Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Middle

I've been feeling my age lately.  Not uncommon.  I've noticed it's a sore subject with a few of my friends.  Part of what's bothering me is that I would like my middle years to be LESS self conscious than my earlier, younger days.  I would like to NOT think about myself, about how I look, about how I'm feeling.  I would like to be more effortless, more tranquil.  Instead, I'm concentrating on everything I eat, wondering if it will make me achey.  Or fat.
I have a new haircut, barely a week old.  The first week of a new haircut is always a little dicey for me. I'm having a hard time dealing with the shorter length, and I just want the whole thing to be a little bit easier.  I've spent most of my life obsessing about my hair.  These days, I don't care about looking perfectly done.  I just want to look comfortable.  I want to look easy.  *Wait.  That didn't come out right.*  Effortless.  Undone.  I don't want to look like I had to try too hard, and in the process I really don't want to try too hard.  Anyway, I think I've finally got it.  And it has been easy and casually fun the past couple of days.
So back to what I eat.  I've been doing a fair amount of reading and studying up on diet and nutrition.  I'm convinced that organic is better, and that I need to be pretty selective about what I allow myself to eat.  About 3 years ago I was tested for food sensitivities and here are the things I'm supposed to avoid:
Kidney Beans
Pinto Beans
Cheese (very sad... something I love)
Cow's Milk
Goat's Milk
Cane Sugar (!!!)
Baker's Yeast
Brewer's Yeast

Some things are pretty easy, like pineapple or celery.  Cow/Goat milk I can live without.  Cheese is hard for me.  Cane sugar has been a devil.  When I do use eggs, I've started using the organic, grain fed, cage-free type.  Hoping it makes a difference, but mostly trying to avoid them.  I substitute black beans for the other ones.  I eat only sourdough bread (no yeast).  Brewer's yeast is another tough one, as it's in all vinegars except for a certain type of apple cider vinegar.  It's in ketchup, soy sauce, salad dressings, and many, many other commonplace items.  
I've googled, and searched, and read all kinds of information.  And for the past month I've tried really really hard to eliminate all of these offending items as much as possible from my diet.  Some days the best I can do is only have 1 of them somewhere, but it's a lot better than I was doing.  Some days I feel better, less achey.  Like today was a good day.  I started out with a very stiff and sore knee and ankle, but as the day wore on, I kept drinking a lot of water, kept offending substances completely away, and tonight I feel pretty good.  My litmus test is this: on a bad day my body is screaming for Advil by 4 of 5:00.  Tonight I looked at the clock as we were about to go out the door to ride bikes, and it was 7:00.  I hadn't even thought about Advil.  I took it anyway, as a precaution, but it was a good sign that I hadn't started to feel miserable at 4:00 like on other days.
It was a good energy day.  I worked a full 8 hours while running up and down the stairs doing the laundry.  I wasn't crying from exhaustion tonight while I changed the bed linens.  All in all a pretty effortless day.  Exactly the kind I wish for.
It seems like it would be easy to cut things out of your diet if they make you sick, doesn't it?  It's not.  So many of those ingredients are in so many other items.  I've had to cut out processed food entirely, which is not that hard if you're at home, but to eat out?  To be out socially?  You don't know what's in anything then, and eating is such a social thing.  Up until now I guess I haven't felt bad enough to be motivated to do the hard work.  But I'm tired of feeling achey and worn out and joint-sore.  I want to be as well as I possibly can.  So I force my concentration away from what's for lunch.  I make myself content with a handful of almonds and some grapes.  I cook everything from fresh ingredients.  No more convenience foods.  I'm going to start this week frequenting a local farmer's market for good, organic produce.
I imagine I'll still have good and bad days, but I'm hoping that with enough effort and time for my body to heal, I'll have more and more good days.  I know a couple of you out there also experience chronic conditions.  For those that do, what works for you? I realize we're all individuals, and our bodies have different needs, as well as things to avoid, but in general, how do you give yourself the healthy food you need without sacrificing fun times out with friends, or without travel wreaking havoc?
Lastly, I've stumbled on this blog, Advanced Style.  It isn't for everyone, I realize.  In fact, when I showed it to my husband, he was slightly horrified.  But there's something about these older ladies that I fascinates me.  I don't necessarily aspire to their  level of style - I doubt I'd ever have the time or money to dress that expensively, and I don't even think I want to.  But what I love is their total lack of fear to wear exactly what they want to.  Dye their hair a crazy red if that's what suits.  I get self conscious wearing a straw hat in the summer, and I don't want to be that way.  I want to wear what pleases me without worrying if it's age appropriate, or too splashy of a pattern, or too bright a color.  I want to wear multi-color bangles that cover my whole arm if it cheers me up.  I want my grandchildren to remember me being fun and colorful.  
Anyway, check out that blog, read a lot of the older posts, and see if it doesn't just make your day.  The author is putting together a movie featuring these stylish ladies, and here is a short little teaser for it.  Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.  For some reason it made me really happy, and gave me a little bit of courage.  If they can do it, so can I.  So can we all.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer's End - Time for School

It's the start of a new school year.  Our grandchildren either started last week, or they start next week.  School clothes have been bought,  new uniforms purchased.  School supplies and new pencils.  A new box of crayons.  Lexi, who is in first grade has been absolutely thrilled to tell her mom that she has homework, and can they please sit down and do it right away?  I love the enthusiasm, the craving of knowledge, the joy of learning.  Both she and Matthew (who is in preschool) have lots of school friends they were excited to see after their summer vacation.  Now it's Skylee, 1, who is left home with Mom until the bigger kids get home in the afternoon.
Mia will start school next Monday but today she had a picnic to meet her new teacher.  Do you remember the excitement of a new year at school?  Checking the classroom lists to see what teacher you got.  Checking twice to see if your friends were in your class.  Disappointment if they weren't, but you made new friends so easily back then.  I remember the smell of the classrooms - paste definitely, but also the tempera paints, chalk, and floor cleaner.  For me, the scissors were never right because I am left handed.  The left handed scissors came too late in my case - I learned to use scissors with my right hand, and can't even imagine using my left to cut with scissors now.
Reading.  Was there ever anything that opened more doors than reading?  Imagination soared, libraries beckoned with their infinite supply of books and stories, and once a week the Bookmobile would come to the school and we were granted time to go into that rolling library and choose whatever books we wanted.  I always chose something about animals - sometimes dogs, but usually horses.  I loved horses. (Still do.) At recess we would pretend we were horses and run around the kickball field.  Tetherball and four square.  Do kids play those things anymore?  I haven't been on an elementary school ground since my own kids graudated many years ago.  But they are some of my fondest and best memories, along with the friends that, for the most part, I have no idea where they are now.  Becky Black, who was so tiny and so smart that she was able to figure out the word "Czecholslovakia."  Janet Ferguson who had severe allergies and always had a large box of Kleenex on her desk.  Donnie Lewis, who all of the girls had a crush on.  Chris Beck, ever the gentleman.  And Joe Rhodes - be still my 5th grade heart!
And the teachers!  One of my favorites was Mrs. Howk - first name Avanell.  Such an old fashioned name and it fascinated me.  In later years, my all-time favorite teacher was Mrs. Betty Anne Friedman in the 7th grade.  She was from Georgia and had a thick accent.  She was a fierce woman with short blonde hair, and when we were particularly stupid she would whip out a round foam pillow and pound her head against the wall with it.  I loved her, and it was obvious she loved all of us.  She actually came to my house and talked to my mother about running for class office.  Relentless woman, but what a force!
It was always exciting to go school shopping.  What to get?  What will everyone be wearing?  It's funny, I don't remember a lot of the clothes until about that famous 7th grade year when I got a mohair sweater and a madras skirt.  I couldn't wait to wear them.  Sadly, in Southern California there is no such thing as a fall day in September, so I would actually sweat and suffer through a 90 degree day in a mohair sweater, ignoring the sweat trickling down my back.  Patience has never been a strong suit.  Back in 1965-66 some of the "older" girls in 8th grade started wearing granny boots, and/or white go-go boots.  One girl even wore granny glasses as an accessory with her granny boots, long skirt and tiny-flowered Liberty print blouse.  Sooooo cooooool... I would watch them and take notes on how to be cool - not that it did me much good...
That's probably when life started to get a tiny bit complicated - in junior high.  But in elementary school, life was pretty simple.  You liked your teacher, and she liked you, and made comments like "Karen plays well with others" on your report card.  There was no difficult "math" - it was just "arithmetic."  I came home from school as a first grader and would read my books to my mom, thrilling to the tales of Dick and Jane.  Wishing they would move a little bit faster, but I was READING!
We made clay turkeys in Kindergarten for Thanksgiving, and of course I tripped and fell and broke mine before I could even get it home.  To make matters worse, one of the colorful toothpicks that made up it's tail stuck into my hand.  Oh.... THE.... HUMANITY!!  I still have that scar too.  We made the clay handprints for Mother's Day, which I also tripped and fell and broke on the way home.  *shaking head* Such a clumsy child, and it continues today...
We wrote stories and memorized poems.  We drew illustrations for both.  My dad helped me make an Indian teepee out of paper, which we then coated with sand to simulate hides.  So clever.  When my own kids were in school the projects became more complicated and YES - I was one of those mothers who helped a lot with projects, but not because I thought they couldn't do it.  Because I loved to do it so much.  One year - our crowning achievement - Rex and I made a mission out of sand mixed with white glue.  The glue made it sturdy.  I'd seen in done in a children's museum and couldn't wait to try it.  That thing was a labor of love, and my son and I had a wonderful time making it - although I admit I put in a lot more time than he did.  He was only 8, so there's only so much patience available at that age.  But I wasn't trying to fool anyone either.  The only drawback was getting it to school.  It weighed a literal ton.  But get it there we did and the class loved it.  Until some kid walked through it.  Oh well.  The joy was definitely in the journey.
So I guess whether you have school age kids of your own, or whether you're like me, hearing about school from the grandkiddies, what memories do the first days of school bring back for you?  Construction paper fall leaves decorating the bulletin board in the classroom?  Lunch pails and thermoses of milk?  Oh, and a Twinkie for dessert if you were really lucky.  (Those were mostly after my elementary years - my youngest brother got those.  My treats were usually cookies, always saved for last.) Dividing the class up and playing kickball?  Wearing shorts under your dress so you could play on the monkey bars without showing your underwear?  Saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning before the school day started?

Happy school year to all.  I realize that for some it just won't happen, and that's sad.  Education is power.  Knowledge and constant learning are an eternal joy.  But you don't know that when you're 5 or 6.  You just know you love to learn as fast as you can.  You delight in your accomplishments and the encouragement of your family.  Whether parent or grandparent, take the time to encourage those little ones you are associated with.  Help them to love school, and love learning at whatever level they are.  Tell them how when you were in school no one had computers.  Heck, when I was at BYU I had an electric typewriter, and thought I was so lucky!  These little ones have no such memories, and it would boggle their little noggins.  These little ones are our future, so nurture them well.  They depend on us to show them the way.

PS - For those who are keeping track, I am taking Dad for his 2nd chemotherapy appointment tomorrow morning.  He is mostly doing well - in fact, he went in to work today.  Probably mostly because it's the day he and my brother go eat themselves sick at a buffet somewhere.  But at least he's feeling up to it!  Sadly, he has started to lose his hair, so we'll have to get used to that.  I wish I could tell you that I was going to shave my head in support, but no.  That won't happen.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hey, I Got My Hairs Did!

So yesterday was the big haircut day.  I FEEL like I look very different, but in looking at the following pictures, I can see that I didn't take a very big leap.  I did, however whack off 4 inches of my hair's length - that's quite a bit.  The cut is cute, and it's still versatile - pony tails are possible, although I don't think I like my hair straight at this length.  It flips up, and I just hate flipped up hair.  Too many memories of Patty Duke hair, American Bandstand, and Lloyd Thaxton dance parties, and if you don't know who they are, then never mind - you wouldn't understand why flipped hair looks like a throwback to the fifties and early sixties.  To me, flipped hair is an eternal sock hop.  So no bueno, thank you very much.
When young Sarai was blowing my hair out, though, she innocently flipped it up, and I literally felt the panic rise. I got a little bit teary and asked "Is this what its going to do?"  She, not realizing my extreme flip aversion nonchalantly said "Oh no - we'll put some wave to it."  And I immediately felt my blood pressure come down.  For the one or two of you that have known me since time's beginning, you know what a nemesis my hair has always been.  I've largely come to terms with it, but the scars remain, so you'll excuse me if I devote AN ENTIRE POST to my hair.  Shut up - yes, it's that big of a deal.  Even L sat home, waiting for me to come home, chewing his nails, wondering if he'd see a happy face, or a crying one.  Luckily, it was a happy face.
You may ask why, in heaven's name, do I crave change and whackage when the stakes are so high?  Yes, you may well ask, but I have no answer, except that I am also the eternal optimist, and if I suffer a momentary setback, I realize that it can always grow back, so I learn to deal with whatever hideous mistake is made.
But yesterday was a success - due in large part to my wonderful stylist who protects me from myself and my own foolish impulses.  And also due, in part (if I do say so myself) to a pretty thorough and honest research job myself on what I might like to do.  However, I know only too well, if Sarai had said "Let us create a short cut" I would have said "Yes, yes, a thousand times yes."  But luckily, she is a smart girl, and said only "Let's do this slowly."  So we cut it up to my shoulders, and then she did the most wonderful color job I could possible have imagined.  The top is a dark, rich brown and it "melts" into a lovely carmel color at the bottom in the front and sides, fading to dark in the back.  I love it.  The ends feel thick and healthy.  Even James, the salon owner, came by and complimented it.  And James, being sort of a moody artiste type, doesn't usually do things like that.  Perhaps he saw panic in my eyes, perhaps he noticed that I could barely look in the mirror during the process,  but I prefer to think he really liked it.  And since he's the king of creative hair color, I took that as high praise.
So, without further ado, here is a picture montage of my "new" hair, courtesy of Mac Photo Booth.  Enjoy.

Oh, one more thing.  I'm going to grow out my bangs.  Good luck to me on that one, but I'm giving it a good try.  So if I look a little shaggy in months to come, you'll understand.  It seems I can only enjoy my hair if its a work in progress.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Birthday to a Great Lady

Yesterday passed quietly.  Just before bedtime I realized it would have been my Grandmother's 101st birthday.  She's been gone a year now, but I think of her often and her wonderful example of unrelenting cheerfulness.  She led a hard life, chock full of sweat and ever-present work, yet she always managed to find the humor and good in everything.  And the fun.  Always the fun.

 Grandma in Disneyland's ToonTown.  See the brace?  That's her BOWLING HAND...

She was actually a very funny person - not always intentionally so - but she was the first person to have a good laugh at her own expense.  My own personal favorite story was when she seriously expressed her desire to go to "Mother Fudrucker's" for lunch.  I know I've told that story before, but it always makes me laugh.  I'm not actually sure if she knew how funny that was - I know I wasn't going to tell her.

Grandma and Katie in Hawaii for Katie's graduation from BYU Hawaii.  She was 92.

Wheelchair dancing with Scott at his wedding in 2010 - 99 years old

It's been a hard year of missing her and grieving for her - mostly for my aunt, who was her caregiver.  She's still having a hard time finding an identity for herself, now that her caregiver roll has been stripped from her.  But ever so slowly, I see signs of progress.  Her famous sense of humor is making itself known more and more often.  She seems to be taking more of an interest in life.  Oh sure, there are bad days where she really takes a slide backwards, but I think it's getting better.  And most days, I think she likes where she is, and the good people who surround her are becoming her friends.  While caring for my grandmother, she completely neglected herself, and at almost 80 years old, that has taken a toll.  She is still baffled by her loss of strength and by the things she can - for now - no longer do.  But she's trying to do the work with her doctors and a physical therapist to regain some strength and more independence - probably mostly so I'll quit bossing her around.  (One of my less attractive faults)

But back to Grandma.  We all miss her greatly.  She was the glue that united our family, and we're having to come up with that recipe now ourselves.  But I think she'd be proud.  I've been in contact with cousins more this past year than in my whole adult life.  Before, we depended on her for updates on everyone's lives.  Now we have to seek them out ourselves, and it's been fun to reestablish contact, through things like Facebook (a wonderful tool!)  One night, just after my aunt took her latest and greatest spill while out walking, L and I pulled up to where she lives at the exact same time that my cousin Jeff did.  It was such a treat to be able to share the visit with him!  I miss those little boys I used to play with, and it's wonderful to again be able to share adventures with them now and then.

I felt a little guilty about forgetting Grandma's birthday until the 11th hour yesterday.  But then I realized: she doesn't need us to throw her a party anymore.  Where she is, she had the best possible celebration.  By her own choice, she couldn't have had more favorite party guests than her husband, her parents, her two brothers, and her 7 sisters.  Everyone together in one room and in the same dimension.  Family gatherings when I was a child are some of my favorite memories.  Everyone told funny stories on each other, and there was a lot of laughing until we cried.  We BBQ'd and had a Hawaiian Punch/7Up mix ladeled up in a special huge roasting pan that I never saw used for anything but that punch.  On hot days, we'd sit outside and eat and talk.  We'd shoo away pesky flies, and a big fan would be blowing both inside and outside.  Those were the days.  So I can only imagine the celebration yesterday with everyone there.  It must have rocked the house.

Happy Birthday Grandma... till we meet again.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Contemplating the Choices

I've reached the point of no return with my hair.  I've had a love/hate relationship with my hair for... well, forever.  It's not stick straight, it's not naturally curly.  It's not heavy and silky.  What it is, is fine and wavy, left on it's own.  And it's thick, thankfully, to counterbalance the fineness.  I've worn it long for probably the last 6-7 years, and I've mostly enjoyed it.  I have a wonderful stylist, Sarai, at the local Aveda salon, who really does a good job, and keeps it in top condition.

But lately, the enthusiasm is waning.  Maybe it's the heat.  Maybe it's the fact that I'm on the last week before I get color again (truthfully, that's probably the biggest part of it) and it looks drab.  But it's also acting like it's bored.  Do you have hair that does that?  Wear it the same way for too long, and it just loses it's zest for life?  Well, I do.  There's nothing that makes my hair snap back to attention like a good haircut of several inches.  All of those bored little ends chopped off, and what's left is hair that's excited to be there.  It feels thicker.  It feels more lively.  It's just MORE.

So I have an appointment next Thursday to discuss the possibilities, so when I have my real appointment next Saturday we can just get down to business.  Here are the pictures I pulled for her to gain inspiration from:

The least interesting choice.  Much like what I already have.  But a very safe choice. 
Who wouldn't want to look like Reese?  Except I won't.  I have to keep that in mind,
and focus just on the hair.

Shorter version of the same thing.  Nice looking, but not very exciting.  But I like the fact
that you could curl it like this, or wear it straighter.  And it's still long enough
for a baby pony tail.

This is quite exciting.  I don't really think I want it this short (unless Sarai swears
I'll look amazing), but I like the casual messiness of it.  Looks beachy and fun.

These last three are my favorites, though. Again, they're not a huge change from what I've got, but maybe it's just enough?

It could be a little bit shorter, but I like the beachy waves, and the general unfussiness of it.
At least I think it would be unfussy - we'll see what Sarai says.

Ah, yes.  Here's the shorter version.  But if I did this, would it also be able to be wavy if I want?
That would be a deciding factor.  But it's cute.

Love this.  So choppy looking, so kind of messy and beachy.  I'm just not
sure if my hair would do it.  Or if it would look good, because I'm not,
you know, going to look like Brooklyn Decker.  It's crucial to keep that in mind.

And then there's the color.  I'm bored with plain old brown with a few highlights.  I'm too old to go really dark - plus when the roots grow in, the gray makes me look like I'm thinning on top.  But what about something like this:

It's called ombre.  Light on top fading into a darker strands at the bottom.  I am really
liking this idea, so unless it's cost prohibitive (and it very well could be) that's what
I'm lobbying for.

So you have to sort of take pity on Sarai.  I've handed her about 3 distinctly different looks and told her to figure it out.  But she's a creative girl, and I'm excited to hear her opinions on Thursday.  She hasn't steered me wrong yet.  It's hard to know exactly what to do because all of the pictures I found were all of young, beautiful girls.  It's near impossible to find a picture of someone my age who also sports the hair I want, so the challenge is picturing the young, beautiful hair with my face.  It's frightening is what it is, and that's why I have Sarai as my voice of reason and reality.

In other distractions, I got a call this morning from India - it was Scott!  He's having a good trip, and got to ride a camel the other day.  I don't know if he's high fived any monkeys yet.  He's over Indian food, and can't wait to eat KFC or ANYTHING other than Indian food again.  He is struck by the extreme poverty and general dirtiness of the country.  He was expecting inner-city Los Angeles grade of dirty.  But what he's seen there is heart breaking and shameful.  Small children and babies sleeping on dirty sidewalks because they have nowhere else to go.  Trash in the ocean.  Trash everywhere.  He said he'd actually broken down and cried a couple of times.  That's my Scott.  Tenderhearted and sweet.  On a happy note, all the boys were treated to new shirts and slacks custom made for them by an Indian tailor.  Somewhere else, Scott taught one of the natives how to high five.  At first the man didn't understand, but then suddenly caught on, and delightedly taught others around him to "high five."  Scott is just a big old friendly bear - people love him.  I'm glad he had the chance to go on this trip - it's been eye opening to experience such generosity from people he's never before met, to see and experience things he'd never experience at home, and also to truly appreciate the United States, and all of the privileges and freedoms we tend to take for granted.

L and I went on a nice bike ride this afternoon.  It was so hot where we live that we packed up the bikes and headed for Newport Beach.  We rode around in the neighborhoods around the LDS temple down there, just off of MacArthur Boulevard.  The weather was much more mild, and there was a nice breeze blowing off the ocean.  Very pleasant - there were hills for exercise, a breeze for comfort, and beautiful homes to look at while we were at it.  We want to build a solid cover for our patio, so that it's kind of an extension of the living room - an outdoor room.  We want to have some nice columns made for the pillars, and we saw lots of good ideas for that in the neighborhoods we rode through.  We made several mental notes.  It made me excited for next year when we (hopefully) start work on all of that.

On the way home, we stopped at a Carl's Jr and got some lunch and (most importantly) a nice cold Diet Coke.  While we were eating, there was a man and a much younger lady practicing a ballroom dance routine in the dining room.  I have no idea why - it was very odd, and they weren't in the least bit self conscious about it.  As they finished twirling and dipping, the skinny old homeless man in the back of the dining room clapped and cheered.  It was awesome.  I just love it when random things like that happen.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rocking and Rolling in the Southland

L and I have had some busy days lately.  We ended up getting our new TV (did I already tell you this?) and it was all set up and ready to go Saturday afternoon.  L immediately sent away for an Apple TV device, so now we can also have all of our music on the TV, as well as watch unlimited movies from Netflix.  We are happy campers.  If only we didn't have to work - we've been too tired at the end of the day to really enjoy much TV, but maybe that's for the best.

On Saturday we also did some spring cleaning and ended up throwing out the fake plant we had in the corner of the room by the windows.  We replaced it with the cutest chair that adds color and texture to that corner.

However, it also made us notice that now the windows need a window treatment of some sort, so we've been looking at drapes.  We have one of those honeycomb shades in the window now - we're not totally open-to-the-public exhibitionists - but it's obvious that draperies are in order now just to add some color, texture and anchoring in that end of the room.  I think we'll end up going with just a couple of panels at each side and tied back - decorative, not really functional.  When we make a decision and get them hung I'll post another picture and you'll see the difference.  But we love our little chair.  Its just perfect for sitting on to put on makeup, buckle or tie your shoes, etc.

It's funny how doing a little something here snowballs into doing something there, which makes this other addition necessary, and... well it's a domino effect, quite frankly.  We need to do the master bath over, but in order to do that, we need to do all the upstairs flooring (we're ditching the carpet and going with hardwood floors and area rugs), and if we do that, we need to repaint while things are torn up, and we might as well get the new furniture we want as well.  So all of that will wait until next year, when we (hopefully) also blow up the patio and make it like we really want it: an outdoor room that will be an extension of the living room, complete with a covered roof, nice outdoor furniture, a spa and a fire ring.  And a nicer BBQ.  Our house will be paid off next year, and that will give us some extra money to play with in addition to what we've saved.  So until then, we'll just do these little things.

Last night as we were peacefully watching the Olympics winding up for the day, all of a sudden there was a rather large shaking jolt of an earthquake.  It ended up measuring 4.4, but it was centered only about 2 miles from where I live so it felt pretty big.  All L could think about was his precious bathroom tile he worked so hard on, and hoping it didn't crack or fall off.  (It didn't.)  I cruised through the house and didn't see any damage done, other than a shampoo bottle that fell off the shower shelf.  I thought I'd heard a few more things rattling around, but couldn't find anything.  We slept peacefully.

This morning L went off to work, and I was alternating between work and watching the individual equestrian show jumping finals.  All of a sudden (and you kind of hear it a split second before you feel it) the house started to shake - a little bit harder than last night and it seemed more sustained.  I could hear things falling again elsewhere in the house.  Our precious TV was fine, however.  That shock was a 4.5 (bigger) and it wasn't as deep down in the earth as the one last night, so it seemed a lot bigger.  As I walked through the house, there were books and picture frames that had fallen over and/or off the shelves.  The phone in L's office had jostled loose from the cradle and fallen on the floor.  But it still didn't account for all of the noise I'd heard during the shaking this morning or last night.

It wasn't until I went to open up the armoire in MY office that I found the source: a shower of picture frames, toys and tchotchkes fell down on the floor when I opened the doors.  I've never been particularly careful about how I arrange things in there - mostly its just been to be visually pleasing when the doors are open.  I should have been more careful opening the doors.  One of the things that broke was a little China doll that my aunt had bought for me in Chinatown in Los Angeles when I was just little.  The face had broken once years ago but had been repaired.  This time, it really broke and I don't know if I can get it back together.  It's got no value other than sentiment, and it's old and raggedy but I really liked it.

It used to say "Mama" when you squeezed it's middle, but that stopped many years ago.  It's just a little knick knack from childhood that accompanies a good memory, so I'll try, with L's help, to see if I can repair it.  Looks a little hopeless though...  It definitely could have been worse: it could have been one of my Hummel figurines that sit up on a shelf.  I don't think the quake was a large enough to do significant damage, (like fallen furniture or shattered windows) but it definitely was large enough to make you check your emergency supplies and try to secure things a little better.  Ahhh... life in Southern California...  Every part of the country has something: tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards and extreme cold, horrible heat.  Or big bugs.  Some of these scare me more than an earthquake for some reason - especially the big bugs. (Have you ever seen a cockroach in Hawaii?  Enormous.  But if I had the chance to live in Hawaii, I'd probably learn to overlook the big bugs.  I think.)

So I hope you're all well, and winding up the summer in comfort.  I can't believe I'm actually starting to look at sweaters in catalogs with longing.  And I'm looking forward to Halloween and fall weather.  That won't be for a while now, but I can dream, can't I?  Summer is a favorite time when I just feel free; a throwback to summer vacations as a kid.  But I always always look forward to cooler weather, and the coziness that autumn brings.  In other words, I always seem to be looking forward to something else.  Is that a bad thing?  I choose to think it makes me optimistic.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Slaying the Chemo Dragon

Whew! - The first chemotherapy milestone is over.  Thank you for all of the good wishes and words of encouragement - they were all much appreciated, and went far towards calming our nervous little hearts.  Dad was a champ.  He was prepared with paperwork, a short sleeved shirt to change into after his bone density scan, and a fresh haircut.  He insisted he wasn't nervous, but he has a way of raising his voice to an impatient tone when he's on edge, so he wasn't fooling anyone.  So started a long, long day.
The first stop was at Hoag Hospital for the bone density scan.  Wait, wait, wait.  I tried to figure out how to apply a gift certificate from Katie onto my dad's Kindle, but finally gave up.  At last he was done, and we went downstairs to the cafeteria.

Mom and Dad wandered through choosing a little lunch for themselves.  I'm trying to stick to a pretty specialized diet that excludes (among other random things like celery and cranberries), such staples as cheese, egg, garlic, cow's milk, oats, cane sugar, baker's yeast, and brewer's yeast.  Oh, and kidney and pinto beans.  And avocado.  I don't think I've been able to have a perfect day since I've started, but I've tried to eliminate the offending ingredients as much as possible.  It's not easy, and trying it at a hospital cafeteria is dang near impossible, so I passed.

On to the next event: chemotherapy.  It was at a nice medical facility over in Huntington Beach - just a short drive away.  We checked in and Mom and I settled in for a long wait.  A nurse came out and answered our questions, and then she took Dad back to get started.  Mom and I sat and talked, and watched other patients come and go.  One poor man sat and did a crossword puzzle.  Out loud.  If Mom hadn't been there I probably would have struck up a conversation, but Mom isn't one for talking to strangers, especially one who does crossword puzzles out loud.  The patient my heart went out to was a frail little man who struggled in all alone with a walker.  He collapsed onto a chair and put his head down on his walker.  It was so obvious he felt a lot less than good, and I felt bad that he was all alone.  In 3 weeks I'll be taking Dad by myself, and I'm making it a point to talk to people around me.  I have a feeling there were some interesting stories there.

The whole process was supposed to take 1 1/2 hours, but for Dad's first time, they took it slower, and we were there for almost 3 hours.  But when Dad came out, he was all smiles.  He was beaming from the nice friendly nurse who had made him feel special, and he was feeling triumphant that he didn't feel sick.  It was like watching a warrior come home, and in a way, he was.

We went back to their house, and I knew traffic would be awful, so I stayed for a little while until it died down.  Calls started coming in from my brothers, and Dad was enjoying all of the extra attention.  He's used to being in the background, and it's a treat to watch him be center stage.  He's kind of a ham, actually.  I started for home, but true to Southern California living, there was still a ton 'o traffic. GAH!  I was tired and hungry, and...did I mention I was tired?  I also had to finish doing the work I hadn't done earlier in the day.  But it was time well spent with the folks, and hopefully they felt a little bit better to have me along as a cheering section.  But the ride home was full of big yawns.  And traffic.

A couple of nights ago, L and I had gone to Costco to get some of the store brand Glucosamine Chondroiten, which the physical therapist had said would be good for his shoulder.  As we walked in, we meandered by the flat screen TVs.  We stopped.  We gawked.  We watched the Olympics on huge 60" screens that were so sharp it felt like you were there.  We looked at smaller screens, and finally decided that when we were ready the 46" screen would be perfect for the bedroom.  One day soon.  The next day L remarked that all he could think about was that TV.  So yesterday when I was with my parents I wondered aloud how long he would hold out buying it.

As it turned out, he didn't hold out long.  As soon as I got home, he said "Let's go to Costco and get the TV."  So off we went, and now we have a new TV in our room just waiting for the cable guy to come tomorrow and hook it all up with an HD cable box and whatever else we need.  Yeah.  I'm pretty excited.  I was watching the preliminary equestrian dressage events for a bit this morning and kept thinking how awesome it would have been on the big TV.  Same for Gabby Douglas' big win last night in gymnastics, or Michael Phelps' victory in swimming.  So if you don't hear from me for awhile, you'll know that I'm laying on my bed (with my new Costco-bought memory foam pillow!) mesmerized in front of a 46" HD screen.  Probably mouth breathing.

But never fear.  I will roust myself outside and pedal a few miles or more to make up for it.  I can't let Mia and her new bike put me to shame!

We got the report from her mom that she did her happy dance when the bike was being set up:

And after riding for a bit, she called Papa and gave him a very sweet and excited thank you.

As I settled in last night after a full day with mom and dad, and an exciting (and unexpected) trip to Costco, I reflected on all I have to be grateful for.  Family, home, health, life's comforts as well as necessities.  A husband who not only understands my quirks, he celebrates them.  I looked up into the night sky and felt gratitude and peace.  The moon was large and luminous, rising through the trees, and shining it's soft light down on our neck of the woods.

Goodnight, moon.

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