Today Dan and the Storyteller demolished the opening from the kitchen to the dining room, and they removed the built-ins that separated the dining room from the living room. We are going to have transom windows above each opening, and I think that will look really special. It looked special before too, but it just didn't work with our stuff. I would like to find a way to re-purpose the built-in cabinets but am not sure it's going to work. We may give them away. So this new configuration gives us a wall for the piano, the secretary, both my corner cabinets, and the buffet. it makes a lot possible. With so many windows in the house, there just isn't much wall space.

Today I went to a country high school, very small, Title 1, poor but polite.

This is a small town. Really small. The connections are endless and grow each day. I say to the librarian that I bought a house. Oh where, she says? I tell her and she immediately knows who my mother is. The teacher I visited today rides bikes with my colleague at work. I ran into an old high school friend last night, and he is good friends with my department chair AND goes to church with my mom.

I like it here.


This is the middle school. I was here today for a meeting with a student teacher. My sisters went to middle school here but I did not. It was not a very pleasant building.

We went to dinner tonight at Mellow Mushroom and ran into some old friends. It felt good to have those kinds of interactions.

I got a new student today. He's going to apply to the PhD program to work with me, and I decided to do an independent study with him this semester. By spring I should have three PhD students working with me.

Tomorrow Dan and the Storyteller are going to open up the door from the kitchen to the dining room. I'll post pictures when I have them!


This is where I went to High School. I met with a student teacher here today in the 300 building. Afterwards I worked from home and then Squirt and I picked up BBQ to take to the new house where Dan and the Storyman were ripping out a wall. Here are some pictures of the progress made so far in the kitchen:


This is where I went to Junior High School. Today I visited a student teacher here. I was not impressed with the main building because the old character was covered up by paint and carpet. I could easily find my way to the cafeteria and remembered where my old Earth Science classroom was. Next time I want to explore the upstairs and find my old English homeroom.

It was a long day. I taught this evening and had many meetings throughout the day.


Worked most of the day then rode my bike to the new house to check in on Dan. He made great progress. Rode my bike back and we went to dinner at the Danish's house. Lasagne and carrot soup and bread and coffee ice cream. And entertaining conversation. Then came home and worked two more hours grading journals.

See the wood floor under where the cabinet was??? We are trying to decide whether or not to finish it and use it as our kitchen floor.


We spent all day at the new house. I pulled weeds until my hands had  blisters, and I was wearing gloves. This is a photo of a prevalent plant in the back yard. I can't remember what it's called.

Dan got to work removing cabinetry. He disassembled all the upper cabinets and even took out a lower one, which we re-purposed in his workshop. We even re-purposed the round nick-knack shelf.

Here is the wall with all the cabinets removed. Dan still needs to demolish that wallpapered header. See the pine subflooring? We are going to consider refinishing it as our kitchen floor. Maybe. See that electric stove? I'm going to post it on Freecycle right now. Hope to get a taker.


We bought a house today! Accomplishments were tearing out all the carpet in the hall and den, removing all the staples from the floor, removing all the nails from the walls, and pulling weeds.


Walk through today! The house is almost ready for closing tomorrow at 10am. See the kitchen? This scene will be very different in a few months' time. Dan's going to do a wonderful job.

I did my first meeting at my old high school today. What a STRANGE thing to be a university professor observing teachers at my old high school. Man. Cool and strange and familiar all at the same time. Happy feelings.


Today everything gelled for me. I felt like a university professor. I think at UK I still felt like a rookie but today I really felt like I knew something. Had something. Something akin to wisdom. The air was almost cool today and it hinted at fall around the corner. I had meetings all day - two different engineering professors came by to speak with me about possible collaborations. I'm writing a grant with one already. Late afternoon I met with my 5 student teachers (they call them interns here) and felt a sense of purpose and place and reason for being here.


I woke last night with a migraine that was really really bad. I think it was caused by whatever I ate at the restaurant last night. It was not a great restaurant, so I'm not surprised. Anyway, I took a Maxalt and stayed in bed until 10:30am. Putzed around all day on various things then went to my mom's house for dinner with some friends. Here she is preparing our appetizer. First she put down a peach sauce. Then she placed the round metal can thing on and put in it: peaches, lump crab meat, avocado. Then she removed the can thing to reveal the stack of delicious yumminess.


I got a new bike!!!! My former bike was an '85 Cannondale and my body just couldn't take the bent over posture. So we looked all over town (all two bike shops) and picked out this beauty for me. Shocks on the front and seat, girl style, big seat, twisty gear shifters, and an upright posture. I rode it home then cruised around the neighborhood. Boy was I tired! This is one reason I need a bike... The other reason has to do with parking at school.


Dinner tonight at the new place in Opelika with southern fare. I had a very productive evening working on my courses which start next week. I hope I know what I'm doing!


Breakfast at Panera with two wonderful high school girlfriends this morning. Little Coke (in the middle) was in town doing some work for her father, and LACA (on the right) lives here. Oh my, we enjoyed catching up. The rest of the day was spent meeting with graduate students that I'm advising. I felt like a professor. I really actually finally felt like a professor. It was a feel-good day all around. For dinner we went to the Museum for a "back to school" event. It was mostly students, but we saw some grown-ups we know, and met some new people as well. I LOVE small towns. I LOVE this small town and all the connections between people. I hate the house in which I'm living and the crap we have endured here for the past 6 weeks, but it's worth it.


I got to work and there was a sticky note on my office door from my college friend Joodie (that's not how it's spelled, but it sounds like that). She and her husband Reindeer (that's not his name, but it's similar) had just dropped off their son at college and hunted me down. I was not in. Upon seeing the note, I immediately sent her a text message saying, "come back!" and she did. We had a very nice chat catching up on 26 years. She caught the bouquet at my wedding in 1985 and got married to Reindeer the next year. Wow, that really made my day.


Yesterday was an all-day orientation for new faculty. Today I had meetings all day with the department. I got home around 5pm tired, and then realized that we had accepted an invitation to the President's for dinner. This is the house I used to babysit the president's grandchildren at many many years ago. Now, many presidents later I am attending a dinner there for new faculty members. We were not dressed as fancy as the other attendees. Note to self: Folks dress up in the South. But we sat next to the only other new faculty member from Kentucky. She was a new graduate of the library science program there.


We went to Lowes and Home Depot today to check out cabinets for our new kitchen. This is our favorite style.

Mom had us over for dinner: quiche, salad, broccoli, and blackberry cake for dessert.

Jes had a scare last night with a fever and headache and we thought she was developing an infection. Root had her eat a clove of garlic and made her juices... and her fever came down and she felt better today.

Tomorrow I have an ALL day meeting for new faculty.


We left Denver this morning and arrived in Auburn late afternoon. I miss Jes. She developed a fever and headache and her drain sites got red. I worried and she called the doctor and decided to eat garlic and drink juice and keep a close watch. I think she is getting better. Prayers for a restful night.

This cursed house we are renting smells like spoiled old dirt. The landlady's son tore out a moldy wall but now the house smells like sour nastiness. I am burning all my candles and cranking up the hepa filter. This is the lovely caulk job the son did outside the moldy wall. I can't move too soon from this place.


This is the scene I want to remember from today- Jes and her dad lounging together and comparing apps on their iPads. Today was big- Jes got the drains taken out of her chest. It hurt worse than anything this week, but it freed her from the tubes and bloody bulbs.

I cooked chicken étouffée (not as well as my mom) and made a salad with French bread. We went to Liks fora pint of S'mores ice cream.

We said our sweet goodbyes with kisses and hugs. I'm glad to leave with Jes feeling better and with a weekend ahead for Root to watch over her.

Oh, this morning at breakfast we sat with a couple from New York. The wife had thyroid cancer 18 years ago.

Yesterday morning at breakfast we sat with a couple in town for a bike race. The wife had thyroid cancer 20 years ago. What is this???


Today I spent all day helping Jes. I did all her laundry and gave her back rubs and combed her long hair and went shopping for her. It is such a good feeling to help her. Dan took her for a walk around the block and she is gaining stamina. Sakura sent her chocolate goodies today and Stay sent her these tulips. She got a huge stack of cards in the mail. Root did the grocery shopping and cooked a delicious almond crusted salmon dinner with veggie cous cous and broccoli and beet/orange/celery/parsley juice. Jes is very loved.


Jes went home from the hospital today. We got her home around noon and she got in her own bed and slept for hours. She showered and we took off the bandages and saw her incision for the first time together. It was like unwrapping a present, but with different feelings attached. Her drains are still in, and they are annoying and painful. I hope in a few days she can have them taken out but I think it will be next week after we leave. She will need someone to drive her to the doctor's office. I wish I could stay and help.

Root came over after work and I cooked dinner. Then Dan and I cleaned up and left for our B&B and a walk around Cheeseman Park. Root has the night shift, then we will take over in the morning when he goes to work.

Jes looks beautiful. She wants to hide her scar, but it is her badge of courage and her gold medal. She is beautiful and strong and determined and wise. I am honored to be her mother and honored to be helping her this week.


Too tired to blog. Photo of Jes in her second walk. With Root.


We arrived at the hospital around 9:40am this Monday morning for "the cure." As in the cure from cancer.

Jes was excited and ready to roll, ready to kick cancer goodbye. We got to visit with her in the pre-op room until it was time for surgery. She got some sleepy meds and was off around 11:45.

The wait began. This was our view for the next 8 or so hours. A very nice waiting room with a very nice cafe one floor down. We couldn't complain too much about the hospitality.

We got the first update around 2:30 that the thyroid was out. We got the second update at 5pm that they were working on the lymph nodes. We took turns going for dinner. Then we finally got a visit from the surgeon around 6:45 and he said the surgery went very well, and he even showed us pictures to prove it. The nerves were in good shape and we could go see her as soon as she was alert.

Around 7:30 Root and I went back to the recovery room to see Jes. She was NOT a happy camper. Her back was hurting A LOT. She was really uncomfortable and not able to express herself well because of all the pain. Root rubbed her back and I scratched her head, powerless to do anything. She got some Versed and Ativan and was a bit more comfortable when we left. We were only allowed to stay about 15 minutes. Only two of us were allowed in the room.

We asked for a private room so I could stay the night and we got one.
When Jes arrived we found out that the IV had infiltrated into her arm tissues and all the pain meds were just filling up her arm.

Poor baby. This happened to Squirt too when he had surgery back in 2007. It hurt so bad, but finally she had an IV in the other arm that worked, and the pain meds kicked in.
Jes really wanted a banana popsicle, but all they had was cherry. Unfortunately, it made her nauseous so we had to pitch it. I could see that one coming.

After a couple hours of settling in and saying good night to Root and Daddy, I made up the sofa bed and turned down the lights. Hopefully we will get some sleep.

Worries have consumed me for months.
This is a big relief.
Jes is a cancer survivor.
Tomorrow is Day 1.


After a nice breakfast at our B&B we went to a shopping mall for a little outing. Jes and I got makeovers at Aveda. Here's her smiling face afterwards! After shopping, we had lunch at The Dark Horse in Boulder. What a funky place! I didn't get any good pictures there.
But then we met up with Root and went for a "walk in the woods" at El Dorado Canyon. Those two kids called it a simple, short hike. I called it a mountain climb. It was like a video game going from rock to rock all the way up to a waterfall thing. My heart raced as my lungs tried to keep up.

It was beautiful. Really serene with the sound of water flowing and a clear sky, rocks and sky. The trip down was much easier.

Root climbs here frequently and knew what each vertical climb was like, and what it was called. He explained some of them to us.

Towards the end we took off our shoes and waded in the water. Cold, refreshing water. It was grounding to be in nature today, to be in the moment listening and looking and feeling the Earth under our feet and the Sky above us.

Dan taking it all in.

After all this, Jes and Root cooked us dinner. We had stuffed zucchini and peach cobbler. The veggies and fruit were either from the local CSA or from Root's garden. Everything was delicious and it was a tender goodnight on this last day before the surgery. Tomorrow my little girl will be a cancer survivor. She will be in recovery. She will be clear and clean and have a new start on life. The journey will be difficult, but my baby climbs mountains and calls them walks in the woods. She is the definition of a trooper. Tomorrow she troops out of cancer into a new life.


We had an uneventful flight to Denver. But when we landed we learned that the B&B we booked had "lost" our reservation. We had to scramble to find a place near Jes, and succeeded for a price.

Dinner with Root and Jes at a French restaurant. The guys got Moules et Frites. Not for me.


Worked all day on another grant proposal. Leftovers at Mom's for dinner: carrot curry soup and steak sandwiches. Leaving in the morning for Denver.


So far this month has not been bad at all.
Today I escaped to my office in the morning so that the bug men could spray chemicals and treat the house for bed bugs. I had a productive morning and found out about an evening documentary showing at the local coffee shop. They show POV releases from PBS before they are released to the TV. So, after I cooked a chicken curry, we went to the coffee shop where I had the best latte ever, sat on rickety chairs amid renovation, and met some cool people and watched three really interesting short documentaries. The first one was called The Barber of Birmingham, and if you get the chance, watch it. Here's their website: http://barberofbirmingham.com/

Tomorrow is my last day to get stuff done before our trip to Denver. I set up a mailchimp email list for anyone who wants updates on Jes and her surgery. If you are a regular blog reader and want updates, send me or Dan your email address and I'll add you.


So I stayed home today to work on my course syllabus and lessons, and decided it would be healthy to eat an apple. Went back for a bite and freaked out because I thought the sticker was a roach. See how freaked out I am about bugs?

We had a VERY nice evening out at my favorite local restaurant with my grant team. It looks like I was only half-there, and that's probably because I had a beer. It was good! Great team. We're gonna get that grant... and then we have to do all those things we promised!

So far first day of August wasn't too bad.