Bay To Remember

We arrived at Bay To Remember on December 2, 2013.

This pleasant lakeshore house will be our home for the next two months.  We are just south of the city of Geneva, New York, on the west side of Lake Seneca.  This is the central of New York’s Finger Lakes.  You are thus looking east…

We are here for the duration of OWLeS, Ontario Winter Lake-effect Systems experiment.  Funded by the National Science Foundation, this particular experiment involves 9 different universities and the Center for Severe Weather Research.  The CSWR is based in, oh delight, Boulder, Colorado — my natal city.

Elsewhere the experiment will be covered; in fact, the amount of coverage is projected to be astounding!  such are successful field experiments.  So I’m not going to say much about it, other than to point you to its website:  http://www-das.uwyo.edu/~geerts/owles/

This is what you see when you walk in the front door.  The table in the right rear is the computer table, and the man in the chair is George, my husband.  He doesn’t really have a title for the experiment, although “Flight Scientist” is as good as any.

When we first knew the experiment was funded, I was given the task of finding lodging for us.  George gave me a number: per diem multiplied; this was my maximum, not to exceed.  It was in the thousands, but single digit eh?!  I took about three quarters of it and started by looking at hotels.  Duh.  That did not work.  A hotel for 2 months??  Not!  Next, I tried apartments.  The problem here was all the leases were year leases.  It was whilst talking to a real estate agent that I first heard the magic word, VRBO.

Vacation Rental By Owner.


I had only recently read about VRBOs in TIME magazine.  It was like a door opening.  With a bit of trust and lot of imagination, (and my background of reading Architectural Digest for fun), my dreams took root, then started walking, trotting, galloping and then flying!!

I used location and price, as well as criteria of how many bedrooms and baths.  Ideally I wanted two bathrooms.  Sounds extravagant for two people (a married couple no less!) but I know these two people.  After 25 years, our bladders are on exactly the same schedule.  I also wanted a work space for my tack shop.

What made it all work, what made VRBOs such a good deal for us, was the simple fact that we were staying over the winter.  This is not merely shoulder season, this is the ultimate OFF season!  The frightful prices were for summer tourists, weekends and vacation weeks  They dropped to very reasonable lows along with the temperature.

I had narrowed my choices down to three when I got a phone call.  The landlady for this particular property wanted to know if I had any questions!!  I was somewhat flabbergasted.  I had only just begun to dream… I thought I couldn’t afford the place.  She asked how much we had in mind.  I spluttered and hawed, finally mentioning a range which matched my three-quarters.  And of all things, she promptly made an offer right in the middle of my range!

As though I could name my own price!  I bit.

The final kicker was my asking whether the Lake would freeze, and she digging up the weather bouy which rides there.  She emailed me the link. Such devotion and courting of business was beyond my own capacity and certainly not possible to resist.  The other two properties, I should say, took forever to get back to me (one of them didn’t reply until after we’d mailed our down payment).  She was prepared and she was just plain nice, and that has been the case ever since.

So here’s the basement, with its second flat screen TV, pool table, fooseball table and cushy couches.  There’s a bookcase to the right of the pool table, behind the couch.  And this, taa-daa, is my work space corner.  The TSII has set up in some interesting places over the years — field experiment tents, ships, apartments — and this one has got to be one of the fanciest.  The house even has a hot tub.

I confess that we have used such a thing only once before.  I’m the sort for whom a soak in the tub is sufficient.

And so the wheel turns.  A week has passed since we arrived.  The plan is to drive down to State College once a week and take care of the mail, the plants and the recyclables, and bring back anything we need.  I’ve made the drive once: 193 miles one way.  The list expands:  my own cheese grater, a particular book, chip clips, a certain pattern for a saddle.  As time goes by we adapt to our new home more and more, by purchase or fetch, or just by getting used to things.  Bad: can’t see out the front door very well.  Good:  sound of waves at night.  Bad:  no piano  (I went on campus and used a practice piano).  Good:  sense of spaciousness, great carpet for excercise, and fabulous movies.  I’ve already finished one puzzle.

Tackmaking has begun again, and that is always a good sign.  Geo’s shingles are healing well, and we are looking forward to some good storms to measure this very week.

Stay in touch.


Ruth at The Forum

On November 19, 2013, Ruth moved to her new digs.

At this distance in time, 3 weeks after the move, and with no new bad news following, it seems to have been not too hard… not as hard as the first time.  But who can really judge the difficulty?  If I found it hard, what about Ruth…?


I started the hunt for a Skilled Nursing / Long Term Care place with the five places we had visited back in May and June.  Of them, Benton and Brighton were out and Freedom Pointe and Park Meadows did not provide Skilled Nursing.  (I am told, I tell you, “about 5 % of residents need it.”)  This left Brookdale.  Research and recommendations from friends provided two others, The Forum and Rosehill.


I started the hunt in early November.  On the 11th I had narrowed it down to the three.  We knew there was space at The Forum and they had already called and told us Ruth “would be accepted in nursing.”  Rosehill was the furthest away from Benton and priced higher than The Forum.  I didn’t yet know the prices for  Brookdale.  I had asked them to send a Personal Assessor to Benton.  They promised Monday; in the event, she didn’t go til Thursday.  The conclusion was as expected: Ruth would do better in the social environment of Long Term Care.

One of the things I’ve learned this year is the tremendous spread of definitions in the terminology of the aged.  From state to state and institution to institution, it varies as wildly as harnessmaking terms varied one hundred years ago.

That day, Veterans Day, was a Monday.  George had given me an ultimatum:  Today we decide, commit.  This, because we were leaving on November 15th, Friday, for our long-planned trip back to Kansas (the fifth trip to KS of this year, as it happens).  He left for work and I swung into action, finally obtaining Brookdale’s prices, something I should have obtained a week ago.  Well, they were a third again higher than The Forum.  As I talked with a marketing agent from The Forum, a very nice young lady named Newell, I found myself falling in love.  Time after time, point after point, not a sudden moment but a long series of little weights landing on me and piling up.  She had worked at Overland Park Place as a receptionist.  “Nobody leaves The Forum” (this was the answer to our most-desperate but most-unable-to-ask question, would we have to move her AGAIN).  She knew residents who had left O.P.P. to come to The Forum:  “There was a tradition of them choosing it.”  Biggest risk was ‘elopement’ or flight risk.  In-house hospice.  They had two semi-private suites open.  Then the trigger:  “I know that name!  I know her, Ruth Young…”  When I heard that, I made my decision.

And so we committed to The Forum.

For the first time since 2002, Ruth would have a roommate.  This condition was supposed to give residents “more of a reason to live.”  Not since the passing of Ross, George’s father, had she had any loss of personal space.  But also, by this time Ruth could barely propel herself around.  The walker was last used in late October.



I believe this person is related to Mary Peter.  Mary herself is a very nice person.  She travels with an oxygen tank.






Two different views of the television on the dresser.  For at least a year we’d been able to remove TV from Ruth’s life.  Now this decision was taken out of our hands.

At least I was able to recycle some of the picture-hanging hardware, and put up a semblance of familiar pictures.  I couldn’t find a hammer so used a shoe-heel to drive in the nails.

Back at Benton House, we were scrambling to render down a large two-room apartment into this semi-private suite.  The closet is a particularly perfect example.  It is 42 inches across.  Somewhere in there are three garments I had taken back to Pennsylvania to dry-clean and then transported back to Kansas for her.

She chose books to take with her, and magazines.   They are in the dresser whose corner just shows in this picture (see two shots above).  The other dresser, under the TV, holds underwear and t-shirts.


You do the best you can.

Yes, there is a window.  You have to walk around the curtain for it, but here it is.  The bed in this view is Mary’s.  The closet door hard on right is Ruth’s closet.

The view itself is of the parking area and front entry arcade (red cobblebrick) of this part of The Forum.

There are two halves to The Forum.  The northern half, closer to 95th Street, deals with Independent Living and Assisted Living.  (You can see its three floors through the window.)  On the satellite view, it is the large X-shaped building.  Below it, to the south, is a V-shaped echo.  This deals with Rehabilitation, Long Term Care and Skilled Nursing, and is called The Health Center.

Ruth’s room is on the second floor.

The bathroom: a far cry from what she was dealt over at Benton House.  From a practical standpoint, it meant most of the supplies we had gleaned and chosen for her bathroom became superfluous.  Some were saved and taken home to PA; some were given away; a bare handful travelled with her;  and the rest, about 50%, were tossed.

This ratio is not so far off of the entire apartment, except for the furniture.  I have to slip in here that I am quite pleased with how the furniture was dispersed.  Family, friends and Ruth’s long-recommended favorite charity, Cross Lines, got it all.

Here you have a view of the common area, or lobby, of the second floor of the Health Center at The Forum.  The elevator is to your right.  The hall behind Ruth and George is the rehab hall.  Her own hall is to the left.

For some reason I love this shot.  Indeed, we went through like a whirlwind.








This is her hall.  He’s headed back out to the common area after having emerged from her room.



This shows what’s behind the hearth: the rest of the common area.  Lo and behold, a great flat screen!  and lo and behold some more, a spinet piano.  Long and far cry from the Pearl River baby grand at Benton, at least it IS a piano!!  I found out anyone could play it… but rarely did such a thing happen.  Perhaps because of advanced age, (high turnover?) perhaps because none of the staff knew how, I was told that if a piano player turned up it trumped all other forms of entertainment by default.  Naturally, then, I had to give it a try.

For a few moments there, I was the prime entertainment and source of music on the floor.  Some of my audience was still alive, and appreciated the impromptu concert.

Long may Ruth be numbered among them.


Ruth at Benton House

Ruth Young moved into this lovely 2-room apartment on July 10, 2013.  We had spent much of May and June hunting for the perfect Assisted Living home for her.  The move was the then-culmination of 6 months of long-distance caregiving for us, something we’d never done before and hardly believed we could.  We are in Pennsylvania, and Ruth is in Kansas.  Move a 93-year-old from the place she had been for 14 years?  (Overland Park Place since 1999, since 2002 as a widow.)  I felt like we were transplanting a tree: an old and delicate species.

We were facing a booked fall ourselves, and felt, as her needs changed, we could not go on depending on the contracted in-home services where she was at, even though they had helped immensely since February.  Some trusted friends and a doctor told us to consider Assisted Living.  To secure a room in a place like Benton House was, in many many ways, a dream come true.

During the summer, when George and I were in Boulder CO as part of his work commitment to NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research), I used my parents’ computer to do exhaustive researches of old age homes in Kansas City.  Our first encounter with the species was on May 6, during our week with Ruth before our Colorado and Utah phase.  I shall remain forever grateful to “Josh” of Freedom Pointe, for not only did he take us under his wing without an appointment (I now know this is a rarity!), he treated us to the marvelous world of modern assisted living.  Freedom Pointe was located right behind our favorite restaurant!!  Oh, the relief, the support, the friendliness of that tour!  We had never known this service existed, having heard only terror tales from my Dad and other sources about nursing homes.  It was clean, bright, smelled wonderful, and everybody was smiling.  Here we heard for the first time about Continuing Care Retirement Communities.  Josh, who was younger than us, seemed to think they were the next great thing, certainly worth investing in.  He wanted to get into one himself.  We were just glad such a place as Freedom Pointe existed.  For the next month it lurked in the back of my mind as a steadying star, a fallback we could live with.

This is a view of Ruth’s Benton House livingroom.  The mirror behind her is the large closet.  The cupboard left of the door is the kitchenette, really just a sink.


From May 27 to June 17 I made up lists, lists and pages.  I spent hours on the phone.  I taped pointers on a large map of Kansas City.  I found KDADS and other rating agencies online.  I faced my fear every day, struggling through the wall:  I had never had anything to do with old age or death before, never been a mother, hardly even been sick.  A wife, yes, but a long-distance caregiver?  Except for my cancer case I was 50 years a spoiled child.  I felt separated from the world, even from my family and husband: George was not the one to do this research.  It fell to me, who had no job (or one that could be easily pushed aside) and who could spend the time ramping up the learning curve.  I discovered more about old age homes than I ever dreamed: specialized Alzheimer’s wings, floors designed not to be slippery, colorful dinnerware, all rooms on one floor to minimize travel distance, dedicated staff in the ever-burgeoning field of marketing.  You should ask for an appointment, get the tour, and it usually lasts more than an hour.  Don’t go in unannounced.  Of the 5 places we eventually visited in person, four were fantastic and rated very highly in my eyes:  Benton House, Brookdale of Overland Park, Park Meadows, and Freedom Pointe.  The fifth, a place called Brighton Gardens, was one where we did not have an appointment: a red flag I know now.

It stank.  None of the residents looked happy.  Most were crammed on a dirty couch in front of the T.V.  Some were struggling with their walkers; nowhere did we see the fresh homeliness we had come to expect.  I stuck out that visit bravely, but it was an all-too-real glimpse of the past, a ghost past.  We told ourselves we could never put Ruthie in there.

We fell in love with Benton House, the newest kid on the block,  built over the site of a former elementary school.  (Ruth’s greatest love was elementary kids.)  Lorie Carter did a superb job of selling; our ears loved her.

They had space.  (I had been worried about occupancy; in 6 months the place was halfway filled.)  The largest and grandest apt. was a 2-bedroom with a porch facing East.  Oh how lovely.  Ruth had always loved flowers and her old apartment had a balcony.  I confess the sunshine and porch were some of the attractions that can be described as more important to us than to Ruth.  This is a common failing, along the lines of me falling in love with their piano:  Ruth of course does not play.  A car salesman probably has a name for this all-too-human behaviour:  we indulged in pleasing ourselves as much as her.  If you ever need ego-boo, go get a tour of an old age home: they are exceedingly friendly, as monks must have been to travellers during the middle ages.


The previous owner had had a dog, and Benton House was vacuuming up after it.  We saw the room bare of any furniture, big and clean and inviting.  Although this apartment felt overlaid with the stress of the whole experience, still it was a dream come true, and ours to play with for a day, before the movers came.

We had cut down her former 3-room apartment’s furnishings to those appropriate to two.  All in one week!!  (July 8-12)  a feat of unprecedented effort, not to say fury.  I’m naturally a materialist and it was quite hard to throw out so much stuff.  To make all the decisions on what to keep, what to trash and what to give away, under time pressure, turned me into a Marine Sergeant.  There is precious little other way to survive:  it was battle duress.

Arranging the movers was challenging.  I researched a pageful, found a good one, (Assisted Movers) but had a time getting them to reassure me sufficiently.  In hindsight my questions were the sort a hovering-parent might ask during a move to college.  The morning they showed up, Ruth was asleep and unprepared.  It still seems a miracle the move went off smoothly.  It was so anticlimactic in many ways; we just drove over.  I wrote a nice review for the movers, praising one man for letting us dump the TV set on him, which was (more or less) against company rules.  The whole thing took under three hours: Benton House was only 3.5 miles away.  The leading man was intensely focussed (I have no better word) and we pretty much had to get out of his way.  Only at the end, when I paid him, one worker to another, did we connect: a job well done.  I could identify with his pride.  Indulgent or slow they were not, but they were supremely efficient.  I found out later they’d had THREE moves to make that day.

We put up framed works important to Ruth and used the bed she’d slept in ever since George left for college (it was his bed).  I made up the bed, and Ruth complained I didn’t do it right.  I never had a chance to find out whether she’d fixed it to her satisfaction.





This picture shows the outdated toilet riser, discarded even before we left.  She couldn’t stay on it, but slid off and hit the floor so hard her clothes came undone.  In hindsight this might have been a warning.

The big bathroom is for wheelchairs and for attendants.  Every one of her friends who saw it exclaimed, What a big bathroom!

Just one of the many jobs I did for Ruth over the course of these 11 months was to run out and buy her a set of white towels and washcloths when Benton House recommended it on their move-in papers.  Just like a mother sending her daughter off to college!   For some reason those towels mean a lot to me.


This is a view of the sink and fridge to the left of the door.  Behind those doors is a bunch of kitchen furnishings scraped from the Overland Park Place apartment.  I had a feeling we’d have to deal with all of them again… I just didn’t know when, or how soon.


Ruth is a flower person.  I think everyone who knows her would agree with me.  George purchased this delightful housewarming gift for her the morning of our departure.  (July 12.)  George isn’t too bad with the flowers himself, when he has time for them.  I look forward to a time and place when we can have flowers again, and he can fuss over bulbs.


I’m more of a book, saddle, leatherwork and piano person, happier at a workbench.  It is curious, but I’m the leather-and-wire person of the couple, he the birds-and-flowers.  Ruth is on the birds-and-flowers side.

She was an inspiring teacher of children.  One of her greatest legacies was reading to the Children’s Cottage pupils every Thursday while she was in Overland Park Place.  I wish I had a picture of the last time.  George did the reading while Ruth sat magisterially nearby, a little smile on her face.



I can only hope she enjoyed her porch a few times, when the weather was nice.

Thank you, Marilyn, whom I know took her out there, and did so many other things besides.







This is the view just outside her door.  It leads to a small sunporch within the hallway.

Oh why do the good things have to go away so soon!??!   This post is one of my memoriams, for Ruth and for our dream of Benton House.


As things stand now, she enjoyed it for just 4 months.



This is the lobby of Benton House, just inside the front door.  The staff was always friendly, and I know they gave their best.  We had just 2 meals with them.



Although you can’t see it, the piano is just around the corner to the left, at the end of this dining room.  Behind you to the right are some of the kitchen facilities.  When we were there during July, one of the residents was making cinnamon rolls.  Oh how scents are the most evocative of all our senses.





The front arcade on a sunny day.




I shall always be grateful for the 3 months, August, September and October of 2013.  During those months, with a few wobbles, we healed and returned to normal, that greatest of privileges.  Ruth was happy in her new apartment, friends were notified, details were settled, and routines established.  I started making tack again, the ultimate sign of contentment.  Even George says he got one month’s rest, in August.

And then, the call.  October 31.  Ruth had fallen yet again.  They felt they could no longer guarantee her safety.  They hadn’t the staff, and were not set up to provide long term care.  She’d hit the long odds, for most residents were not supposed to need skilled nursing or long term care.  (“It rarely happens.”)  We had to do the research and move all over again, not with months of warning but mere weeks.  We had arranged earlier to visit in November (18-22) and suddenly this trip became a window for a second move.  Heartbreaking?  Are not our hearts already broken?

What will happen to those towels I bought her?  They’ll probably be given away.

Now, as of November 8, George’s health is breaking under the strain.  Prayers are appreciated, all ye who venture here.

The Forum looks good, very good.  They have space in a semi-private room.  Stay tuned.

I want to remember Benton House as a place where Ruth was happy and well cared for, and as a time when we were secure in our knowledge of her care.  I am grateful.


November 18  2012

Herein Lies A Tail – 6: July 2012 to August 2013

It’s more than time I updated this chronicle.  An entire year has gone by.  You can guess that my condition has just gotten better and better.  I no longer think of these adventures every day.  Yes, I am a survivor and will always be a survivor; my hair itself is one of my biggest reminders.  But I like to remind myself that this, this very life of mine so precious yet so taken for granted, is what my physicians, nurses and medical professionals were working for and towards.

Let’s start out with early July.

July 1 2012

I know my last installment stopped after this, so there is a bit of overlap, but this cutie deserves a spot.

Next, several late Julys.  This is the first serious braidwork to reappear.

July 27 2012

July 27 2012

July 31 2012
















Here are the first pigtails to appear.  We will see this approach again later.  At this time I was still using the big barrettes to keep the hair out of my face.  The scrunchies are getting a good workout — an excellent investment.  I used them until they stretched out and went limp.

September 4 2012

This beauty shows, among other things, that picture-taking has slowed from every month to about every quarter.  It also shows what we suspected but didn’t know for sure until now:  the curl is only on the ends.  It wasn’t permanent.  The older, straighter hair is growing back in, returning.   The original is re-establishing itself.  I shall have long straight hair again, but always with a curly tail end:  So long as I don’t cut it.

September 4 2012

And I don’t intend to.

I am starting to think of this mane as like a unicorn’s tail, or maybe a lion’s.

September 13 2012

Odd to think that it’s long enough for pigtails, but not for braiding.  This unusual picture makes it look shorter than it really is.  What’s going on is that I’ve made 2 pigtails and then fastened them together behind, with a third color which can’t be seen.


Binding these curly ends is rather hard.

September 24 2012

Yet another shot on the deck in the fall of 2012.  We are making up for lost time with these hair photos.  The shape of things to come is clear.  My husband claims that the curly ends are redder than the top, that the straighter hair is duller brown and has more white.  In other words he thinks the curls are ‘young’ hair, and the now-younger, straighter stuff is ‘old,’ that is, contemporary with my age,…. early 50s.

October 18 2012

Here’s an October, proving that the pattern of shooting me every month at least stuck for a while.

The next series of shots was taken way up on State Gamelands on the Allegheny Plateau.  I haven’t cropped them, so you can see the country around me.  We call it “Three Dog” strip mine (relcaimed), but that day we called it “Four Dog” because we’d found an extra lobe of land that hadn’t been there before.  Such a good deal for the birders and hikers.  I was so exhilarated to be outside in the wild again…

November 18 2012

November 18 2012














November 18 2012

















You have to admit:  ’tis better than the great elk’s crown, to have a mane like this again…

November 2012



This is about the last time the hair can be free of any tie or hold.  It is getting long enough to be a serious entanglement in clothes, pack, everything.


Oh bliss.

January 13 2013





Now it’s 2013.  I have made it to the ballyhooed three year mark, although in actual count it’s only 2 years 11 months since my treatments started and 2 years 5 months since they stopped.  The photo is reddish because, being winter, everybody’s indoors.  Clearer and clearer is the fact that the ends are curly and the rest is going to be as straight as old.

January 13 2013

Something to smile about!!


January 13 2013

Debut the ponytail.  For the next year, at least (certainly as of this writing), I will be wearing the ponytail.  As opposed to pigtails, barrettes, braids or headbands.  All these methods, except for braiding, have been passed by.






February 2 2013

This shot, taken in early February of this year (2013) shows a fantastic new style, the partial ponytail.  This method of hair restraint utilizes the same hairbands as pigtails and ponytails but leaves a softening layer of loose hair around the neck, which also keeps the neck warm.  🙂  If brushed straight back over the forehead, it gives a totally different look again — something I love.  Movie star anyone!?  As it is I’m reminded of childhood friend Chris Pilz.  Forgive me Chris:  I love this hair!

February 2 2013

This would be the last shot taken of my hair for more than 5 months.  Documenting the mane simply slid down the list and landed in last place.  Far more important chores awaited us.  My Mother-in-Law, Ruth Young (whose birthday is February 2) commenced to slide herself down the slippery slope of very old age dementia.  We lost telephone contact in December, email contact in March, and letters in August.  Interim services carried the situation for about 6 months, from February to July 2013.  We placed her in Assisted Living on July 10.  As of this writing she is in Benton House, Prairie Village (Kansas City), a very nice place — and one that had her approval at the time.  Now her fate rests in the hands of God.  To have such a family disruption, lasting more than 8 months — just about the length of my treatments!! — descend upon us within three years of cancer was, ummm, devastating and challenging.  To be rolled in the rock-tumbler of life…again…  And this time, there was not a career to look forward to, but only a duty to be bourne.  She has no other heirs and her husband died in 2002, and George’s work schedule is such that most of the administration fell into my hands.  Never having been a mother myself, and never having had to deal with end-of-life or caregiving issues before, it was a steep learning curve for us.

All this at the distance of a thousand miles — central Pennsylvania to Kansas City — well… just imagine it…  it takes 2 days to drive one way,…

My phrase:  Having my nose rubbed in my own mortality, twice.

July 28 2013

When we finally got around to shooting my hair again, 5 months had passed.  Verily now I had a Unicorn’s tail of a mane.  This picture shows the color variations rather well.

July 28 2013












This seems to be the classic pose.  Remember where I started?  Shot from the back on the back deck!!  In less than 3 years, I have a mane again.  I said I could wait for it to grow again, and lo, it has.  I estimate it will take about 7 years to achieve the great length it had before, although I know it will never really be the same.  At least for now, I’m not planning on trimming or cutting.  The curls are hard to make into a tassel, but that’s what I want, so that’s what I have:  tubular tassels.  It is a unique mane.  I enjoy the curls more and more — they’re fun, beautiful and lively — without wanting to go back to all-over short curls.  Yes, I love it.


August 25 2013

My message, then, to all you survivors out there:  It  probably won’t be as bad as you thought it would be, so concentrate on what’s good.  Let go of your terrors, let God carry them — He’s so much better at it than you! — drain them off, by any method that works for you.  (For me it’s journaling and writing, talking with friends, and occasionally crying.)  Enjoy what you have, even more fully than you thought you could.  Let go of extreme seriousness, without losing knowledge gained.  It will all work out better than you anticipated:  Such are the gifts of One Who loves us.

And I’d be willing to listen, if you need a shoulder to cry on.


The Furniture of 228

As of June 20, I have photographed every room in Ruth’s apartment.  At the time I wanted to document what it all looked like — her home for 12 years — but later I realized this was a great way to choose which pieces would accompany her to her new home.  With a gentle beg of forgiveness, then, in the wake of Dr Allen’s, the Gilsons’ and others’ recommendations (that she move), I proceed to depict the whole place from right to left, starting with the main door.

This is what you see looking back towards the door.  The kitchenette fridge and microwave belong to O.P.P.  The kitchen table and its two chairs, only one of which is visible, are solid wood.

Ruth is involved in a favorite pastime.  🙂  I have to add that the son shares this habit, save that his is on the computer screen.


This shot shows the other kitchen table chair, and a corner of the kitchen table.


Of course, Ruth’s lamp, comfy chair and two wooden folding tables should always be with her.


This is one of my favorite shots, and not just because it shows the needlepoint footstool!  (Visible just above George’s wristwatch.)    The two floor boxes, one of them a basket, are part of her most-used surroundings.

This is one of the most useful shots.  A kitchen chair corner protrudes.  The bookshelf is somewhat blocked by the lamp, but you can tell its overall dimensions.  The television is BROKEN and I can’t get it to work.  The phone book stand and the Windsor chair #1 are clear — #2 is in the computer room.  Of course the walker is here.  (There is a second walker, much older.)  And we see the edge of the great couch, and some of the few house plants.

The “green needlepoint chair” is best shown above as well.  The needlepoint was done by Margaret White Stieglitz, sister of Ruth.  This chair is a family heirloom passed down from the Stella White Kupkuska household.  It fits the desk.

Here we have the couch in all its glory, two small oval needlepoint pictures above and afghan throw in place.  We also have the livingroom telephone desk, and the map case (with my backpack on it)  which has a hinged top.  There is a wall lamp and a standing lamp for the couch.  In the lower left corner are two more wooden folding tables, sometimes referred to as TV trays.  This is what folk of Ruth’s vintage used before the standard folding card table.



This picture is rather duplicative, but shows the upper front parts of the map case and two more wooden folding tables, leaning up against the wall.




Here we’ve gone around the corner and are looking into the second room, the computer room.  (The first bathroom is to the left.)  This is another useful shot.  It shows the sewing dresser-chest with its 3 drawers.  This chest is from the Stella White Kupkufska household.  The sewing chair (only the top back is visible), the magnifying lamp (Sue wants that one), and a small set of shelves on the floor beyond can be seen.

Continuing around the room, we see the second plant stand.  The pile of junk to the left of the balcony doors is strictly transitory — mine and George’s stuff at the time.

The computer.  I’m calling this chair Windsor #2.  There should be a shade for the wall lamp.

Continuing around to the left in this room, we pass the doorway to the bedroom and find what I’m calling the computer room phone desk.  This little 4-legged jobber carries a second phone.. an antique roatry dial phone.

You can see the double closet doors on the left of this room, the computer room.


This shot was clearly intended to show the effort Ruth and George put into attempting to restore Internet service.  But it also shows the closet doors nicely.  Behind them live a plastic set of filing cabinet drawers, a couple of card tables and a wire basket.


I’m sorry to report that as of June, Ruth became unable to master the computer.


This is perhaps the most important shot of all.  I am calling the dresser “Ross’s.”  George and I agree it should belong to Karen.  Under this bed is where I found the lost hearing aid (as well as some much-missed drugs).  The chair is the bedside one.



This view is to the extreme right of the bedroom doorway.  It shows Ruth’s 3-legged stool, another heirloom from the Stella White Kupkuska household.






The mirror dresser.  All of this should go with her.  Ahah, that must be the missing lamp shade.

This is the view down the hall to the left of the mirror dresser.  We are seeing 2 closet doors and a hall door.  This hall door is actually the entrance to the bedroom and bath, proving Ruth is occupying a double apartment.  It was a bargain at the time because it gave her a computer room, as well as the delightful luxury of two bathrooms (something her son and daughter-in-law were supportive of, if only because they had to have 2 bathrooms in their own home!).  The view shows Ruth’s wheelchair.  You can’t see it but the 2nd walker is back there too.



For the sake of completeness I am adding shots of the two bathrooms.  This is the second or “back” one, closest to the bed.  You can’t see it but there is closet space just around the corner, across from the counter and sink.




This is the ‘front’ bathroom, same size and design.







This concludes our tour of #228.

The new home which is being envisioned for Ruth is in a sunny and well-landscaped place, in a building which is all on one floor.  Her new apartment, though spacious, will have only 2 rooms and 1 bathroom, a big one to accommodate walker or wheelchair.  There is a patio outside the livingroom; there is a big walk-in closet, and a kitchenette.  The staff are friendly, professional, always present and the resident population is not higher than 60.  (Instead of 144.)

Join me in wishing Ruth the best possible adaptation to her new surroundings, and much long enjoyment of her time there.

close up of sharing a grin

A Visit with Ruth

During the first week of March we had the pleasure of visiting my Mother-in-Law, Ruth White Young.  This post is intended to remember that and to show her apartment, as well as the lady herself.

What you see upon entering

It is a splendid two-room set up with a balcony, which you can see through the glass doors here.  The TV works “sometimes.”  The remote changes channels but it doesn’t turn it on or off!  The little needlepoint chair in the left foreground, with a green seat, is the one I sit in when I make tack in this environment.

George Young, son of Ruth


The man is my husband, George.  The couch is one where Ruth often sleeps.  I’ve napped there myself.  It is a good couch for the purpose.  I have fixed the lamp at the end of the couch.  I have had it down on the floor and all taken apart.  That it works now is something I take credit for.


Ruth likes houseplants.  The vine under the lamp is a gift from a friend.  There are more plants in the next room.

Computer room


This is what you see if you step left of the door and then straight ahead.  Through the glass doors shows the same balcony.  The wall on the right here is the left one behind the couch.

The doors are big wide solid ones.  The bathroom is to the left of this picture.  The coat closet is behind the viewer.  There is a bedroom beyond, and a second bathroom.


Ruth and George sharing a grin


I am rather fond of this shot.  I took all these very impromptu, but sometimes such shots turn out quite good… better than you thought.

Ruth is always pleased to see her only son.  And me, though I’m not really the one to say that.




close up of sharing a grin

Ruth at home

The lady likes flowers.  You see this in the calendar on the wall.  What you can’t see are the books on gardening, the magazine subscriptions, the catalogs for flowers, and the art books all about flowers.  When she writes poetry, it is often about flowers.  George likes birds, but Ruth loves flowers.


“Above all I must have flowers, always and always.” — Monet




I stayed with her for 2 weeks in 2002, when Ross, her husband, passed away.  I made a fair amount of tack.  At that time Ruth was in a different apartment, but in the same complex, Overland Park Place in Kansas City.  I have 2 local model horse friends in the area.  Ruth has many more friends and even some relatives, cousins of George.


Coral and Sandy Beach, Jerry and Vera Beach, and Joan and Jerry Gilson deserve special mention at this time.  Incredibly, Ruth has reached the age of 93.


I am going to finish with what I consider the best shot of the visit.  I PhotoShopped the lamp post screw out.  Not too bad, for someone whom PhotoShop can still drive to tears — !   But this shows Ruth at her best.


Here’s hoping many more visits can bring us happy memories.











Rikki Tavi’s Prizes

This post has been moved to my blogspot.


It is my plan to have all the obviously-horse posts on my blogspot and all my non-horse, family, hair and otherwise (canoe?!) posts here.


Herein Lies a Tail – 5: January to July 2012

What a difference six months makes!!  I know I’ve been dreadfully behind in posting pictures.  As my friend Katie Richards says, this is less and less a cancer blog and more and more about just plain life.  Let me tell you, it is so unspeakably wonderful to be normal… to be back to business.  I apologize for the lack.  I want to credit my dear husband George for NOT forgetting to try and take pictures each month, attempting to catch the many versions of hairdo as they went by.  For there have been a lot of variations, and each seems to have lasted only a short time, until some new way of holding it out of my face evolved.  We are missing only one month, May.

Let’s start with a January shot. This was taken on the 14th.  There still is no real part, but I’m working on it.







This one was taken in February.  It is important as one of the early documentations of using clips and barrettes.  I liked the little plastic flowers (haven’t I made progress!!  a lifetime of never bothering with such things!)  until they broke off their clips, victims of sheer use.


The pink headband here is token of my increasing efforts.  Taken February 9th, I had clearly established a part and was using a combination of barrettes and headband to keep the sides out of my face.  These are the medium size barrettes.

This side shot shows the dining room table.   Look how long the hair is getting: down into my collar at last!  February 19th.


Below:  Again February 19th, I’m particularly pleased with the expression, if not the control of the hair.  I submit this in my Gallery of Impersonations:  Isak Dinesen / Karen Blixen [1885-1962], one of my favorite authors.  She even has the left slanted mouth.


March was one of the last months to see unbound hair.  From now on out it would be held back in some form or fashion.  March 17th.

This shows how long it’s getting, and the curious form:  the hair grows straighter near the scalp, but swirls into turbulence at the ends.  Is the weight pulling out the curls?  Or is it growing in straighter as time passes?   I honestly cannot tell.




Same day, March 17.  Working indoors, I always squint when taken out for pictures — it is so bright out there!!!


The hair is now long enough to have to be pulled out from under shirt collars every day — what I call ‘normal’ — hooray!!


April 14.

This one will be the only shot for the next two months, and it shows my expanding range of efforts.  The device is a plastic headband, and — truth — I only wore it for this one photo session.  I couldn’t wear my hat with it, which was a gamestopper as far as I’m concerned.  The reason there aren’t many May shots is because we were travelling.  We went from PA to KS and MO and CO, then WY for a weekend, and then back again!!  In fact there were a lot of pictures taken during these 5 weeks, but they were rarely of me, unless you want to count the back view while canoeing.


Isn’t this a beauty??!!  It was taken June 13, 2012,  in front of Overland Park Place in Kansas City, where my mother-in-law lives.  It shows the heavy-duty barrettes I turned to when the thickness and sheer volume of the hair got to be too much for mere clips.  It also shows, beautifully, the drawbacks to them: a stray lock or strand will escape and get into my eyes, no matter what I do.

July 27, right after BreyerFest (during which the last few people who didn’t know, such as Donna Chaney from England, heard the story of my hair).  In my Gallery this has to be “starlet” calibre.  At long long last, I am braiding again…!!  Things have come round full circle… This whole adventure has shown me how much better to wear braids on the head…  The tiny rubber band seen behind the ear is the smallest size in my collection of hair holders.  The heavyduty barrettes are there too.  No one taught me how to French braid; I am experimenting on my own.  I bought bobby pins for the first time in my life after this.




July 31 and so very recent.  It’s long enough now I can do pigtails if not a ponytail.  (Didn’t I go through this phase in gradeschool?!)   It really is too short to braid still, but I can throw my head around and feel how it swings against my neck.  This is freedom…



July 31.  And so we’re up to the present.  The heavy duty barrettes are doing their job, although their paint has worn off.  In this shot you can imagine what is to come:  smooth over the top with a waterfall of curls behind.  As if you needed to ask, George loves it.  Some people may think this is long, but you don’t know long…


On the actual treatment front, I have successfully passed a number of milestones, such as the one-year checkup since the end of treatment (Feb. 2011).  The next hurdle is the two-year CT scan, scheduled for late August 2012.  We shall see…  I would like to encourage fellow survivors to hang in there and tell their stories.   It’s not an easy path, but you can get through.


Photoshoot of Munday’s Saddle

Last Sunday (April 22) I had the great pleasure of lying on my stomach in a stubblefield in 46 degree weather under overcast skies. It was cold!! But I was having too much fun. This new saddle, by Evelyn Munday of California, is inspiring me in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time — too long — and I was determined to have a good old fashioned photo shoot. It was a pity no one else could come along, but maybe these pictures will give you an idea…

The saddle arrived Friday, and Saturday night I was staying up late picking out which horse went with which blanket and bridle. It’s nice to have a fat selection: My herd numbers 395, accumulated over 40 years. I confess I’d known from the beginning that the quality of the saddle far outstripped the blanket it came with. My herd is a communist establishment when it comes to tack, so we borrowed a total of 3 different blankets from 3 other saddles, and as it turned out 3 other pieces of headgear as well as the bridle which came with the saddle. I have surprisingly few “straight” Western bridles (probably the byproduct of being such a braider). By straight I mean minimally silvered, tooled or decorated with anything. So I was pleased to add Munday’s. It is tooled beautifully to match the set. This is surely her great strength, and what attracted me in the first place: the combination of realism and crisp neat carving, as well as the superb color.

But I couldn’t resist trying it out with other blankets and hackamores.

First off we have Timmaine, a remake from olden days. How many of you have heard the name of Fara Shimbo? She used to live a mere 4 miles away from my Boulder house. This horse dates to 1987. Fara drew on all her spots with colored pencil, a new technology at the time and one I have seldom seen since. The hair mane and tail is probably doghair — Fara was an animal person bar none, writing several books about ferrets, owning a racehorse and being involved with Akhal Tekes for years.

This blanket, what I call my black diamond, was one I picked up at Didi Hornberger’s show last fall (Oct 2011, Harrisburg). I have no idea who made it; it is a jewel-like patterned weave with glued-on felt backing. Normally I hate backings because they add bulk, but in this case both layers are quite thin. The hackamore is ours 🙂 what I call “Carter’s Hack” since I made one like it for Kim Carter (1996). Kim had given me an advertisement page clipping for a beautiful hackamore by Kathy’s Show Equipment, a Californian full-scale saddler which (I believe) is still in business. So I should call it Kathy’s Show Equipment Hackamore, but it just doesn’t sound the same…  It is a rare case of twin pieces, where I made one for myself.

I thought the roughness and “rustic” feel of the hackamore suited the ‘rough’ remake, while the colors dictated the overall composition.

Saddle by Evelyn Munday

Isn’t it beautiful??!!

I love the smooth cinch buckles.  Even if they are Rio Rondos they don’t tear the leather.  She even tooled the billets, something I have yet to master!!  at least to this level.  A few small details:  the snaphook to the martingale (visible behind the elbow) is handwound wire, as are the bit clips; and the wire keeper for the tug straps is in the form of a buckle, something I haven’t seen before.

Not bringing a doll created its own problems. Most of my horses were standing still, so I could get away with ground tying the reins. But this fellow, Joker to the rest of the world (Coconino to me), is restless. I solved it by holding his leadrope to the side, out of the picture. A black and white horse allowed for a lighter blanket and a wider color choice, and I happen to be a fan of white, brown and turquoise tack. After many years I achieved a base-white blanket with brown and turquoise dots, which matches “Fancy’s Hackamore” (2005). I won’t bore you with how hard this blanket was to make, other than to mention it’s gone through 3 complete incarnations. It’s called “296” because it goes with my saddle TSII #296.

Here’s the original Munday bridle, also seen below (later) on Callebaut.

This blanket goes with my saddle TSII #300, so it’s called “300.”  Excuse my lack of imagination…  Or should I be speaking at all, given that I actually name my saddle blankets?!   This field is part of the State Game Lands that just opened off Shiloh Road.  It’s about 3 miles away from me, and we often go birding here.

Matriarch painted by Katie Richards; saddle by Evelyn Munday

This one is the heart of what I was aiming for. Indoors, I felt the graybronze of the mare clashed with the red of the saddle. Yet this is my best Western resincast; I had to include her (thank you Susan Peet, forever!). Outdoors, to my surprise, she looked fantastic. The red of blanket “300” reflects the saddle, while the more muted and beige color (and texture) of the Carter Hack balanced out the combo.  Ready to ride!!

If you’re superpicky you can detect that this blanket is not identical to the one above.  That’s because 300 has two sides.  I used the more purple side with the horse who had more purple in her coat; gold was the keynote of the other combo, on Coconino.


I intended this saddle for the Ideal Stock Horse.  When it came, this was the individual (of my 29 ISHs) I thought suited it best colorwise.  This is Caroline’s Summer Star, a 2006 special run (75 glossy, 50  matte, for you Stone aficionados), but to me, he’s Callebaut.  Trust me, few horses in my entire herd can handle such wealth thrust upon them.  Callebaut hasn’t got enough personality at the moment, so the saddle will likely be shared amoungst several horses.

Stone ISH 'Fancy', saddle by Munday, bridle by Moreton

Like this one!! Fancy has been one of my favorites ever since she appeared. I guess you can tell I have a soft spot for leopard Appaloosas, but they display tack so well!!   Speaking of tack, this unusual bridle is by none other than Heather Moreton Abounader of Desert Night Creations. When I was putting pieces together deep in Saturday night, I was astonished how darkly intense, glorious, the pumpkin and black notes worked with the black blanket and red-orange saddle.  Usually black is too strong, but with a white horse and black blanket, it worked out gorgeously.  O.K., I didn’t take the thread off her nose, but that’s me — I put it there so the reins could be pulled (sticky wax is something I only use in show arenas), and it looked so normal I just forgot to PhotoShop it out.

So now it’s time to gallop off, and Coonti is doing just that. He is a 2011 Stone Factory Custom on their Foundation QH by Cantrell, “Celebration,” one of 30, and just about the only glossy — I hornswoggled Peter into glossing him for me (all it took was cash). Some of you will recognize this horse as “Roach Fort” who was featured getting married at Didi’s show last fall (Oct 2011), winning the Anything Goes class. I said he needed a better name, and down in Florida over Christmas we found it. Coonti is the wild vine that grows in the forests there, like greenbriar. I got him to commemorate my ‘short-haired phase’, little realizing how swiftly that phase would pass. He will long have a home with me, hard at work on the tack bench.

Thank you for reading.

September 27  2011

Herein Lies a Tail – 4: September to December 2011

Welcome to Sue’s continuing gallery of “Portraits after cancer.”   If you want the full story, visit the Intro and the other “Herein Lies a Tail” posts in order.  The interval between shots is getting a little longer now, but I still intend to keep posting.

September 27 2011

October 4 2011

November 21 2011

December 8 2011


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