Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I saw my family doctor today

My insurance company wants me to apply for Canada Pension Plan Disability because I've been off work for awhile and it's expected that I'll be off for some time yet. My family doctor has to confirm that I do have a medical reason to be on disability. I also needed to update him on what's been going on with the Ritalin, the radiation, and the possible cataracts. He figures that I most likely have the start of cataracts as well. Sigh.

Mostly, I needed to talk to him about some problems I've been having digesting certain foods. I don't seem to be digesting foods like bananas, lettuce, and red peppers properly. When I eat these foods they give me terrible pain (it kinda feels like razors scraping my insides) followed by diarrhea that sometimes wakes me in the middle of the night. I've always had problems digesting some foods like fat and dairy products, but the inability to digest the foods above is new and is getting worse. When I talked to my doctor about this today, he at first told me to just not eat these foods. After I explained what it felt like and what happens he decided to look into it further. He's referring me to a gastroenterologist.

It's entirely possible that the problems I'm having stem from some subset of the drugs that I take, or that I have some kind of food intolerance, or even that I have an H. pylori infection gone wild. I don't know whether to hope for more tests to figure out what's going on or for the specialist to say that these symptoms are nothing to be concerned about. I guess it's important to get these symptoms checked out.... but in some ways I'd rather remain blissfully ignorant. You know?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Optometrist's appointment

I have been noticing that I don't see things as sharply as I used to, and that my night vision was terrible. Also, whenever someone was backlit (in normal ambient lighting) I couldn't make out any of their features. Therefore, I concluded that I needed to see the optometrist. I was able to get in to see her today.

My eyes are worse, all right. They're -9.25 in both eyes. This is pretty bad - I don't know if I'm quite blind without my glasses, but it is close. I've decided against getting new frames because these ones are only two years old and are still in good shape. The lenses themselves are costing me $374 including dispensing fee and my insurance only covers $200 of that so new frames aren't all that important to me.

We are going away on Friday for a week so I won't take my glasses in until we get back on August 13th. It'll take a few days to a week to get the glasses back as they have to be shipped to Montreal to get the lenses put in. I'm getting the super-high refractive index (1.74) Nikon lenses which have different optics than "normal" lenses. This means that my lenses are more flat, less thick, and don't create a "hole" in my face the way "normal" lenses do. I'll be very excited to get my new glasses :)

My optometrist also said that since my prescription is so high, I needed to watch for signs of retinal detachment. Apparently that can be an issue, although my retinas look like those of a person with a -1 prescription :) She said that the signs of this included sudden blackness in one eye, a starry or lightning effect, lots of floaters, or curtains of darkness in an eye. It rarely happens in both eyes at the same time.

My optometrist did the other exams where she checks my cornea and my retina. You know, the tests where you get the dilating drops put in your eyes and the "puff" test where they test the pressure of your eyes. She also did the usual exam where she looks at the eye with her bright light.

It seems that there is a tiny spot on my left cornea that could be either the beginning of a cataract or some residue from when my eyes were developed. That spot has never shown up on any eye exams I've ever had, though, so I'm thinking it's more likely to be the beginning of a cataract. Both Tamoxifen (which I had before) and Femara (which I am on now) can cause cataracts so it wouldn't be a surprise if I were to develop them. My optometrist is going to watch my eyes for a while; my next appointment is in December. At least I won't have to pay the $75 exam fee. I'll be covered again by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan which removed this service from coverage except for special cases a few years back.

We had a bit of a scare as well when she did the "puff" test. It seems that the pressure in my eyes was at 21 or 22, which is high for someone my age even though I'm in premature menopause. Apparently high pressure in the eyes is a sign of glaucoma. She said that sometimes the pupil dilation drops used to look in the eye can cause elevated pressure and asked me to come back in an hour or so. I did and the pressure was back to normal at 17 and 18. It's a relief to know that I don't have signs of glaucoma.

I must say that I'm not thrilled about the idea that I might have cataracts. How many more new and unusual ways can cancer affect me?

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I did some work on a project I'm working on, but I spent most of the day watching Spy on the National Geographic Channel. I remember seeing a few episodes before on PBS - it's a BBC production where they take 8 people and teach them spy tricks. The channel is showing all of the Spy episodes back-to-back in celebration of the new Bourne movie coming out.

Watching these ordinary people do spy stuff was pretty cool. A lot of things seemed hard - like recognizing when you're being followed or getting people to do things. I don't think that I could do things like that... I don't manipulate people well enough and I'm not that good of a liar. Not to mention that I don't have the best memory :)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lots o' bead shopping

I did go to the show today :) It wasn't very busy at all and I heard some vendors telling others that they didn't think they were going to make as much as they'd hoped. Some retailers who had an unusual selection did quite well, though. Most of the vendors had similar bead strands in rose quartz, turquoise, and coral. There was one selling very high-end gemstone strands but I couldn't afford to pay $400+ (some were $1000!!) for beads, even if they were gorgeous. Some vendors sold rough rocks which were beautiful and others sold finished jewelry. The finished jewelry was pretty ugly and/or cheap looking and they weren't selling at all (I think the vendor mentioned above was a jewelry vendor). Some of the vendors I've seen before didn't bring all of their stock; I'll see them at the Oasis show at the end of September.

I love shopping for beads with other people as a fun activity but when I'm by myself I can meander back and forth between vendors and make several passes over the vendor area. It was quite satisfying to wander around with no real purpose or direction for a long time comparing things. I enjoyed myself very much :) Since Ian went to a movie, I was able to spend about three hours there.

I looked around to be sure I would be getting things that I really needed or loved. Of course I bought some things. I got a few strands of gemstones that were on sale as well as three types of sterling silver chain and some sterling silver spacers and beads. I did spend more than I'd budgeted but I'm ok with that. I'm very happy with all of my purchases :)

It was a very satisfying, if very long, day. Now I have to actually organize all my beads from my recent purchases :)

Friday, July 27, 2007

H. Pylori test today

You might remember that I'd been having stomach problems where my tummy would hurt a lot after I ate. My doctor prescribed Nexium for it and that seemed to take care of the problem until recently. When I saw the pain and symptom management doctor, she suggested that I get a test to determine whether or not I have H. pylori bacteria present. I had that test today.

It was kind of cool. You can't have anything to eat or drink for 6 hours prior to the test (although I did take my pain pills because I needed them, but I took them without water). They give you a capsule containing carbon-14 and some water, followed by more water 3 minutes later. Apparently the H. pylori bacteria reacts to the carbon-14 and rises to the top of your lungs. After 7 minutes, you breathe in, hold your breath for 7 or 8 seconds, and breathe out through a straw into a balloon. I felt bubbles when the water hit the carbon-14 :) It felt really strange.

My doctors will get the results in a week. If I test positive for the bacteria, then I need antibiotics to get rid of it. My stomach problems (which started to get worse again in May) should go away then. If I don't test positive for the bacteria then there might be something else wrong with me and I might have to do more tests. We'll see.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Should I stay or should I go?

There's a bead show in Toronto this weekend. I don't know whether or not I'll go; it's quite a ways away. It's also mainly for gems, and I need mainly sterling silver findings. There might be some things I need there at a reasonable price (some of the vendors carry that kind of thing) so we'll see. Can I trust myself not to buy too much? I'd like to think so :)

I had dinner with a couple of friends that I haven't seen in over a year. They both look great! It was really good to see them - this last year seems to have been a big one for many people, as they've had some changes too. It was so nice to get caught up with them; I hope that we do make it a regular thing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Getting back to normal

The "About my Breast Cancer" section over on the side is new today - I thought you all might be interested in seeing my breast cancer history, as it's a way to quickly see at a glance what I have and the treatments I've had. I actually use a similar version of what you see there as my signature on the Young Survival Coalition bulletin boards.

I watched Dying at Grace today. It's a documentary about five people who agreed to have the filmmaker film their last days at this hospital, up to and including the moment of their deaths. So it shows some people who die as they die and leading up to it, which is very hard to watch. One of the women had liver mets and had been responding to treatment at first before the cancer got her. It was very, very difficult to watch this movie, but it was well worth it. I don't mean to be morbid, but I need to have all the information possible about my cancer, death, and dying. I know it sounds strange but in a way it helps to know how things will end. I'd recommend this film. It is heart-wrenching, real, and respectful.

Even with the movie, I actually got some stuff done today :) I wasn't sure I would because my body was quite stiff. Last night I had my first of six bellydancing nights. I decided to sign up for three classes on Tuesdays starting at 5:30pm. I didn't know that the class time has been lengthened to 1h15min from 45min and so I won't get out of class until nearly 10pm on Tuesdays. The first class is core training for bellydancers, the second is a technique class, and the third is a holistic approach to learning the different rhythms. We will do some drumming, some zills, and some dancing. I'd never done drumming or zills before so it'll be a good introduction to these.

Anyways, last night was really long - it was a good thing that I worked out a couple of times while on vacation or I never would have made it through last night and then Well-fit tonight. I'm glad that I don't have to do anything physical tomorrow. :) On the bright side, I have muscles on my back that keep surprising Ian. That's not bad, is it? :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The last leg of our trip

As promised, I'm going to tell you more about the last leg of our trip as well as some general observations.

We were in Pittsburgh on the last night. We didn't know anything about Pittsburgh except that it's compared to Hamilton, a steeltown city which is ugly. Pittsburgh is beautiful!!!!!!!!! It's all hilly and has lots of trees and bridges and it's just gorgeous. We had no idea that it was so pretty. The downtown is especially lovely with lots of interesting buildings and bridges. We were in another part of the city that was still lovely. We'd think about visiting this city another time because it is so pretty.

One thing that we thought was really cool about Virginia and Pittsburgh is that we had to drive through tunnels there. Yes, tunnels!!!!! They were so cool - the ones in Virginia that we went through (Big Walker Mountain Tunnel and East River Mountain Tunnel) were about a mile long each so that when we were in the middle we couldn't see either end. I'd have loved to take a picture of the inside of the tunnels but of course we couldn't stop :). We went through two tunnels in Pittsburgh: Squirrel Mountain Tunnel and Fort Pitt Tunnel. There's a LOT of traffic in these tunnels and so they are pretty slow. In one of them a lane was blocked by a couple of young teenage girls in a Mercedes SUV "seat dancing" and driving at about 5MPH. I'm pretty sure these girls were under the influence of something.

Unfortunately I didn't sleep well that night. I wasn't feeling well that evening and so I didn't take my evening pills, including my painkillers. I hadn't taken painkillers in the early evening because I didn't need them then. This meant that I woke up at 4am with the start of oxycodone withdrawl symptoms. I had sweated a lot (this could have been a night sweat or a hot flash). I also had a wickedly woogly back and this is a definite symptom of oxycodone withdrawl for me. Sigh. This was very stupid of me. It took me about an hour and a half to get this under control and I'm not going to do that again.

I also learned through this incident that I will not be able to reduce my painkiller usage to nothing. The pain in my sternum was very, very bad during this time and so while the radiation helped to some extent, it didn't make the pain go away completely.

The drive home was uneventful - we pushed pretty hard because we really wanted to come home. We were both quite tired because I was awake in the night but we were able to get through the drive pretty easily. The border crossing took about 15 minutes and then we had a bite to eat. We got home while it was light out and were able to get settled back in and everything.

One cool thing that we saw when we came home was a bunch of orb spiders!!!!!!!!!!!! One or another of the spiders last year must have laid eggs because we have about 9 little orb spiders in the back and some number in the front. They're so cute!!! Their legs are smaller than their bodies but they still have the striping we'd expect. I tried to take pictures but they didn't turn out. I'll try again soon. I'm looking forward to seeing them grow up - and seeing how many we actually end up with.

I really enjoyed our trip overall. I liked the juggling shows and I was happy that Ian had a good time at the festival. I liked seeing the different parts of the country that we saw, from a flora, fauna, and geological perspective. The different types of rock in each part of the country were really neat. The views were spectacular almost everywhere we went. I also liked seeing different buildings and cities with differing architecture.

One thing I didn't like was that I discovered that I had a tendency to panic whenever I had trouble navigating or driving when navigation was difficult. I think that I basically was having panic attacks and winding myself up into them. It was sort of like I was watching myself get more and more wound up and overwhelmed. Ian and I talked about it and he suggested meditation during those times. I think that this is a good idea. I'm also going to talk to someone I know over at Hopespring to see if she can give me some help with this.

Overall I loved our vacation and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I had a great time and I would do this again - I really like a driving vacation. I'm glad to be home, though :)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Home at last

We're finally home. We are both exhausted after all of that driving but we're very, very happy to be back home with all of our own stuff and to be able to sleep in our own bed. I'd love to update you all on the last leg of our trip as well as some other things that I wanted to say... but I'm too tired. I'll tell all tomorrow :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A long drive and Fallingwater

It's a long drive from Winston-Salem, NC to Pittsburgh, PA via Fallingwater. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day, clear and bright, and the drive was very nice. Ian and I took turns driving and navigating so that we could each have a rest. We drove through the mountains and they were gorgeous and breathtaking. We couldn't take any pictures of those, though, because there was nowhere to stop on the highway. It's not like way up north where you can stop in the middle of the road and take photos without having to worry about any traffic in either direction :)

is gorgeous. The tour was well worth the $18 each. It lasted about an hour and it took us through most of the house. We couldn't take photos in the house but we took a lot outside. When we get back we'll post them and you'll see :) They do strongly recommend reservations (purchasing tickets in advance), and I totally agree with that approach. People who just showed up hoping to get in waited for hours for a tour and some were turned away. Our tour was scheduled for 4pm which was a perfect time of day to go. When the tour was done we could take photos of the house without any people in it.

Did I mention that the house is gorgeous? It's not totally my style but I do respect and admire Frank Lloyd Wright's (FLW's) architectural and engineering capabilities. The house was a cottage for the Kaufman's who owned it. A cottage!!!!!! It has a fair bit of room in it and lots of meandering pathways. When standing in a room looking out you really do feel like part of the nature outside. The windows don't have frames in the corners or where they attach to the wall which helps create this illusion.

The house is made mostly of concrete that has been texturized and painted. Ian thought it looks like an adobe house, which I guess it sort of does. The ceilings can be quite low and the bedrooms felt very dark and close because of the lack of lighting and all of the wood in the rooms. I love the stone walls, myself :) All the floors (except in the bathrooms) are stone as well. The one thing that FLW got wrong was that apparently he didn't think much about the practicalities of the house - ie women's work. So the kitchen was apparently quite awful with metal cupboard doors and no space and there was no room for the washer and dryer apparatus. Had he been a woman he wouldn't have gotten those wrong! He also designed a lot of the furnishings which are very masculine.

All that aside, we do recommend that you try to see this place if you're in the area. It's well worth the trip to see this amazing and beautiful work of art/architecture.

Tomorrow: home!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Last full day in Winston-Salem

I love shopping! I'd actually intended to take a shopping break today. Really. Well, I was going to try and find the bead store that is supposed to be here, but that's for a specific project and so that wouldn't have counted. Unfortunately, the store is out of business :( and so I went to get some groceries for the trip home.

Next to the grocery store was a Burlington Coat Factory which is like Winners with discounted clothes and they were having a sale. They do have a fine selection of coats, and I bought a raincoat that fits very well and looks fabulous! I also bought some purses with frames that I can use. It's hard to get purse frames without special-ordering them so if I can find them at the store I can use them. Some of them are designed to have the lining and outer fabric stitched into the frame (instead of held into the frame via pressure or screws)! I was thrilled! When I realized this in the store, I bought every purse of this type - there were three of them. What a find :)

I have been working on this custom project for a while. Someone gave me some stone beads and asked me to make a necklace and earrings out of them. I'd been having trouble figuring out what to make because I don't usually use these stones. Today I finally I figured out what I'm going to do :) Hopefully I can find the materials I need or I'm going to need to learn how to solder silver jumprings together. :)

This evening we went to the closing banquet of the festival. The service wasn't great; we had a vegan at our table who had requested the vegetarian meal and who didn't get it for a long time. I guess some people decided to go to the dinner at the last minute and then wanted the vegetarian meal. Someone else dropped a tray, too. Between those things, our tablemate had to wait a long time for his meal. The servers didn't clear our table of dinner plates until after the speeches and awards, and we didn't get coffee and dessert until afterwards as well. The awards and stuff lasted about two hours. I'd go again if I could get in for free.

Tomorrow we're leaving for Pittsburgh. We have our tickets for Fallingwater so we'll see that on the way to the hotel.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Hiking, shopping, and a show

This morning we went for a hike in Hanging Rock State Park. We got there nice and early at 8am before any other hikers. This gave us the trail to ourselves. The trail itself wasn't very long (a mile or so each way) and it was rated as moderate, but the moderate parts were quite strenuous and steep. Thank goodness those parts were short. As it was, we got quite a workout :)

The view at the top of the trail was spectacular! I took a lot of pictures and I hope enough of them turn out so that you can see it, too. One of the more interesting things (to me) was the lines etched into the rocks. They were swirly and cool.

On the way down, as Ian almost stepped on a snake that reared its head up and hissed at him. He jumped back, of course, and we stood away from it. We don't really know our snakes but we do know that there are a number of poisonous snakes in this area so we videoed it and took photos of it as well. We asked the ranger later and it turns out that this snake was a copperhead (one of the poisonous ones) and a good sized one at about 2 1/2 feet long. This was pretty exciting for both of us, not to mention a little scary.

After that big walk and excitement, we had a nap and then Ian went to juggle and I went to shop. I got a great dress for only $30. I tried on more suits and stuff but since I've gained a little weight in my abdomen, my top is one size and my hips are another. Blah. So pants and skirts need to be a size larger and jackets need a bit of extra room through the hips as well. It's not like I need a suit or anything, but I wanted one just to have it. Oh well.

Tonight we watched the Cascade of Stars show. It's supposed to be the best show of the week. It was pretty good, but we didn't like all of the acts. The first act was very avant-garde and so nothing they did made any sense. The one guy yelled every time he dropped which was weird and the other guy had a fascination with body parts (as shown by the doll parts and the body painted on the cigar boxes). I really didn't get it, and I'm uncomfortable with art I don't get. Plus it was hot and dark with slow music playing so I was dozy. And they kept dropping so it wasn't like their act was at its best.

The second act was the very best I've seen in a long, long, long time. It's called Get the Shoe. I won't tell you too much about it, but if you eve see that they're in your city, go and see them. They're THAT good. They're funny and well-choreographed with an awesome routine. Their juggling was also very good. Go see them :)

I also liked the Aurelia Cats - she's a contortionist and a trapeze person. Her act was very good and well put together. She also wasn't a childlike contortionist but a real woman with real curves. I liked that.

The only other act I liked was Victor Kee, who did a routine from Cirque Du Soleil. He was some kind of animal who discovered the juggling balls and then did contact juggling and "proper" juggling with them. The juggling was good but what amazed me was how inhuman he looked; none of his mannerisms or movements looked human or natural. They were more birdlike or lizardlike. It was very interesting to watch because it was like watching something that doesn't come from this world. Obviously Cirque Du Soleil train their people very well :)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

North Carolina juggling and shopping

The Renegade show was ok last night. There was a bellydancer who did contact juggling - both her bellydancing and contact juggling were good. She got lots of catcalls and whistles. Juggling is a sport practiced primarily by males, in case you didn't know :) Some of the other acts were pretty good and others were pretty bad. The guy with the two doll babies (he eventually made them out to be superheroes and they were supposed to jump on his head.... but they missed) was bad. I'm glad that we had an opportunity to go because we can't go tonight. I'd love to go but we're getting up very early tomorrow to go hiking.

Ian juggled all day and I shopped. I went to the Friendly Center. While I was there I pretty well exclusively spent time at Macy's because it is my favourite department store here. I tried on dresses and suits; I've gained a bit of weight and would love to have a suit with a jacket and skirt or pants. I found one I loved but it didn't come in my size, and the other one I loved would have cost me $168+tax on sale. I decided that I didn't need a suit that much :)

On my way there, I stopped at a Shoe Carnival store. While I was browsing around they announced a time-limited sale of buy one get one half off. Their prices were already reduced and so the two pairs of shoes I bought were a great bargain. Not to mention beautiful! One pair is a black patent ballet slipper and the other is a flat silver shoe with cutaway sides and interesting things at the toe.

OMG!!!!!! As I was looking to find my shoes so you all could see them (which I didn't, sorry), I saw that Zappos now has a Canadian site!!!!!!! They are shipping to Canada for a flat rate of $10. I can barely wait to shop there!!!! We in Canada can now get all these great shoes at all these great prices (the dollar is sooooooo good right now)!!!!!! I wish I had lots of money :) I tell you, this has made my day. If you love shoes like I do, and I know some of you do, I highly recommend this site. They have a big variety and their shoes tend to be less expensive than if you'd found them in the store.

On a less frenetic note, this evening we watched the individual and team juggling competitions. It was quite entertaining - I've seen some of these jugglers on videos so it's cool to see them participating in a competition. I'm really enjoying the shows here, and I think Ian is having a good time, too. We might consider going to the festival next year in Kentucky.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

North Carolina

Yesterday we drove to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We left around 7:30am and arrived at about 1:30pm. Ian juggled and I rested in the afternoon, and in the evening we went to the Ice Cream Social and then to see the Welcome Show. That was some pretty good juggling :) After that I was exhausted and went straight to bed. Ian juggled some more.

Today I went shopping at one of the local malls. Mostly I tried on dresses, because I like dresses, but I tried a few other things on, too. I bought a couple of non-dress items but that was it. If this non-spending keeps up, I won't reach my $750 in border-crossing allowance :) Luckily, I plan to shop tomorrow as well. I don't seriously plan to spend that much because I can't afford it but I do like trying things on.

This evening we went to the Junior showcase juggling and the Junior Competitions. Some stuff was boring but some of it was really, really good. I'm glad we went even though I was a little tired. There were some Japanese jugglers there who were really amazing!!!!! They were elegant and their moves were flowy and artistic... who thought that juggling could look so pretty?

In a few minutes we're going to go and see the Renegade show which is kind of like a juggling open mic night. Anyone can get up to perform. It's usually adult-oriented and it can either be funny or really, really bad. We'll see how this one goes :)

Washington, DC

I'm sure you've all been waiting with bated breath for another blog update. Unfortunately we couldn't get free internet on our last night in Washington, DC and last night I was much too tired to turn on the computer, let alone write my blog. We have been very, very busy. This first post is about Washington.

We woke up pretty early for our full day in Washington. We decided that we would take the Metro over to a stop near the White House and then circle the White House and head to the Lincoln Memorial. Following that, we'd walk along the National Mall to the Capitol. We ended up stopping at the Smithsonian because we were hot and tired but went back after a rest and finished the tour as planned. We have lots of photos but none of them have been posted yet, of course :) We think one of the conditions of free internet here is that we don't download or upload a lot of stuff.

The Metro is Washington, DC's subway system. It appears to be quite comprehensive and covers parts of Virginia and Baltimore as well. To ride it you have to figure out your fare in advance based on where you're going from the station and what time of day you're traveling and get yourself a farecard from the machines. It looks like if you're traveling after 9:30am most destinations are $1.35 which is very cheap. Machines read your farecard when you enter and leave the Metro and deduct the appropriate fare from it when you leave. We had actually miscalculated our fare needs and got farecards with $0.45 more than required, so we gave them to someone purchasing a farecard at our last stop. You can't get money back from a farecard, but you can add more money to it.

The White House is heavily guarded, as expected. You can only view it from behind an iron fence that is some regulated distance away from the building itself. I expect that we were videoed and possibly recorded during our sight-seeing there as well. Sigh. Armed police were everywhere; the police presence was very, very high there. Really, there isn't much to see there; it's the White House as seen from the street.

We made our way around and got to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I found it very moving but it lists all of those names. There are so many of them.... and all of them were killed fighting the Vietnam war. They died for no good reason. Here the dead are personalized. They're not just abstract crosses or included in some faceless, nameless monument. The names of the dead are all there. I was deeply touched by this even though I didn't know any of these people. Most of the people there also appeared to be deeply moved by the memorial. They spoke in hushed tones about the people they knew or the events surrounding the Vietnam War. The Vietnam war can be especially hard to think about because the Iraq war is quite similar to it.

After that we went to the Lincoln Memorial. I felt a sense of deep reverence as we climbed the steps to it. There are lots and lots of them as you've seen on tv or in movies. When we got to the top I almost felt like I should have kneeled before Lincoln's statue. The eyes in the statue seem to follow you as you move around. We read the declarations on each side of the memorial and I felt that even though the dead from the Civil War were not named, it was powerful enough to make you think about war and its consequences. The words there were written after the Civil war when the country was torn in two, brother against brother, and so many died.

We took a break to eat lunch after this. I needed one because I had been very affected by both memorials and I didn't want to encounter the next two (the National World War II Memorial and Washington Memorial) without giving myself time to even out. It turns out that I needn't have bothered.

While the first two memorials deeply affected me and others around me in showing the human toll of war, the WWII memorial is a tribute to American might. It doesn't celebrate or revere the dead; it instead describes how the US fought back against Pearl Harbor and won because of its strength and, well, might. This memorial has big pillars for each state (plus a couple of territories) around a pool with fountains. You can't see the whole thing in one view. It is big and white and kind of epitomizes the conspicuous consumption after the war as well as its own victory in WWII - it comes across as almost arrogant. Looking at the monument you'd never know any other countries were involved in WWII.

The Washington Memorial is little more than a phallic symbol that apparently represents George Washington. It looks nice in the reflecting pool.

The only Smithsonian building we stopped at was the Information Castle. I'd hoped to see some of the museums but we were just too tired and by the time we resumed our tour, the museums had all closed.

It was much nicer in the evening after we had rested. There wasn't that much that we wanted to see. We ended up taking a few photographs, but our main destinations were the Capitol and the Supreme Court. We saw both of those buildings and were happy :)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

More Scranton and on to Washington, DC

We spent the morning looking at some other touristy things in Scranton. We did make it to the Scranton Iron Furnaces - they are very cool! No one else was there when we were there and we were able to wander around by ourselves. It was really interesting to see the remnants of the historic technologies in the city. I took a bunch of photos but we haven't checked them yet. I hope they work out :)

After that, we went to the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour. It was well worth the $8 admission. We only had to wait about 30 minutes for the tour to start and it lasted about an hour. We actually went down into the mine!!! Apparently the mine was shut down in 1966 because there is no demand for coal these days. It had a devastating impact on Scranton that lasted about 30 years. The mine could be re-opened at any time as there is still a lot of anthracite coal there and it is still in tip-top shape.

We got some history on the people that worked in the mine. They were all boys and men who were 7 years old and up. 7!!!!! I couldn't imagine working in the mine. There are lights there now, and they can string electric lights on areas that have been blasted, but when working in new areas the only light is the one from the miner's headlamp. There were rats, too. The guide said that there weren't any these days, but I don't think that's true - they probably don't come out when people are around, but I'm sure that they're there. Also, I guess they'd work any vein that was 36" wide or more. Can you imagine trying to drill and blast when it's only a yard wide?

I was also amazed at how they put structure into the mines. Each vein of coal that's being mined has cross-cuts and gangways and other things - basically, they honeycomb the coal veins and prop them up with pillars of coal together with timbers. No wonder they collapse! Working in and around the mine is/was very dangerous.... definitely not something for me :)

After the tour we hit the road to Washington, DC. Traffic was quite heavy the whole way, partly because we drove on expressways in the middle of several big cities. We had a little trouble finding our hotel (I got us lost) but we made it here. We're right near the Library of Congress. The hotel is pretty nice but is in the middle of a management change. The room and lobby are quite nice, but the toilet is slow and the door is weird - it's hard to lock. Parking will be $28 tomorrow; we can park on the street until 8am tomorrow. If we couldn't do that we'd have to pay for two days of parking. Gulp.

I tried to do my blog in the lobby (there's supposed to be complimentary wireless internet there) but after connecting to sites once, the laptop wouldn't connect to anything. It's not our laptop; there's something wrong with the service. Grrrr. Internet is $9.95/day which seems like a lot.... so to write this I've connected to a nearby unprotected network and am using that. Yeah, I know that that's not really good but we can't use the lobby and I don't want to pay a lot, so, well, I'm "borrowing" someone else's internet. :)

Tomorrow we plan to explore the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol. Unless it rains, in which case we'll do something else fun and touristy :)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

First stop: Scranton!

We left early this morning and managed to get to the border by 10am. It took an hour to get through and we arrived in Scranton, Pennsylvania at about 4pm. We might have arrived an hour or so earlier but we did stop a few times to eat and stuff. We didn't want to just drive straight here without stopping; we want this to be a relaxing adventure. The scenery on the drive was very beautiful! There are lots of mountains and trees and pretty views everywhere. Apparently the Poconos are just east of here. We didn't know that :)

After we checked in to our hotel, we went to see the Steamtown National Historic Site. I guess it's the only one of its kind anywhere. We got there at 4:30 and it closed at 5pm, so we didn't see many exhibits inside. We were able to wander around and look at various steam engines, though, and that was quite interesting. Some of them have wheels as tall as me!

As we were driving around looking for this museum, we wound up behind someone driving slowly. After we'd stopped at a red light, he didn't start after a reasonable time when it changed so I gave a light tap on the horn. He waved his arm out of the car and banged his hand on the roof of his car. Does anyone know what that meant? Was he trying to give me the finger (he couldn't because he had a lit cigarette in that hand)? Or does that particular gesture mean something else? It was very strange.

Our hotel is nice enough. It's not that expensive and has free internet and a free continental breakfast. We like those things :) There is a 24-hour grocery store just across the parking lot. We actually went there a few minutes ago to get a few things for sandwiches as well as apples and stuff. We have a plug-in cooler in which we'll keep these things; we're doing this because we won't have a fridge in our room in Winston-Salem.

One thing that is odd about Scranton is that very few lanes are marked on city streets. Left- and right-turn lanes are marked but nothing else. Sometimes we wondered whether there was one lane or two, and, well, we guessed. Speaking of odd things, people don't always park in the same direction as traffic. There were quite a few cars facing us as we were driving down the street - this was very strange and a bit unsettling. One other thing - a mall completely encircles the historic site, making it almost impossible to find. I don't like the idea of a retail shopping place obscuring the country's heritage and culture. Sigh. It wasn't even that good of a mall.

We didn't make it to the coal mine today, but we will go tomorrow before we leave for Washington, DC. If there's time we might go and see the Scranton Iron Furnaces - four big stone blast furnaces from the mid-nineteenth century. Providing we can find them, of course :)

As we were picking up maps and stuff, we found out that Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater house is about an hour outside of Pittsburgh!!!!! I'm sure some of you knew this, but we didn't and we are quite excited about this discovery. We're going to see if we can get tickets for a tour - since we'll be so close it'd be a shame if we didn't try to see it. There's apparently another Frank Lloyd Wright house (Kentuck Knob, aka the Hagan House) near to there as well. I don't think we'll have time for both, but we'll see.

Tomorrow: more Scranton and then off to Washington, DC.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A full Friday the 13th

There is no cancer in my liver. Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so happy about this. I'd had a funny feeling in my liver and I was worried, but I guess there's probably something wrong with my stomach or something.

IU also talked to my oncologist and I think it went really well. I approached it from the standpoint of "we never really got off on the right foot; I love your compassion and caring and I need that as well as more technical information." I also apologized for behaving angrily last time. I felt really comfortable afterwards - at least I feel like I can talk to her if I need more from her or need a lot of technical stuff. She is going to give me copies of all of my test results and I got all of my tumour markers. I'm good with that.

Because I had radiation two weeks ago, the cancer cells are dying off and sending out the protein that the tumour markers check (this is called "tumour flare"), so the markers will be high right now. We're going to wait until the end of August to do the tumour markers again. I'll be able to call and get the results in early September; they're setting that up for me. I'll my oncologist again in three months (October?). If my tumour markers are up again in August I guess we'll do them again and see. If they're up then, well, something is going on. I don't think that'll happen, though - I really think that my condition is stable.

My pain is really going down; I feel like a completely new person now. I feel a LOT more energized and able to do things. For the first time in a long, long time I feel like I could actually do work. And I'm excited, even, at the thought of working (which hasn't happened in a long time). I think that I'm going to try to go back at some point, either in the fall or in January.

The insurance company sent me the application for CPP disability benefits. Sigh. I don't even know if I qualify - I have to have worked for some number of years prior to the disability, and I don't know if I've worked that amount because of all the coop stuff.

I'm not going to think about any of that, though, because tomorrow we're going on vacation!!!!!! We're all packed up except for our last-minute toiletries and computer stuff and the car is loaded up. Tomorrow we'll get up, pack the last stuff and hit the road. We hope to make it to Scranton in time for the coal mine tours :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Avoiding tomorrow

As you know, we're leaving for North Carolina on Saturday (in two days). I should be cleaning and packing and getting ready for that, you might think.

I didn't do any of that today. Instead, I spent much of the day driving to Bass Pro Shops at Vaughan Mills to get myself a new tackle box for my beads. I managed to wander around part of the rest of the mall and try stuff on, too. Everyone's got stuff on sale :) I only bought the tackle box. It's got wheels and a handle and can also be carried as a backpack. Since my beads weigh about 40 pounds, I didn't want to get one that can only be carried via a shoulder strap or something as it would be too heavy. I'm very pleased with my tackle box purchase - especially since I got it 50% off when I was only expecting it to be 25% off!!!

So when I came home, did I pack and stuff? No. I decided to continue trying to make a dress. I got to the point where I have to take something out (if I don't sew for a while, I forget about how to attach the lining to the outer fabric when sewing a fully-lined sleeveless dress. Sigh.) and then I stopped.

I don't actually think I'm avoiding packing so much.... I have an oncologist's appointment tomorrow. I don't actually think that the liver ultrasound will show anything, since no one has called me, but of course I am a bit worried about that. In addition to that, I need to talk to my oncologist because I'm not comfortable with the way that she gives us information and I'm dreading it (as is Ian). I kind of get the feeling that she talks down to us and that she isn't volunteering information to us (like if I don't ask, she won't tell). She rounds the tumour marker numbers to present them in their best light, and I'm worried that she's not in my corner. I do know that the situation as-is is not good for me and that something has to change. I'm willing to give her another chance although I might be happier with a referral to one of the other oncologists there.

I am going in assuming that she has as much trouble dealing with me as I have with her - I'm not so conceited as to assume that this is a one-way street. We'll see how it goes. Sigh.

On a positive note, the pain is definitely decreasing. I haven't had to take Percocet at all this week and I've been able to cut my painkillers from 4 times a day to 3 times a day. I can't just go off my painkillers; I have to be weaned off because I'll have a physical tolerance for it. I do hope I can cut my painkillers even more :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Turtles are so cute

I spent the day making a dress for myself. I want one of those trapeze-type dresses that are gathered in at an empire seam but that doesn't make me look pregnant. Unfortunately my dress is not yet working out and needs a bit more work :( Oh well - I got some great fabrics and I can still afford to play around with them a bit. Hopefully I'll get it working :)

After Well-fit we went to a friend's house to play games. This time we played Hoity Toity and Set. Hoity Toity has very long instructions that are very precise. They were meant to leave no possible situation unexplored so seemed quite long. The game was very fast moving and a lot of fun. Ian and I ended up winning :)

Set is a fun game where you match up cards in sets of three. I think it's usually a game for children. It was fun, too :) We all really enjoyed playing that one.

It was good to see everyone again; I haven't seen them lately as I haven't been able to go to the last two game nights. The best part about tonight was the turtles. The hosts have two of them (a male and a female). They're red eared slider turtles and they're very, very cute!!!! I got to feed them snacks and they were so cute when they stretched their heads up to eat the treat from my fingers (biting my fingers in the process)! They took the male turtle out and I got to hold him. He has very long claws and kept trying to get away - it felt really cool to have him push his little paws against my hand. Turtles are so cute.... it almost makes me wish that I had a cute little turtle :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Insurance things

I'd been wondering why I hadn't been receiving those notices each month indicating that the LTD was going into my account... and I was also sure that I was supposed to get some money back from the dentist. Well, I logged into the insurance company's site and found out that I was supposed to get money back. When I called them it turned out that my address had been miraculously changed. The only place that could have done it was my dentist's office. Grrr. I've changed it back and I should get my $330 back soon. That's a lot of money to go without :)

I also found out that Ian is covered under my insurance. And that the insurance company would cover the entire cost of Neupogen if I needed it :)

I got an application form for a Christmas show in Ancaster. It's a two day show November 24-25, and it's $165 for a 10x10ft booth for the two days. That's a lot of money. The application is past the deadline but there are a couple of booths open, so the organizer said that I should mail in the application anyways. I guess I'll do that. We'll see if this works out. It would be nice if I did well there - I just hope I don't get sick :)

Oh yeah - I bought these shoes at Winners for only $12!!!!!!!! They were on sale from $50. What a deal! And I bought some gorgeous fabric with which to make a couple of dresses. Soooo pretty....

Monday, July 09, 2007

Where did the day go?

You might have been surprised because there was no blog entry yesterday. That's because I was only awake for about 5 hours yesterday. Really. I got up at about 1:45pm and had a nap starting at 7pm. I woke up at 9pm and Ian sent me up to bed.... and then I got up at 10am this morning. Obviously I needed a LOT of sleep, maybe because of radiation the week before? I don't know why I needed to sleep so much - the important thing is that I'm feeling quite a bit better now. Although since it's so close to bedtime I'm very tired now.

The rash is pretty well gone. I do think it might have been a heat rash. On the elbow where I scratched there is a big red spot that is really ugly. The skin over it feels dry and tight, too. Apparently one of the side effects of Ritalin is itching and a rash and so I've put a call into the nurse for the prescribing doctor. I don't really think that it's related to the Ritalin, but it's better to be safe than sorry. I do think that I need a larger dose of Ritalin because I still need a LOT of caffeine to stay awake an entire day. I don't think that's good.

In the brief period that I was awake we went to see 1408 yesterday. I've read the story and it isn't that close to the original story, which is probably why it's good :) Stephen King books and stories don't always translate well to movies because they're so long and there is so much going on inside the characters minds. When Stephen King does the screenplay he tries to keep everything, making the movie/miniseries long and drawn out. The screenwriter for 1408 wasn't King which is a point in its favour, too :)

Anyways, 1408 is quite good. There isn't really any gore or anything like that, but it is creepy in a jump-out-of-the-shadows kind of way. It's 14A so teenagers can see it, but it isn't really aimed at teenagers. John Cusak does a fine job as the protagonist having to stay in this room and having all of these things happen to him. While watching this movie I realized that John Cusak is an actual actor. I'd recommend 1408 if you like a good creepy thriller movie.

Right now we're watching the original Halloween. It's pretty good in much the same ways as 1408 - kind of creepy and a little scary but without a lot of gore. I think it's pretty good and would recommend it, too.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Going to the circus

We went to Avaia, the CirqueNiagara show in Niagara Falls tonight. Before that, we figured that since we were so close to the US anyways that we might as well go to Joanns fabric store as I was looking for a couple of specialty items. Unfortunately, we didn't plan on the 2 1/2 hour wait to get through customs. We thought we'd left plenty of time but we ended up a bit rushed. Fortunately, customs didn't charge us duty on the things we bought.

The first Joanns we went to didn't have what I was looking for so we went to a bigger one. They had almost everything, but I wish that I'd been able to go back to the first store. We had dinner plans and there just wasn't time. The lighting in some parts of Joann's was terrible; it was dark and purple and I felt like I couldn't see. I found it very upsetting and disorienting. Between that and the fact that we were running late, I was a basket case for a little while. I wasn't able to coherently describe what I wanted - I couldn't find the words and I couldn't think. I did get most of what I wanted, including an adjustable skirt hemmer thingy with a thing that makes chalk puff out in a straight line.

The dinner at Mia Casa Ristorante was pretty good. The ambience was good and the server warned us that the kitchen was very busy because of three wedding parties, and then proceeded to make sure that we were out in time for our show. It was a little expensive but then, so is everything in Niagara Falls.

The circus was GREAT!!!! We all had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. One of the unique things about this circus is that it has real, live horses. The tricks they can do on the running horses are nothing short of amazing! The other acts including the transition clowns and acrobatics were very good, too. The circus took place in a tent with a ring in the middle and seating around the middle. It had a cozy, almost old-fashioned feel, like each member of the audience contributed to the circus. We'd highly recommend this show if you're in the Niagara region. The tickets range from $39-79 and a kid 12 and under is free with the purchase of an adult ticket (half-price otherwise). That really isn't that expensive compared to other forms of entertainment.

In other news, I've got some crazy rash thing in the corners of my elbows, my neck, and my back. Wherever my skin folds, I've got terrible itching and a red painful rash. I have no idea what this could be. Anyone know? I took my allergy medication this morning and we went to the pharmacist to figure out what to do. She recommended a hydrocortisone cream mixed with something else. This gives temporary relief but the rashes are still there. This is strange.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I feel pretty.... and cranky

I went back to my normal hairstylist to get my hair cut today and I am SO much happier than I was the last time it was cut. I'd gone to another stylist at another salon because my hairstylist upped my prices. Even though the other salon gave great service with head massages, hand massages, and the like, the hairstylist didn't do as good a job on my hair. She was very rough with the comb on my head which was very uncomfortable. And even though I told her that my hair winged out in certain places and asked her to cut it so that it didn't wing out, she ignored that request. So my hair was kinda funny-looking.

Anyways, I'm much, much, much happier with my new hairstyle. She fixed it up and made it look awesome - and I know that it won't wing out. :)

So the pain still hasn't gone down, unfortunately. I'm taking maybe 2 percocet a day, which is a bit less than before, but I'd like to not have pain. I'm also still quite tired. If I have enough caffeine I can stay awake all day. Should I need caffeine to stay awake?

I'm feeling a bit restless and unsettled, with some crankiness and moodiness thrown in for good measure. I don't know why I'm feeling this way, although Ian's guessing that it's probably related to the pain and tiredness. But I'm finding myself alternately wanting to be left completely alone and wanting someone near me. It's almost like everything is a little bit off-kilter, making me feel both overwhelmed and lonely. How is this possible? Why am I feeling this way? How can I get rid of this and be more balanced? Any ideas?

I don't think I'm worrying about the oncologist; I think that she may have called today if there had been something wrong, so I'm feeling cautiously optimistic on that front.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Some sadness, some fun, and some annoyance

We took the Mazda3 back today :( Now we just have the one car. It didn't take too long to do the paperwork, at least. We didn't owe anything because we had purchased the WearCare insurance. I'm glad we did that even though we didn't end up spending the full amount that we bought. The inspectors could easily have found little things here and there that would have increased the amount we'd had to pay. We were also able to take the plates back this afternoon. I'll have to call the insurance company tomorrow.

Later on, a friend and I got our palms read. It was sort of interesting. She clearly had a stock patter - both of us were going to live overseas, both of us were gifted, both of us would visit people in the hospital but there was no death involved, there is happiness around us, and there is jealousy and envy around us. She also told me:
  • I haven't yet met the love of my life but would meet that person in more than 2 1/2 years (I think she misread my age and so got the timeframe wrong)
  • I would live across the water from my family (again, I figure that she didn't know how old I was and so misread the timeframe).
  • Money will come to me but I will never be rich.
  • Although I am very gifted, I am not gifted in working in an office.
  • There is someone around me who will seek to befriend me but who can't be trusted.
  • I will live a long life.
The one thing she didn't pick up on was that I have an incurable cancer which I'd think that would show up to a psychic. Perhaps I'm wrong. I think I might try this sort of thing again sometime. Comparing notes with my friend to figure out what was stock and could be ignored was the best part :)

We're still having internet problems where the internet stops working between 8ish and 9ish. Sigh. This time, Ian called. He managed to get through to second level tech support after a half-hour. Unfortunately, that person said that since we could download some file, there was nothing wrong. Aaaarggghhhhh!!!!!!!!!! We're dropping packets all over the place. It has nothing to do with connection speed!!!!!!!

We (by which I mean Ian) will be calling during regular business hours so that we don't have to deal with the people that do tech support after hours. I think tech support outsourcing is new for Bell - both of us KNOW that we talked to Canadians when we called before - and they don't have a logical, adequate process in place for them. If Rogers didn't suck so much, we'd go with Rogers in a heartbeat. Sigh. I don't know who to contact at Bell to express our displeasure with the extremely poor customer service in their outsourced locations.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A very sleepy day

They say that radiation makes a person tired. I'd been doing ok over the weekend, but I slept until noon today, had a nap in the afternoon, and could go to bed now. Yes, I took Ritalin today. I'm wondering if I'm taking a high enough dose. I went to Well-fit and was able to do the weights but I couldn't do the cardio. I just couldn't. I tried and made it for 10 minutes - my pulse went up to 160 and I just couldn't go on. So I stopped. I'm also having trouble with hot and cold - I'm either broily hot or freezy cold, almost like I have the flu. I thought that the tiredness was supposed to be like the flu, but not that I had the rest of the symptoms of the flu! I hope this goes away soon.

The pain in my sternum had been sort of down but it's up again a little. I hope that it does go away. I want to be awake and pain-free. Is that too much to ask? Sigh.

We take the Mazda 3 Sport back tomorrow. I'd leased it almost three years ago and tonight is the last night I'll have it :( We got it because we'd started paddling on the dragonboat team in Stratford. At the time, we were getting a ride from one of my coworkers to Stratford and then we'd borrow his other car to get him. He would pick it up at work the next day, having got a ride into work from a third coworker. Sound complicated? It was. So we got the car. I got the first car I test-drove because I liked how it was sporty and powerful and fun to drive. We managed to get the car right off the lot - someone had ordered it but didn't want it. It didn't have all the bells and whistles but it was fine for us.

I remember that getting insurance was a nightmare because although I'd had my license for 10-ish years at that point, I'd never been insured in Ontario. Therefore, I was considered to be a new driver and they wanted to charge me $3600/year - more than I was paying for the car! Ian's mom suggested that I try Meloche Monnex because they have a special rate for University of Waterloo alumni. I did, and their rate was about a third of what the other companies wanted to charge me. It worked out well in the end; they take care of all of our insurance needs.

Anyways, I'll miss the car. I've enjoyed driving it around for the last three years - to and from Stratford, to dragon boat events all over the place, and everywhere else. It was my first car and even though I knew I wasn't going to keep it, it served me very well.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Nothing really happened today

Today was one of those days where nothing really happened. You know, where you're up and doing stuff but nothing really gets done? Well, today was like that for me. Sure, I did a little designing, and I did a little figuring out, and I thought about another thing that I'm working on (I've got its essence in my head but not its design). But I didn't really DO anything. The day just passed by.

To tell the truth, I'm sort of waiting for the phone to ring. I keep half-expecting my oncologist to call about the ultrasound. That's very silly, because there's no reason for them to call. They only call when something is wrong and there's no reason for there to be anything wrong. I guess although I say I'm not worried, I must be concerned in the back of my mind. Realistically, even if there is something wrong, the oncologist won't get the results until the end of the week and so wouldn't call until then. So why am I waiting for a call?

Monday, July 02, 2007

A lazy day

I guess I was up way too late last night, because I slept in until Ian woke me at 10am and then had a nap later. I would have happily slept in more. I'd like to be getting up earlier because it gives me more hours in the day. Today was an extremely lazy day, though, because I was tired. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.

I was pleased with the sale I had; I sold 12 items altogether, which I think is a really good outcome. Thank you all who bought from me and supported me! Please remember that if you're looking for something in particular, I am happy to make something special for you :)

It turns out that we do have some good fireworks pictures. They're on this page. What do you think? I guess some of them could be cropped, but I'm quite pleased with the way they turned out. I tell you, the fireworks setting on the camera is a good thing to have. :)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Canada Day!

We spent the day at the Canada Day Festivities put on by the University of Waterloo and the UW Federation of Students. They do this every year and it's usually a fun time. There are lots of activities for kids as well as musical entertainment all day, food, vendors, and fireworks after dark. In previous years, Ian has juggled all day long but he didn't do that this year. It's too much for him if he juggles all day in the hot sun, and he would often wind up not feeling well afterward. Fortunately, he should be fine for the rest of the week :)

So here's what I liked about the event:
  • The fireworks were awesome. There were new shapes - like hearts - that I really liked. I took some pictures and Ian took some video, but we haven't looked at these yet. If they're any good, I'll let you know :)
  • The day was pretty nice; it wasn't too hot and the clouds cleared up completely in time for the fireworks.
  • There was lots for the kids to do - face painting, bouncy castle, a petting zoo, and more.
  • They had an arts and crafts area with about 12 or 15 vendors.
  • The food was pretty cheap and ok.
  • There were 30 portalets and wash stations. When they ran out of water in the wash stations, they added more.
  • They had a recycling bin next to every garbage bin.
.... Nothing's perfect, though. Here's what I didn't like:
  • The garbage cans were overflowing by 8pm to the point that every garbage can was surrounded by a ring of garbage.
  • The portalets were never cleaned out. There were huge lineups around 9pm - around 15 lineups with 20ish people in each one - and the portalets were in a state of disrepair.
  • The arts and crafts area. The online application says, "Vendors will be chosen based on suitability of merchandise. Merchandise must be a quality product and must be either hand crafted, have Canadian theme or be of interest to children." I'd actually sort of thought of participating in this show next year, but it looks like it would be a waste of time. There was one vendor selling cheap, tacky sunglasses. Another vendor was selling crocs (those shoes) with cheap charms, and a third was reselling string figures. I can only guess that the arts and crafts people thought that these three vendors had products that interested children, because they sold shoddy, cheap work. I talked to some of the jewelry sellers and they hadn't sold much - they were very disappointed. This would not be the right place for my jewelry.
  • There was a food vendor advertising "Fresh squeezed lemonade" but when I asked whether they had unsweetened lemonade, they said that their lemonade came in crystal form and that it was pre-sweetened. Huh? How is that fresh?
  • As they were leaving the fireworks area people left their garbage and recycling behind. It was a complete mess. I don't understand how people can just leave their garbage behind - it seems to me that they're little better than animals.
  • People trying to leave one parking lot kept honking their horns. Traffic was completely blocked because of the flood of pedestrians and people in their cars just didn't get that they couldn't move. I don't understand how they all thought that honking their horns would help. Grrr.
  • There was a car parked in such a way that it would have blocked traffic leaving our parking lot. This idiot thought that parking rules didn't apply to them and so parked in a bad location. The traffic issues mentioned above had a cascading effect so that people in our parking lot were getting slowed down, too. The sight of that car filled me with a kind of rage - I seriously thought about keying the car. I also thought about taking the flyer on our car and writing something very mean on it and leaving it for them to find. I didn't do either of these things, of course. It annoys me when people think that the rules don't apply to them - hello, the rules apply to EVERYONE. When you don't follow the rules, you make things difficult in one way or another for other people. That's hugely inconsiderate. Aargh.
So except for those bad things, we had a great time. We made the right parking decisions and were able to get home within about 15 minutes - considering it takes us 10 minutes to get home on a usual day, that's not bad :)

Oh yeah - there was someone reading tarot cards there, and I had my cards read quickly. I shuffled the deck and cut it into three piles while I thought of a question. The question I thought of was "what's going on with my cancer?". The cards that came up were 7 of Wands, Death, and the Fool reversed. She unreversed the Fool - I don't know why. The reading she gave was that I am at a crossroads or a very big change and that I must be very careful to pay attention to even the smallest details. She said that over and over, that I had to be careful and really think about what I was doing. Interesting, huh? I came away feeling a bit disturbed, actually.

I did a bit of research afterwards, and the cards from left to right mean the past, the present, and the future. So my past is represented by the 7 of wands (someone who is aggressive and defiant, among other things). The present is represented by Death, which is usually associated with sudden, unexpected change, great turmoil, and a fundamental change in life - so much so that the old self must "die" to become the new self. The future is represented by the Fool (reversed?), which involves a choice, new phase, or journey. The reversed meaning is that the choice will not be well-made.