Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
This weekend I looked a lot. I paid attention. A cardinal caught my eye, a bright spot of red in the pale green of the buds. It was pretty. When we were getting firewood, the view was magnificent, one mountain rolling into another, to another, and on and on as far as the eye could see. And speaking of firewood, we will have to take a small break. We need about two more cord of wood for next winter, but Tim noticed that a nest had been built in the rafters of the woodshed. We could hear the parent robins having a fit outside as we unloaded the wood. There are three bright blue eggs in the nest. We stopped after only unloading half the wood, so as not to keep the robins away from the nest that means so much to them. We can unload the other half another day. I baked brownies and two chocolate truffle tortes for the desert sale today at church. On the surface of it, life goes on as it always has. What is different, I think, is me. It's hard to explain, really. It's as if I have wrapped life around me like a warm shawl, admiring the pattern of it, the colors, the softness of the material. I've buried my face in it, inhaling deep of the fragrance. And sometimes, I twirl with my arms outstretched, simply to enjoy the way the fringe swings with me.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Friday, while I was waiting to see my regular physician, it occurred to me, again, how blessed I had been. I found the lump on a Friday. I called the office. I had an appointment with Gina within a couple hours. She made an appointment for a diagnostic mammogram for the following Tuesday. I saw the surgeon on Thursday. The OR had already been scheduled for the following Monday. The speed at which everything moved was actually frightening at the time. Looking back at it, though, I'm so grateful that I did not have to push and argue. Gina took this seriously. Such a small thing, something that I took for granted, until I heard the stories of other women. I was mindful to make that gratitude known.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Today was warm, and in the 70s. 23 degrees for you Celcius folks. I can say it now. I was a little worried about going back to work. I wondered if I'd be able to handle my strenuous job. Today I worked in the sun, and I worked hard. I carried my back pack sprayer for four hours. I walked and walked and walked. My body met the challenge. I did four treatments, and two of them were major operations. I've got to get another pedometer (the last one went through the stinking washer...). I know I walked at least four miles, part of it through heavy underbrush. I'm tired but triumphant. I can do this!
Tim's birthday was Tuesday. Since he works second shift and I work first shift, we decided to celebrate this weekend. So today I stopped and bought Tim's birthday presents. A special birthday card too. We've been through a lot since his last birthday. It was a rocky beginning, but we both got our footing, and continued on. Seemed as if we should not only be celebrating his birthday, but us, the two of us as a couple, a marriage that withstood some major shocks this year.
I'm a woman who wears work boots and sturdy denim to work each day. Now that I have eyelashes again and can wear mascara, I happily get up and put on makeup each morning. This simple routine has made me feel like a woman again. That's worth celebrating too, so I went to the consignment shop and bought myself five tops, feminine airy tops. Three of them could be called 'sexy'. I spent $16.49 to celebrate the return of myself.
We've got a lot to celebrate, Tim and I. The end of cancer treatment. Both of us working again. I'm just as strong as ever. Our marriage is stronger than ever. He's turned 52. We are so very blessed. Tonight, when Tim gets home at midnight, his wife will still be awake. For the first time in a long time, there will be candles in the bedroom again. There will be gifts for him to open. There will be a card that tells him how lucky I am to have him. And we will celebrate.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Tim's on second shift now, and I am by myself in the evenings. It's a good time to get things done, I suppose, and the radiation has been wearing on me these past couple weeks, so it is nice to be able to go to bed early, and not feel guilty about it. However, last Friday, I could bear being alone no longer. Mary and Danny weren't doing anything, so we made up our minds to get together. I offered to introduce them to Mr. Bean. By the time that I'd gotten to their house, I was a little embarrassed. I was sure that they'd think he was stupid, but be too polite to say it. Know what? They laughed as hard as I did. Finding two more fans of Mr. Bean was exciting stuff, and driving home, reflecting, I don't think that there is anything nicer than an evening of laughter with people that you've known for a long, long time.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
My children are all grown up now, and the thing that I regret the most is that when they were young, I felt as if I had nothing to offer them. Their father had a master's degree. By the time that he had gotten that degree, he had decided that he had married 'beneath himself' and that our marriage was a regrettable mistake. I cannot tell when I began to believe that I was a stupid woman, but by the time our marriage blew up, I was convinced of it. I have such an easy raport with kids now. I teach Sunday School. I banter with the kids I meet as I travel around the county. I listen to them, and they are excited to see me. I guess that it's one of those things that you learn along life's way: that every person has something to impart to the next generation.
I wish that I had known this when my own were still with me. I wish that I had been less ashamed of myself and my perceived deficiencies. It is one of the few regrets that I have in this life.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
At the end of the day, when I was walking back into the office, my cell rang. I fumbled it out, and said, "Hello?" It was my boss from DEP, wanting to know how things were going. "Man. What a great day," I said. "If I haven't said it this season yet, I really, really love this job!" Rick's heard this before, but he laughed anyway. I realized it like I've never realized it before. I need to be outside.
I came in to the office and listened to Dublin's Phantom 105 as I did my paperwork and data entry. Energized, I wrote an article. I did a lot of work today, and I'm tired, but it's not the exhausted tired of being sick. It's a healthy tired that you feel after a good and satisfying day at work.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I heard about a young woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer at a very young age, years ago, when treatment for cancer was always radical and awful. She had every reason to be afraid. Her sister had already died from breast cancer. But this teeny tiny woman fought, and she won, and many years later when she had become an old woman, she was asked, "Weren't you afraid that you would die, knowing that your sister had?" And the teeny tiny old woman snapped, "I couldn't die! I had young children to take care of." In her mind, that was that, then.
Cancer is not only a physical battle, but a mental one as well. I have always considered myself a strong person, and that was validated when my body really held up well to the rigors of chemo. I'm red and hurting, but radiation is nearly done. (NEXT Friday, people!) Now that the physical challenges are nearly behind me, I'm overwhelmed by the mental challenges of it all. Reading about metastic breast cancer scared me. Mary's second diagnosis of cancer three months after finishing radiation rattled me big time. By the time I discovered words I hadn't noticed before in my own onc report, I was completely unhinged. A fearful heart is not going to win this battle. I need to buck up.
On that bright note, I am going to bed early. I will listen to a CD of thunderstorms, and I will visualize myself, tanned, cancer free, sitting on my back deck watching a storm roll in after a hot summer day. The lightning does not scare me, and the thunder is just a noise. The air crackles with electricity, with life. When the rain comes, it comes in torrents, and when I finally make my way inside, I am soaked to the skin. Water drips from my new grown hair, and I reach back to brush it out of my eyes...
Monday, April 13, 2009
Mary had an appointment with the surgeon who did her biopsies. He tells her that this is "Bad. Really bad." Mary will have a mastectomy. They are moving quickly on this.
I'm a bit ashamed of how devastating this news is to me.
It was a fun weekend.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
The tables have turned. Mary found a lump. Three months after her final radation, Mary has cancer again. It is my turn to be the support system. I fumbled around for words. Her voice got shakey a few times. Mine did too. She said that she couldn't do it again, and I told her yes, that she could. By the time I hung up the phone, I was shaken to the very core of my being. I dragged out my files and read my 'onc' report over again, looking for reassurance, looking for differences between our two cancers, looking for signs that this could not happen to me. There were none. It was a sleepless night as I prayed for my friend. By the time Mary called this morning, she was bucking up for the fight of her life. By the time that Mary called this morning, I was bucking up to support my friend.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Liz walked by my office door at that moment and asked how it was going. "I just scared myself," I said, and told her that I'd just read about metastic breast cancer. "Don't even go there," she said. "Do not read those things." She then goes on to tell me that she has metastic breast cancer. She has been in remission for about 5 years now.
I'm pretty practical, but still, sometimes, things threaten to overwhelm me. It never ceases to amaze me how it works. I'm never far from an encouraging word. I resolve to work harder to be an encouraging word to others.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Children heading off in new directions.Senior prom. A wedding. Graduation.Fourth of July.Family celebrations
There were homecomings.Departures.Breaking bread with family.Hot sweaty summer days.Cooling rain.Cheering with friends.College.
I lost a season.
Sometimes people lose a lot more.
I've got a lot to be thankful for.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Some of you wanted further instructions for how to do the pepperoni rolls. I guess pictures would help. I aim to please.
I tear off a knob of bread, and roll it out flat.
I lay four pepperoni in the center, like so.
I lay four more on top of that, because my kids are rightly fond of pepperoni.
I take a generous handful of mozzarella cheese and lay it on top of the pepperoni, like this. You don't have to be really neat about it, because you'll be folding these up.
I lay four more pepperoni on top of the whole shebang. Did I mention that the kids really, really, like pepperoni?
Then I start folding. I always fold these ends first. It looks neater, and prevents cheese from oozing.
Then I fold the sides, just like this. If you find that you've got dough overlap, you can simply cut off the excess. You can also just fold it back and tuck it under the roll.
Then I pop it in a baking pan that I have have greased and waiting. Looks lonely, doesn't it? That's why you go back and grab another knob of dough from the bread bowl and start the process all over, repeating as necessary until all the bread dough is gone.
You can sprinkle the tops with parmesan cheese if you like, or garlic powder. Let them raise until they are about doubled. Bake them at 350 until they are done, and then pull them out. Just that easy, you are the world's best mom. You can do no wrong, at least while they're still warm from the oven. Mine dip them in spaghetti sauce. Just buy a jar of Prego or Ragu or something. I mean, after all, you've just made homemade pepperoni rolls for them, the ungrateful wretches. Er. The darlings.
You can microwave left overs. I've been making these for my children since they were wee. They are a popular request. They are a celebration food here, and a consolation food here. Why am I making them again, after making them just last weekend? Well. We're celebrating. Cara is being inducted into the honor society. We're driving down to Clarion this weekend to see the ceremony. When it's time to go, I'll leave a little piece of home behind in her dorm fridge. A dozen, actually.
I love my kids.
Yesterday, I had a busy morning. I got home, frustrated and worried. I surveyed my yard. What a mess. My life was interrupted rather abruptly last fall, and I did not get my raking done. Leaves were everywhere. The winter winds had limbs and sticks everywhere. Beer cans, fast food papers, cigarette butts thrown from the windows of thoughtful travelers littered the front of our property. I decided to vent my frustration outside. I have three gardens. I began pulling the leaves back to expose what I already knew I would find. Tender shoots from the new flowers had pushed through the soil. Tenacious, they were still pushing upwards. Eventually they would have popped through the leaves, and actually, some already had. I made their little green lives that much easier, pulling the leaves away and letting in the light. I started a fire, and began burning the rubble from my yard. The ash will be nice for the rhododendrons, the azaleas, and the asparagus. Our apple trees are budding out. I found myself making a list of things that I needed for the yard. I raked. I called out to our neighbor walking down the road. Jerry and Tim used to work together. They both lost their jobs when the company closed. Jerry hasn't found another job yet. He stopped and visited a bit. He makes me laugh.
A red truck went by. I noticed this is that fleeting way that people take in the unimportant details of their lives. When it slowed, I noticed it a bit more. When it turned around, and came back, it had my full attention. I did not recognize the man who was asking me if I was Debby. "Yes," I answered warily. And the passenger side of the truck exploded and his wife jumped out. They were on their way up the road to the Blueberry golf course. The wife was certain that I was the Debby from the newspaper. She was so certain that she made her husband turn that truck around. She wanted to meet me. She wanted to talk to me. "I love your writing. It comes straight from your heart. You are funny. I look for you every Saturday." Her husband petted Buck while she explained who she was...Gloria's sister, the aunt of the pastor at the church Tim and I got married in, the sister of Jim, who delivers Little Debbie Snack foods. It never ceases to amaze me. In the country, by the time that you've recited your pedigree, whoever you are talking to will know at least one person in your family. She hugged me and hopped back in the truck and they were gone, on their way to Blueberry Golf Course, to play some golf.
I continued raking, but it was different. I was thinking about my column, the one that had been so hard to write. The words began to come, slowly, at first, but then they began to flow. And for the first time in a while, the column was a funny one. Not just a few laughs in the body of a serious subject. It was a funny column. I finished what I was doing in the yard, and wandered inside. I got Tim's supper around, but then I sat down at the computer, and my fingers flew, and the words flowed, and a perfectly cheerful column about bald heads and driver's license photos appeared before my eyes. It was the same column that I had been so unsuccessful with, but written with a different tone, from a writer in a different mood.
Last night, I lay awake in bed for just a short time. I'd worn myself out, running in the morning, yard work in the afternoon, writing in the evening. I drifted off to sleep thinking of gardens. People. The satisfaction of writing, of breathing in the scent of the earth, solitude to think. Stones to arrange. Birds to be fed. Dogs to be petted. Wood to be stacked. Really, all these pieces fit together so well. I have a happy life. When I am happy, my fingers fly, and the words flow, and I write about life from my heart, with humor.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Monday I go back to work. I went to do the paperwork today. Our agency has been moved. We are in a building with several other agencies. We share the halls with many new and unfamiliar faces. Before I even got to our floor, and our end of the hall, I started feeling self conscious, and pulling at my hat to make sure it was covering my straggles of hair and bare scalp. For the first time, I realized that if I'm going to be honest with myself, I have to admit that staying home this winter was so nice, in part, because I was hiding.