Exploring Pierce County

Greetings Everyone,

Another fall sunny day is upon us in the great state of North Dakota!

Yesterday, I had one of my great exploring adventures!  I set out to find and shoot the great town of Balta, North Dakota.  Recently I had read an article about the Balta Bar and Grill.  I packed up Toby, and headed out to lunch at the Balta Bar!  What adventures lie ahead, we did not know.  Toby, of course, is always anxious and ready to go!

For one thing, I found out was that the population at the last census was 4312, in 2015.  Wow, that isn’t very many people.

The Balta Bar and Grill was closed when I got there. I guess I should have checked ahead of time.  What I did find was a very cool little church!  If any of you have been following me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that old churches and farm barns and houses, are my passion.  The church is named Our Lady of Mt. Carmel’s Catholic Church.  As I stood around photographing it, I couldn’t figure out why Mt Carmel was in the name, and I am still at a loss, but if I ask one of my relatives, I m sure they will know.  I thought Mt Carmel was up by Langdon and the Canadian border, but I am not sure.  More road trips to plan and adventure!

Probably I should backup and give you guys some background on how I got from doing my cancer web site to living in North Dakota instead of Seattle.  I do get around don’t I.

Stay tuned!  Pictures to follow and background data are coming!

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Five Years Survivor – Exploring the Fields of the Past.

I apologize to all my readers out there. It has been a long time since I last sat down to write, and share with you my “Pink” journey.  The road has been long, and I am so happy and grateful to get this far.  I reread the last post.  Interestingly enough, I was still very angry.  The anger seemed to subside this last year.  A welcome relief.  Most of you might not understand that anger that you get when you have cancer.  It is such a loss of control over your own life.

All that aside, here’s my update:  Life has been good very good.  I made a big change.  I packed up and left Whidbey Island and sold the house.  I moved to my old home town in North Dakota where I have family, fond memories and am creating new ones.  And, I am loving it.  I enjoy my family being so close by.  I enjoy the stars at night which I can actually see here.  I enjoy the small town life, and the fact I can get out of town in two minutes!  I treasure thinking about new things and moving forward.

I picked up my camera and started shooting pictures again!  First it was old barns, and that expanded to abandoned churches.  From there I went on to find interesting twisting roads, and friendly cows that are happy to stand with their running noses and watch me and wonder what I find so fascinating about them.  I smell the air.  My senses are so acute here!  I can see clouds, and sun….oh that wonderful warm sun on my face.  And I hear NOTHING!  The ground does not move.  I see the source of our food supply.  People actually stop and talk about the gardens.  I am sure they all think I am weird because I see their lives as so valuable, enjoyable and livable.

And I have experienced something I have not in many years, I am happy.

I even bought an old house.  There’s even a story behind the old house.  I closed on the house in July, and found out in late August that the house belonged to my father’s parents.  My grandparents owned this house!  I found out interestingly enough when the papers which here they call an abstract, arrived.  These papers give you a list of who owned the house, and all the transactions that passed since the house was built.  In 1965 the house was transferred out of the estate of Nettie K Ellingson, to Don Conroy.  Amazing.  Nettie Ellingson was my grandmother who died when I was 3.

Life in a small town may go at a slower pace, but you can get a lot more done because you are not sitting on the freeway looking at the license plate in front of you.  I love driving the roads in the country.  Its amazing how  much of my childhood is in my memory and helps me find my way across this vast estate.  I stop and take time to look at the fields and the cows, and I spend a lot of time laughing at myself.  My dog Toby is my faithful companion and I’ve already put 10K miles on my car this summer.

Next time I’ll post some pictures, as this time I am writing at the Public Library.  What a hoot!  I have time to do that now.  I am taking time, and really living my life, one hour at a time.  The wounds are healing, and Seattle is left in the past, along with a lot of good friends, good memories but I am looking forward to the future and living life moving forward.

Life is good everyone.  Remember that, life is really good.


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Four years – Time Marches Forward

Hi everybody, everyone or perhaps no one.  Its been quite awhile since I have been doing any blogging.  But I think I will be back!  I realized i needed it for me, too.   Lots has happened since I was last here.

I was reading with interest about my dog Shadow passing and how I wrote about it here.  Since then I have lost yet another dog, my little wonderful Mimzy has gone ‘home’ too.  She got sick on a Tuesday, while I was away in the city, and the following Saturday she died a harsh death from kidney failure and pancreatitis.  It was quick I guess, four days, I never knew she was going to die.  The whole thing was so awful I have sat around for one month in a total state of grief, of disbelief, and of great unhappiness with the whole substance of being.  But I guess its all a part of the path we are on.

I have now hit my four year mark, past cancer diagnosis.  My four years of making it through!I am grateful.

I just didn’t think or know, or comprehend how lossing this dog would knock me off my balance.

I am ready to go back to work, at something substantial. I will never be happy at a job out here on the island that pays ten bucks an hour, and worse than that you get no respect.  oh and let’s not even go there about aging and lack of respect from anyone.

Maybe if I just drown myself in work, I can drown myself in unnecessary junk and trips bought to just get past this mundane existence we call life.

Take time for myself, they say.  Just heal.  I am sick of having to be healing from something.  Totally sick of it.  Tired of thinking how short time is, and just ready to succumb to just what the fuck let ever come what comes.

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The Line – you’re not going back

FORKIt’s like you step over an imaginary line that you cannot go back to the other side.

You are never going to the other side again.

It’s a new beginning but a lot of people aren’t going there.  You are going on alone now.


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Just A Nice Quiet PeaceFul Weekend

Sometimes the best times, are just the quiet peaceful times.  It was a nice warm weekend in Seattle, some might say a ‘tad’ to warm for them.  In Seattle, we like it about 65 and overcast.  That forecast makes most people just fine.  73 is good to, but we like a break from that and have our overcast and light rain.

Not to much going on yet and that’s fine.  Had a great vacation in May culminating in a huge financial surprise at the end.  Sometimes the unexpected gifts are the best!

I have almost completed my book.  Once I got started everything went pretty smooth and I raced through the chapter outlines that took me nearly six months to complete!  So stay tuned, I am going to try this Amazon self publishing and see how that goes.  I don’t expect to be a New York TImes best seller, but if my story helps another, it will all be worth it.

I am going to spend the rest of my summer doing some fund raising for Cancerlifeline, as well as continue my current employment.  I am happy with my job, and the rest of the world is going well.  It will be three years for me in August, since I was diagnosed with Stage 2B invasive ductal carcinoma.

My how time flies when you are having fun.  But life is good!  Life is Good!

Go forth and conquer.  I am well, be well my friends!


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Everyone Has a Story = Scratch your dog’s head!

YorkieMimzEveryone has a story.  All our individual lives, make up our story.  I didn’t really understand this until recently.  We had a class on it at the local Cancer Lifeline support group at Evergreen Medical Center.

Somehow as individuals we don’t always want to share our story, or some of us do want to share it.  It’s a way of understanding it, seeing it, and working our way through it.  Some life stories are pretty bumpy, but ya know what? We all have a bumpy ride sooner or later.  Things happen to us, things happen to people we love and things happen to other people than inadvertently effect us whether we want it to or not.

I guess its what makes us interesting really.  As a journalist, I am a story teller, and  a story gatherer.  I am interested in other people and their stories, and how they made it through or not.  Aren’t  you curious about the world around you? Have you gotten so cynical, that you want to protect yourself from the whirling world around you?  There are times, when we need to take a break from it.  That’s called downtime.  Just don’t stay there. ITs not an interesting place to be and probably not healthy.

Reflection has its place in our life.  We can identify patterns.  Maybe start to understand why some people don’t understand us.  They have their own story.  What I have found that many people become narcissistic,  self involved in their own lives.  I think that’s another blog post.

I have moved on with my life.  Some people came along for the journey, other people walked away, others just faded in the distance maybe to resurface later.  People always think they have a lot of later.  Since I have had cancer, I have observed the most insane behavior in individuals and families.  Cancer patients will always tell you, especially in the early days of diagnosis that people say the most ridiculous things to them, the most hurtful things, and continue to do so long after its gone.

Some idiot just told me in a letter, oh thanks for the letter old friend, that I have lost my memory.  Oh, no, I remember the things that are worth remembering.  I just don’t put up with peoples crap anymore.  I use to put up with a lot of crap!  That was my story, I let these people walk all over me because of what I thought was the kindness of my heart.  I was way to forgiving of people in the light of my own needs and mental health.  Oh boy, no more of that shit going on in my life.  I tell it like I see it.  I don’t have time, literally don’t have time to go along with bullshit.  I think most cancer patients see it that way.

The response to the C word, has such various reactions.  Its like you have a ‘disease’ or something.  HA HA  I guess you do.  But what you don’t realize, what a fantastic gift it is.  Its the gift of life right here on earth.  Its the gift of awareness of the things around you.  You don’t get to gain that in sight, if you are hit by a garbage truck on the corner of 9th and James in downtown Seattle.  I had an interesting experience last summer when a young woman I had sat next to on the bus, later that day was killed on that corner, drug by a truck that hit her and not knowing,  kept going down the street.  Later there were markings made by somebody measuring the impact, and where she lay on the street.  I looked at those.  and they changed me.

Her life left.  Very quickly, and I doubt it was with reflection.  She had no time, to think about the people she loved.  She had no time to reflect on who will take care of her service dog after she was gone.  She had no time to scratch his head one more time.

Why are we so dumb and take our lives for granted?  Why does it take the gift of cancer, to grasp onto the minutes of our life?  We could die today, or tomorrow.  As a writer, I like to think about things, analyze things and draw conclusions.  And I like to share those things with others.  I guess our stories bring to our story the realization that this is our life, that we have the ability to choose our response.

Sometimes I think I hate my story.  Not the job of doing the blog.  Which by the way has been very hard to do these past six months.  I think sometimes I don’t have anything to say but I really know that isn’t true.  When you have a gift, you are suppose to share it.  There’s an old saying in the bible somewhere (I am never one to remember versus and quote them…I have enough data in my brain) that says don’t hide your light under a bushel.  IT means that we all have a gift of something and we need to let it shine.  What is your gift? Do you take the time to think about it, and what life has brought to you?

Its all so deep. I think right now I will go scratch my dog’s head, and then I will give her lots of tummy kisses and a back rub.  Don’t forget to take the time, to love those around you!





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Moving On – The Seasons of Friendship


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Rest in Peace Shadow

ShadowHoneyIMG_20140222_175918498I haven’t written in awhile.  I have been dealing with the failing health of my beloved Shetland Sheepdog Shadow.  She has been my devoted friend for fifteen years.  Actually, I guess she has been with me it seems, most of my adulthood.  Shadow seen me through many things in this life.  It only seemed fitting that I should see her go gently to the other side.  She seen me through the agony of the cancer and on to recovery.  I have been so blessed to have had her in my life.

On January 29th, I had the vet come to our house.  I chose the time.  The time I chose I hope was a good one for her.  When do we ever know if we do the right thing? I knew the time was coming.  She had been deaf about a year.  Only recently, she appeared to have a stroke during the night and she was becoming blind.  Maybe I could have even gone on for awhile after this.  Her hips had long gone out.  Her days of running on the beach were long gone.  In fact that last time she had a full walk around the block was last summer.  Here I was recovering from cancer and getting better and better, as she seemed to fade more each day.  It seemed like it all fell in to place.  Only I was not ready to let go.

I waited until she was afraid.

Then my sensibilities seemed to come to me.  I spent time with her.  I took a week off.  I hurried home from work each day to have some daylight hug and play time.  But I could see the end was coming.  Then she started to bark, when she couldn’t see me in the house.  I might just go to the other end of the house, and she worried.  I couldn’t go anywhere.  I worried about her.  What if something happened when I was gone?  She would be alone; well with the other dog but still.  I hired a pet sitter.

I bargained with life, but in the end I chose to let her go.  I couldn’t stand her fear.  And there was nothing I could do about it.  I considered my own health, and what this was doing to that.  I haven’t been well very long, and some people would say I am not 100 percent yet, but I am careful.  So I picked a day.  Then I waited until after the holidays.  Then I said, my birthday, but she didn’t make it that long.  Two days before my birthday, it was done.  On my birthday, they cremated her and this weekend I picked up her ashes and brought her home and put her on the fireplace, along side honeybear.  Next weekend, I will scatter them both together at the ocean where they use to play and run, love and run.

Rest in peace my two friends.  Rest in Peace.



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Stuck in Vegas

Okay so the new Year starts with technological problems.  I spent all morning writing what I thought to be one of my better posts, only to find it disappear to the trash.  Now I cannot find the trash!  Oh I need to update my WordPress version. I haven’t done that either.

Do you get overwhelmed with all the technical changes in our world? Just when you think you are ahead, something else comes along.  And I have been in the business for many years, of information technology but even I get a little ‘overwhelmous’ at times and I am mad I cannot find the trash. I know that article is here somewhere.

Its really irritating to have that article disappear.  Time is short, and you never know how to rewrite something, it is not the same.  My heart is not in it. :(    Because I haven’t updated my software, I don’t think I have a trash folder as an option. I can’t find it here.

What do you do when you can’t figure it out? Go to Google right? I did that.  It said go to pages, or posts, and edit and then select trash.  It is not there.

I have refused to update, because I don’t know how to backup.  This site has never been backed up that I know since I started in 2012.   Sam set it up for me, and now he is not speaking to me because he is so busy or maybe he is mad, my brain can tell me all kinds of untruths and go crazy while I am trying to figure things out.

What do I want to do with the rest of my life?  Maybe that is the real question on my mind.  I got a wild hair idea to go to Vegas this weekend.  How did that work out for me? Well all return flights were overbooked today, so here I sit in the airport in Vegas.  Its an interesting place I guess. I am observing people.  People irritated from being up to long, spending to much money, and not being able to get home.  I think I will avoid conversation with them.  Good thing I have my trusted old laptop for companionship.

Why do people still play the slot machines at the airport. Like how stupid is that, as if they haven’t already left all their money here, they take one last chance.  Like the airport would payout? I don’t think so.  Why?  Good bye suckers!

I had a little rendezvous with an old school friend in Vegas.  What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas right?  ha ha    Well I guess that applies to me this morning also, cause I stayed in Vegas!  My flight is in ten minutes or so…I think they said that three hours ago.  I left my friend at their gate at 4 am.  Good bye!  Thanks for the memories. (notice how I did not specifically give you a gender).

I am tired.  I have no clean clothes.  I am suppose to be at work.  Well I will be there in two hours right?  Need to go find something to eat now the airport is buzzing again.

Have a great day. Sorry you missed my other post.  Maybe when I have recovered, I can find it.  Oh my, did that dog just poop in the airport?  Yikes, I need coffee!


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Pretty Pockets, Cancer Surgical drains, and Happy Holidays!

dancingGreetings to all my readers!  Thanks for all your positive and uplifting comments this past year and especially in October! I really do appreciate it.  Now that I am working, I am busy and think of the blog often, but don’t write that much.  I can tell when I don’t, I miss it!

I have been busy gathering fabric for a group that has volunteered to make Pretty Pockets for surgery patients, and busier yet finding and talking with people at the various hospitals so we can distribute these free to what started out to be breast cancer, but now has expanded to any kind of surgery that requires a ‘drain tube’ after surgery.  These drain tubes were the worst thing about having breast cancer I thought.  They consist of a six inch tubing that is inside your body, and a long 18 inch tube that hangs out.  The tube is secured in your body by stitches!!  Its very painful when these drain tubes fill and the weight drags the tube down.

I didn’t find out about this pretty little flannel pockets until two years after my experience with drain tubes.  They are a wonderful little flannel pocket that pins or clips to clothes.  There are problems with clips coming undone, so I recommend the old fashioned pin, which does not open and accidentally drop the tube.

The problem I experienced, which I am sure all surgery survivors do, is when you take a shower!  Nobody had come up with anything for this.  And its terrible to try and balance two drain tubes and take a shower in water.  Everything gets slippery.

So my goal this fall has been to come up with a waterproof pocket/s that can be worn around your neck yet still holds the pocket waterproof in place, while you shower.  Bathing in a tub is totally out during this time, but a shower is so wonderful and refreshing.  My adventure into this environment has taken me into all types of plastics, and materials.  Thanks to Tap Plastic in Bellevue, WA, my designs are coming to life but not quite there yet.  I am getting the first ones ready to distribute in January to a local hospital.

So this has been a fun thing to do, and I look forward to delivering 500 free pockets at the first of the year.  They will come in pairs of two, with two additional waterproof pockets for the shower.  They will be free, and distributed (I hope) through Cancer LifeLine.

I am always looking for donations of cute sturdy flannel fabric.  My thanks and contributions to Maryanne Arthur, who came up with an idea called Pretty  Pockets.  I am  just expanding on that idea with waterproof shower adapters.

LOL…who ever thought.  A drain tube pocket designer and distributor of surgical solutions!  :)   Thanks to one of my favorite doctor for contributing his input and support.

Have a great holiday season, and remember to help somebody.  Its your present to yourself!!

Bonnie :)


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