May the joy and peace of the season remain throughout the coming year!
Dear friends and family,
This has been a year of highs and lows. July was heavenly. We had a wonderful two-week RV camping trip with Dixie, our 13-year-old golden retriever, in Virginia's spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains and the famous Sky Line Drive. While camping at Big Meadows Campground we watched deer with new born calves foraging near our RV, a mama black bear's cubs climbing a tree when a person got too close and a rattlesnake sunning itself on some rocks. Hiking and camping along the scenic Shenandoah South Fork River at the base of the mountains and admiring the spectacular waterfalls at North Carolina's Stone Mountain State Park were also highlights.
If July was heavenly August and September were hell. Strange how bad things happen in clusters. Dixie collapsed and died on August 16. We were heartbroken and shed many tears. Then on the same day my 13-year-old green Hyundai got hit in the rear by a truck. When the insurance company totaled the car we bought a new silver Toyota Prius. We are enjoying getting 52 miles to the gallon. Luckily the price had come down so we could afford it. A few days later my gynecologist called to tell me a recent biopsy showed I had precancerous cells and recommended a cold cone biopsy. He explained conization is a surgical procedure that removes cone-shaped tissue from the cervix much like removing an apple core. After surgery there was good news and bad news. The bad news was I had cancer in my upper cervix. The good news is the cancer had not yet spread to other areas and the tissue margins were cancer free. No further treatment was needed. Bud and I were grateful and relieved. After hearing my story I was surprised to learn that some of my female friends had gone through similar experiences. Sadly, one friend said her sister died of vulva cancer in her early 40s.
My mother died in South Africa in October after a five-year battle with cancer and dementia. I'm grateful my brother and sister were at her side. She was 83. My mother was one of the only two women who graduated from South Africa's Wits University Medical School in 1957. She worked as a hospital Emergency Room physician for 25 years. My father was a real estate lawyer for 50 years. He died at age 78 in 2007.
To get relief from the trauma Bud and I treated ourselves to a 5-mile trek to Len Foote Hike Inn. It starts and ends at Amicalola Falls State Park in the North Georgia mountains. Once there we slept in one of their guest rooms, enjoyed three hearty meals, hot showers and odor-free composting toilets.
Bud's civic, hunting and conservation activities continue to keep him busy. He has served as president of Georgia's “Friends of High Falls State Park” organization since 2012. In 1998 I was honored when the staff of Amazon.com asked me to do monthly book reviews for their Vine Voice Program. I can choose up to four recently released free books with free shipping each month. It has been fun and educational and it keeps me busy.
Wishing you all the joys of Christmas and many blessings in the New Year!