Happy December, everyone. It seems like we just put away our summertime chairs and picnic baskets, and now it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in MI Town — and all over the valley.

We celebrated Monmouth Senior Center Director Sue Teal’s retirement last week with a somewhat bittersweet reception and party at the center. Sue was one of the first people I met when we moved to Monmouth nearly 18 years ago, and her warm and caring welcome was so genuine. Over the years, we’ve seen the center just get better and better, which is so positive for all of us in MI Town. Godspeed and best wishes ever for Sue as she begins yet another fun and interesting journey into doing everything she wants to do.

The Monmouth Public Library is collecting donations to share with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) children in Polk County. Please check their website to see what you can bring to help our local children. This is a wonderful organization whose dedicated and caring volunteers go above and beyond doing good things for children and families. The deadline for helping is Dec. 20. Thank you so much.

Continuing with my Journey to Wellness: One of the Rules Before Surgery is to shower with Hibiclens ($10 for a very small bottle), then be sure the bed linens are fresh and clean the night before. After dinner, it’s cleansing shower, and I am to pay special attention to my navel and the area where the surgery will happen. Big surprise here, folks: The soap turns a very bright red and the shower floor looks like somebody has been seriously injured, or whatever else would fit a Stephen King novel. I have the cleanest belly button in all of Polk County as I dry off (with a fresh clean towel), climb into my fresh clean pajamas and into the cleaner than clean bedcovers.

After yet another cleansing shower in the predawn darkness, we’re off to Corvallis at 6:45 a.m., and checked in just before I’m bundled off to ultrasound where I’m “wired” so the nasty rotten cancerous intruder is marked. Yet another X-ray and a warm blanket before I’m off to nuclear medicine where all kinds of things are beamed at me for the surgeon to learn more about the inner workings. I’m very good at this deflecting stuff, although it’s beginning to dawn on me that something not wonderful is about to happen.

The anesthesiologist, very bright and friendly woman, comes into my “room,” explains the upcoming procedure. It’s starting to get really, serious about now. I’m given a wonderful potion which takes all the scary things away.

As I slide from gurney to operating table, my mind just wanders off to some quiet place and everything goes from blue to gray to. I awaken in the recovery room, where a nice RN guy asks if I want a sip of water, and I take small sips that taste better than the finest wine ever. And I sleep, and drink more water, and am transported off to my little room where Don is waiting for me. The promise of going home is a sweet one, indeed.

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