Archive for the ‘food’ Category

I’m your cancer “go-to” girl

February 2, 2010
 
This is not a position I applied for, but it appears it is a job the universe has given me for the time being.
 
This is a short story about vegetables, cooking, the Farmer’s Market, and one Farmer in particular.
 

Andy's vegetables, Toledo Farmers Market, January 2010

  I have always LOVED going to the Farmer’s Market.  I loved Farmer’s Markets before they were cool, even.  As a little kid I remember going “to Market” with my dad a couple times and with my Aunt who sold eggs once as well.  This would have been back in the early 60’s, and then it was only called “Market”.  I guess it wasn’t necessary to include the occupational code term of “Farmer” at that time.  I loved the many diffeent sights, sounds, the early morning, and most of all the people.  All different types of people that this little farm girl didn’t normally see around Cygnet and Hope Lutheran Church, my two social outposts of childhood.      Well, I still go to Farmer’s Markets now, and they have changed.  Now it’s cool to get your food at an open air market and to speak a few words with the grower of the goods.  I LOVE to browse the fresh food, and I love to talk with the growers.  Some talk a little more, some a little less.  My favorite guy is Andy Keil from Swanton.  This big bear of a guy is always at the market, always has a big smile on his face, and since I have begun my trip into cancerland, has always asked about me.  Here is a sample of our conversations this past year:  Andy, “How’re ya doin’?”  me: “oh….pretty good…” usually followed by a brief explanation of what’s happened recently or what is to happen next.  The conversation always closes with Andy saying, “Well, you know I’m still prayin’ for you.”  And me, the true Unitarian, I always reply, “Thanks Andy, I’ll take all the prayers I can get.”   Because of course, if there is a Holy Trinity up there somewhere, I’m pretty sure I’m not on the “save” list.                       

Farmer Andy and me at Toledo Farmer’s Market, 1/31/10                   

      

Well, this week Andy had a little sense of urgency in his voice when he greeted me.  “I was hopin’ I’d see you here, because I got something to ask you.”  “Sure Andy, what do ‘ya need?” I replied.   “It’s time to return the favor for me.  You know how I always tell you I am praying for you?  Well…..”   and he went on to tell me of a very recent medical appointment that ended with a surgery date coming up very quickly to remove a suspicious tumor and adjacent tissue.  And when he was given the bad news, he said, “You know, you were the first person I thought of.”   I really felt kind of honored, in a wierd kind of way.  I told him that personally, I really think tumors suck, and I hope that he is one of the lucky ones to not get admittance into the cancer club any time soon.  We chatted for a few more minutes about how he is way too busy growing food for me to get sidelined with this  surgery and treatment business for too long, and I was really glad he is proactive about his health, and taking care of the important business of living life.                    

  

                

Of course now I have to get busy with the praying part.  So I did today.  At home on Sunday afternoon, my son, Louie, carefully peeled the parsnips and carrots and I did the turnips.   I then chopped them up into slightly larger than bite size along with the red onions and a potato, threw a few homemade frozen “pesto cubes” on top and then opened a can of Dei Fratelli chopped tomatoes to add a nice liquid base with beautiful tomato pieces.  The whole while thinking of Andy, and hoping that his great Karma and good nature will get him through the surgery he has scheduled in about 10 days.   This is basically a big pan of vegetables that will last about five days in my house through all my lunches at work and a few dinners at home, also.  Now I can’t help but think of Andy when I pull out my veggies.  This is how a “foodie” prays.  Or at least this is one way I see “prayer”.           

               

Dinner Sunday night, Andy’s veggies, Trader Joe’s Brown Jasmine Rice and Brown Rice Medley (and yes, I am drinking that wine!)  Of course,  this is a lot of vegetables, and I cook this way to streamline the food “prep” through the week.  My new favorite food thing is prepping five individual containers of “chow” for the week to have healthy and filling lunches every day without having to do a thing, except pull it out of the fridge…….          

 
 

    

 This is such a good lunch, I can’t even begin to explain.  But I do think of Andy now whenever I pull out his vegetables….and when I think “ummmm, this is sooo good!”   I am saying a prayer that my favorite farmer is back in the field this Spring, and not in a Medical Complex someplace decoding a whole new world.   

Thank goodness for those who have travelled this road before me.  When I was first able to utter the word “biopsy”, it was to my friend Kathy, who had been there before with Breast Cancer.  When I started thinking about my mastectomy and how to recover, I was so grateful that my Chinese sister, Helen, spent hours on the phone with me.  When it was apparent I was about to lose my hair, Cathy and Diana loaned me their wigs and hats.    

I’m truly grateful that Andy asked me to pray for him, even if I’m not a very good pray-er.  Gives me a chance to “pay it forward”.   If you are good at praying, you got a direct line to Jesus and God, would you put in a good word for Andy?  He so very much deserves it.  I want him to keep showing up at the Farmer’s Market for many years to come.   

                  

                      

                          

                            

                       

 

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almost lost my boob tonight

October 15, 2009

OK–It was bad enough that I found myself in walmart tonight, but I nearly lost my new boob. 

Let me explain.  I mean about the walmart thing.  So, number one son needs a new pair of shoes for his uniform for League Cadets (the official Navy group for grade school boys and girls.  really, I’m not kidding…..) and the only place you can get them is at the w-place.  I have a standing vow to only enter the megamart as a store of veryveryvery last resort. 

I picked the kids up from school after 4:30 and we went straight to W.  Since I was sooo exhausted from work (left the house this morning at 6:45) and radiation, we proceeded to pick up a few other things desperately needed at our house….including a camisole for my poor little radiation burned chest.   Finding I can’t wear the industrial bra and super expensive prosthesis anymore…too heavy, and literally, rubs me the wrong way.   Since I finally received my “fluff” or “puff” or whatever the hell it is called from the “tlc” catalogue, I have been trying to figure out how to wear the fluffy fake boob.  I know, you would think that would be an easy thing to get done, but it is more complex than you might think…..

Anyways, tried on several camisoles, each one more annoying, almost ready to give up in frustration and disgust at the “new me” and my sartorial challenges, but the last cami was suitable enough to buy.  Not great mind you, but acceptable.  Of course the boys were fighting outside the dressing room, and I’m thinking, “This is what my life has come to???”  Buying cheap foreign made undergarments at Walmart with my kids fighting outside the dressing room???”  Christ, always thought I would at least rate department store lingerie…..sigh………….

Anyways, decide to buy it, and in a hurry left the dressing room and shoved the “puff/fluff” in my purse.  Realised I need to get hand sanitizer for school (LOTS of snot flying around there) no idea where it was, so I dropped the boys in the Lego aisle to do some wishful thinking while I hunted down the sanitary goo.  On the way to try to find it I walked by a shirt I just decided I must have for the big friggin’ pink day thing tomorrow………..grabbed a M and a L and whisked back to the dressing room thinking to myself, “whoa…..now I’m…..buying…….clothes made in China…to benefit the walton’s??”  As I turned the corner to jump feverishly back into the dressing room, there are two “associates” with my boob discussing whether or not it is a shoulder padding for something or…..what?  . Dang, I just paid $16.00 for that bit of fluff and I nearly lost it the very first ime I wore it?  Now, this is like an ice cream sundae full of pathetic. 

So what would you do if an associate at walmart was holding your boob?  I just said something like, “Oh, for gods sake, that’s my boob.  See I lost my boobs and now I can’t wear my real fake boobs, so I just got some fluffy fake boobs, and I can’t believe…blahblahblah…..”  By the time I got out of the dressing room there was a gaggle of associates at the dressing room entrance……I imagined to see the boob, but maybe they were just working…..

middle of the night meanderings of my mind

August 27, 2009

well, shit.  it is now 3:11 am and I’ve been awake since 2:14.  experience tells me I have to get it off my chest or take drugs to get back to sleep, and since I’m already going to receive massive amounts of drugs in about 12 hours, I choose writing.

All I can think about right now is school.  I wonder how Open House went at my school, because I missed it.  Still on sick leave, and the thought of being in a small enclosed room with easily 30 to 40 parents and kids at a time (and that is “times” seven…I teach seven FULL classes…rather, I will teach seven classes when I get to return to the classroom…hopefully in mid to late September) made not only my oncologist nervous, but really, me too.  Too much of a a risk of infection just days before an infusion.

Heres what I missed:  I love meeting parents,even though I don’t always remember them all.  Is is so fun to see the kids bring their parents in, at the Junior High level many of the kids are still excited to introduce their moms and dads to their teachers, so you get to see first-hand “how far the apples fell from the tree”.  Some kids look so much like one of their parents it is uncanny, especially when their outward demeanor is seemingly unalike either parent.  Usually that means the parents are smart, successful, outgoing, and engaged in my brief 7 to 10 minute presentation.  In class their kids “hide” in a metaphoric sense….long hair over the eyes, less eye contact, little to no active involvement in discussions, etc…..  These are the kids who can be challenging, but I know I usually have a pretty good chance of drawing them out by the end of the 18 weeks (my classes are all semester classes).  I don’t know why, exactly, I have few theories, but I am certainly no psychologist, so I’ll spare your from my deep thoughts there.   But boy, did I feel like I really missed an opportunity not being there.  It makes for a long day, to teach all day, and then be at school until 8:30 or so, but it is so worth it.  It is often your best and only chance to make a good impression upon a parent, explain your teaching philosophy, grading methods , course content and classroom expectations.  Then if a kid goes home and whines about something in class, the parent should be better able to assess if it is just whining, or if they need to call me.  Sometimes there are legitimate misunderstandings that occur in class, and as a teacher I want to know that stuff, because if it was problematic with one kid, maybe other kids misunderstood something, too.  I know, I know, as much as I talk, I should be a master of communications, but I screw it up sometimes….hard to believe, huh! :^)

I also woke up thinking about recipes.  Specifically, cookie recipes.  I don’t usually like making cookies, but yesterday I made a fabulous batch of cookies…..in fact they were so good, I might just have to go eat one as soon as I finish this post.  Maybe that will be the insomnia cure….a big oatmeal mini-chocolate chip cookie with a warm glass of milk.  Yum.  Did you know that warm milks’ reputation as a good bedtime beverage has scientific foundation?  Something about the proteins in the milk when warmed act upon the sleep center of your brain.  If I am still alert, later I’ll look it up and edit this part of the post to be more specific about that.   Anyways about that cookie…..it was really exceptionally good considering that the recipe was “made over” to be more healthful…lower saturated fat content, higher fiber and more grams of protein, and I usually only “like” oatmeal cookies, but this one was really, really good!

I also made “Crispy Cereal Treats”, again another “made over” recipe for rice crispy treats.  Did you know that you do not have to use the normal half stick of butter when you make Rice Krispie treats?  I mean, butter is FABULOUS, but why waste those saturated fat calories in a recipe that hides it?  (I say, save the butter for toast or for a fabulous sauce for fish or sauteing a big batch of vegetables or for a great garlic bread….mixed with 3 parts olive oil to 1 part butter… of course with loads of minced garlic and a touch of basil and sea salt)  This particular Rice Krispie recipe calls for 1 T of butter and 1 T of canola oil, and still comes out GREAT!  It also adds more fiber by replacing a cup and a half of the relatively weak (nutritionally speaking) rice krispies with another high fiber cereal of your choice.  PLUS, adds more protein with roasted unsalted sunflower seeds.  Now I know some of you are cringing…thinking I’m ruining a perfectly good homemade staple of our culinary culture in the United States, but let me tell you, if my 8 year old likes it, well then it’s got to be OK .  Charlie is the kind of kid who visually inspects his food and has a “nose” like no one one I’ve ever met.  He can spot a “hidden vegetable” from a  mile away, and if an offending ingredient is suspected, he will immediately call me out on it, and he is right most of the time. 

The third thing I made was called “grab and go breakfast bars”.  They are a kind of a fruity granola kind of bar cookie.  Except I don’t really consider them a cookie in a true sense.  But I do consider them to be pretty good.  Now this recipe I have modified slightly, I add regular sized chocolate chips, and I do not completely reduce the dried fruit in with the grains in the food processor.  I do process them in the FP, but only to a level of mince/chopped, then pull them out of the FP, finish the recipe, ALL IN THE FOOD PROCESSOR (I love those kind of recipes, all made in the FP, fast and easy!!) and then I hand mix the fruit and chocolate chips into the mixture in the end.  This is such an EASY and incredibly healthful recipe.  A great low-fat and high fiber, high protein snack.  I’m going to get my husband to eat these when he complains theat he “doesn’t have time for breakfast”.  At least if I provide the alternative to morning nutrients, he doesn’t have the right to complain to me anyways.

NOW…if I have interested you enough in these recipes you have to either buy the book Mom’s Guide to Meal Makeovers by Janice Newell Bissex and Liz Weiss.  Their website states they “are registered dietitians and The Meal Makeover Moms. As two of the nation’s top experts on family nutrition, they’re on a mission to help busy families eat better… ”  Website location: http://www.mealmakeovermoms.com/    I think I have given the correct titles to their recipes so they should be easy enough to find!  Their website also has access to their blog, videos, recipes, recommended convenience food products, etc.  If you are interested in healthier cooking without losing the flavor this is my number one “go to” cookbook.  So far everything I have made from this book is good to excellent.

So now it is 4:32 am YIKES!  I am still wide awake, so I think I better go get some warm milk and try to get to sleep.  I need to wake up in just hours for my big day….LAST CHEMO INFUSION.  (Wish me well, and no bad reactions.)  Hopefully I don’t have too many horrible spelling or grammar errors becauseI’m going to post this writing without a final edit….I’ll do that in the morning.

A short list of the things I miss

August 23, 2009

Last night Lou and I saw the movie Julie and Julia.  It was great, especially Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Julia Child.  Wow!  WOW!  WOW!!!  And all the food………..ohhh my goodness.  I loved it, loved it, loved it!!  When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about the food.  And then I realized just how much, how terribly much I miss “the food”.  I think one of the things I have missed the most this summer is not being able to COOK.   Oh, I can kinda’ cook.  I can make a basic dinner with convenience foods and a few fresh ingredients.  I have enough stamina to make it through the grocery store, and get the food into the house.  I have enough strength now to be able to get the Caphalon pans off the rack and onto the stove.  But I have discovered, I must keep it all very simple, or else I run out of steam before the dish is done.  I can’t even tell you how many beautiful bunches of basil have been denied the opportunity to become a perfect pesto because they wilted into oblivion in my fridge before I had the opportunity and energy to put the simple recipe together.  And the swiss chard, especially the rainbow chard…sighhhh…I just felt so so bad, and so sad to throw several bunches out over the last couple months.  Beautiful rainbow chard gone to waste is a terrible thing.  I have started with great intentions, and think a recipe through carefully, plan around what I anticipate will be “my good days” purchase the ingredients ahead of time, and somehow it frequently hasn’t happened, but certainly not for lack of desire or will.

I also miss strength and stamina.  Just pulling four dinner plates out of the cupboard takes effort.  Actually I can’t even do that, it’s more like two at a time, and even that is not all that easy.  Closing the back door of the minivan…that hurts, too.  Even pulling weeds out of the garden requires planning, have to save that for the “good days” and all I can manage to evict then are the shallow rooted invaders.  This lack of upper body strength makes me feel so oldwhen I have never felt old before.  I am working really hard to continually, everyday, try to do a little more, but it seems like I take two steps forward, and then one, and sometimes two steps backwards.  The lymphadema issue on my left side, that is a real thing.  So, I guess I really miss those lymph nodes, too.  All these years I have taken them for granted….well no more.  I’m grateful for all the lymph nodes I still have left.  You should love your lymph nodes and appreciate them for all they do.

I miss fearlessness.  I didn’t realize until this year, how relatively fearless I have lived life.  In fact, I don’t think I really experienced much fear until I had babies.  When I had babies, they came with “parent fear”…if you are a parent you know what I am talking about….the fear that something, someone, some unknown factor will hurt your beautiful and perfect child.  Of course, “parent fear” comes and goes with the news stories of the day or the shriek of a child…..  But now….geez…cancer……somehow it invites itself into your tissues and divides uncontrollably.  Then, if you are lucky like me, you find it before it really threatens to kill youand get it in a body part that is non-essential (sorry about that breasts), and a good surgeon can “cut it out”.  But you know what they can’t cut out?  That nagging fear that some how, some rouge cancer cell snuck out of the core tumor and has been hiding from the chemotherapy, is out of the line of fire of radiation, and just waiting to make a ‘comeback”.  The small discomforts of normal aging now make you think with a paranoid edge.  Could that nagging backache be something bad happening in my bone marrow?  How many times have I had that little pain in my head….and has it been in the same spot….and maybe I should mark it with a “Sharpie’ so I can keep track of it…maybe I should make a log of the times I’ve felt it…..  I don’t know how to find the balance between merely paying attention to my body and being paranoid about every little thing, little pains I feel.  I don’t like it much, being paranoid.

Yesterday I made a trip to Office Max to buy one of those rolling cart things for when I do eventually return to school (hopefully by the mid to end of September) because, of course, I’ll probably not be able to actually carry stuff back and forth like before.  While in the cashier line, I saw this pretty teenage girl, I kind of didn’t recognize her at first…and realized it was Emily, a quiet and thoughtful student I had in my class for two years in a row.  Boy, over the summer she has grown, looks more mature.  I chatted with her and her mother for a few minutes as we all walked to our cars.  I put my bags in my car, got in, and surprisingly and uncontrollably burst into tears.  Wow…what was that all about?  I think I just miss teaching, I miss my school, I miss the camaraderie of my teacher friends and fabulous secretaries, but most of all, I miss the kids.  Seeing a student really hit me right in the emotional gut, I’m not where I am supposed to be right now.  I am supposed to be in the classroom, with all the ups and downs of teaching, it is all about connecting with kids, and helping them learn and grow and become more mature.  And I’m missing it.  Yea, I know I’ll get there, but today I’m missing it.

There’s lots of other things I miss too, like having free time.  I’m sick of taking every available moment to study my treatments options, filling out medical paperwork, researching medical facilities and doctors, etc.  I know that it is shallow and only temporary, but I miss my hair.  In air conditioned rooms, my head is cold.  With cooler temps finding their way to Ohio, my head is cold.  I miss planning anything.  I always have to think, well, if I am OK on that day I can…..  I hate having to live one day at a time.   People who tell me to just live one day at a time don’t actually have to live their life that way.  It is easy to say, very hard to do.  I miss taking “feeling good” for granted.  I didn’t realize how most of my life I always felt good.  Now, when I feel good, I really notice it and appreciate it so much.

Sigh.  I’ll quit whining now.  At least for today, I get to go hang out with the Unitarians.  And that is something to be grateful for.

rollercoaster takes a turn up….

July 26, 2009
 Well, two days ago I felt awful physically, and got bad news (?) from my Optometrist.  I consciously decided to not be upset about the eye news until I know more after Tuesday.  There.  Done with that.  As for the bone pain, it, too, is slowly taking leave of my limbs.  Yesterday and today I have been more active, choosing to push through the pain, and have been mostly successful in ignoring it, at least until I slow down.  Then, I kind of pay for it, but it is nothing that three Motrin’s won’t modify.

The reason I decided to ignore the bad stuff yesterday was because coolPaula had arranged for an interesting whirling dervish of a woman named Gaya to come to her home and cook some lovely Indian food, talk about life, mandalla’s and energy forces, and teach a brief meditation exercise.

025017a spicy vegetable mix

 

Here is what I learned:

  1. Not only do Indian women talk really fast, they cook really fast.  I was paying very close attention and taking notes, while I was helping to prepare four complete and beautiful Indian dishes, yet I couldn’t repeat any of the dishes, except maybe the rice noodles on my own.
  2. There are different kinds of cumin, and the cumin we usually cook with won’t work in this type of cooking…..Gaya called it:  “gigantic cumin, it ruins everything!”
  3. In India, food is used as a healer…..Fresh Food gives Fresh Thinking.
  4. My notes say: “Celestial wholeness…..Mandalla is wholeness within yourself.”  It was profound at the time, that’s all I can say. 

I’m not sure how much I gained as far as knowledge of Indian foods, or understanding of the “inquiry method of meditation”.  But this I do know.  There is nothing more fun than getting together and preparing food together, especially when you have a “director” of sorts.  Preparing and sharing food together is good medicine, for me anyways.  I resolve to, when I am “more better”, invite friends over more often for dinner, AND have the preparation of the foods be a part of the entertainment.

Chinese Dragonboat Festival

So early this morning, the weather was awful, and I wasn’t sure we were going to make it to the Dragonboat Festival, but at exactly 10:15 it stopped raining, and I managed to get the boys up and out the door by 10:45 to go to the Dragonboat Festival down at International Park.  Amazingly, there was no resistance, no whining, no “Idon’wanna”s” from either kids, and we arrived just in time for one of the Dragonboat races.  Both boys seemd to think it was cool, and so did I. 

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The weather really cleared up, it was breezy, but just the right kind of breeze, enough to kick the stink off of Toledo and make it…actually kind of cool.  We arrived in time to see Kathy and Linda in the Tai Chi demonstration, and the boys got to pick up “kid stuff” and buy pop and play games and win prizes.  So there was something in it for everyone…..two hours of a different kind of experience.  By the time we were ready to walk out, the chemopain started to creep up, and I was so happy to get home and hit the bed.

I’m glad to have friends that are so interesting and are into really different and cool things like Indian cooking and Tai Chi.  I love the diversity, and it is all fitting into a good place with me at this time.  Thank you!

Hair by Chemotherapy

July 4, 2009
This is how much hair I still have today (7-4-09)
This is how much hair I still have today (7-4-09)

 

 

 

 

So far, Dr. Schott has been right on target with all her information.  She suggested that my hair would be brittle in two weeks and fall out in three.  So, last week I got a short haircut, whined about it for a day or so, then actually began to kind of like it!  Too bad it is falling out in huge, big clumps now.   Stupid Cancer.   Maybe one of my local friends will take pity on me and offer to shave it all off.  I’ve been practicing tying cool scarves around my head (thanks Yvonne for the gifts!) and getting used to the feeling.  So today I picked some more beautiful rhubarb to make pies for super neighbors, the Jaegers, and the Unitarians (tomorrow is potluck Sunday!) and thought perhaps I better wrap one of my new scarves around my hair lest it fall out while I was cooking.  (I know, that is a terrible thought.)

This last week has been a pretty good one, too.  Friday night we went to a lovely holiday party where there were a bunch of kids and then watched the fireworks over the Maumee River.  The weather was great, and the company was even better.  Also this week I’ve met two of my neighbors, Nikki and Diana, both have had breast cancer.  We all live within two blocks of each other, and of course, made an instant bond.

I feel pretty good, except for the fatigue, which hasn’t been too bad.  I’ve been exercising more, walking between 30 and 45 minutes per day.  Plus, I had a meeting with a fitness trainer to work on abdominal muscles.  Since the top half of me looks so…ah..”unusual” I decided it was time to “tone it up” everywhere else.  I still don’t feel right in the chest area.  It is so weird to flex your pectoralis muscle though some random daily action and then to feel the expander implant move around.  Then I just start flexing the pec’s just to watch the action of the right breast…it is so strange, and strange that I am amused by it all, too.

 Well, I am just grateful to feel as good as I do for this day.  In five more days I will travel up to Ann Arbor again for the second round of chemo.  Hopefully the anxiety demons will leave me alone this week.  Send good thoughts my way on Thursday afternoon.

 

 

From Rhubarb Pie Bliss to Chemotherapy Haircut….what a day….

July 2, 2009
Rhubarb from the back yard, eggs from Bill

Rhubarb from the back yard, eggs from Bill

You know, yesterday I woke up early and knew the first thing I was going to do was make that Rhubarb Pie.  My friend Martha was so generous to send four beautiful homemade crusts to me because she somehow found out that I was bummed out about the fact that I don’t yet have the stamina and strength to make a pie crust and the filling for the pie, too.  Stupid cancer. 

I love making pie.  I could talk and talk about pies, pie-making, and what a good home-made piece of pie can do for the soul.  Life is too short to eat “store-bought” pie, and good pie must be shared.  When I had my first baby (Louie) in 1998, I became a stay-at-home-mom and decided that I needed some kind of little research project that I could work on at home to provide a distraction from the obsession I had of adoring that beautiful little baby boy every second of the day.  I thought that logically, I should become a champion cookie maker, since cookies and kids just go together naturally, but try as I might, I couldn’t find a passion for cookie baking. 

Then, I came up with pie.  At the time, we were living in Scottsdale, not exactly a pie center of the world, but having grown up in Ohio, I had a pretty good idea about what made a great pie.  It was a good match for me.  I found that it can be tough to make a great flaky piecrust in the desert, but eventually I was able to produce a respectable pie.  And here’s one thing I learned, when you have a good pie, you must share it.  Share with neighbors, friends, your secretary, co-workers, or whoever appears in your life on the day the pie is made. 

 

Two Rhubarb Custard Pies with a modified "dutch-apple' topping and a little Wheat-free Rhubarb dessert.

Two Rhubarb Custard Pies with a modified "dutch-apple' topping and a little Wheat-free Rhubarb dessert.

So making and sharing a great pie, is really kind of like a religious experience to me.  It’s what “love thy neighbor” is all about, and at the same time, makes me feel good, too.  Yesterday, I knew I needed a good karma infusion, so Rhubarb Custard Pie was the first thing on my agenda. 

So, Charlie helped pick the rhubarb, Bill gathered the eggs, Martha made the pie-crusts, and I chopped and mixed the filling and baked the pie. One pie went to Martha, Bill & cool-Paula, and we kept the other one, parsing out some nice pieces to neighbors Lucille & Bill and Pat.  I figured that had to be worth at least a heaping cupfull of good vibes…..because I figured I needed it for the chemotherapy haircut planned for later in the evening.

Stupid Chemotherapy Haircut

I knew I wouldn’t do well with letting my hair just fall out in dribs and drabs, so when Dr. Schott, my Oncologist gave me the “estimated time of fall-out” I made an appointment to get a short haircut.  I thought that perhaps it wouldn’t be such a shock to my system if I went from my midlength thick curly hair (that was my hair, at the top of the blog) to short hair, before going to no hair.  Cindi, a great stylist, cut it short-short, like I asked for.  I hate it-hate-it.  I spent last night and some of today being grumpy-grumpy.  Realistically, I guess it isn’t all that bad, I just can’t look at a mirror and admit to liking it very much.  Suddenly without the cover of intensely curly hair, it seems as if all my imperfections have been magnified, and at 50 years old, I have my share.  So I guess I need more make-up and “bling”……yet, at the same time I am ashamed of myself for being so….superficial.  My God, I only need 4 chemo treatments, and here I am whining about my hair….  So that’s it.  No more complaining from me.  I am grateful for all that I have, so many marvelous friends and a good husband and kids. 

3:30 a.m. + Pie + Field of Dreams = ??

June 28, 2009

Well, usually if I wake at this hour it means I am having a problem with anxiety, and I’ve found the only way to get it out  and return to lullaby-land is to write  bedside until the issue is resolved.  This time though, the image/thought  that I have circling ’round my brain is Pie and images from the movie “Field of Dreams”.  You know, the Kevin Costner movie, where he hears the whispers that begin with, If you build it, he will come…………….”   So, what is that supposed to mean?  If you bake it, they will come?  

Now, before this whole cancer carnival became my “new normal” I never-ever woke up in the middle of the night.  Honestly.  Never understood insomnia.  But I did used to wake up early in the morning with plans and visions of the perfect lesson plan for school, a fabulous art concept, big design dilemmas resolved neatly, etc.  So I understand sleep as the opportunity for my brain to relax, and come up with great concepts without the “conscious-me” meddling with the subconscious brains’ much better plan.

So yesterday was day nine, post chemo, and was about as good of a day as I am gonna’ get all summer.   I began with meeting Tahree at the Toledo Farmers’ Market at 9:00 and she was so thoughtful to get there early enough to buy me some beautiful fresh spinach before the “greens guy” was all sold out.  Yea!  I had been craving spinach for weeks now, more later on how it landed on my table.  We talked for more than an hour while eating some kind of really great fresh raspberry pastry from Ackerman’s raspberry stand.  I came home, and had to rest for an hour for my next big adventure.

At noon, I pulled a “cancer-card” and utilized one free salon service at a nice little place in Toledo.  For the next two hours I had a manicure and “spa-pedicure” while in a kind of aggressive massage chair.  I mean it…..the massage rollers were so insistent that I thought they were going to push me out of the chair at first!!  Eventually, I figured out how to position my spine to kind-of enjoy the pedicure.  During my manicure (since I had a captive audience I was actually paying to sit across from me) I had the opportunity to practice my spiel of  breast-health-my-story-importance-of-digital-mammograms.  That was good.  She seemed to hang on every word, and thanked me three times for educating her on the importance of digital imaging.  (one down, thousands to go)

Came back home, and of course, had to kick back again from all the activity, this time in my fabulous new “zero gravity chair” on the back deck, in the shade, listening to birds and watching Lou attack the overgrown flower bed.  Good job there!  Kids were even still gone (at the pool with coolPaula ) so it was completely relaxing.  Eventually, the kids came home, I got up and pruned a few more of the Tropicana rose bushes that had been horribly neglected all spring with new clippers in one hand and an ice cold Negro Modela in the other.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

Soon I began dinner, a combination of donated food, and a little bit of original cooking.  The donated food came from my new friends,  Linda and Helen, both have had Breast Cancer. (I think I am going to adopt them as sisters.)  On Friday, they went miles above the normal realms of friendship and brought easily more than a weeks worth of food for my refrigerator and freezer.  One of the things they made for us was this fabulous lasagna.  So dinner was this sausage lasagna, garlic bread and my favorite Spinach/onion/bellpepper/Calamata Olive/and Feta Cheese saute** with fresh corn, cut off the cob on the side.  Lou pulled out a great Cabernet, and we had a terrific meal together.  Kids didn’t whine too much, and ran off to play video games as soon as they were done eating and we had some time alone.  Priceless!

After dinner, I took Charlie to a sleepover at coolPaula’s house with Henry, and got to see her sister, Kathy, too.  So, the day ended with a bottle of wine, comfortable seating outside, conversation with coolPaula and Kathy, and as a bonus….their mom, Martha joined us for a while.  It was a trinity of fabulous women, and I got to be there.   We talked and laughed until quite late and I had to get back home, lest Lou think something happened to me in the three blocks between our houses.

So.  There it is.  I’ve written all about my wonderful day yesterday, and I still don’t know why Pie+Field of Dreams woke me up.  If it makes any sense to you, please let me know.  I am going to try to sleep now so I can go hang with the Unitarians again later this morning.

 

**if anyone would like the recipe, just ask, I’d be thrilled to post it!