Tuesday, December 30, 2008

For once, I'm caught up on sleep

This is one of the most relaxing Christmas trips to Edmonton that I've had in a long, long time. I've done a little shopping with each of my sisters, got as much sleep as I need, and have been hanging out watching movies with my mom. We've seen a LOT of movies over the last few days :)

It's pretty cold here in Edmonton so I'm trying to not spend too much time outside. The cold plus the elevation tires me out pretty quickly. That's just fine, though, because I'm here for long enough that I'll be able to see everyone and do everything without feeling rushed.

My one sister, her daughter, and I went to a quilt fabric store on Saturday; they had lots of nice fabrics but none that really caught my eye. Today I went to a Fabricland with the other sister and again, there were lots of nice fabrics but none that jumped out at me cooing, "buy me... you know you want me." I'm hoping to go to a different fabric shop tomorrow; I might find something there.

We looked at clothes in the Bay on Saturday and in a Winners today. I saw nice coats in both places but both were well over $200 on sale and that's kind of a ridiculous amount to pay for a coat, now, isn't it? I've had fun trying on clothes, though. In many ways it's more fun to shop with people who are also trying on lots of clothes because I get to share the experience and get/give advice on the clothes being tried. Both of my sisters and I are going to go clothes (and maybe fabric?) shopping while I'm here and I'm really looking forward to that. I think my mom and I will also be fabric shopping one day; I'm really looking forward to that, too.

As long as I get my sleep in between shopping trips, I'm good to go :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Both highs and lows today

My family celebrated Christmas today. It was great! My one sister hosted the celebration and made a yummy summper with a roast, yorkshire puddings, sweet potatoes, and potatoes. She also made many yummy cookies. I ate a lot of the pink ribbon ones :) Everyone seemed to like their gifts and we all talked and laughed and laughed and laughed. We finally got physically tired but this was a year where I think we couild have stayed for a couple of hours more if we didn't get so tired so quickly.

The day was not all filled with fun and great times, though. I found out that Janet, one of the women that I'd met in Westport, had died of metastatic breast cancer on Christmas Eve. We'd known that she wasn't doing well; on December 14 she was having a shunt put into her brain to release the swelling there from the brain mets and treatment, and her liver was not functioning well.

But she'd planned to go to England in February and she's made other summer plans and we'd hoped she'd pull through, but she didn't. She was 36, married to a wonderful man, and had a cute little pug. I loved her: she was kind and funny and compassionate and somehow always said the perfect thing. Janet was the cutest woman - she was shorter than me, even, and she looked gorgeous in hats. Her taste in clothes was eccentric but definitely cool. She was one of those people who everyone wanted to stand next to, and who everyone wanted to get to know better. This planet will not be the same without her.

My heart is breaking because she's dead - selfishly, I wish she was still here. I'm glad that she's not in pain or suffering anymore but I already miss her so much. I can only imagine how difficult this is for her husband - she worried about him, you know, and whether he would be ok after she was gone. I hope that he (and their dog) is ok.

I hope to see you again in a long, long, long time, my friend. Until then, be at peace, jellykins.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I'm sitting here stuffed and happy after eating a huge, delicious meal and yummy desserts made by Ian's mom. I'm so full that I can't even think of eating - and I'd saved room for dessert!

Tomorrow I leave for Edmonton; hopefully the travel issues that have been plaguing the country will be gone. The terrible weather across the country has made traveling very difficult. I'm very glad that I haven't had to be in the airport or a train station waiting for my flight. And that my luggage didn't go on a trip without me. :) At least I know that I'll get to Edmonton somehow and I'll get to see my family. I'm so excited!

I hope that you all have a good Christmas tomorrow, filled with good presents and wonderful company. I'm sure you've all been good this year so Santa should be quite good to you all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's almost Christmas!!!

I can't believe that it's almost Christmas!!!! I've got all my shopping done but none of it is wrapped yet. I'll be getting up early tomorrow to get all the wrapping and laundry done. I'll be leaving home tomorrow to spend a couple of days with Ian's parent's and then I'm off to Edmonton. I have a lot to do tomorrow to be ready. We're doing laundry now but I still have a lot of packing and stuff yet to finish.

I'd meant to do more last night but my leg/back started hurting a LOT. I don't know what I'd done all day to get that kind of pain, but there it was. I did the exercises that the physiotherapist gave me, which helped a bit. The physiotherapist and I have determined that the pain in my leg is referred from my lower back, probably around the sacroiliac joint . She said that if I have pain in my lower back not to do whatever exercise thing I'm doing and if the pain goes into my leg to stop doing the thing immediately. Ummm, when I go walking, the pain starts in my lower back and eventually winds up in my legs... I guess that's not good, is it? :(

Sometime after I get back from Edmonton in January, I need to see my family doctor about my lower back. My physiotherapist is encouraging me to find out what's going on there. I do think that it's related to improper dragonboat paddling posture and I hope that there's something that can be done to lessen the pain.

You wouldn't think that I'd be in such pain, would you, because I take a boatload of painkillers? Well, yeah, me too. But the pain in my lower back has been increasing steadily over time and since I'm not taking the painkillers for it, I'm not going to go and increase those ones. There is another one - Celebrex - that lessens the pain at night. But even taking that, the pain is going up.

I was reading about treatment for sacroiliac joint pain there and I suspect that there's not that much that can be done aside from physiotherapy (my physiotherapist says that I may be one of the most stiff and least flexible person she's dealt with). And maybe a chiropractor; sometimes (more often, lately) it feels like my vertebrae shift in my lower back, upper back, and neck will "thuk" into the right space, which feels awesomely incredible when it happens. If only I knew how to make that happen all the time :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More sewing fun

All I have left to do on my dress is to tack down the facings and sew on the buttons. Yay! I spent most of my time today putting in the invisible zipper.

Once the invisible zipper has been sewn into the seam, the next step is to close the seam below (and possibly above) the zipper. This is currently the part of  inserting the zipper with which I have the most trouble. Because the zipper teeth lie right on the seamline and create a bump there, it's very hard to join the seam below without going off-track or making a bump or bubble on the right side of the garment.

In the past I've just sewn the last stitch or two by hand, which makes the seam look perfect. However, I'd rather avoid hand-sewing, if possible. So today I took extra time with the invisible zipper, trying to find a way to sew this part by machine. I think I've got a technique that'll work but I want to give it a try some more before I post it.

I'm really looking forward to finishing this dress - and the pants, too. I hemmed them today and all I have left to do to finish them is to sew the waist fasteners in place. Sounds like fun, huh? :)

Friday, December 19, 2008


We had a winter storm (dubbed "snowmageddon" by some local news people) blow through today so I stayed cozy inside instead of venturing out into the storm. I sewed all afternoon and part of the evening, and now I'm almost finished the vintage pattern dress that I'm working on. I'm so excited - it looks really, really good and I already know that it fits :) It's going to be so awesome!!!!

All I have left to do is put in the zipper and buttons/buttonholes, hem it, and hand-sew the facings down. It'll take a while to do all that but not as long as you might think - I have a procedure for putting invisible zippers in so I don't have to undo and redo the zipper if things don't match.

Well, ok, it's not much of a procedure, but it works for me: first, baste the seam to receive the zipper closed, making sure that the match points and cross-seams are matched. Press the basted seam open. Lay the invisible zipper right-side down on the seam allowances, lining up the middle of the zipper with the basted seamline and pinning one side in place. Sew that side of the zipper tape to the seam allowance only, keeping the rest of the fabric out of the way. Then make sure that the zipper is flat on the opened seam allowance, and pin and sew the remaining zipper tape to the other side of the seam allowance. Remove the basting stitches and stitch the invisible zipper in place using the invisible zipper foot.

I use invisible zippers for almost everything because I like to hide the dress fastenings. I kept running into problems lining up cross-seams and other match points when inserting the zipper and that's when I came up with the system above. I usually end up stitching the zipper tape to the seam allowances anyways because otherwise the seam can be too bulky. And there's your sewing tip for the day. :)

I can't wait to wear the dress! I wish it wasn't so cold out because I really do want to wear it. It's a cold-weather dress but it's not designed for a winter storm or the kind of cold that the West is getting. I mention the West because I'm going to Edmonton next week to spend a couple of weeks there. Of course I'll bring this dress with me - it's cold there right now but it might be nice before I leave. Stranger things have happened :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Where did those come from?

I've been feeling out of sorts over the last few days: I've been alternating between rage and tears with calm times in between. I was driving around today and I was really angry at one point, which doesn't improve my driving (some might say that it has the opposite effect), so I calmed myself down and tried to figure out just why I'm so emotional. I can't be PMSing because I don't have the hormones around to do that.

I realized that part of the reason I was angry right then was because of the driving experience: there are more people on the road than usual, and many of those people seem to be unaccustomed to driving and/or don't know where they're going. I'm the kind of person who knows where I'm going and I want to get there; people who are meandering around in their cars drive me nuts.

But I haven't been driving all the time that I've been emotional lately. Of course I have been in quite a lot of pain lately because of my tooth and sinus.... and thinking back, pain makes me cranky and when I'm cranky I get moody. So I expect that a large part of my moodiness is related to the pain I feel - chronic pain is a terrible thing.

I don't think that's the whole story, though. I know that there's the Christmas stuff going on and I'm still mourning my dad, but I don't think that these are the major components of my present moodiness. Remember I was asking about what I could tell people when they ask what I do? I've realized that the real issue here is more that I need to learn to value what I do right now and not what I used to do. And I think this is what's bothering me most now: I'm searching for meaning in my life. You wouldn't think that this would make me angry and teary, would you? Well, except that searching for meaning tends to leave me feeling a bit down, and that easily transforms itself into anger and sadness.

So.... knowing this, I can hopefully deal with it in some way. I have more tools in my arsenal now with the meditation and journaling so maybe I can do this without avoiding the negative issues altogether.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Not really a seasonal movie, but still a good one

Any time of year is a good time of year for a zombie movie :) Land of the Dead was on tv tonight! I'd never seen it before and I'm really glad we watched it tonight. it's awesome! Even better, much of it was shot in Toronto - I recognize the lobby of the

The movie takes place after zombies have already wiped out most of humanity and lives in fortified cities with power and a sort of frontier culture. They have hardware and make runs out to the surrounding city to get things. One alpha-zombie starts to follow them and leads the rest of the zombies to the fortified city.

There are other things going on in the movie and there's a whole story to the whole thing, but for me the best part was the zombies and their behaviour. I found this movie a bit scarier than most of the other movies I've watched because in many ways it seemed more realistic. Watching the zombies learn to use tools and to overrun the city was breathtakingly frightening. There are scenes in the movie that are a bit disturbing (such as when the zombies are feeding, as well as some of the deaths) but for the most part, it isn't too gory.

We really enjoyed this movie and highly recommend it. Even during the holiday season.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Things are getting done

I chose the fabric for my dress today - after hemming and hawing and looking over many of my fabrics, I chose the fabric that I bought in Lexington. Apparently it was called Stratosphere by Robert Kaufman (although the fabric has been discontinued and is quite hard to find) and it comes in several colourways. My favourite colourway is the one I'm using: the one used in this bag. Isn't it gorgeous? The light and medium blue circles with the white lines pop off of the black background! I love love love this fabric soooo much and I think it'll look beautiful in this dress.

I only managed to cut out the pieces today because I got up late and had to get my port flushed. Fortunately, the home care nurse was able to flush my port without help. Unfortunately, the nurse was there for about an hour which cut into my available time. I didn't mind that much because it sounded like she had a lot going on with some patients that weren't doing well. So if it helped her to just sit for a bit and use my phone, well, that's ok with me.

After all that was done, I had an earring order that had to be packaged and mailed today. I tell you, even though I haven't put up much in the way of new products lately, I've certainly managed to sell a few things. I have some earrings that I'm part-way through photographing; I hope to have them up soon or else in the new year. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thanks for your suggestions

I've finished working on one of my vintage patterns and I'm very, very pleased with the fit. I did a sample outfit to make sure everything was where it should be and, well, it is :) Even Ian said that the dress lines and fit were flattering on me. Now all I have to do is figure out which  fabric to use - I'm thinking of using my cherry corduroy fabric but I also have this houndstooth that's really nice. We'll see.

Thanks for all of your one-line answer suggestions and wording for when people ask what I do. I never really thought about talking about what I consider my hobbies - making jewelry and sewing - instead of talking about where I was working when I worked outside the home.

I was thinking about this today and I realized that one of the reasons I find this so hard is that I'm still not in a place where I feel that I'm contributing to society. And even though I know that it shouldn't matter, I worry that if I tell people that I'm not working in the workforce, they'll think less of me. If we had kids I could say that I was a mom and I feel that would be more socially acceptable than not working at all.

But being home without kids and not working isn't something our society really values, at least in my mind. Or maybe it's something that I never really valued - after all, I valued work over almost everything else - and so I'm having a hard time valuing my non-work contributions to society and the people around me. I think it would be healthier for me to accept my life and value it for what it is, but doing that will take time.

I was also thinking about whether or not to tell people that the reason I'm not working is because I have cancer. I usually don't to tell people about the cancer because I feel that it's too deep of a subject for a light social gathering and because I don't really want to deal with people's reactions to my cancer. Not to mention the fact that I want people I meet to see that there's more to me than just the cancer - in other words, I don't want to be defined solely by my cancer. So unless people push it - and make no mistake, some do - I think I won't mention the cancer.

Finally, I've also been thinking about whether and how to word the fact that I'm not working because of a medical issue. Do I say that I'm on long-term disability, on leave, on medical leave, on disability, or something else? I know that I'm on disability and all, but I don't like to think of myself as disabled, you know? I guess I'm not quite comfortable with that label so I think I wouldn't say LTD or disability, which leaves the "on leave" options. Of course being on medical leave is true whereas being on leave isn't quite as precisely true.

Hmmmmmm.... it just occurred to me that if I could just get over the fact that I seem to place more value on my work as an employee than on living my life, I wouldn't even need to tell people that I have an employer, would I? I could dodge that bullet altogether!

So all I have to do in order to find the optimal phrase - and believe it, which is important to me - is get over the fact that I don't work outside the home for someone, and learn to value my intangible contributions to society and the people around me, and talk about those. Thanks, everyone!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Where has all the time gone?

Christmas is less than two weeks away and of course we hadn't done much in the way of shopping before now. The holiday kind of crept up on me, which isn't that much of a surprise given that I've been sick and all. The days have all sort of blended together with the only remarkable days being the ones where I either get something done or I'm in pain.

The other day I was in pain; I thought that my temporary filling had come out. I saw another dentist to check it out and fortunately, the filling is fine; it's the sinus that's the problem. They did an xray and showed me that the edge of the root of that tooth rests against the sinus cavity - I knew the root was close to the edge but not that they were basically lying next to each other.

Today I got stuff done: Ian and I got much of our shopping done today. We didn't have to go to that many places but I was so exhausted afterwards that I needed a big 3-hour nap. There's something about being in crowds of packs of slow-moving people that is quite draining. We need to do a bit more shopping but we get to rest tomorrow. I hope that this means that tomorrow will be a day where I get some pattern work done. :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

I need a better one-line answer

Ian's Christmas party was tonight. I didn't quite finish the dress in time - if I'd had an extra couple of hours I could have done it but the time wasn't there. I wore the outfit I already had, which was fine - I looked good :) I definitely will finish the dress (and re-use the pattern) because it looks good on me.

The party was fun; we had turducken for dinner and some kind of creamy pudding thing for dessert. The opening salad was very elegantly displayed: the salad dressing was contained in a hollowed out cucumber and the vegetable toppings were spilling out of a tomato. It was both lovely and delicious!

I got to meet pretty well everyone at Ian's company that I haven't met before, so I'll know who he's talking about when he tells me what's going on :)

The thing is, whenever I meet new people, they ask what I do for a living.... and I don't know what to tell them. Tonight I awkwardly mumbled some stuff about "being on medical leave", or "on leave right now" from the company I work for. I'm uncomfortable telling people that I'm at home because I don't have kids and I feel weird about not having a job, you know? I feel like I need a good, one-line thing to tell people that is truthful, rolls off the tongue easily, but doesn't give too much away - do any of you have one?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Still sick and still sewing

Ian's company Christmas party is on Friday.... and although I have an outfit to wear, it's always nice to have something new. I have some black lace striped fabric and some shiny black lightweight satin stuff, and looking through my patterns, I thought the fabrics would work for the dress in this pattern (with the satin fabric used on the neck and waist part). I think it'll look good if I finish in time and if I don't, as I say, I have another outfit to wear.

Of course I didn't decide to do this until about 4pm today. :) Since then, I've managed to get the pattern altered, the lace cut out, and the lace top sewn. I thought I would do french seams for the lace seams and darts because the serger left the seams a little stiffer than I wanted. It takes a little longer, but I'm happy with the results so far. I expect to be quite lazy when it comes to the rest of the dress and so it shouldn't take too long to finish. I hope. :)

I am happy to report that although I'm still sick, I'm feeling a bit better - my throat is less sore, although my ears are still as stuffy.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I'm so, so, so tired of being sick

Oh, will this tiredness and sore throat never end? I saw a doctor about my throat today but there's no bacterial infection and so there was nothing that he could give me. He did prescribe some eyedrops for the eye that's infected - yes, one of my eyes has pinkeye. Again.

I also talked to the dentist who did the temporary filling, and since the tooth does feel a bit better since the temporary filling (it's hard to tell, because the rest of my face feels awful), I can have that filling replaced when I get back from Edmonton. I don't want to take a chance on getting it replaced before I go because I don't want to be sicker before I go. I just hope that the temporary filling isn't what's making my throat sore.

Later on, I saw the oral surgeon that had ordered the CT scan of my jaw. The CT scan came back fine - there's no osteonecrosis or mets there or anything. He did say that the tooth that's been sore is VERY close to the nearby sinus cavity, and that that sinus cavity showed thickening in the CT scan (indicating a sinus infection, which is probably chronic since I didn't have symptoms at that time). He thinks that the tooth irritates the sinus cavity which irritates the tooth and which irritates the sinus cavity and on and on... and that the chronic sinus infection flares up when that tooth is worked on - which is why I get so sick after the fillings.

So.... I'll be on amoxycillin for the next days and on the eyedrops for seven days. After that, if I'm not all the way better, the oral surgeon wants to send me to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

The doctor said I should feel better within two days of starting the antibiotics. I'm really hoping that Thursday brings me good health.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Starting to feel better

Finally, my sore throat is gone and I'm feeling mostly better. My ears - well, one ear; yesterday it was the left one and today it's the right - are stuffed up so I can't hear all that well. The tv is up much louder than usual tonight, much to Ian's surprise :) I have a small cough that is bringing stuff up which I don't like but until it gets worse, I'll try and ignore it.

While I've been sick I haven't been outside much which is all to the good, really. We've had a LOT of snow over the last week or so and it's starting to get cold out there. Bundling up to go outside is more work than it's worth. It sure looks pretty from here, though.

I've been working on my sewing patterns. I've made some adjustments to one and have traced out another top. It turns out that the table I use for making jewelry is a great size for working on patterns. I'm looking forward to trying out these patterns when I'm feeling even better.

Friday, December 05, 2008

How can I still be sick?

I'm still sick - ugh. My throat is still very sore and has little red bumps all over the place, making it difficult to swallow. I have almost no appetite, partly because it hurts to swallow and partly because I'm still tasting the anaesthetic in the zoe filling. I did a bit of research and I discovered that some people are sensitive to one of the components of the filling (one that's used in perfumes). I guess it's possible that my sore throat is from the filling.

Then again, I could just be sick - and since Ian is not feeling his very best right now, it's possible that I really am sick with something that I gave to Ian. We've been careful to limit contact and wash our hands and stuff so it's also possible that we've both picked up something that's going around.

At least I'll get lots of rest this weekend, even if I wish I could get some sewing done. Maybe next week.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

How can I be sick again?

I'm sick again. My throat is sore, my ears are plugged, my sinuses hurt, my head hurts, I'm exhausted, and I think I'm running a fever. I can't find my thermometer, so I'm not sure about the fever but I woke up drenched twice last night and since I don't get night sweats I figure it's fever.

So Stephen Harper managed to prorogue Parliament until January 26. It's made the news around the world. I guess the thinking is that the time off will make the coalition fail and will give people time to think about things. I wish that the Conservatives would stop the rhetoric crap about how the coalition is wrong and unconstitutional, because they're wrong. The coalition's efforts are allowed by the constitution, in fact. It annoys me to no end to think that the Conservatives are deliberately manipulating people by lying to them and stretching the truth.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I got to go to the dentist today

Did you know that if local anaesthetic is injected very sloooowly, it doesn't hurt? It's true. The endodontist replaced one of my fillings with a temporary one today to see if that tooth is hurting because of the old filling. The endodentist also said that when the anaesthetic is injected slowly, the freezing takes better than if it's injected quickly. From now on, I'm asking anyone giving me local anaesthetic to do it slowly so that it don't have to hurt anymore.

My face isn't completely unfrozen yet and I look sort of like a stroke victim - my face is puffy from my lip to my eye on that side. Attractive it is not :)

My throat is a little sore as well, and it's occurred to me that the last time I had a filling done, I wound up with pneumonia afterward. Hmmm. How could that happen? I hope that I don't wind up with pneumonia (even the walking kind) again.

Oh yeah, I get to see my actual dentist tomorrow, too. I guess this is going to be a week of dentistry goodness.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

These are interesting times

Normally federal Canadian politics are pretty boring compared to politics around the country. There aren't that many controversies or scandals, and things that happen during the Parliamentary sessions are unremarkable.

You might remember that we had an election about six or eight weeks ago and another election about two years ago, and that both elections resulted in minority governments. This means that no one party holds power and so in order to pass new bills, lots of compromise needs to be made with other parties to get them to vote for the proposals. This can be good because it brings balance to new bills and has apparently wrought some of the best legislation ever passed. A minority government is inherently unstable because no one holds all the power.

Right now, the Conservative party headed by Stephen Harper forms the minority government, and that's almost certainly going to change one way or another. The other parties that have seats in the House -  the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois - have hammered out a deal where they will form a coalition government (well, the Bloc will support this government but not be part of it) for the next thirty months if a non-confidence vote in the Conservative government next Monday is passed *and* the Governor General approves.

This is so exciting!! Only one event , 80 years ago, comes close to this proposal. And there's no guarantee that this crazy proposal will go through - the Governor General can decide to hold yet another election if a House vote shows non-confidence in the Conservatives. Nevermind the fact that the last two elections resulted in minority governments and another election would probably do the same thing. Not to mention that elections are expensive and why, in these times, would we spend money on that - the Governor General could make this call.

Apparently there's a third possible outcome, and that's is if the Prime Minister suspends but does not dissolve Parliament (prorogues it). A non-confidence vote could then not take place - but then, neither could any other business. I suspect that this option would delay the inevitable non-confidence vote, but I'm not sure.

This is all very exciting and will definitely be an historic event no matter how it plays out. The non-confidence vote is set for December 8. I don't know what the long-term implications are for any of these options, so I expect to be doing some research over the next week. And glued to the tv/internet next Monday :)

What do you all think? Do any of these options appeal to you? Which do you think would be best for the country in the current economic climate (they're saying we're in a recession and the Big 3 automakers aren't doing well, which will have huge impacts on Ontario)?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fun and games

Our fun today started with seeing Bolt , a Disney movie that came out about a week ago. It's an animated movie (available in 3D, in some places) about a dog who thinks that he really is the star he plays in a tv show. Thinking his person is in danger, he tries to help her and ends up on quite a journey. Sound sappy? It isn't. In fact, this is a GREAT movie!!!!!!! I was bouncing up and down in my seat because parts of it were so awesome (Ian said that it was fun to watch me watching the movie), and in some parts I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe.

Yes, this movie has a PG rating and so if you see it in the theatre, you'll share the space with kids, but there isn't that much downtime in it so the kids don't talk too much. The animation is spectacular and there isn't much gratuitous 3D imagery (you know, like where they show an object coming at you from the screen for no particular reason).

We strongly recommend this movie - go see it! This is a movie that I could definitely see again and again.... In fact, I'd love to see it with my family - we're similar in some ways and I can see us really enjoying watching this movie with each other.

After the movie, we played Rockband 2. I didn't really notice much in the way instrument upgrades (I sing when we play) but I really like the songs available for it. It has songs from bands that friends and I used to sing along to, including Duran Duran, Journey, Billy Idol, and more - see the setlist. It's awesome singing along to those old pop classics! Sure, I like the rock songs but I definitely liked the lighter stuff, too.
The increased variety of included songs in Rockband 2 over Rockband means that there's something for almost everyone, so it would be an even better game to play with a diverse group of people.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday shopping

Today is "Black Friday " in the US - the Friday after Thanksgiving, where US retailers have huge sales and expect to get into the black for the year. Every year there are stories about the sales and the huge numbers of people that vie for the best bargains. In addition to those stories, there's a much more serious one out there.

A Wal-Mart employee was trampled today after a huge crowd of people broke down the doors to get in and shop. Four other people (including a pregnant woman) were also hurt in the stampede. Photos show that huge numbers of people were massed up against the doors in an obviously uncontrollable mob.

I'm shocked and appalled at this news. I know that people like bargains, but is rushing in and trampling someone to get a bargain worth it? Of course it's not just the people seeking bargains that are at fault here. If Wal-Mart had controlled the situation better at a much earlier stage, that man might not have died. Why were people allowed to just gather in a mob behind the doors, pressing against them before they even opened? Why weren't some of the extra security people outside forcing the people into some kind of line? What the hell was Wal-Mart thinking?

I'm not usually one for litigation, but I very much hope that Wal-Mart gets their butts sued off over this. There's no excuse for this tragedy. Wal-Mart should be held responsible for failing to have adequate measures in place to control this type of situation. They should be held responsible for failing to protect their employees. I very much hope that the unions finally gain a foothold in Wal-Mart as a result of this incident. I'm not normally a huge fan of unions, but I think that the Wal-Mart workers need a safe place to work. And I don't think that Wal-Mart can be trusted to provide one.

I don't know why this particular incident bothers me so much, but it does. Maybe it's because it's Wal-Mart (I don't like them), or maybe because this death could have been avoided with a little forethought, or maybe it's because the person died because people were in such a rush to buy stuff and get good bargains. Ugh.

Happy US Thanksgiving, everyone.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

There's more day when I'm awake for it

I can get so much more done when I get up early - well, early for me, which is about 10am. I was able to get some more sewing done and to feel like I was a real person. I felt like I had time for everything and that I could do as much or as little as I wanted, but I didn't feel lethargic or tired. It was a refreshing change from the last few days.

I did get the waistband attached to the pants (although I haven't attached the waistband facing to the top of the pants) and tried them on, and I think they look good. They seem to fit really well and I think I'll be happy with them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I love it when pants come together

The fly zipper on the pants I'm making turned out to be not too hard. It's the first fly zipper I've ever done; fortunately, the instructions were fairly easy to follow and I didn't have to rip any seams out. There was a lot of basting but I'm learning that basting is a good thing :)

There's a wide, contoured waistband on these pants that is supposed to be cut so that the straight grain is horizontal in center front and back. You might remember that I'm using a herringbone fabric with several different gray warp fibers, giving the fabric a subtle stripe. I had actually cut the waistband out with the grain as designed but then I realized that this wouldn't be all that flattering. I've made that mistake before: the horizontal stripe in front goes downward at the sides and makes my belly look bigger. I don't need my clothes helping my belly look bigger :)

So I recut the outer waistband on the bias (adding a seam in center back) which will look soooooo much better. I can still use the previously-cut lining pieces because the grain of the lining isn't so important; as well, the straight grain (and interfacing on the outer fabric) will help to stabilize the outer waistband. Hopefully I'll finish the pants tomorrow, if I'm up early enough. I think (hope) that they're going to look good.

Of course I'm still making pattern grading adjustments to another dress (a kimono-sleeved empire waist with a full-ish gored skirt) and I want to start work on grading up a top or two. So much sewing, so little time! I wish I was faster at all this ... then again, if I actually spent a few hours in the sewing room each day instead of once in a while, I'd get so much more done.

I appreciate all of the support you've given me since I've been feeling down. It might be time for a new antidepressant, or it could be the time of year (it is gray out there with all of the snow, and there's less light). One thing that's definitely contributing is the uptick in pain I've been experiencing in the mets in my sternum. The pain isn't so bad that I need to take breakthrough painkillers (although even extra Tylenol helps) but it's now this constant, low-level ache with occasional extra twinges of pain. Add to this the pain in my leg and I've got a recipe for depression.

I know I should see a doctor about the pain and I will, eventually. I'd expect my family doctor to increase my pain meds, but if I don't quite need breakthrough medications, it's hard to increase the fentanyl. The mets pain could be from the Pamidronate, I guess, or I could be developing a tolerance to the fentanyl, maybe. I see my oncologist in early February and I'll definitely talk to her about this then. I don't understand how I can have pain in the sternal mets if the mets themselves are stable and not growing - unless the pain is because the bone is growing over the mets. Anyways, if the pain gets a lot worse  I'll call my family doctor.

Heck, maybe changing my antidepressants will make the pain go away :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I knew the hospital was bad...

After what a friend told me about our local hospital, there's no way that I would want to go there if I was really sick. I don't want to give away too many details, but she was on chemo and very sick and they told her that there was nothing they could do - but they didn't do any scans or try and find out why she was so sick. If she hadn't gone to another hospital over an hour away, she would have died.

I knew that my local hospital - especially the emergency room - wasn't that good, but honestly, I had no idea that they were that bad. If I ever get really sick, please remind me that I want to go somewhere else.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Grey days

Maybe it's because I'd been sleeping so much, or because there's snow on the ground, or because I've been doing nothing at all, but I've been feeling a bit down lately. It's nothing major - I'm still on antidepressants and all - but I've been feeling fat, lethargic, and like the days are endless without meaning. Everything is looking sort of grey and colourless and I haven't felt really happy for the last couple of days.

I did feel a bit better today once I got up and did some pattern work - I finished some new-to-me alterations and need to test them. Hopefully I'll continue to feel better as I do stuff over the next few days.

One thing that brightened my day was that my wallet came back to me. The money was gone, of course, but everything else was still there. Including the earrings I thought I'd lost - there were three pairs in my wallet: the first pair of earrings I'd ever made, a pair with the first set of earwires I'd ever made, and a crystal pair that Ian and I had bought. Yeah, I was worried about the ID, but I was most distraught about losing the earrings. Silly, huh? But there it is.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Almost normal again

Ok, I got up at noon today and I think I've finally caught up on my sleep. This means that I can start getting up at a normal time - yay!

I forgot to tell you one thing that I learned at the physiotherapist; the pain I have in my lower back is NOT at the L5-S1 degeneration site. The pain is lower and goes along the edge of the pelvic bone (when the physiotherapist  checked that edge, it hurt like crazy). And here all this time I thought I knew why it hurt so much there; I was wrong.

Oh, and one other thing: the physiotherapist also said that it's possible that the pain in my leg could be a circulatory problem. I'm not thinking about that - my dad died after having surgery for his circulation problems, and while I know that if I've got circulation problems they're not that bad, I don't want to have the same thing wrong with me that killed my dad. You know?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Once again, it's not all in my head

Apparently I really do have pain in my leg. I saw a physiotherapist yesterday and she was able to see the area that hurts - it's red and swollen. She thinks that I might have pulled my hamstring ages ago - like two years ago - and the muscle has never fully healed. She said that my meds might have slowed the healing process.

I must say, it's comforting to know that the pain isn't all in my head. She wants me to wear a compression garment (either a stocking or shorts) and to heat and rest the muscle. I could ice it, too, but it doesn't like the cold. I'm also to cut down on the amount of exercising I do to no more than 10 minutes per session.

If after two weeks of treating it gently it doesn't get better, she said that we're going to be mean to it by stretching it. I already know that stretching hurts - it feels like it needs to be stretched but when I try and do it, it hurts like crazy - but I can see that I might have to suck it up and get it stretched anyways. And of course she'd give me exercises to do.

I don't know what's going on with me these days, but I'm exhausted and my mets are twitchy. I'm sleeping pretty well all the time right now. I'm hoping that this ends soon because sleeping all night, all morning, all afternoon, and most of the early evening isn't much of a life, you know?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Westport trip

Friday night in Westport was pretty low-key; once all of us had arrived, we decided to go out to dinner. I chose Mexican because we don't have any good Mexican restaurants in Waterloo. We ended up driving around in circles for a while because the person driving wasn't able to get her bearings. The food was exceptionally good although the restaurant was full of really, really drunk people so the atmosphere left something to be desired.

Everyone who was going to be there was there on Saturday. Most of us got together for breakfast (it was included in the hotel price), after which I decided I'd walk down to the drugstore. I thought it was really close but it turned out to be about a mile and a half away. I saw a TD bank on my way there, which surprised me - later, someone said that they'd just taken over another bank. At least I was able to stop at the bookstore on the way back :) I bought a book I'd been interested in before: Books of Blood (Volumes 1-3) by Clive Barker. I'll have to get the volumes 4-6 as well - I looove the stories. I hadn't expected to go on such a big walk and slept while others went down to the beach.

That night, the person who knew the area best suggested we go to an Italian restaurant. She called the owner who said that he could fit us in as long as we showed up by 6pm as he had a reservation for 15 at 7:30pm. We're a group of 13 at this point, and if any of you are familiar with groups of this size, you'll know that getting the entire group together at the same time is like herding cats.

We were supposed to all meet at 5:45pm to figure out car assignments. Everyone finally showed up by 6:05pm and we all made it to the restaurant by 6:30pm. Remember our reservations were for 6pm? Yep, we were late. The owner was in a tizzy because he had this huge group coming in at 7:30pm but he assured us that he could serve us all within 15 minutes. Ha ha.

The meal was delicious and finished around 8pm. I don't know of any restaurant that can serve 13 people in 15 minutes :) We all met afterward in one person's room for some chatting, italian desserts, and fun. There was a lot of laughter (much of it inappropriate) and good times.

On Sunday, the person who knew the area arranged for us all to go to dinner at The Dressing Room , which is the restaurant that Paul Newman part-owned (apparently she knew the family). The restaurant serves only organic food. The food was *delicious*. For dessert I had angel food cake lightly pan-fried and then drizzled in honey, served with vanilla ice cream. It was soooooo gooooood. And it's something that we could make at home :)

I ate a little too much at dinner and my painkiller patches expired during dinner so I ended up feeling like crap afterwards. A lot of people got together that night but there was no way I could have done that - once I got my patches changed, I went to bed.

We all did a little bit of shopping on Monday at Anthropologie and Balducci's . I fell in love with a coat at Anthropologie but they didn't have it in my size, which is just as well - it was $328USD. I fell in love with many of the clothes there because they have such beautiful detailing on all of their clothes. I can make clothes and I want to put detailing on them, but I don't really know what would look good without looking homemade. I signed up to receive their catalogs as inspiration.

Balducci's carries a lot of organic foods and whatnot. After that shopping, some people went downtown and I went to bed, where I stayed until Tuesday morning. I kid you not - I slept through dinner and everything. I've been exhausted since then, as you know.

All in all, it was a fantastic visit. I'm so very glad that I went, even though I was nervous and anxious. I met some great people that I hope to see again. I hope that I gave everyone as much as I felt I got - there were so many wise, wonderful women there that I feel indebted to them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Home again

Yep, I'm back! I'm still very tired so I'll give you all of the details tomorrow - for now, I'll say that I had a great time. I enjoyed meeting everyone and had quite a few laughs and a lot of food. I'm so glad to have met everyone and I hope to see everyone again.

The only dark spot on the whole trip is that when I boarded my last plane to come home 15 minutes before it took off, I realized that I didn't have my wallet. I got off the plane and looked for it but it was gone. I've already canceled my credit cards and whatnot. I guess it would have been a lot better if I hadn't had my birth certificate and SIN card in there. Yes, I know that this was stupid on my part.

Still, if someone fashions a new identity out of my stuff, I hope I end up young and glamorous and rich. You know, like they show in the commercials.

UPDATE: Someone just called me from the airport (at 11:30pm!) to tell me that they've got the wallet and it's still got the credit cards. Yippee! I have to make arrangements to get it here but at least there's a possibility that I'll get it and the important things back.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Leaving on a jet plane

Tomorrow I'm off to Westport, CT to spend a few days with some of the women from the Young Survival Coalition bulletin board who have mets. I'm excited about the trip and a little nervous, too. Of course I need reading material for my trip but I didn't want to have to buy it all in the airport as it costs a lot there.

I read a lot, you know - I mean a LOT. I read mostly fiction with a focus on science fiction, fantasy, and horror (of course). I've always loved reading and have a number of favourites that I read over and over again. However, buying books can be expensive and it's hard to try new authors if I have to pay for the books.

So after having lived in Waterloo continuously for more than five years now, today I finally went out and got myself a library card. I took out three books to read on the trip (I have a couple of layovers in the airports) and I'm very much looking forward to using the library.

I don't expect to be posting in my blog much while I'm away, so please don't be surprised if there's nothing new for a few days. I'll do what I can to keep you all updated, of course. :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An answer to a Bird's Nest question

While watching the Olympics, I'd wondered why the Bird's Nest didn't have a retractable roof as it was raining down on the competitors and they were getting soaked.

Tonight, I finally got an answer while watching a National Geographic Megastructures show. The original plans did call for a less-open roof and a retractable roof. After the collapse in the Charles de Gaulle airport , construction on the Bird's Nest was suspended for five months while investigations took place. Apparently there were some similarities in construction between the two structures and no one wanted the same thing to happen again.

After the consultations, the design was changed and the retractable roof was scrapped. Now I know why the competitors were rained on. :)

From conception to construction, this was a unique, one-of-a-kind building. Even the steel they used was newly developed especially for the structure so that it would be strong and flexible, both able to withstand earthquakes and be flexible enough to bend and twist over the curves of the building. It's an amazing achievement. I think I'd like to see it someday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not have been the best idea, maybe

The Pamidronate infusion and de-access went well on Monday. Whew! I've been pretty tired since I got it but that's normal.

I had the chance to get the flu shot today and I took it. I'm supposed to get it each year anyways and getting it earlier is better. Of course the flu shot isn't without side effects - it leaves me tired and physically sore for a few days afterward.

So, umm, I guess it shouldn't have surprised me that this morning's flu shot, on top of Monday's Pamidronate, knocked me out all afternoon.

There's a part of me that wishes I'd been able to have more time between the Pamidronate and the flu shot. The fact that I was knocked out for the entire afternoon - and I'm still tired, feeling a little nauseous, and starting to feel a bit achy - tells me that the next couple of days are going to be less than productive. I'd kind of hoped to get some sewing or pattern work or jewelry done (yes, I have an idea or two about new pieces that I'd like to make) but I think I'm going to have to adjust my expectations.

Monday, November 10, 2008

If I could go anywhere, where would it be?

You know, I don't think of the things that I want to do someday as a "bucket list" but I guess that's what they are. One thing that I'd love to be able to do is travel. I'd like to see some of Europe, and Australia, and all of that.

But what I *really* ache to do is travel to the Arctic or the Antarctic. There are cruises that will take a person there, believe it or not. Personally, I think that being able to see those places would be just about the most awesome thing in the world. I admit that it's a little strange for the woman who gets cold to want to go to the coldest places on the planet, but I have my reasons. :)

One reason I want to see those places in particular is because they are so pristine and virtually untouched by people. They're an example of the raw, harsh splendour of the planet and of Mother Nature. To me, going those places would be the ultimate in being one with nature. I'd love to go into space, too (oh! to travel to other planets! My heart cries at the thought that I'll never do that), but since that's out of the question, our polar regions are just about the next best thing. There are hardly any people there; they're places where a person can be almost completely alone.

I'm also in awe of the people who discovered those regions and I want to see what they saw. Those places have changed but in many ways they're timeless; it's not like the areas were discovered and then overrun with people or tourists.

I suppose that these types of trips are another way of walking away and leaving everything behind because my current life wouldn't fit there. I wonder if going to these places would quench that desire? Or would it awaken it further?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

More sewing fun

You might remember that I've started sewing some pants out of the fabulous grey fabric I bought. I think the pants are going to look great when I finish them (the skirt I made out of the fabric looks awesome!). I knew when I started making the pants that there might be some tricky things to do as it's a Vogue pattern.

The pattern has welt pockets just below the waistband. I've dealt with welt pockets in jackets and whatnot, but never in this particular location. Oh my goodness, getting them exactly right was a challenge! Both of them were supposed to be 4 1/4" wide and one of them was only 4 1/8" wide - I know that no one would notice but me, but I would notice, and so I had to add both single stitches I was missing on each side.

I'd sort of tacked one of the welts in by hand when I discovered that the top of welt pocket was in the seam allowance of the waistband. I looked at it at first and I couldn't figure out how I was going to sew the waistband with the pocket in the way.... and then I realized that I'd been approaching this the wrong way. It turns out that the parts that I thought were tricky weren't that hard at all - instead of matching some circles, I just had to match some cutlines and make sure the top of the pocket was just below the seam allowance for the waistband.

The next hardest part will be putting in the zipper - I avoid fly fronts but it works with this pant. After that, the pants should be dead easy to finish.

My Pamidronate is starting up again tomorrow - I have to be at the hospital at the crazy hour of 8am(!!). When the infusion is done, home care is supposed to come and de-access the port. I called them Thursday to tell the team and got a call back from one person confirming it and telling me that it would be scheduled. Then another nurse (the one who will be doing the de-accessing tomorrow) called today to ask whether I was getting the Pamidronate tomorrow because she wasn't sure what was going on and she didn't know I was going to be on the schedule.

Sigh. Can you tell I'm annoyed? I'd expect that the home care office could manage their own schedule without having to get in touch with the patient a second time. Grrr. I find the Pamidronate procedure stressful enough that when anything else goes wrong I feel extra-annoyed. I hope that things do go smoothly tomorrow.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Saturday night movie

We finally watched Night of the Living Dead. It is an amazing movie, not just because it's about zombies, but because it's a realistic portrayal of how people forced into a deadly situation act and react. I didn't much like many of the characters because I thought that they were acting irrationally and endangering themselves and others. Then again, those people were behaving as you might expect them to: the "big fish" becomes a coward when a "bigger fish" comes along; the woman who couldn't leave during the last major disaster overreacts; and the catatonic woman is catatonic with a textile fixation. These could all be real, annoying, random people you might get stuck with during an emergency.

We watched the non-colourized 30th anniversary edition which has a new score and some added scenes. I hadn't heard the original score so I don't know how the new one compares, but I thought it was ok. I didn't notice it most of the time which is the mark of a decent soundtrack to me.

The new scenes are at the very beginning and the very end and I really didn't like them. In fact, I think that these scenes detracted from the movie. One of the reasons that the movie is so good is that you start right in with the dead and finish with the cleanup in the end - the scenario goes from bad to worse as the movie progresses. The new scenes bracket the movie by adding a badly-acted religious component that references no other part of the movie. This new, unsupported message doesn't fit with the existing movie.

I'm doing some reading (that link is worth reading if you don't mind a little outrage and profanity), and it looks like other original footage has been taken out in addition to adding these terrible scenes. Apparently some of the important backstory is missing as are some zombies. What was John Russo thinking when he changed the movie?

Hmmm. I'm thinking that while I like the 30th anniversary edition of Night of the Living Dead, I'll love the original much, much more.

My cups runneth over

You know how I've had problems with patterns being too big in center front and center back, at least at my current weight, and so I thought that my shoulders were too narrow? I think I finally understand what's going on, and it isn't that my shoulders are narrow - it's that my bust is big.

There are two bust area measurements that can be taken: the bust itself, where the tape measure goes over the fullest part of the bust and stays parallel to the floor all around; and the high bust, where the tape measure is in the same place as the bust in the back but is raised in front to go above the bust fullness. A bust measurement no more than 3" larger than the high bust indicates a B cup while a bust measurement more than 3" larger than the high bust indicates a C or larger cup.

Most people can use the bust as a guide in choosing the pattern size because most people will be about a B cup. If someone has a C or larger cup and chooses a top or dress pattern according to the bust size, the bust will fit properly but the shoulders and armholes will be way too big. So the solution for those with a C or larger cup is to choose the top or dress pattern size based on the high bust measurement and then make a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) for the bust. This means that the shoulders, chest, and bust will all fit properly. I should mention here that making an FBA is way easier than grading the shoulder area down :).

Note: I suspect, although I'm not sure, that if the bust and high bust measurements differ by less than about 1" this indicates an A or smaller cup. Those with an A or smaller cup could use either measurement to choose the top or dress pattern and then make a Small Bust Adjustment (SBA) to fit the pattern to them.

Anyways..... it turns out that right now, my high bust measurement is about 4" smaller than my bust measurement. I guess I'm not the B cup I thought I was :) I've been choosing my pattern size by my bust measurement when I should be using the high bust measurement! No wonder I was having fit issues through the shoulder and armscye.

I'm pretty sure that I knew about all of this - I definitely remember reading about how to select a different pattern size based on the high bust measurement and all that - but I never thought that it applied to me. I guess the difference between my bust and high bust is more pronounced right now because I'm carrying some extra pounds.

Speaking of extra weight, the other day I told my oncologist that I wanted to lose some of it. She said, "Why? What's wrong with your weight now?" I could have kissed her - who doesn't want a license to be chubby? :)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The fantasy of walking away and starting over

We were watching a tv show where the main character just walks away from his life. He meets a girl and travels with her without telling anyone where he is or where he's going.

Part of me would love to live that kind of life, moving from place to place whenever I felt like it and never really having responsibilities. I always used to say that I wanted someone to pay me just to sit in a room and be me and do what I like - giving everything up to live a paid, no strings nomadic life would definitely fall into that life (so does being on long-term disability, come to think of it). I could definitely get used to freely moving from one place to another.

At different times in my life, I've also very much wanted to just walk away and start over. Not that I've ever wanted to leave my family or loved ones, but there's something appealing about being able to go somewhere else where no one knows me and reinvent myself. Intellectually, I know that this wouldn't work, because wherever you go, there you are - in other words, you can never escape yourself so you're likely to make the same kinds of mistakes that you made before. That said, there's something about the idea that a person could just walk away and start over and have a good life.

Don't get me wrong - I love the person I am and the life I have..... but who doesn't love the idea of a little irresponsibility and reinvention sometimes?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Too sleepy for my own good

I'd run out of Aerius, the allergy drug I take, for a few days and so wound up not taking any for a few days. That turned out to be a HUUUGGGEEEE mistake.

The red blister things have re-appeared under my fentanyl patches and are itchy as crazy. So not only is my back kind of ugly due to overlapping patch areas, it's ugly AND itchy due to the allergic reaction. Blah.

To counteract the allergy effect, I took some Benadryl which acts as an antihistamine. I then tried to watch a movie. Ha ha ha - it's funny because I fell asleep during the movie (Benadryl is known to make people sleepy) and woke up watching only the movie menu. That's a bit of a waste of a movie, wouldn't you say?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Normal, sort of

The endodontist I saw today thinks that my tooth hurts because I either cracked it in the fall I had or the new filling put in is bothering me. He's taking a conservative approach to treatment and putting in a zoe which has anaesthetic properties. If the pain is still there after six months, then we'll either do a root canal or extract the tooth.

Let's hope that my tooth just doesn't like the new filling, huh?

If we do have to proceed further, then my oncologist wants to stop the Pamidronate for two months both before and after the procedure. I figure that if the pain is still there in five months, we can stop the Pamidronate, and do whatever procedure we need to do in seven months.

The reason I say that I will stop the Pamidronate is that my oncologist, who I also saw today, is putting me back on it. She doesn't have the jaw CT results but since no one has told me anything, we figure that the scan is clear. My oncologist is also going to start seeing me every three months instead of two because my condition is stable and I'm doing so well.

In great news, my tumour markers went down to 35.8 which is normal. Yippeee!

On a side note, we're looking at the US election results and so far they're calling Obama for the win. I hope that this actually happens - I didn't want to see McCain in power, and I think/hope that Obama will do great things for the US. In my opinion, he's a great leader and the world needs that right now.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Clearly, I don't know everything

I was able to get some sewing done today. I finished the skirt except for hemming it and got the pants ready to sew.

I've discovered that I've learned a thing or two about sewing over the years. In particular, I think I've finally figured out how to use fusible interfacing. I used to avoid using the stuff because it would always go lumpy after it was washed. Well, I've discovered that I wasn't fusing the interfacing properly - I was using a steam iron. I did some tests and it turns out that it fuses better with heat, pressure, and lack of steam. As well, I realized that the interfacing looks different once its fused to the fabric so it's easy to tell when it's fused properly.

Who knew all of these things? It's like no matter how much I know, there's still room for more.

Tomorrow is US election day - finally! It'll be a fun evening of watching election results; hopefully there will be a decision tomorrow.

I've also got a couple of appointments tomorrow: I see a root canal specialist (in case the pain in my jaw and face is due to common teeth problems) first thing and and then my oncologist in the afternoon. Hopefully it'll all go well.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A new sewing project

I'd bought a lot (five-ish meters) of some gorgeous dark gray herringbone fabric a while ago as part of my winter fabric shopping spree. It was super-cheap, which is one reason I bought so much - the other is that I love it, of course! It has a number of different gray warp thread colours, giving it an irregular striped effect that I love. The herringbone weave itself is so fine that it's hardly noticeable but it makes the fabric drape beautifully. Not only that, but the herringbone weave gives the fabric some stretch to it. I tell you, what's not to love about this fabric?

Since the fabric is gorgeous, drapes really well, has a bit of weight to it, and has some stretch, it's perfect for skirts and pants (and some tops and dresses, I think). Today I finally pulled the fabric out and cut out a skirt and a pair of pants. I can't wait to sew them! I've made the skirt pattern before and it looks awesome but this will be the first try for the pants.

Now, normally when I wear skirts or dresses in the winter, I wear tights with them because otherwise my legs get cold. Usually I wear black tights because most of my winter things are black, but since I'm working with these gray fabrics, I decided that I needed some non-black tights. I was thinking that gray, charcoal, or off-black tights would be perfect. I figured that it couldn't be that hard to find a pair of tights in one of these colours.

Well, it's exactly that hard. I spent two hours looking at tights today trying to find the perfect gray pair. I ended up buying three different pairs because I wasn't sure which ones would look and fit the best. Each one has slightly different colour, composition, texture, and opacity, and even though I tried to figure out what each pair would look like, it's impossible to know that until I put them on. Fortunately, none of them cost all that much and I think I'll get wear out of all of them.

I also bought a pair of black sweater tights - they're so soft, cushy, comfortable and warm that I just couldn't resist buying them. I have a lot of black tights but none like this pair; when I tried them on at home it felt like I was wearing a soft, warm hug on my legs. They're not that cheap but they are that nice - I highly recommend them!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween weekend pictures

I know you've all been waiting anxiously for our pictures, so here they are! This post is quite picture-heavy; blogger and I have had quite a time getting this post up.

Ian's Jack pumpkin that he carved at work in 10 minutes:

Ian's Cybermen pumpkin (from the new Doctor Who series):

My Dalek pumpkin (also from the Doctor Who series):

Our house from the outside. Not quite as many decorations as in previous years but still nice.

The candy and Spooky Town table. Pretty :)

Tonight we went to a Halloween party and we got to dress up!!! Here are pictures of our costumes :)

Braaiiiiins! I'm a zombie!:

A close-up of my zombie face. Ian thought my make-up looked pretty good. I think so, too :) I really like the fake gel blood I had which makes the bloody parts that much more realistic. I hope it comes off easily. The shirt is an old one I had that we cut up and spread blood around on (it doesn't have to come clean).

Ian is Rorschach from Watchmen. This is what we spent so much time getting together the other weekend: the pants and trenchcoat came from Goodwill and I made the mask. I'm quite happy with how the mask turned out.

Finally, a picture of both of us:

Whew! What a lot of pictures and fun this weekend has been.I'm looking forward to sleeping and having a restful sewing day tomorrow.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween! (pssst: anyone need some candy?)

Oh, how I love Halloween! The costumes, the candy, the pumpkins, the decorations... it's association with horror films... everything about it. I'll post our pumpkin and decoration pictures tomorrow - we did some amazing pumpkins this year.

Unfortunately, we had hardly any kids - only *19* and only between 6:45pm and 9pm! Compare that to 42 between 6 and 9pm last year. :( We bought more than enough candy for 45 kids and so we have a LOT left over. I'm thinking that the low numbers might be a combination of it being a Friday night, really warm (it was over 15 today), and daylight savings ending later rather than earlier. Daylight savings time switches next weekend for the first time; in previous years it's switched before Halloween and so it's been darkish by 6pm.

At least we got to carve out our pumpkins and decorate the place a little. Of course we only got everything up today so people didn't get to enjoy out pumpkins and whatnot beforehand. We'll keep the pumpkins outside for their viewing pleasure for a few days.

Halloween isn't over for us: we get to dress up for a Halloween party tomorrow. Yippeee!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lazy day at home

 Today I finished a couple of tasks and while I probably could have done a lot more, I count it as a reasonably successful day. That's really all of the "productive" things that I did today. So how did I spend the hours and hours I was awake today?

Watching movies, of course!

I started with Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer . It's a "documentary" about a serial killer over the span of just a few months (years?) in his life. You see what he sees through some awesome camera work. The violence is implied and not really overt but in some ways this makes his actions that much more believable. Even though this movie is from the mid-eighties, it's still very unsettling and creepy. I highly recommend it as it's well worth watching.

Later I watched The Hole (starring Thora Birch). It's about a group of teenagers who are trying to not go on a field trip or home to their parents and who decide to spend three days in an old bunker. They end up locked in the bunker and are missing for eighteen days. It turns out that things are not entirely as they seem. This is a really good psychological thriller; the end is sort of but not completely expected and there is an element of realism to the setting that drives home what happened. This is definitely a movie worth seeing, if you get a chance.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The lack of shopping is getting to me

Out of all the possible fallouts from the economic crisis going on in the US and Europe, I never expected that the Canadian dollar would drop against the US dollar. Sigh. Our dollar is below 80cents on one USD which is some kind of crazy low.

Our low dollar is definitely having an effect on me: I'm not shopping as much as I was. In particular, I'm not buying stuff on eBay, and this makes me sad. How else can I buy WAY too many vintage sewing patterns (there are a lot right now from the 1940s, which I love)? Or look longingly at all sorts of fabric?

I know, I know, I already have more fabric and patterns than I know what to do with. Sigh. Every time I want to start some new project, I spread out the patterns I like the most in one spot and fabrics in another and look over both piles. Eventually I put the patterns and the fabric away without choosing any new project. I want to sew each of the patterns and I want each of the fabrics made into a gorgeous outfit. If I could wave a magic wand and transform the patterns and fabric into outfits, I would.

Part of the problem is that most of the patterns I have are for summery clothes and I want to make something more suited to winter. I have the winter fabrics (and summer fabrics, of course) but I worry that I'll waste some if something doesn't turn out. Of course, by not making things out of my fabrics, they're sort of being wasted, aren't they?

Monday, October 27, 2008

What it means for me to not be working

I met up with a friend about an hour's drive away from here for lunch. It was a lot of fun - she's about my age and has bone mets like me. Of course there are differences, but we have some things in common. Both of us are on long-term disability, for example, and both of us struggle with the fact that we're not working.

You'd think that after two and a half years of not working, I'd have reconciled myself to not working again... but I can't. Not yet.

I grew up thinking that work is extremely important and that no matter how I felt - no matter how sick or hungover or tired I was - I would go to work and I would do the best job I could while I was there. This work ethic was very strongly ingrained in me, so much so that the fact that I'm not currently working feels like I'm not living up to my own internal code of ethics. By not working, I also feel like I'm a non-productive member of society. I suppose these feelings are partly rooted in thinking that I don't have anything to offer society except my work. That's silly, though, isn't it? I *know* I'm a valuable person. And yet some days I feel as though my value is wasted by not working, if that makes sense.

Reconciling myself to not working again would mean that I'd have to find a different way to contribute to society, or find a different definition of a contributor. I'd also have to change my definition of work to something more suiting my present conditions (so far, I've been unable to do that). Of course I have no idea how to make those changes and so I'm guessing that it would require some, well, work. :)

As well, reconciling myself to not working again would mean that I'd have to give that idea completely, whereas right now I have hope (misguided or not) that I *could* possibly, maybe, go back to work. I don't know if I'm ready to give that up yet. Part of me still very much wants to be "normal" with my work ethics and my going to work every day. Right now, admitting that I couldn't go back to even that level of normal feels like admitting (succumbing?) to failure - that I couldn't do it, or that maybe I didn't try hard enough. I think I'm not at all ready for that.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

(Horror) movie of the day

I managed to finally watch A Nightmare on Elm Street today. It's a pretty good story and there are lots of things about about it that would be good and creepy... except for the music. A creepy movie situation is MUCH less creepy when the cheesy 80s synthesizer music announces how creepy the situation is. Sigh. I'd love to see this one remade - or at least re-scored - with better, creepier music.

I love horror movies so much! But I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be watching a horror movie that has a good story with decent enough acting ... and then to be shocked out of the creepy horror move by stupid, intrusive, loud, cheesy music! Scoring a movie isn't rocket science. Bad music makes a movie much worse while good music - which is unobtrusive and sets the scene without overpowering it - can make a mediocre move much, much better. You'd think that movie producers would understand that the music is such an integral part of a movie, and especially of a horror movie.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Almost too much shopping

We spent almost all day shopping and shopping and shopping in a (mostly) big circle. We started off at one big plaza by getting me a cushy microfiber fleece electric blanket for when I'm cold because, well, I'm tired of being cold and lots of baths aren't really a good option. It works so well, too - I gave it a try tonight and I love it! It heats up quickly and is cushy and warm and snuggly.

Anyways, after that we bought me a short-sleeved cotton argyle sweater. Yes! I found a sweater! I'd tried it on the other day but I wanted to be sure that it was ok, which it is, and we bought it. It looks really nice and will go with tons of stuff.

Moving on, we went to a sports store and I got some good-quality inner layers (like long johns but made for activities) to wear when curling. I'm sure it won't surprise you to know that I'm really, really cold when I'm curling, considering that the sport is played in an arena aka a refrigerator. So I got a top and some legging things both made with a textured polypropylene interior, which wicks sweat away, and a merino wool exterior, to catch the sweat and stay warm. I think they'll make a huuuuge difference in my ability to stay warm while in the curling refrigerator twice a week.

Normally, that would be plenty of shopping, but we weren't done yet. We went over to Best Buy and picked up some horror DVDs (only $9.99 - the cheapest we'll see all year) and Rock Band 2 . We looked for a DVD set of horror movies that had been released but it turns out that they only have some of the individual movies. The collection is available, though, so I expect we might buy that instead of buying each movie individually. I hope the movies are good; they *look* good and scary, and it's a Sam Raimi's production company, so how could they be bad? (I'd like to think that Sam Raimi won't put his name on total crap)

We continued on by going to more different stores in order to scope out and buy parts for Ian's Halloween costume. I won't tell you what it is or where we went, but we did end up going to four stores to get what we needed (and we visited one of those stores twice).

At this point, we were basically done with the shopping adventure so we got some lunch and picked up some Halloween candy over at Shopper's. They have a promotion where you get 20 times the points if you buy $20 or more of Halloween item. We need the candy (for the kids, of course!) anyways and getting the extra points is good.

Then, exhausted, we came home and I crashed into a big nap.

One of the movies we bought today was The Evil Dead. We'd heard that people said it was so bad it was funny, but it's actually a pretty good movie. Some of the effects are a little much, but the story and the things that happen are sort of creepy. And of course there are parts that aren't well-done, like some of the acting and whatnot. But that's ok. The basic story is that a bunch of people go up to a cabin where the manage to awaken some kind of demon which kills and takes over their bodies. If the story were done today in a slightly more technical way without a bunch of big-name stars, I think it would be even better. As it was, it was creepy and intense. Not bad for a 25-year-old movie. :)

Hold the presses! It looks like Sam Raimi (the original Evil Dead director) might be directing a remake of the movie! Wouldn't it be awesome if the movie makes it to the theatres?

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm here and I'm ok

I haven't posted in two days and I'm sure some of you are wondering what the heck is going on here - am I ok? Has something happened?

I'm fine :) Wednesday evening I was very cold and had a bath and went straight to bed without writing anything here. I'd meant to write last night but my back got all woogly again. The woogly back feels like something is plucking at my spinal cord in different places and my back responds by clenching the muscles there. If it's really bad, my whole body clenches and relaxes. It's very uncomfortable and exhausting.

My back gets woogly on occasion but last night was pretty bad. Sometimes the woogles start because I'm tired. Sometimes what happens is that the Fentanyl patches I wear for pain management stop working (they're good for 72 hours which usually means 72 plus or minus a couple of hours) and I start going through narcotic withdrawl. I get shaky, anxious, woogly back, nauseous, and clammy, but the symptoms subside once the new patches go on. If the woogles are bad I'll take Percocet (for breakthrough pain) and/or Ativan.

I love the Fentanyl because it works so much better than the Oxycodone for pain .... but I could definitely do without these withdrawl symptoms. I feel like a junkie looking for a fix when they appear and I don't like that.

So last night I had these woogles - and they were really, really bad - and all I could do after changing the patches and taking Percocet was crawl into bed and try to desensitize myself. It was like every time anything touched my skin (especially my back, hands, or feet), the woogles came back. Eventually I fell asleep. I've still got some light woogles in my back today but they're not too bad.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Coldplay concert

Last night's Coldplay concert was awesome.

First off, the stage and lighting were interesting. Directly behind the stage was a large screen and in front of the stage, at about the halfway point in the arena, were two Jumbotrons parallel to the stage. In front of the Jumbotrons was a sort of bubble underneath a short cylinder (so it looked kind of like an oversized, upside-down, ice-cream cone). The bubble-thing was lit up with different colours and projections during the show. Another five smaller bubble-things appeared and disappeared during the show. The projections on the back screen and Jumbotrons were also projected onto the bubble things which made for an interesting light effect. There were also six or eight direct lights on four movable tracks to add additional light and colour. All of this, coupled with laser lights radiating out from the back of the stage floor, made for an interesting light show.

Unfortunately, it was one we couldn't completely see. We were on one side perpendicular to the Jumbotrons so we and a bunch of more people more to the side of us couldn't see the projections on the Jumbotrons. The bubble things blocked some of the stage as well. Some small improvements in the stage design would have made the stage more viewable from a greater number of seats.

Fortunately, not being able to see everything didn't diminish from the concert too much. The band is very talented - the drummer in particular is brilliant! They played all of the songs that people would know and they played them very well; in fact, the live versions of some of the songs were better than the recorded versions (which doesn't always happen)! The band was also clearly having a good time up on stage.

Chris Martin , the lead singer, was very comfortable with the audience. He joked with us (for example, he thanked everyone for coming even though he knew that many of the boyfriends had been dragged there by their girlfriends) and when people reached their hands out to him, he often shook those hands. Clearly, he  wasn't afraid of his audience. How many times have we seen bands/singers/stars turn away from their fans or treat the audience as though they were a piece of ick stuck on their shoes? I'm quite sure that this is the first arena/stadium concert where the band treated the audience as though we were watching them in a much, much smaller venue.

At one point, the band did a short song off the stage over in one of the sections, and they did another song on a small, lit platform on one side of the stage. Both of these songs were minimally instrumented but were still very good.

The opening band, Stars, was ok. Apparently they're very highly thought-of but the female singer's voice is a little weak and the band isn't good on all of their instruments. The male singer is very good and could probably do quite well in a stronger band. The lyrics to their songs were interesting and sort of delicate.... but different singers and instrument players (like a MUCH better trumpet player) would have made for a better show.
All in all, we enjoyed the concert a lot. If you get a chance to see Coldplay, you should definitely go, even if you're not that fond of the music. It's a show that is well worth seeing.

On  a side note, I have to say that one thing I do love about live concerts is the light show.... in another life, I suspect that I'd have gotten involved in that kind of stage design. Ever since my first live concert, I've spent more time looking at the lights and figuring out how they did the effects than watching the people on-stage. :)

And another thing that I'll mention, just because the concert was in an arena .... I don't have a bucket list, but if I did, going up and wandering around the catwalks of an arena would be on it. I've *always* wanted to go up there! Every time I've been in an arena or similar structure, I look up and try to figure out where all of the catwalks are as well as the possible entrances to them. I don't want a guided tour - I just want to be left to my own devices up there, walking around and around and across and just seeing what's there and what I can see. How cool would that be?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

In Ottawa

We're seeing Coldplay tomorrow here in Ottawa and so we drove here today. It was a beautiful day for a drive: bright and sunny, with a clear blue sky and changing leaf colours, and almost no traffic.

We're settled in here and are spending the evening quietly, watching tv. Tomorrow Ian is working and I'm hoping to do some shopping and stuff. The malls here are different and I hope to see a couple of fabric stores :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Most people don't sleep like this

Ian woke me up at a reasonable hour this morning so that I could get some stuff done. I guess I was still very, very tired when I got up because as I was sitting on the couch with my coffee, I sloooowly tipped my hand, spilling my coffee and dropping my coffee cup. I don't really remember this happening - it's sort of like I dreamed it, you know?

After the coffee was cleaned up, mostly by Ian, I fell back against the couch and slept for some amount of time. At least an hour, anyways. Again, I don't really remember what happened as it's all dream-fuzzy.

How weird is all that? I've been very tired this week (in addition to have the migraine), but I'm not really sure why that is. I did have an unpleasant experience the other day where I visited my late friend's husband and he tried to kiss me (not in a social way but on the lips) - I pushed him away and left but it freaked me out. I don't know if I've been sleeping so much because I was freaked out or if I'm fighting off some bug or something. We'll see, I guess.

Tomorrow we're on our way to Ottawa as we're seeing Coldplay on Monday night. We spent quite a bit of time this afternoon figuring out where to stay. We wanted to take public transport to the concert because we don't want to fight traffic on the way back (especially since we want to be up and out first thing Tuesday morning). We'll be staying very close to the place I lived during my second co-op term there.

We're leaving tomorrow and then Ian will be working on Monday while I shop and stuff. Although we have friends in Ottawa, I don't know if we'll have time to see everyone this trip. I am looking forward to the concert and to seeing a bit of Ottawa.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Better today

Today was better than yesterday although I wasn't feeling up to curling tonight. The CT scan was uneventful but as I was on my way home the headache started to come back and I started feeling nauseous again. So I decided to stay home tonight and rest and watch tv.

I did manage to get some sewing done this morning, at least.

I wish I'd known earlier that Scream was having a month-long free preview this month! It's got a pretty good selection of scary/gory/interesting movies. I've been watching this channel all evening and I might be able to see myself watching others. Not everything is good - they have to maintain their Canadian content, and not every thriller/horror movie is good - but there are some interesting movies on the channel. I just wish that there were no commercials while showing movies because it spoils the suspense.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

So much for plans

I meant to get up early today - say, around 10am - and sew. I have a skirt on the go and I found trim for the dress I'm making and I'm making a pair of overalls for a Halloween costume.

That didn't happen. I woke up around 5pm with a migraine. I had it all: the throbbing headache, the nausea, the sensitivity to light, sound, and smell - all of it.

I was able to fall asleep sitting up with a wet towel around my forehead and on the back of my neck (coincidentally blocking out light and sound). I'm up now and I think I'm feeling better so I'm having some tea and a bite to eat.

I have to be up long before 5pm tomorrow as I have a CT scan of my jaw at 3:40pm so hopefully I'll also get a chance to get some sewing done.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Federal election day

We played some games of a version of Jenga at a housewarming party early this evening. I'd never played the game, but it's quite fun. The game consists of 54 thin blocks from which you make a tower 18 rows high with three blocks in each row. Each rows blocks are crossed over the previous and next row. Each person uses one hand to remove a block from the tower and then to place it on the top of the tower. The person taking their turn when the tower falls loses.

I'm sure lots of people have played it but as I say, I'd never played and it was really fun! The blocks are not all exactly the same size so there are some spots where blocks will easily come out while still maintaining the integrity of the tower. I think that people of all ages would enjoy this one.

When we got home we started watching the election results. So far, the final results have not been called but it looks like it'll be a conservative government again; the only question is whether they will have a majority. It could be a minority government again. If it is, I hope that we get to wait for an election for more than just a couple of years.

Once this election is over, we can all focus on the upcoming US election. People posting in the forums I read have been very vocal and polarized on the candidates to the point of insults and poor behaviour. I very much hope that there is a clear winner in that election and that there is no fiasco like the 2000 election. With the US and global economic crisis, I don't think it would do the US good to have to go through a protracted election count.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that you all have had a good Thanksgiving weekend, eating turkey or other yummy food.

We got some beautiful weather today! The blue skies, together with the changing colours of the leaves, is making for some gorgeous scenery. I love being outside looking at all of the fall colours; those colours make this one of my favourite times of the year.

For those of you in Canada, tomorrow is Federal Election Day. If you haven't already voted in an advance poll please be sure to vote tomorrow. Every voice matters and it's important to make sure your voice is heard.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gobble, gobble, gobble!

We got to have a very yummy turkey dinner at Ian's parents today. There was turkey and stuffing and vegetables and - my favourite - pumpkin pie! The entire dinner was yummy and for once I didn't eat too much. I might have had a second piece of pie but no one else had any. This is probably just as well because extra pie isn't going to make me smaller, you know?

Ian and I have been going to the gym regularly since we joined. I don't think I've lost weight but my waist and hip measurements are definitely down from what they were this summer. I'm very happy about this :) I'm hoping to lose about 15 pounds by next summer and I think I've made a good start.