Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Cup O' Tea

My dog got me up this morning. It was time, so I can't really blame him. The nice part is that he came up to the side of my bed and I reached out my hand to pet him. I petted him for a good 20-minutes before he got tired of that and made his way upstairs where he can't be left unattended, requiring me to actually exit my comfy cozy sleep spot.

Once up, and upstairs, I got a work-related call and spent the next half-hour trying to manage a work project without a single drop of caffeine. It's kind of embarrassing to talk to someone without being able to think. I really needed to get a phone number from my office, which was locked, six-miles away without having a single person who had a key to help me. I couldn't do it myself - my kids were still asleep. My side of the company doesn't start work until too late for me to make it all happen. Too cryptic? It doesn't really matter, I'm just blathering on anyway.

I got my computer out, though, and spent an inestimable amount of time reading blogs - and drinking tea. Where does the time go? Why is it that I read more about sewing than I actually sew? I found a new place to hang out, too. I'm not entirely sure how I got there, but I've added her to my list. At first take, the Slapdash Sewist had a fabric color front-and-center that was definitely not my cup o' tea and I almost dismissed the site on that alone. I'm glad I kept looking though, because her sweater makeovers alone are worth the visit.

I'm really blown away by the creative minds out there. And so impressed by the way the Internet connects us in such a global way. Some of my favorite blogs are written from so many diverse places - Austin, Chicago, New York City, Minneapolis and who-knows-where-else. Too cool.

But it's time to come back to my own place, get off that Internet-Superhighway and make ice cream sundaes out of Benderoos with my daughter in San Anselmo. And finish my tea.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Friends

I just felt the need to write about friends. I like Facebook because it has allowed me the opportunity to connect with people from the past and present in a way that feels like a living community. People that I haven't seen in years and people that I see every day are mixed together in a conversation.

Isn't it funny, though, when you go in to Facebook and find your number of friends has changed? If there are a few less than before, I only know because the number goes down. But Geez-o-Pete! Who the heck isn't my friend anymore? I can't figure it out! On one hand, they really weren't "friends" if I don't notice they're suddenly not. So who cares? Certainly not me.

On the other hand, how could I not be curious? I go in to my list and check on people like I'm tucking in children. Yep, Junior's there. Oh yes, Little Sally is snuggled up! Who are these people who ended up in my fold without belonging that I don't even know they're gone?

There was a woman "un-friended" me who I see all the time in "real life." She's even friendly to my face. And she's very nice - not the type of person who wouldn't be nice to my face. Every time I see her now I wonder if she dislikes me or if it was an unintentional "un-friending" on her part. It doesn't matter. I'm okay with it. And yet I think of it every time I see her.

It's all good. My number goes up unexpectedly, too, but there is a much bigger fanfare to that side of things and its probably better to celebrate the joining of people more than to mourn the separating of them. I just hope that I have learned in all my years to show the people that mean the most to me that they do. To say how much I like them, respect them, care for them and love them when the moment presents itself - no matter how foolish I appear at times - than to let the moment pass and never speak my heart.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Running Slowly

Do you ever have those dreams where someone is chasing you but you're running through tar or other sticky substance so you aren't able to go very fast and you realize that thing you're running late for started hours ago and nothing is turning out the way it was supposed to? Um...me neither.

But this Christmas season has been like that for me. I started out with plenty of time. In fact, I've had the day printed on my calendar for a year! So it's no surprise this time that it's here. But everything I've done has taken way longer than expected and so many things have gone wrong.

First of all, I've seen a few things in a few places - magazines and newspapers - that look perfect for someone or other and I can't find them to buy them. Or they're sold out. Then I have a very specific list from each kid of mine, and the stores just don't have their items. Or their size. Or the one thing that I didn't buy yesterday is not in existence today. It's all been like that.

In fact, I'm supposed to be cooking right now and my food isn't here. And those pesky little cleaning fairies didn't show up to finish the job I started, so now I have a whole house to clean. It's never going to get done. I am drinking a white mocha with peppermint from Starbucks right now and I'll have to go out on a limb here to call it heaven. Yum. But it's not giving me a kick.

And now my dog has something to say, very loudly, in barks I can't understand. I've got to run!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

An Early Christmas Present

A little too much Christmas Cheer last night for me. I think I have some stuck in the side of my head. What else could be throbbing right now? I went to a neighbor's house and I think my logic was that since I didn't have to drive...you get the picture. It wasn't like I was throwing down tequila, I was drinking a nice, sensible, grown-up red wine. I think I just had a glass too many.

As is the case with that sort of scenario, I woke up in the middle of the night. As I should in that sort of case, I drank a ton of water. So I went into my bathroom, the door to which is right next to my bed and right on the floor is a brown blob. Hairball? That's odd.

After getting my glasses, which I find very helpful to see, I discover that I have a bloody, dead mouse on the floor. It looked awful, the poor little thing. It actually looked as if the cat ate it and threw it up again. Then I remembered that it was so rainy and that is why it was all wet-fur icky. The cat joined me in the bathroom and started to play with the critter. I took a dog-poop bag that just happened to be on the floor next to me and saved the little guy further humiliation.

You've got to love a cat who likes to play. Now back to our regularly scheduled throbbing...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Good Morning, Sunshine!

It's not sunny here, except in my disposition. I'm really not sure what started off my fantastic mood today. Fantastic being the new word to fly out of my mouth every 10-seconds. I think I said it 10-times to my last customers of the day yesterday when describing my little hamlet and our schools.

My kids were fighting and yelling getting in the car - as usual - and I wasn't even mad! I drank from my open cup of coffee and didn't spill a thing - save one drop on my shirt, but not a drop in the car as is my MO.

At school, the kids got out of the car at the curb and I asked the oldest to help the youngest get her late slip and she agreed sweetly. That's probably what amplified my mood. Then I was pulling past the bike racks to see a boy drop his bike on its side and throw his helmet next to it and walk off. I thought that was hilarious! Just like you'd see at home. There were plenty of open bike slots at the numerous racks, but he just pulled up and dropped it off.

Pulling onto the street every car that passed had someone sucking down their coffee like beer at a frat party. I chuckled as I sucked my own down, my own sweet creamy cup of deliciousness. Next I passed a couple of moms laughing. Hard. Seeing someone else laugh with gusto really gets you. It's like a tickle - hard to resist.

And the whole time, listening to my homemade Christmas CD. This year's favorite tunes are Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses and 2000 Miles by The Pretenders.

May your overcast day be sunny, too.

I'm going to plug the Give-Away Day at SewMamaSew. I'm not giving anything away except holiday cheer, unless you see something on the floor in my kids' rooms floor you want. Or my dog, though I have a new-found appreciation for him. But do check it out.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Have a nice trip!

Just when it gets to be a bummer getting older, I'll do something that makes me feel like a kid again. I fell down today. Well, I didn't fall down so much as I tripped. Well, not so much tripped as twisted my ankle merely walking! I used to have trouble walking when I was a little girl, but I've pretty much gotten the hang of it as I got older. Imagine my shock and amazement to fail at that task today.

Twice!

The first time was on my street. Our financially strapped town has not maintained the streets and I stumbled on a big hole in the street. Apparently putting one foot in front of the other is taking a risk around here. The second time, I nearly fell on a different street. I don't remember if I was stepping off of a curb, but I don't think I was doing something as daring as that. I think it was just a regular ol' step.

I was out with my dog today - on a walk! Are you impressed? That whole "a body at rest stays at rest" wanted to pull me back to bed, but in an effort to get the "body in motion to stay in motion" I put my sneakers on and grabbed the leash.

I'm off to work now, when it should be my day off, and have big plans to do some sewing tonight when I get home. I'm working on my bodice muslin for my Crepe dress sew-along project. I'll try to be careful. Don't worry - I'm going to another town to work.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Have you seen my mojo?

I'm eating soup on a cold rainy night and trying to remember everything that I've forgotten. I wonder if this is what dementia is like. You know how they say that if you wonder if you're crazy you're certainly not? Like you can't be insane if you have the awareness to ask if you are. I don't know if that's true or not, but it makes me wonder if people with dementia know they don't remember stuff or if they're just disoriented.

I have been forgetting a lot of stuff lately. All of a sudden I'll find myself wondering what I need to do next. It's as if the Men in Black have come and flashed a light to erase my memory. As a matter of fact, that's an explanation that I can get behind. The reason I'm so scatterbrained lately is because I have aliens running circles around me.

Now that that mystery is solved, I can get on with my life!

I used to do what I called "cleaning on coffee." I would get a couple of cups in me and I was unstoppable. I could run circles around the aliens, if you know what I mean. Now, I can only wish I could get back the coffee mojo.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Highlights: Found and Laughing

I have three days off this week - in a row - and yesterday was a bust. Everything I did needs to be re-done. I went to have my $5-garage sale ski boots fixed only to find that they are way too old and I bought new ones. (Closeout priced, nearly as comfortable.) But now I need to have them fit to my bindings so I have to go back to the ski shop. 

I went to buy a new shoulder rest for my violin yesterday only to find as soon as I got home that a piece was missing. It had obviously been shop lifted because the cover screw had been replaced. It had not merely fallen out of the box. I haven't wanted to practice until I got this new rest because I tried a similar one at my lesson on Monday and it was significantly more comfortable. I miss practicing! I want to play! 

The two highlights of my day were finding my long lost diamond necklace given to me by my husband (thank you St. Anthony, Patron Saint of Lost Things) and watching Date Night. That movie had me laughing hysterically! The scene where the two cars are connected made my stomach hurt from laughing so hard! It made me think that I need to laugh like that more often. It's got to be healthier.

I have a million things that I need to do and I need to make a list so that I don't forget anything. Wish me luck. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Post For Which I Can Not Come Up With A Suitable Title

I've been a little distracted lately. Right now I'm on day three of my migraine. Constant pain with intermittent bouts of relief keeps me from functioning at my peak. Most of my thoughts and actions are interrupted in misery and my good temper and tolerance are in short supply.

Before that I was catching up on my home life after being distracted with a work week of about 100-hours.  While that might not be much for most people, being a part-timer myself, all those hours took their toll. All productivity on the home front stalled. Laundry piled up, dishes piled up and I lost track of what everyone else in the family was doing. Catching up took longer than I thought it would, as it not only required all the duties of life to be attended to, but I also needed to rest.

Ironically, I spent the entire day last Sunday cleaning my house top to bottom, including mopping, dusting and cleaning all my bathrooms with the gusto of an anticipated inspection, and today, you wouldn't even know I did a damn thing. I can't get no satisfaction.

And today, at 11:00 am, writing this in my pajamas, coffee gone, breakfast eaten, quiet house, looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner with family. I'm still not on speaking terms with my husband and I'm just hoping that my expectations aren't too high for the magic that I always look forward to on one of my favorite holidays.

I'm grateful to know that all things pass. Sure, we can dwell upon that fact that all good things pass, but I'm just going focus on the fact that I am certain all the bad things pass. My migraine will go away, my husband and I will speak again, and the mess on my dining room floor will miraculously disappear (after I pick it up.) Happy Thanksgiving and may all your pain pass, too.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Cartoon Lessons

My theory about why my glue traps are empty is wrong. It's not that the rat or rats are not coming to my house, it's that they're too smart for pedestrian traps. I must be the Wiley Coyote to their Roadrunners. I'm going to throw out my ACME catalogue and watch a few Bugs Bunny cartoons.

I will not let a rat get the best of me!

Last night I made a quesadilla for my kids - I haven't tried to get them to eat one in a while so wanted to try again. I threw the whole thing away so I wouldn't eat it myself and when I woke up this morning, the glue traps were empty but there was a hole chewed out of the middle of the thing.

Now they're pissing me off and I am probably not going to feel as badly killing a rodent who taunts me. Or will I feel badly for killing something that is obviously smart enough to out-smart my extermination efforts?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

So Far

So far there have not been any rats under my sink. This is good. It means that they're not regular visitors - or there is just one and it has only three legs.

I have a question: Should I be afraid of walking my dog late at night? I'm not worried about crime and I carry a light to be seen. I'm wondering if I should be worried about nocturnal critters. I took my dog for a walk this morning and I was on the lookout for mountain lions the whole time and even turned around early because I was getting too far in to the trail. There have been several sightings around here and it kind of freaks me out.

Back to my novel...

Monday, November 01, 2010

The Morningly After

November first is such a let down. Halloween is so full of excitement and energy and anticipation that the day after is so nothing.

Except that I had a couple of ghoulish encounters that I'm going to share. Second of all, I found a dead spider on my cat's head this morning. I say second because this happened moments ago when I could not withstand the urge any longer to blog about my First Of All. And it's a tame thing. She must have walked through a spider web with a dead one dangling on it.

I wasn't even going to mention (Third Of All?) the big black spider that I saw run out from some sweeping this morning right next to a plastic look-alike. So I won't say anything about that one. Nothing.

For the First Of All, you are going to have to commit to being grossed out. I caution you that if you are squeamish, you should STOP READING HERE.

I did some sweeping today - as I just mentioned. Under my kitchen sink is where the sightings of rat evidence has been spotted. I've set traps and haven't caught anything. They were never even triggered, which made me wonder how often they show up. Are they coming to my kitchen regularly or infrequently? I have not seen any other evidence anywhere else in my kitchen nor have I seen them alive anywhere recently either.

Today, when I removed the garbage can to collect my sweepings, I noticed the two rat traps had been set off. They were empty, however. In the corner of my cabinet, I saw a tiny little dead baby rat. It was tiny, like it hadn't been alive for more than a day or two or a week. Knowing it had to be done, I took a paper towel in my hand and grabbed the thing. I hate killing things, but as a mother, I especially dislike the idea of killing babies. Yikes! Fortunately, this one was already dead.

Upon closer inspection, the entire bottom of the baby was blood red. That was strange. Then I realized that I wasn't holding a baby in my hand, I was holding a FOOT! Sure enough there was a sliver of something in the trap, too. The rat had chewed off its own foot to escape the trap.

That was the reason I had been avoiding setting glue traps. And now it happened with the one solution that was supposed to be quick and painless. It just goes to show that these are not mice I'm dealing with but rats. Rats that can maneuver through mazes and learn to juggle. Rats that can kick some nutcracker ass (for a while at least.)

I promptly did the thing I've been avoiding and laid out some glue traps. I'll make my husband keep a vigilant eye out for live ones. But I think if I had to club one over the head, I could do it. It would be traumatic for me, but the idea of finding a bunch of glued feet would be much much worse. Or not.

On another sad note, my daughters put out the candy they didn't want for the Candy Fairies to take. (For money.) One put her candy on the front porch and the other put hers on the back deck. Unfortunately, the fairies didn't know about the candy on the back deck so there were tears this morning.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Negatives and Positives

Well.

The biopsies were benign and I was finally able to get some sleep. I had so much tension in my head and neck that the pain was just horrible. After the good news, I imagined that my head was a bouncy-house and I pulled the plug. The tension collapsed like the big blow-up thing would in real life. Sweet relief.

It's interesting to imagine the worst and not have to live with it. I was ready to give up sugar (bad for cancer) and completely change my eating habits and entire life if that meant surviving a horrible prognosis. One day later I ate two cupcakes and yesterday I ate a doughnut and a little bag of cookies. What's wrong with me?

In my defense, I doubt that I would have been able to give up sugar even if my life depended on it. I like to think that I would, but I have the self control of a lion with a little yapping dog thrown into the cage. Though, I think that I'm going to give it a strong effort to make some good changes and move in the right direction. Maybe I'll cut down a lot of the sugar I eat rather than trying to eliminate it completely. And I like the idea of detoxing my body of all the gunk that accumulates and poisons me. Baby steps.

But the other revelation is in that ever-present question of "Are you living the life you should be living?" When looking at the potential legacy you're going to leave behind and how you want people to remember you and will you pass away with regrets or not, I liked the self-examination for the most part. Other than believing I could live healthier and exercise more (who of us can't do a better job?) I think the only thing I don't do that I want to do is write. Write more. Write what I have in me rather than what just comes out. I want to write what I have the potential to write and not just what is easy for me to write.

I've been contemplating doing the NaNoWriMo again. I won a few years ago and I LOVED the sense of accomplishment. In case you don't know what it is, it's National Novel Writing Month in November. To win, you must write a novel in the month of November (and only in the month of November). And because of the first one I did, I can say that I wrote a novel. I haven't ever re-read the thing, and couldn't tell you if it was any good, but for me the accomplishment is huge. Huge.

So along with my violin lessons and sewing hobby, I'm going to continue on my path of personal pursuits and live more fully with conscious choices for self-fulfillment. Care to join me?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Insomnia, Superstition and Obsession

Yeah. I haven't been sleeping. And contrary to whether Feng Shui is baloney or not, my bed will not fit any other way in my room. I'm sure I'll be fine if I just look at this like it's a superstition, which it probably is. I don't believe that walking under ladders is bad luck and I love when black cats cross my path. I chase them down to pet them!

I slept more last night than I have been lately. I woke up once in the middle of the night but I went back to sleep right away instead of staying awake for hours as is usually the case. I still haven't heard the results of my biopsies. I can't stop thinking about the possibilities.

An interesting thought that I have been mulling over is that even if this is nothing, I should change some aspects of my lifestyle to prevent it from coming back. I would really like to obsess about a new subject for a while. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Feng Shworry Schwart

I Love Lamp spoke in a comment about rearranging her house. What a funny coincidence. I was up - not sleeping - in the wee hours of the morning thinking about rearranging my bedroom. It's actually an our bedroom. Shared as if the other people and animals had no where to go, but we call it the master bedroom as if it's only for the masters.

I'm going to have another biopsy done at 10:30 this morning. Did the melanoma spread? Did they just not get it all? Is it some strange coincidental random freckle that isn't melanoma at all? I don't know. I imagine the worse, which makes me think of purely morbid and depressing things about mortality being NOT immortality. But the other thing that comes to mind is Feng Shui.

I'm almost more embarrassed to admit that I give some credence to Feng Shui than I am that I believe in ghosts. And horror-scopes.

But regardless, my secret is out. Our bedroom is set up with bad Feng Shui. The door forms an arrow that points right at me. Is it any coincidence that I've been having health issues since we moved in here? First the vertigo now this.

Later that day...

The doctor didn't think my new spot was anything but took a biopsy so that I can sleep at night. Of course, we talked about how the last one didn't look like anything either. We'll see in a week. And maybe my husband will humor me by letting me rearrange the room. Whatever helps this worry wart sleep, eh?

The question now would be how. There isn't any other logical way for it to be arranged, so that ought to be interesting!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day Dreaming of Day Cleaning

I'm going to tell you another scary thing that happened to me. Just last night, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't fall back asleep. While I was tossing and turning in the dark, I started thinking about cleaning my house. Is it still day dreaming if you're doing it at night?

The weirdest part was that it was almost like I couldn't wait to get up the next day to do it. I envisioned my dining room free from all the stacks of paper that seem to multiply when not chaperoned. I had the girls' homework from last year sitting out. Seeing how this school year's homework is religiously getting tossed almost as fast as it comes in, I figured that throwing out last year's would catch me up quite a bit. I packed up art work in specially designated boxes and even captured some orphaned pieces that were randomly strewn in my laundry room. I'm getting a pain just from patting myself on the back so much!

And I moved all of my sewing downstairs. I had previously cleared a spot in my office for my sewing machine and now the machine is home. It had been sitting on my dining room table for these last two months. I like it there, but with all the accouterments that accompany it and my growing stash of fabric and projects, it was starting (long past starting, actually) to clutter me to death.

There is still a lot to do. There are two horizontal surfaces that need clearing still, though, there aren't any spider webs in this area of the house. My dog missed most of the fun because he was taking himself for a walk at the time. He likes to bark hysterically at me while the vacuum is running. He's so fierce that I just have to jab at him, too, just to see the shocked look on his face when he feels the bit of suction on his fur.

With only one more hour until it's time to pick up the small children from school, I can't decide what to do. Should I stay productive or should I blow it off and only finish to 90% complete like I always do?

Friday, October 08, 2010

Scar-y

Today I was getting ready for work when I checked out my scar. I have really been ignoring it because it's become normal to ignore my upper arm. I mean, how often to do check out your own biceps? Today I looked down and saw a new freckle.

My world just stopped revolving for a moment.

You see, I don't think it was there before. And when my oncologist told me on my birthday that he didn't think my surgeon took a wide enough excision of the melanoma, I've been waiting to see if I need another surgery. The whole time, knowing that if I didn't need another surgery, I would forever be wondering if they made the right call and if I did need another surgery, it would suck.

The melanoma tumor sends out shoots that pop up a bit further out from the original tumor. That's how it spreads. Or, I should say, one of the ways it spreads. By taking a wide excision, they ensure that any shoots are taken out, too. So, does a new freckle mean that my excision wasn't wide enough and I've got another melanoma? Is it just a freckle? Was it there before and I just don't remember?

Then, if I recall correctly, I might have been a little numb under my arm - where the lymph nodes came out - but I don't remember being sore. I've had soreness under my arm for about a week and ignoring it - thinking it must be just the nerves coming to life. How long has it been, anyway? But combine the two and I have a day where all I can think about is the Return of Worry.

It doesn't even matter if it's something or nothing. I'm going to be like this forever, aren't I? Always vigilant, always paranoid. Always wondering. And never able to let my guard down. Ever.

I'm supposed to see the oncologist in a couple of months anyway. I've been debating whether to wait and see or to jump up and wave my flag, "Hey! Somethings different!" I don't like either option, really. And yes, I know what I need to do. I'm just going to stew on it a couple more days. It's the weekend anyway. Maybe I'll forget by Monday, but I doubt it.

And in case you're wondering why I'd be paranoid about a little freckle - that's how the other one started. It wasn't some dark nasty obvious melanoma, just some light brown freckles that appeared where they hadn't been before.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Running Down The Dream

I did something a little crazy yesterday. I rented a violin. My husband and I made both of our girls choose a musical instrument to play and take lessons on this year and they both settled on the violin. I was secretly thrilled because I have always loved it. I have told the story over and over - without even trying to hide my bitterness - that when I was in 3rd Grade, some kids came to my class and played violin for us. I loved it even then. 

I told my dad that I wanted to play and he told me I was too old. Too old. 3rd Grade. I wonder what he would say now that I'm in my (ahem) 20's. (Okay, 30's.) (Alright, alright. I'm in my 40's and a far cry from 3rd Grade.)

I've always had the opinion that you are who you are and you can't think of age as an obstacle. Of course I never thought of my height - at 5'2" - as an obstacle either, but my track coach in high school still wouldn't let me do the high jump for being too short. Water under the bridge, I guess. But if you put off your goals or desires because you're too old, just think how you'd be in four-years without having tried it. You'd just be four-years older without accomplishing anything. 

So, I got my violin and I'm going to set up lessons and I feel so much more excited about it than I'm sure my kids are. But yay me! 

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Critters

Tonight when I was driving home, and nearly here, I saw a raccoon lumbering across the street. It was the sort of walk that you instantly recognize, like being able to pick your spouse out of a crowd for reasons you just can't put your finger on - except for familiarity.

Last night I was driving home, and was nearly here, when I saw something that caught my eye. It turned out to be a skunk. There was something about it that made me look because cats just don't move that way.

So with those critters out of the way, I wanted to tell you about the spiders that I saw in Tahoe. The first one was odd. I just looked down on my bike after having ridden about three miles and saw it scurrying down a cable. I was off or got off (don't remember exactly now) and took a twig to knock it to the ground. I lost it at that point but I never intended to kill it - so I hope I didn't.

Riding a bit further, I looked up ahead to see a tarantula the size of my husband's hand on the side of the trail. It was that same sense of familiarity in seeing that thing with the way its legs curl just so. I kept riding towards it just staring in disbelief. As I got closer, it ran at me full speed. Actually, it turned out to be a rock, but I swear I thought it was a tarantula!

The last spider was just floating through the air. It makes me think of Charlotte's Web and how Charlotte's little babies just float away to find a new home. It was wiggling about on that thread like it was trying to swim up from the deep end of the pool. It made me wonder about the first one. Initially, I had thought I brought the spider with me from Spiderland here. After seeing the other one floating by, though, it made more sense that it just landed on my bike.

The last time I was up at Tahoe at this time of year, I was out golfing and saw hundreds of ballooning spiders. It was unbelievable. It must be the season.

My final critter story doesn't have anything to do with a bear. My husband saw a bear when he was up there earlier in the week, but I didn't see one. No, I saw a small red squirrel chasing a big grey squirrel. It was the oddest thing. It was something that really strikes you as odd as you're watching it and can't believe you're watching it. Like when the birds were dive-bombing my cat when she came with me to walk my dog.

Thems critters for you!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Takes Pains For Beauty

I had a chance to come up to Lake Tahoe today. My husband suggested I take some time to myself and after kicking and screaming that it was too complicated to pull out of my daily-routine, I did it.

The main purpose of this trip was to relax and I did the opposite of relax by riding my mountain bike up some mountains. It was monumental. It wiped me out. I may have to cut this post short so I can go drive myself to dinner because I really really want a steak.

I rode on the Flume Trail. Only, to ride the Flume Trail you have to ride about five miles to get to it and they're all up hill in sand. Not pleasant. Beautiful, breathtaking and completely peaceful, but a very strenuous ride, for me at least, in sand. The sand makes it feel like you're riding over glue and your bike is struggling to go. Then there's the altitude. And I didn't have coffee this morning. All I know is that it was a struggle and I nearly turned around a few times.

You see, my mind and my body were in collusion. They were telling this cheerful little optimist cheerleader side of me that they couldn't do it. That perky self just kept saying that they can do it! They told her they didn't HAVE to do it, so why bother? This was supposed to be fun and it wasn't fun. The cheerleader can be a real bitch, though, and she won.

When I finally got to the Flume Trail, I wasn't so sure about this either. I used to ride single-track all the time, but since I only ride fire roads any more, I'm not as confident. After rounding a switchback through boulders, I got to the flat part that I had heard about. You know what else I heard about? That the Flume is right on the edge of a cliff. It is.



I was a lot more scared than I would have thought I'd be. Eventually, though, I got used to it and it was the most beautiful ride I've ever done.



The whole ride, start to finish took me four-hours. I drank my entire camelback of water and even fell towards the end. I haven't fallen off my bike in so long I can't remember. But it hurts to go up and down stairs. And I bled but didn't have any bandages. (That skin tear in my knee might look small, but it's deep.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Not Launching Rockets Over Here

I never did find anything dead in my house. And the flies disappeared. I'm sure it's another case of me worrying about nothing.

Today I was sewing on the blouse/shirt that I've been sewing for about a week now and I sewed in the sleeves finally. They're a bit puffed and banded at the elbow. I thought they'd be great to cover up my scar. The first one was such a challenge to get in because of the gathers. I'm sure if I had not cut corners when making them, it would have been easier. Who knew that those little triangles aren't just for show on the pattern?

The second sleeve went in very easily. Except that I put in on inside out. I ripped it out and the second time it went in easy, too, which was a relief. Except that I put in on inside out AGAIN. The third time was a charm, but when I tried it on, it looked ridiculous. It looks much better without the darned sleeves at all. At this point, I'm not sure what to do. Do I want to try to make the same sleeves less puffy or make different sleeves altogether? Or damn the sleeves and leave them off?

I like challenges and puzzles most of the time. I'm trying to look at this project as a puzzle to be solved. And I had the realization that if it's totally confusing in the directions, I just need to think about what I want the results to be. It's not rocket science. Though, at this point, I might be able to launch a rocket faster than I can sew a simple pattern.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What Did The Cat Drag In?

And speaking of critters. I discovered something accidentally a few years ago. If you kill a mouse in a mouse-trap and forget to check, after it's been dead for a while you might have gigantic flies. There is some kind of fly that hangs around dead things and I've been very wary whenever I've seen them.

While I've been wasting my afternoon on the computer, I've heard a buzzing in the window. Then I went downstairs for something that I honestly can't remember what it was now, I heard it again. I opened our French doors and let out a small bird sized fly - only to discover another one on the wall.

I don't smell anything, but that doesn't mean anything. I need to search my corners and crevices for something my cat may have brought in. As if I don't have enough stuff that I'm avoiding by going onto the Internet - geesh!

Reading, Writing and a Rat

I've been reading more than I've been writing lately. Mostly I'm reading blogs - crafty sewing blogs - but a little bit of this and that, too. I read about Eating and Praying, but I've been distracted from the Loving, so I've got to go back to that.

What I realize is that I love reading the craft blogs, but I don't think this will ever really be one. My craftiness drags out eons before I finish anything and I don't know about you, but my attention span wouldn't last for me so I don't know how yours would.

No, instead, I'm just floundering trying to find a topic. Or a theme. Or a thread of something to write about. I had a big audience when I wrote about feminist topics, but I don't feel like being controversial these days. And it's either confrontational or preaching to the choir anyway. Too much energy. (Though, I have something to say about Katy Perry and Sesame Street.)

The posts that I enjoy writing the most are about my misadventures with critters. Spiders, mostly. I feel like the dad in A Christmas Story who is continually confounded by the neighbor's dogs. Everywhere I turn there is a doggone spider! Like yesterday when I went to walk out my front door and there was one dangling right at eye-level. I didn't have anything to knock it down with so I threw handfuls of pine needles at it until the web came down. Yes, that does mean that I need to sweep.

Is that all? Spiders? And what about the title here? Can't Holder Tongue is like I have something sharp to say that anyone with manners would keep to themselves. I don't say all the catty little things about the goings on in my 'hood because that would be downright rude, wouldn't it. And you never know who's reading, after all.

Well, the identity crisis will have to linger for now. Just like that itty-bitty spider the size of a pin-head that has taken up residence behind my kitchen faucet. I can't bring myself to kill the little guy. (But I did buy glue traps to catch a rat - if its still around.)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Reggie Bush Part II or Welcome To Heaven

Yeah. I didn't know the whole story. I still stand by all my conceptual arguments but I didn't have the whole story there.

But let me tell you...I'm in heaven sitting next to my husband while he's watching Michigan State playing football - especially if they're winning (right now they're tied), with a beer in my hand and the sound of a violin being played by a rookie child downstairs. And, I might add, with my dog on the floor next to me and my laptop on my lap.

But then again, I'm easy.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bummed and Blurred

I'm kind of rough on my glasses. I put them down where I need to and that includes on the seat of my car, on my night table and thrown into my purse if need be. It eventually takes its toll on my glasses - as can be expected. I've owned this pair for about three years now, and if you wear glasses, you know that its one year past replacement time. These glasses are so scratched up that it's a distraction.

I love my frames so I called to see if my place had the same ones. They had one pair left and they were discontinued, but bonus! 50% off. My prescription was overdue (by a year) and I had to get it renewed. This time, instead of correcting to 20/40 as I normally do, I corrected to 20/20 as every else does. (That's a long story that I won't tell right now.) When ordering lenses, they always try to up-sell you on those coatings. I don't normally get them, but given the state of the previous pair, I went ahead and splurged.

It took seven business days to get my new glasses in and when I put them on, I was immediately enamored! They were clean, shiny and everything was CLEAR! I was in bliss for the entire rest of the day. My car windows were super clean, too, so it was like seeing through magic. 

The lady who gave them to me taught me how to care for them and gave me the special wipes and I have been super-duper careful. I haven't been just throwing them down on any old thing to put my sunglasses on or to take them off at night. I've gently placed them on soft things and minded what I'm doing.

Then yesterday, I ran some errands, which included a stop at the grocery store. It was extremely sunny so I did the sunglasses/glasses switch on the way in and on the way out again. I put the glasses on my purse when I got in my car and drove to pick up my kids from school. Only when I got there, I couldn't find my glasses. 

I looked high and low. I cleaned my car twice. Once a half-assed job and once a thorough, no mistake about it cleaning. The glasses were not in there. I put on the old, scratched up, blurry things and cleaned my purse out for the third time. Thinking I didn't put them on my purse from the grocery store as I thought, I finally called the grocery store at 8:00pm. I knew they wouldn't have them, but I had to try. 

They had them. 

I drove down to the store and picked up something I forgot. I ran into my daughter's teacher and met his wife and these young guys were looking at me. They weren't looking at me in a checking-me-out kind of way, but definitely interested in me. I got to the register and realized that I had clipped a giant flower to my hair when I cleaned out my car. I must have looked a bit odd - thus the staring. It made me laugh with embarrassment, which in turn made the cashier think I was flirting with him, which made him misunderstand me that I needed him to page someone to Customer Service, because he didn't. 

I waited and waited and another woman showed up and waited with me. She went to ask - again - for a little help but then she left. Finally, I called the store from my cell phone and the guy walked out from behind the door not five-feet from me to FINALLY help me. And I was reunited with my glasses. 

They have a MASSIVE scratch on them. My lovely new glasses are wrecked. I think that it's just that damn coating mostly, so I'll try to get them fixed. I'm sure it will turn into needing to replace the lenses. And you can bet that I'm never getting that damn coating ever again. The sad part is that I haven't had them a week yet and I have to wear my back up, scratched up, blurry things until I get them fixed. I'm so sad. Even the memory of the flower in my hair isn't cheering me up. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reggie Bush

My husband watches sports and when I pass by the TV, I'll pick up a few bits and bobs of what they're saying but I don't really know what context to put it in. Sometimes I'll let it slide and sometimes I'll investigate further. It is in this manner that I discovered Reggie Bush's Heisman Scandal.

From what I can garner from reading a few other sources, he did not act in a becoming manner during his time at USC where he earned the trophy. Not knowing more than just a little bit about this, it is already a complicated issue for me. Should he be punished for taking gifts and favors offered upon him by his superiors? Does he have the power to say no?

We have Fraternization and Sexual Harassment rules and laws so that those in power don't abuse those beneath them. It is difficult to stand up for yourself when authorities above you are imposing poor morals down to you. Can you walk away and say you don't want to participate? Sure. But what if that is your only chance?

I admit that I don't know the circumstances of Reggie Bush's tale, but if he's just a good high school player - we'll say great - and he is recruited by school A, B and C. He will choose the one that will give him the best deal. He'll choose the one that will give him the best future. What other schools did he turn down to go to USC? Would he have ended up in the NFL had he gone to another school? Would he have won the Heisman if he had been at another school?

Can we expect a young high school student to stand up morally to a huge institution?

And then there is the question that I ponder in so many areas. Does a person's art stand alone or do you need to view it within the context of their lives? Miles Davis was a wife beater. I cannot stand Miles Davis. Axl Rose was also a wife beater. I like his music more than Miles Davis's, but I still cannot disconnect the information. I can't appreciate their art without thinking about their personal lives.

Can we appreciate great accomplishments without acknowledging moral failings?

There are people who stand up to moral dilemmas and make the right choices, even when they are hard, all the time. It should be something we all should strive for in our own lives and we shouldn't idolize cheaters. But when you make mistakes, do they have to follow you around for the rest of your life? Should you be able to make amends? Should Bush have his trophy for what happened on the field taken from him for what took place off the field? Perhaps. What if he showed remorse and performed public service or gave scholarships to less fortunate athletes? Can moral character be improved? Can mistakes be forgiven?

I don't know. It's complicated to me. Is it complicated to you?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Celebrate!




I like to celebrate. In fact, I'm going to be celebrating my birthday soon. And we'll be celebrating my youngest daughter's birthday - again - coming up here. I say again because we've had a small immediate family celebration and when they were on vacation, she celebrated again on her birthday. Unfortunately, she missed having a friend-party where here friend's celebrate with her. So we'll do that now. A month late.

I was hoping - like a bad mother - that she would forget so I wouldn't have to throw a party for her, but I just adore my small child and want her to stay out of that proverbial therapist's office, if you know what I mean. So let the planning begin! I think there will be miniature golfing involved and cake and presents.

My own birthday includes a visit to the Oncologist. It seems strange to me to see one now that I'm trying to make a mohill out of my mountain. But if ever there was cause for celebration, being cancer free sure is one of them.

As for yellow now, my favorite color, the celebration is over at Made, one of my new favorite places to spend my Internet time. Check things out over there when you get a chance.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Today's To Do

I'm sitting in my own personal fog. I didn't get enough sleep last night and my coffee switch hasn't turned on yet. I have a teensy little headache and pain through my neck and shoulders. I think my pillow sucks.

What I do have, however, is the knowledge that my entire day spreads out before me like a blank page. With writing on it. With a To-Do list on it, because I'm going to clean today. Everything on the outside of my house, including my gutters and the two spider egg sacks that I can see outside my kitchen window.

And since I'm a Soccer Mom now, I'm going to take in a soccer game.

Then, like the dessert that you can't wait to finish dinner for, I'm going to sew a blouse. I have the material laundered and ironed and the pattern is waiting patiently for me to finish my chores. It's going to be a great day.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Covered in Spiders

My usually white car has been yellow. As in, yellow from the tree sap that drops on my car and makes it not white anymore. I have been waiting for it to wash itself, but I've been waiting in vain. Clearly, I had to pay someone. Somewhere.

Being a cheapskate, I decided to wash it myself. It's something I've been avoiding for a while because I've got that Marin County Guilt that rears its ugly head whenever I do something environmentally inappropriate. Washing it myself is a no-no because I don't have waste-water collection capabilities here. But screw it. I also don't water my plants and sometimes (shhh! It's a secret...I don't shower every day.) I figure I've got some water use available to me and I'm still ahead of the game. I'll also have you know that I have only washed my car about 4 or 5 times since I've owned it (6-years) so I think I'm good.

I got out the front hose and it sprayed me something fierce from the nozzle malfunction. Then I dragged the newer-nicer back hose to the front and turned it on. I sprayed my car really well and sort of had a moment of craziness where I started spraying everything in the front! I sprayed all the spider webs that polka-dotted our ivy. I sprayed all the webs off the shrubs and the tree in the front and even the trampoline. Somewhere in the middle of this, I realized that I had a (pretty big) orb spider dangling off my arm. I could feel the weigh of the web, which felt strange. I, of course, started my scared screaming that is sort of a ooohhhhaah! sound. I thought I got it off but saw it again. More screaming and shaking and panicking. And then it was off.

I proceeded to soap up my car and scrub and rinse. Then I looked down and saw a giant black spider right on my arm! Another panicked scream and I hit the damn thing off me. Only to discover, as you may already realize, that it was my stitches. That hurt. What an idiot.

The remainder of the car came clean without incident and it now it sparkles in the sun.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Wait is Over!

I realized that I forgot to post that I got an All Clear from my doctor. The lab did not find any melanoma in my lymph nodes. Pretty great, huh? It's the best news I have heard - maybe ever. I meant to write it sooner, but I started getting my brain wrapped around living again and must have gotten distracted.

It's been a pretty productive bout of insomnia, but I'm back to bed. I've got to work in a few hours. (boo hiss!)

Selfish Seamstress Tribute

My oldest daughter likes to check out what I'm doing on my computer. She is curious about the interest I have taken in sewing and wants to know what it is that I'm laughing out loud about. It is because of this, she discovered that I read the Selfish Seamstress blog. Selfish Seamstress is very funny and a fantastic sewer and if you read it, you'll even discover that she makes cakes that make me salivate like a dog.

After showing my daughter pictures of Selfish Seamstress (a.k.a. Elaine) she was inspired to draw this:

Just a little something she whipped out in a few seconds. ;)

And perhaps you might like to read her, too.

Pictures!

It's 5am and the only thing sleeping on me is my foot. When I first woke up there was a "2" at the beginning of the time and when it got into the "4's" I decided to just get up. My lymph node incision is hurting a lot tonight and I wonder if I wrecked something in there by lifting a little too much. And the tape that is acting like a set of stitches is starting to come off. (What's the word I can't spell? Sutcher? Soocher? Ahhh! It's Suture!)  Except that I don't know if it's supposed to and where it lifts, it is incredibly sticky. I just tapped it back down so I don't have to deal with that quite yet.

So you get the ramblings of a bleary-eyed woman at this time of - there is no denying it - morning. My dog is confused and starting to make noises at me. However, I got out of bed to download my photos - or should I say liberate the photos in my camera. I will now illustrate the ideas that I have expounded upon on previous occasions.

It brings to mind a quote from a favorite movie, Beautiful Girls. In it, our hero returns home for a high school reunion and reconnects with old friends. One of them, Stinky, if I recall correctly, is now the proprietor of a bar and he gives his friends free appetizers with the phrase, "I've got apps!" So, old friends, I say to you, "I've got pics!"

First, I would like to share my new scar. Not for the faint of heart. Or is that just me?


And, yes, it really is that big.



And I mentioned creating new space for sewing in my office. I've put some before and after pictures in for you. Mind you, these are in our little crawl space and yes, I'm now aware that I really do need to cover that chair.



The pictures don't really show the space well. It's tight in there, but not really. There is no where to stand to take a shot that represents it all at the same time. But's it's my space. Mine all mine.

That's it for now. I didn't get any shots of that skirt I made, so I'll try to get those up too - eventually.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Old Wives Tale: Eating Spiders

I just heard that old wives tale about how many spiders you eat in your lifetime. It's supposed to be something like 15 spiders or maybe 20. I think it's bunk. I happen to know, from experience, that just because a spider crawls on you in the middle of the night, it's not going to accidentally end up in your mouth. It's going to crawl on your arm. And if you have stitches that poke out, it's going to snuggle right in there and hide when you wipe your hand over your arm in the middle of the night.

But the second time you feel that tickle, you will not miss the spider and will throw it against the wall with an audible (albeit small) thud. So you see, the spider will not even make it into your mouth!

The other dumb part of that tale is that even if it did crawl into your mouth, it's not going to crawl down your throat to its death. I think you would choke first, but the spider would figure out it's in the wrong spot and crawl back out of your mouth again. You wouldn't know, you're sleeping. Kind of like when a spider ends up on a trampoline and it doesn't like all the bouncing and screaming when a couple of girls discover that it's there. The spider high-tails it out of there. And fast, too, if the girls are screaming to their mom to "Smash it!" while handing her a metal water bottle.

I've seen enough spiders to know that they will do what they can for self-preservation just as any human would do, too. ("I did not have sexual relations with that woman.") And staying alive is high on the priority list. In fact, spiders can be just as tenacious about getting what they want as any small child who becomes skilled at nagging desired behavior out of their mom. We have several orb spiders building giant webs in the pathway to our front door this summer. No matter how many times I knock down the web before running into it face first, they insist upon rebuilding in the same spot - though, to their credit, they go higher each time and now they're nearly overhead.

But that eating spiders because they end up in our mouths, that's dumb. And since I'm nearly an old wife, you can believe my tales now.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Me Me Me and a Blind Lady

I'm quite self-absorbed these days. I walked up on a conversation with some friends and I realized they weren't talking about me, but a problem that one of them was having and I thought, I didn't know! I'm hoping to stop feeling this way soon. But I'm not holding my breath. I'm supposed to hear from the doctor today, but rather than wait on pins and needles, I'm distracting myself. And, as it turns out, no news is not necessarily good news.

And I wait.

And while we all wait for me, I'll tell you a story that happened to a friend of mine. I would like it noted somewhere in a Big Book that I'm now going to blog about someone other than myself and a problem that is not my own.

My friend has a child that just started Kindergarten. She wanted to get her kid and other kids in that class together for a play-date at a playground. Someone beat her to the punch and started the play-date before she could get around to doing it. It's not that my friend was slow, but she was concerned about not stepping on anyone's toes and moving outside protocol. She is very thoughtful that way. The person who started the play-date just went ahead and did it.

This Other Person set up the play-date at a playground convenient to her. My friend, however would have chosen a different place for the kids to go and she had some Very Legitimate Reasons. The first Reason is that the kids need to go to afternoon Kindergarten after the play-date and it's hard to get the kids neat and tidy for school after they've been playing in sand. Fortunately, there are other playgrounds around that don't have sand and have been re-finished to nearly-new and would make a better choice of locale. The second Reason is a bathroom.

The Other Person, however, turned out to be Blind. Probably not completely blind, but visually impaired enough to not be able to drive and the location the she chose would enable her to walk. Being politically correct and all, my friend went along with the choice of playgrounds even though there is sand because, of course, how can you go against a blind person? Well, I am sorry to say that this is another case of No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.

In order to let the Other Person have her way, my friend packed up two kids and their gear and toted them to this playground. There was no parking anywhere close because of street cleaning, so she lugged the kids and stuff several blocks. Upon arrival, her child had to go to the bathroom (because they do that) and the bathrooms at this playground were locked. She made her kid go in the bushes and it caused a - shall we say - mishap on the clothes. This caused a lot of tears and unhappiness in the child and how can you blame the kid? Who wants the wet themselves by the time they get into Kindergarten? The troop had to leave the playground before the play-date even began and lug all the stuff several blocks back to the car.

What is my friend to do? She can't take a stand against a Blind Lady. That's got to be stepping over some line and one or the other is going to have people whispering behind her back for years to come. But should she have to go through major inconveniences to participate? If she doesn't participate will her child be socially stunted for years to come? Perhaps my friend should become a little more self-absorbed like me so that she doesn't go out of her way again, only to become completely put out.

Personally, people who are visually impaired get a lot of breaks. Those of us who can't hear for crap never get any sympathy so I'm a bit jealous. I think tough patooties to the Blind Lady and move the playground to a better location. My oldest daughter agrees with me. My youngest daughter thinks the same thing. Maybe each person that goes can take turns carting the Blind Lady to the better location.

Are we going to talk about me again now?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Meet Frankenstein

My surgery was easy and uneventful and about 90-minutes long. The people at the hospital were so incredibly nice and friendly and thoughtful. And the last memory I have is of a nurse who got me ready to leave. It felt like I was being rushed out the door at the end there, but I was just groggy enough that the effect was lost on me until after the fact. She handed me my bag of clothes and helped me dress. She even hooked my bra, which cracks me up now. 

The doctor told my husband that she's 97% sure that there isn't going to be anything in my lymph nodes. Of course, if you know me at all, you know that I'm going to worry about that 3% possibility. That and that the guy from nuclear medicine marked a lymph node and she didn't cut there. I don't know why. So, I'll worry about that, too. 

The most depressing thing happened yesterday when I removed the bandages. The incision is two-and-a-half inches long and has blue ink all over it. And black stitches tied off at each entry so that it looks like a caterpillar. I feel like Frankenstein! The site is not smooth, but dips in the middle and puckers at the ends. Pure hideousness!

What cracks me up about this whole experience is how much vanity plays a part. If I'm cancer free, why should I care if I can't wear short sleeves? I can't even deny that vanity is what brought me in to the doctor's office in the first place. The site looked ugly and I really wanted to get rid of those skin tabs.

Right now I'm sore under my arm and my the top of my arm gets tingly if I don't lay down every now and then. This suits me because I like to nap. I have a prescription for Vicodin, but I don't have a lot of pain so I haven't been taking much. Another unfortunate side-effect is that I've gained back a couple/few of those hard lost pounds I've been working so hard on. AND, I can't work out hard for a while. I can't complain, this was serious and I'll be lucky to find out that this is all behind me - if that is, in fact, what I find out. 

I think I need something to distract me and ease me back into normal like a project of some sort. And working on living a good life with no regrets. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

I'm Fine

I'm recovering nicely. I'll have the results next week and I'll share then. Meanwhile, I'm off to sleep. Again.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Eve Of

Tomorrow I will have surgery to cut out the melanoma. They will also be removing one to three lymph nodes to test to see if the cancer has spread, while I'm under general anesthesia. To listen to everyone I know, they will not find anything and there is nothing to worry about. I don't know how they know. They must have some psychic powers and I feel confident that they are right, as they must know what they're talking about.

Actually, my worries don't need to be alleviated. It's okay. I'm okay. I see this surgery as a necessary part of what I'm going through. As natural as me kicking my feet up on my coffee table to brace my laptop and seeing the dime-sized black spider crawling around. (No, I did not leave my feet there!)

This melanoma is a freak consequence of my exposure to the sun. I just happen to live in the best state in the country (sorry to all of you who do not live here, but thankfully your own state has brainwashed you to not even believe me) and we get a lot of sunshine here. The sunshine needs to be felt, adored, worshipped. It's like a god with a cult following. Unfortunately, my vanity only extended to my face and my religious daily application of sunscreen stopped at the chin. That's all it is.

I've lost sight of the spider and I hope it lost my scent. My laptop is hard to balance, but I'll continue. Okay, blah blah blah.

I'm a bit freaked out by getting sliced open. I'm just as afraid of contracting a staph infection as I am they'll find something in my lymph node. I'm nervous about being in the hospital because of all the germs. That's where the sick people go!

Actually, I'm sure I'm not fooling anyone. I'm worried they'll find the cancer has spread. I'm worried that I'll die before my girls graduate from high school. I'm worried that I'll spend my time fighting it and lose the battle. What else is there to really be afraid of? And how can I help but feel foolish for feeling afraid of these Big Issues when everyone around me diminishes the seriousness of the situation? I feel like I can't let anyone know how afraid I am of the possibilities when they're probably going to find nothing and I'll be free of all the cancer tomorrow? I'll be afraid of the mountain when it's just a little ol' mo hill.

Thankfully, the waiting will be over tomorrow. I might not know the results of my lymph node biopsy tomorrow, but I'll be done with this step and ready to move on to the next one. They say that dogs can sense fear because my dog just let out a startling bark and made me jump. I've got to finish this and get to bed soon because I'm not allowed to eat or drink past midnight and I have less than 20-minutes to stuff my face for the rest of the day.

And on that note, I'll leave you with this. Toilet paper is supposed to roll OVER the bar. I only work with three other women. We share our bathroom with our customers, but we're in there more than they are, I'm sure. If the TP runs out, we refill it. I feel like it is always me, but that's the story of my life. Quite often, I find that a roll that I've replaced has been switched to roll UNDER. It happens enough that I suspect one of my co-workers is doing it. I'd hate to venture a guess as to which one, but if I have to I will. I just wish they'd trust me that I know what I'm doing and go with the OVER flow.

There are some interesting bird sounds - must be owls - this time of night. I never knew! Ten minutes and into the kitchen I go...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tailored Shirts

After creating that skirt that didn't go so well, I haven't done any sewing - just mending. Which, I'd like to brag, that I'm pretty darned good at doing. I needed to repair the rear vent on a skirt and I sewed it so that you would never know it was repaired. Of course, I made an effort to do that - unlike the third repair I made on my favorite sweater. 

I have a black cashmere cardigan (crew neck) that I wear all the time. I shouldn't wear it all the time, though, because it's just got too far gone. It had a small hole in the elbow and I did a great job repairing that, but it has worn out so much that it's beyond repair at this point. I grabbed it once this winter, forgetting that I really have no business wearing it in public and when I got to work, remembered there was a hole. I ended up stapling it and then taping (with clear tape) the staples so they wouldn't rub. You can't see the hole, or the staples for that matter, but when I feel all the hub-bub in the elbow, I have to chuckle. I have got to stop wearing it. 

My sewing creativity has been stymied and I've been a bit distracted until I had my Eureka! moment. What I would like to sew  are tailored shirts. I have a hard time finding button-downs that fit me properly and I think after my surgery I'm going to be wearing longer sleeves. I'd really love to make something that I can wear that will fit the way it's supposed to, without having to drudge my way through stores looking for the impossible or falling back on knits. 

Now that I have the idea spark, I'm on my way to a new project. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Itchies

When I was in fourth grade, I think, I got lice. I'm not sure from whom I got them and I know that they didn't suddenly appear on my own head, they had to have been shared. It was traumatic, to say the least, because my grandmother cut my hair off so that I looked like a pixie - her words - or a boy - mine. I have pictures from that age that make me totally cringe. I got kicked out of school until I was cured.

Flash forward to when I was 19-years-old and just about to go into the Army. I was a couple of days away from getting on a bus and living temporarily with my friend and her family. I had just come back from visiting my mom and step-dad. They had just had a visit from his kids. I got a call from my mom telling me that my step-sisters had lice and I needed to check my own head. Sure enough, I had them.

My hair was in a cute little bob at the time, so no traumatic haircut for me. Unfortunately, that time my friend, with whom I was staying had just gotten a perm. I had to treat her head before she even got those two or three days for the chemicals to set. She was not happy. And I was mortified that I had left such a parting gift to such a hospitable family.

I had treated the lice, but felt the "itchies" for a very long time after that while in-processing into the Army without a hope of a friend to check me again and certainly not wanting to share this awful information, though now, as a more grown-up adult, I really should have because I was in such close quarters with so many people!

Flash forward to the present time. Our schools have had several lice-scares and I've been diligent to check my kids. I figure that if they get them, I will and if they don't, then I probably don't have them either. Unfortunately, because of my two previous experiences, any head itching on my part freaks me out. My scalp is very sensitive to soaps and stuff, which can create an itching that mimics the crawling feeling of critters.

But lately I have felt the horrible crawling feeling again. It's miserable and it means that I need to check my kids because I can't really check myself. So here goes...

Nope. Nothing. And my girls even checked my head. Phew. I'd better change shampoos again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Stand in Maui at Twilight

My family has been gone all week and I've had the place to myself. When I tell anyone that everyone is in Maui, they think that I must be completely bummed out not to be there with them. But the other mothers understand that this is almost better.

I have had one hell of a week, what with the extra melanoma diagnosis, that I didn't even write about, I don't think, and finding the rat in my kitchen in the middle of the night, didn't write about that, either, did I? But  with a combination of empty days to fill as I please and working long-ass shifts, I've filled in the cracks with things that only I could love without a care for what anyone else needs.

I have stayed up pretty late all week, too. A couple of nights I watched movies, but mostly it was reading. Last night I stayed up until 3:00 am reading that book. That book that everyone has read but me that they've turned into a series of movies. I indulged myself with Twilight. It's been interesting. Interesting because while not what you think of as good writing - it's very simplistic - it's masterful at pulling you in and flying you through the story. How does she do that? It's not just me, either. Everyone that I know that has read it says that you just get pulled in, and you do.

As a writer or artist or creator of any kind, which would you rather be - if you couldn't be both - critically acclaimed or popular?

I know that we would all say both, so I've removed that option. I used to want my work to be studied in school as being so good that they teach it. But this was the fantasy of a kid studying other writers in class and aspiring to be great. Critically acclaimed.

Somewhere in my life I read the book The Stand by Stephen King. No one took him seriously as a Serious Writer and in any literary discussion, his name would be thrown out as too prolific to be any good. But The Stand stuck with me. It's still one of my favorites and while it has odd parts to it, it's a classic theme of good versus evil and it is not possible to get a super runny nose without this book coming to mind. How can people think that it's not great to be able to entertain the many when the many are so stinking varied? Popular.

In any case, the idea came up that if you only had five years to live, would you live them differently than you are now? And while my answer, for the most part, is that my life is going the way I want it to and the way that I like it, my writing has been neglected as a hobby or an afterthought.

Well, screw those two choices and if I only had five more years left to live, I'd want my writing to be published.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Done!

I finished my skirt! Yay!

I don't like it. If I were in a store, I would have tried it on and passed. First of all, I made an A-line skirt. I'm not particularly fond of them in the first place and I don't know why I thought this would be any different. That's an easy one to fix, (I'm sure), but it's also too short. I suppose I could add a band along the bottom - if I were taller and thinner - maybe. Ick.

I love, love, love the material and perhaps it would be better suited to a dress. Or rather, I would like me in it as a dress more than what I just made. I'll keep an open mind about that. I have plenty of material left. I think. Somehow I followed the directions on how much to buy, but I must have done something wrong because I could make the Von Holder Family play clothes out of it for when we sing in the Alps.

All in all, I think it was a fabulous learning experience and I'm ready to make the next thing. On the plus side of this failure, I don't have to do the hand-finishing, nor do I have to take out all the extra thread and stray thread that are still in the garment. I won't embarrass myself with a photo. Probably.

(I'm just not easily set up to get the photos onto the computer right now.)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Sew What! Learning Curve

Okay, vent-a-thon is over.

Let me tell you about my sewing obsession! I am sewing a skirt from the book Sew What! Skirts. I thought it would be a simple way to wrap my head around sewing with a machine. Patterns intimidate me a bit, though I'm not sure why, because I've sewn them before and they have directions.

This book makes sewing skirts pretty much patternless (you make your own) seem so easy. And well, they are easy, it's not rocket science. Or so you'd think...

My first one has been a really learning experience in so many ways. I've learned how to un-jam my sewing machine from many angles! I've learned how to put in a zipper and that measurements are deceiving. Also, that I probably don't have any business in short skirts. Oh! And that stitch length is very important, especially when you need to rip them out. If you sew with teeny-tiny stitches (even if not on purpose) they are very hard to remove.

I've also learned that when you practice what you need to know with test strips of fabric, everything will go the way it's supposed to, but when you go to do it on a real piece of fabric, something may go wrong.

The zipper was fun. It seems to me that I've read in a couple places that you can put the zipper in from the inside-out or by top-stitching it from the outside-in. This makes total sense, but it is definitely easier to stitch right onto the zipper than to guess where the zipper is just from lame-o markings on the other side. These particular machine jams were the most fun to fix, let me tell you.

Also, I added "ease" to my measurements, which didn't really work out. Since my waist and hips are nearly the same measurement, I removed the ease on the waist, but it was a big mistake to remove it from the hips. This is where I discovered my seam length error!

All in all, I think it's going pretty well. I still have to add the facing and hem it up, but I count it as nearly done. It's only taken me a good two days whereas someone who was a little more skilled - or up to speed - would have been done in probably an hour. Maybe two. (The extra time was split between un-jamming the machine and walking away in frustration.)

I'm inspired and impressed with how it's turning out. Taking the basting stitches out to reveal the zipper to actually use it was the most rewarding part so far. I'll post a picture of it when I'm done. Probably.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Critters, Kinks, and Chunks

I saw Jesus today. He, in his full beard, long hair and Dude Dress with his girlfriend were walking in downtown Fairfax today. She almost got bitten by a dog when she went to pet it. She was in her robe. Both barefoot.

I was on my way to yoga when I saw this. Thinking that a good session would relax me and bring me back to my center, I woke up early to go - even after not sleeping enough and getting woken up by a loud rumbling. I thought there was an earthquake by the sound, but we weren't moving. In my sleeping stupor I heard the squeal/cry and knew that there was another critter being stalked in the shoe-end of my closet. When I finally got the light on, my cat, Pearl Killer, was lounging on the dog bed with a very self-satisfied air about her. The critter was hiding in a toe.

After picking up a shoes one-by-one and throwing them out on the deck, I stumbled across the one with eyes in it. They were those same big cute/droopy eyes from that rat mentioned here. Whatever it was, it filled the toe of one of my husbands bigger shoes. I don't think I really want to know. (Note to self: organize the shoes so critters can't crawl into them.) And I really wish I knew if the critters were already in the house or if Pearl was bringing them in to play with and kill. 

Somehow, I slept funny after that, waking up with a giant pain in my neck. Advil has been forbidden before I have my arm sliced open, so I'm just going to have to deal with it. I thought yoga would help, but it didn't help as much as I needed it to. 

So...I wake up with a stiff neck, see Jesus, park my car and find the yoga studio is packed like a can of sardines. I managed to squeeze myself in near the front - because no one wants to be in front - ever - right? - and then I realize that the instructor is playing a harp. I wanted to just crack up. It sounded pretty and all, but how in the world does that come about? Where does the I Play Harp and the I Teach Yoga join together to become I Play Harp to My Yoga Students While They Meditate. My neck hurt the whole time and I felt like I was spending the entire class trying to calm a muscle that wanted to buck like a bronco. 

We closed the session with more harp playing and I realized that when I "ohm" my vibrations are entirely in the left side of my head because of my hearing loss on the right side. Weird. When I went to pay, which I didn't do ahead of time because I was late, as is my MO, I waited patiently at the front desk. When the instructor walked in, she conversed a bit with the next class's instructor and then, instead of helping me, some other woman just jumped right in to talk to her. Ignoring me, they acknowledged that they knew I was waiting but didn't care. I wrote that I paid cash in the sign-in book and plopped my money down on the table. I was SO annoyed.

Then it occurred to me. I've been getting really annoyed lately! My patience and tolerance for rudeness is at an all-time low. I've been so uptight and it's really showing!

OR...

It's a sign. You see, the size of my melanoma is borderline where the action is to just remove it and watch and see, or do what is called a sentinel lymph node test to see if it has started to spread into my lymph nodes. They inject me with some sort of dye and see which lymph node it goes to and remove and biopsy that one. If melanoma is present, they remove all the lymph nodes but if it is not, the melanoma has most likely been strictly local. Now, the thought of them making a giant incision into my armpit and removing a big chunk of me really gives me the creeps. Not anymore so than the thought of them taking a chunk of my arm, but about the same. I don't like having to fight for everything - it comes back to feeling dumb for being over-cautious, but I'm much better off being active than waiting and seeing. Perhaps all my active responses to being annoyed are telling me to actively respond to my situation. 

Friday, August 06, 2010

Teetering and Tottering

I'm a winner! I just won a give-away on The Sewing Dork! I'm very excited. My day has kind of teetered and tottered and winning this give-away brought everything that was out of kilter back in-line.

My cat is sitting on my chest and I'm having a hard time balancing my laptop and she's about to throw my universe out of whack again with her fish breath. But I will drive on with my story...

I won't bore you with the minutiae of said teetering and said tottering, but will jump to the final teeter. My whole clan stopped at the local Best Buy today to pick up an accessory to a birthday gift for my youngest daughter's birthday. We cannot get through the door without stopping at the rows of candy/toy machines that cost either a quarter or two quarters. You know the ones where the prizes come in little plastic bubbles that take a power tool to open. They must have scoped out their choices for a good five minutes when they finally settled on some cute little dogs. My oldest puts her two quarters in and out pops a bubble with a dog inside. My youngest puts her two quarters in and nothing comes out. I don't have anymore quarters so I can't even offer up a consolation prize.

On a matter of principal - and the fact that one kid with a toy and one without has incredible potential for trouble - I went to the Customer Service Desk. I waited. And waited. And waited. I waited so long that my husband was able to secretly get through the line at the register before me.

But at the Stupid Customer Service Desk, they told me it wasn't their problem and tough luck lady we hate kids anyway. Not really, but they might as well have. They did say it wasn't their problem and don't I understand that they can't take $.50 out of their coffers for something like this?

I was furious! I can't tell you how furious I was! Sure it was only half a dollar, but those machines are INSIDE their store. They are ENDORSING those machines while on their property. They are MAKING MONEY off those machines - even if the customer service agent doesn't know it. There is no way that Best Buy would let someone else make money out of the goodness of their hearts. Clearly they don't have any goodness in their hearts.

And wouldn't you just know it - my oldest daughter gave my youngest her little dog! That's the sort of thing that makes me so glad to be a mother. And a human being. My daughter who has not a cent to her name has the heart to give it up for the littler girl when the Big Bad Best Buy couldn't cough it up.

As if that's not enough for the teeter, I went to feed the dog when I got home and there was a spider in the cabinet with the dog food. I brushed the web while reaching in. Eeewwwww! I hate the webs almost more than the spiders themselves.

So winning the Dude Dress was just the totter that I needed. :)

(I wonder if a Best Buy ad will show up on my blog.) (I wonder if they'll slam me with some sort of libel suit for spewing my anger at them here.) (I wonder if I'll show any restraint when I write them a letter to get back my money!) (I know, I know, let it go. Think about being a winner, right?) (Phew! That was a close one. I almost tottered my way back.)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Universe Answers

So a woman, who worries about everything - even things she doesn't have to worry about - goes to the doctor to ask about a few things that are worrying her. She's vain, too. She doesn't like the way skin tabs appeared under her arms when she had her babies, nor does she like the bump on her leg that's red and raised.

She shows all of these to the doctor who systematically takes care of all of them. The skin tabs were frozen and have become painful and black before falling off. Quite yuck. The new mole on her chest (new from a few years ago) isn't anything to worry about. The bump on her leg is a scar and there is nothing that can be done about it.

Almost as an afterthought, she remembers to ask about the vaccination scar on her upper arm. It used to be pink and now has a little pigment inside. It's just ugly, but is it normal? To her surprise, the doctor doesn't like it. He takes a biopsy to have a better look. The hole that was left behind is even uglier than the pigment portion, but only barely.

After the first few days, the Vain Worrier can't decide to keep it wet with a bandage for faster healing or to let it scab up. She goes back and forth, but keeps it covered everywhere except home anyway.

After what feels like a long time, she wonders what the results are to the biopsy. It's been a week and three days and then the phone call comes. It's melanoma.

So, it's not that bad, it's still thin. Caught early due to diligent worrying probably. But she can't reconcile the need for it to be no-big-deal with the worry that melanoma is not no-big-deal, but a Big Deal, no matter how thin it is. And when they cut it out, how ugly is it going to be? Not that it matters, but anything to change the subject.

Wear sunscreen.

I'm going to go back to worrying. And I'm never going to feel dumb for going to the doctor to check things that are probably nothing again.

Q & A or rather, A & Q

Here are some things that I've learned recently:
  1. That weird piece of metal in my sewing machine compartment is for making button holes. 
  2. How to wind a bobbin.
  3. How to thread my machine. (Actually, I can't really say learn, if I had to do it again, I would need to cheat with the manual.) 
  4. My sewing machine has an automatic needle threader. (How cool is that?)
  5. My cat is a really good mouser.
  6. Mice like to hide inside the toes of shoes when a cat is after them. 
  7. We're out of milk.
  8. Some people are still decorating their lawns with flamingos.
  9. Carrots that have been left in your fridge for a week (tops on) feel like human fingers.
Here are some questions I have for the Universe:
  1. Is the mouse from the shoe still on my deck after I tried dumping it out over the railing and the liner of the shoe started to come out so I pulled the shoe back and then the mouse jumped onto my deck and ran under my treadmill? Or did it run off?
  2. Does burying honey somewhere in the yard really get the ants to leave the house?
  3. Where is my diamond necklace that I lost quite a while back? Is it in the vacuum cleaner?
  4. Are there any spiders still alive in my vacuum cleaner?
  5. Why don't I feel like doing anything I need to do today?
  6. What are the results of my skin biopsy? 
  7. Is it true that no news is good news?

Monday, August 02, 2010

Clean Scene

As crazy as it may sound, I was very excited to clean today. I cleaned my office to make room for my sewing machine. I cleaned the whole thing except for a giant pile. But no mind, the other giant piles are gone. They wouldn't exist at all if I didn't clean the upstairs by bringing the piles to the place that no one sees. I may post photos of my space - that's how proud I am.

And no less than 20 spiders died in the process. I got to 10 in short order. Mostly babies. Don't feel badly for them, they grow fast and they're not nearly as cute then. I would take breaks to surf the Internet and read all my new favorite blogs. And I left the house today to deliver three bags of toys and four bags of clothes (and a lamp and two broken printers) to St. Vincent DePaul and Goodwill. And pick up my girls from camp after running up to Costco to pick up some cat food and honey. When I returned to my office, new spiders had set up shop in the vacancies left by the old ones. I'm quite certain this could go on and on.

So, besides the giant pile Yet To Be Cleaned, I had a nice space to set up. I got out my machine and plugged it in. I had forgotten about that sinking feeling I would, of course, get when I remembered that they didn't thread themselves and the bobbins come empty.

And the little cubby compartment that slides off is full of stuff that I don't even know what it does!

I don't know where my instruction manual is, but I have confidence that I can do anything I set my mind to and I can master this piece of machinery. And yet...sewing machines have always been my kryptonite. I should post a picture of a cute dress I sewed for my daughter by hand because I couldn't bring myself to use the machine for it. And my mom would tell you the story about how I sewed my own bathing suit by hand when I was in high school. We'll see.

We'll see...

Friends at Home: Saving Books from Extermination

Yesterday I found myself at my mom's house looking in her bookcases for something. I started scanning and just stopped. Time slowed down for me as my eyes spied all the familiar spines that I knew as a child. The colors of the covers, the lettering of the titles, the authors all seemed to hold me in a grip.

I was home.

I was magically transported to that special place in my heart that holds all the warmth of All Things Favorite. It's no wonder that I refer to books as my "friends." I want to be surrounded by them and if I had my way, I'd have bookshelves on every wall.

My husband doesn't share this belief with me. When we moved into this house he said he didn't want bookcases. Something about them looking cluttered and he made the proclamation a finality. I have one bookcase in my dining room, and he's absolutely right about the cluttered-ness of it. Since it's really the only bookcase upstairs (dedicated to books and not DVDs) any spare books that are laying around get shoved into this thing. Sometimes they make their way downstairs instead.

Downstairs, all the books are hidden. I have two rolling flat boxes under my bed where I keep some books. I have a huge pile right next to my bed underneath my nightstand. In our crawl space we have boxes upon boxes that I cataloged last summer (complete waste of time, most likely) and the ones that get read get tucked into all sorts of nooks and crannies in the storage area with not a hope of rediscovery. And then there is my office. My office, (also in the crawlspace) - and soon to be sewing room! - has bookshelves lining the back of it. These are organized by type. I have writing reference materials, parenting books, books on motherhood and feminism, and one case devoted to books I'd like to read. Probably. Or books that I don't want to lose in the shuffle.

In a sick sort of way, due to my husband's ban on bookcases, I get a secret pleasure out of his not being able to find books to lend to people (mostly travel books) because he can't find them. As much as he would like to just get rid of them all, I am holding on. Perhaps I'm a hoarder, but I like to think it has more to do with that feeling of being home when I meet an old "friend" again after not seeing it for a long time. Just touching the cover or reading the title retrieves the story and I relive the memory. I am transported.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

More Than Eight Eyes On You

I was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday on how when you visit websites they put little bits of code onto your computer and they track your viewing habits in an effort to see which ads to target you with. I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, I would rather see ads that are relevant than just random ads that fill up space with another form of noise. On the other hand, it's creepy. I have a hard time with people making money on me or from me, without my having any say in the matter or benefiting from it in any way.

In response, I thought it might be fun to visit a whole bunch of random sites just to change my own profile and have those sneaks target me with ads - that someone is paying for - that I have absolutely no interest in. Carburetors anyone? Nascar? Arm Wrestling?

Because you see, my posts are generating ads too. I suppose I could take the ads off, I mean, who is actually clicking on them anyway? They are kind of fun, though just for the colors and pictures. And then there is the giant Terminix ad that I've seen on my blog. I'm sure it has to do with all of my posting on spiders, ants and rats.

And when I walked into my kitchen and discovered that I had nearly walked into a spider who had built a web across my doorway, I thought that Big Brother would have (another) field day. The reality is that I don't even use poison. That would clearly explain why I can't get rid of the ants - the bait stations are as far as I'll go. I would never use Terminix myself for the purpose of ridding myself of pests.

So what is Big Brother and his prying-eyed friends learning from me? I hope that they're learning I have a sense of humor. And a phone book with the following words: Antiques, Hearing Aids, Locks, Instant Printing, Sawmill Equipment, Self Storage, Tree Shaping and Welding.