Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy birthday to me!

It's my birthday! I'm 41 today - an age that seemed really old to me, way back when, but seems not at all old, now that I'm here.

I'm happy to be 41 because it means that I'm not 40 anymore. I hadn't thought that it would be such a big deal to be 40 because age is just a number, right? Well, yes, it is, but that number is how long a person has been alive, and it turns out that 40 is kind of a tipping point. In our youth-driven society, 40 is a demarcation point: on the one side is youth and on the other is definitely not youth. Our society clearly values youth, since there are so many products and whatnot that can make someone appear youthful or be youthful, and to be on the other side of that line is difficult.

It wasn't just that all of a sudden I was not young, but that I realized that being older meant that some of the dreams I had would be unfulfilled. When someone is young, there are lots of opportunities and dreams and doors that are available. As that person ages, those doors close, the dreams end, and the opportunities disappear. Other options appear in their place, of course, because life is continually unfolding and changing, but the youthful dreams are gone.

So I've spent the last year grieving for all those things I could have done and can't do now. It's been a long process, but I've come to accept the life I have now and the opportunities and dreams that come with it. I'm definitely happier and more content now, and I'm definitely looking forward to this next year!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Patent ruling

The most wonderful thing happened today: a New York Federal judge ruled that the patents for the BRCA genes are invalid.


The BRCA gene mutations are the ones that are linked to breast and ovarian cancer; women who have the mutation are more likely to develop one or another of these cancers. The company that had the patent for this gene had developed a test for it but the test is very expensive, no other company could study the gene, and no other company could develop a similar test.

I've thought for a long time that patenting genes was wrong. It didn't seem right to me that a private company could patent a gene because the company didn't create the gene - they only discovered it. I can see why they would patent the test for the gene, because they did create that, but patenting the gene itself just doesn't seem right. Other companies should be able to study and research the genes, too.

I hope that this ruling unleashes a whole bunch of other rulings that invalidate other gene patents. There are others, after all... and as far as I'm concerned, none of them should be patented.

Monday, March 29, 2010

This waiting thing sucks

It occurred to me that I've been feeling quite tense for the last few days. I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, in a way, or that something is about to happen. I feel as if I'm pausing at the top of a rollercoaster, just before the car goes down.

Of course the thing I'm waiting for is my CT results. Last Wednesday we did a CT of my torso - chest, abdomen, and pelvis - and I have to wait until next Friday for the results. Next Friday! Last time we did this CT scan my oncologist called me before the appointment to tell me the results were fine so that I didn't have to wait. This time, she's on vacation so there's no reprieve from the wait.

Honestly, I don't think that I have anything to worry about because my tumour markers are barely above the normal range. The only thing that keeps niggling at me is the weird feeling I have on my right side. It's felt full, sort of, and I've had occasional pain there for the last few months. Plus I'm finding that my appetite is not what it used to be.

I talked to my oncologist about this a couple of months ago so she did a physical exam and found nothing out of the ordinary. And I'm not losing weight and I'm less tired than I used to be, not more tired, which points to a problem other than more cancer. It's entirely possible that I've just been focusing on that area and that's what is making it feel weird. I'm sure that the problems are probably related to my colon because I've had trouble with it for a long time (sorry if that's TMI).

Intellectually, I know that nothing is likely to be wrong and, more importantly, that no amount of worrying will change the test results. Still, at the back of my mind is that little worrying voice. I wish that voice would shut up and leave me alone for a while so that I can do something fun like sew or something.

They don't call this scanxiety for nothing.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thoughts on house plans

This has been one of the laziest weekends for me in a long time. I don't think I've left the couch much at all for the last two days, between watching tv and watching Ian play Final Fantasy XIII (he's about 30 hours into a 50-70 hour game). I don't need to relax much, though, considering that I'm not doing much on weekdays, either. :)

I've spent quite a bit of time this weekend looking at house floorplans. We think we'd like to have a newer house that was built in the last 10 years or an upgraded older house. So I thought I'd take a look at some of the floorplans that the builders have been offering in the last few years.

There are recent house floorplan trends that I don't love: putting the family room on the second floor near the bedrooms, for example. It seems to me that unless the family spends time in the same room reading, an open family room near the bedrooms is going to be noisy. Plus, it might be awkward to hang out in the family room if people are in their PJs.

Another trend I'm not in love with is to put a small, open room right off of the kitchen. This isn't a dining room or a breakfast nook and the area is totally open to the kitchen which creates a weird sort of space. I think this is supposed to be the family room but the "feel" of the room is so different from the kitchen that it doesn't really work so well.

I think these "features" have been developed because lots are getting narrower - I've seen 28' and 35' wide lots, which is quite narrow - and the double garage takes up a bunch of that lot width. The kitchen and dining area pretty well have to be on the main floor and there's usually a great room or living room there as well, so that you can entertain company, I guess. So the family room goes upstairs or in an alcove near the kitchen.

I do like that the kitchen is so much bigger in newer houses, and that most plans have a breakfast nook near the kitchen. The two-story great room is kind of cool, too, and not only because a person could juggle five clubs there. Of course I also love the luxury master bedrooms that many of these plans have, with a lovely ensuite including a fantastic tub, walk-in closets, and a sitting area. 

Some of these features are available in older homes but those homes don't always have the more open-concept that we like for the other living areas on the main floor. Plus we want something that has a new sort of aesthetic with respect to the doors, knobs, and windows. We'd also like to have a finished basement, which is something some newer homes don't have. We're kind of lazy and don't have time to really to do the work to make an older home right for us.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Let's eat out!

We went out for dinner with some friends of ours tonight. It's been ages since we went out and had a nice dinner together or with friends.

We went to Uptown21 because we'd heard good things about this place. I really wanted it to be good and for the food to be awesome.... unfortunately, the food wasn't quite as good as we'd hoped it would be. For example, my dinner was pork, sausage, and bacon with sauerkraut, apples, and potatoes - which sounds good in theory and reads really well. What I got was about two cups of sauerkraut, a 6" diameter, inch-thick pork chop, one 4" long by 3/4" diameter, some bacon bits, and a few potato cubes and apple slices. In case you can't tell, the proportions were definitely wonky there.

In another dish the flavours tended to be very bold but didn't really work together; they stood alone instead, each competing for attention. Everything also had a sweetness that was at times quite cloying. On the plus side, they give bacon for free, because they believe that bacon is always a good choice :)

It wasn't that the food was bad; it just wasn't great, and it wasn't worth the $50/person we spent. If the restaurant was less expensive - say, up to $30/person, I might recommend it to others. As it is, the dishes just don't justify the prices.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Still house-hunting

We're still looking at houses. We saw one today that had some really nice features but that wasn't quite right for us. The best part about it was that it had a cottage-type feel, with huge windows overlooking a little lake and walking path. The yard was terraced down to the little lake with big stones and there wasn't much of a yard, but it probably would have been enough for the little doggy we're going to get. The owners of that house were leaving as we got there and they had a maltipoo, so the yard must be fine for the doggy.

Unfortunately, there was no way to put in a main floor bedroom or a shower on the main floor - these are things that we require. We want to be able to live on one floor - well, for me to live on one floor when the time comes. It'll be easier if I lose more mobility to not have to go up and down stairs.

What we really want, we think, is a bungalow with a walkout basement. We saw one when we just started looking but we weren't ready to buy then and it wasn't in the perfect location. Fortunately, there are other bungalows in the same neighbourhoods as the houses we've looked at - there are even some on the same street as today's house. So we think that the house we want actually exists already somewhere. We might end up paying the very top-end of our price range, and we might have to wait, and we might even have to look in other neighbourhoods, but we'll find our house.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


So it turns out that the thingy I have on my elbow is sarcoidosis. Since it arose from a scar, it's probably a scar sarcoid. He's given me a prescription hydrocortisone cream to treat the thing. I think the things on my legs that he said were soon-to-be varicose veins may also be this sarcoidosis. They're not turning into spider veins or varicose veins and they start out purple and go brownish, which is a more typical presentation of this disorder.

The dermatologist said that quite often things like this have lung involvement so he's having me do a chest xray and is sending me to a respirologist. Looking at the symptoms, I have a few - most notably, chest pain, fatigue, joint pain, and more. It's a pretty vague disease.

At least it's not cancer :)

I do have some questions for my oncologist when I see her next or maybe for some other doctors. Since sarcoidosis and cancer can happen in the same places, what does this mean if something were to show up on a scan, will we have to automatically biopsy? And is there a possible connection between the lack of lymph nodes (and subsequent reduced lymph circulation) in my left arm and this sarcoid that showed up on my left elbow? I'm sure I'll have other questions, too.

I had to drive to Oakville this afternoon to get these results and I let them schedule my CT scan for this morning. I had to be there by 8:20am and I was supposed to be home by about 10am which would give me time for a nap before the drive. As we all know, the best laid plans go awry.

The CT lab was running an hour late. On top of that, they had a really hard time finding a good vein on me for the contrast injection; one nurse tried three times and a second nurse was called in to do it. I learned that they now know what a PowerPort is and they have nurses who can access them. These ports are way more convenient for people with bad veins because that type of port can be used for CT/MRI contrast. When I had my port put in, I'd asked about getting a PowerPort but they didn't have them then... and it's probably too much bother to take out my current working port to put in a new one. Probably.

When I was finally ready to leave, they were in the middle of a "Code Black" drill, which apparently is a bomb threat drill, and no one was supposed to leave the building. I managed to convince someone to let me out but when I went to pay for parking, the machine wouldn't take credit cards and I didn't have enough change on me to pay. So I had to go back into the hospital to use the bank machine. Fortunately the drill was either over (or didn't affect the main lobby) and I could freely come and go, but all of this delay and back and forth stuff meant that I didn't get the nap I wanted. Luckily I made the drive each way with no problems ... but I expect that I'll be tired tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

US Health Care Reform

After more than 40 years, the US has finally made changes to its health care system. Barack Obama signed his new health care plan into law today.


The new plan will bring in all sorts of changes, but one of the most important is that more people in the US will get insurance. As well, insurance companies won't be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. This is fantastic.

There are people who oppose the reforms because they are going to cost money and because they think that by changing health care, the US is moving towards being a socialist state.

The reforms will cost money and it's entirely possible that some more taxes will go up. Most of the extra cost will come from the insurance companies, I expect. Heck, if the health care providers charged the insurance companies what they charge people who don't have insurance, the insurance companies would have the money for these changes.

The "US will turn into a socialist" argument doesn't make sense. The government isn't controlling health care or doctor's salaries... they're just saying that everyone has to be able to get health insurance. That's a far cry from what we have here in Canada, where just about everything is regulated.

I'm thrilled that the reforms have made it through. I know that there will be challenges to these reforms but I'm so happy that they've made it this far.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Movie night!

We watched Stacy tonight (also known as Stacy: Attack of the Schoolgirl Zombies). It was one of the movies we've wanted to see for a long time; we asked for it for Christmas and were lucky to get it as a present but we're only now catching up on our movie-watching.

Stacy is a 2001 Japanese film where girls 15-17 years old die and come back as zombies. Just before dying, they develop Near Death Happiness where they are giggly and totally unconcerned about their impending death. This situation has become the norm all over the world and has halved the world's popylation.A huge industry has developed in re-killing these zombies and one of the storylines concerns a legal and an illegal re-killing team. The other main storline is about a girl who's looking for a re-killer and who meets and befriends a puppet-maker. 

It's sort of a B-movie in a lot of ways: the dialogue is cheesy, the zombie acting is so-so, the lighting and direction are lacking, and it looks like it was filmed with home video cameras. It appears that most of the budget went into gore effects; they're very good and quite realistic. This is a gory movie - schoolgirls munch on legs and intestines and it all looks real.

What really makes this movie worth watching is the subject: clearly there's a parallel between girls coming-of-age and dying, between Near Death Happiness and childlike innocence, between a teenager's need to love someone (and to be loved) and devouring them. The DVD liner notes talk about moe - or fascination for young schoolgirls - and the director's previous relationship with a teenaged pornstar. In many ways, this movie is a reflection of the desire older men have for these young girls and how these girls just want to be loved and to just be girls.

Stacy is a good zombie movie that isn't just about zombies: in many ways, it's a reflection of some aspects of Japanese culture. If you can stand the gore, it's worth watching and we highly recommend it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Shopping and not-shopping

Ian has been wanting his eyes checked for a while because he thought his eyes had changed. We got him in to see the optometrist today and it turns out that his eyes have changed by about .50 on each eye.

He also got new glasses - a regular pair and sunglasses - with his new prescription today. He knew he'd want new glasses right away so we thought we'd choose the frames first so that we wouldn't be there too late in the day. Within half an hour, he'd picked both frames. It usually takes me much longer than that - I think that I'm much more picky. And of course I've got a much higher prescription and have to choose my glasses carefully.

Both pairs would be ready in two hours so we had the choice to either hang out at the mall and shop around or go home. Ian was actually willing to stay at the mall and look around at anything I wanted to look at... and I chose to come home. I gave up an option to wander around a mall - something I normally like to do - to go home instead. I know you all think this is trivial but it's not typical behaviour for me. Normally I love looking at stuff in the mall.

To be fair, I was tired and not feeling my very best and it was super-busy. Still, I've felt a lot worse and gone shopping before, and I've definitely shopped in busier conditions. But I don't really need to buy anything and I didn't know what I wanted to look at.

Hopefully the next time I have the opportunity to go shopping, I'll take it... it feels weird to say "no" to a shopping opportunity.

Edited to add... I was thinking about this overnight, and part of the reason that I wasn't wild about shopping was that there was no Winners there. If there had been a Winners in that mall I could have easily spent at least two hours shopping. :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

They accepted my article

The article thingy I wrote has been accepted for the newsletter. I figured it would be accepted no matter what since they asked me at the last minute to write something for them and I don't think they had much in the way of a backup plan. Everyone who has read my article liked it.

I have a sense that what I gave them wasn't exactly what they thought they were going to get, however. They've all said that they were surprised by how open and honest I was in the article. I was asked to write about what the place means to me so I wrote about how, by participating in their programs, I've learned that I need not define myself by my cancer and that I've become happier as a result.

I wonder if they wanted something more about how awesome one or another program is, or if they wanted it to be all about them instead of about me and them. I don't know. I figured they wanted something that would make the place appeal to new people, which is why I didn't wax poetic about their programs. Instead, I described in a general way how their programs and activities helped me realize that I do not have to define myself by my cancer and how I've been happier as a result.

I tell you, writing can be exhausting! I slept late yesterday and had a huge nap this afternoon. I guess I'm not used to working like this anymore :) I haven't done formal writing for so long that it took me much longer to get that article written than it should have. At least I'm pretty well done with it. All I need to do is to go in on Monday to have them take my picture for the newsletter and to sign a release form. What a lot of work!

On the bright side, today was the first day of spring, although I wouldn't have known it watching the snow come down this morning :) Almost all of the snow we've had has melted and I hope we're leaving the snow and cold behind us. I'm looking forward to some warmer weather.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Let's look at some art

While surfing the net over the last few days I came across some amazing artwork that I thought I'd share with you.

First is this art where real people and objects are painted as though they were in a painting. There's an article on the artist here where you can see more examples of her work. It's really quite amazing and it's taken me a bit to wrap my head around but I think I like it. I especially like this piece. More of Alexa Meade's work can be seen here.
Sara by Alexa Meade
You can see by the eyes that there is a person there

but otherwise it looks just like a painting. How
cool is that???

I also found some amazing hyperrealistic paintings where the artist attempts to capture the image in better-than-photographic quality. Honestly, some of these paintings look like real life - it's hard to believe that they're paintings!

Jason de Graaf's captures glass, marble, and foil in an exquisite way... these look real, not like paintings at all. See more of his work on his site.
Ocean View by Jason de Graaf
I want to reach out and touch these glasses; I can hardly
believe these are painted. 

Gregory Thielker paints a lot of views through rain-soaked windows. They're beautiful and interesting; see them all, including Vortexhere.
Vortex by Gregory Thielker
I love the abstract quality of this view and how the
water distorts the buildings and trees. 

It feels like summer when I look at many of the gorgeous paintings by Eric Zener. He has been painting for a while and has lots of water-related subjects. They'ere well-worth looking at on his site.
Gliding by Eric Zener
I love the bubbles and the sky and the lines of the
swimmer's body. I can almost feel the water
around me.

And then there are some really gorgeous tempera paintings. Tempera is the medium artists have been painting in for centuries, and was the only medium available before oil painting was discovered. Pigment paint is mixed with egg yolk and a little bit of water and applied with a very small brush to a prepared panel. The paint dries fast so light colours can be painted over dark without getting any muddiness, but it also means that the paint cannot be blended. The Society of Tempera Painters has some instruction and demonstrations on how to do tempera painting in the Technical section of their site.

I lack the $30K to buy this one, but I love it. Tom Forrestall has been painting for years. His paintings feel real and they have an impressionistic quality to them. His work is viewable on his website.
Murder of Crows by Tom Forrestall
I love this work... I love how the sky is so many
different colours. It looks a bit different every time I
see it. Detail views and the back view can be seen
on the painting's webpage.

Tempera artist Mary Frances Dondelinger does amazingly detailed work. I love the series "A Visual Guide to Personal Boundaries" most of all, but all of her work is lovely.
Cooperate by MF Dondelinger
The hands are so detailed; I also love the representation
of cooperation as a balanced tug-of-war.
Modern art doesn't have to be awful, as you can see. I love that painting is still an art form and that it hasn't been superseded by photography or digital art. Of course photography and digital art have their place, too, but I would be unhappy to see more traditional art forms like painting go away.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Oncology appointment

Today was my regular oncologist appointment. My CA 15-3 tumour marker has gone up to 40. It was oscillating between about 29 and 35 for about the last year or so, and this is the first time that it's gone over 38, or the top of the normal range, for almost two years.

My oncologist said that she isn't worried, so I'm not worried. My last CT scan of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis was almost a year ago so I'm just about due to be scanned now anyways. The CT scan is scheduled for next Wednesday and I'll get the results on April 9. Stay tuned for that.

Next Wednesday is going to be busy because I get the biopsy results from my elbow thingy that afternoon. Everyone who's looked at it so far has said that it doesn't look like cancer at all - which I don't think it is - but they have no idea what it could be. I hope the biopsy results are conclusive because I'm really curious to find out what that thingy is.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I get to do some "real" writing

You know, I've been writing my blog almost every day for just about three years now. You'd think that being able to come up with a post every day would mean that I'd be able to come up with a 500-word article for my support center's upcoming newsletter.

They've asked me to write about what the place means to me, including a bit about who I am and why I am still going there. It's due by Friday, and I wanted to get it in a bit early so that they could check it out first and so I'd have time to do any required edits.

I thought it would be a fairly straightforward assignment but it's kind of turning into a project. It's going slowly. I haven't done formal writing for a while, and I had quite a bit of trouble narrowing my focus. I've got that now - I'm talking about how I am more than my cancer and how I've come to learn that through my different experiences there. It's only 500 words... but it might as well be 5000. Right now all I've got is a bunch of disconnected sentences. Sigh.

Anyways... I'd better get back to it. Wish me luck. And good self-editing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The language of cancer

I think many of you have heard me rant about not wanting to be called "brave" or a "survivor" or "victim" or that I'm "battling" cancer. Well, I read an article today that articulated my feelings about the language used to describe people cancer. In lieu of reading a post from me, I'd like you all to please read the article.

The article is here:

Thanks and enjoy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Feeling good again

The weather has been gorgeous!!! It was so nice this afternoon that I just had to go for a walk. It feels like spring is really, finally on its way. The trees look like they might be budding, I saw birds and chipmunks and squirrels and green grass and the sun.

I'm feeling happier these days, as though a great weight has been lifted from me. I feel like the world around me is fresh and the colours are bright again, and for the first time in ages I'm really feeling like I want to be doing things. All I've been doing for ages now is sitting around watching tv, surfing the internet and accumulating stuff. I can feel that all of that is changing. Finally.

Looking back, I think I've been more depressed than I thought I was. Of course I've had good reason to be sad and depressed - lots of sad things have happened in the last couple of years. Even so, it feels so good to be happy - really happy, and really content - for the first time in a while.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I can't park there?

I've been watching a Parking Wars marathon today. If you're not familiar with the show, it follows people from the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) as they give out tickets, "boot" cars for unpaid tickets, and release impounded cars to people.

I guess Philadelphia enforces their parking laws very stringently and a lot of people get really angry and upset when they get tickets or their car is booted. They say that they just left their car for a minute, as if that makes it ok for them to illegally park their car or double-park it. I don't understand why it's ok if the car is illegally parked for only a short period of time.

These people don't seem to get that the parking laws are there for a reason. And if people get used to parking illegally or with expired meters then there's no incentive for them to park properly when it's really needed. What if a car was parked in front of a fire hydrant and there was a fire? What if a car was parked in a bus zone and a pedestrian got hit by another car because they couldn't exit the block properly?

Of course parking with an expired meter isn't likely going to be a life-or-death situation. What it's about is fairness to everyone who wants to park. Why should someone get to use up a parking space for free when everyone else has to pay?

It seems that many people just can't see past themselves; they seem to think that the whole world revolves around them when in reality, no person is an island - and no person is so important that they are above the rules.

Anyways, I've been enjoying watching the show all day, and not just because rules are being enforced (something I love, when the rules make sense). It's entertaining, watching the PPA employees and the people they're interacting with. There are some genuinely funny moments :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Everyone is different

I was reminded today that support groups or boards are not homogeneous. Yes, they have a mix of people bound together by the purpose of the group, and so each member has at least one thing in common with everyone else. But having that one thing in common doesn't necessarily mean that people in the group share other interests, activities, or points of view.

Take breast cancer, for example. Breast cancer doesn't just affect people like me (however you define me). It affects people of all upbringings, backgrounds, income, martial status, and geography. People's emotional response to breast cancer and its tests and scans and whatnot is also different, as is the way they deal with that response. Some stay emotionally even, while others become very anxious or afraid. Some will deal with the emotions by being sarcastic, or funny, or angry, or nit-picky, or whatever.

In some ways, it's a wonder that people in breast cancer support groups actually get any support at all. All it takes is two people who are worried about something and who deal with those worries in different ways for things to explode. The explosion is much bigger if those people are strong, with lots of friends, and if they dislike each other. At that point the explosion spills over into other arenas like Facebook.

And this is what happened today on one of the breast cancer support boards I belong to. Someone posted about something she was worried about and tried to make light of it, which pushed another person's buttons, and the fight was on. It spilled over onto a third person's Facebook status, which became filled with some pretty nasty comments and negativity.

Even though I understand the mechanisms behind all of these events, I felt like I was in junior high school watching the girl bullies do the bitchy, mean, nasty things to other people. And suddenly, instead of seeing the commonalities between me and people on that board, I was made very aware of how different we are. I felt and still feel very uncomfortable around many of them.

Differences make us unique, but without a common bond between its members, support groups or boards are useless. I'd never want to fill a support board with only one type of person with one type of background. We learn as much or more from someone who is unlike us than from someone like ourselves. But if we focus on how different we are from another person, we can't make enough of a connection to them to see that there is something worth learning from them. If only everyone on this board saw this, things would be easier there.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Some Oscar 2010 after-party dresses

I found some Oscar after-party pics and I thought I'd share my favourites with you. Of course there are lots of other pictures out there but these are the ones that caught my eye.

First up, Kelly Osbourne. Yes, this is Kelly Osbourne! Isn't she gorgeous?
Kelly Osbourne in Sue Wong
What a beautiful gown. I love it! I love the
feathers on the bottom and the colour and accents.
Kelly looks positively elegant in this.

Next, Katy Perry's after-party dress. I love this and wish I could wear it.
Katy Perry in Zuhair Murad
This is so unusual in colour and style... it's kind of
retro, in a way. She looks amazing and totally hot. 

Then there's Hilary Swank's dress, which must have been either sprayed or taped onto her. This isn't exactly a favourite of mine, but it's definitely eye-catching.
Hilary Swank in Armani Prive
Ummm. That's not a lot of dress. Sure, she's
got a great body and all, but if I were sitting
next to her I'd be worried about her girls
going free. Then again, maybe that was the point.
Hilary Swank
There's not much to the back, either. If I was
behind her and she bent over, I'd be worried
about seeing plumber's butt. Then again,
maybe that was the point.

I still love pretty shiny dresses and this dress is definitely pretty and shiny!
Kate Beckinsale in Kaufman Franco
Silver sequins on a white ground make this
dress sparkly perfection. I love the draped
top over the fitted skirt. There's a cutout on
the left (short) side that you can just see.

The more I look at this dress, the more I like it. It caught my eye because it was shiny; then I decided I didn't like it shiny; then I realized that the shiny isn't so bad. I don't like seeing the corset boning underneath, though - that's a trend that I hope goes away.
Amber Rose in ???
I love the pleats at the top and bottom; they're
very flattering. It would be gorgeous in a matte
fabric like a crepe or something. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Round is a shape

We've had some gorgeous weather over the last few days and I wanted to go out and enjoy it so I went for a walk around the neighbourhood yesterday and today. I made a rather startling discovery while on my walk today: I'm in terrible shape. I actually had to stop and rest in the middle of today's walk! I haven't had to do that since I was doing radiation in Thunder Bay back in 2001.

I guess this shouldn't have been a shock, because I haven't been doing much physical activity lately. I spend most days sitting on the couch and watching tv while surfing the internet. But for some reason I still thought that I was as in shape as I was in the summer. Clearly, I've been deluding myself - I'm in much worse shape than I was in the summer. Apparently there is a correlation between not doing any physical activity and being out of shape.

I was able to catch my second my wind on my walk but I was pretty tired by the time I got home. It's only a 45min walk and in my head I think I should be able to manage that with no problem. I think I tried to do too much too soon by doing the walk two days in a row. I should have chosen a shorter route today because I'm not supposed to exhaust myself the way I did.

Then again, I'm going to have to push my physical limits ever so slightly so that I can regain some of the shape I used to have. I could start out by doing the walk every other day so that I'm resting in between and not exhausting myself. I used to do the neighbourhood walk every day - without ever stopping in the middle - and I'd like to get back to that, if for no other reason than to be able to walk the dog we're going to get. Well, and to lose some of the extra weight I'm carrying; round may be a shape, but it's not the shape I'd prefer to be.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Oscar 2010 red carpet fashions

Warning - this is a very image-heavy post.

Let's talk about Oscar fashion! I've already said that I loved Sandra Bullock's dress:

Sandra Bullock in Marchesa
The silver lace over the silver skirt is divine.

Sandra Bullock wasn't the only one wearing neutral colours, however. In fact, shades of neutral was the most popular dress colour. There were whites, ivories, silvers, and pale pinks and peaches. There's nothing wrong with that, but at first glance some of these ladies looked sort of naked.

Anna Kendrick in Elie Saab
What a pretty, ethereal dress.
Demi Moore in Atelier Versace
Queen Latifah in Badgley Mischka
I love the asymmetry in this dress;
the asymmetrical waist and shoulder strap
make it really interesting.
Sarah Jessica Parker in Chanel
There's something about her eye makeup that I
really don't like - someone should tell her that
black-ringed eyes look small. And I expected
her hair to be smoothed (shellacked?)
to her head. When she went on stage,
it looked like she had a halo because
of her flyaway hair.
Julianne Moore in Calvin Klein
Diane Kruger in Chanel
The middle part makes this dress look strange...
it cuts the body in thirds and adds weight
to the hip. Weird.
Miley Cyrus in Jenny Packham
It kind of looks like the top is too short for her,
 or else her boobs are trying to wrestle themselves
free. Either way, this dress would have looked
better with a different top.
And she'd look better if she stood up straight.
Cameron Diaz in Oscar de la Renta
She towered over everyone, like a model.
Deborah Ann Moll in Nicole Miller
This dress wasn't terribly flattering. The skirt
is too lightweight for the heavy top, and the top
doesn't really do anything for her figure.
Plus it's a weird colour that doesn't really
flatter her.
Kate Winslet in Yves Saint Laurent
This dress is very unflattering because
it makes her stomach look chubby.
Plus the top and bottom colours don't
really match. This just doesn't work.
Amanda Seyfried in Armani Prive
This fabric is used in two dresses, and
I like this dress more.
Jennifer Lopez, also in Armani Prive
This dress is less flattering than the other one.
JLo doesn't need extra fabric stapled to her hip.

Aside from neutrals and pastels, the most popular colour was blue in all its shades, from light to navy. This is a trend I love, because I love blue :)

Helen Mirren in Badgley Mischka
I love love love this dress... I love the colour,
I love the ethereal sleeves, I love the ethereal
overlay, and I love the sparkles. Gorgeous!
Elizabeth Banks in Atelier Versace
I'm completely in love with this dress...
it's so ethereal and structured at the same
time. Plus I love the steel blue colour.
Gabourey Sidibe in Marchesa
What a beautiful dress!
The colour, appliques, and fit make her look gorgeous.
Mariah Carey in Valentino
Even when she's dressed nicely she manages
to look tacky.

Molly Ringwald
Great dress, but what's up with her hair?
Kristen Stewart in Monique Lhullier
What a gorgeous dress!
Too bad she's too bored or whatever to smile,
because a smile would have improved the dress.

There weren't many red dresses, but the ones that were on the red carpet were striking.

Sigourney Weaver in Lanvin
This dress is not at all flattering.
It makes her look boxy and bigger than she is.
Michelle Pfeiffer in Carolina Herrera
She looks so beautiful here...
the ruching and asymmetry are gorgeous.
Penelope Cruz in Donna Karan
More ruching, more asymmetry, and still gorgeous.

Finally, we're left with the other colours. There were only a couple of black dresses, a few print dresses, and a few dresses in colours other than neutrals, blues, and reds.
Carey Mulligan in Prada
Oh, where to start.
The dress originally has a bubble hem,
which would be better than the modified hem.
It's the shoes that really break this outfit -
 they're so clunky and wrong.
Tina Fey in Michael Kors
I like this, although the black belt is too matte.
Kathryn Bigelow in Yves Saint Laurent
This dress is ok, but it doesn't seem to fit well over
the stomach. It's also kind of a dull colour.
Nicole Richie in Reem Acra
I love this dress - it looks dressy but also comfy.
And I love love love her eye makeup.
A close-up of the makeup I love.
Rachel MacAdams in Elie Saab
Maggie Gyllenhaal in Dries Van Noten
This is the second print dress.. I don't love it.
It feels sort of beachy to me, not formal.
Zoe Saldana in Givenchy
The top is pure sparkle on tv , and I like the
ombre ruffles.
Vera Farmiga in Marchesa
Great colour, and I love love love the ruffles!
This dress was unlike all the others.
As you can see, there weren't all that many unique colours on the Oscars red carpet, and there were no real "out there" dresses. Even the shapes of the dresses were similar: sheath-type things or lots of volume. At least there were no wardrobe malfunctions and most outfits were tasteful, if not flattering.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Oscars 2010

We watched some of the Oscars last night. The best part of the whole show was Neil Patrick Harris' introductory song and dance... everything went downhill after that. There was no chemistry between Steve Martin and Jeff Bridges Alec Baldwin (oops - thanks for the correction, Kimberly!) and most of their jokes weren't funny. Even when the hosts weren't onstage, the show seemed to drag on and on and on and on.

We stopped watching before the Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Picture awards were given out. Yep, we were that bored (and that tired). Seriously. The show sucked. It's hard to believe that the show got more viewers than in the previous five years; they're saying it's because there were 10 movies up for Best Picture, so people were more familiar with the movies. That might be true, but they'd get even more viewers if there were better movies out there to nominate. And if the show didn't drag on as long.

I was thrilled to see that Avatar didn't win the big awards and that they went instead to The Hurt Locker, a smaller film. The awards tend to go to these big blockbusters that make tons of money - and quite frankly, I'm tired of the hype surrounding Avatar. Yes, it's a groundbreaking technical achievement, and it's a long movie, and it made bucketloads of money. But all that doesn't necessarily make it an Oscar-winning movie; I would have been disappointed had it won.

I'll save my red carpet discussion until tomorrow... but today, I'll say that of all the red carpet dresses I saw, I loved Sandra Bullock's dress the best. The asymmetric silver lace over the silver skirt was simple and elegant - it was beautiful.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Moving weekend for my mom

Yesterday would have been my dad's 67th birthday. Yesterday was also the day that my mom moved from the apartment she and my dad had lived in for a decade or so before he died into a place of her own in a semi-retirement community. One of my sisters helped her do the move and it sounds like it was a very long day.

I've had a hard time with this change, even though it's not happening to me or anywhere around me. Part of what I'm struggling with is that the old place was where my dad was, so now all I've got left of him and that place are memories. This is doubly true because my mom moved into a smaller place and so got rid of a lot of stuff. So the couch that they'd had for years is gone as is the futon I used to sleep on. 

I suppose it seems silly, feeling sad because my mom has moved and is starting a life for herself. But because I don't go to Edmonton that often, my memories and feelings are tied up in the place where I spent time with my parents. Now that the place is completely gone from my family's life (and much of the furniture is, too), I suppose I'm grieving for the place, because it was a second home to me when I was in Edmonton. And in a way, I feel like I'm grieving for my dad all over again - especially because the move happened on his birthday. I still miss my dad.

I'm not all sad: I'm very happy for my mom. As I've said, she gets to start an entirely new life all on her own now. She's taken the chance to pare down her life to own only the items she really wants and to make her own choices. The place she's moved into has community lunches and dinners as well as activities - games and movie nights and stuff. But she has her own space with room to move around in. And she gets to keep her cat :) The move is a good thing for her, and that's what matters most. 

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Changes to my blog

Ian has done a whole bunch of work so that my blog is no longer being published by FTP. Thanks, Ian!

We set up the blog to publish to a custom domain that's hosted by Google instead of FTPing the content somewhere else.. What this means is that instead of us hosting and saving the content for, Google hosts and keeps the content for it. This should not make a difference on your end.

One advantage to this new setup is that I'm now able to take advantage of some of the newer blogger features like label clouds and whatnot. To take advantage of all that, I need to change stuff behind the scenes, especially if I want to keep this snazzy 3-column layout.

So if you come here and the blog looks radically different, please don't be alarmed. I'm just doing some testing and accidentally saved my "in progress work". Ooops. I expect to have everything looking and behaving well in the next few days.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Looks like I'm going to be unemployed

I got a letter from my employer Research In Motion (RIM) today. Because my insurance company changed my claim type from "own job" to "any job" (meaning I can't work any job) in September, 2008 and changed my claim to "total disability" in December, 2009, the company I work for is terminating my employment as of June 18, 2010. My long-term disability payments will go on until I'm dead or 65, whichever comes first, but all my other benefits will end as of June 18.

They'd called me last week to tell me this and I asked them to please send me something in writing... so they did. My first thought was to contact a lawyer to see what my rights were and to see if I had any other choices, but I'm wondering now if it's worth spending my energy to do this.

It's just that when I look at this from the company's perspective, what they're doing makes sense, even though it sucks for me personally. My doctors and the insurance company have said that I'll never work again, so if there's no chance that I'd go back to any job there, why would they keep me employed? And they've certainly given me lots of notice. I did a quick scan of various legal acts and it doesn't seem like they've done anything wrong.

The fact that the company has done something they're allowed to do doesn't change the fact that it's kind of a crappy thing for them to do. It sucks and it's very upsetting. I cried for hours after they called me last week and I slept the entire afternoon today after receiving the letter.

I'd like to think that I don't define myself by my work or my occupation anymore, but the prospect of being unemployed is still upsetting. I guess I never expected this to happen; I expected that the company would continue to provide medial/dental benefits as long as I lived... especially given the fact that my life will be shortened by the cancer.

So even though I understand why they're choosing to terminate my employment, I think it's a crappy thing for them to do. Seriously, would it have killed them to keep me employed and to provide me with benefits until I die? Would it have cost them that much? They've spent more on any one of their damn patent disputes than they have on benefits for an employee.

F*ck you, RIM.

Thankfully, I'm not without options. I'm covered under Ian's benefits. I can also purchase benefits from the group benefit insurance provider, or I could apply for provincial benefits.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Where did those stores go?

There's a new chocolatiere in town! It's just opened at the mall in Uptown in what I think was a kid's toy store. I stopped in and bought a bit of dark chocolate roasted almond bark; it's quite good. They also make truffles and a variety of other chocolate things that look very yummy. Apparently they make their chocolates over at their Chatham kitchen out of Belgian chocolate. Chatham is a couple of hours away from here but it's not so far - it's definitely closer than wherever most chocolate goods are made.

There aren't many places to get good chocolate here. A friend of mine used to make chocolate but she shut down her business without warning a while back. I don't know if this place makes the things she used to make, but at least they have good chocolate!

Speaking of closed businesses, one of the stores that just opened in that same mall shut down. They had some really nice things in there and I was quite surprised to see that they're completely gone now. The signs in the windows say that something good is coming, but that could just be what the mall does.

Another store is also closing, but not because they don't have enough business - the owner is retiring. I used to pop in there occasionally although I never really bought anything there. They did a good business in jersey dresses and upscale, easy-care clothes in a variety of sizes. This store is next to the other one that closed so maybe the "good thing coming" is going to be an expanded space?

This mall has struggled to keep tenants:. a yoga-wear store and a knick-knack store both closed and nothing has gone into their space. The chain stores - the ones with other locations - seem to do ok, though, maybe because people are more familiar with them? It's hard for an independent store to succeed anywhere but I wonder if the rents might be high with comparatively low traffic in that mall. I hope that new, good stores take over the empty spaces..... and that the chocolate store stays :)

Monday, March 01, 2010

Dressform shopping

I've been thinking that I might like to do some sewing at some point. Fitting patterns to me is sort of fun but sort of tedious - there gets to be a point in the fitting process where I'm frustrated and just can't get it right. So I've been thinking about dressforms again.

I've had a duct-tape dummy made, but that was a while ago and my body has changed since then. Plus, since I'm trying to actually lose weight, I figure that my body is going to change again. I also want something I can put pins into so that I can attach patterns and design lines.

I did quite a bit of research online today, and I discovered a crucial bit of information: no dressform will ever fit perfectly. Every dressform will require padding to make it have the right amount of soft lumps and bumps. So buying a dressform to fit exactly won't be possible.

So there are two options: buy an adjustable dressform anyways, or buy a non-adjustable one. If I were buying a non-adjustable dressform, they say to buy one an inch or two smaller than the actual measurements so that it can be padded up. If I wasn't going to be changing sizes, that's exactly what I'd do. But since I hope to be changing my size and I don't want to have to pad it a crazy amount, buying an adjustable dressform is the better choice for me.

Dressforms are complicated - the exact same dressform is manufactured under a different name in the UK and in North America. Except for one: the Lady Valet dressform. It gets good reviews for being sturdier than the usual ones that are available at the local fabric stores. It is more expensive, but it does have a nicer, sturdier stand. If I could buy the dressform itself without that stand, I would, but I haven't been able to find it yet.

Not only is it tough to find another dressform that I like, but it's going to be a job to find one that ships to Canada for something less than an arm and a leg (which don't even come with the dressform, ha ha). I've seen a couple of 50s-style ones which I like because the shoulder-length is adjustable, but I worry that they won't still work. I'll keep searching... I have confidence that I'll find something eventually.