Author: Kathy Lariviere

Celebrating 5 Years of Survival

Five years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer at Virginia Gay Hospital. Over the next two years, I wrote about the interesting ways I found to thumb my nose at some of cancer’s indignities. I was fortunate that I found my cancer early. With better diagnostic methods and treatments available, more and more women are surviving cancer; but 1 in 8 women will still experience breast cancer in their lifetime. So I spend much of my time reminding women (and men) to do self exams and stay current with their mammograms. Talk to your doctor if...

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Road to Recovery

A few weeks ago, I got sick. How do I know this? Because I went to my doctor and she said, “You are sick.” Always good to have back up. But with the great health care providers at Virginia Gay, I’m on the road to recovery. Unfortunately, that road and a serious bump in when I was prescribed steroids to get over a persistent ear infection. If you have never taken steroids, let me explain a few things to you. When I take steroids, I get mean and hungry (maybe not in that order) and just a little bit hyper. You can probably hear Gene laughing even as I write this. The first couple of days weren’t bad, but over the weekend, I built two websites AND got my taxes done. No kidding. Since then, I have cleaned out old files in my office, gathered stuff for Goodwill donations, organized my freezer (who does that?), arranged everything in my closet by color, cleared my email boxes and set up tax folders for 2017 and 2018. I have not started my Christmas shopping, but only because I don’t want to hear Gene laughing for the next nine months. I keep expecting to find yellow caution tape put over the doors to Gene’s closet and home office to keep me out. The other side effect is hunger. I’m not saying I’m...

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A Country Girl Visits Maui

My husband and I recently traded the cold Iowa winter for a week in Maui. It was our first time to travel to this beautiful island and I fully intended to make the most of it. On our first full day there, Gene had to attend a conference. I waited a respectable 30 seconds after he left the room to grab my swim suit and head to the infinity pool. It was amazing. The pool appears to drop off into the ocean. I claimed my seat, ordered a drink, and started some serious daydreaming about moving to Maui and enjoying 80 degree weather every day. Around mid-January, I start thinking that four seasons in Iowa is highly over rated. Give me some sun! About that time, I noticed a whales fin and tail slapping the water out in the bay. I held my breath and watched in awe. I had hoped to see a whale while I was there and could you believe it, one appears just outside our hotel pool! I looked around and wondered why others weren’t similarly awed. I started pointing and telling anyone who would listen, “Look, there is a whale!” A few people glanced up and smiled politely and I thought how sad it was that they weren’t taking in the beauty. I tromp down the pool steps and swim to the edge so...

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Thinking Outside of the Box . . . Literally! — Learning Country Living

We had a run of bad luck last week. The front burner on our cook top quit working and then the refrigerator started making an awful noise. To be honest, I have hearing loss, so I couldn’t hear the noise in the refrigerator but it seemed to annoy everyone else, including the dog. As the temperature in the fridge starting climbing, we decided to unload it so as not to lose all the food. Normally, this would cause quite a dilemma, but it is winter in Iowa and I have been known to think outside of the box. I created a freezer on the back deck and a refrigerator in the garage. Problem solved, or so I thought. Four days later, I was still trying to find a repairman to come out. Two companies took the information and then I never heard from them again. While it has been entertaining to ask my husband to “go out to the freezer and get me blah, blah,” it has grown old stepping out onto the freezing deck to get ice for my drink. A repairman finally showed up and told me the refrigerator had a short and was a fire hazard and needed to be unplugged. He has ordered parts, and they should be in any day, but now we are under a blizzard warning with 1-2 feet of snow in...

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This is War!! – Learning Country Living

We have moles in the yard. I’m not talking about a couple of moles that are a nuisance; I’m talking a band of brothers who are determined to mine for precious metals. The entire yard is a series of tunnels and mounds. When I’m out in our yard hunting these guys, I’m reminded of Bill Murray in CaddyShack. We have tried the usual remedies, but we have been invaded and this calls for war! I thought I would share some resources that I have found on the internet. Poison: Advantages: They’re pretty easy to use if you have an applicator. (We have dozens.) If you can get the pellets into the pest’s tunnels — they work. If the poison does its job, the critter is already buried. You don’t have to empty any traps. Disadvantages of poisons: Other than an absence of new mounds, you don’t know if you are eliminating your pests or not. You’re working with poisons, so you have to be careful when you’re applying them. Traps: Traps can be effective, but they are also a little difficult to use. I think we have been hit by the trap more often than we have hit a mole. And the instructions on all of these traps end with indicating how to tell if the trap has been sprung. No one gives you tips on disposal of the...

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Green Acres — Learning Country Living

I have received a lot of comparisons to Green Acres since I started my blog about adapting to country living. For those of you who missed this 1960’s sit com, the Green Acres series featured a successful New York lawyer who gave up the rat race to fulfill his dream: living the life of the traditional American farmer. Fighting the move to rural life is his glamorous, boa-wearing, city-loving wife. While I didn’t grow up in a large metropolitan area, and I don’t own a boa, it would be fair to say that I moved to the country with some reluctance. After several months of absurd adventures, I decided to start my blog to share these adventures with others. It is hard to imagine that we have lived in rural Iowa for over seven years now, and I’m happy to report that we are still alive and facing each new challenge with a laugh and our trusty Kubota. I have received so many comparisons to the old T.V. show Green Acres that I was determined to take a similar photo for our holiday letter. Unfortunately, it is a lot harder to borrow a pig than you would think. So here is my “slightly retouched” version. Our first years were filled with adventures and misadventures as we continued to adapt to country living. As I look over my blog and remember our...

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Learning Country Living – Dealing with Ice

Gene and I moved to rural Benton County in the fall of 2009. Our first year was filled with challenges as we learned to manage 14 acres, a long driveway, snow removal and . . . ice. January, 2010 – We survived our first month of non-stop snow and thought that that would be the worst of winter.  It turns out that when you live on a hill, ice is a significant issue. We had our first ice storm this week. Now to be fair, I didn’t like ice when I lived in the city and there was an entire team of city employees who are in charge of dealing with it. You can imagine my enthusiasm as I look out at the “mile-long” drive. I watched the ice grow to half an inch during the day, but Gene was able to get up the hill, so I ignored it and hoped that it would go away. As Gene was getting ready for work the next morning, we knew we were going to have to put some salt down. I decided that the best approach was for me to sit on the tailgate of his truck and sprinkle salt out of a five gallon bucket while he drove us down the drive. Gene seemed to think there were safety issues involved with my plan. We are nothing if not...

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Learning Country Living – Our First Snow

Gene and I moved to rural Benton County in the fall of 2009. Our first year was filled with challenges as we learned to manage 14 acres, a long driveway, snow removal and . . . more snow. The winter of 2009/10 had the second highest snowfall in history and wouldn’t you know that was the year we moved to Benton County. December, 2009: For the past couple of days, the weather man has been warning us about the potential for heavy snow, and when we got up this morning he mentioned a blizzard warning for our area. Gene and I took this warning seriously and made a plan. He would go to work and I would use the new Kubota with a snow blade to try to keep just enough snow off the driveway so that he could get in. Then we would double team and do the serious snow removal once he was home for the evening or over the weekend. Noon: The snow seems to be falling quickly and the weatherman keeps upping the forecasted amounts and warning of white out conditions for the evening. Super! I take my first pass at the driveway and I’m surprised that there is already two inches on the ground. As I make the turn downhill, I’m having difficulty finding the driveway and start veering off into the grass. I...

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Learning Country Living – Shots Fired

Gene and I moved to rural Benton County in the fall of 2009. Our first year was filled with challenges as we learned to manage 14 acres, a long driveway, snow removal and . . . hunters. Fall 2009: We took Dolly Dog for her early morning walk down the driveway. It is so nice to be able to walk her without a leash. She gets in twice the miles that we do as she zig-zags in front of us like she is herding sheep. She loves all the interesting smells as we walk down the half mile long drive. Who knew the drive was so steep? It is fun going down, but coming up the hill is a challenge. The weather is cold and we are bundled up, but happy to be outside on this peaceful morning. Just as we rounded the curve, I heard shots fired. I hit the deck . . . literally. I’m squatted down on the driveway, my eyes are huge with fear . . and I look up and see Gene laughing. He is doubled over laughing and says between gasping breaths, “It’s just hunters.” I’m thinking, “Who cares! They are firing guns for God’s sake.” I’ve seen the stealthy movements of soldiers and action heroes on T.V. And I’m telling you, the ones who duck when shots are fired live longer than...

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The Recipe Box

When the weather gets cold and I can’t walk outside, I get a little antsy. (Gene would tell you that this is a huge understatement and that there is family folklore about the trouble I get into when I’m bored and stuck inside!) So one of the activities that I often do is clean out closets and cabinets. There are forgotten treasures and artifacts in these places, just waiting to be found. You would think that by now I would have everything cleaned out and organized, but chemo brain has guaranteed me many years of discovery since I can never remember where I put anything. With this most recent cold snap, I decided to clean out a seldom used cabinet. Inside, I was delighted to find an old recipe box that belonged to my aunt, then my mother, and then was given to me when I was a teenager. The box came to me empty, but I started filling it with recipes from my mother, my aunts, and my grandmother. Some of these recipes were type written on recipe cards, but many were in my grandmother’s or aunts’ handwriting. What a wonderful surprise to find these recipes! I decided to share my find with some of my cousins who I haven’t seen in years, but I have connected to through FaceBook. Boy did my page light up with shared...

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Learning Country Living

Several years ago, we moved out to rural Benton County. Our home sits on 14 beautiful acres overlooking the Cedar River and I found myself asking, “Is this heaven or hell?” As we adapted to country life, I found that I needed a creative outlet to share the trials and tribulations, as well as the joys of country life, so I started a blog to share my adventures with family and friends. My dad found my stories very amusing and always encouraged me to turn those stories into a book. Saddly, he died before I could finish editing the book and I haven’t had the heart to go back to it to finish it. Instead, I have decided to share some of those stories with you. When Gene and I were first married, Gene told me that his dream was to be a surgeon in a small, rural community, have a house on 15 acres with a tree farm. I looked at him in disbelief. He had just described my nightmare! Do rural communities have Dillard’s or Red Lobster??? My dream, on the other hand, was to live in Manhattan in a high-rise apartment with all white furniture and carpet. Thus began our married lives of compromise and gaining a certain amount of maturity. Gene and I made several moves during our marriage, each to a bit smaller community,...

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A Teacher’s Encouragement

As a child, I grew up in rural Kansas. We were only able to get reception for two television stations in the small community that we lived in, so television wasn’t a large focus of our lives. But I do have a memory of watching the Miss America Pageant one evening and telling my Dad that I was going to grow up to be Miss America. I loved all the beautiful dresses and sashes that the contestants wore and I wanted a tiara! My biggest concern was what I would do for the talent competition. I was seven years old and didn’t know how to twirl, dance or do gymnastics like many of the contestants. But then, Miss Kansas stepped up to sing “Born Free” and I was hooked. I would be a singer and someday stand on a stage and sing and bring a tear to everyone’s eyes. Miss Kansas won the title and I took it as a sign of my destiny. I spent the next few years perfecting my talent by sitting under the local water tower and singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” over and over again. I would watch the clouds go by in the big blue sky and sing loudly hoping someone would discover my talent. The neighbors, though few, would close their windows and sigh. A few years later, we moved to Texas...

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