First Mate Update

Hello – This is Captain Tom again with another update on the First Mate and her latest medical adventures.

All things have their time, and the time has come to decommission the Good Ship Cataract.  With the eye surgeries over and new glasses firmly in place (or is it “on face”?) the Good Ship has served its purpose.  So you might think the only proper thing to do would be to sail into port one last time and have a fitting ceremony commemorating our many adventures.


Strange as it may sound, the First Mate did not sail into port, the “port” came to her.  Now you might argue that there are ports and then there are ports, and you would be right.  A “port” did come to her, but it’s not the sort of port where ships anchor.  It’s a semi-permanent medical device surgically implanted in her upper chest under the skin just below the collarbone.

She was starting to experience a problem common to many cancer patients.   The many blood draws to keep tabs on medicine side effects plus to the occasional IV infusions all need compatible veins in your arm to insert the needle.  Eventually scar tissue and other issues make finding a useable vein harder and harder.  The answer is to install a port.

During a day surgery, the port, about a half inch in diameter and needle friendly, is inserted under the skin in the vicinity of a large vein that runs across the chest.  The port has a tube or catheter on its back side that is inserted into the vein.  Inserting a needle into the top part of the port gives instant connection to the body’s blood system.  Nurses love them.

The port is fine, but there was some “collateral damage” from the surgery, mostly very tweaked and painful neck and back muscles from the position she was in during the procedure.  Once she recovers from that, the First Mate will be off, taking her Port with her wherever she goes.

The “P’s” Have It

This has been a week of “P’s” for me.  It started Saturday afternoon with our community band Playing in the Park.  That was followed by Pizza at our house and then it was Pickle making time.  Those Present, besides myself and the First Mate, were Lisa (daughter), Christina (daughter and mother of Lydia), John (son in law and father of Lydia) and lastly, Lydia (6 year old granddaughter).

My Part in all this was to take Pictures and stay out of the way.  Eventually I had to go Procure more vinegar and salt for the Pickle making Process.  The First Mate was busy, keeping things under control, and keeping out of any Pictures.

The following is a Photo essay on Pickle making.

It had been 7 years since the last family Pickle making bash.  Christina brought 25 Pounds of Pickling cucumbers and lots of onions.  We got dill, garlic, vinegar, hot Peppers, salt, alum and jar lids.  We combined our supply of quart jars and washed them.  Then, after Pizza at our house, the fun began:


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Get the dill ready.


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Bring the vinegar, salt, alum and water to a boil.  (This is the “hot stuff” to be used later)


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Start an assembly line to fill the jars with dill, onion slices, garlic cloves, hot peppers and, of course, cucumbers.


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Fill the jars to the top with the hot stuff and apply lids and rings


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And, if you are REALLY good, the last of the hot stuff exactly fills the last jar.


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33 jars in all. We will need to wait at least 4 to 6 weeks to see how things turn out.  The old family method was to open the first jar at Christmas, but I doubt we will wait that long.


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And here is the “SPECIAL” jar made just for daughter Rebecca.  She was with us only in spirit this time but 7 years ago she was here in body and spiced up a few jars with her own “special” recipe.  Somehow we ended up with a couple of those jars, and they were not dill pickles, they were fire pickles.  Lydia was concerned that we might be going to hurt Aunt Rebecca with our “special” jar.  Somehow, I don’t think so.


The house still smells faintly of vinegar fumes and onions but that should go away in a month or two.  The jars look so pretty, all lined up like little green soldiers, ready to march off to some cupboard somewhere.  And, maybe best of all, there were still two slices of Pizza left for lunch the next day.

After Picklemania, the next big event was the Port surgery on Tuesday.  Then on Wednesday it was the band Playing, this time in a different Park.  And on Friday, it was the successful Patching of a Punctured tire on the Prius.

Well that’s about it for now except, since this blog is called “Growing In Grace At Any Age”, maybe there should be something spiritual and something age related.  And “P” related. So here goes:

Praise the Lord!

Be like a Pickle and improve with age.

Bye for now.


Tom the Pickle Packer Photographer



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