St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Hunkering down for Winter

Snow at Pine Island this morning.  18 degrees.  Looking south to the road.
   The cabin is winterized for another season. The water system is drained; 20 gallons of water are stored in containers that will freeze up and be ready for March maple syruping; 10 mouse traps are baited and set; the electricity and wireless are turned off; and the food removed or stored in mouseproof containers.  All of the valuables are removed or clearly labeled with their garage sale or thrift store tags prominently displayed.  The doors are locked, the gate chained.
Looking down the hill at the maple sap cooking shed and the slab pile to the left ready for March
syrup season.  The lake can be seen through the trees.  

   We still will be back and forth to the cabin throughout the winter--going inside to start the wood stove while heading out to visit for a few hours as the cabin returns to toasty comfort for a few days again, mostly back to normal except that we will not start the water again until the ground thaws in April.

   It is hard to leave the cabin, the lake and all the wildlife we get to know during the summer.  We won't see the lake freeze over.  We won't be able to watch the black squirrel try to avoid capture during a white winter.

   Treatments and health has dominated our decisions this year.  Normally we would close up everything after Christmas.  But with a winter that will be scheduled around Margo's cancer treatments we are hovering around Rochester at our Pine Island home.  My own weakness from myasthenia gravis has made the challenges of wood gathering, cutting and even hauling inside and burning more than I want to do this winter.   Our home in Pine Island where our son Scott lives and will do the winter chores and the propane tank replaces the wood pile and the Mayo Clinic is only 20 minutes away is a comfortable fall back.

  Our Pine Island home has many large windows that look out into the yard and our own 5 acres of woods surrounded by corn fields.  We live out in the country with a strip of woods surrounded by fields.  The woods are home to dozens of squirrels of all types; cover for many birds including a resident pair of pileated wood peckers all attracted to Scott's bird feeders and suet.  Our neighbor, Dennis, still has a big corn field unharvested nearby that attract deer, turkeys, pheasants and others.  If he is true to form, he will leave this field most of the winter and harvest it in the spring for his dairy cows.  He doesn't have storage bins enough, so lets a field wait most years--losing some to wildlife, but feeling that the reward of sharing some of his crop is acceptable for his use of their habitat.

Margo has her 12th and last chemotherapy round 1 treatment at Mayo.  
   Margo finished 12 round one chemo treatments for breast cancer.  Her main tumor has shrunk greatly. Friday she has an MRI to see what is left.  Next Tuesday she beings chemo round 2, four biweekly treatments that will last through the end of the year to be followed by more tests, surgery and after a month for recovery, radiation ending in March if all goes well.   So far things have gone very good and she continues to be very positive, to feel reasonably well, and even still has most of her hair.

    I am still trying to balance prednisone vs disease.  A month ago I was at a high dose and doing pretty good.  As I tapered the medicine down, myasthenia came back and the weakness and problems started to return, so I am again increasing the dose.   Problem is that what you do this month mostly shows up next month, so it is hard to regulate with the delay.  However, I am functional enough to do stuff that isn't very physical.

    The big effort for this week is to get the Northwest WI Regional Writers book finalized so we can order it and get the copies back by Dec 14th so the members can have them ready for Christmas gifts.  I am waiting to get the computer file back from the editing committee -- maybe today, then go through and  get the layout right and ready for a final review by the committee on Friday (we send it back and forth through email).  The goal is to order the books before Thanksgiving.  We use's service where it takes about 2 weeks from order to delivery.  The Christmas party is Dec 14th--and we want the books ready to handout then.  The schedule is getting tight!