a few things in October

November is the sneak-attack month of the year. After October is all crunchy leaves and brilliant colors, scarves and boots and pumpkin-related beverages and candy, November falls back and the sun sets early and I want to get in bed immediately after dinner.

But here are some things that have been good in the last month:

Surgery and Diagnosis

In October, mom had brain surgery to remove a tumor which doctors had told us was probably  cancerous.  But it wasn't until today (November 3) that we got the final pathology results of the tumor. Here's an excerpt from my Dad's email about it:

This particular tumor has had our doctors here and in California scratching their heads from the beginning. It's apparently been there for at least two years – maybe longer. And typically, a primary brain tumor in that region of the brain would not be as slow growing or as contained as this tumor was. When ever we asked our doctors to give us an educated guess about the tumor, they deferred.

We expected to have an initial pathology report as soon as the surgery was completed. During the surgery, the doctors did a frozen section on the tumor but the results were inconclusive. When we talked to Dr. Berger following the surgery, he was noncommittal. We didn't know why until today when we read the notes he filed following the surgery. Here is what he said:

"I went through the sensory cortex to access the lesion and respect what I thought was a very circumscribed mass. The surrounding white matter look pristine without tumor and while I thought this was a metastasis, it looked on frozen to be a high-grade glioma, oddly enough."

By the way, glioma is not a word you want to hear it when it comes to brain cancer. A glioma is nasty.

Dr. Berger went on to say "There was no infiltration of the surrounding white matter. Very strange... We will await the final pathology but if this is high-grade glioma she will need radiation and chemotherapy… This is a challenging case."

having staples removed

having staples removed

What all the doctors fully expected to be life-threatening turned out to be benign.

Rather than being a high-grade glioma, mom's tumor turned out to a hemangioblastoma and a grade one benign lesion. "I have never heard of a hemangioblastoma in this part of the brain," the doctor told my parents today. "I have removed hundreds of hemangioblastomas. They are kind of fun. But I've never seen one show up where this one did."

Given the location of the tumor, the doctor fully expected this to be a much more serious glioma. The report from the pathologist in California says "supratentorial hemangioblastomas are extremely rare. An intraparenchymal supratentorial hemangioblastoma in this patient is considered an exceptional finding."

In other words: weird.

In other words: PRAISE THE LORD.


I enjoyed Searching for Jack Kerouac and finished off the canon of Rainbow Rowell with Landline and Fangirl. On the plane to San Francisco, I devoured Kyle Minor's Praying Drunk (this is the one you should read!).  Now, I'm in the final pages of Marilynne Robinson's Lila, which is beautiful and worth savoring.

Jane the Virgin!  
Still watching Nashville, HTGAWM, BLackish, A to Z (a pleasant romantic comedy that has just been cancelled, boo), and Parenthood.

Here's a funny story about Parenthood that you can skip if you don't watch it:  A few weeks before mom's surgery, I emailed all my sibs to make sure they understood her situation, and the range of possible outcomes, including the worst possible outcome. Two days later, I was watching Parenthood and saw Adam do the exact same thing: he emailed his siblings about the worst case scenario.  So, if you ever wondered which Parenthood character I am, it's clearly Adam.


Jack does not believe in listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. He gets sick of it.  So guess how surprised I was to come home from Indy one evening and find that he had recorded a Christmas song and lit the evergreen candle.  I am not opposed.


Jack's sister Hannah and her husband and two kids visited us last week.  We loved getting to hang out in normal time instead of in the busy holiday time we usually get to spend with them.

Also: our kids all wanted to dress up as Star Wars characters.


I spent a couple of long afternoons working in the garden this month, too, which -despite its total chaos- continues to provide some veg for us. And Rosie lost her two front teeth!

Linking up, as always, with the lovely Leigh Kramer-