True Grit

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.  The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”       –  Mark Twain

 

 

Speeding from Billings Airport . . .

 

 

 

 

The bluffs behind Sari and Josh’s neighborhood. . .

 

It was a shock to all when Josh was diagnosed with colon cancer.  The doggies were running amok while Josh was in the hospital.  Someone had to take care of them.

Hoojah and the boys have an uneasy truce in the home. . .

 

Truth be told, when it comes to Tobie, (seen here chomping his favorite Churchillian cigar/bone) he’s ready to attack Hoojah on the smallest provocation, like, when she saucily saunters into his general space. . .

Jasper is simply besotted with Hoojah. . . doesn’t really wanna rough her up, just wants to make friends and play. . .

when he’s not curled up like a kitten himself. . .

 

 

But when Jasper comes in for a tentative hello sniff and friendly tail-wagging,
Hoojah always throws a few well-aimed paw punches at him, not very nice !

 

During the witching hours, Tobie and Jasper snuggle up on a dogbed on Josh and Sari’s bedroom floor.  The door is carefully closed to barricade the boys from Hoojah, whose ancient ancestry compels her to commmit mischief during her nocturnal prowling . . .

Tobie prancing, where months of snow froze the doggie blanket to the deck. . .

H preps the boys for some play time

The boys are beyond best buds – frolicking like kindred spirits – when they’re not phantom-fighting a/k/a Chewbacca’ing their way through the house

Sari and Josh’s backyard is fabulously large, and the boys take advantage of it. . .

One night Sari was fed up with Tobie’s attacks on Hoojah.  To reverse Tobie’s dominant pack member mentality, Sari implemented the head-over-body Cesar Millan technique with a noticeably skittish Hoojah . . .

Tobie appears compliant, but you just know what he’s thinking:  oooooo —  the second I get outta this head lock . . . . . !!!!

Hoojah apparently hears Tobie’s thoughts too, as she escapes in a graceful arc . . .

 

Tobie has no patience for Hoojah’s Royal Bee manner, but Jasper just can’t understand why the uppity cat won’t be friendly. . .

Back at the hospital, before Josh’s tube is removed, he smiles sweetly with his cheeky bride. . .

Sari pretends to dislike Tobie’s beggin’ leg stands, but her expression suggests otherwise . . .

 

While Jasper finds Hoojah sleek and mysterious and hypnotizing. . .

 

. . . unfortunately, Hoojah does not return the feeling . . .   

 

Even though Jasper is arguably pretty sleek and hypnotizing in his own right !

Part of Tobie’s mystique is his je-ne-sais-quoi ‘tude to all things “cat” . . .

  

If the boys are playing out back, or are otherwise preoccupied,  Hoojah often takes liberties with Sari’s office chair.

Josh was so happy as each tube was removed.  When Sari saw this pic, she texted:  “Josh looks like he’s chillin’ !”

Josh is way too young to have developed this particular kind of colon cancer.  Doctors sent a sample to the Mayo Clinic to determine if it could be genetic, another piece of the puzzle. . .

Amazingly, these paintings are featured in the Billings Clinic . . .

. . . not the Yellowstone Gallery.

 

It was surreal to see so much art on the walls of a hospital. . .

 

Every day Josh got visibly stronger, by day two able to escort himself, patrolling up and down the hallways with his IV, looking for all the world like a young Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with his little knit cap . . .

Luckily no Nurse Ratchet’s in this facility. . .   

We were still waiting for the doc’s diagnosis of what type of cancer Josh would be battling. 

Each day you take one day – one step at a time.

 

 

 

The beauty of horse power

 

Before we whisked him home, Josh was visited by a nutritionist, who gave him a list of foods he would be able to eat following his ileostomy.

Back home, Jasper and Tobie were waiting for their master to return. . .

Doctors removed a third of Josh’s colon.  The tumor was as large as a tennis ball, estimated to have grown over seven years.

Billings’ Yellowstone Gallery has an annex that features contemporary art, often with an artist-in-residence.

During his first weekend home, Josh had a blast watching all the playoff games with friends visiting from Minot, some of whom are wilder than others. . . 

H and I managed to visit the Moss Mansion earlier in the week.  The caretaker generously let us explore the home on our own with a giant guidebook as our tantalizing guide.   I became somewhat fixated on the bath fixtures.

We also targeted one of the handful of intriguing pawn shops . . .

 

Still transfixed by the fixtures.

 

In the second floor hallway, artwork probably not original to the house . . .   but cows and possibly milkmaids a central feature of the region.

The dining room featured heavy wood-paneled ceilings and studded stained glass.

Just before the sunroom. . .

We visited PetSmart to stock up for the pets and came upon some hairdressers and their victims, er, customers. . .

The artist-in-resident at the Yellowstone Contemporary Gallery was working on a series of paper mache cow heads with a personalized wheat stalk adorning each head. . . the work highlighted the individuality of each cow, and how our society has turned the gentle creature into an assembly-line meat-producing product. . .

Josh’s first day home was emotional and we couldn’t have been more happy.  He fell asleep on his favorite arm chair in front of his favorite flat screen with his favorite cool, but snarky, kitty. . .  Did I mention Josh’s first meal at the hospital was a hamburger !

Night falls on Yellowstone Contemporary Art House.

During our stay, Sari conjured a Cesar Milan-inspired feat – teaching Tobie to walk on the treadmill …  A necessary magic seeing as how winter-walking in Billings is a perilous undertaking

Now for Jasper, the whole training ordeal was another story. . .

Josh displays great moxy – as well as his lunch – a Great Harvest panini. . .  Every day we could see Josh gaining strength, ready to fight the disease with all of the remarkable grit and spirit and positive determination that’s just part of his upbeat constitution . . .

The pawn shop we prowled while Josh entertained his buds on playoff day. . . .

Tobie has perfected the art of sneaking on the couch and making it look like he should be up there all along. . . (technically, he’s not allowed, unless invited. . . )  But who could throw this one off, seriously?

At the end of the week, we joined Josh’s family who meet every Friday night for dinner at the Alpine, a keno cafe so obscure it doesn’t even make Yelp or any Google restaurant search !  My tacos were delish; Josh’s family is amazing – a family that gets together every Friday night for dinner – come hell or high water.    Kind of commendable in this day and age . . .

Tobie shows Jasper how it’s done . . .

Sari miscalculated the trauma of Jasper’s first time on the treadmill . . .  she plopped him on before he fully understood that the floor would be continuously moving under him — just enough of a surprise that pitched Jasper backwards, right off the machine. . .

Something Jasper was having a hard time forgetting. . .

Even Tobie’s watchful encouragement didn’t help. . .

And Lord knows Tobie can be so calming as well as encouraging. . .

 

It’s just his natural demeanor. . .

But who knew one so fluffy could be so remarkably courageous too. . .

 

On Saturday, while Josh and his Minot buds watched the Bears mauling the Seahawks, we toured Mr. Thrifty’s and Cabela’s. . .

One example of the incredible ice ridges that define every side road and bedevil all  Billings’ residents, not to mention all of Montanans for that matter. . .

Who knew Cabela’s carried Columbia sportswear, and had so many fun things in it, besides guns weapons and bullets. . .

The crab cake appetizers that were very delicious at Rex, a historic institution in Billings that has hosted the likes of everyone from Buffalo Bill, Calamity Jane, Chief Plenty Coup and Clint Eastwood, among other Western notables. . .

This “Snoopy” bed, originally designed for Tobie, generally finds Jasper curled up in there, kind of making it Jasper’s “dream bed”. . .

Go figure.

My current dream bed. . . located in Macy’s. . .

To help Josh regain strength and vigor for his chemotherapy ahead, H and I undertook some marathon grocery shopping, adding lots of Boosts and Ensures and Muscle Milks to his repertoire. . .

It was so hard to leave those two after our week’s stay.  Watching Josh grow stronger each day was awesome !  With all the love and support from our families and friends – we’ll all get through this together . . . .

Back in Minneapolis, Silverwood trees add a crisp color to a frozen tableau. . .  and where Grandma is keeping us on our toes. . .

And Sari sends a pic message from Billings – for once, Tobie’s caught snoozing in his Snoopy sleep mattress. . .   A victory of personal sleep slumber proportions !

2 thoughts on “True Grit

  1. A wonderful post — great text and the usual stunning photos (BTW, I am officially in love that treadmillin’ Tobie)– and a wonderful testament to the solidarity and love within your family. Thanks for sharing everything.

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