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.