Sunday, March 27, 2011

Next Time The Dreaded 'C' Word is NOT Invited!

Earlier this week I had been trying to figure out what to do with the days off on my upcoming weekend and had tossed around the possibility of driving up to New Hampshire to take pictures or driving over to Cape Cod to take pictures or driving down to ... well, you get the idea! In the midst of all that, though, I stopped for a moment and thought that maybe instead of gallivanting around New England taking more pictures (after all, it's not like I need more pictures!) that perhaps I should see if my friend Patti was up for taking a ride somewhere and spending some time together. I've taken a couple of very nice day trips with Patti and seen parts of Connecticut I'd not seen before while always having a wonderful time but this visit would have an additional purpose in that I was hoping to take Patti's mind off the ordeal that she would be facing on Monday even if just for a little while.

Recently, Patti announced on her blog that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer - something that I had known for awhile but had promised to not spread around. When Patti first found out that she had a spot on her latest mammogram that didn't look right we had held out hope that it was simply a fibroid but further tests squashed that hope when she was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma. Okay ... that was bad but according to what I read if one was going to get breast cancer, that would be the best kind to get as it's easily treatable generally with just a lumpectomy. Unfortunately, though, that wasn't the case as when the doctor did the lumpectomy she found that a full mastectomy was going to be necessary to get all of the cancerous tissue.

When I heard the news after I returned from my cruise, I was pretty upset for my friend as Patti is one of those incredibly nice people that you think should never ever have bad things happen in her life but it seems like it's been one long string of misfortunes after another that she and her husband Ralph have had to endure.  Throughout it all, Patti has kept her wonderful sense of humor but come on Lord, enough is enough, huh?  Don't you think it's time to give the woman a break?  I sure do!

Patti is slated to "go under the knife" on Monday morning and I know that even though it's going to be a very tough thing to go through, I also know she's more than happy to get it over and done with and get on the road to recovery. As part of her battle against the cancer she's joined a support group at Griffin Hospital in Derby where she's being treated at the brand new Center for Breast Wellness, she tells me that her surgeon is an angel whom everyone respects and admires, she's writing about the ordeal on her blog which is very therapeutic even though she doesn't like to talk about herself, and she also has the love of family and friends behind her. With all that I'm thinking that this cancer really doesn't stand a chance!

Be that as it may, though, I'm sure that the cancer is never far from her thoughts so I thought perhaps an afternoon out and about in New Haven might be a nice diversion. I figured that if I could provide nothing else that I could certainly try to be a distraction and buy her lunch so to that end I met my favorite Princess in the parking lot of the huge Ikea store right off of Interstate 95 and we went in search of scenery and sustenance.

The first stop of the day was supposed to be the summit at East Rock Park where there is a statute that I've been wanting to photograph for some time now - the Soldiers &  Sailors Monument which honors New Haven men who gave their lives in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. Erected in 1887, the monument can be seen from pretty much all of the city including when you're driving past New Haven on the interstate and being that I'd seen it many times in passing I figured it was time to get up close and personal for some photographs. Before heading down to New Haven, I checked the city's webpage where it said that "The Summit Drive is open daily April 1 to November 1, 8 a.m. to sunset. November 1 to March 31, road to summit is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting." Even though it was cold and windy, it was still bright and sunny so the weather should have been permitting the drive to be open, right? Wrong!

Closed East Rock Park Summit Road Gate

Well what the heck?  Thinking that perhaps things had changed since whenever it was that New Haven thought to update their webpage, I walked over and took a look at the sign next to the closed gate ...

East Rock Park Summit Sign

Uhm ... okay ... it was most definitely Saturday and it was most definitely between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. as I had met Patti at noon exactly and it only took about 15 minutes to drive over to East Rock Park but that gate was most definitely closed and there was no way that I was going to ask a woman who had recently undergone a surgical procedure with another major one looming on the horizon to hike up to a statue in 35-degree temperatures. I certainly didn't want to see the Soldiers & Sailors Monument that badly!

Oh well, on to Plan B which was to go by the New Haven Green and take some pictures of the historic churches located there.  We drove down to the Green but as I looked around at the Yalies all hanging around and the other assorted denizens of New Haven I decided that perhaps it was just way too cold and windy to be schlepping around in downtown New Haven so why not just go get something to eat instead?  Patti concurred and after a little while we found ourselves sitting in a booth at the Texas Roadhouse in West Haven ordering chicken in a steak joint!

We had a lovely lunch and chatted about my recent cruise and her recent visits to the doctor as well as her upcoming stint on an episode of Ghost Hunters which revolves around the Sterling Opera House and the mysterious lights that we saw there when myself, Patti, and my friend Amy spent Halloween Night in 2009 exploring the old opera house. Had I not been off cruising the Eastern Caribbean when the lead investigators for TAPS - Jason and Grant - were in Derby doing their thing, you can darn well bet that I would have been in Derby watching as Patti got interviewed for the show! Darn the luck for missing that one!  But I certainly won't miss it when the show airs in either April or May and I've got my fingers crossed that Patti's part does not end up on the cutting room floor!

Following lunch - which included a visit to the table by the owner of the restaurant (Mike must have been 7 feet tall if he was a foot!) who gave us each a coupon for a free appetizer being that it was our first visit to his establishment - we decided to take a drive out to Lighthouse Point Park to try to take some pictures out there being that it was still a beautiful sunny day.

Long Island Sound from Lighthouse Point

The above picture is of the view out to Long Island Sound from next to the lighthouse.  As you can see, the water was pretty choppy and that was because it was darned windy which in turn made it darned cold! It's easy to tell from the picture of Patti below that her hair was blowing around pretty good as she checked her camera to see if she liked the shot she had just taken.

Intrepid Reporter Patti

As I looked at the old lighthouse which was built out of brownstone in 1847 and named Five Mile Point Light, I thought that it most definitely was in need of a new coat of paint but then I thought that maybe they kept it that way for a more "rustic" look!  The lighthouse went out of operation in 1877 when Southwest Ledge Light (you can barely make it out in the picture of Long Island Sound above) became operational but apparently the City of New Haven sometimes offers climbing tours of the tower.  Gee, I wonder how far up the winding stairs I could get before I needed a medic?!?

New Haven Light

In front of the lighthouse facing the Sound is the below monument marking a spot where British troops landed in 1779 with the intent to burn down New Haven ... the marker seems a bit out of place, like it's just sort of been set there until someone can find the proper place to put it.

Lighthouse Point Monument

It's even stranger when you walk around and read the inscription on the back! 

Lighthouse Point Monument Side 2

Patti jokingly said that perhaps we should notify the Daughters of the American Revolution in New Haven that that their cannon was missing, something that they probably wouldn't find amusing but would certainly provide us with a laugh or two! Honestly, though, the whole thing just looks like it's been ripped off another spot and dumped where it is but this is New Haven we're talking about so I suspect it's about par for the course. Maybe the same guy who was supposed to open the gates at East Rock Park was supposed to put this marker someplace else!

Lighthouse Point Lighthouse

The above is just another shot of the old New Haven Harbor Light because - as you know - I like pictures of lighthouses and there's no way that I can write a post that contains just one picture of the same lighthouse!

Climbing back into the warmth of the car, we left Lighthouse Point behind and went back over to New Haven proper and the Ikea parking lot where we'd left Patti's car earlier in the day. Having never been to an Ikea before, I was rather looking forward to the experience as I had heard tell that they had cinnamon buns to die for and I just had to find out for myself!

Odd New Haven Building

Now, the building above is definitely NOT the Ikea but it is located next to the Ikea and I had to take a picture to share as this is one of those things that I have driven past on the interstate time after time again but never really stopped to look at even though it has always caught my eye.  As I told Patti, I can't help but look at it and think that the darned thing would never survive even the smallest of earthquakes as the top half would just collapse right onto the bottom part of the building. Patti said she'd never even thought about earthquakes and the building but I'm not surprised as Patti has never lived in California unlike myself who has lived there and been through a good number of earthquakes.

Anyhow, enough of that ... this is the main entrance to Ikea ... I bet that whole big "entrance" sign gave it away, huh?

Ikea Entrance

Upon entering the store we made our way to the second floor where there was an enormous cafeteria/dining area with big windows that overlooked the parking lot.  Patti pointed out East Rock Park across the way so I went over to the windows and took a picture of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument way, way, way across the city. See that sort of finger in the middle of the faraway hill? Yep, that's it and that was going to be the best view I had of it all day!

View from Ikea to East Rock in New Haven

As we walked around the humongous store we came upon a display of Knubbigs which are little round frosted glass table lamps that were quite cute.  Patti had been looking for a new bedside lamp and she thought perhaps a Knubbig might be nice. As she debated whether to buy one or not I made a joke about them being "Knubbig deal" - something that seemed to totally crack Patti up and may have helped her make up her mind to get one. Considering that my goal for the day had been to go to New Haven and try to get her to laugh a time or two, I was very pleased to see her doing just that even if the other shoppers in Ikea were looking at the two of us rather strangely!

Table Lamp Knubbigs

After the Knubbig display, we came across a display that portrayed a small business in New Jersey I believe it was.  The owner of the shop had used all merchandise from Ikea to set up her coffee shop and that included the cute little semi-coffee cup that I took a picture of below. Isn't it just darling?

Look How Cute It Is!

There was another set of even cuter gray half-size coffee cups with saucers but I managed to resist the calls of "buy me, buy me!" that I could distinctly hear from them. Cute or not, I need more coffee cups like I need another cat!  I did however, succomb to a couple of small purchases including some tealights, AAA batteries, a teeny tiny blue stuffed animal for Jamie called a Söt Barnslig (soft toy), and a pretty green Rotera (a small lantern for the tealights).  Patti got herself a pretty pink Rotera that I thought was appropriate considering pink is the official color for breast cancer.

As soon as we got close to the check-out counters we were overwhelmed by the smell of baking cinnamon buns - a smell I'm sure they piped into the air system at the store!  Even though I'm doing quite well at eating healthier lately, I figured I couldn't very well go to Ikea and not get a cinnamon bun after I'd heard so much about them so I bought two to take home with me. I suspect they're really, really good fresh out of the oven but I wanted to bring one home to Jamie and figured I could always pop them into the microwave for a bit if needed.

Snack Bar Choices

After we walked back to our cars, I told Patti that a picture simply had to be taken otherwise Mimi would never forgive me so she posed with her Knubbig and her pretty pink Rotera.  As you can tell, it was still pretty darned breezy!

Patti with her Rotera & Knubbig at Ikea

Patti said she needed a picture of me, too, and even though she took one of me holding her purchases, she also took this one where I'm holding Jamie's Söt Barnslig. Even though I'm a little squinty from the position of the sun, I rather like this shot and I generally hate pictures of myself! Like I told Patti, she seems to have a knack for taking good pictures of me but that's probably because she always makes me smile anyway and I'm not having to force it for the camera.

Myself and a Sot Barnslig from Ikea

Following our parking lot picture session I told Patti that I had hugs to deliver from some of her friends on Facebook so - much to what will probably be the shock of a lot of you - I then proceeded to give her five big hugs. No doubt people would probably have been looking at us strangely again were they to drive by but I really didn't give a rat's behind what anyone else thought. I've heard tell that cancer is best fought with a positive attitude and a lot of support and I wanted Patti to know that she had that support and then some. Before leaving I told her to be sure to have her husband Ralph let me know how she's doing on Monday and promised her that we'd be getting together again soon then I gave her another big hug and told her I needed to get going before I started crying as making either of us cry was definitely not my goal for the day!

As I walked across the parking lot towards my car and Patti started to climb into hers I turned around and shouted one more thing to her, "Hey! Next time we get together, don't bring the cancer with you, okay?!" Patti smiled and said that was the plan - one that I'm most definitely looking forward to!


  1. Starting to cry right now..this is an amazing post. I just relived yesterday afternoon. So much detail, Duchess Linda. I didn't see you taking notes!

    The only thing you forgot is that we took turns going to the ladies room after lunch, so that we could watch each other's belongings. I kept a close eye on your Nikon, that's for sure.

  2. "Knubbig deal" cracked me up! I'm so glad to talked Patti into getting out instead of doing housework!

    With Patti's permission, I would really like to hear how's she's doing post surgery when you hear from Ralph.

    I'll be praying for an excellent result!

    Big hugs :]

  3. Thanks, Barb. ;-) Hugs to you too.

  4. what a lovely fun day! i know patti will be fine, she has to get through the surgery and probably some other awful stuff but then she'll have a lovely life and lots of fun times. thanks for posting this lovely day!!!

    hugs, bee

  5. Anonymous9:21 AM EDT

    I'm glad y'all ahd a big time. Patti, Have faith that this operation will do the trick. If they get it all now, then you won't have to worry about it again.

    Hugs to you two... and I like your Knubbig deal!

  6. I'm so sorry to hear about Patti's diagnosis and impending operation. I'll remember her in my prayers and am sending positive thoughts and oodles of Reiki for a full and speed recovery.

    Loved your photo and reading about what you did in this post Linda. I enjoyed the previous post too about the Bahamas - a place I really want to visit.

  7. What a wonderful day! Thanks for sharing it with us and for forwarding the hugs across the ocean.
    I also love your "Knubbig deal" and the "Söt Barnslig", but even more I'm a huge fan of your plans about the cancer-free meet-up!

    Lots of love to you both!

  8. Patti will be in my thoughts and prayers too. What a delightful day.

    Have a terrific day. Big hug. :)

  9. What a great post. Brought tears to my eyes.
    I knew you were just what the doctor ordered: a nice afternoon with a friend!
    HUGS to you both!

  10. What a fantastic post, Linda. I miss you two!!
    I see you took my decree seriously with the pinky finger pic. I love it! I'm going to steal it if you don't mind. You know...that smile of Patti's always blew me away. Everybody around her just has to smile too. She has such a grace and wit about her. And matter what life throws her way!

    So many folks are lifting her up and will be thinking of her tomorrow morning. Thank you thank you thank you for spending this time together, because in doing so, you have allowed all of us to spend time with her too.

    P.S. I knew you were saving up those hugs for a good reason. **grin**


  11. So glad you decided to do this trip instead of PA or anywhere slse. I am proud to be a blogger in this group, so proud of the love and friendship there is. Praying for the princesss and her family today.


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