Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy happy new year

Two years ago I was all about the happy, happy fight (look in my archives if you weren't with me back then...) which of course wasn't all that happy but I sucked it up and got through it.
Now that cancer is behind me --hopefully, for good -- I feel a quiet, calm, happiness.

I saw Johnny Virgil and Shamus the other day for lunch...Shamus was drunk or something and went to the wrong place at first (oh, I kid..) and while Johnny and I were waiting I mentioned I don't blog all that much anymore because I'm so much happier, and I don't need it the way I used to.

There was a point in time at my old job when I knew I just shouldn't be there anymore, but I was waiting for that severance package. I got my summer off, and the kids and I had a great time.
(then of course I got sick, and it sucked. But I'm doing well now! Thank you, New York Oncology )

But before I finally actually left The Big Stupid Bank, I was SO unhappy. The people I worked with most were on a very different wavelength than I was, and a bunch of other things made me very unhappy most of the time. I would type and type a bunch of stuff here on a regular basis, and it helped.

I have learned quite a bit more about how to take charge of my own happiness, and speak up for what I want and need. I'm excited about the coming year ( I'm going to be an auntie again! I'm going to Disney!) and beyond.

So I guess what I'm saying is, don't give up. If things kinda suck, hang in there, it will get better. Do what you need to do to get by.

I may or may not post as much here anymore, but I am still on twitter (as Carlyq80) so please feel free to follow me and laugh at the dumb things I tweet.

Happy new year. We once again watched Holiday Inn and new years rockin' eve And hey wow, Dick Clark is orange!!!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Loving the new Hipstamatic foodie snap pack.

Ahead for today... Lasagna for tonight, mini quiches for tomorrow, plus other prep for the big meal (20 people squeezing into my house! Aieeeeeeee. )

Oh- and eating MANY cookies while I make up a cookie box for Stanley.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Where are You, Christmas

Two years ago today, I received a phone call that no one wants, especially at Christmas time. Sitting in my car in a store parking lot, unemployed, exhausted, and afraid, I listened to the doctor who had done my first biopsy tell me that I did have breast cancer after all, and I needed another biopsy on the other breast, based on the MRI that I'd had. I went home and cried, and 800 miles away, my sister woke from a sound sleep after her night shift and called me. The holiday crumbled around me, but I got through it and the months of treatments that followed.

Now, after a "clean" checkup yesterday, I can enjoy this Christmas.

No trying to keep the kids from overhearing things. No crying in mass, looking down from the choir loft at a friend holding her grandson.

The lyrics of this song really get to me. It's the arc from despair to "getting it", summed up in one neat little package. The devastation and shock I felt was eased by the friends and family who gathered around me to take care of me and "love me through it" (Can. Not. Listen. To. That. Song. Cannot.)

It was a long bumpy road after that phone call two years ago, and I try to leave most of it in the past, but I'm still mentally processing things here and there.

(as an example, yesterday I finally met someone who had helped me put together my team of superhero doctors. She's a colleague of my brother in law, and I spoke to her several times two years ago, but never face to face. She got me in with the best surgeon in the area, and my two oncologists that I adored and felt complete confidence in. And so, on meeting her? I burst into tears and hugged her. She rolled with it though. )

I will be the first to admit that I was kind of a pain in the ass "before", prone to selfishness, drama and whining, and I like to believe/ hope that chemo killed off at least a little bit of my worst character traits, in addition to some rogue cells that were growing out of control.

What I took away from 2010, leaving behind the suckage of the memories of certain individual events as much as possible, was a strong appreciation for the every day, for the beauty of ordinary things and moments, and most of all for the people who are love me and are kind to me. Every checkup, despite being a stressful and frightening flashback-filled time, renews the gratitude and the personal goal to be a better, more loving and giving human being. And what better time of year than now for that?

Merry Christmas!!

Where are you Christmas

Where are you Christmas
Why can't I find you
Why have you gone away
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me
Why can't I hear music play

My world is changing
I'm rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too

Where are you Christmas
Do you remember
The one you used to know
I'm not the same one
See what the time's done
Is that why you have let me go

Christmas is here
Everywhere, oh
Christmas is here
If you care, oh

If there is love in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time

I feel you Christmas
I know I've found you
You never fade away
The joy of Christmas
Stays here inside us
Fills each and every heart with love

Where are you Christmas
Fill your heart with love

use this link if the one above doesn't work....

Monday, December 19, 2011

Busy busy

Making cookies (maple syrup and butter form the base for these cutout cookies. Yum)

Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone
Lens: Loftus
Flash: Off
Film: DC

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tick tock

So much to do... And trying not to think about my next scheduled checkup with my oncologist this week because It Should Be Fine.

I have a little bit of residual anxiety because two years ago, I was sailing along in my holiday plans, (kinda like now) had all my shopping done, (kinda like now) and then BLAMMO.

Deja vu. But not, hopefully.

Friday, December 09, 2011


The winter afternoons rush by quickly. Five or ten minutes can be a big factor in whether or not I can take a decent photo of the sunset. (I took this through the screen windows of my porch which gave it instant texture. Maybe I'll carry around a screen window. Heh. )

Winter makes me discouraged and sad... It's a lonely- feeling time. Blah.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Bean counter wreath

I had a little bit of fun making a wreath for my husband's office - it's one of a kind, which is probably a good thing.
For the record, I was asked to do this... And he likes it. Hey Mikey!

Kids... That orange square is an ancient jump drive. (Just saying.) There's also some of that green paper with special lines that we had to use before Excel. We had to do MATH back then. But we had calculators that were JUST calculators, just like the one on this wreath. Mechanical pencils, highlighters... Good stuff.

Ok, random old stuff from the supply room! Fine!!

ch-ch- check me out

This is interesting... I'll need to play around with it some more, after the holidays.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

It's a Wonderful Life

.... if you don't have to get up early in the morning for work. And I do.

but tonight I went to a photography group MeetUp at a dress rehearsal of a local production of "It's a Wonderful Life"... I loved the vintage clothing, and I'm really enjoying my new camera (I took almost 300 photos... with my little baby lens that came with the camera... I felt definite envy looking around at some of the amazing zoom lenses!)

You can check out about 30 HERE:

(dear blogger, why is it so damn hard to make a working link???)

I'm partial to a couple of these that I just HAD to put in black and white...

Monday, December 05, 2011

And so

I also made a couple of things for ME. I could have been writing out Christmas cards. Oh well. I can do those ::::looks at ridiculously crowded calendar::: Sunday maybe.

Michael's is having a sale

Mr. Carly texted me today asking if I would buy a wreath for his office, and maybe a small tree. That is DEFINITELY not a problem for me. Especially when everything is half price.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Time put the last trace of turkeys away... This tealight holder is my new favorite thing today.


I am grateful that I have a car, and off-street parking. But daaaaaaamn. It's cold.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


I happened to be at a very small gathering recently. I was invited to
stop by an old friend's house for a glass of wine before another
event. There were a few people there; we sat in the living room by a
warm fire while appetizers were passed. I sipped chardonnay and
congratulated myself for shedding my laundry and cooking chores for an
evening of "me time".

As the conversation went on the man sitting next to me with his wife
shared a story or two, and in my tiny little brain I began to realize
that he was Someone. (I don't have any formal music education or
background, so I confess to not having the faintest idea who he was.
But I have learned that when the universe is trying to get your
attention, it's a good idea to just shut up and listen! )

And then one thing lead to another, and he was coaxed over to the
piano. It was a baby grand, and he noticed instantly that it was out
of tune, but I never would have known, listening to him. He toyed
with us at first, transposing Chopsticks. Woah. My friend's face said
to me, "yes, he's quite good, isn't he?"

Then he played another piece. It was only a few measures, but it was
WONDERFUL. Exquisite. Piano the way piano was meant to be played,
transcendant levels above my pecking out of bits and pieces of alto
lines I'm struggling to learn for church. It's likely that it was some
Gershwin. Sadly, I couldn't tell you WHAT he played, but I will
remember HOW he played.

HIs name is Lincoln Mayorga. is just a sampling of his
extensive background and states that he has worked with Sam Cooke. Mel
Torme. Streisand. Andy Williams. Amazing.

Google him. Watch him on YouTube, instead of whatever the hell that
idiot Tosh is talking about today. You'll be glad you did.

So now, when I am wandering around my house, doing whatever
Cinderella-like task it is I have to do on a given day*, at times I
will be listening to Lincoln play, thanks to the magic of iTunes. I
recommend "A Bouquet of Familiar Classics", and also some of his
Gershwin pieces, which you will easily find there (on iTunes) -
Summertime, is, of course, one of the first ones I purchased. Even *I*
am familiar with that one.

* (boo hoo. Poor me. Not. Beats sitting on a couch dealing with chemo,
any day. Just a reference to his work at Disney...)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Words fail me

Every year I post some of the most bizarre things that I see in catalogs.

Be careful*, everyone, hoodie-footies have gone wild. (really? They call them that?? Really???)

*Don't let that unfortunate private zoo incident get you down ... Just stroll right out to the mailbox in your leopard print hoodie footie. No one will shoot you. Probably not, anyway.

And, the bunny is not even sexy on this skinny photoshopped model. I think if I wore it my family would be incontinent laughing...while they booked me some time with an experienced psychiatrist.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I love a parade

I'm a little partial to this one which is not of the parade at all of course, but that's just me...odd, I know. But I like me the way I am, and if you don't, well, you can just wander on off into the internets, can't you?

Anyway, you can browse a few of my parade photos in the set by clicking here.

I love, love love LOVE my new camera. It's fairly easy to change settings around on the fly, and the ISO goes to 6400. So I can take nighttime parade photos without blinding everyone constantly with useless flash. (cough, cough, pet peeve, cough cough)

Friday, November 25, 2011

I'm actually playing Christmas music

... and if you know me, that is NOT how I normally proceed the day after thanksgiving. Really. Trans-Siberian Orchestra. M.e.

I got myself a couple of goodies online today... I booked my tickets to FLORIDA in February :::cue the cheering::::: and got myself some accessories for my new camera (they will be Christmas gifts from my mother, who declared that no one buys cameras anymore because they just use their cell phone. ) I got myself a nice camera strap ( I don't need CANON in 3" high letters all the time, something nicer like this ....) and something that goes on the strap that you can click your lens cap into, since I set mine down all the time.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


For my cool children and nieces and nephews (two of each plus one more in the oven!)

For every day I get to put my feet on the floor and stumble off to work at a fun/easy job where people like me. :)

For my new camera which I'm going to really fire up this week - turkeys! And this weekend - holiday parade !! 6400 ISO !!! Yeeeehah!!!

For a somewhat unexpected infusion of cash that lets me pay off some of my "cancer debt"!!!!!

And so much more.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Meet my new best friend

I'm sure you'll be seeing a lot from ...her?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Friday

Both of my kids have dates tonight. (It's the Sadie Hawkins dance, where the ladies invite the gentlemen, and a senior has invited my son, who is in... 9th grade.... ::::thud::::)

These, however, are not for them. cough cough cough MINE cough cough

I'll be playing with my NEW CAMERA... I gots me a Canon Rebel, after years of wanting one. Wheeeeeee!!!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011


Warmer. Bokeh. Insomnia. Two out of three ain't bad.


Picfx is my app of the day. You can add texture (peeling paint, shown here, or several others), bokeh, frames... It's pretty cool for when you want to take a simple image and get creative.


So my friend just reminded me that I have a blog... It's been busy, with birthdays and traveling to Pitt for my niece's baptism.

At 11:11 am on 11/11/11 (damn, I wrote that the British way didn't I?) I was sewing some lace on a little camisole so that the baby could wear it under her gown.

(Or, to keep from engaging my mother in any sort of argument.

She rode with us, and was pretty well behaved, but just got a little bit anxious at the end of each drive. )

Friday, November 04, 2011

Buy this

Logitech has their shit together. It took less than ten minutes to set up this remote for my tv, DVD, and dvr.

No pointing at devices and turning things on and off and cursing. Nope. You USB this to your computer and type the model numbers onto a webpage and it just works. It JUST WORKS.

A mere $30 really can buy you happiness. Happy birthday to me! Well, next week, but whatever. :)

Growing pains

My daughter has her first boyfriend, and all the angst and drama is killing me. Sobs and "but I haven't seeeeen him since ...." - I have tried explaining how far down that is on my list of priorities, but whatever.

To give you a hint as to how the rest of my day is going:

This morning I drove up to an ATM. Rolled my window down, put in my card.

I told the ATM that I want to conduct my business in ENGLISH PLEASE and it once again pretended to save those preferences. (every damn time... sigh...)

I got $60. Magic. Me likey. But I got my card back and still had a check to deposit.

Went to put the card in again and it slipped out of my fingers (no doubt from all the ATM cooties on them) and bounced... Under. My. Car.

By this point of course there was someone behind me. Waiting. Watching.

I pulled forward and by some miracle he didn't... Got my stupid card and stood there, trying to deposit. The atm spit an envelope out (the last time I was there, THAT shot out so hard it fell under my car. I'm clearly not smart enough for this whole process.)

I then found out that it helps if you DON'T hit "continue" before typing any dollar amount for your deposit, by the way. Transaction denied! Got my card back.

So I had to put the card in AGAIN, the ATM shot out ANOTHER envelope (which I struggled to put in the old envelope bin-- by that point I wanted to tear it to pieces and throw them up in the air all over myself like lunatic confetti, just for the benefit of the poor bastard waiting for me to finish).

Finally I got my tax refund check deposited. Yes, you read that right. Just. Don't. Ask.

If you need me I'll be hiding behind Seuss for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Ta dah

They said I wouldn't get flowers here in the test lab. Excuse me, I have to to tape some pencils together to stake this up. (do ya love my magnet? I do)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


This all started last fall... Our company had an earth day celebration on someone on my team won the flowerpot and a box of flowers that allegedly draw butterflies.

Since I sit under the skylight (thank god, the Droids don't like the lights on in here as you can see) I was nominated to try to grow something. This is round two or three; previous efforts have yielded a bloom or two.

This sucker grows about 3-4" in height every day lately. We're scared. I think it looks a little bit Seuss-ical. The guys are threatening me with scissors. I am well aware they see it as just a giant weed. But it's a funny weed. Not that kind of funny weed ...nevermind.

Bloom dammit!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Cancer is a strange beast. Not only for what it does to your body, but what it does to your mind.

Now that breast cancer is so much more openly discussed, women can support and educate one another and that's good. It's so helpful when dealing with all of the emotions, to know that someone really does understand how it feels to get that call, to lose your hair, and so on.

But it can also bring envy, followed by guilt. Because breast cancer can be diagnosed earlier, there is no one standard outcome once you've gotten that call. You might need a mastectomy, but you might not. I was able to have just two lumpectomies(one on each breast; I had four tumors in all).

Right out of the gate, I felt a little bit guilty, because my friend's wife was recovering from a mastectomy and she had those awful j-drains to deal with. So while I could barely lift either arm, (due to the sentinel lymph node biopsies on each side) who was I to bitch about it? Some people have the full set axial nodes removed -- everything under each armpit. As it is, I have weird lumps and craters, but no real signs of lymphedema.

The confusing and unattractive emotions can flow the other way as well. When I meet someone who "only" had surgery and radiation but no chemotherapy, I can't help but feel a flash of jealousy that she didn't have the months of stomach problems, fingernails breaking off... And the hair loss. That one's huge, obviously.

I write all of this because these same ugly feelings were triggered by news that Giuliana Rancic is being treated for breast cancer.

I have not ever really been a huge fan of hers; she's just another skinny pretty Hollywood entertainment reporter to me. I don't mean that to be as bitchy as it sound; I'm sure she's funny and loving and works hard at her career and so on.

But when I read the article that I saw yesterday I couldn't help but initially react with "pfffft. You're not having chemotherapy! You just have to lie on the table every day for six weeks. Be grateful."

It comes from me being sad that if MY mammogram had been a week or month sooner, every step of the followup and treatment would have been sooner, and maybe those cells would not have slipped out away from the main tumor and into a nearby lymph node. A week or a month probably could have made a world of difference in whether I needed to have chemotherapy.

And yet... I had a less aggressive pattern (4x3 weeks) than some who receive eight treatments, one every two weeks. I cant imagine how that would have destroyed my stomach.

And, of course, I lived.

It took longer than I wanted to feel like I was back to "normal" (for me at least... I know you're thinking that ) BUT I LIVED.

So we as fellow survivors must always remember to temper our reactions and be aware that they are affected by our own story. My chemo shouldn't be a badge of honor I use to snub someone and say "you have nothing to complain about - look what *I* went through." At the same time, people need to understand that a survivor can feel these natural emotions, and needs to deal with them in a productive manner.

I need to forgive myself for that sad envy when it crops up, and work through it to be more compassionate.

I wish for Ms. Rancic nothing but a 100% successful course of treatment. I'm tremendously sad for her that this is prolonging her struggle with infertility, and realize that this news is terrifying and devastating to her and will interrupt her entire life for a few months. She will be scared and exhausted and discouraged and hopefully her skin will tolerate the radiation fairly well and not burn too badly or get infected. It will still be a big bag of crap for her to deal with.

I honestly am happy that she doesn't need chemo, which I assume would further rob her of the ability to try to conceive, and yet I just wish I didnt have the sad asterisk of my own story ("I'm glad she won't have to have chemo LIKE I DID BECAUSE OMGZ IT SUCKED.")

And, of course, most of all, I hope she kicks cancer's ass just like I did. I hope she embraces the loving support of her family and friends, and that carries her through until her treatments are behind her, and on into the future.

We need to all be kind to one another, and support one another, and remember that this beast can ravage not only our bodies, but also our hearts and minds.

Almost two years after my fateful mammogram, I'm still healing.

Monday, October 17, 2011


In the middle of running about 12 errands on the way home I noticed the sky and the trees in the cemetery.

Click, click, click; I wish I could spend an hour here. (The people here sure are nice and quiet. I could use a leeeetle peace and quiet. Maybe not this much. )

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Embracing autumn

I'm not a huge fan of autumn. Closing up my porch, putting away flip-flops for the winter... Yucky. And don't get me started on Halloween ... I have to go buy five bags of candy sometime soon.

But yesterday I made cookies. These are tiny, and have itty bitty spider candies that apparently were meant for cupcakes, because they melted on most of the cookies. Bleak. This was the only good one.

Time to start thinking about carving my pumpkins. I have kids who tell me they come to see what I've carved each year, so I hate Halloween 2% less every time that happens.

I'm thinking at least one pumpkin will be an angry bird. Or a pig.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Burning up

In Pittsburgh this past weekend, I spent most of my time kissing my sweet little niece.

I did come across a family festival though... and after dark, I wandered back to photograph the bonfire, but forgot when I heard bongo drums and saw that there were a bunch of what I will call hippies or gypsies, (I don't know really, don't mean to be ignorant, they all seemed to be barefoot with dreadlocks.) They were performing with fiery swords, rings, and so on. The air reeked of kerosene, and the first three rows arranged on the grass were all of those kids.... I'm not sure who thought this would be a great idea.

One performer wandered up near the front of the grassy "stage", held up a helium balloon, and a small flame, and then he did THIS:

That was about enough for me, but I didn't see parents saying "Ok, time to go".

Sadly, the performers did not seem successful when they attempted to pass the bucket and collect a few donations.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Pink strands

Hairdressers are adding a single pink strand for their clients this month, in return for a donation to breast cancer research.

Mine had pink strands, and also saved me a feather. I like it, it's different and not too pink ribbon-y, and I can show it more or less depending on how I mess up my hair. It's a little less red than it looks here. Hopefully it will be a conversation starter.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Most eloquent tweet for Steve Jobs

We never met, yet I stand beside members of this giant playground that you discovered for us. We use it every day, never tiring of the sand.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Documenting a decade

Over the summer I submitted a photo for a new exhibit at the NY State museum - it's now on display - I didn't even realize it but a friend let me know yesterday. I'm honored.

You can read more about the exhibit here.

(The photo appears in the upper right of my blog header; it's the sky and clouds reflected in one of the new World trade Center buildings. I took it in September 2007 when I was down in NYC on a business trip. )

There is a collage of photos, which you can see here, and they apparently cycle through on a large monitor alongside the collage. My name is displayed when my photo is on the monitor. I'm hoping to get there myself to see it this week but of course the week ahead is CRAZY.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

October again

'Tis October, time of a million pink ribbons. And I have a complex relationship with the pink ribbons. They're bright, loving, supportive things... but they bring up dark memories for me. People buy them and think they've done enough, and move on to other things, and sometimes when you buy a pink ribbon item NO money actually makes it to benefit breast cancer research in any way. And sometimes when I see one, I think about that phone call and the pain and the loneliness and fear. So you won't often see me wear a pink rubber bracelet. Once in a while. But sometimes I just want to FORGET ever having cancer, and all the bad stuff, and just focus on gratefully getting back to the life cancer interrupted.

But the awareness raised by the Komen group is a large part of why I got my mammogram even though I was unemployed and lonely and depressed. I went and got my annual checkup, and that probably saved my life, because my cancer had already spread one tiny evil smidge into my lymph nodes.

I am almost ready to celebrate 2 years of "being a survivor". (Veteran, is how a socially prominent woman in my area describes herself. I kind of like that.)

While I have come to realize that I consistently say "I was sick" and allude to being on chemo, and I have trouble saying "I had breast cancer treatments last year", I still try to talk to people about my experience, and say GO AND GET YOUR CHECKUP.

I came across a wonderfully funny writer on Twitter, and she created a website called Band Back Together. People write about the things that they survive, and get support and understanding from the BBT community.

I wrote a "story about myself" when I was getting ready for my television interview. Unfortunately, that tv interview seems to have hit the cutting room floor and I don't think it will air. But who knows? It's October now. It might. What I want people to get out of it is (say it with me ) GO AND GET YOUR CHECKUP.

At any rate, you can read the entire Band post here, and the title may be familiar to a few of my longtime readers. I wrote it to encourage people newly diagnosed who come to the Band looking for support. (I was most touched by the wonderful supportive comments that you will find at the bottom.)

Gotta go, time for a Komen walk.

Friday, September 30, 2011

An idea

My friend at work has seen some of my photos, (because I made a calendar with some of my favorite scenic shots and used it last year at work) and suggested today that I should make a calendar and sell it, with intents of donating the proceeds to Komen, or CRAAB (a local group).

I'm on the fence (the mechanics of it all, how would I accept orders and the money and so on... I don't want to end up with a pile of calendars and I don't really want shipping costs... ) So I don't know. I will think about it over the next week or two. At the very least I will make one for myself, which I do every year anyway, and perhaps order a few more for a couple of friends.

So tonight I went through all of my iphone photos from this year. I am very happy with how some of them have come out. This picture is a bike I saw over the summer. I like that it says "Stella". :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Yesterday I entered this image in the Flickr pool for a Pioneer Woman assignment. I love her blog, and her limited run show on the Food Network. (Blink and you'll miss it - only one or two episodes remain.)

My image wasn't exactly on target with Ree's assignment. She gave us the original photo of Charlie and asked us to edit creatively - but her instructions allude to photoshop, and I used iPhone apps. 

I still had fun, and I like the variations I did, but I am bummed that I probably won't be one of the submitted photos she features on her blog over the next day or two. Still, almost 200 people have taken a closer look on Flickr. So we will call that a win? Or a draw. 

(And yes, I know flicker is about 100,000 years old in Internet years and I do have an instagram account, but the assignment was to put it on Flickr. And I know that Ree gets many, many photos added to her assignments pool.  It's ok. )

So. This evening I exchanged comments over twitter with a local news anchor. We have discussed Dancing with the Stars more than once, and tonight she asked if I was interested in doing a guest column one week for her blog, recapping the show. Hell yeah! I am looking forward to that. 

Of course, it means I might have to link my "real me" name with my CarlyQ80 id, which was really more of an old joke that only a few of my friends understand. 

Once upon a time I picked the name of a soap opera character I liked, (Carly quartermaine on GH as originated by the amazing Sarah Brown) and threw on 80 to make a unique id, and I've used it for about 15 years now for various message boards like Fans of reality TV and things like Flickr and instagram. 

Hmmm. Maybe I should tell my husband I've been blogging since 2005? Yikes. Maybe we just won't mention this blog to the world in the DWTS piece.  Shhh. Our little secret. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday evening

During the school year I find that Sunday evening is the most stressful.

All of the things I wanted to organize and clear out, the projects I wanted to start, the "I brought home work too and still need to do it" and grocery and laundry and aaaaagh. On top of that the things the kids need for school like lunch money and forms and so on.

September is also hard because we have TWO birthdays to celebrate. Only one day apart. I'm torn between feeling badly that I might not have done enough for the kids, and being sad that they just want a few friends over for pizza and a bonfire anyway. No more theme cakes and bounce houses or even printed invitations.

But I am thankful that we were spared by Irene. I heard from two friends this weekend and it makes the chores a little less onerous when you think about living with a friend for a month now because you had five feet of water in your house, or waiting STILL for the insurance company to give you money when you are basically homeless.

People don't mean to ignore you, I told my friend. They may not realize what you're going through and how completely your life has been turned upside down.

Tonight while I try to sort this all out in my brain, I am sitting on my porch listening to my fountain and working until MY homework gets done.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dear Instagram

You use to save my random photos to my phone, so I could have a copy WITH the funky special effects. Now with this new release, you don't. 


Sunday, September 18, 2011

The weekend is over already?


all in all it was not a bad weekend. But I'm feeling stressed out in a way that I can only describe as "this is how I felt when I used to work at that bank."

I was supposed to work from home on Friday. I brought the work home, and a laptop. And didn't do the work. (There was a thing with the kitchen sink, and a plumber, and the day just got less productive from there... and then the whole weekend did... and then there was a football game... and a wedding... See me, right now, still not doing the work? See me editing this post four times? I'm stopping now. )

There were a hundred little things that I *DID* do this weekend....

  • navigate tense family conversations - always fun. Enough said.
  • try to plan part of an upcoming trip and then almost immediately change the hotel reservations, which took TWO phonecalls, not just one... (Dear Marriott, you suck, your call center in India SUCKS, and I bring lots of baggage to that one - see what I did there? - so I will stop now. )
  • go to a very unusual wedding, and the upside of that one was lots of hugs from long lost cousins and some GREAT STORIES. (Do you read my twitter feed?)
  • drive my daughter to Timbuktu to her boyfriend's dad's house (where his Italian grandmother flipped me off and swore at me in Italian and then said "Bye." Ciao to you too, ya old bat)
  • type the lunch form, ask myself why I agreed to do it one more year,
  • get my own groceries / wander around a store I don't usually go to and take twice as long to find everything
  • get stuff to decorate cupcakes this weekend
  • mop the skeeeevy bathroom floors, do some laundry,
  • plan a double birthday party, worry about my son's best friend with peanut allergies because the decorations I bought are not "allergy OK"...
  • drive by my beautiful friend ... I always manage to see her running when I am feeling worst about my lack of exercising...
  • are you tired yet? I am. Did I mention how crappy I slept last night? Oh. Clearly, I can't drink two glasses of wine in one evening anymore. It's just bad for me. So why do I keep doing it? Spent a lot of time on this one, with That Voice in my head being very mean.
I am being very hard on myself tonight, on many fronts hinted at above, and also feeling very discouraged because my mother is rattling on how her fall cleaning is almost done, and I'm barely treading water on that front. Icky. Icky bad messy house.

The wonderful Jen of Epbot / Cake Wrecks blogs posted the picture above, and what she wrote made me feel so much better. I'm here. I'm not "really" sick anymore, just not in great shape. But I'm here. I need a hug though.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall is here

And so is Friday night football, under the lights.

Digital fun

This is an example of my new pasttime... I look through the specials on Designer Digitals and Two Peas and add to my collection, and then use the elements to make collages of photos of my adorable niece, or graduation / vacation / life / etc. Fun! and the only clutter is on my hard drive. I usually start with a template, (like in the top row, on the right) then tweak sizes and locations of photos and objects.

I have a backlog of "real" (printed) photos and supplies to work on them... just a different way to enjoy the hobby.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A little AB on a Sunday morning

I love Alton Brown - his quirky sense of humor, his geek approach to cooking (clearly the man is VERY smart), the Henson- like quality of his cooking shows with costumes and puppets and....anyway.

I am loafing in bed (ok, I'm hiding under the covers trying not to think about possible attacks today related to 9/11) and I replied to something he said a little while ago on Twitter, as you can see in this photo, and HE. ANSWERED. ME.

I was holding my phone at the time, looking through TIME archives of 9/11 photos, and AB's reply popped up on my screen as a text message. There's something delightfully fun about having a celebrity you really like be aware of your presence in the universe for a passing moment.

Roll your eyes, go ahead. It's ok... I get it. But surely, there is some celebrity or athlete or singer or SOMEONE you would love to get a text message from.

So this print screen will go in my scrapbook along with a reply from Ree Drummond from about a year ago. (If you're saying "Who?" then you need to check out The Pioneer Woman's cookbook!)

And I know it's an important anniversary in the history of our country, and I DO love NY, especially having been born there. But everyone remembers in their own way, and life is made up of all sort of things, both large and small, and this made me smile today.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A beautiful day

Today was a very good day.

I got some wonderful news. Some of it I can't share with you yet, but some I can. (My surgeon says I appear to be doing very well, no signs of any problems at all, and she pointed out that I am really almost at the TWO year mark of being a survivor, since my diagnosis was in December 2009. Heck, I really love that woman. ) I saw a woman at the doctor's office and overheard enough to know that her surgery is tomorrow, and she is batshit scared. I wanted to hug her and say "You have the most wonderful surgeon around these parts... can do this." but there are hippa laws, and people don't always take kindly to strange women barging up and hugging them. So for now I am keeping my efforts contained to friends, and friends of friends, who I find myself (happily) sharing my story with more and more often.

The sun came out...we are having more horrible flooding in upstate NY but if the SUN STAYS WITH US maybe the floods will end soon.

I treated myself to a visit to Starbucks, and that made me very happy ;-)

And speaking of visits... I am going to see the most adorable baby ever, very soon, not once but TWICE this fall. I am craving those baby giggles and endless games of peekaboo.

To see a few of my other Cape Cod / Nantucket photos, please go to Flickr.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

In the garden

As small as my so-called "gardening" is in scale, it makes me so happy. It calms me and clears my mind of things I shouldn't be dwelling on.

Like more storms. More bills. Less summer.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hold on...

We are prepping for Irene. Way to come back from a nice vacation. I really wanted to stay at Cape Cod, well... forever... but especially this weekend that just really isn't practical.

I'm underwhelmed... I really don't want to jinx myself by elaborating. But hopefully the worst of it misses us, ( just as it currently appears that it will. )

Monday, August 22, 2011

Out of office message

We are sorry, no one is here to take your call. Please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Beep!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What a week

Crazy busy week with emotional highs and lows...

Of course the most difficult was going to the wake (waited two and a half hours in line, and then couldn't stop the tears when I looked at her in the casket and it became SO real) then I sang at Fran's funeral on Monday. It was so difficult to walk in and see her empty chair and know that I could never count on her to help me come in at the right time again. I'm not good enough to lead the section, at all. She was actually in three choirs and the members from one of the other ones joined us. That was comforting (strength in numbers) and to hear her adult daughter, a former opera singer and renowned voice teacher, sing "Ave Maria" was an experience I will never forget. The joy on her face at being able to sing so beautifully in tribute to her Mother.... it's hard to explain. She is incredibly talented. I was so glad that I took most of the day off from work to be there.

Wednesday night I went to see Johnny Virgil from 15 Minute Lunch do a reading from his hilarious book. He was a bloody nervous wreck; it was kind of funny to watch his foot frantically jackhammering through the entire first passage he read. It was wonderful to see him though, the dozen or so people laughed at his stories. I can't believe it's been two and a half years since we worked together... it was one of those moments when you really feel time wooooshing by. We both started blogs at the end of 2004 and because he is actually a committed writer his blog has been very successful, while mine has served mainly as free art therapy for me ;-) Not that there's anything wrong with that.

My daughter came with me and also bought Glen Feulner's new book. He was with Johnny and read a passage -- it's sci fi (I hope, lol) and dark and scary and she devoured the entire book in one evening. I am also going to buy his book of poems, Tangible, because from the samples he read, he has been reading my brain and dissecting old heartbreaks.

My paycheck is going to take a beating for this week. Thursday I had to go to the cardiologist for a checkup (yes, I have a heart, despite what one or two people may believe.... ) and I more or less asked him "do I NEED to keep coming to see you ? " and he admitted that No, You don't, all the while bashing Obamacare. I didn't bother to point out that Obamacare probably kept my current insurance provider from declining me due to my little tussle last year with cancer.... K thanks bye.

Then it was off to a nearby park to meet with a local tv reporter. She interviewed me and the kids about my breast cancer story; it will air before the local Komen run. I have been a minor wreck about this (not as bad as Johnny hahahaha) but I have to admit, Benita is a very talented interviewer... she put us right at ease. I felt like I only had time to say about 1/3 of what I wanted to say but I know the story will only be a minute or two so that's fine.

THEN ( still all in the same not-earning-any-money-at-work Thursday) I had to bring my elderly mother and father in law to the doctor's. They are very frail and it was extremely difficult to physically get her in and out of the office. Of course I discovered various things he has told them to do that they are NOT doing and I will be working on that. For example she is down to 99 pounds; we knew she was getting thinner and thinner, but not that she is still eating only fat free food despite his instructions to get her weight up to 115 at least. Honey, if anyone needs help putting on weight I am your girl. Tamoxifen is outwitting me right now but I'll deal with it, in the meantime what is your favorite ice cream flavor? Candy bar? I'll be getting them some far more nutritionally sound foods to bulk up, don't worry.

Lastly, since I'm so linky today, I just posted THIS video to a little facebook group I created the other day to try to keep up the spirits of anyone going through chemo.... it's called KBCAT's which is something my friend Ethel made up last year while we were both starting chemo... Kicking Breast Cancer's A$$ together... I fully expect it to max out at about 12 readers a day just like this blog. :) But I love you all! I really do...for not mercilessly attacking me with troll comments, for starters.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

To the future

I never recovered seed pods from my tiger lillys before. I planted them now, in hopes they bloom before the first frost, and establish a little boot camp right where I start them. But also because next spring I probably wouldn't remember having them. :)

Also…a quick P.S. For those of you not on my Facebook, like Trish and Poly, yay! My six month checkup went very well. No weeping in pain during the mammogram and no signs of any problems.

Woo hoo!!

Dear Kermit

Sorry, but you've got to go. Could you also eat that really big spider I saw? Do frogs do that?

Mr. TheFrog here was hiding in my really yucky waterfall. I love to set it up when we have people over but then it sits for two weeks which is pretty bad.

Gardening has been wonderful this summer. I can already feel summer slipping away, but right now my flowers are all doing well and I feel like I've finally gotten somewhere in my efforts. It's especially nice since I had no energy to do anything like this last summer.

I grew a bunch of things from seed and finally have a decent sunflower plant blooming. Shock! I really thought I'd lost that war.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Here is a story about my friend.  My beloved Stanley is in this as well. You can see the view I have of the altar from the choir loft every Sunday. The photo he shows is a couple of years old, but I am in the upper left.

(The reporter who narrates this piece sang at our church for a wedding a couple of weeks ago.  We had a brief exchange over twitter when she reported that prescription drugs may have affected the driver. 

I have a general distaste for reporters because I have seen friends hurt by downright lies, but this reporter seems to be respectful while she is trying to get her story. So while I didn't want to be interviewed in this case, I am glad that I  let her know about the connection and that Stanley spoke to her. It was a nice tribute. The media coverage initially emphasized "three elderly women" and they were not simply old shells... They were wonderful individuals. )

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


A friend of mine was killed in a horrible accident today... standing at the side of the road with friends, she was hit by a car that had veered out of control in a stupid, random, senseless quirk of fate. Three women were killed instantly. It's heartbreaking.

She was very much a mentor to me, as I have sat next to her in choir for 8+ years and tried to learn as much from her as I could.... she has been in the choir for decades. Literally.

Here is a little post I wrote once about Fran.

I'm guessing that I will probably sing with the other choir members at her funeral. It will be so hard to not see her there, and have her leading the section.

Saturday, August 06, 2011


I took a few photos with my camera the other day - I was heading in to my office about 6 a.m. to get some work to do at home, in and around helping my inlaws.

I noticed the sunrise as soon as I walked out of my house and thought about going back for the "real" camera, but had to just pass on that option.

The iphone app is called Dynamic Light. It adds "HDR" which increases the range of tones you see in the photo. Real HDR is done using a tripod and multiple exposures at various settings which you then align and merge in photoshop. I'm pretty content with this app as an "on the fly" substitute. It punches up a blah photo nicely.

(As I proofread this I realized I took this photo yesterday, not a few days ago. It's funny how a little stress can warp my sense of time. My father in law and his "girlfriend" are doing a bit better today.)