Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The best part

...of a party in the neighborhood is having each neighbor hug you and say how happy they are to see (me) doing so well, andofcourse the other best part would be not thinking about Certain Things for an entire evening, except for occasional mentions of my fond hope that 2010 fades swiftly in my rear view mirror.

Happy new year, y'all.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Yeah, THAT mess

Someone? Shovel this off? Please? But don't touch those cookies.

A fine mess

It's been a while since I worked at my art table, what with birthdays in our family being stacked in September, October, and November.

If you're familiar with Tim Holtz, who designs for Ranger (a company that sells stamps, inks and other products), this is a variation on his 12 tags of Christmas project. The trees are wood but the main tag is made of Tim's "grunge paper" - it doesn't tear, and it takes things like acrylic or crackle paint, ink, and mod podge glue and doesn't just crumble.

Now I have to clean up the mess...


Well it's Christmas afternoon, and I must say it's weird not to have 500 things to do.

I'm working at my art table. These need a lot more but I'm having fun. Except I really don't think I stirred my crackle paint enough. Oopsie.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

I have been busy, but it's manageable chaos right now. My gifts are wrapped, cookies are baked, and I braved the supermarket for what I need for brunch on Saturday.

I have the next five days off and there will be lots of family, food, and basketball. And at least a little wine.

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the phone call from the doctor who had done my first biopsy. Not happy memories. After googling "invasive lobular carcinoma" that day, I read a phrase something like "x percent of patients live five years" and sobbed. It's not long enough. I wouldn't be able to see my kids graduate from college or get married or have THEIR kids, if that's all I had. So I crumbled, alone in my house. A whole state away, my sister woke from a sound sleep after her night shift and called me.

Last Christmas eve I cried while I sang at mass. I was frightened and I could see people I know holding their new grandson down below me in the pews, which broke my heart. I was trying to keep anyone from noticing me because I didn't want to ruin anyone else's holiday, which seems silly but how do you answer "merry Christmas" with "I have cancer" ?

While I was sick my children grew taller but also much more independent. Cooking. Arranging rides to their sports and other activities. So much has changed over the past year, and it's almost like some of it happened to somebody else. I try to shake the ghosts of last December off, and I do pretty well, except for at lunchtime yesterday when I was telling a couple of people I eat with now about the whole phone call and the days that followed.

I'm kind of exhausted right now, so I am going to finish up this post, but let me assure you that I will be SO happy to hang a new calendar on the wall.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

C is for

This picture only shows half of what we accomplished; it doesn't show the gluten free cookie I invented for my brother in law based on the recipe he USED to expect every year at our tree trimming party. We call them Scotchies, and they have butterscotch and white chips, pecans, and...scotch whiskey. The GFree bisquick mix has some potential- I need to tweak the recipe though. It was a little bit too far off in consistency but still tasty. It's the least I could do for one of the best brother in laws around (he got me in with the awesome medical team that managed my surgery/ chemo/ rad.)

The photo also doesn't show the two kinds of fudge I made (chocolate and a chocolate/ white combo with candy cane bits mixed in) or the almond flavored dough that is still sitting in my fridge waiting for time in the oven.

It also doesn't show the hours I spent *not* thinking about that "other c-word", cancer. Like, hours and hours - (easily the longest stretch in a year) of pure normal. I was delightfully distracted, and just baking and being in the moment with our friends and all the kids (we ended up with six kids PLUS my own two) and spending time on a Skype call with Suzy to admire her growing baby belly.

C *is* for cookie (say it with me), that's good enough for me.

Friday, December 10, 2010

NOW it feels like Christmas

The first batch of cookie dough I make every year is always this recipe. Butter, flour, sugar and walnuts. A splash of vanilla. Simple and delicious.

I don't eat many cookies during the year but my Danish recipes come out every December. Margarine just WILL NOT DO. Real butter, unsalted, to make extra sweet cookies. The best part about this particular batch is that since it contains no egg, I can sneak over to the refrigerator and break some off. Nom nom nom.

This time last year my own personal atom bomb was creeping up on me. The day I received my cancer diagnosis I had other cookie dough started; it would go from fridge to freezer to garbage can over a period of about 2-3 weeks.

I feel a little bit overwhelmed by the thought of making cookies this year. I'm not sure why; maybe a little bit of it is the extra time and effort - I still get tired fairly easily. But I know that I'm also still feeling the echoes of last year's sucker punch.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I love NY

Dear Blog, I miss having time after school waiting for the kids to get off the bus, to post to you.
I'm extra busy what with a new Tim Holtz tag every day and a new level of Angry Birds open and photo assignments I am not keeping up with (but I am keeping all the emails). I mean, I am busy with Christmas errands. Yeah right. Although I did buy a beautiful bracelet for the woman who took care of me this year, shaving my head when the chemo kicked in, and then working with it as it grew back(gray). I got kind of choked up telling the sweet sales clerk who it was for and we had a nice moment because she has had BC issues too.
Monday was a quick trip to NYC chaperoning a field trip put together by my son's awesome choir teacher. I love Times Square. We got dropped off by our cowboy hat wearing bus driver at Bryant Park. The three kids my friend and were assigned to watch went ice skating briefly at Bryant Park. Then I put on Missy's skates (you're not really supposed to do that...oops.) My karma caught up with me quickly - I took two steps out onto the ice and fell right on my butt. It was pretty funny though. I skated a little bit after that, and got a few photos of me and the kids. I was pretty camerahappy all day. Can I just tell you I hate being on a bus with a kid's movie blaring? Kthanks.
We walked towards Times Square after we skated, and some guy named AJ (Calloway?) was filming a promo for Extra. He was not bad on the eyes, I must say. They were grabbing passerby's and so two of our kids are in the crowd around him, if you saw that bit. Something about Where all the stars come out, yada yada.  He said "Nobody does it better than we do" or something like that 50x because he kept laughing. A true TWSS fan, clearly.
The primary reason for the trip was the Radio City Music Hall show and if you've never seen it, put that in your bucket list. I loved the 3D part where Santa flies around Manhattan, and the part where the Rockettes "ride a Gray Line" bus around some of the best scenes in the city. But the toy soldier routine (where the cannon fires and they fall like a line of Dominoes) is my absolute favorite.
I love you, Manhattan, I will be back soon.

Friday, December 03, 2010

At least

Now I have something to look forward to when insomnia hits...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Well, I knew I was different...

Today I went for the results of my genetic testing. Good times. Insomnia and angst. Worrying about what I will do if I do have the mutation (and a greater chance of having ovarian/ uterine cancer).

Given my holiday track record (see: diagnosis of cancer two days before Christmas eve), when I had to wait out the thanksgiving holiday to get the test results I couldn't help but assume that I do in fact have that stupid gene mutation. It was starting to feel Deja vu to me... Going for tests alone, because I didn't want to ask someone to give up free time at such a busy point in the year, to accompany me.

Time dragged on and I found myself FINALLY waiting outside the doctor's office this morning. Sweating, and trying to unwind that familiar knot in my stomach.

I went in and waited a while amidst other patients. It was humbling; it always is. I always feel particularly guilty when I see an older person and wonder how badly chemo is kicking THEIR ass. Somehow I feel bad for getting through with a minimum of chaos along the way.

Finally someone brought me in the back to a conference room. I waited and waited some more and thought I might have to go find that folder myself before I I lost my mind.

At last the doctor appeared at the door - and pointed at me, said "I'll be right in," and LEFT AGAIN. She had the papers in her hand. Sweet monkey.

When she FINALLY came back a few minutes later it wasn't with Irish step dancing and "it's all good news" so I got very discouraged. But then she said "well, I don't have bad news, but we have things to discuss."

She explained to me that the lab didn't find the brca-1 mutation that is common in families with clusters of breast cancers. Or the brca-2 mutation. There was, however, an inconclusive finding of some other sort of mutation.

So it was "um, that's good news mostly, right?". And it is. I don't need to have a difficult, frightening conversation with my daughter now about whether she has a mutation known to correlate with breast cancer. She doesn't need to be tested.

But as for a final answer on what the other part means? No dice.

Somewhere out in the universe is someone else (ONE person in all of the people who have had genetic testing processed at the same lab) who has this same inconclusive other mutation, and so for now the two of us need to chill and hope that it doesn't turn up in other people and get linked down the road as a common factor in people who have some type of cancer.

So I guess I'm one in thousands, if not one in a million.


I should be sleeping. I wish I COULD be sleeping.

I do not think I have slept through the night more than a couple of times in the past year, for various reasons. Pain, steroids, and hot flashes - which apparently will continue forever. It sucks!

Not only do I feel very alone, it's frustrating to be tired, so very tired. And WANT to be sleeping. Not worrying about tests and bills and random things like car inspections going wrong costing me well over $500.

Thanks for the ride, 2010. I will be happy to turn the page to January.

Monday, November 29, 2010

By the way

I really can spell Tim Holtz. It's my iPhone that can't quite manage.

It's one of those days....

Sunday art

Things I am excited about...

Tim Holt's 12 tags of Christmas... If you like creating art projects with rubber stamps then I'm guessing you know who Tim is. It's that time of year again - can't wait to see the new tags every day and to try to win one of the daily prizes.

I will be taking another online photo class starting this week. Daily assignments = taking pictures daily which makes me happier all around the edges. See for more details about "picture the holidays".

I have TWO chances to win a very sweeeeet camera and could find out today or tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

Friday, November 26, 2010

A second helping of normal

It's been a wonderful couple of days. (what, Carly? You just complained about your entire day.)

It was calm and beautiful to be with my family and eat and eat a glorious plate of food without thinking about chemo and the various medicines I took to get through it. It was sweet bliss to just sit down after the meal and take a nap like your average American.

I could have done without the bra though. Those fuckers still hurt. Before I even left my mom's to go to my brother in law's I was in the bathroom trying to take it off without just taking off my dress (like any person with any common sense at all would do).

It was fun to gather with family and just be crazy Aunt Char again. (Somewhere there is a picture of me, one holiday I laid down on the floor and all three of the kids, mine plus my nephew, piled on top of me, in some sort of a crazy sandwich.)

Well, now I have a younger niece and nephew plus my nephew's stepbrother has a young child so I am an Aunt again and also a great Aunt. And I am a great, fabulous Aunt. My many services provided yesterday included a running commentary on Charlie Brown (look at Snoopy dog making popcorn!), letting the kids run my iphone battery down completely (all those games I buy like Spin Art go over pretty well with the five and under crowd) and even helping with Mandy's poopy pants (why do people rush to get their kids out of pullups? It's like some sort of pissing contest, if you will pardon the pun. )

I capped off my services by wrangling a three year old into showing me her Beauuuuutiful pjs... (oh my! Please put them on for me...) and reading Goodnight Moon three times, in a progressively flatter monotone... Hushhhhhhh.

I can't wait to be an Auntie again, and lucky for me, around May I will be.

Today I ran all of my stupid, redon-culous errands without needing to sit down to breathe and try to catch my strength. I'm gonna show Santa who's boss, and come Christmas day I have three new kids to pile on top of me. I think I'll put the two pictures side by side in one frame.


Given my previous post, it's a good night for this bottle of wine, right?

Three strikes - I'm out

SO, (like my photo taken yesterday?)

I'm kind of baffled how my day is going today.

I slept in - awesome. Then things have been on and off the rails ever since.

I edited photos and ordered my Christmas cards from Snapfish - yeah! I also ordered a canvas print of a picture I took at Cape Cod and converted to pastel. Hmmm. Wait. I didn't get the 25% off and free shipping credit that I should have. (They sent out an email last week, and then a correction saying "No, really, it's working now". Which is the only reason I noticed that it isn't. I emailed customer support and got back a credit of $6.14 and I think it should have been way more, but I'm so confused at this point I'll walk away. Primarily because the customer service emails are coming from people who are clearly in INDIA. Strike one.)

I went to get some Chamilla beads for my daughter because the little jewelry store I go to sent me a postcard with "buy three, get one free on black Friday." The woman who helped me had obviously NEVER TOUCHED those beads before. She had no idea which ones were which (the glass ones were on thin metal rods that set in a wooden frame. The whole thing looks like an abacus. There are pictures that are "sort of" behind the beads. But since the beads can slide all over the place it's kind of weird and hard to tell which bead is which, if you have no brain and can't tell a pink one from a blue one. )

So I picked out two I liked and she wrote that down (on a piece of lined school paper like my 8th grader uses for homework... wtf? ) and then she wrote down the two that need to be ordered (a gingerbread man and snowflake). She went in the back to talk to someone about how to order them for me. She addressed him by name and I figured out it was the owner's son, because he has his dad's name and that's the name of the store. So he asked her for the other two beads. She came out, looked at me, asked "where did the beads go?" and I looked at her, not understanding what she said, and she took the piece of paper and walked away. I then heard him say to her "If you leave them on the counter people will take them." Dude. You did not just accuse me of shoplifting. (One I don't steal stuff and two, walked in with a postcard with my name and address on it.... hello!!)

She came back out and asked the clerk helping the person next to me if that clerk had seen the beads and I said to her "You never took them off the rods." I was about to follow with "and if you'd like to search my purse you just go right ahead" but I bit my tongue. She said "Ohhhh" in a really confused voice and said "are you upset? I apologize."

I should mention this was not some 18 year old who I could forgive for flaking a little on Black Friday. She was about my Mom's age. So of course I still have to forgive her, but wait! the story isn't over yet.

I handed over my credit card and she took it back to him; he tried to charge me for All. Four. Beads. I said "That's not right. It should be $35 + $35 + 27 and that's not $134." Fcker... her response was "Ohhh", again.

Now, anywhere you go they usually run your card and hand it back to you with your copy of the receipt, and then also hand you the piece you need to sign at the same time. She handed me two pieces of paper. No card.

I said "I need my card back please." and from the back I heard him say "I need that slip signed." Unfucking believeable, and strike two.

When I get my beads, I will be explaining to his mother, who still runs the store but was nowhere to be seen, exactly WHY they will never see me again. I just want what I went there to purchase.

To cap off my day, I got my car inspected and It! Failed! I need four new tires!!! But when I get them I can go back to the same place and they will reinspect my car for free! I win??

Yeah, I know. I'm out.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The envelope, please

My test results are in... But I can't have them.

The doctor who does genetic testing is only in the office on Tuesday and Thursday.

She has already explained to me that they ALWAYS make patients come in to discuss the results.

I watched her draw my family tree. MY family. Circles for each female, and squares. Neatly filled in for those who are gone, their cause of death noted carefully underneath.

The simple tube of blood, shipped away - Jersey? I can't remember. I will know when I get the bill, which could apparently be hundreds of dollars. I can't wait for THAT envelope either. Not.

But I am trying very hard to convince myself that I will NOT have another December holiday where tests and results drown out laughter and celebrations.

News is just news, and it's just a piece of paper in a folder on someone's desk but it's hard for me not to tilt my head and listen for a ticking sound.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday art

I recently got a new pc and I FINALLY have photoshop (cue fireworks...) --I have already used it to edit out the closed eyes of one of my children (from a group photo of five cousins plus Nana and Papa).

This is a photo I took near the start of the Erie Canal; I pass these every morning on my way to work. I didn't have a camera or time to stop the morning the mist and fog swirled around them, but yesterday the sun made a pretty nice mirror out of the canal.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


So, I remembered I have a blog today. Oops, sorry.

I feel more like me again. I was just reading my posts for January and feeling SO THANKFUL to be here in November.

I have a hairdo again. I won't go on and on about it. But yesterday in the ladies room I saw the lady who comforted me the day it was 90* and I didn't wear my wig at work (I wore my favorite dragonfly bandanna) and she loved my hair, which is a nice shade of ash blonde now and has a shape sweetly unlike a helmet of hair all equal in length.

I took my daughter to the mall for a manicure today and saw my assistant guardian angel. (You can read my original post about her at - in my memory banks, her index name is Happy.)

It was very busy there today so Ty, who I thought was just a manager, did my nails and Oy, he really does a brisk leg massage. Ow. Stop punching my legs dude! On second thought, he really loosened up the foot I have flirting with plantar fasciitis.

While he was doing my hand massage, I closed my eyes for a minute and relaxed. Happy came over an said "He bad man" in a playful tone to me... So then I laughed and he said "is good, right ? good, she loco" and then I had to say "do you remember me? I met you in December, the day I found out I had cancer" and she did... I saw recognition pass over her face... She began talking about power, and strong, and said my hair came back so good, so I really do think she remembers and understands, even though my ability to speak Vietnamese really sucks.

So yeah, I hugged her. Because I am at peace with being Dorky, and that one little encouragement of "happy happy - fight!" meant so much to me. And my daughter's reaction "is that her??" was not unlike what you would hope for when pointing out someone who threw you a life preserver when you needed it most.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hoop there it is

I got some exciting news yesterday.

My college roommate walked with me at our local Susan B Komen run /walk last month. Her mom is also a breast cancer survivor and walked with us.

They are affiliated with a local group that provides a number of programs for women diagnosed with breast cancer. One event is an awareness night at women's basketball game for Siena, a local college that runs a very popular basketball program around here.

From what I understand I am one of a group of women who will be honored at this year's event, and I get escorted out onto the middle of the arena floor during halftime or before the game or by a team member or something equally fun. And prizes! I love prizes. Apparently there are goodie baskets, but I'd be happy with even just the awesomeness of standing in the center of a basketball court and having an arena full of people cheering for us.

Exciting and definitely something to look forward to -

Let's just hope I don't trip walking out onto the court!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Today I get my new bedroom rug... The one I originally picked to match the paint I originally picked...

This of course means that my bedroom had to be emptied AGAIN last night. As in, while I was also committed to babysitting my niece and nephew. Ooopsie.

So after listening to "knock!" about 500 times (really, that's the whole joke, he is three), giving them extra cookies even though they didn't even come close to cleaning their plates, and letting them play Cut the Rope and CakeDoodle, we sang christmas carols and I got them sound asleep by 8:15; I then slipped out of the house quietly. (Kidding, but only about that very last piece. I did actually wait for their parents. )

I came home and emptied my closet. Because to carpet wall to wall they have to be able to lift the wire 'california' shelving... Literally every room in the house has some of my clothes plopped somewhere, between getting dressers out if the way and just things already stashed in the kids' closets (like black tie dresses from long ago...)

This is making me very twitchy. Where to start? How much to get rid of? Do I chuck stuff that's still a size or two small or hope that the running gets me there, when it might only keep me at the weight I am now? Pointless debate unless your entire trousseau is on YOUR couch.

We won't talk about the fact that I had intended to buy a new bedroom set but haven't managed to go find one yet.. Because then I would have to talk about emptying most of the room again and I might have to lie down on my new rug, or lay down, I don't even know, and sob.

Knock knock ...(see post title)

Monday, November 08, 2010

The dragon in the cave

With apologies to the fairytales of my grandfather's grandfather....

I am scheduled to go for genetic testing this week to see if I have issues with mutated genes that go by the lovely monikers of BRCA1 and 2. Let's call them The Dragons.

This fair maiden has been feeling rather lost in the woods. First a hunter stabbed her, and then she had to eat four poisoned apples. Then I -well, SHE- felt the heat of a large fire. It burned and burned, for weeks.

The woods have now been quiet for three months. New signs of life have appeared. Eyelashes have grown back and my nails no longer have ridged rings like tree trunks, one for each poisoned apple.

NOW they tell me that there may be dragons in the woods. I'd heard the legends, of course, but forgot them in the midst of the apples and the fires.

If I have these gene mutations I get to worry not only about more breast cancer but also ovarian cancer... Not just for me but also for my daughter and sister... I don't really understand all of this yet. My oncologist talked to me about making the appointment a week or two ago and I set one up for this week. I haven't watched the informational video yet, but I will need to do that soon.

Some people don't want to be tested. I imagine they know there might be a dragon in the cave, but they'd rather not find out. They will just walk quietly past the entrance to the cave, and hope that nothing lurks therein.

I am not quiet, and if the dragon is there, it's there, and might wander out of the cave at any time to try to take a bite out of me. So I will need to aim my flashlight right into each and every cave and see if a pair of smoke- irritated eyes should happen to glow back at me.

If so, I will call upon my faithful knights to watch over me, and slay the dragon if he dares to try to sprinkle me with salt.

But wouldn't it be nice to find out that the cave is empty?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Oh and by the way...

The picture in my previous post might make more sense if you've seen this one...

A short note I can't send

Dear grouchy lady at my lunch table,

Chill. Out.

I know you had breast cancer two years ago and you are on tamoxifen now, but please shaddap. Because all you do is predict gloom and that my hotflashes will get worse (they're getting better now that I'm running more) and that I will gain weight (see previous comment).

You are the one who told me during chemo "oh wait till you have radiation..." and I didn't appreciate the ominous tone then, either. By the way? Radiation is easier than chemo.

I have only been on it three months but my doctor says so far so good, and I'm hoping it stays this way.

I realize you might be having a harder time with it a because you're ten years older than me. So... I guess my point is that I'm writing this note because I don't want to tell you to shaddap for reals. (But please shut up. Like that song Baby danced to on DWTS this week. shutup shutup shutup!)

Have a nice weekend! See you Monday (big grin).

Thursday, November 04, 2010

C vs C

Last night I went to a Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser. It was great food, a few old friends. I amused myself by chatting with an old friend for ten minutes and not mentioning at all that I have been treated for cancer this year. Mostly I found it amusing that people just can't tell anymore when they meet me, that something was up medically for me. Wait until HE gets the Christmas letter. I'm sure I will get a call from his wife.

The Shell family was honored with the Fighting Spirit Award .... the dad is a local coach, and had a lot of support from other area coaches when HE had cancer, and their son Jake has just recently had cancer as well and just got a sweeeeet treehouse from Make a Wish.

You can read about Jake's treehouse here or you can read about his wonderful Mom here .

Matt (the dad) gave a speech and talked about a coach and mentor of his who has died within the past week. He also talked about his own cancer battle and his son's. One other idea that he mentioned was a quote and a philosophy that boils down to "Enjoy the sunshine."

I did just that yesterday. I squeezed in a brief run after work / before going to the benefit. It made us a few minutes late but it was more or less a cocktail hour -- I had some chinese food, dumplings and ribs and so on, and 3 or four amazeballs creampuffs. Yum. Healthy dinner, I know. But back to the run (I am rambling this morning and NEED TO GET TO WORK.... sigh) I was cold, and the new level of couch to 5k I am at is HARD, because this girl can still not run for 3 minutes straight, especially up the hilly streets in my 'hood, but really enjoyed it anyway, because there was definitely sunshine.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Your mileage may vary

Where I went today....

Up the road to work, NOT stopping to take a picture of the mist swirling around the canal gates. Already too late for work. Dammit, Janet.

Stopping at Dunkin for a bagel. Honestly guys. Starbucks never fucks up my tea - and I get a vanilla chai latte there. I'm still trying for "large hot tea, sweetened". I have been given coffee, tea with cream, and other nonsense... as well as the wrong kind of bagel, cream cheese instead of egg and cheese... WTF ? Listen and pay attention.

Lunch break - bank A, post office, gift store (needed a gift certificate for an event we are going to this sunday, but got myself some goodies for my birthday... Spent extra so that Mr will take the hint next year to do his OWN shopping...purse, pandora beads, candy....) another bank, got lunch, and made it back to work in 65 minutes.

Then after work down to Macy's looking for a $20 coat from their ad which all the clerks denied existed, so I chalked it up to chemo brain. Went to Sephora to collect a little promo birthday gift and of COURSE some cute nail polish (dear Essie, you make better products.... I only buy Sephora because it's RIGHT THERE).

Looked in bookstore, no fun without anyone to discuss books with, also could not find a certain book I was looking for. (LOST encyclopedia)

Went to another mall to look at jc penny for mystery coat because B thought maybe it was there. Again with the rude clerks saying "a coat for $20? No" (found ad at home later. It was Macy's, bitches. But I got a nicer coat at penney's. )

Beat feet on home, we had to go ove.r to a (Giffey's )chicken BBQ at church No sauce? WTF number two for the day; and on the way home I voted. HATE ny's new paper ballots, WTF number 3.

Then I remembered I had to go over to copy 250 wreath order forms and even more lunch menus and stuff teacher mailboxes. Back out the door I went.

Sadly I did not remember to spend an hour on something I brought home from work. Rut roh.

I am tired. I have not done this much in one day in literally about a year. Hopefully I will sleep through the night, which is another thing I haven't done in a long long time.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

All done

The Gene Simmons one was done by my son. I have to clean them up a bit tomorrow... Um, later today...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spring cleaning, anyone?

My new pc is here. If you're looking for me, I'll be on the couch, sneezing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bulls ...eye

So I was at Target today, and I walked up to my sister in law, and she didn't recognize me. My sister in law. The one I like best, and I see at least once every week or two normally.

It would be SO funny if it wasn't just a little bit discouraging.

I am TIRED of people saying "Oh, I (he, she...) didn't recognize you!" - it has happened several times in the past month, what with two school open houses, two PTO meetings, a school band concert, and yesterday seeing a neighbor whose husband died in July (and I didn't even know...because I was sick and exhausted then) . Let's not forget my niece and nephew hiding behind their parents because they were afraid of me. I mean, I'm trying, really, to forget that but...

My hair is so very different now. I was told a couple of weeks ago that I should keep it in perspective. It really hurt, because I think I've done a pretty damn good job not feeling sorry for myself over the past year and being VERY grateful that I skidded through this mess with a good prognosis. I was pretty verbal about that on facebook when my treatment was winding down, to the point that I was afraid I might get annoying with it.

I just want to look like I used to look, in part to feel like ME again, and in part so that I don't have to explain the past year to EVERY PERSON I RUN INTO. Because truly, I don't want to go on and on and elicit sympathy. I want NOT think about cancer, or how short / gray/ curly / red/ orange (ugh) / dark brown my hair is.... and I want to make plans for the future, the holidays, the spring time, and so on and so on. And I want to be supportive of my friends and neighbors who had someone they love die, because do you really think I don't care about people dying, internet? Please, tell me no.

Anyone who has never had the experience of looking in a mirror and not recognizing the face that looks back should think twice about how that might feel, and how it feels to be reminded again and again. The kindest thing you can say to a woman who's lost her hair and looks completely different is "You look great." Then stop there, and be quiet.

To be clear

The trees didn't stay IN my car. I have a skylight in my car, but I also have one over my desk at work.

It comes in handy on dark mornings. One of the droids does not like the ceiling light on - early in the morning I lierally walk through shadows to my desk.

Last week I asked for a desk lamp. When everyone heard that yes, the company will buy us lamps, guess who also wanted one??

At least I think so

I'm probably the only girl driving to work with trees in her car. They're not looking good and I hope some skylight time will help.

I have Sugarland's "Incredible machine" on loop. What is she saying? Holler? Call it? Someone please tell me.

I have a dr appointment tomorrow. Things should go smoothly. I don't feel 100% by any stretch(haha, like my joke about how I can't take off my jacket without saying "ouch" because my arm gets pulled too far back?) but I feel better than in August.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dear autumn

I love the leaves, but not so much when they decay and my allergies kick in - it's just about time. Soon I will have a full blown sinus infection. Yipee!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday art ?

The only thing I have managed to "create" today is this pie, which my friend Mrs. Smith started up for me. I added some cinnamon and sugar to the crumb topping and of COURSE I have ice cream waiting. (Of course I also got outside for a good 45 minute walk today!)

I'm currently watching Alex Guarnaschelli make all sorts of desserts. Mmmmm, bananas foster.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Don't tell me if I'm wrong

...but I think puzzles and games are an important part of recovering from chemo brain

(which still sneaks up on me from time to time...last month saw someone from The Bank, he was part of the division I was in, ... when he came to interview at my new company I couldn't think of his name... Oy vey... Yesterday I heard he got the job.

Exhibit 2: I told my boss my new pc will have 6MB of memory... D'oh! He kindly said 'can that run windows?')

Anyway... Playing Cut the Rope is bound to fix all of my cognitive issues right?? I started playing yesterday... So by the end of next week I should be all set ?

Friday, October 22, 2010


I have a nice drive to work now and I can watch various trees show off their colors. I drive a bit slower since I'm not on the highway, and the sun rises behind me and lights up various trees along my way. Beautiful.  I hate to see them get bare though...

I went running the other night. It might be my last outdoor run for a while  I tried once in August, and felt like crap for a few days, so I thought I should wait for a while. I didn't feel like trying again until this Wednesday when I took advantage of 60* weather. 

 I have been stewing over something I really don't understand.  So I really wanted to run to clear my head and loosen up all of the tight muscles in my chest and underarms- the incisions I had are making themselves known  now that I am trying to get back to "normal" and do some fall cleaning and so on. 

I have an app that leads you through the Couch to 5K program. (The whole to5K part makes me think of Y2K, and I can't shake that association.) The idea is to combine periods of walking and running and gradually run more and more during the total workout. The nice thing about this app is that I can put songs into a playlist, and of course it manages the "run now" / "walk now" part.

When the voice told me I was halfway through my workout I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't feel like falling down, and I no longer felt like my brain was going to melt from confusion and stress.

So... progress

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall flowers

Love mums. Love friends who bring me mums...

A joyful noise

There was a moment during the party when everyone was (in the kitchen, of course) talking and laughing and sharing all the food everyone brought. It was LOUD. I could barely hear myself think.

Somehow through the blur of it all, it registered in me, to remember that instant. I was SO very happy. It was such a pleasant contrast to the long quiet lonely days of lying on my couch not eating.

We had plenty of wine and plenty of people and chocolate desserts and white chocolate fudge which I really DID hide from everyone else. :)

The pictures that my sweet little friend N took are grainy and scattered and from a nine year old's height, but they are still pretty much perfect. Anyway, I'll remember.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

No trombones

Today marks 76 days since August first, and 76 days UNTIL New Years Eve. (I can't read "76" without thinking of the old song "76 Trombones". What is up with THAT? Now it's stuck in my head...)

Time is speeding up again; no more long dreary days where I can really sleep and don't feel like eating.

Yesterday I made plans for where we will spend Thanksgiving and Christmas. Happily for me (and my sad, sorry wallet) my hosting workload should not be as extensive as last year. Yipee!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A thank you celebration

Many people brought meals to my family while I was sick. We are very active in our school and parish and as much as I grumble about all of the time spent volunteering and NOT doing my own spring/fall cleaning, there are dozens of good people who took care of us and got us through this year. Chicken, lots of chicken, and lasagnas and mac and cheese and cookies and brownies... I could go on and on. There is nothing so humbly rewarding as having a dear friend make sure you get a warm meal when you really need one. I don't think I ever truly understood that until this year.

It also bears mentioning that people lovingly took my children overnight when I had surgeries, took them to school concerts and baseball practice and fun places while I was too sick from my chemo to do the things I normally do, and even rushed to comfort them when I got carted away in an ambulance that one time.

We are having a little party at my house this weekend to say thank you to our friends, and sort of celebrate the end of the most active phase of my treatments. I still have doctor visits and tests sprinkled all through my future, but HOPEFULLY the worst is over.

I still don't feel quite like me... one thing I have noticed is the weakness in my upper body, from four beautiful incisions and radiation and all of the necessary healing that goes with all of that, and that things like lifting my hands over my head or lifting a case of soda will bring me pain. The random nosebleeds come and go along with the quality of my memory and ability to focus on a challenging task on any given day. And the other day I was making apple crisp, with nice fresh apples from the orchard, and I was slicing and peeling and feeling all zen Mother Earth and happy. Then I felt a POP in the back of my hand. I looked at my hand, thinking, "I don't REMEMBER banging that on anything just now" and watched a bruise spread 2" wide before my brains kicked in and I iced the darn thing. Fck. Seriously? It will take two weeks to fade. Nice joke, universe.

At any rate I have been really looking forward to this party, because it is another step of closure on the big bad scary part. And while I can't have everyone there that I really want to, (every one of the many people who helped me, that is... because people have lives and commitments and are far away and things get crazy... ) I will have most of them, and we will be celebrating.

The funniest part, for me, is that I planned this so that I could make a nice spread of appetizers and some ziti and meatballs and carrot cake, and feed all of my beloved friends, and without fail they have called to RSVP and asked,

"What can I bring?"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Zombie pumpkins

These are some contenders for this year's pumpkin. (Thanks Marco,for the clown suggestion; the two at lower left are my favorites)

My son is going to try one this year. He's leaning toward gene Simmons, who didn't make it into this snapshot.

He also tells me that the thugs, um, vandals,! I mean KIDS who come by every year look for my pumpkins now... Heh.

Visit and buy 20 patterns for $5 via paypal. Tell them Carly sent you. They won't have any idea who I am, but tell them anyway :::snicker:::

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Boo hoo

I hate Halloween. And it's almost here. But I am going to be cheerful about it this year, dammit... Drink hard cider (:::ahem:::), and give candy to dozens of kids I've never seen before,.... And carve a wicked pumpkin. These are little clips from my blog in '07, '08, and '09. Yes, I carved those. Patterns are my friend. Any suggestions / requests for this year?

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Yesterday my son and his friend helped Mr paint my bedroom. It's blue; but I figured out today they had used the wrong blue (it was too dark and didn't go with the sample of rug I picked).

I was willing to just pick a new rug because it was a nice blue; it just didn't match the rug (which wasn't ordered yet) - but Mr C went and grabbed a gallon of the right color and redid it this afternoon. Everything was all torn apart anyway... It didn't take long to cover the "wrong" blue, which looked VERY purple next to the "right" blue.

The store clerk said that when we got the paint (back in July) they probably looked at my paint chip (which wasn't from their store) and picked something they had that was "close". So because I was still sick I had the wrong samples, wasn't there at the store, didn't notice, etc.

So D had slept over at his friend's after painting and we decided to mess with them.

We told them the paint had dried and changed color and asked them what they did wrong; we said that we wanted them to redo it tonight. We let them stew for about five minutes. It was almost worth all the trouble, to see their reactions - but still too much work! I hate painting !!

Sunday art

At 10:10 on 10/10/10 I was laughing at Stanley's new reading glasses, which open at the bridge of his nose and close via a magnet. (He likes to walk up to people and grab the outer part of the glasses and tug them open just to see people react as they split apart )

I needed a laugh because it's been a bumpy few days. I went to get my hair colored back to my favorite brown with a hint of red and ended up with hair that was VERY orange. Ronald McDonald was asking me to make him lunch. Post-chemo hair is wonky and doesn't always cooperate well with cosmetology.

I got it "fixed" but it's very dark. Not the "me" I am trying to find my way back to. Some people won't / don't understand I guess, but I have been longing to look at myself in a mirror and see "myself" and since my hair fell out I feel like I haven't been able to do that. I know my issues are small in light of - for instance - what Stephanie Nielsen is going through, but it is one more frustration on the path (surgery done, almost ready to go back to work, then my incision reopened. Chemo almost done, then I got a mouth infection. Radiation done, then I got a skin infection. Hair finally is almost a normal length, and I turn it into clown hair wanting this all to be BEHIND ME. Aaaaagh! )

So I ate TWO cider donuts today. Yummy.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Not a ribbon

I thought this was pretty, so I ordered one...I saw it on Twitter. It's not so pink- ribbon -ish, but it will make people that are merely casual acquaintances nod and leave me alone about the whole pink for October thing. Ya know?

Lastly, I freeze a little too often at work and this might help. I love wrapping up in a big cute scarf. (Yes, I spent a few years at my last job sitting at my desk bundled up in scarfs and giant pashmina: shawls.)

Monday, October 04, 2010

A little frayed around the edges

(Photo is mine from last summer, edited with photostudio app for iPhone )

I am trying to work a little bit more this week. I usually work around 30 hours and alternate between telling myself I'm doing fine or that maybe I'm coasting too much.

Who doesn't like to roll over when the alarm goes off and mumble "I'll get up in an hour"? That's what I've been doing the last month or so, getting the rest of the house up for "get ready for school".

I need to start getting up with them and getting to work on time (8:00 is when I would LIKE to land) ... We have SO much work pending right now that I could make overtime this week, if I had the endurance to work that many hours

But today I felt like everyone was tripping over me this morning at home and I was SO TIRED after lunch - literally almost nodding off at one point. So we're having a bumpy start but hopefully I will sort it out.

And with that, it's lights out time!

Friday, October 01, 2010

I'm a survivor

Picked up my shirt for tomorrow's walk / run... I actually got two, because I registered for the 5k AND the family walk with my kids. The volunteer shook her head at me and more or less said "no... Just register for the run next time". Oopsie. Oh well. That's just like me... But its for a good cause, and so on.

I got a little emotional when I saw the shirt, and on the way back to my car. I am happy to be on this side of all of my treatments but I'm in an odd mood about the shirt. I'm not sure I can wear it. (glitter aside. Ya know?)

I am actually wishing I could go away for a weekend all by myself and let a whole bunch of emotions out with anybody I know around, but that is a fleeting wish now and then, and it doesn't really mesh with the reality of my day to day life. So I guess I'll have to blog it out, a little at a time. Sorry, Internets.

(For the record, this picture IS in my car but this post was not typed while I drove. Because I didn't kick cancer's ass just to die texting in my car.)


Being breast cancer awareness month and all, I have to be honest. I have a love / hate thing with the pink ribbon.

Poly is nodding already but for the rest of you, I will try to explain my feelings. (I don't claim to speak for her, or anyone else who has had breast cancer. Your mileage may vary)

The ribbon is good because it is kind people with good hearts trying to reach fools like me who never dreamed they would ever have to worry about cancer, and educate us, and remind us to get the checkups we need even when we are unemployed and depressed.

It's people who want to encourage me to fight, giving me scarves and hats and so on... All with the ribbon- many kind gifts of loving support.

But the ribbon is a trigger reminder of all things unpleasantly included in the package deal that I never wanted and oh look, there's "why me" and a bunch of other things that well up. Fear and pain and needles and medicines and being the only one awake in the house at 4:12 a.m.

It's a reminder that my life is forever changed. It's something I'll always have to have in the back of my mind. Watch for recurrence. Take the drugs. Keep the followup appointments. I basically lost eight months out of my life to a disfiguring disease, and sometimes it's hard not to resent the ribbon as a tangible focal point for al of those issues.

People don't always recognize me, as I've blogged about, and some days I still don't feel quite like me. And now and then I brood while I palpate the dents and gaps and tattoo marks left behind. It's over in most people's minds, and I try not to linger in that part of my past, but I haven't quite escaped.

But I come back to thinking about the generosity of so many people in my life, and I am immensely grateful for my family and friends, as well as for the dozens of medical professionals I have encountered in the past year. Nothing underscores that quite as nicely as the viral video going around (just search for Pink Glove Dance, on YouTube ) - dozens of people just like the ones who took care of me... I love it and it makes me cry all at the same time.

My son is organizing a charity baseball game with his eighth grade class and I have to go there and be brave and try not to cry. I am proud, very very proud of them, but nervous about going.

It's October, and pink ribbon time.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


In a minor burst of insanity I offered to make a cake for a woman I know. I have sung with her for a few years in my choir, and we now work in the same company. This little guy will be on her baby shower cake, along with a fire truck. The cake will be a book shape, and also have a Tonka fire truck character named Chuck. (J is responsible for project work on some of the firefighter training units)

He needs a face. I need a cake board. And a box. And I need to not volunteer quite so much, perhaps.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I'll be sitting on my porch tomorrow... with streamers falling all round.

The party's over

Yipeeeee!!! Waaaaay too much pizza. Whatever.

Let them eat pizza

I have three large 24 cut pizzas and about a dozen teenagers here. I believe more of them are coming after the soccer game, but don't care much either way.

The cake is done; the colors are completely accidental but she likes them. The B-1-6 was Suzy's idea for B's sixteenth.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Another reason I love my job

Every day I empty this candy dish and they always fill it right back up. I love candy corn. :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I be makin' brownies for me lad's birthday in the morn.

Yep. I've finally snapped.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cleverly disguised

I went from salt and pepper hair to blonde, a couple of weeks ago. I didn't really like the washed out way my "it came back gray" hair made me look.

I'm kind of mourning the girl I used to be. She had spiky straight-ish reddish brown hair that people would compliment every so often (random strangers would tell me they loved my hair) and she never left the house in glasses. She had a salaried job, with five weeks paid vacation. She hated the job, but really. Five weeks. Bank holidays too. That's a post for some other insomnia party.

A consistent minefield (of course minefields are the most unpredictable thing... So is 'consistent minefield' an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp?) for me since the chemo took my hair lies in not recognizing myself in the mirror.

The wig was pretty. But it didn't look quite like my hair used to. Kinda longer, different shade, I had skipped a hair appointment. But I didn't see myself in it all that much. Because when I was home, I was so much more comfortable (in the physical sense) without anything on my head.

But it's jarring to see yourself with no hair and think "that's me... I don't recognize me..." so that was four months worth of angst. And that was just the bald days, which were followed by Stubble Summer.

The blonde was an attempt to ease my way back in the direction I want to "head" ( hey, sorry for the puns, it's three something a.m.)

Which brings me to this week, with two school open houses. And me bumping into two sets of friends from those two school communities, 80% of whom didn't really know I was sick.

I have to mention, it has been wonderful getting hugs from loving friends - especially from the 20%, who knew what was going on, and are delighted to see me out and about and consistently say I look great. And I feel like I resemble a healthy person again.

But people don't recognize me. Especially from behind. I have short soft downy blonde curls. And glasses. Beautiful kate spade glasses, dramatic brown frames that most people have never seen me in.

So several times over at both schools I had to do the "yes, it's me... I know, the glasses... And my hair is finally growing back from the chemo...." (elaboration varies depending on face in front of me and includes some level of "I'm Fine" reporting as well, especially for people new to this topic)

This often is followed by the other person finding it nearly impossible not to stroke my soft blonde curls. Oddly enough I'm ok with that, and even slightly tilt my head, which is all the encouragement some people need.

So that helps, because I can laugh about some of this madness.

I want to see ME in the mirror and photos. Not this pleasant stranger with the shell shocked look in her eyes that I seem to see in every photo, no matter how many I take of myself.

I just want to feel like me again.

Monday, September 20, 2010

And if the elevator tries to break you down

Please enjoy my Top Ten Things I am Tired Of,  while I listen to Prince talking about getting through this thing called Life...

My damn nose that won't stop bleeding once a day. Bloody

Opening every drawer, cabinet, closet, etc and finding things that don't belong there, that got stashed while I was sick. Clutter.

My nails breaking off due to chemo. Still. They're about 80% grown out and sooo close but it's making me nuts. My big stupid big toe has been hurting for 3 days now. Split, Peel, and Crack is not just a rock band. Nails.

Feeling too tired to run. Not having time to run. Being embarrassed that I"m not really going to do the Komen run when I said I would. Feeling like a flop even though I'm just not physically up to it. So, running.

My achy breaky neck from my suddenly craptastic feather pillow, my aching shoulder blades from lifting 75 cans of soda, my aching shoulder from piping 500 blades of grass on my kid's birthday cake.  Achy

My stomach that is wonky from gall bladder removal adhesions and chemo and tamoxifen. Belly
Dancing with the Stars is starting... but with that stupid Palin kid and The Situation.   Sweet Monkey shit, tell me when both of them are gone.  Dance

My glasses that I can't see with , can't see without, don't sit straight on my face anymore... aaaagh! Going to eye doctor tomorrow so I can SEE.   Sea?

My fridge's icemaker decided to get stuck on "open faucet" yesterday... I opened the door and WAVES of water came out at me... four beach towels full. Thank god I wanted a cold drink just then.   Waves.

CYO basketball is also starting... which means Carly home alone every weekend trying to do all the housework/laundry/groceries ... this is the last year... this is the last year... serenity now.

So to review, bloody clutter nails running achy belly dance sea waves. Serenity now.

Or,    Go Crazy. Punch a higher floor.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall fell

It's 50*. Time for hot tea, heated car seats, fall colors on the trees and on my nails, crisp bright blue skies... Can't we keep this, and forget winter?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sweet time

Waiting to feel normal again is hard.

Going blonde helped me emotionally, I was so discouraged whenever I saw a mirror and looked at my washed out, gray reflection. I don't quite recognize Blondie as me, but she is better than Granny. I kind of feel now that I don't look "sick" anymore to someone who doesn't really know me. I don't notice being stared at when I am in public anymore.

But little things like I can't lift a carton of soda cans without seriously trying hard... The daily nosebleeds, still, and the heartburn from tamoxifen...

They Suck. Poetic but true.

It is very hard to wait for your body to do what you want it to. I'm not running regularly because walking makes me winded and gives me leg cramps. So fabulous. But I keep trying; hopefully I will build up some strength.

All in good time.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quitting time

This is really it. Sorry about my bloggoreah tonight. I made a little makeup case that may or may not make it on the cake...


In a post below, you will find two pictures ... I swear I  had all this text in it!!!

The cake  is obviously professionally made (it's by and I saw it on the Cake Wrecks blog). 

It did inspire me to do something along the same lines for my daughter. The second photo is my work from this afternoon and I am happy to say it's going pretty well. 

I really need Suzy for the piping that will make these pieces truly look like makeup - she will do a much better job on the lettering. I can't wait to see her - she's coming to visit soon. 

Tonight I plan to make a few brushes and maybe a makeup bag. We will see how ambitious I get. 

(I should post the mess on my kitchen table too....)

Almost done

Getting tired; made a couple of lipsticks that need a little bit of refinement.

Brusha brusha

(This photo was taken on my iPhone with ProCamera, which lets me adjust for my nonexistent flash...)

Here are the brushes for the cake. I started everything with two boxes of Wilton ready to use fondant. One is "natural colors" - light &dark brown, peach and black. The other was the pastel multipack with pink, blue, yellow & green. I marbled gel color into the blue (delphinium blue from the garden colors). I also have a bunch of pearl dust powders that I use to add some of the deeper colors on the pink/ blue / green etc, and some silver and a pearl one for shimmer.

By the way, rolled fondant tastes like crap. It's a weird sugary dough but not in a good sense. Just being honest. (Although my friend Poly makes her own, I believe, and I'm sure that tastes much better.) It's great fun to play with though.

Sunday art - sweet sixteen prep

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Love, not hate

When I saw this picture on my friend's blog I felt the familiar wistful sadness. It's 9/11...

But this image was before all of the terror and chaos, and the immediate aftermath of the towers falling - the deathly silence with nothing but chirping locator alarms of hundreds of firefighters, seen in the movie documentary of that day, filmed by two terrified French photographers/ brothers who started the morning with a completely different project. Before Rudy's press conference statement that 'we will take care of all of the children whose parents don't come home tonight' which finally brought me from silent shock to sobbing, in front of my children no less.

On the day of this photo, people went to work and went home. Home to lovers or elderly parents or loneliness, home to make plans for exciting vacations or to worry about paying the bills. To doctors, to have prenatal care or cancer treatments or root canals. To church, to bars, to schools to prepare for a future they didn't have.

Nine years ago, but it seems like a lifetime.

All because of hate. If only the people of this world would stop hating each other for who we are, what we believe, how we live and love, and what kind of god we do or don't believe in.

If only some of these so called religious people filling the news nowadays truly WERE religious and acted out of love, not hate, so many things could be different. But so many people learned nothing at all on 9/11.

Today, show love, not hate, in all that you do.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


The cooking demo tonight was Mediterranean cooking - the polenta with gorgonzola cheese was my hands down favorite. (I swear I considered stealing seconds...) It was served with a salad that had fennel and lemon; there was also a lamb stew, chicken with vegetables cooked in parchment, zuchini, and then peach crisp... Yum. I don't know if I will sleep tonight. But worth it. And it almost makes up for those four rounds of chemo when I ate chicken soup, and chicken soup, and chicken soup.

The guy next to me has been to Eric Ripert's restaurant in NYC and had the tasting menu. As he was describing it, that went on my "bucket list".

As I was saying

Before I was so rudely interrupted by work (software installed much quicker than I thought it would) I was going to mention that tonight I'm headed to a cooking class / demo. I can't remember WHAT kind of cooking(all hail, chemo brain) but I remember thinking it sounded delicious when my sister in law invited me. Film at 11, as they say.

I have taken great pains not to over- volunteer at my son's school this year, so I should have time to work on my own projects. Those would include a cookie book my daughter got at a culinary school she visited this summer (with the same sister in law, while I was sick). B and I are going to try new cookie recipes on a hopefully regular basis. I am working on slowly teaching my kids to cook.

It's a new school year here in upstate NY. What are your goals for something you'd like to learn in the coming months?

Back to school

Feeling excited about life again. Art, cooking, singing.

I was bummed out over the weekend about summer being over, but now today I feel very different. I'm excited for the big chunk of free time I have this weekend to sit at my art table and listen to whatever music I want.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Sentiment and lobsters

I had to buy the lobster rubber stamp in Hyannis. Yes I did. Ok, I did not. But it came in handy for the thank you note that goes with the picture frame gift I created the other day.

I used one of my favorite pictures from the trip on the front of the card. The strip of burlap across the bottom of the card is perhaps random but looks better in hand than in this photo

Inside I thanked her and tried to convey what I blogged about with the photo of the beach/waves - that this trip helped me to stop thinking about doctors 24/7 and feel more 'normal' again.

(I know - "C, you were never normal")

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Sunday art

This is for the woman who loaned us her cottage for a few days last month in a lovely quiet part of Cape Cod.

I cleaned off my art table last night - we are having a family party today. My daughter has cleaned so much this week that she was wondering if she had wicked stepsisters that he didn't know about. I believe I actually sang "the prince is giving a ball" to her at one point.

My delightful neighbors (the ones who had a mattress against the back of their house one whole winter) we screaming and shouting at each other yesterday. You're an effing moron and your an effing a-h..... Really nice. At one point he bellowed "I don't care if the neighbors hear me!". You're right dipstick, we already dislike you, it doesn't matter. Please move.

At any rate cleaning up for OUR party allowed me to also have room on my desk to get this done. I am so horribly far behind on scrapbooking. Most of my photos for the second half of 2009 are not even printed.... Oh well. Plenty to do this winter. Plus I have paint and beads and plenty of other stuff to do on my nice clean desk.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

A little secret

I bought a Keurig single serving coffee maker and we like it. It's fun. My son has been making iced coffees - future barista in college??

But it's crazy. Those fancy little plastic K-cups must be full of gourmet coffee grounds right? Full of instant coffee. Or tea. But with this you can use real coffee grinds or loose tea leaves...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Can't do it

One of the things cancer gave me was a knock on the head while it said "stop trying to do everything yourself and quit nitpicking how other people do things".

It started early on, after my first surgery when I could barely move my arms because of the lymph node biopsies. Someone sent us tons of great food and so we had friends over to help us eat so that it wouldn't go to waste. (Seriously, SO much food.) Later, one guy loaded the dishwasher - not in the prissy neat way I favored, with plates sorted out into tidy, neatly aligned zones.

He crammed so much stuff into that dishwasher, I thought he might have to nail it shut.

I quietly died, sitting there watching. Made mental notes to rewash things the next day. Except...

Of course everything was spotless.

I am reminded of that day because I am letting my kids do more for me these days. I'm trying to let them keep being the capable helpers they were while I was sick. Letting go and letting them grow up... So not easy.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dear John

Fortunately this is not THAT kind of dear John letter.

Seven months ago I invaded your space. It's hard to sit about five feet to the right of a crazy girl, isn't it?

I get that we work in a test lab which is set up like a classroom because that's where all the pc's are. But these desks make me fidgety because they're a little too high, and there is no keyboard tray, and the old clunker monitor is a little too low and I can't adjust the angle. So I am up high but then I slump forward and lean on my one elbow and I shift and sigh a lot. Sorry about that.

The daily nosebleeds have let up pretty much - yay! I know you probably think I'm a total hypochondriac when I sneeze, blow my nose, and then use antibacterial gel. But you all use my pc's too, and I don't want to contaminate anything. Just so you know, I feel totally awkward whenever I put chapstick or hand lotion on, because I know you see me -- but that soap in the ladies room turns my hands into the sahara. I try not to overload you guys with perfumey moisturizers. But who is wearing old spice these days? I know it's not you.. And it's also not one of the new modern ones. It is the original version, the one I asterisk as Crusty Old Sailor.

Thanks for the nice emails you all sent after my surgery. I know I worked two weeks in January, then disappeared for a month. (Let's use that word "worked" loosely, since for the first three days I had no idea how to switch my monitor from one system box to the next. )

Thanks for not saying "what is your DEAL, woman?" when I cried all day because my hair was falling out from the chemo. Or when I adjusted the wig 12,000 times. More sighing. Hmm. You wear headphones a lot, don't you?

Thank you for not remarking on the bad chemo days when I dragged myself in around 9:15. I couldn't have taken so much as a jovial "it's about time!" some of those days.

Thank you for not making any snarky remarks when I left an hour or two early EVERY DAY FOR SEVEN WEEKS for radiation, and got most of the easiest assignments to help make that possible.

Thank you for not remarking on my personal thermostat issues. I know I come in some of these summer mornings bundled up - like yesterday, a shirt, sweater, denim jacket. The outer layers come and go all day long, don't they? And hotflashes!! I turn on my fan... And a few minutes later it's off. Good, good times.

I know I am like Tigger or something. Up to go get a drink, then of course to the ladies' room. Repeat, often. You just sit there and work, and you are somehow still able to smile at me - like when some fool can't get their snack out of the vending machine that is literally a thin wall away from you, and Fool starts crashing and rocking the machine, and we look at each other and just roll our eyes... You know you're more likely to die from a vending machine falling on you than from a shark attack, right? It's true. I read it on the Internets.

So anyway, I gotta get back to work


(psych! It's Saturday. I'm gonna go out and plant some mums. But really, thanks man.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Like when I see a full moon in a bright morning sky

Every now and then a little explosion goes off in my head and I realize that I really did it. I made it. I'm done- - I did every treatment that I had to do, and I'm okay now.

On August 1 we had a big celebration -all day long I got texts and e-mails, but this is something different. It kind of sneaks up on me when I'm not expecting it, and is just crazy happy cool.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Running around

I can't keep up with everything that I have to do to regroup after all of our mini vacations, get the kids ready for going back to school, AND celebrate both their birthdays all in one month. Also, the one who's going to be sixteen is all about her party, because, she's **sixteen** -- cue the confetti shower --so a separate friends party for each kid this year, not just a bounce house and an ice cream cake, and her cake request changes weekly.

To add to my joy she keeps bringing up DRIVING, which is about as likely right now as Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama going out for a girl's night out on the town.

(It's SO nice to be so much more normal and not be all about doctor appointments .)

I emailed my college roommate last night and fished about getting out of running the Komen 5k. Luckily, she is not one of those annoying perfect athletes who run triathlons for fun. We are going to do the walk that day instead. I have no energy and my foot is acting up again with its plantar fasciitis tricks. Sooo I haven't been running and I am stressing myself out about needing to run, so I haven't been walking either, which is not helping my energy deficit. Maybe I will turn this around- but the pressure is off for now.

I keep remembering the woman I saw a couple of years ago... and the crowd reaction to her. She was obviously just coming off of chemo and she was tough and I want to BE that woman, but I look around at the piles that have accumulated EVERYWHERE and it's stressing me out.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday art

No photo can capture the peacefulness of watching the waves come in, as I sit at a safe distance, in the shade, looking out at the sky and the clouds.

From here I can't feel the sandy water rush forward around my feet, hiding them; I don't feel waves progressively larger crashing into my body and threatening to knock me down or drag me away.

I can hear the sounds, but they're not as loud as when I am in the middle of the water, with everything swirling around me.

I have looked forward to this trip since it was offered to us - because who doesn't want a few days at the beach? - but also because it signifies Done.

It was a distraction all through radiation - "...and then we're going to the cape."

Now here we are, and time has slowed to endless late summer days of exploring lighthouses (and P-town) and sitting on the beach.

I am letting go of the day to day battle of thinking about being sick every five minutes or less. No more undertow of activity around me with procedures and complications and struggling to get my head up out of one wave of chemo after another.

I am grateful to be alive and well, and just sitting looking at the waves.

Some time ago my friend's husband was in a horrible car accident that disfigured his face. She said to me, '...he doesn't look like David anymore'. I said, in what I meant to be kind (but now wonder if I was unintentionally cruel) "but he looks like who he is now, and you still have him". I don't like those words echoing back to me when I am looking into the mirror. But I know they are true. I don't look like "me" anymore, but I'm not who I was. But I still have me. I still get to BE me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I just love these coasters....

Dear blog

I'm sorry I haven't been writing to you, Internets, but in truth after getting back from Pittsburgh I was exhausted and then we went to Buffalo a weekend later. This allowed us to visit cousins who kissed me and told me I looked great and gave me margaritas. I *love* cousins like that

We met my sister to reclaim my offspring and drove home. So in about nine days, it was over 24 hours of driving if my math is close to right. It destroyed my back because, welll.... It was about time for me to have problems with that. My radiation sites are Much! Better! and something has to be an obstacle to my running on a regular basis.

Summer seems to be almost over. We are going to use a house in Cape Cod for a few days; it was offered to us free of charge due to my illness... Very, very kind. I'm bringing running clothes when we go- isn't full-blown denial cute?

Dear summer, I wish you wouldn't leave just when I am finally starting to feel up to having a little fun. Fall is not really my best friend.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I took off for a few days to Pittsburgh, to see my sister. It wasn't exactly spontaneous - it's been in the works for a while, and I got worried that I might not be able to go when I was dealing with my most recent bump in the road.

But we did make it there, and we went to the

This summer they have gargoyles everywhere. I loved it. I was a little bit stressed out (briefly) because I am borrowing a digital SLR these days and I didn't think ahead to charge up the battery. So I could take a couple of pictures, but then I had to turn offend camera.

I decided to embrace the situation and really THINK before I clicked ... It's so easy with digital to take far too many pictures. So I was pretty happy with what I ended up with. I didn't quite get them to flickr yet... But this is one shot.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Fun and games

With feeling better comes feeling GREAT. Joyful. And silly.

My daughter got faint-y having routine bloodwork done yesterday - we've all been there right? I was able to get her to laugh through her tears of mortification and then when we agreed she was a hot mess, she cried "I want cheesecake!" So she got it.

I am not keen on hot flashes, but whenever I have one I laugh at myself a little bit. It's bizarre to be cool all over but feel like your head is being put into a paraffin dip.

Yesterday I found some mousse in the closet. It's been so long since I've used hair products. My daughter bought me some shampoo that enhances brunette shine and we both pretend it is making my hair darker instead of salt and pepper gray. So I put some mousse in my hands, rubbed it through my 1/8" hair and turned to beam at my girl. "whaddya think?" She laughed. I did too, because it made no visible difference at all - "nothing? NOTHING?" - my hair is still too short to even noticeably spike. Oy.

This post brought to you by a song....

I wanna celebrate and live my life, singing hey- oh...

Monday, August 02, 2010


Dear Diva,
Please get well soon!

One of your many fans

Not so fast

So if you're the wincy kind, this post is not for you.

Radiation burns peak a few days after the end of treatment, from the cumulative effects. Dirty little secret! You're done. But you're going to hurt MORE next week! Congratulations! Thanks for playing!

Oh, and you will need to drink gallons of water to help your body try to repair all those cells. You will not stop being thirsty, 24/7. Cheers!!

Currently I get the sensation every few minutes that a long ultra thin needle is piercing my skin. I can be sitting very still and ka-chaaaaa!!! It's fun sitting with my droids and trying to remember NOT to grab my jumblies when I feel the piercing pain.

The burned, crispy skin is cracking, and here and there a slab lifts up and looks something like a bit of highway that didn't fare too well in an earthquake. Mother of pearl, it hurts when one of those attached flakes gets jarred.

Saline soaks are da bomb, yo. It was funny when Doctor blue eyes asked one of the newer nurses if she knew how to teach a patient to do saline soaks. She looked at him, looked at me and said, "here is the saline, you take some of this gauze... And soak it." Then she and I cracked up at the same time. Pour saline on gauze, and apply it to your parched desert skin, and admire how it soaks into the cells and makes them un-crispy... for a little while.

In other news, I apparently can not tolerate Aquaphor ointment, which they hand out at DBE's the way a dentist gives out floss. It turns my skin a weird flaming red. Zexy!

Good times! Maybe I should run off and join a carnival. I'll keep you posted on that idea.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


My friends on Fb are celebrating with me today. I'm done! One of my friends even mocked up a few shirts for me.

Going out to the track and will celebrate everyday life, today and every day.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

One last shot

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living. -Ps 27:13

Can I just get through this month please?

Thursday I left work somewhat early; I wasn't feeling great. I had a fever spike to 101.6 during the night, and felt lousy all day Friday. Tired, achy, with fever coming and going.

My radiation sites were sore and I called the nurse line and couldn't make up my mind whether to go all the way down to that office, given that I had no energy and I had an appointment with my new primary care doc after lunch.

I was in tears at one point thinking "I just want to be DONE with all of this." I am tired of being sick; I want to feel better and get back to my life. Such a simple thing, but I am about at my limit, and believe me I understand that there are people with much more to deal with for much longer.

My new doctor didn't like the looks of things and did some bloodwork; she called me back at 9:30 to say that my counts weren't good and I probably have cellulitis. Do not google pictures of that on your phone while you are eating a snack, by the way.

She wanted me to go to the ER, to get IV antibiotics. Um, now? Yes. An ER at 10pm on a Friday night? Mr. Carly and I looked at each other and thought that sounded like the most fun EVER. Not. I was kicking myself for not going down to the oncology office IN THE DAYLIGHT.

He suggested I call my radiology oncologist's 24 hour number to see which hospital they recommended. On a Friday night. At 10 pm. When I had just been getting ready to go to SLEEP. So I called.

While I waited for the answering service to contact whoever was on call I started pulling out a few things I might need into a tote bag in case I ended up being admitted for an overnight "vacation". I was seriously dreading a long night ahead.

My favorite doctor in the group - the one that I normally see, he of the big blue eyes, called and cracked me up by announcing himself "hi, it's Todd." Lest you think I am completely smitten with him, my brother in law worked with him for quite a while and so he once remarked to a nurse that Mr. C and I are like family.

I told him my counts and he said Nooooooo you don't need to go to the ER tonight; I can call in a prescription to a 24 hour pharmacy. Ok, so at that point I would have to say I was a little bit smitten.

He said that if my WBC was below a 1 or if I was still in the middle of chemo I might have needed to go in, but he let me off the hook for now with instructions to call back if my fever got out of control.

I waited at home while Mr. C and my darling daughter went to fetch me some bigass Levaquin pills. Then I got to go to SLEEP in my own bed. Bonus.

So I am writing this from my couch, happily; I just woke up a little while with the help of my iphone and took some Tylenol and so far so good. Of course, now I'm wide awake. But the part about MY COUCH makes it ok.

Dear cancer, please leave me alone now. Kthanks.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sneaky droids

My boss sent me an email the other day asking me if I wanted to go out to lunch today. She is a contract employee like me, and doesn't have a corporate expense card to whip out for these occasions, so I really appreciated it.

Today I woke up not feeling great. Tired, achy, and so on. Almost like I had a touch of the flu. I made some toast and tea and dragged myself in.

It's been quieter in the office since we got rid of the new guy. He had started well after me, and didn't catch a clue to be as quiet as possible since six of us were sharing a workspace. He was taking cell phone calls literally all day long for a business he was running on the side. Noisy and obnoxious, and my droids and I couldn't stand him. We started to log his coming and goings and phonecalls and then we proved he lied on his timecard. Buh bye! Never piss of a bunch of geeks.

One of my coworkers is an EMT and he keeps an eye out for me. We had a conversation about his dad, who went through radiation, and how the effects can linger. He suggested that maybe it would be best for me to leave midafternoon, and take tomorrow off since I have a doctor appointment in the afternoon, and I was only going to be in the office about three hours anyway.

For me the last few treatments were a "boost" concentrated on the location of the tumors. I think they are catching up to me a bit. I didn't eat much yesterday, and I am supposed to be eating extra protein to help my body repair itself. I'm dragging.

So I stopped in to see my boss. One of my lunch friends was there and she kind of gave me a weird look (she's a project manager who works with us) and then she left. I was thinking about leaving then, but I chickened out.

I told my boss I'd probably leave early and then we talked about where to go for lunch. It was really quiet the rest of the morning and when I went to go meet her at lunchtime I didn't realize that no one seemed to be around.

She and I walked into the restaurant and there was a table filled with my entire team, grinning from ear to ear. They got me. They had all been sneaking out to get to the restaurant before me, and I hadn't even noticed. Gotta watch those droids!

They bought me lunch and gave me a card and told me they'd been planning this for a while. I promised them that pretty soon I would stop slacking off and do more work. Love my geeks!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Normal isn't

Today I got up, went to work, then home for dinner. Now I am sitting on my porch. It's a cool summer evening and there are thunderstorms somewhere off in the distance.

Note the absence of waiting rooms and treatments in my day. Sweet.

It hasn't truly set in that I'm done, even though my chemo oncologist said "you can go back to your life" last week when I asked him if I could train for a 5k. (I didn't run today. Too hot. I'm tired and still a little burned from treatments; that will last a couple of weeks. But I don't have to GO THERE. )

Every day for the last eight months has pretty much been dominated by having cancer. Go to this appointment, go to that one. Recover from one part of the process and get ready for the next.

I don't have to go to the doctor for a whole MONTH, internets! Awesome.