Canal du Centre

Canal du Centre

Friday, April 10, 2020


By now the visas and plane tickets should have been in hand along with the health insurance for the EU and the cruising license for Oldtimer. The house should have been ready for it’s summer tenants and we should have been getting the giant suitcases out of the basement for their load of boat bits and the few pieces of clothing we haven’t left on the barge.


When we returned from France last fall I went to the doctor for my usual yearly checkup. “What’s that lump on the side of your neck,” he said. “What lump,” I said. After ultrasounds, biopsies and scans I received a diagnosis of Stage 2 cancer in my throat that had spread to a couple of lymph nodes in my neck.
Seven weeks of chemotherapy and radiation began in late January and finished the first week in March. We spent the weekdays in Hollywood (Really. Near Sunset and Vermont). Since the radiation was a daily  5 minute treatment, our health insurance company, Kaiser, supplied us with an apartment for the duration. They have a whole apartment building within walking distance of the treatment center.
Luckily, the specialists on my “team” said since the cancer had not spread, the prognosis was good and, after the side effects of the treatment wore off I should be as good as new (well, maybe not new, since I am demographically a “senior”!).
Followups to the treatment were going to make it impossible for us to spend the usual 6 months on Oldtimer but we hoped to get over to France for a couple of months, maybe July to September.

Then the virus…

Now we’re wondering if we’ll get over there this year at all. 
The French government if being very strict about the “stay at home” stuff. You need to print out and fill in a form indicating your justification every time you leave the house and you’re not supposed to travel more that one km from home. All parks and gathering places are closed. The cafes and bars are closed for goodness sakes. No one knows when the restrictions, both in France and the US will be lifted so we wait with our fingers crossed.
(Update: As of Monday France is now officially closed to foreigners for the duration of the lockdown. A new form must be presented to the authorities before beginning your trip to the country and you basically have to be a resident to travel. Second homes (or boats) don’t qualify you for entry.)

On a happier note we did welcome a new member of the family over the winter. Audrey Noah was born to our son Cory and his partner Darwin on Jan 22. All are doing well. Our friend Carmen referred to her as a “sturdy” one.

On her birthday.

We have to be satisfied with Skype screenshots for now.
We’re not traveling to Portland anytime soon.

Making lemonade out of lemons, we will be around to enjoy the bounty of our yard and the summer harvest.

The full complement of kitchen herbs in the front.
The artichokes are just about to show their heads.

The back yard just got a full suite of tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and eggplants. Zucchini to follow. We’re also going to have the largest crop yet of avocados.

I’m not going to do a “shelter in place” coronavirus blog. I neglected to post anything about our trip to Brittany in September of last year so I’ll probably put together a couple of entries for that and, if anything exciting happens you’ll read it here first. If things mellow out we’re still hoping to get over to the barge at some point. 

Stay safe and keep that distance!!! Wear that mask!


  1. Oh how awful! So good to hear that you caught it early. Hope the recovery goes speedily and that you find being bored much better than the alternative. Best from me and Lisette.

    1. Thanks for the good wishes. Right now we're pretty much just staying home and Pandemic Baking. Hot cross buns for Good Friday. And reading your blog postings to relive last year, of course.
      With any luck maybe we'll see you on the canals later this year.

  2. Oh Don, this was not good news. I'm so sorry! I was expecting the postponement of your trip because of the virus and absolutely not for the discovery of cancer. Thank goodness it hadn't spread further! I'm so relieved to know you are recovering, but yes, that and now the other big C as they are calling it here, has put paid to your plans. Still, a bountiful garden is not to be sneezed at (sorry) and a new baby is always a joy even if you can't go and visit yet. Let's hope you can get over later in the year, but for now, take your time and recover properly. All our very very best to you and Cathy Jo, from Val and Koos.

    1. Hello Val. We've been missing your regular postings about life in the Low Countries but we assumed you were probably pretty busy trying to get your distance learning programs running. We've also missed updates on Hennie H. Let us know whats happening with the new engine!

    2. Oh goodness. You probably didn’t know I changed my blog address due to all the spam I was getting. Same blog, but different URL. It’s now We’ve actually just resumed work on the Hennie H. It was put on hold over the winter, but now the weather’s good again, we’re getting back to it. A few days ago, we re-installed the steering mechanism, and now Koos has closed up the deck again. I’ll be posting progress reports as we go :)

    3. That’s actually great news. Now we can leisurely catch up on the posts we missed; kind of a virtual European visit.
      Heard rumblings today that some restrictions in France may be lifted mid-May but still no entry for non EU. So we wait.

  3. Hi Don and Cathy Jo,

    Would love the opportunity to sit down with you two when everything settles down. We are here in Santa Barbara with a riverboat in Wessum Netherlands. We bought the boat at the end of the 2019 boating season and have not yet had the opportunity to spend a day aboard. Hoping this summer might provide an opportunity to visit and would love to discuss your past travels over a bottle of wine or two! Stay safe and healthy! Sincerely, Brad & Lucy

  4. Absolutely! You really should be careful getting us started, though😉. We tend to evangelize. We’re in Ventura, just down the road. Maybe we can hook up after the holidays; socially distanced, of course 😷.


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