Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Where did the summer go?

Fall is definitely here; it's been very, very windy out and it's been a lot colder here. Our furnace has even been running!

With the cold weather has come an increase in my hip pain. I was sitting on the couch and when I got up, I wished I'd had my cane nearby because I couldn't walk very well. I ended up soaking in a hot, hot bath to loosen up my hips and to take the ache out.

If this is what my hips are like now, what will they be like when it's really, really cold out? I'm trying not to think about that. I hope that it'll be bad for only a little while, that my hip will get used to the cooler temperatures.

I was sitting on the couch playing with some wire wrapping and lace things. I have some craft wire in different gauges and I'm using that for my experimentation. I was able to coil a thin wire around a doubled, thicker wire fairly easily and make it into a circle. I was happy with that. I did try to do a standard netting stitch (which is really just a buttonhole stitch) inside of the circle. I had some trouble with getting everything the right size at first, but it was easier later.

When I did the netting stitch, I didn't decrease the number of stitches I made so I was only able to cover about half of the interior of the circle. Obviously that's not quite I what I wanted :) I'll experiment with this more in the next few days. At least this is something I can do while sitting on the couch, watching tv.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Watching recorded movies

The person at the support center LOVED the head covering I took in. I left the one there as a sample and will take some in when I go to my next meditation class. The one I took in isn't lined but I think I will line them so that there are no exposed seams to fray or bother a tender head. And even though the one I made had long ties to go over the head, I'll make a few with short ties in case not everyone wants to wrap the ties in some way.

They've asked for head coverings that would be suitable for the upcoming Christmas and New Year's holidays so that women who've lost their hair have something elegant/stylish/pretty to wear.

I celebrated this happy accomplishment by watching movies. Every Friday night, the Space channel shows up to three horror movies. I do love horror movies - even when they're bad, and especially when they're B-horror movies - and so I usually record at least one of them for later viewing.

Today I watched Snakehead Terror, about ginormous snakeheads that take over a lake and that start eating people (and each other) when the fish in the lake are gone. There's nothing surprising about this movie; it's got the standard evil people, teenagers trying to save everyone, and the guy in authority who at first can't make anyone believe him... until things start going really badly. Even so, it's actually not a bad B-movie.

I liked how the movie used the snakehead, which is a rather yucky fish that is a danger to every ecosystem to which it's introduced because it has no natural predators. It is a predatory fish, it can live for brief periods on land, and it can "walk" with the use of its fins. So if they were to be grown to a ridiculous size, and ate everything in sight... sure, the movie could almost be plausible. Almost :)

Then I watched The Ninth Gate, which I didn't know was directed by Roman Polanski. I don't deny that the man is a good filmmaker - and this is an ok film - but he wasn't that good a person, say, 30-odd years ago. He was convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl when he was 44 in the US and fled the country before he could be sentenced. He's recently been arrested in Switzerland and may be extradited to the US to complete the sentencing process.

While the movie is ok, it's not without its flaws, unfortunately. Of course I have higher expectations for a Polanski film than for some throwaway B-movie. If my expectations were lower then I would think that this was a fine movie. The CG in this movie is terrible, especially in the driving scenes. The acting is a bit uneven in places with some characters are clearly better than others. The music, when it played, was a touch heavy-handed. The story is sort of interesting, what with its rare books and puzzles and trying to raise the devil (although that doesn't seem like a particularly smart thing to do). One thing I didn't like was how the movie just kind of ended.

Other than that, it was a fairly watchable, if slightly long, movie. This satiric article gives another view of this movie :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Finished version one of the head covering

I spent some time working on the head covering for the cancer support centre today. I think I have a good pattern now; it feels comfortable on me, at least. They said they wanted really long ties to go over the head so I did that, too. I think I like that because it adds extra volume at the top of the covering. When someone has no hair and is wearing a tight-fitting head covering, the face can look smaller and puffier - someone having chemo or on steroids for brain mets usually gets a puffy face. So the extra volume on top might make the face look better-balanced.

Meditation is canceled tomorrow but I have a haircut appointment in the area anyway, so I'm going to take my sample in to see what they think. If they don't like it then I'll re-work it a bit. Apparently there's someone who wants to help sew and once we get the pattern all settled I'll trace it out and provide instructions.

I think my current pattern is fairly easy to put together and it uses less than 1/2yd of 45" fabric (actually, I think I could get two out of that much fabric). If I hadn't changed my mind so many times about how to sew it, it would've taken only about 45 minutes to put it together from cut to finish.

So we'll see. If it isn't perfect, I'll change it. It's always easier to figure out what you want when you have a sample in front of you than if you have to make up a description from scratch. It may be that what they want is different than what they're going to get tomorrow. Either way, at least I've finished this sample. It's getting cold here and they need those head coverings sooner rather than later.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Movie day!

We are so behind on our movie-watching. We haven't been out to see a movie in ages and there are a few that we'd already wanted to see - with more opening! Today, finally, we were able to go and see Inglourious Basterds. It's Quentin Tarantino's latest film project; he'd apparently been working on this project for the best part of the last decade.

The movie is set during the second world war in an alternate universe and involves a lot of Nazi-killing. There are quite a few funny bits to it; the parts that are gory are very gory, but there aren't that many of those bits.

The story is interesting and kind of unexpected. I thought, given the trailers, that the movie would focus on the Basterds, how they got together, and their battles. One of the Basterds' backstory is told but all the others are ignored and half of the movie centres on a character we didn't see in the trailer. The ending is sort of  expected in that Hitler and his top agents are killed, but the manner in which they're killed isn't at all what I thought it would be, given the trailers and what I knew going in.

In many ways, this unexpectedness makes for a much better movie. Instead of following a trite, obvious, ages-old story, the story we follow isn't as obvious and is much more interesting. When the Basterds and this other character intersect - or occupy the same building, which is more how this movie works - there's quite a bit of tension as the audience knows what's happening but not all of the characters have the same knowledge. Plus the viewer wants to know exactly how everything is going to come together.

Apparently the structure of this movie was based on that of the spaghetti western. I don't know much about that genre, but there are definitely moments that hark back to what I think of as being part of these movies: revenge, escape (and release), unexpected opportunities, the calvary arriving, double-crossing, love rising out of hate, enemies meeting each other as equals, and sacrifice. Add to those themes tight shots on (grizzled) faces and broad landscape shots under the sun and I think we have it.

I very much loved the costumes; the movie stayed fairly true to the time period, costume-wise, even though the movie was set in this alternate universe where the war ended differently than it actually did. Those costumes were lovely... and the shoes! I loved the heels on those shoes; they were high but sturdy and shapely. Perfect for dancing all night.

For all that, it sort of felt like this movie was missing something... maybe that's just because the movie had these unexpected elements and I felt like the basterds story wasn't rounded out enough. If I'd gone in with no expectations or if the movie had been more like what the trailer led us to believe it would be, I think we would've enjoyed the movie much more. I think that the footage we'd sort of expected might have been shot already; if so, I'd love to see the six-hour version of this movie on the DVD (or Blu-ray) with that footage included.

Also on the down side, the music wasn't as compelling as it has been in other Tarantino movies. He has a history of using contemporary music in his movies - no matter in which era they're set - but there wasn't much of that going on. There also weren't that many pop-culture references, which is something else Tarantino usually does.

Even so, we recommend this film to you. If you do see it, forget what you think you know of the story and go in with an open mind. It'll make for a better movie experience for you.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My introduction to scrapbooking

I never really "got" scrapbooking before. I didn't know how to do it (which is why the stuff someone had given me ages ago hasn't been put together), and I didn't really understand why people would do it when they could just put pictures in an album as-is.

Then today I spent this afternoon scrapbooking at a friend's place, and I discovered that it's really fun! I also realized why people would want to put pictures in a scrapbooked album instead of just sticking them somewhere. With a scrapbooked album, each page serves as an artistic framework and can provide context for the picture(s). So instead of just looking at pictures, you can look at pictures in a lovely page. That page might give you some context for the pictures or that evokes the feelings and thoughts the scrapbooker had when looking at the picture.

Today I worked on a kit thingy that my friend provided which included instructions, a picture of the final product, and all the supplies needed to make the pages come out like the picture. I had quite a good time putting the pages together. Using the cutting tools to cut everything to the right shape and size and adding the embellishments was really cool. I was very happy with my finished product and I had a lot of fun putting it together.

My friend also had all of the other things that make scrapbooking easier: more cutting tools, taping tools, embellishments, papers... you name it, she had it. And if she didn't, one of the other people there did. There are lots of specialty tools and embellishments for scrapbooking these days; back in the day there weren't nearly so many. I don't know if having all that choice is good or bad. I think for new people (like me) it's better to not have too much choice, but more experienced people like my friend would probably like to have lots of options.

The most amazing thing my friend had is this cutting tool called Cricut. The main Cricut hardware is a personal electronic cutter: it sort of looks like a like a printer except that it cuts the images out of the cardstock. Different picture sets are available so that you can cut out pictures of sports-related items, letters, holiday things, and more. Each picture set has an overlay, which is sort of like a template, that fits over the matching reader on the cutter. You can set the image to cut small or large, if you want, and then - magically - the machine cuts your image for you! It's so cool!

I thought this technology was amazing and awesome. If a person did a lot of "scrapping" or card-making and liked having unique images - including cutouts - on their pages or cards, this tool would be perfect. I could see scrapbooking clubs (if there are such things... I'd think there would be) purchasing one for club use.

I also got to spend time with my friend's nine-month old son and my other friend's two-month old daughter. The boy isn't quite crawling or talking, but when I would say "braaaaaiiiiiinnnnnssss" to him, he would respond with "aaaaaaiiiiiinnnnnnsss". :) He's very personable and we spent some time playing. The girl is still a big sack of baby but she likes to kick her legs out a lot. She's going to have very strong legs :) Both children were very overtired and not able to sleep because of all the people and excitement.

Overall, I had a great time today seeing people and learning this new skill. Scrapbooking is something that I could definitely see myself doing, especially if we had more printed pictures. I definitely I like the idea of using scrapbooking techniques to do card-making because I send more cards now than I did before.

Friday, September 25, 2009

So, so sleepy

Pamidronate treatments seem to leave me very tired. I was so tired last night and today that even though I went to bed at 11pm and set the alarm for this morning, I slept until 5:15pm. I'm still tired after that 18 hours of sleep.

I'm going out for a few hours tomorrow afternoon and I very much hope that I'm feeling less tired. I know that once I get up, enough coffee will keep me awake, but I'd much rather be actually awake instead of artificially awake.

I think my plan tonight is to stay up long enough to finish watching the season premiere of Dollhouse and then go back to sleep.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Maybe not totally lazy.... maybe overwhelmed

Today was Pamidronate day so I got to see the nurse who disconnects it. The Pamidronate gets hooked up to my port at the hospital and then, about three hours later, the home care nurse comes to disconnect it. I like this nurse very much; she's personable and is always interested in how I'm doing. I feel like she really listens and she's actually interested in how I'm doing. I think of her as part of my support network - I have no trouble talking to her about how I'm feeling.

Of course I told her about my friends who had died and we talked about that. As I said in my comment to my previous post, I think I'm still processing all of my friend's deaths. So many have gone in such a short time that it's overwhelming; it feels almost impossible to grieve for one person... they all sort of get mixed up together into one ginormous grief ball.

It seems also that I've been avoiding dealing with that grief. I'm focusing instead on this thing that's been happening on etsy with a group of sellers. I don't even know why I'm involved because I don't care that much about the thing and it's got nothing at all to do with me. I guess I care because there are questions about what's really happening; not everything from every source matches up ... and they're asking for money from people.

And so for some reason I feel it's important to provide another perspective, to ask the questions few people are asking, so that people who might be thinking of getting involved in this can see another side and evaluate this themselves. I have been trying to be polite and non-accusatory, asking questions but not making accusation or assuming anything. This doesn't seem to matter; that group doesn't respond well to questions, ignoring them at best and saying awful, awful things about the questioner at worst.

All that doesn't explain why I would even bother, or why I would expend all this negative energy thinking about this for the last three weeks. Yes, three weeks. Thinking about it, I didn't really start getting involved until after my friend died... which says to me that I'm using this as a way of avoiding fully dealing with the grief I have. I'm sure the people that are asking me to stop questioning them would be delighted to know this, and would hope that now that I've realized this I'll let it go. That way, they never have to explain anything.

But totally letting it go means that I need to really grieve. And when my thoughts turn to grieving, I feel overwhelmed - just like when I look over at  my work area. I guess instead of thinking about the whole thing I need to look at each one individually. They do say to start small and manageable when approaching a big, overwhelming task.

At least I now know what my head is doing... and that realization means that I don't have to just let my thoughts happen anymore; I can consciously choose where to focus them. It's a good place to start.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lazy, lazy me

I think I may be the laziest person I know. I've had all this time to do stuff and yet I've done nothing of interest over the last few days. I've done a lot of internet surfing which is sort of interesting to me but not all that interesting to anyone else, I'm sure.

I didn't even go to Meditation yesterday; for some reason I just didn't feel up to it. I was very tired and I slept quite a lot of the day, which worked out just as well for me, I think. I've been trying - and succeeding, as long as I put my alarm clock out of arm's reach - to get up around 9:30am, but it seems like I'm doing less than when I slept until the afternoon.

Of course if I didn't pick up the laptop - or if I put it down after eating breakfast - I might be able to get up off the couch and actually do something. I think part of the problem is that the areas where I want to work are messy and covered with stuff, and I'd have to clean those off to be able to do something. For whatever reason, I'm paralyzed when I think about tidying up that stuff (or anything else that could be tidied).

A lot of the mess is - and this may not surprise you - vintage patterns that haven't been put into envelopes and put away. I haven't bought any new patterns in a while - lately I've been buying fabric but even that is slowing down - so I'm not making any more of a mess. I'm just not dealing with the existing one. I think I'm going to have to grit my teeth and force myself to just put the stuff away.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A new hobby?

I saw the most beautiful handmade wire pendants the other day. I like this one the most, but really, everything that the artisan makes is gorgeous. These pieces aren't really my style; it's the wire lace ground on the works that really catches my eye. I've been doing research (errr... looking stuff up on the internet) and in the process I also found the most gorgeous wire fences - called lacefence. They're so beautiful and delicate and extravagant and functional and artistic... I could look at them all day.

These unconventional lace applications strongly appeal to me and I'm feeling like they call to me in some way... they're so beautiful and lacy and yet are in such unexpected materials. I'm finding that this juxtaposition of lace and unusual materials is inspiring to me and I think that maybe I could, with a bit - ok, a lot - of learning, try to make something along those lines. I don't know what, exactly. But something.

I've also been looking at lacemaking method through a book on Project Gutenberg so that I can get a sense of what I like and what I think I could make in wire. I already know that the ground on the pendants is easy but the lacefences are most likely a type of bobbin lace which is much, much harder. It's also much, much more intricate.... like complex spider webs.... and I love the look of it so much more.

I like the idea of taking a traditional craft and interpreting it in a slightly different way, even if that reinterpretation has no practical use in the real world. I know I could try and do something similar with knitting and wire but for some reason, it doesn't appeal to me as much. So we'll see what happens. As you might know, I'm good at starting new hobbies but I'm not always good at taking them anywhere. Therefore, I'm going to start slow with this one - better that I not spend too much money on it until I know I'm staying with it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Another award show!

We're watching the Emmy awards tonight. This year, they're hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, and he is definitely doing a great job! He's funny, he's personable, and he can sing - it was obvious to me that he's done Broadway. I know he's doing some stuff from a script but I'm sure he had a hand in decided what would be said. There have been a few Kanye West jokes, of course :)  There are also some funny running jokes: one about a prize-winner's seats in the venue, and the other about what an honour it is to be nominated.

Award shows have a tendency to be sort of stuffy, stilted, and pompous. The Emmys this year are the opposite of that; they're funny and much more casual. Part of that easy feeling is due to the host but I think everyone there is feeling that sort of energy. For example, all but one of the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy nominees wore some type of eyewear. Apparently they'd arranged this themselves, as a joke.

One other difference between this award show and others we've seen is that the orchestra and control room are right onstage, so attendees and viewers both can see some of the "behind the scenes" stuff. Plus, the viewer can sometimes hear the control room instructions as we come back from commercial. And of course the announcer is John Hodgman, the PC from the Mac commercials. He's been funny, too, and has helped keep the show light.

This is the way award shows should be: fun, funny, and a little bit irreverent. Once I started watching, I didn't want to stop. Even though we would normally have switched to another program partway through, I chose to stay with the award show. Wouldn't it be nice if all award shows were like this?

No one aired any pre-shows showing the red carpet, which is sort of sad because I like to see the dresses the ladies wear on the red carpet. I guess we'll have to wait to see pictures of most of them. I did notice that, colourwise, many women were wearing long dresses with neutral skin tones and jewel tones, both with and without sparkly embellishment. One award-winner wore an above-the-knee shift and looked like it was covered in broken mirror pieces. It was kind of odd might have looked better had it fit her closer because it was kind of shapeless.

I also noticed more women wearing dresses with straps, which was a pleasant surprise. The shoulder straps on the dresses were also thick enough to cover bra straps. Only one of these dresses (so far) was completely over-the-top: it had poufy things on the shoulders that looked like pillows on which its wearer could take a nap. I can't wait to see all of the dress pictures. :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

How can these pageants still go on?

PhotoshopDisasters is one of several sites that I read for fun. As the name suggests, it's a site dedicated to showing professional photoshop disasters. It is quite amazing, not to mention hilarious, to see what some companies end up doing in Photoshop.

This post caught my eye not just because Paula Deen looks like a creepy-eyed alien, but also because I've seen her on her cooking show and she doesn't look like that (even if you discount the creepy eyes). Then I clicked the link showing high-glitz (or sometimes just glitz) child pageant photo re-touches.... and I knew I had to share this with you.

That site isn't even the only one that changes a normal child's photo into something creepy and alien. There's this site, this one, this one (click on each picture, then roll mouse over or away to see original), this one,... and all of them offer to turn your natural picture into a picture of a plastic doll with blue eyes, long lashes, perfect hair, glossy lips, and plastic skin.

I didn't know that for high-glitz pageants, contestants are supposed to look like plastic dolls in their pictures. Aside from the creepiness of these images - and they are creepy, there's no question about that - there's something very disturbing about plasticizing the images of babies and toddlers who participate in these pageants. It's bad enough that these little tiny children are made up to look like Barbies (to the delight of pedophiles everywhere, I'm sure), and to stand, walk, and dance in an sexy adult way, but in their pictures they're not even allowed to look like themselves?

There is something fundamentally wrong with the high-glitz pageant industry. I get that children like to dress up and I get that children like to perform... but I don't understand how parents could encourage them to wear that much makeup, false eyelashes, wigs, and sexy dresses - and then to alter their pictures to make them look less human. This isn't right. The kids aren't old enough to consent to what they're doing and I don't believe that most of the parents would be ok if their kids didn't win.

I knew that the pageant industry - especially the high-glitz pageants - for babies and children was awful, but adding these horrific photo retouching puts this whole industry over the edge, in my opinion. The industry and people involved with it should be ashamed of themselves for forcing children to behave as adults and for de-humanizing those children in their pictures. Honestly, I think it's time that these pageants were cancelled and the entire industry dismantled. No more high-glitz pageants for children!

There's some interesting reading from pageant moms here and here in response to this positive and this negative post about this person's pageant experience with her daughter. It seems that the parents don't see how damaging, unnatural, and creepy the pageants are because they're so involved in it (it's their "new normal", I guess). Their denials show even more how damaging the whole baby/toddler/child high-glitz pageant is to the children and their families who participate.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Doing some volunteer work

I volunteered a while back to help Hopespring, the cancer support center that hosts my meditation classes, by making head coverings for people who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment. I'd thought when I volunteered that they had a pattern or example of what they wanted, but they all they said was for me to check the internet.

They did describe something that covers the head with tails long enough to start at the nape of the neck, cross there, and then go up over the head to tie there or on the side. The person also showed me a turban thing, which they could use, but they really want these ones that tie.

So I looked on the internet. Do you know how many different head covering patterns there are out there? A kabillion. And I don't know which ones are best; do they want one that has a tail separate from the tie thingies? How long should all of those be? There are lots and lots of options.

Honestly, when I volunteered I thought it would be easy - all I'd have to do is sew some things. I'm good at that and even have tons of fabrics that I can use; I thought I could just whip out a few every week or month. I didn't anticipate having to develop a pattern, which is what I'm faced with. Yeah, I could just use a pattern from the internet, but what are the chances that it'll be perfect the first time I take it in? Close to zero, I'd say, which means that the pattern will need to be tweaked... and that's how a pattern is developed.

I know that I'm not doing much else but, as I say, this isn't what I thought I was signing up for. Even so, I'm not going to just abandon them and do nothing - I can sew, and I can develop a pattern, and I'm not doing much with my time, so if I can help I will - but I am kind of annoyed at the way this has gone. I think they're having a head covering workshop the week after next; maybe if I go they'll be able to show me what they want. In the meantime, I'll see what I can dig up.

So.... do any of you know of a good head covering pattern for people who have lost their hair? If there's one in particular that you like, please let me know. Even if you don't have a pattern, if there's a picture of one that you like, you can send that to me and I can try to figure out the corresponding pattern. Thanks!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

One of the best parts about fall - tv!

We finally were able to watch the 2009 MTV Video Awards; we were both traveling Sunday night when it aired originally. Fortunately, these award shows are repeated over and over and over, so it's not like we really missed anything.

Well, except for seeing Kanye West make a jackass of himself - live - in dissing Taylor Swift in favour of Beyonce. What a jerk! And then interrupting President Obama so that he could talk about this further... Kanye's entry on Dickipedia is assured, I think.

Another thing I love about fall is that it's the beginning of the new tv season. Can you believe that 10 years ago, when I went back to University, I didn't watch tv? It's true - I didn't know anything about tv shows because I rarely, if ever, watched tv. Now I watch it all the time; only surfing the internet and sleeping take up more of my time. I guess that's sort of sad. At least I'm not watching Survivor... it's in it's 19th season. 19th?!!!? How can it still be on the air and making money?

Fortunately, all of our old favourites - Fringe, House, Bones, Dollhouse, Top Chef, and ANTM (they models are short this time - and why do they wear flat shoes at judging instead of high heels? They look more like munchkins next to Tyra than they already are), are back as well as new shows like Glee and FlashForward. I'm looking forward to seeing these shows. Watching new seasons of our old favourites is sort of like settling into a comfy couch.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's fall again

I know it sounds silly, but I'm still obsessing about my hair. Would it be too crazy to go silver? I could strip the hair colour out and use a toner (I think I'd have to find a beauty supply store to get that) to make it silvery.

Or would that be too silly?

I think I'm feeling nostalgic, what with fall here and classes starting. Fall is like the new year to me; it's when the leaves turn and everyone is back in school and school is still exciting. I realized just today that it was 10 years ago this week that I started university for the second time. In some ways my life really started then... I was able to become the person I should have become a decade earlier. I'd never go back to school now (finishing the degree was *so* hard after chemo) but it was definitely the best thing to do at the time.

This isn't the first year I've felt sort of nostalgic for school in the fall. In previous years I've had activities to look forward to in the fall, like curling or bellydancing ... but this year I won't be doing them. So I'm feeling sort of adrift, if that makes sense.

On top of this nostalgia, today I was doing admin work for the mets board and I realized that we had three women from that board die within the last month - the last one was my friend L. I'm feeling a bit like time is short, even though I'm doing ok, and I feel like I should be doing something more. Or something different. I don't know... I feel like I'm missing something and that I don't have time to miss it.

I don't like this sort of aimless, directionless, drifting feel and I guess I need a change or something new. Maybe that's why I'm focusing on my hair right now - it's easy to change and it can definitely feel and look new.

So.... all that said, what do you think about me trying to go silver? Or should I try some kind of light natural colour - like a champagne blonde? Or should I stay darker? Redder? Pink? Dark ends? Light ends? Multi-coloured?

On an unrelated subject, I just heard this most amazing quote on the show Glee: "every moment of your life is an opportunity for fashion". Now that's a statement to live by :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Last weekend's memorial service

Now that I'm much better-rested I want to talk about the memorial service for my friend L this past weekend.

First, though, I want to say that I looooved riding the train! There was plenty of room between the rows - so much that my feet didn't reach the footrest on the row in front - and there was a kneerest/footrest thing that could be brought up to support my legs. I also loved the way it felt once the train got up to speed; it felt like I was flying through the air. I loved it. It was so relaxing and soothing, and a fantastic way to travel.

At the service, one thing that struck me was that my friend L's husband G and his mother F seemed to know who I and the other mets girls were - when I said my name, their eyes went wide in recognition. I expected them to know the people who had visited L, but I was touched when the rest of us were recognized as well.

Much of the memorial service was planned by L, apparently. It was amazing and very touching and I felt honoured to be there witnessing it. It was sort of casual, outdoors in the barn-thing and around some picnic tables. This was nice, because it was fun and it didn't feel all that somber; it felt like a real celebration or send-off.  There were books of photographs and scrapbooks showing L's life (which seemed to really start when she met G), so that people could see all of her different sides and her whole life.

L decided who she wanted to speak at the service, I have a sneaking suspicion that she planned the order and possibly each person's general topic so as to have the best flow and impact... but I don't know that part for certain. Each person or group that spoke about L touched on a different facet of her life: her organizational skills, her creativity and artistic abilities, her inner grace, her snarkiness, her honesty, her love for G, and more. In this way, I felt like we were getting to know the whole person that was L, not just the parts I already knew. I learned so much about L when I was there... I knew her before I went but I came away knowing so much more about her.

One thing I noticed is that when people spoke of L, it wasn't all in this sad way - it was more like, "I knew this awesome woman and I want to tell you all about who she was so that you can know and love her like I did." Some stories were funny and others were touching ... and everyone loved her. Their love shone through everything they said and it was clear that she had changed people's lives for the better just by their virtue of having known her.

G said, during the celebration, that he did what he did for L because he couldn't imagine doing anything else for her; that he loved her and would do anything he could for her. G really did do so much for L as she declined... he bought her a laptop so that she could communicate with people; he slept in the room with her on an air mattress to help her in the night; he carried her wherever she needed to go.... and more.

F told a couple of us that as L was sliding into her final coma and was increasingly non-responsive the day before she died, her eyes would still open when G said something to her. She also said that G held L as she died.... and every time I think about that, I start to cry. The thought that he loved her so much and was able to be there as she died - at one of the most profound moments of a person's life - just makes me so sad and so oddly happy, because it was was like they were able to complete their relationship.

F had also said that it was as though G and L really were one person, that they had made each other the kind, caring, compassionate, beautiful people they are/were... and thinking about it, it's so true. When I talked to G it "felt" like talking to L; they had the same energy, if that makes sense. I am so glad that they found each other because it's clear that they had the kind of love and relationship that doesn't come around all that often.

L also chose the song that marked the end of the memorial: "Let it Be" by the Beatles.... a song that brought tears to everyone's eyes. I felt like she chose it as a way of saying "let me go. I lived and we've talked about my life, but it's time to let me go and move on. Let me live through you now, in your heart and in your thoughts." I cried harder during this song than any other time before because it did feel so much like a goodbye - and I don't like goodbyes.

I want to add that even though it was definitely a celebration of L's life, I cried throughout because it was a celebration of a beautiful, meaningful life that is gone too soon... and I miss her. As I got to know her even more through each person or group who spoke, I loved and missed her more and so I cried more. Mine were not the only tears, of course, but crying is cathartic for me... and the celebration/service/memorial was definitely the right place to have shed those tears.

I'm so very glad that I went. I felt like I was able to really grieve for L and to be with other people who shared my grief for her... and I was able to grieve with those people for the others we've lost. I'm grateful that my inner voice encouraged me to go and that I did go, even though I missed the train on Thursday. It was definitely the right thing for me to do. I hope that my presence there, as well as my descriptions of the service afterward for those who couldn't be there, provided others with as much comfort as I received.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I arrived home last night and went to bed pretty early. As much as I love traveling on the train - and I do - the trip was tiring. I'm still quite tired so I'm going to wait until tomorrow to give you a better description of the trip; for now, I just wanted to let you know that I'm very happy that I went and that I'm home, safe and sound.

Ian is also home and is more tired than me. I'm so, so happy to see him, even though we're both so tired, because I've missed him.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The best laid plans....

By now I should have been in Poughkeepsie... but things didn't work out exactly like I planned.

The train leaves Toronto union tation every day at 8:30am, and I figured that the 6:05am Greyhound from Kitchener would get me there more than an hour early. There was one earlier bus at 5:35am but I thought I was giving myself plenty of time.

If I'd checked construction report before I set out, I would have known that they were doing construction three exits from the Kitchener one (at exit 286, Townline road) on the 401.... and that the construction goes fo 24km... and that delays of up to an hour are expected. Sigh. The bus driver did everything he could to make it as soon as possible, but there was just no way I would make it; once we got past the construction we lost so much time that we ended up right in the thick of Toronto morning rush hour traffic.

I rescheduled everything and am leaving tomorrow morning instead. I'm spending the night at Ian's parents because there's no way that I'm going back home only to face that construction yet again tomorrow.

Hopefully the rest of this trip will be smoother :)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Leaving tomorrow

So the top of the dress wasn't quite right; the best thing to do would be to re-shape and re-cut the top to fit better. Somehow it had waaay too much fabric on the sides but not nearly enough where it was needed. since I'm leaving tomorrow, I decided to put the project on hold until I get back. I might have been able to re-shape and re-cut and re-sew the dress today... but that would be stressful and I don't want to be stressed.

I did dye my hair today. The colour is different than what I normally get, which I guess is a bit darker and more mahogany. What I got is a lighter red with lighter orange-y highlights. It's not that bad, and it'll be fine, but it's different from what I'm accustomed to. My roots are definitely light - in fact, they're pale blond and pale, pale red... because of the grey there :) As I say, the colour will be fine and it'll wash out. I tried really hard to not get the dye under my patches and I think I succeeded.

I'm finishing up a load of laundry while I type this. When the laundry is done I'll pack my stuff for the trip. I'm not gone for too long and so I'm hoping to pack relatively lightly. Clothes-wise, packing is no problem... it's the entertainment stuff that's hard to pack. I'll be spending two full days on the train and I need stuff to do. So do I take the laptop? Do I take my books? Both? We'll see.

Since I might not have the laptop with me, I probably won't be updating this blog over the weekend. I'll definitely give an update Sunday or Monday.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Running errands

My Meditation group started today. I've missed the class a lot - I find that when I go every week, I'm calmer and more centred. I try and meditate on my own with a special focus on my breathing but it's just not the same as someone leading it. It was hard to get up early but I was so glad that I went.

I also managed to get some errands done. The most important was getting my bus ticket for the trip this week. I'd thought about taking the train from Kitchener to Toronto and then to Poughkeepsie (which is where I'm going) but there are only three minutes for the Toronto connection and I'm too slow to make that. Some days I'm fast but I can't count on that. So I decided that I'd take an early bus to the Toronto train station, pick up my ticket, and have time to find the platform before the train leaves.

Unfortunately, I couldn't pick up my train ticket today. I booked it with Amtrak instead of Via because for some reason Via said it didn't run every day, but of course it does. Because I booked with Amtrak, I have to pick up my ticket at the Amtrak machine or kiosk at the Toronto train station. I'll want to be sure that there's time to do that.

I also picked up a semi-permanent hair dye. I've been mixing two medium brown permanent colours together - a blondish brown and a reddish brown - to get the haircolour I have. I think I found a close match in Natural Instincts; it's a medium golden reddish brown and when I put my hair against the sample, the match was pretty close.

I was going to leave my hair alone until I figured out what to do but because I'm going somewhere I want to look my best... and I'd say that one inch roots aren't my best look. So I figured that the easiest thing to do was use a semi-permanent dye which will wash out and will hopefully not give me a rash. Maybe if I don't get the dye near my patches, I won't get a rash. Also, this dye is only on for about 10 minutes so doesn't have as long to rashify me.

Monday, September 07, 2009

More sewing

Believe it or not, I did more sewing today. I sewed until I got tired and started making mistakes and having to rip stitches out; these days, when I sew, I usually only have to do each seam once. Sure, I baste things, but I don't usually have to rip out entire seams (or overlapping parts of seams) and re-sew them. I guess that comes with experience: the more I sew, the faster I get, even if I don't sew as often as I used to.

I'm pleased with the dress I'm making. The top is going to show bra straps - there's nothing I can do about that - so I think I'm going to put in some very light detachable padding to smooth things out on the top. The top is lined so there's room to do it and it'll mean that I don't need to worry so much about a bra with it.

I can't wait to finish it and start/finish the next one out of the other fabric! I'm also excited about working on the different tops in combination with the shorter skirt. I wish I was able to make myself sew more often. I just get so lazy, especially if I get up late. For the last couple of days I've been trying to get up early and that's been helping me do more. I have to set my alarm out of arm's reach to do it, but if it means that I can get things done, I'm happy to do that.

I do have to say that cutting out fabric on the floor is very hard work. Clearly I'm in terrible shape, because I have what Ian calls "juggler's bum" on both sides from lunging and stepping over the fabric while trying to straighten it out and get it flat and stuff. Looking back, I guess I was doing that almost non-stop over a period of about two hours yesterday, but I didn't think I'd hurt so much today. I'm so sore! When I woke up this morning I could barely walk, and I've been hobbling around in this crazy bow-legged half-crouch all day. It's a good thing that I'm on my own because I look sooo silly when I'm up and about. :)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sewing... finally

I actually (finally) did some sewing-related activities today. I cut out some fabric for the dress that I'm making. I'd planned on using a certain fabric for this dress ... but it has this weird horizontal pattern that repeats every three feet or so, and so two of these bands are included in the skirt - one as the hem and one up near the waist. Yes, I'm that short.

So anyways, I only have three yards of this fabric and I thought I'd figured everything out to cut the front and back skirt, but I kinda messed up so that one corner of one panel is about 2"  narrower at the bottom than the other corner. I'm not quite sure how to fix this; I think I might just add a small piece there; no one will notice that.

I might also be able to reshape the panel a bit to fix it. Normally both the front and back skirts use the same pattern, and both are gathered at the midriff just above the waist. I'd already planned on making darts in the back instead of gathers and depending on how things go with that and with the size of the dress, I might end up taking the skirt in.

But of course I didn't want to have to figure out what will work with this limited fabric, so I ended up cutting the dress out in another fabric I have on hand. It's a stretchy, soft rayon-lycra jersey that's black with white circular flowers or lacy medallion thingies in a couple of sizes. It's pretty fabric (which is why I have it... all the fabric I choose is pretty. Some of the stuff I got with patterns and for free with other fabric may not be quite as gorgeous).

Anyways, after all that thinking and figuring out, I didn't want to sew anything (even though this dress is pretty easy; the hardest part is the neckband). So I went for a walk and then watched tv all evening. I hope to put this dress together tomorrow - and I honestly hope that I don't have too many adjustments to make.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Getting ready to travel

I've decided that I"m going to my friend's memorial next week. I booked a train ticket leaving Thursday and coming back on Sunday. Since the memorial is Saturday afternoon, this will give me a chance to get settled and comfortable before everything.

I decided on the train because it's cheaper than the plane - even if I used airmiles for the plane, I'd have to get to and from the airport and pay the fees, all of which add up to about the same cost as the train. It was so much easier when we could fly from the local airport to Detroit; now, if I want to go to the US, I have to go to Toronto.

I haven't booked my hotel yet; I'm waiting to find out where everyone else is staying before I do that.

I've been thinking about my hair... what if I stripped the dye off my hair using a bleach and then used a semi-permanent dye to make my hair it's more natural colour? Would that work,do you think? I think the semi-permanent dye wouldn't be as harmful to me or my system as the permanent. I don't know... I saw the bleach stuff and thought that it might work.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Still sad.... thinking about a road trip

I managed to get out of the house today... it was important, because I had been so upset by yesterday's news. We knew that this particular friend wasn't doing well - she stopped chemo 2 1/2 months ago, after all, and we thought she'd go much more quickly than she did - but that doesn't change how deeply affected I am.

Her memorial service will be held next Saturday, September 12 near Poughkeepsie, NY and I'm thinking of going. All I have to do is figure out how to get there. I'd thought about driving but it's an eight hour drive each way, plus stops and the border crossing. If I had someone who was part of our group and wanted to go, we could share the drive, making this the best way to go.

Flying is fastest but you pay for that. It used to be easy to fly from our local airport to the US via Detroit but the company stopped that flight. So if I wanted to fly, I'd have to do it from the Toronto airport which would involve transportation costs to/from the airport... and those aren't cheap.

I'm seriously thinking about taking the train. It's about ten hours or so each way, which is about the same as driving would be, and it's about half the price of plane fare. Plus I wouldn't have to take expensive rides to and from the airport.

We'll see. I'm going to sleep on this but I'm pretty sure I'm going to go.... I think I need to, not just to say goodbye to my friend but to mourn in the company of my other friends who knew her, if that makes sense.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

My friend died today :(

My friend LisaP died today, at 12:30pm, with her husband and best friend (and possibly her pugs) by her side. I was lucky enough to meet her twice, in Westport and in Philly. I love her so much, and I'm so sad that she's gone.

Lisa was very active on the support boards I'm on; she was never afraid to speak her mind but she always did so with grace, sensitivity, and well-chosen words. We bonded, a bit, because we'd had some similar experiences, and she was definitely the better person between us. Her pugs were the only children she had and she loved them very much; one had a birthday recently and she got herself up and made the pugs corn muffins with peanut butter frosting. That's what they liked for birthday celebrations and so that's what she did. She surrounded herself with music and butterflies and creativity and beauty.

Lisa received hospice care starting in June, because she could no longer receive chemo. Her mets were kind of everywhere but it was the liver mets that were giving her trouble. She managed to last for weeks and weeks, eating just a little, sleeping a lot, and getting continual oxygen. Her husband slept near her so that he could lift her out of bed when she needed to be out.

She and her husband wrote about everything in a blog they were publishing. Nothing was kept secret, so that we all knew what was happening and how her life was winding down. A few weeks ago she was able to check into our mets-only board - we were so happy to see her! - and there, too, she told us what it was like, being her and living the life she was living then. She was so

She was so beautiful, inside and out, and I miss her so much. I can't stop crying because Lisa is gone - even though we knew it would happen, it still hurts so much. I hope she is resting comfortably now, surrounded by beauty, rainbows, and pugs. Love to you, Lisa... and to Lisa's family, who also loved her very much.

And to cancer: Fuck you. Stop killing my friends.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Better today after a little shopping

I feel much better today... much more together and happier. I went to Chapters, the nearby bookstore, and I bought some books and magazines. I had to buy magazines; the fall fashion issues are out and I want to see what's new for fall.

I also bought Dark Water, a collection of short stories by Koji Suzuki (who also wrote Ring, the book on which the Ring movies are based). The first story was made into the Japanese and US versions of the movie Dark Water. Adrift was the basis for Open Water 2: Adrift. and I think some of the other stories might have been made into movies as well. It's a good read, so far.

I also bought By Blood We Live, the third collection of stories edited by John Joseph Adams - the other two are The Living Dead and Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse - although they're all listed as being by Stephen King because one of his stories is included in each collection. By Blood We Live, a collection of vampire stories, has a story by Neil Gaiman that I think I've never read. but that isn't why I bought it - I bought it because I have the other two anthologies and I like the stories in them. It looks like Adams has edited a couple of other short story collections; I'll have to see if I can find them, too.

So you see it was a productive trip out for more than one reason :) Tomorrow I'll need to get some groceries so I'll had out at some point and do that.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I think I need to get out of the house

So there is a difference between Ian being around and me being on my own: with Ian here, I don't need to worry about going out and interacting with people because I get to interact with Ian when he's here. Sure, we might just be sitting around talking while watching tv, but it's contact with someone - and it's someone I can spend hours and hours and hours with because I don't get tired of being around him.

When I lived alone in Markham I had to make myself leave the house every day just so that I wasn't on my own all the time. It's easy to be alone and get into a pattern where I don't leave the house and I don't talk to people outside the house... and the longer it goes on, the easier it is to stay home. And it seems like the more I'm home the less I do. I want to do some sewing but I haven't done anything at all.

I can't help but compare the last two days of doing nothing with the days when I was on vacation. I did too much then but I know that I'm also doing too little now. There must be a happy medium between the two extremes somewhere, and I'm pretty sure that happy medium involves actually leaving the house.

So tomorrow, I'm going somewhere. I'm not sure where that'll be, exactly, but it'll be somewhere that isn't home. Stay tuned.