I did not post much in 2019, but I took quite a few photos that I would like to share.
From January to March I took many photos of birds and flowers.
My wife and I often visited the Kusatsu City Aquatic Botanical Gardens (草津市立水生植物公園みずの森)
I began to experiment with macro photos of moss and lichens before insects appeared.
In April and early May I spent less time with telephoto shots of birds and more time looking at both the environment and details of flowers and bugs. Content varied quite a bit.
In early May I become ill with severe abdominal pain and jaundice. A long and trying journey began on May 10th, when I first became an inpatient at Saiseikai Shigaken Hospital (済生会滋賀県病院). Eventually I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (膵臓がん), and I had resection surgery, a nine-hour Whipple procedure, on July 24, 2019.
I have created a set of pages in a directory, Cancer.
The Shiga Rivers blog will continue its focus on nature and culture in rural Japan as I update my Cancer pages. I try to get outdoors as much as possible between hospital stays, and I will continue to post photos, field recordings, and video clips as long as I can.
Between May 24 and June 18 I was able to get outdoors seven days as flowers were blooming and insects were becoming increasingly active.
From June 21 until July 21 I spent 11 days outdoors. In order to prepare for major surgery on July 24 (see Cancer), I tried to build body strength and stamina by cycling and taking long walks.
From July 22 until August 14 I was in Saiseikai Shigakan Hospital (済生会滋賀県病院) for major surgery (see Cancer). After I was released on August 14, I was very weak but determined to enjoy the remaining days of summer.
From late September until early November foliage began to change colors and some trees and bushes dropped their leaves. Butterflies, bees, moths, hoverflies, and other insects became harder to find. Several species of flowers came and went as the days became cooler and shorter.
As autumn progresses, days become shorter, foliage turns yellow and brown and red, and the sky is often a rich shade of blue.
A tough but good year
By any standard 2019 was a tough year for me. I became seriously ill in late April, spend a lot of time in hospital beds, underwent a 9-hour operation and subsequent recovery, and lost nearly 20 kilograms. With all of the medical issues I faced, however, I was able to get outdoors with a camera quite a few days.
As a part-time college professor, I missed only three face-to-face lectures, which I was able to convert to virtual classes. I shared my medical issues with students, speaking frankly but with hope. I hope my words and my positive attitude will inspire the young people I taught in 2019.
An uncertain future
At the beginning of 2020 cancer has spread to my liver. On January 13, 2020, I will enter the hospital and stay about a week as I begin a course of strong chemotherapy. Hopefully, the medicine will save me or at least extend my life, but there is no way to predict the outcome.
As I remain acutely aware of my mortality, I strive to live a rich life each day. I try to eat and sleep well, enjoy talking with my wife, friends, and neighbors, and I try to get outdoors and enjoy nature as often as possible. I hope to continue sharing my experiences on Shiga Rivers for a long time to come.
Professor Emeritus, Kyoto Notre Dame University. I have retired from full-time service (1977-2014) and now offer weekly lectures in interpersonal and intercultural communication. Since 1980 I have lived in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, where I enjoy outdoor activities, especially photography, hiking, and cycling.
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