Cancer is nothing when you have hope!! This site is all about living … and living well … with late-stage cancer. I hope you will journey along with me through the ups and downs of living with lung cancer.
“Study nature. Love nature. Stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” –Frank Lloyd Wright
Since I have been surviving cancer, I have really, really enjoyed visiting the gardens at the Dallas Arboretum. Whether I go with friends or by myself, I am filled with gratitude and peace while I am there. I consider my enjoyment of the gardens as one of the blessings of having cancer, because unfortunately, before being diagnosed with cancer, I never took the time to go.
I want to share The Twelve Days of Christmas with you. My friend Rose, her husband Vic, and I went to see the amazing display at the Dallas Arboretum on Wednesday night. If you have followed my blog much, you know that the Arboretum is one of my favorite places to go. I love to go and spend time in the gorgeous, no matter the season.
But, it is especially special at Christmas, when you can enjoy the extravagant display of The Twelve Days of Christmas. When I can go with friends, so much the better!!
Despite the popularity of the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, I must confess that I can never remember the lyrics. In case you are like me, I will post them here, along with some photos I took. Truthfully, it is a song I never liked much, but I love the display at the Arboretum. I hope you will too!
The Christmas extravaganza at the Dallas Arboretum made its debut in 2014. I keep wondering how much longer it will be displayed. Because I never know if this will be the last year it will be seen, I try to see it with new eyes every time I go. I have shown you pictures in blogs from visits I made to the display in past years.
The $1.6 million display took two years to complete. You will see why when you see some of the detail in the of the exhibition.
Santa Claus made his debut this year (or, at least, it is the first time I have seen him). That’s what is so fascinating about the Arboretum. No matter how often I go, I always find new things to enjoy.
In addition to the twelve 25-foot Victorian-style gazebos that house the Twelve Days of Christmas displays, there are 500,000 lights illuminating the park and a 30-foot tall tree is found in the center of the property.
Do you take a day away from cancer? Where your cancer is not front and foremost in your mind? I do. Actually, I take lots of days like that. It isn’t that I ever forget that I have cancer, because I don’t. Always, in the back of my mind is the fact that my body is hosting an intruder that could decide to kill me at any given moment. But, while the knowledge is there, I refuse to dwell on such thoughts.
I have a philosophy about cancer. I figure that if I don’t let it rob me of my life while I’m still alive, then I win and it loses. I might someday “lose my battle against cancer,” but I’m going to win all of the little skirmishes along the way!! I won’t give it any more of my time on this earth than I absolutely must.
I keep my calendar pretty full of activities that I want to do. Unfortunately, some tasks that I need to do, but don’t want to do, do not make it to the calendar. Things like cleaning house. Or cooking meals… I wish I had enough money to hire a maid and a cook!!
One of the things I love to do most is go to the Dallas Arboretum and take pictures. I don’t know if I will accomplish my goal or not, but I am hoping that I will make it out there at least once every month. I want to document how the garden grows throughout the year.
I have never been that it isn’t beautiful. Of course, here in Dallas, our winters are fairly mild usually … but our summers can be brutal. It is amazing that the master gardeners who keep the arboretum growing are able to keep it gorgeous even when the unrelenting sun beats down and temperatures soar to well over 100 degrees for weeks on end. But, they do!
This month, a friend and I spent about six hours exploring the property. We went places I have never been, but we missed a lot of places that I usually see. I am nearly certain that I could visit the Arboretum every single week and still miss seeing areas. Everywhere you look, there is something worthy of your attention. Have I said it? It is incredible!!
When I arrived home from our visit, I immediately popped my SD card into my computer so that I could begin to download the pictures I took this visit. I knew I must have taken a bunch. For the first time ever, I exhausted the battery to my camera. Sure enough, there were nearly 900 pictures waiting to be transferred!! A few were blurry; a few were basically duplicates; but mostly, they are worth keeping.
Last month, the tulips were in bloom. Everywhere. They were splendid. Absolutely gorgeous. This month, the maples are awesome and the azaleas nearly beyond description. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture with my camera just how beautiful the azaleas were. So many colors and in prolific bloom. Somehow, my pictures just do not do them justice. For that, I am very sorry.
Besides the plants, the structures and features of the Arboretum never fail to fascinate me. Most of them I see every time I visit, but they never bore me. And, then there are the birds, the squirrels, and the bugs, particularly lady bugs and bees, that capture my attention. Many of the birds and squirrels are so accustomed to humans that they nearly pose for the camera! Even the bees are so busy collecting pollen that they ignore the fact that I’m sticking a camera lens into their space.
This year, I have documented every visit to the Arboretum with a little video made from some of the stills I took. I’ll post the three that I have made so far here, in case anyone wants to watch. I hope some of you will enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed making them!
I saw someone else’s video yesterday that I really liked much better than mine, so next month, I will be trying something a little different. If I remember … gotta love chemo brain. Stay tuned.
At any rate, taking a little time to watch will hopefully take you away from any cares and troubles you might have for just a brief moment. God’s magnificence shows in every picture.
(I actually didn’t decide to document every month of the year until it was too late to go to the Arboretum in January. I did the next best thing and visited very early on in February!)
February 3, 2016
The trees are still mostly bare, though some are beginning to bud, despite the fact that it is still wintertime. Our weather doesn’t support the calendar month! It has been unseasonably warm the entire season. That doesn’t bode well for us, I am afraid, when summer hits.
Despite the fact that many of the trees had no leaves, there were plenty of pansies, daffodils, and roses to lend color to the gardens. And, you can tell that it won’t be long before the beds will be aburst in color.
March 2, 2016
The tulips were phenomenal. At every turn, you wondered if it could get any more beautiful. Just amazing!! Among the tulips, daffodils waved and hyacinths spread their sweet perfume. If you don’t watch any other video, watch this one!
April 1, 2016
I actually did two videos of the April visit. There is a bit of duplication between the two, but not a lot. I shared the first video on my Facebook page. It is a little longer than the second one … and it doesn’t have as many azalea pictures. I did a second video because I wanted a shorter version to share on WhatNext. When I went through the pictures again, I mostly chose different ones than I used the first time. I should probably make a decision and share only one of the two videos for the April 1st visit, but I will leave it up to you which to watch, if any. (This is what happens when you come home with so many photographs that you simply can’t choose which are favorites!!!)
Video 1. It is over 5 minutes long. And has music (which I love). It also will have ads because of the music… There were lots of robins on the grounds this visit. I love robins so I took lots of pictures of them! And, even though most people think of grackles as pests, I like them, so I take their pictures, too! Squirrels fascinate me as do bees, so you’ll see plenty of both here. And, oh yeah!! You’ll see tulips, pansies and petunias, azaleas, and much more. There are also more of the water features included in this video than in the shorter one (below).
Video 2. No music. And a minute shorter! 🙂 There are more pictures of azaleas here and fewer pictures of birds and squirrels (though, there are some! – the animal lover in me could never leave them out entirely).
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens are a sight to behold. They have special events throughout the year. In the spring, we’ll have thousands upon thousands of daffodils and tulips blooming. It is an amazing sight.
In October, the gardens turn orange with pumpkins and gourds. You can spend hours and hours looking at all of the displays and gorgeous fall colors.
But in December, the Arboretum turns into a winter wonderland. That’s a difficult thing to do in Dallas, Texas. This year, our temperatures are staying in the upper 60s and low 70s. We’re supposed to have record-breaking heat for Christmas Day.
Our plants are so confused. The length of days and nights says it is winter. But, the temperatures say it is spring. Most of the trees have lost their leaves, but flowers are blooming away!
(As an aside – I sure wish I had more control over how pictures appear on this blog! I am really tempted to get my own domain name and use a program that can be manipulated!)
So, while we can stroll through the Arboretum and have visions of spring dancing through our heads, we also have the pleasure of a $2 million display of the 12 Days of Christmas. And, that is actually the reason for this blog post. I want to share with you the beauty of the exhibit. If you live anywhere near the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, a visit is definitely worth your time. Please plan to stay all day! I’ve been twice in as many weeks and I still haven’t seen everything I want to see!
On the First Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …
a Partridge in a Pear Tree
On the Second Day of Christmas …
Two turtle doves
On the Third Day of Christmas …
Three French hens
On the Fourth Day of Christmas …
Four calling birds
On the Fifth Day of Christmas …
Five golden rings
And, on the Sixth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Six geese a-layin’
And, on the Seventh Day of Christmas …
(my true love gave to me one of my favorite gazebos!)
Seven swans a-swimmin’
On the Eighth Day of Christmas …
Eight maids a-milkin’
This is the only exhibit that you must walk all the way around to see it all. All of the others are on a round-table that spins.
On the Ninth Day of Christmas …
Nine ladies dancing
This gazebo is my favorite of the 12. The detail is more than amazing. It is, unfortunately, situated in a spot where it is difficult to get pictures without glare. Nevertheless, I have taken dozens of it and will post many here for your amusement!
Every lady is outfitted in an amazing dress with jewelry to match. Each carries a dance card.
Close-up of jewelry and hair adornment
Notice the detail in the dress. And … do you see the little white mouse poking his head out from the Christmas tree skirt?
This is obviously a different dancer, but look at the detail. Her ring is a flower shape; she has a pencil hanging on her wrist beside her dance card.
On the tenth day of Christmas…
my true love gave me 10 Lords a-leapin’
Several of the displays have mice hidden in them. We found this little mouse hiding in an old log, watching the lords skating.
On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …
And, finally, on the Twelfth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …
Besides the exhibit, the view at the Arboretum, whether winter or summer , fall or spring, is beyond belief.
I have been so busy this December that I have had absolutely no time to sit and blog. That’s both a blessing and a shame. I love documenting my journey here. It is interesting to me to look back and see where I have been and what I have been doing.
One side effect that you always hear about when you hear about chemo is chemo brain. Well, I have it! My memory sometimes doesn’t last through a thought, much less an hour or a day! If something isn’t documented on my calendar or on Facebook or here … it might as well have not happened. Sad, but true. (Some tell me that this is not a symptom of chemo and is, rather, a side effect of getting old…)
I am waiting on my son and his girlfriend to arrive now. We are going to go to Texas Discovery Gardens and see the butterflies and maybe the gardens there. It is a fun place to visit. I haven’t been for quite some time so I am excited. I’ll no doubt be posting pictures of butterflies soon!
The Butterfly Garden at Texas Discovery Gardens is kept quite warm. Fortunately, it is not supposed to get very hot outside today … and, at least at the moment, it is overcast. The butterflies are usually not as active when it is cloudy so I hope it remains grey outside! (Sorry to any sun lovers out there!!)
The purpose of today’s post is to put up some pictures I took a week or two ago at the Dallas Arboretum. I met a friend there and we spent hours and hours – daylight and night-time – walking the gardens. It is gorgeous, especially right now. There is a huge display for the 12 Days of Christmas. You have to see the displays to believe them, but maybe later I will post some of the pictures I took.
Kim and I had so much fun taking pictures. I came home with over 1000!! Yes! One-thousand plus! I finally looked at about three-quarters of them yesterday. And now I am getting ready to go take lots more pictures. I may never catch up!
Today’s post, though, is for my yellow flower and bee pictures! I was thinking about them while I was getting ready a few minutes ago. I love yellow flowers. They brighten my spirit. In fact, I love the color yellow (except when the sun is beating down yellow sunlight and heat … I hate Texas heat). So, what I was wondering about while dressing was why I always say my favorite color is blue. It doesn’t lift my spirits like yellow does. Oh, the things one thinks about while putting on mascara!
God’s creations give me hope. Especially God’s creations that are yellow! 🙂 Just joking, mostly.
The bees and flower pictures send me in search of quotes. Keep in mind that these pictures were taken in mid-December. The flowers do not look like winter flowers, do they? And, I don’t really expect to see bees in the wintertime. But, these bees were prolific and very, very active. Just the fact that the flowers and bees are a bit of an anomaly in December imparts hope to me. Does it affect you that way?
Finding Rick Warren’s quote (above) about hope was perfect. Because, absolutely, God’s grace is the reason for my hope. Every single day. Every single moment. Even when we don’t know what is in His Master Plan, He knows. He is in control. No matter what. He has us in His Hands. That knowledge gives me great peace. I have no reason to worry. God’s got this! No matter what “this” is.
Now, I have no clue who Robert Green Ingersoll is, but I liked the quote … I felt like it was appropriate for this picture. Don’t you know people who go through life without hope? They see the negative in everything. They drag through life. And, you have to wonder how they can make it through each day. Or, I do.Complainers and those who are just never happy make me nervous and stressed.
I can’t imagine always looking at the dark side of life. I prefer to look to the positive. And, those are the people to whom I gravitate. I have friends who are facing tremendous challenges. Their lives are hanging in the balance as lung cancer battles to take them. And, yet, they brag on how wonderful their lives are, how special their friends are, how lucky they are.
I love them. I pray for them to win. But, in reality. They’ve already won. Their cancer is getting very little of their time and attention. They aren’t allowing it to steal a single moment of their happiness or contentment while they have breath.
One of the friends I am thinking of now has published a book about her journey with cancer. She is such a wonderful person, a true advocate for lung cancer awareness. She looks on the bright side of life. Someone wrote a heartbreaking comment to her on Amazon. They told her they couldn’t believe anyone could be so upbeat while facing a deadly disease. And, they criticized her for expressing joy, accusing her of making other cancer patients feel bad if they don’t share her upbeat attitude.
Really?? The note’s author would rather read depressing tomes about lung cancer and its effects. I feel pity for him or her. And, I feel even sorrier for the person he knows that is battling cancer. A downtrodden attitude, in my opinion, allows cancer to win. And robs the person of life while they are still alive.
Well … I choose Happiness and HOPE. Now and, hopefully, until I breathe my last breath.
Below, I am just going to post more happy yellow flowers and bees. There probably won’t be much more commentary so, unless you want to see the pictures, you can probably stop here!
The trees have lost their leaves, but these flowers spring forward, offering color and nectar.
Notice the huge leaves at the bottom of the tall stalks! I wish I had gotten the name of these flowers. I would like to have some somewhere at my house.
I think the leaves look like lily pads!
Gorgeous maple trees provide the background to these lovely yellow flowers.
These flowers are a different kind … but yellow, nonetheless!
Well, this blog seems to focus mainly just on cancer. But my life isn’t just about cancer. Not by any stretch of the imagination! I actually probably cram more into life every day than I did before I was diagnosed. Now, it seems that life may more finite than I imagined. (In reality, life is finite for all of us! And only God knows when He’ll call each of us home so the logic is suspect, but nevertheless, there it is!) I tend to cram my weekends and holidays as full as I can get them with as much fun as possible!
The Dallas Arboretum
Yesterday, my best friend from the 4th grade, Patti, and I spent the day together. Patti came to pick me up and off we went to the Dallas Arboretum. We attended a breakfast for new members and then we wandered through the gardens until it got too warm.
Speaking of which … we have been blessed with very cool weather in mid-August in Dallas, TX. Highs have been in the low 90’s with lows in the 60’s. Unheard of around here where August usually brings us highs in the 100’s and lows in the mid-80’s.
I didn’t take my good camera with me, but had my little point and shoot. Always. It rides in my purse! Just in case I need it. (Unfortunately, I can’t always get it out quickly enough to capture what I want to preserve. Like the day when I was going to work and a rat came running out of plants on the median of the road. By the time I got the camera pulled out, he had run back into the plants…)
Here are a few of the pictures that were taken:
We really had a good time together. We always do. Laughing and carrying on … life is fun when we’re out and about.
I love the Arboretum too – lots of water features, beautiful flowers and landscaping, interesting people to watch… I am really glad we joined. Don’t the pictures just make you smile? The quality isn’t great – my little “purse camera” leaves a bit to be desired – by you can get the gist of some of what we saw!
Shopping with the Grandkids
Sunday afternoon was spent shopping with my daughter-in-law and grandkids. It is time to buy new school clothes! I arrived at Kohl’s where Sara and the kids were already shopping. My youngest grandson is Jonah, who turned 4 in May. He came running to give me a hug … and then said, “But Grandma!!! I wanted you to bring your camera with you!!!” Lucky for him, I had my purse camera!!! Fully recharged!
Jonah is 4 and goes to daycare. Jimmy is six and is entering first grade, while Jonathan is 11 and going into middle school. WHAT???? When did my babies grow up … middle school already??? Incredible!!!
Don’t you just suppose that other people who were shopping at Kohls today thought I was a crazy old woman? I can honestly say that I do not believe I have ever seen anyone following a bunch of kids around with their point-and-shoot camera at the ready!! 🙂 But, that’s okay! The kids love to have their picture taken and I love looking back at them!
Do you notice a common theme? We were there for school clothes shopping but most of the pictures were taken in the toy section!! The kids begged for toys while their mom was deciding what they would be wearing to school when it starts in a couple of weeks.
Jonah was the cutest. He asked if he could have some toys. I told him no because we were there to buy school clothes today. (Outfitting three boys is expensive!!! There was no more money for toys!) Jonah was not satisfied with that response. After all, he told me, he isn’t in school yet so he could spend his money on toys instead of clothes!!