Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Quote Day

Reality is the leading cause of stress
among those in touch with it.
~ Lily Tomlin

There have been times over the past few weeks when I'd much prefer not to be in touch with reality. Now that the immediate crisis has passed (crises? Yeah, that's probably more accurate), I hope I can find a new normal.

The garden (thank you for asking, Marilyn) is still a shambles, untilled and full of weeds. I'm keeping up with the weeds in the areas that have food growing – strawberries, garlic, onions, peas and cabbage – but the rest is a mess. This has been such a wet spring that my neighbor hasn't been able to get it tilled for me. On the one or two days when it could have happened, something else came up. Ah, well, it's still early. And there will be time later in the season when we'll be doing rain dances, I'm sure!

I've planted some herbs – basil, parsley, cilantro, fennel, sage and marjoram. The dill reseeded itself from last year and I'll have tons of it, and the lemon balm and chives are back and growing like mad.

I'm planning to put in about 40 tomato plants this year, mostly Romas for sauce and salsa. I didn't make enough salsa last year, and I gave away half of what I made. Chili and black bean soup taste so much better with salsa added to the mix as they cook.

Other major crops will be corn, edamame, snow peas, Italian green beans, cucumbers and squash. I still have lots o'squash in the freezer, so I'll go easy on zucchini and butternut this year! Oh, and some black-eyed peas, because they were kind of fun to grow and you get a lot of beans from each pod.

Have you seen this?

Live Videos by Ustream

I've spent many a minute destressing by watching these sweet babies. They fascinate me! And the fact that we can peek in on their young lives is just amazing.

Thanks for checking in, I appreciate it and will do everything I can to be a little more present, both here and in the real world.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

To quote Scott Peck,

Life is difficult.

I can't talk about what's been going on, it's personal. And I can't think of much else other than what's been going on. So there you go.

Instead of a post, I'll show you my new Facebook profile image, one which speaks volumes. Feel free to share your thoughts about it in the comments. You might help me get out of my own head, and I would be so grateful for that!

Friday, April 22, 2011

If it ain't one thing

No quote today, and not much of a post either. A family emergency has taken us out of town for at least a couple of days. (Husband's family.) One of these days life will be normal and calm and boring again.

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy birthday, Dad

My dad would have been 81 today. He died last fall, suddenly, unexpectedly, after a weeklong visit with me. What a gift and blessing that visit was.

I miss him every day, especially now, when it's time to get the garden going again. He was a wonderful gardener, and it was something he was consistent about. I don't remember a time when he wasn't growing something, even if it was a pot of tomatoes on the patio when the yard was too small to dig up a larger plot.

When he visited here last fall, he urged me to find someone with horseradish and get a start from them. He figured our Amish neighbors probably grew it, but when I asked, no one had any. To my surprise, I found horseradish root, ready to plant, a couple months ago at a little store in town.

To my further surprise … it's growing!

Horseradish and rocks: A still life. Heh.
We don't eat a lot of horseradish around here; a $2 jar probably lasts a year. But when I saw that plant, I didn't hesitate to buy it and stick it in the ground. Some people remember their fathers with photos or songs, or warm, fuzzy memories. My dad's legacy is … a bitter root.

I think he'd love it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Trying new things

Anne commented yesterday that she loved that I kept trying new things in my quest for weight loss. I've been thinking about that a lot. I'm not sure I try new things – I wouldn't know an acai berry if I saw one, for instance, and I didn't jump on the Kimkins bandwagon. What I keep trying is what should work: reasonable food intake (1500 calories/day or less, no second helpings, fresh food made from scratch, blah, blah, blah) along with daily activity (usually a five-mile walk). Normal people would lose weight doing this!

I guess that means I'm abnormal. Or maybe above normal. Paranormal?

When I read magazine articles that suggest ways to cut 100 calories/day (pretzels instead of peanuts, skim milk instead of whole, fruit spread instead of butter, bananas instead of candy bars – that's a "duh" one, isn't it?),  I already do those things most of the time, and have done them for years. You probably do, too.

There's nothing new out there that makes as much sense to me as eating reasonable amounts of healthy food and moving every day.

And so, I need to continue to shift my focus toward good health and not worry so much about having a hot body. Heh.

Yesterday's body movement activity used muscles I haven't used since last fall. The rake and I spent about an hour together after I mowed. The compost bins are full of dead leaves and kitchen scraps, but they need a large dose of green stuff in order to start cooking again. I raked four wheelbarrows full and ended up creating an additional open compost pile near the garden because I had enough material to do so. I might try to contain at some point, but I had an open pile a couple years ago that worked fine.

After the raking, I planted some daylilies, watered everything that needed watering, and used the string trimmer to tidy up a few edges.

It was a satisfying day, all in all. I'm happy that my muscles work as well as they do to accomplish all that I did. I love seeing the immediate results outside after a day of yard work – it will apparently take a while longer to see the inside results.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm so good at maintenance

Those of you who are here to read about weight-loss know that by "maintenance" I mean maintaining one's weight, and not maintaining anything mechanical. I was in the art room when the rest of my class learned how to repair leaky faucets. Heh.

I thought it might be fun/inspiring/illuminating to reread what I was writing about a year ago.

After reading, I think it's more depressing than inspiring, because I've made no progress. None. Zilch. My weight is the same now as it was then. Thus, I can only conclude that I've got this maintenance thing down!

I'm still walking every day, still eating reasonable portions of made-from-scratch, healthful food, still doing laundry, cleaning floors, working at the garden center. Today I will clean and walk in the morning and mow in the afternoon. This mid-April day looks pretty much like last April, right down to my weight. (With, of course, a soup├žon of gratitude for my husband's good health!)

I mentioned then that the non-acceptance of my body might somehow be blocking weight loss. Maybe the new wardrobe will help in that area. I am what I am, and all I can do is work to be as healthy as possible. Being fit will make aging gracefully so much easier. But I'm vain enough to whine that I just want to look better!

As if I don't need more projects, I'm also going to begin Purging the Yarn Closet. I'm not going to have time to knit that much yarn, no matter how long I live or how fast I knit. The plan is to take everything out of the closet, keep what I love or can't replace (the long-discontinued and much-loved Brown Sheep Cotton Top 50/50 wool/cotton, for instance) and release the rest. Most will go on eBay, but I think there might be a giveaway or two here on Knit. Run. Reap. Eat. sometime in the near future. Stay tuned!

It'll be fun/inspiring/illuminating to read next year's mid-April post, to see if I followed through on this Grand Purging Plan. Heh.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Quote Day

Service to others is the rent you pay
for living on this planet.
~ Marian Wright Edelman

Service to others. What does that have to do with knitting, running, reaping or eating? Let's take it point by point.

Knitters are amazingly generous people. We share our knowledge, our ideas, our skills and our stash. We use little sticks to turn pieces of string into useful and/or decorative things and more often than not we give them away.

I've been involved in knitting projects which served homeless shelters, cancer patients, battered women's shelters and federal inmates.

The Boston Marathon will be run on Monday, Patriot's Day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. To earn a spot in Boston you have to run a qualifying time in another marathon. Or you have to raise a lot of money for charity. Nearly every distance event out there benefits a cause.

Whose garden doesn't produce enough food to share? I've heard some people lock their doors in the church parking lot to ward off unsolicited gifts of zucchini or tomatoes. I shared a couple of cushaws last year, and the women on the receiving end told me they've saved the seeds and will plant them this year. Squash: The gift that keeps on giving.

Cooking food and serving it to others is a gift indeed. Whether feasting with friends or helping the hungry, food nourishes us, body and soul.

My volunteer gig at Alderson Federal Prison Camp is going on 13 years now. I can scarcely believe I've been making my way to that facility to share my experience, strength and hope with a roomful of inmates for more than a decade. When acquaintances wonder why I do it, I always reply, "I learn more from them than they do from me." Which sounds selfish, but it's not, really. Because they would say the same thing about me. It's the best kind of service – when you help each other think, hope, dream.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Matching opinions

The second opinion, by both the ENT at Wake-Forest and the pathologist who read the slides, agreed with those of the local doctors: my husband has a benign parotid tumor. It will be removed next month and we will have a great summer!

I was so tired, from the driving and from the tension (I guess), that I collapsed at 6 p.m. and didn't wake up until 5 this morning.

I see life slowly returning to normal, very soon. Normal with a side of gratitude, of course. We never want to lose sight of the preciousness of life and of our relationship with each other. That guy who wrote Don't Sweat the Small Stuff was really onto something. Heh.

Today promises to be lovely –70 degrees, sunny, a perfect spring day. I'll be working at the garden center this afternoon, and taking absolute delight in the view from my "office."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I know there's a way …

to embed an .mp3 file in a Blogger post, but I don't have time this morning (nor did I make time last night) to figure it out.

The only way you can listen to my new ringtone is to be hanging with me when my phone rings.

When the Dylan version of "Forever Young" came out, I snapped it right up as my ringtone, since
  • my maiden name is Young and
  • I love, love, love Bob Dylan
Replacing it was a major life decision (not!), but I think the theme song from Harry's Law is worth the switch.

My husband and I are headed to Wake-Forest Medical Center this morning for the second opinion, which we fervently hope is identical to the first. It'll be a long, long day with lots of driving punctuated by a little tension and a decision about treatment.

He thanked me this morning, for taking him to yet another doctor's appointment. I can't imagine not going. He's certainly capable of making the trip on his own, but I almost always think it's best to have an extra pair of eyes and ears in the examination room, and I want to be as supportive as I possibly can be. It was nice of him to thank me, but no thanks are necessary, that's for sure! Besides, all I'd do if I were here all day is worry. And (probably) eat. It's much better for my food plan to spend the day on the road. Heh.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Darn ...

Didn't work. Will try again when I'm done walking.

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

Can I get a ring tone?

I don't know if this will work. I'm sending my new ringtone using the e-mail blogger account. Do you know where the music is from?

Sent from my U.S. Cellular BlackBerry® smartphone

A little knitting, a lot of rambling

My oldest granddaughter might even be too little for this tiny shrug.
She is quite petite, but I think this is a piece that she will enjoy wearing and it should fit well. It was supposed to be a birthday gift (end of March), but we've had a lot going on around here lately. I told her I would hopefully send it before Easter. Yeah, me!

When she was little she called shrugs "shruggies," and had a couple in her dress-up box. This one isn't fancy, and will look good over a skinny tee with jeans, I think.

Bethlin, your comment on my new wardrobe was great; thanks so much for taking time to add your encouragement. You said, among other wise words, "when I feel better, I'm able to talk myself into working out or turning down free cookies," and I really took that to heart.

I've been eating rather haphazardly lately (what an understatement that is!) and so decided to start eating smart and tracking meals again. About the only thing regarding healthful eating I've hung on to is to not eat processed junk. My indulgences have been very carby (homemade bread, anyone?), and I haven't stopped to discern if I'm hungry at all. I've been feeding the emotional roller coaster, not my body. I did well yesterday, and have good plans for today. (We will definitely be eating asparagus for dinner. You could probably watch it grow, I'm amazed at how many stalks shoot up in a day's time!)

Hopefully tomorrow will be the last stop on that roller coaster. We're headed to North Carolina early in the morning to get a second opinion on my husband's neck mass, and to discuss treatment for it (probably surgery). We are, of course, hoping the second opinion agrees with the benign parotid tumor diagnosis we got last week. (Still. In. Shock.) Surgery, if indicated, won't be especially easy (my husband says there's a lot of anatomy in the neck), but it sure beats chemotherapy and radiation!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Investing in myself

I spent part of yesterday's early-morning web-surfing time buying clothes online. I recently bought a linen jacket from Coldwater Creek; once you buy one thing from them, you're on their very tempting list, and I took advantage of a big sale there. I ended up with a pair of linen slacks, three skirts and two tops, all very reasonably priced and of excellent quality.

I also made a vow that before these items were delivered, I would cull the closet. Done! I have a large bag of things that don't fit any more ready to take to our local thrift shop.

My desire to lose weight has not diminished, but I'm beginning to realize that it just may not happen. I'll own up to some stress-eating this past month (my husband's tumor is 31 days old today – or at least it's been 31 days since he discovered it). And my daily walks were cut to about every other day, either because of weather or water problems or having to be at the hospital or doctor's office. (If you haven't visited here before, we live in the Middle of Nowhere. Most of our recent health care visits have been an hour's driving distance away.)

But even when I didn't have Life Getting in the Way, I was walking more than 100 miles a month and eating reasonable amounts of healthful food and not losing weight.

Thus, new clothes that will fit me now.

Like many overweight women, I've hung on to the much smaller-sized items for that wonderful day when I am once again thin and beautiful. All those hangers are now empty. (I will admit to saving some of the slightly smaller-sized things for that wonderful day when I am not quite as fat as I am today. Hope, after all, springs eternal.)

The clothes I bought are things I can wear to dance recitals and church and meetings – events and occasions. I have plenty of casual and work-in-the-garden things. But I've found myself spending too much time worrying about what to wear where. This small investment should take care of that.

Less worrying about anything is a Good Thing. I'm a little bit sad, though. I kind of feel like I've caved or surrendered to the fatness. Maybe wearing nice clothes that fit well will help me to have a better self-image. I'd love it if my very healthy insides – normal blood counts, low blood pressure – were better reflected on my outside!

Also? Everything I bought, except that linen jacket, looks to be easily altered. You know, for when I lose all this weight. Heh.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Quote Day

No one has ever
become poor by giving.
~ Anne Frank

It seems appropriate, as this week wraps up, to express my heartfelt gratitude once again for your concern and support. Health scares are scary, people! I'm so glad you were willing to come along for the up-and-down emotional ride. You've given me strength, friendship, comfort and serenity with your kind words and gentle thoughts.

In a way, it feels awkward to feel so close to so many people I've not met in person. The irony of living in the Middle of Nowhere and at the same time having all of you in my corner is not lost, that's for sure.

We're not done yet, of course. Second opinion appointment is Wednesday, with surgery to remove the mass at some point after that. But the heavy cloud that crushed us for a while has certainly blown on through. Thanks for helping me get through it.

I will pay it forward, at every opportunity.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Last one today, I promise

Michael Pollan recommended this article about the amount of added fat and sugar in the American diet. It appears that the food industry is providing way more per-capita calories than we need to be eating. Interesting and enlightening, if you care about food.

(Can you tell the high-speed internet service is up and running? I'm loving it!)

And one more link, for you social-network types: a new browser called RockMelt. I downloaded it, don't know how much I'll actually use it, though. I've been using Google Chrome with the new laptop. Do I really want to switch browsers again already? Heh.

A cat who can type

And, apparently, think funny thoughts.

A bright, bright, bright sunshiny day

Now that I've planted that earworm …

Today will begin with a walk in this bright morning sunshine, followed by lunch, followed by work!

I hope you are all as excited about your jobs as I am about mine. I wasn't sure I'd get to work this summer, what with the potential nursing gig, but now that we have the all-clear (benign is such a sweet word), I'm good to go back to the garden center for my two-afternoons-a-week "job."

It's not a job – it's fun and educational and fulfilling and rewarding and I was really going to miss it. But now I don't have to, unless my husband has a doctor's appointment in another state (as he will next week). The folks who own the garden center are very understanding friends, and were an important part of our support team the past couple weeks.

I was there yesterday and brought home three forsythia bushes and a dozen cruciferous vegetables – two kinds of cabbage and some broccoli. My broccoli didn't do very well last year; I hope these plants will do better. I don't much care for it, but it's good for you and maybe homegrown fresh will taste better than shipped-from-out-of-state fresh. That's definitely been the case with our homegrown asparagus.

All my new little plants are in the ground and it's supposed to rain tomorrow. I love it when Mother Nature takes over the watering chores.

Thank you again for your comments and good wishes for my husband. We feel so very blessed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I'm nearly speechless …

but you know that's not going to keep me from writing today. Heh.

Thank you for your many comments, I've been reading them to my husband and he is as grateful as I am for your warm wishes.

I didn't realize how I'd been literally holding my breath the last couple weeks. It's been wonderful to take deep, lung-cleansing breaths since yesterday afternoon. I hadn't been able to do that. Tension manifests itself in many ways, and I guess it took my breath away.

We feel like we have a summer ahead of us again. We were ready to concentrate on treatment and illness, ready and willing to do whatever it takes to get him well. This change in diagnosis from (possibly) metastatic squamous cell or some kind of lymphoma to a benign parotid gland tumor has given us a new perspective on each other and on life.

I read a comment on Facebook yesterday that a cancer diagnosis makes you realize life is too short for many things. One of the commenter's things was "bad food," which I thought was really good, of course. Here's a partial list for me. I hope you'll add a thought or two in the comments.

Life is too short for

  • hanging on to what doesn't work
  • caring what others think
  • living up to others' expectations
  • clutter – in my mind and in my physical surroundings
  • being irritated over little things
  • not taking care of big things

Keep your prayers and positive thoughts coming. One of his CT scans showed a very small, irregularly shaped spot on his liver. He's following up on that today with his internist. For someone who has avoided doctors for years, my husband is suddenly becoming aware that life is, indeed, short, and he's not quite ready for it to be done. He's gone more than two weeks without smoking and is actually looking forward to having a general physical exam today.

Miracles come in many forms.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I lied.

Here I am, posting again after I told you I wouldn't.

Against all odds, my husband's tumor is in a salivary gland and is benign. Three doctors told us it wasn't, and so did Dr. Google. But pathology reports are the Final Answer (at least we hope they are!), and suddenly it's easier to breathe.

He will have a second opinion and surgical consultation at Wake Forest in North Carolina, sometime in the near future. The only treatment he'll have to undergo is surgical removal.

Which sounds so much easier than months of radiation and chemotherapy.

Thank you for your comments, thoughts, prayers, wishes and positive energy. Writing about it here has been tremendously helpful to me and, indirectly, to my husband. He's had enough concerns; having to worry about how I was feeling wasn't one of them. You guys did a great job of taking care of me through a most difficult emotional roller coaster ride.

Seriously, I can't thank you enough.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Think fingers drumming on a table top. Or nervous foot-tapping. Or Shirley Temple in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

Okay that last one was just silly.

My husband and I are waiting, waiting, waiting for tomorrow's doctor's appointment, where we will learn the results of the biopsy. I told someone yesterday that going in thinking the worst might be the best strategy, despite the risk of sending negative thoughts into the Universe. I was devastated when I learned the preliminary results of the biopsy – lymph node instead of the hoped-for parotid gland – so I'd rather be relieved than disappointed.

Relieved would be some kind of lymphoma rather than a metastatic squamous cell tumor. What a choice, eh?

In other news, I tallied my March walking results and fell woefully short of my goals. Understandably, considering we spent nearly a week without water and made seven trips to the doctor or hospital in less two weeks. I logged 70 miles (goal was 125), and averaged 44 minutes per day (goal was 60).

I think I'm done setting walking goals for a while. No sense in setting myself up to fail. The new goal is to get out for a walk whenever I can; the secondary goal is to enjoy it.

Which I did Saturday, at least for a couple of miles. It started out like this:

Beautiful blue skies, big puffy cumulous clouds framed by wispy cirrus. It was gorgeous!

Half an hour later, it looked like this:

Scary dark. Ominous. Threatening. Add your own dire adjective.
Had to walk fast to get back home before the sky started falling. We didn't make it; we got caught in a sleet/snow/rain/hail mixture that was quite exciting!

Clearly, we made it back alive. Heh. 

Probably won't post tomorrow, even though it will be easier than ever. High-speed internet service has come to the Middle of Nowhere, and ours is being installed today. As happy as I've been with my 3G modem, I'm going to be happier still with the soon-to-be blazing speed and unlimited usage. I'm so looking forward to finally being a part of the 21st century.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Quote Day

Every day holds the possibility of a miracle.
Elizabeth David

That's all I have to say today.