Monday, December 31, 2007

A great year!

My year is summed up very nicely in the above picture. Maya Louise chewing happily on the custom bib my parents got for her! Four generations gathered for Christmas breakfast. From now on I will consider all such moments as miracles!

I was pretty sore and tired Christmas morning, but yesterday we all gathered again, with the addition of my neice, nephew, and sister-in-law, and I was much more comfortable.

Recovery seems a bit slower than I had hoped for, but also better in some ways than I had imagined. The post-op doctor visit was encouraging.... all the cancer is gone. (probably?) I have made friends with Depends - I will never joke about them again? ;-) So far I'm beating the doctor's predictions on the need for them! I may have some leftovers if any of you find yourself needing some in the future??????

I am beyond belief with the events of the past year, and teary with gratitude. Gratitude for my family and friends, and gratitude for the dozens of folks, known, vaguely known, and unknown, who got me through the last couple of months....... Dr. Sirotenko and staff, who always run PSA! .... the unknown blood lab folks who just run and report the numbers with no direct knowledge of the people whose samples flow through their machines ....... Dr. Guthinger and staff who helped with the diagnosis and decisions necessary ....... Dr. Valvo, who sat in that little room and helped with the decisions, and then sat in the corner with his head and hands in a really cool machine, and treated my body like it was as important as all the others ..... Dr. Valvo's staff who scheduled stuff, soothed me when I called with concerns, removed the staples and other stuff, and delivered the final version of the good news, and the staff of Rochester General Hospital, from the diagnostic imaging folks with their biopsies, cool scans and pictures, to the folks who introduced themselves moments before they strapped me down in that big room with the big machines, to the folks on the 4500 floor who took very good care of me after I woke up! Last but not least, Cheryl, who has been the world's best wife, nurse and friend to me since my return home, and for 23 years before that!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The wisdom of others!

What follows came through my many e-mail connections. I love it when life hands you just the right thing at the right moment. Given the events of my last 6 weeks, the following - written by G. K. Chesterton (No - I never heard of him before) - seemed the perfect Christmas message.

What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it.

It happened in this way. As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good — far from it. And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me.

What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea. Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void. Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers, now, I thank him for stars and street faces and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.
— G. K. Chesterton in The Tablet 2

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007


Christmas Eve --- I'm home, recovering nicely, very happy to be alive and theoretically prostate cancer free. 6 "relatively" small holes in my stomach.... the robot was much less scarry in person, though my last memory is of about 2 minutes in the room, the table pre-warmed for my comfort, both arms and my legs being strapped firmly down (we'll be standing you on your head for this), the robot under a big plastic bag off to the side, the control console off in the corner, about 6 or 7 people introducing themselves, --------------------------- fade to 5 hours later, rolling down a hall ------ by Cheryl, Casey, Deanna and Bert, and on to a room on the 4500 unit of Rochester General Hospital - feeling like I've been kicked in the stomach by a mule, but surrounded by a wide variety of angels who took very good care of me for about 24 hours, and on home with my personal angel - Cheryl. Periodic spells of tears when I am just so glad to be here! Some combination of luck, skill, technology, prayers, thoughts, and spells, has got me still here!

Again - get your PSA checked, your colonoscopy, your lumps checked, etc, and celebrate every moment of this short span we get to spend with friends and family!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No pictures for this one!

I'm running out of time to share this in advance of my surgery. Many of you already know, but I want to let you know that I'm having my prostate removed December 20th. They tell me I've got cancer, and removal gives the best long term prognosis. Prostate cancer is very slow growing, but they say that since I am young (yes 62 is young these days) and otherwise pretty healthy, I will probably live longer than the time it would take the cancer to get me if we leave it alone. Radiation is an option, but less reliable for the long term. The surgery will be done with some fancy new technology that will get me home the next day! The Da Vinci robot thing is the latest, and I've run into several guys who've had it --- especially younger guys! I guess I'm still in that category despite feeling a bit old on occasion! I'm going to see if I can slip the surgeon an extra $100 bucks to go on down to the left a bit and fix my arthritic hip while he is in there?

I've got to see my granddaughter grow up, and my neice and nephew become the wonderful adults I know they will be! We've also got a lot of stuff left to make!

They do it with a rather cool, but somewhat scary looking robotic system, kind of like a fancy CNC milling machine with about 7 heads - 5 or 6 quite small holes in me, and I go home the next day, with a week or so of no driving, etc. Christmas with a catheter - whoopee! The surgeon operates the thing from the other side of the room with a 10X 3-D view of my innards and video game like controllers! A lot more reliable and easy to recover from than a 10" incision, and the traditional 1X view. Also the side effects are drastically minimized from what they used to be.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit I'm a bit freaked out, but it sure beats the alternative! As soon as I can get back on the computer, I'll let you know how it went. In the meantime, make sure all your male friends over 50 get their PSA checked, and your female friends check for lumps! Mine was caught early with routine PSA checks, and the biopsy was pretty simple ----a bit weird, but not painful!

Any positive thoughts, prayers, or spells will be greatly appreciated!

Don Olney

Monday, December 17, 2007

Definitely hydroponics weather

With the season's first really definitely winter snowstorm raging outside the window, Dad's tomato plants are doing quite nicely thank you! And after our annual fondue dinner with Bert and Beth - what can be better than dipping otherwise healthy bits of food in a vat of hot cheese? - Phyllis presented this beautiful platter of dessert bits --- sans cheese!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Another wonderful day with Maya

Cheryl does Wednesday mornings. I joined her for a while this week. That little person is just plain wonderful! Grandma Cheryl tries the "Bark, Bark" thing below....... hope this works?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Art at home

A while back we created a door with one of our figures on it for one of our customers ..... a bigger version of our of our wall pieces! Looks great doesn't it!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Almost Free?

It was a cold, cloudy, beginning of freezing rain sort of day, but Wyatt and I got fairly close, and got this shot. The generator is up there, but the blades are not yet. I think these folks are against wind power, but there are some great shots of the process of building the wind farm in the Cohocton, NY area at this site. I wonder what Great great great grandfather Henry would think of these..... on the hill over his route to the doctor's office. He never had electricity, and now they are going to soon be making it on the next hill over from his. There will be pretty much a zero carbon footprint for this electricity. Yes we had to build and erect these beauties, and some maintainence, but no nuclear waste, no greenhouse gases, no smog, and some pretty awesome wind turbines gracing some of our central NY hills. The math looks pretty good from where I sit. And what better to spend those kilowatts on than decorating the back yard for the season!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We make awards too!

Not the best picture in the world, but we make really nice awards for a wide variety of uses. Definitely a step above the usual brass plaque or bowling trophy...... this one features the Detroit skyline, and "Champ" - the logo of Communities in Schools.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Another Winter Foliage

A really good investment.... this one cost me $2. At the time it was in a 1.5" little plastic pot, but it has grown and prospered in my kitchen window! When I went to transplant it for about the 3rd time, I noticed the buds, and will wait till it is done. These are just the first 2 of many developing buds!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Wax fruit

Wax fruit conjures up an image of a bowl of wax apples and pears to adorn the dining room table, but at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY, wax replicas of dozens of varieties of fruit, vegetables, mushrooms, etc. were created to be used as teaching tools back in the day before computers, and even quality color photography. There are even samples showing the diseases and bug damage that can effect the various food varieties that are part of our local diet. Except for the fact that the cherries above have been in a cardboard box for about 80 years, they look like you could pop them in your mouth for a burst of flavor, and then spit the pit at your kid brother!

Today you can just Google "Napoleon Cherries" if you wonder what that variety looks like. Back in the early 1900's you would go to a drawer or box and find the wax sample! These grand old samples are deteriorating - age, poor storage conditions, etc. have waged war on these meticulously hand made pieces. (note the broken leaf) The other day I got to be part of a little group brainstorming how to repair, restore, preserve, and catalog them. What fun it is to go off into a realm you didn't even know existed a week ago!

If you know anything about wax fruit restoration, let me know!