17 October 2013


I woke up this morning just before 5:00 am. I had to pee, and I was thirsty. The endless cycle that interrupts one's sleep, with greater and greater regularity, as one ages. As I snuggled back into bed--clean flannel sheets and the perfect combination of wool mattress topper and fall-weight down comforter--I realized that I was breathing effortlessly and deeply. I lay there for some minutes simply enjoying being alive, and then realized, with some amusement, that my October has not been unlike that of my government.

This has been a month when I've really had to buckle down and do some hard labor. While I don't believe I had to reach quite the same crisis point to make that decision, I have been experiencing some unpleasant days.

It wasn't all bad--on Sunday last week, just a couple days after Gamma Knife, we took our (almost) annual boat trip out through the Locks (working with a partial crew during the shutdown, but we still breezed through), onto Puget Sound. It was the perfect fall day--bright and crisp and not too cold--and we went to Blake Island where we ate a gourmet picnic lunch that S had prepared. After lunch we meandered around the island for a short time, S and I reminiscing about childhood camping trips there with my dad and the boat (we camped; he slept in his comfy V-berth). I skippered us back across the shipping lanes and up to Shilshole.

It's always a touch exhilarating to be crossing the shipping lanes in a 19-foot open ski boat, and after an utterly terrifying wall-of-wake experience near the mouth of Hood Canal a couple years ago I have decided to always wear my life jacket when cruising salt water. There are massive container ships, tug boats towing barges on long, almost invisible cables, cruise vessels, ferries and other boaters, not to mention winds and currents. On Sunday we had the added excitement of meeting the wake of a giant tug heading in our direction back to port--which is to say, a boat with a massive, ponderous displacement, hauling ass at 25 knots (which feels super fast on the water). This very slightly out-paced us, and, while there was a lot of space for us to move out of the way and brace ourselves, there was no way of completely avoiding the 11 (or 1100)-ft wake the Pacific Titan kicked out.

It was petrifying, and it had to be done at speed. The crests could easily have swamped us when we were down in the troughs if we weren't doing our best to skitter along the top of the water. I had to fight the urge to race for the shore, which would've ended in disaster as we were dashed against the rocks at the base of Magnolia. I gritted my teeth, headed for the mountain looming for me, and we flew up and crashed down. And flew up and crashed down. At one point in our traverse of this range of mountains we were heading straight for a cliff of water at least 10 feet high. We know this because L saw it and reported it afterwards; Ian and S were looking elsewhere, and I was trying to cower down near the floor, and strongly remonstrating myself that I ABSOLUTELY HAD TO SIT UP AND DRIVE THE BOAT.

Well, we made it through just fine. The Sea Ray bobs like a cork, I have learned some skills in the past years of skippership, and the gods smiled on us. (Incidentally, Ian and I watched Life of Pi a night or two later and I can say with absolute certainty that I will never, NEVER go to open sea, on any size boat. NEVER.)

But back to buckling down. It seems that filling one's body with the toxins and radiation of modern cancer treatment, and then heading out into the wide world and flushing that weakened, recovering vessel with wave upon wave of terror and adrenaline, combine in unpredictably (well, I didn't predict this) noxious ways, and I came down with the flu.

And so, my recovery this week has been prolonged and stunted. My sinuses, already compromised by the pressure of the head-gear pins, filled enthusiastically with snot, blurring the line between Gamma Knife symptoms and sickness symptoms. The toothache I'd seen the dentist for last week added a piquancy to my experiences.

But last night, the US Government reached an agreement with itself, and when I awoke this morning, I realized that all of my problems were resolving as well.

With good sense, practicality, patience, and reserve, we can do anything!

THIS IS A LINK:  see pictures from our outing here

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