Wednesday, January 28, 2015

London Affair

I'm having an affair with London. I can't help myself, I just love the city. There's so much to see and we're just getting started. Rex and I try visit at least once a month, so I'll add photos as I go.

In the meantime, here are a few pictures to whet your appetite. If you'd like to see more click here.

Artwork celebrating the country's love of tea.

All Soul's church, 1823 - built about the same time of the Monroe Doctrine and "A Night Before Christmas" was first published.


The bike rack at Paddington Station, any given day of the week.

Down at the Thames River with London Bridge in the background. We're getting ready to head into the Tower of London.

A North Carolina Visit

Carey, the Cubs, the Beatles and a bowl of tamale pie.
As you know, Rex and I moved to England in August when his company gave him a 2-year assignment overseas. We had looked forward to it for a year and had planned to use our time traveling around Europe, touring thatched-roof villages, and hiking ancient cities.  But three weeks after settling into our British digs, our youngest son Carey was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma. He has a tumor in his right calf and another in his adrenal gland. Cancer didn’t give a fuck about our plans.

A little sumpin'-sumpin before the next round
of in-patient chemo treatment
I rushed back to the states for a few short weeks to help Carey, his beautiful wife Patty Jo, 3-year old Eli and baby Carver as they moved closer to Duke Cancer Center. Carey will be treated there for the next year, undergoing radiation and 17 separate chemo treatments. We knew the chemo would be difficult and it lived up to expectations. The nausea lasts a week after each treatment and no medication helps completely. But he never really knows what he wants to eat and when he decides, it’s hard to keep food down. Coming out of chemo he’s hungry and tired and sad.

Rex and I returned to North Carolina for the holidays which honest-to-god couldn’t come soon enough. Aside from just being there as a comfort, I wondered if there was anything I could do to help my son. I couldn’t cure cancer, but perhaps I had something in my toolbox that could alleviate the anxiety and sadness that comes with it. Short answer: yes. And for those who know me, it’ll come as no surprise.

Red beans and rice with turkey kielbasa
Carey wanted home cooked meals and lots of them: chicken soya and rice, tamale pie, beef stroganoff with silky sauce and buttered noodles, stuffed Italian pasta shells and garlic bread, curry lentil soup, red beans and  rice, marinated flank steak, cookies, cupcakes, brownies, omelets. We arrived December 19 and for the next three weeks I cooked non-stop. And he ate. Everyday his appetite grew stronger; the aroma of his favorite childhood meals nudging him gently up from afternoon naps.

Manning my battle station
They say that when a family member battles cancer, the whole family is in the fight. If that’s the case, then the kitchen is my battle station. And my plans have changed. For the next 8 months I will criss-cross the Atlantic several more times to come back and cook for him and his family.
Stocking the freezer for Carey in NC
for the weeks I'm back in the UK

This is not what I planned to be doing in 2015 but I’m glad I’m here and almost unbearably grateful for all the support of my friends and family. I wouldn’t trade my time in North Carolina for all the castle tours in England.

Besides, there’s always next year.

To get a better idea of what Carey goes through during his treatment and afterwards, see Patty Jo’s amazing blog,  boogers and bruises. It’s both poignant and tenderly honest. It was recently featured on Stand Up To Cancer's web site.