where she could give herself a little extra dose of morphine to ease the pain so she could just swallow. Rema said it's not that bad...yet. I pray it won't be.

With this, she has sores...sores that hurt, that burn. It hurts to talk, to swallow, so she's just laying there trying to get through this time. Dr. Horowitz said it probably won't go away until she engrafts. Engrafting is what we're waiting for. That's when the new bone marrow starts to develop...when she starts to make her own T-cells.

To be thankful...everything is "textbook" - it's going like it should. It's just an extremely difficult time.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Target is a store I like to shop in. I don't know how many years the store has been around, but it seems in the past few years, it's making a comeback. I'm glad...for more than one reason.

Camilla and her mom live in Memphis in a beautiful place called...Target House! Target built it...actually, Target built 2 of them. They built the first one, it was instantly filled. Later, Target asked St. Jude what else they could do to help. St. Jude said they needed another Target now there is Target House I and Target House 2. St. Jude offers Target House as a place to live - at no charge - to long-term patients. Each apartment has 2-bedrooms, a living room, kitchen/dining room, and a bath. They even come completely furnished.

Earlier in July, Newsweek published a special double issue called "The Giving Back Awards." In it, there is an article about Target and Target House. Guess who is interviewed? Camilla and Rema! I think Camilla was more excited about Brad Pitt being on the cover than being in the magazine!

Guess I better go shopping to show my support of Target!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Camilla Update

The first half of the transplant went well. "The first half" is something I guess I didn't catch when Rema was talking about it. a matter of fact, right now as I write this, Camilla is getting the 2nd half of her transplant.

From Rema, the doctors took some of her stem cells. They couldn't give it all to Camilla at one time...not sure why. So yesterday she got half of them, and now she's getting the other half. As of an hour ago when I talked to Rema, Dr. Horowitz said everything was "textbook"...that's GREAT! We love textbook. Camilla was psychologically feeling a little bit better because she had not had a reaction from yesterday's transplant. She felt good enough to talk on the phone...that's also GREAT! She had a transfusion of platelets...that gives her energy too. But she's not eating...just no appetite at all. She's on TPM, which is a nutritional supplement they give her through her IV. She also is hooked up to an antibody treatment...more tubes. Plus they have her hooked up so they can monitor her blood pressure, heart rate, how many times she blinks (just kidding) but it seems like it! go to the restroom, well, it's nothing less than an ordeal. So Rema unhooks all the tubes, Camilla goes into the restroom, comes out, walks back over to the bed, and sees on one of the monitors "respiration ceased". Here comes Camilla...she looks at the monitor, looks at her mom, and says, "Um, so my respiration is ceased. I don't hear anybody running!"

Camilla, in spite of it all, is still here!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Pray for Camilla

I've written about Camilla earlier on this blog (May 28th post)...and now it's time to write about her again. Tomorrow she is due to have another bone marrow transplant. Her mom, Rema, will be the donor.

Camilla has been fighting leukemia for 2 1/2 years. She's a trooper...she's strong...she's got a fighting spirit...but she's scared, as we all are. Right now her immune system is gone. That's what the doctors have to do for a transplant - they kill your immune system so a new one can form from the transplant.

It's just been a little over a year ago that she had her first transplant - May, 2005. Now here it is July, 2006 and she's going through it again. This time, she's been sick from the chemo, the intense chemo. One of the chemos she's on will burn her skin as it seeps out. So, to counteract that, she has to bathe every four hours so her skin doesn't burn. Every four hours...round the clock.

In spite of all this, as I was talking to Camilla yesterday, she wanted to know about my trip to Europe. She wanted to hear all about it...all the fun things we did. THAT is amazing to me. It hurts me to tell her of anything fun, when I know she is laying in a hospital bed suffering like she is. But, that's Camilla! Tomorrow is an extremely critical day...please pray for Camilla.

Friday, July 21, 2006

It's good to be home!

I love to travel, to see new places, meet new people, see family and friends...but no matter how much fun I have, it's always nice to be back home.

Lindsey and I just returned from 3 weeks in Europe. We went to Paris, Versailles, Lyon, Cannes, Nice, Monaco, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Pompei, Naples, Palermo, Catania, and Malta...PLUS lots of small towns...such as Eze, Erice, Cefalu, Orange (no, not the's French), Segesta, Caltagirone, Taormina...and we also climbed Mt. Etna, the volcano that erupted in 2002! It was a busy and exciting trip. I am writing about it day by day on my Heart of the Mediterranean blog.

Our delegation manager asked me towards the end of the trip what the best part of the trip was for me. There is not one thing...there's not even two things...I told her it was the 'package'...all of it combined. We traveled with some absolutely wonderful high school students and met some wonderful people in the process. In addition to that, we saw SO much...visited so many awesome places! Our last stop was in Malta, a small island country in the Mediterranean. Instead of staying in hotels, in Malta we stayed with families. Lindsey, Felicia, and I stayed with the Cassar family. What a treat it was! Maria and Joseph speak Maltese and English, as most of the island does. They have two children, Claire is 16 and beautiful...and Keith is 18 and exactly what you would expect a model from the Mediterranean to look like! The picture I took of him doesn't do him justice!

It's interesting in Malta. There are no house numbers. You give your house a name. The Cassar's named their house 'Eden'...You pick out a name, and then go to register it...kind of like we do for an internet name. If no one has it, you can have it.

The Cassar's opened their home and themselves to us. I felt so comfortable and right at home. Maria and Joseph took us out two different nights. The first night we went to the walled city of Mdina. We had been there with our group during the day, but it was magical at night. St. Paul's Cathedral is there...on St. Paul's Square. This is the bridge into the town of Mdina and St. Paul's Cathedral lit up at night.
This is St. Paul's Cathedral in the light...and the street sign for the square.

The second night, Antonio and Marsett(Maria, is this spelled correctly?) came over and we all went walking along the Promenade. Now this was interesting. In Malta, I guess because it is SO hot during the day, everyone comes out at night. Even at 11 p.m., the walkways were crowded, young kids were out playing...that's just what you do in Malta. It was wonderful. About every 5 steps, Antonio would see someone he knew, stop and visit a while. It was great! The Maltese are so very friendly. Maria told me we were like the Maltese! That was certainly a compliment.

Visiting the Cassar's was certainly one of the highlights of my trip. And...they have a beautiful, but not very friendly to Americanos, cat...Bella!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What European City Do You Belong In?

You Belong in Amsterdam

A little old fashioned, a little modern - you're the best of both worlds. And so is Amsterdam.
Whether you want to be a squatter graffiti artist or a great novelist, Amsterdam has all that you want in Europe (in one small city).

We just returned from 3 weeks in Europe...Wow! We saw so much, but Amsterdam was not one of them. I've been to Amsterdam, back in the summer of 2000, and it is definitely a city I loved. I'll be posting more of my Europe trip soon...maybe even later today!

It feels SO good to be home!