Sunday, July 31, 2011

Plenty of vegetables

Zucchini plants produce a lot of zucchini. We knew this before we planted the zucchini but it didn't occur to us that we would be harvesting multiple zucchini every day. Tonight we made zucchini-as-pasta and zucchini muffins and we still have zucchini left over! I foresee eating a lot of zucchini in a lot of different forms in the coming months.

Our cucumber plant, in addition to taking over its part of the garden, is also starting to produce cucumbers. Fortunately we're not going to end up with as many cucumbers as well will zucchini although we'll still have some issues trying to eat all of them.

The abundance of zucchini and cucumber lead me to think that we might end up with an abundance of peppers, too. Many of our pepper plants have peppers and flowers on them, indicating that we might have a fantastic pepper harvest. There are only so many recipes for peppers, although they can be roasted and used throughout the winter.

Growing vegetables is easier than figuring out what to do with them.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

What a clean house!

The cleaning person was here this afternoon and cleaned our house. It looks so much better! I don't think it's been this clean overall since we moved in last year. In addition to cleaning the basic stuff, she cleaned the blinds and the baseboards in the four hours she was here. There are a couple of things that she missed that I'll get her to clean next time she's here.

While she was here we had to go out so we ran a few errands and then tried to go for a walk along one of the river trails. At first we couldn't figure out how to get from the parking lot to the trail and then once we got there, the trail was closed due to construction. Somehow we got on to a cut trail that led us around to one of the nurseries. We ended up looking at their stoneyard and some of the plants before making the short walk back to the car.

It'll be nice to spend the rest of the weekend in our clean, tidy house. I could get used to this.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Shocked and betrayed

The news broke today that someone I thought was a friend was arrested and charged with fraud for accepting money raised by friends to fund her experimental cancer treatments. She's been accused of lying about having a rare cancer and needing those treatments.

I met her at a cancer support group and I thought she was one of the most poised, strong, sincere people I'd ever met. After reading the article and thinking about it, I can see how people drew the conclusions they did since there were some inconsistencies in what she said. I didn't think much of them because I didn't know every detail of her life.

I feel shocked and devastated and betrayed that she might have lied to me on this level. I also feel foolish because I looked up to her, I admired her, and I tried to emulate her as far as dealing with cancer goes. I feel like the rug has been pulled out from underneath me. I don't dislike or hate her, however; if she really did perpetrate this huge fraud then she must have a serious mental illness. That's not an excuse, of course.

It's possible that the whole thing wasn't a lie; that she really did have that cancer at one time and she lied about having it later. Or maybe the whole thing is one giant lie. Time will tell.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New August appointment

Remember my oncologist was referring me to a specialist because I'd been sick on the July long weekend (and complained about pain before)? I finally got the call today. It turns out that the one good thing Bell Canada did when they messed up our phone number was keep the notification that our number had changed beyond the three month period it was supposed to be on. I didn't realize that the hospital didn't have our correct number until I was there a couple of weeks ago and saw it on a schedule they gave me.

Anyways, the new doctor wants my oncologist to set up an abdominal ultrasound. They've also set up an appointment for a gastroscopy (aka an endoscopy) for August 17. Fortunately all I have to do in preparation is not eat after midnight; I don't have to do any cleansing or anything. I have to be at the hospital at 11am and I'll be discharged around 3pm. They'll give me some twilight sedation which means that Ian will have to drive me home.

I'm supposed to have metalsmithing class that night so I talked to the person who called me and she said that I most likely wouldn't feel up to going because of the sedation. That kind of sucks because it's the second-last class and I'm already behind (and not likely to catch up quickly), but I don't want to give up my spot for the procedure.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

RIM's layoffs have started in earnest

The layoffs at RIM have finally begun: they're laying off 2000 people worldwide this week which will apparently bring them down to 17000 employees world-wide. They had 17500 employees in February and apparently they hired 1500 employees since then. The company was going to hell in a handbasket and they were still hiring? Wow. That makes absolutely no sense at all... like so many of the company's choices.

It isn't like RIM doesn't have any deadwood to get rid of - for a while there they were hiring just about anyone because they needed people so much. I worked with some people who did "negative work", by which I mean that everything they did had to be re-done by someone else. Getting rid of those people can only be good for the company. I'm also sure that there must be ways to streamline things in the company.

Sadly, it looks like RIM isn't changing its top structure all that much. One COO is leaving and the job is being split into two positions but Mike L and Jim B, the CIO, and the CTO are staying right where they are. In my opinion, RIM's problems are a direct result of Mike L's and Jim B's closed-mindedness, short-sightedness, and arrogance. They thought they knew the market better than anyone, that the market would do what they wanted to, that they understood the consumer, and that they didn't need to listen to anyone but themselves. Not to mention the fact that Jim B seemed to be more interested in buying himself a hockey team than running the company.

I'm not the only one who thinks the problems start at the top. This in-depth article is worth a read because it's written by someone who didn't actually work there and gives an historic look into the problems at the company. I also like this quote because it sums up the situation as I saw it in just a couple of sentences:
It’s not the employees that didn’t want to put a camera, MP3 player, or a touchscreen in the BlackBerry — that was the CEOs. I believe many of the employees see what’s wrong with the company, but as long as Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis are running the show, RIM will continue to go down.

I very much hope that Mike L and Jim B have learned from the recent problems the company has been having (although I have my doubts). Mostly I hope that all my friends are safe and still have their jobs, or, if they'd rather, that they have a good severance package.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Well-watered lawn

Unfortunately our cleaning person was really sick and canceled work for the day. If she was that sick it's better if she stays home because I don't want to get sick myself. The cleaning person is coming on Saturday afternoon and she'll give us extra cleaning for free as repayment for the inconvenience. I checked that she will be coming even though it's the long weekend and she said that she'd definitely be there because she normally cleans on Saturday morning anyways.

We'll have to tidy up again on Friday but I don't think it'll take that long.

Since I didn't have to leave the house all afternoon I didn't get any errands done. I'd planned on buying a sprinkler for the lawn so instead of buying it myself I picked Ian up and we bought one together. We weren't sure what kind of sprinkler to buy so I did a bit of research. The interwebs said that an impulse sprinkler (the kind that goes pssssssssss-chk-chk-chk-chk-pssssssssss-chk-chk-chk-chk) was the best choice because the droplets were bigger, it gives more even coverage, and doesn't cause puddle.

It turns out that there aren't just different types but different sizes. Was a medium big enough? Or do we need a large? They give the measurements in sq.ft. (which mean nothing to me) and diameter (which is slightly more meaningful). It would have been easier if we could remember how big our yard was. We finally just bought the large one.

The sprinkler we bought is all-metal and we can adjust it to water any part of a circle as well as the how far and how forcefully the water shoots out. We managed to water pretty much the whole lawn (except for behind the fruit and tulip trees) without too much overlap or watering the paths or driveway. Hopefully we won't need to water the lawn much more this summer.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A tidy house

For the first time in I don't know how long, our house is tidy. Most things are put away, the laundry is done, and everything looks neater.

Don't get me wrong; the house isn't clean. We hired a person to come in to clean and she'll be cleaning our house tomorrow afternoon. She wouldn't be able to clean the surfaces or the floor if they were covered so we had to tidy up. I forget how nice our house actually looks when it's all tidy. I can't wait to see what it'll look like when it's nice and clean.

She expects to spend about four or five hours giving our house a once-over after which she'll come to clean for a couple of hours every two weeks. We probably don't strictly need the house cleaned that well that often but if it is kept up this way, the house will be easier to clean. Plus it'll stay tidier.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Therapist appointment

I finally made the call to a psychologist today and I have an appointment to see her on August 4. I called and left a message describing my situation and the help I was seeking and she called me back about twenty minutes later. She asked a bunch of questions and said that she thought she could help me and we set up the appointment for after the long weekend.

I've been researching a lot of different people online and I chose her because I liked her profile (it's not so different from online dating, is it?). She's affiliated with a practice in Guelph and her graduate research area and main interests seemed to dovetail with my situation and needs fairly well. I also really liked that she practices both cognitive behavioural therapy and emotion focused therapy because, after researching both of these techniques, I could see that they might work for me.

I'm all excited and nervous and scared about the appointment. I know that this person might not work out and that's ok. I had made a list of my top three choices and I felt most strongly drawn to her so I thought I'd see her first. If it doesn't work out, I can see one of the other two in my top three or even someone else - after all, I could be wrong about the things I think I need, and so I might need a different type of counsellor entirely.

Of course all that worry and backup plan is for later. Right now I have to just get started and see where this road takes me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


A while back I'd been watering the garden and noticed that when I got to the cabbages there was a small cloud of white-winged insects. I didn't think much of it. After that I noticed that the leaves had holes in them and again didn't think much of it. Today I noticed little dark green round things in the spaces between the leaves and because it looked gross, I freaked.

It turns out that those green things are "frass", or caterpillar poo. I'd never heard of frass before but it's the kind of word that a person could use in everyday life: "Excuse me, I have to get rid of some frass", "Oh, frass!", "Whew! It sure smells like frass in here!" I'm sure if I say it enough it'll catch on, right?

Anyways. The frass is an indication that those white-winged insects I saw way back when laid eggs which hatched caterpillars which ate holes in the leaves and turned the leaves into frass. I did rinse off all the frass when I watered this evening just because it's disgusting. I don't know which kind of caterpillar we have but as long as they haven't eaten their way into the core, we can save the cabbages. I don't think they've bored their way in so all I have to do is pick off the caterpillars and squish them. I hope they squish more like aphids than grubs. Squishing grubs feels gross.

I have to say that my current approach towards things that happen in the garden doesn't seem to be working. Noticing things and thinking, "hmmm, that's interesting" isn't good enough because by the time I freak out, it's getting a bit late to deal with the problem. Therefore, when I see things in the garden I should be thinking "emergency emergency" along with some emergency sound effects in my head like a fire engine and car alarms (seriously, when I think "emergency emergency" it always comes with those sound effects). Then I should rush in to the house, look up the thing I saw, and take steps to deal with it.

Gardening is hard. I take solace in the fact that I'm new at this gardening thing and I learn more by making mistakes than by getting it right.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Who am I, really?

One of my sisters has told me that I can be a bully both through manipulation and being mean to people. At first I had a hard time believing this because I don't think of myself as a bully. I think of myself as a nice person who is a good leader and usually a good negotiator. Today I realized that no matter  who or what I thought I was - and don't get me wrong, I know I'm nice and pleasant most of the time - my sister was right.

I can be mean. Really, really mean. This is a behaviour that I know I learned from my mom and that I've worked hard to remove because I'm ashamed that I behave this way. Most times, I'm not as mean as I was even ten years ago but that side of me can definitely come out when I'm frustrated or upset. I also know that I can treat people badly if I don't like them or think that they don't know what they're doing. I behaved that way towards a colleague when I was working and I also behaved that way towards my sister and I feel guilty and sorry about doing that to both of them. 

These days, I don't think of myself as someone who manipulates other people to get what I want. I know I did it a lot when I was young and I made a conscious effort to stop behaving that way as I got older. I think I succeeded in doing that as I gained confidence. However, that confidence has a downside: I can come across as forceful, cold, and arrogant. Amongst other people who behave the same way, this isn't an issue. However, most of the world isn't like that and I can see how this behaviour could be seen as steam-rolling or manipulative. Or bullying.

Since my mets diagnosis and through the support groups at Hopespring, I've been working on being more compassionate. This is all new and something that I'm learning a bit at a time and as soon as I am scared, angry, frustrated, or annoyed, all that compassion goes out the window. When the compassion comes back I feel guilty and sorry and ashamed. 

The shame I feel about these behaviours means that they really only come out towards people I know really well or people I don't know at all. I hide these behaviours from almost everyone so the people who are on the receiving end have no real support... meaning that I'm not held accountable for these behaviours so I can keep them a shameful secret, presenting one face to most people and leaving a trail of meanness in my wake. This isn't the person I want to be.

One of the things I hope to achieve through therapy is learning to not behave in those ways because doing it on my own has not been successful. I'm tired of hurting people and although I can apologize to the people I've hurt, if I don't behave differently those apologies are meaningless. I am deeply sorry that I've hurt my sister and all those other people. I can't take back anything that I've done (although if I could, I would); all I can do is move forward with the help of my soon-to-be therapist.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Finding inspiration through online stores

I'd bookmarked MacCulloch & Wallis, a UK fabric site, because they sell silk tulle (a fabric I covet and would love to own but that I have no idea what to do with) and today I looked through their whole site. I already knew that they have amazing fabrics and millinery supplies but today I really explored their trims and notions.

I discovered that there's more than one kind of invisible zipper - and the difference isn't just the length. There are open- and closed-ended invisible zippers, dyeable cotton-tape invisible zippers, polyester- tape invisible zippers, and a heavier weight of invisible zippers than the "normal" weight. I had no idea that invisible zippers came in different weights! I just want to make things out of all these different types of invisible zippers but I have no idea what those things would be.

They also carry fusible thread! I'd heard of this stuff before but I'd never seen it around here. I think it's amazingly cool and I really want to buy some and make something out of it but I have no idea what I could do with it. They have a lot of other stuff that I think is completely, totally awesome: cotton satin ribbon; felt, leather, braided vinyl, and reflective insertion piping; bag hardware that I'd love to use; and more. It's a treasure box of a website.

All of these amazing trims and notions are inspiring me to want to make things using them. I've been thinking that I might want to make a purse because I need a new one, and I've even been thinking of making one out of leather. This site has pretty much everything else I'd need I haven't felt this creative, sewing-wise, for quite a while.

I also took a look at their buttons and it occurred to me that it would be easy (and rather decadent) to use metalsmithing techniques to make buttons. Think of all the things people put on rings, like cabochon stones in a bezel setting or discs of metal - they would make great buttons. Of course, it would be prohibitively expensive to make them out of sterling silver and they would tarnish but they could be made out of another metal. Wouldn't that be cool?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Where's the water?

The good thing about having mostly dormant grass is that the weeds are really easy to spot. Not all of our lawn is dormant, I discovered this evening while watering the lawn; within the brownest areas are some green plants. Our lawn must be composed of at least two types of grass (and maybe three or four) which might make it more able to deal with different situations.

Interestingly, there are two lush areas just below the waterfall. Even though we know that we lose water from evaporation and splashing, I've been wondering whether we lose more water somewhere. Based on the lush, green lawn spots, I'd say that some water is getting out. It's most likely a trickle or extra splashing that happens when it's fuller.

Speaking of watering, I was looking at our region's water conservation guidelines again and I just realized that the odd-even (odd numbered addresses water on odd numbered days and even numbered on even numbered days) watering schedule is in effect all year long. The only difference between those restrictions and the ones we have now is that from October to the end of May we're allowed to water our lawns on the odd-even watering schedule instead of just once per week.

I had no idea that we had these kind of watering restrictions in place year-round. Our region also has a pesticide and herbicide ban in place. While the restrictions make taking care of the lawn and garden a little more complicated, I like that our region is environmentally conscious and forward-thinking and I'm proud to be living in this community.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hot, hot hot

OMG it's hot out here. I'm so happy that we finally found a house and that our house has air conditioning because the highs this week are between 30C and 34C (86F to 93F). That doesn't even factor in the humidity, which will make the temperature feel north of 40C (104F). Ick. If we're lucky we'll get a thunderstorm tonight and some rain on Wednesday. After all that rain we had this spring, we haven't had any in weeks.

It would be almost impossible to deal with this heat and humidity with air conditioning. I usually find air conditioning too cold but right now it's perfect.

Our garden and lawn are definitely feeling the effects of the heat and lack of rain. The grass is yellow and I'm going to be watering our lawn tomorrow (our weekly lawn watering day) because we're afraid that the grass will actually die if it doesn't get some moisture. Hopefully it's not already dead and that this one watering won't be in vain.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Thinking about Edmonton

I'd planned on calling the numbers for the therapists this past week but when I set that goal I didn't realize how busy I would be this past week. I had to be up early for most of the week for appointments and so I was tired and busy. I plan to make the calls Monday or Tuesday. I still feel like I need help dealing with things.

I'd also originally planned to go to Edmonton this summer but I'm not sure if that'll go ahead. I really want to see my friends and I want so much to spend time with my aunt, niece and nephews because I didn't see any of them the last time I was there. I'd also like to see the city in the summertime, when the sun is shining and it's light until late.

However, because so many of my core issues started in Edmonton, I am nervous about going back there. I'm not sure how to best deal with some of those things - I end up doing the wrong things which just makes things worse. I feel like I need to have seen someone before I go there so that I can relax and enjoy the trip instead of worrying and feeling negative.

UPDATED to remove a description of something related to a particular person. I couldn't help but feel that my intentions in writing that weren't good, like I was trying to get people on my side or justify something. After some reflection I decided that this wasn't fair or right so I've changed things.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New electricity billing

Starting on Friday we're going to be charged time-of-use rates for our power. To do this they've apparently installed a Smart Meter that can track not just how much electricity is used - which is what regular meters do - but also when that electricity is used. These meters were installed province wide by 2010 so it must have been installed before we moved in to the house. Unlike some smart meters, the ones we have don't show our electricity usage.

We'll be charged three different rates depending on the time of day: off-peak, mid-peak, and on-peak, and the mid- and on-peak times are different in summer and winter. Saturday 7am - Monday 7am and weekdays 7pm - 7am are always off-peak and are charged the cheapest rates. On-peak hours are weekdays 11am - 5pm (summer) and weekdays 7am - 11am and 5pm - 7pm (winter) and are charged not quite double the off-peak rates. Mid-peak hours are the remaining hours and the rate is in-between the two.

As if the outdoor water use hours weren't complicated enough!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Busy week

I knew there was a reason that I took it completely easy last week: I'm crazy busy this week. This morning I had an optometrist's appointment where my pupils were dilated so that the retina could be checked. Having artificially-dilated pupils meant that I couldn't drive and I had to take the bus, which takes extra time. I had to be up a bit early so that we could water the garden and fill the waterfall since today is our watering day.

Then this evening I had metalsmithing and tomorrow morning at 8am I have Pamidronate. It'll probably be my last Pamidronate so I want to be awake for it. I don't think I told you that I heard from the finance person at the hospital about the denosumab. Apparently if insurance doesn't cover the cost of the drug there's a "victory program" where the drug manufacturer picks up the tab. Fortunately, our insurance covers the cost and there's no cap on that coverage. The finance person said that I'll have to go in to see my oncologist to set things up and I'm still waiting for that appointment to be set up. She also said that I'll pick up the prescription at the pharmacy at the hospital instead of at my regular drug store for the first few months because it's so new that my pharmacy might not be able to get it easily.

I think I'll be happy to be rid of the pamidronate although I'm not sure what to expect from the denosumab. It's delivered subcutaneously and I'm not sure who would do that. I'm not sure I can do it but I don't know if the hospital would do it or whether the home-care nurse would do it. This issue is the only one that I'm worried about with respect to this new treatment. There must be other things I need to think about but they're not at the front of my mind right now.

But first I have to get through tomorrow's Pamidronate starting at 8am. I'm so having a nap tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Let's talk about drugs

I didn't go to the metalsmithing open studio tonight because I was having problems with sweating and felt a little nauseous. I think the problem was that my pain patches were running out and I was starting to go through withdrawl. I've never got to the worst parts of opiate withdrawl - when people talk about it, they almost always say they feel like they're dying - but the nausea and sweating (on top of my regular sweating) is bad enough.

I know that I'm physically dependent on the pain patches because of the withdrawl symptoms I experience. When I first started taking these drugs I was a little worried about being addicted to them but somehow I don't feel that I've got the psychological addiction. My doctors also told me not to worry about addiction because it's a comparatively small issue in relation to everything else.

I've read a lot of books and watched a lot of shows about prescription opiate - especially Oxycontin - addiction. It's apparently at ridiculous levels and people don't really understand why it's so prevalent and why it got that way so quickly. Oxycontin has only been around for the last 15 years or so, so how did so many people get addicted to it?

Lots of people ended up hooked because they were prescribed it for pain. It's a wonder-drug because it kills pain that other painkillers don't even touch. Apparently lots of people also ended up hooked on them because they assume that since it was prescribed by a doctor, they were ok to take. Too bad it's so highly addictive and it's so hard to wean people off of it.

It's also come to light that some people take it because it soothes emotional pain as well as physical pain. They're self-medicating to try to get rid of a pain they didn't know they had. Most of these people would never take heroin to get rid of that pain but these pills come (indirectly, perhaps) from a doctor so they must be ok. But when they try to get off these pills, they're facing the same withdrawl symptoms that heroin addicts face. Heroin addicts have a pretty good idea of where their addiction is going to take them but prescription opiate users don't expect to go down that road. They don't expect the drug to stop working for them, or to need more to stay level, or to start finding (less legal, perhaps) ways to get the drugs they need, or to go through that terrible withdrawl.

In the US, agencies have taken steps to prevent doctor-shopping and fake prescriptions but preventing that access isn't addressing the real problem: the reason why people are taking these drugs. Sure, some people take them because they'll take almost anything but just about every drug addict has their drug of choice. Why are prescription opiates that drug of choice for so many? How can other drugs or lifestyle changes give those same effects?

These are questions that deserve some attention. Sweeping the addiction under the rug or declaring a war on this drug isn't enough - there's a real opportunity to find out more about the brain and how it works and to help people. Yes, oxycontin addiction is a scary thing and it's scary that it became so prevalent so quickly. It also does a lot of good for a lot of people if it's managed well.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Trying to stop the chipmunk thief

The chipmunk has been eating and eating and eating. Even when I would go out to scare him (her?) away, he would just run a little ways away and then come back when I'd turn away. We're going to get a proper barrier to prevent him from getting up there but we decided not to wait until we get it to take action. We drilled a hole into one of our plant pots and stuck it upside-down on the pole.

When the cute little chipmunk saw this barrier, he was very confused. He would stop and look, then go down, then go up into the pot, and then go down to the ground. He went up into the nearby bush but wasn't quite brave enough to make the jump (he will be in a couple of days, I'm sure). So he went to the next tree on the side of the waterfall and scoped the situation from there. Then he went back to the pole and repeated this process.

If the seed was free I wouldn't mind letting the chipmunk take it all and hide it away for the winter because he's so cute and I laugh when I see him digging out the seeds. However, the seed isn't free and I want it the birds to eat it. Not only does the chipmunk take all the seeds, when he's taking those seeds the birds won't go near the

I'm sure the chipmunk will figure out how to get up to the seeds again. I expect that watching him try to get there will provide me with hours of entertainment. Hopefully we'll have a proper barrier by the time he's learned to circumvent our makeshift barrier thingy.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

The ants are marching

I was on the phone with my sisters this afternoon and I took the call outside because I hadn't looked at the plants today. The aphids are back in force on the lupin (sigh) and while I was looking at those, I noticed the ants. They're the same size as the ones that herd the aphids on the fruit trees but these ants were nowhere near those trees.

Even weirder, these ants looked like they were carrying smaller, dead ants and pieces of what looked like pieces of peanuts. And there were a ton of ants doing this. As I looked closer, I realized that the white things that looked like pieces of peanuts were eggs and the small, dead ants were alive. These ants were moving to a new nest under one of the plants. I traced their trail back to the starting point and it looks like their original nest is or was under the waterfall.

I've never seen ants do anything like this. Ian said that they might be splitting the nest in two and carrying new eggs, babies, and workers to the new nest. It was interesting to watch. Watching nature is cool.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Disappearing seed mystery solved

We've been noticing that our birdfeeder was emptying in less than a day and sometimes in less than eight hours. House- and gold-finches are little flying piggies who sit and eat and eat and eat so we just chalked up the disappearing food to them. After all, the juveniles are out and are eating (or are being fed after flapping their wings and opening their mouths) so it made sense that the increased number of flying pigs would eat more food.

It turns out that while they did eat a lot of the food, they're not the main reason the food has been disappearing so quickly. Here's the culprit:

Notice that his chubby little cheeks are full of seeds. I watched this chipmunk make four separate trips to the feeder this afternoon to stuff those cute little cheeks. No wonder the food is disappearing!

I took a bunch of pictures of this cute little thief at the feeder. Enjoy them after the jump.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Spending time in the garden

Summer has finally arrived! It's been really hot here and it's finally stopped raining. Everything, including the weeds, is growing like a weed (so to speak). I figured that spending a few hours weeding and puttering around the garden and yard would be a good use of my time, especially since I didn't do anything yesterday.

While I was mounding up the soil around the potatoes, I discovered that at least one cat had "christened" our vegetable garden. That's in addition to the "christening" performed several times by the raccoons. We had cats when I was growing up and I never understood why people would get so upset when cats "christened" people's flower beds. I understand now. 

I tell you, weeding is hard work. My legs don't hurt as much as they used to so I guess I'm used to weeding. Maybe I'm actually getting exercise by doing this weeding thing? It's not exactly the same as going on an epic walk but it's fun in a different way. There's something about working with plants and the earth that is very satisfying (and tiring).

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Bereavement group follow-up

Last night was the follow-up session for the Bereavement Group I'd attended. the facilitator holds these follow-up sessions about three months after the end of the nine week sessions because the grief work doesn't end after those nine weeks and she wants to check in with people. This session also gives everyone a truer picture of what each person experiences as time goes by. apparently some people who go through this group think that they'll do just fine once it's over and they discover that this isn't exactly what happens.

It turns out that I wasn't the only person who'd been having a rough time lately. Interestingly, another person had had a friend tell her that they didn't want to be friends with that person anymore. This isn't exactly the same thing that happened with my sister but there are similarities between the two situations, particularly in the way that person and I reacted. When it comes to news like that, we both prefer honesty over not knowing because neither of us wants to live a lie. Even so, dealing with the news sparked a bit of an identity crisis in both of us. I thought my reaction was me being sensitive and it was a relief to know that it's a normal reaction. Or at least not an abnormal one.

During the session we also did a little art therapy: we had to find six words that describe our feelings right then or recently, choose pencil-crayon colours for each one of those feelings, and use those colours to fill in a 6"-diameter circle. The point of doing the exercise is to check in and see how we're doing and if there's something there that we don't like or aren't comfortable feeling, then the idea is that we'd develop an action plan to deal with those feelings.

My project was a bit of an eye-opener for me. My finished project made it very clear that I'm struggling and need some help. I knew this, of course, but I didn't expect it to be so obvious in the picture. Fortunately, I already have my plan in place (to get help) and I've made steps towards that plan: I've looked at online resources and I have a list of people to call. All I have to do is actually make the calls. I tend to procrastinate at making calls like this so my goal is to have called all the people on my list by the end of next week.

I was nervous about going to this session because I wasn't so happy with the group by the end of it. I'm so happy that I decided to go anyway because I got a lot out of it. Knowing that I wasn't alone in feeling the way I did and that it's ok if I've been feeling sad and panicky and lost was a huge relief and made going to the group worthwhile.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Oncology appointment

My oncologist and I talked about how sick I was this past weekend during my appointment today. Because I've had pain in that general area for about a year and a half and nothing has shown up on CT scans, she's referring me to a specialist. I was startled to hear that the CT scans don't show the stomach or intestines very well but when I thought about it, I remembered that I don't drink barium or anything special for the CT scans.

My oncologist thinks I should have an endoscopy test (and I can see possibly a test involving barium as well) and the specialist she's referring me to will set that up. She doesn't think that the problem is cancer-related but is more likely the sarcoidosis.

As far as my cancer goes, my CA 15-3 tumour marker was 40, which is well within normal for me. Apparently one of my liver enzymes - AST - was a tiny bit high at 37 but she's not worried about it because it's been at that level before.

We also talked about replacing my Pamidronate with a new treatment that was approved by Health Canada for treatment of bone metastates only a month ago: denosumab. It's a monoclonal antibody (something I remember writing a paper about way back in high school - they were the next great hope for cancer treatment back then) and it's more effective than Zometa (the treatment used in the US) or Pamidronate. It's administered sub-cutaneously (under the skin) once per month. If I go on it, I'll still need to have my port flushed because there's no way I'm getting rid of it.

The only problem with this new drug is that it must cost big bucks because she asked me whether I had any insurance. She doesn't like dealing with the financial aspects to treatment - and she's not trained to do it - so it's a good thing that there's a specialist over at the cancer centre who helps people figure out how to pay for treatments. This person is going to call me to find out about our insurance and talk to me about financing this treatment. I'm happy to say that Ian checked online for me and it turns out that his insurance will cover 100% of the cost of this new drug. Yay for me!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Feeling much better today

I think I'm back to normal now; at least I'm able to eat normally and i'm not feeling the pain I was feeling before. The spot that hurts is right underneath my liver over on the right side. I'm still very tired but I think I'll live this time around :)

I would love it if this particular pain and/or discomfort would just go away. The pain I experienced on Friday was a bit farther down away from the ribcage than the usual pain location. The same pain also woke me the night before last in the middle of the night which is very unusual for me.

I was feeling so good today that I was able to eat normally (including some Ontario strawberries and early raspberries from our very own raspberry bushes) for the first time. And all the weight that I lost being sick has come back - which isn't a surprise and is probably a good thing. I'll still tell my oncologist that I was sick even though I'm fairly sure that it wasn't cancer-related.

Fortunately I was feeling good enough to go out and get some weeding done today. I think I've now finished weeding the entire non-lawn property. It must be time to start over, right? I'm also thrilled to tell you that the insecticidal soap is working in controlling the aphids on my lupins!!! The one that was having trouble is also starting to come back: there's lots of new growth there and without the aphids, that growth is doing just fine.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

BET Awards 2011 Red Carpet

The BET awards were held last week on June 26, 2011. This is one of those award shows that don't have a red carpet, exactly: this carpet was green and decorated with whimsical mushrooms. Lucky for us, this wacky red carpet means that there were some wacky outfits.

It was very hot and the sun was shining directly on the people on the red carpet so almost everyone is doing their best not to squint or perspire.

Let's take a look at these fashions after the jump.

Friday, July 01, 2011

So sick today

Today didn't work out at all like I planned. We were supposed to go to a friend's cottage for the day after getting the gas hooked up on our barbeque.

I hadn't felt all that well on Wednesday and after I finished my breakfast I started to feel really sick. There's a spot that often hurts on my right side and just below that spot it hurt. I started to feel really awful and nauseous and spent the rest of the day sick one way or another. Apparently my body didn't want to keep anything in it... not even water. I haven't been that sick in a really long time and I've never felt pain like that before.

I was really worried that there was something wrong with my appendix and thought about going to the hospital. I checked my symptoms but the pain was too high for that. At one point I was able to find a comfortable position - flat on my stomach - and I slept for a couple of hours. When I woke up I felt a lot better and since then I've been able to sip water although I don't want to eat. To be honest, I'm a little bit nervous to try eating since my body rejected it earlier. When I do eat I'll start with toast or noodle soup.

Somewhere in this day I lost five pounds. I'm not going to complain about that - there's another 20 or so that I'd be happy to lose - although I'm not sure it's a completely good thing to lose it that quickly. I see my oncologist on Tuesday and I'll mention it to her although I'm sure I just picked up a bug or something.