Sunday, December 27, 2009

Our Christmas 2009 Picture Book.

Christmas Day 2009
...as seen through the lens of my Canon PowerShot pocket sized camera that doesn't seem to want to focus properly any more. (It probably has a dirty lens) My new Canon Rebel is set for delivery on Monday the 28th - too late for Christmas but appropriately on my birthday, since it is my birthday present.



The Christmas season officially begins in our house when Mary, Jesus and the others take their appropriate positions.






This year we added a baby-friendly version of Jesus which usually had the camel or Jesus perched on the roof singing "Silent Night" when their heads got pressed.





Jed gave up waiting for his mother to decorate the exterior of the house and chose the coldest (-31) day of the year to hang his own mishmash of Christmassy glitz.





This year's wrap theme was black and silver with splashes of red. Everything must be in a nicely shaped box and nothing has names on it. That way no one knows who gets what and there is less shaking and squeezing, and no "Why does Ken get the largest gift again this year?" and "Xander has twice as many as everyone else combined." I leave these details to be discovered on Christmas day. And only I have the secret code which determine whose is whose.




There is another pile on the other side of the room for the mismatched and oddly shaped gifts.




Xander spends Christmas Eve with Granny and Uncle Jed while the adults have a games night at his house.




Disappointed that Xander would have Christmas breakfast at his own house, Uncle Jed decided to whip up a blueberry pancake breakfast for Christmas Eve bed snack before Xander went home.





Mmmmm. Yummy Uncle Jed.





Oops! Granny accidentally squeezed a giant blueberry. I don't know what scared him more, the shot in the face or Granny laughing hysterically.






Nana's annual Christmas crackers help to set the festive table.




The men get comfy with a rousing round of Wii golf before the hubbub begins.






A half sheet of plywood makes a handy table extension.





It never fails. The turkey takes down a half dozen full grown men in one fell swoop.





Everyone must amuse Granny by participating in whatever gift-opening game she dreams up each year. There will be no diving in and attacking presents. There will be no more than one gift opening at a time. You shall ooooooh and aaaaaah over every present. You shall participate. And you shall have fun, dammit!




Even the Cross family has learned that participation is in their best interest.




Yay! A bagel slicer. Just what I always wanted. oooooh. aaaaaah.





Yay! A Christmas sweater (a very cute one too) from Uncle Kore and Aunty Brandi. Let's try it on, even though it's 200 degrees in here.





And the game goes on.... and on... and on....





Occasionally Granny screws up and someone opens someone else's present.
Ooops!






Some things just have to be tried out right away.






A new soccer ball from PaPa! Yippee!






Xander gets into indoor soccer position.






And when he's older, Granny will get after him for kicking a ball around in the house.





Chillaxin' with PaPa and Grampy ... how much better can it get.





It was a big day filled with family, fun and food.
Thank you Jesus for being born.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Skimmin' the details of the life of A&L in '09



Wherever we are at in life, it seems no matter how good our intentions are, we need a season like Christmas to help us to refocus, review, re-evaluate and reconnect. And so once again the annual review of the Albert and Liana Ziemer family assaults your inbox in an attempt to reconnect relationships and reminisce 2009.

January and February were spent shovelling enormous amounts of snow and shopping for our as yet unborn grandchild whose sex we did not know. We simply referred to the child as "Baby X". (Well, one of us shopped and one of us shovelled - we work well as a team.)

It's hard to believe that just one year ago the adorable bundle of love we now know as Xander was just a belly with a wooshing heartbeat. His arrival on March 3rd changed our lives. And change is good.

Albert has always been "Pa" to our children so it only made sense that he become "PaPa" to Xander. With numerous "Grandma Ziemers" in our family I decided I would be "Granny". Jed is proud of his role as Uncle and is very gentle and loving towards Xander, and Xander loves him. To see Xander's eyes light up with joy when he sees Uncle Jed is one of those little things that as a mother/grandmother I "treasure up in my heart" as Mary did when the shepherds came to bless her son Jesus. (Luke 2:19)

During the winter and spring I had undergone numerous tests, ultrasounds and MRIs on my ovaries and uterus which had fibrous tumours, 3 large cysts and, in April, developed lesions. With my history of breast cancer and my maternal grandmother's terminal battle with cancer at age 50, it was my gynecologist's "reasonable recommendation" that I have a full hysterectomy. As a person with poor circulation who is always freezing, the appeal of being subjected to hot flashes got me on board.

May was a devastating month for us when our daughter-in-law, Jade, got news within a two week period that both her sister Angela and her cousin SavoryAnne had commited suicide. Both of these beautiful young women had been in her wedding party just 10 months earlier. She amazed us with her strength and character as she dealt with these devasting blows just two and a half months after giving birth. We are proud of both Ken and Jade for the leading roles they play in the family.

In July it was an honour to attend a Cutting family reunion in Kamloops and be able to get a 5 generation picture with Xander, Ken, Liana, Jean and Harv. The picture even made the local paper.

July also saw our household increase when Jason came to live with us. He had previously worked on a casual basis with Jed and starting in October he began working as an official employee of Jed's Choices Society. We feel blessed to have him working with Jed as Jed responds well to him and he helps Jed in numerous social situations that We Care just couldn't provide for him.

I was originally informed I would be booked for surgery the first week in August so I went on sick leave from work July 31st - just in time to attend a fun camping/reunion weekend with the Ziemer family and friends at Vivian Lake. My surgery was delayed but I chose not to return to work for the time being.

In September we managed to get away for a little motorcycle trip to Kamloops amid our latest renovation project. Albert built an addition on the back of our house which is a garage for my car on the ground level and an amazing gi-normous deck on top. And I anticipate many a bbq during the summer months which I expect to see each and every one of you attend.

I didn't end up getting into surgery until October 29th. Surgery went smooth and recovery was relatively straightforward, aided I’m sure by the great support system I have. The pathology reports all came back clear, as did my one year mammogram results. So I have officially begun my 2nd year of living cancer free. Yay God!

After four and a half months off work, I was quite accustomed to retirement, but alas my first Christmas as Granny has dictated that I return to work, which I did on December 17th.

While we are excited for this first Christmas with Xander we are disappointed, yet understanding, that Brandi and Kore will not be joining us this year. They are doing well in Kamloops and in October Brandi started to work for the same company as Kore, which they plan to take over in the next year or two.

God is good and as we reminisce this past year we see His hand at work. We are thankful for His unfailing love and provision. We look forward to 2010 with anticipation, glad we don't know the future, and trusting in His strength to sustain us whatever comes our way.

May you cherish peace and goodwill, and be plenteous in mercy in 2010.

Merry Christmas!

Love Albert & Liana

Friday, December 18, 2009

I do Windows. I don't do Mondays.

Ten years ago we (my husband and I) were considered to be somewhat techno-geeks. I, the software guru and he the one to do the physical installs and upgrades. It was hard to keep up with all the advances in the computer market, but we did our best and rarely had a computer long enough to pay off the 12-month-no-interest payroll loans that his employer provided as an incentive to have employees educate themselves in the high tech world.

We had pirated versions of most software and every available version of Windows. I knew DOS, I learned HTML, I could format a computer in my sleep. I loved learning and I spent many a day and night acquiring a free education just by researching online (with dial-up and the screamin' fast 56k modem) and trial-and-error messin' around with stuff. My guru friend Greg used to harass me because I knew enough that I wasn't afraid to mess around with stuff but didn't know enough to fix every mess I got into.

I remember thinking I would never be able to fill the massive 1.2GB hard drive on the computer I purchased in 1997. That sucker had 64MB of RAM ... it was a screamin' machine, the envy of all. But I knew it would be outdated before I got it home from the store and I couldn't live without a new upgrade within a year.

At that time I could never have imagined owning a computer for 6 years. But January 2010 this trusty little XP machine on my desk will celebrate it's 6th birthday. Unthinkable. The monitor is going and it's slowing down and becoming frustrating these last couple of months. Probably a good formatting and dust blowing would fix 'er up like new. Part of the reason I haven't replaced it before now is that Window's Vista doesn't particularly impress me. But I've been a bit intrigued by the new Windows7 that has recently hit the shelves. So, suddenly this machine just doesn't cut it anymore.

After hanging out at the Dell.ca site for a few weeks, I finally took the plunge and ordered up a new XPS9000 last week. I think the final push I needed was when they advertised a 19" Ultrasharp monitor that wasn't widescreen. It's nearly impossible to find non-widescreen monitors anymore.  And while I was at it, I figured what the heck, lets through in a Canon Rebel SLR camera with zoom lens.

After my order was confirmed I was informed that the computer would not ship until the first week in January. I was okay with that. The camera would ship on Dec 18 - yay! It will be here before Christmas.

Today, being December 18, I checked my order status when I got home from work to verify that it was on it's way. NOT! For some reason all my orders- computer, monitor and camera have been cancelled.

You can rest assured that you did not want to be Rajinder or Nirmal who are sitting in India answering off-hour phone calls from customers in Canada who have been told they have to call this 1-800 number in three days, on Monday, to find out what's up with their computer order.

"Breathe, just breathe," I tell myself. "It's not a big deal, you've had the computer for SIX YEARS ... three more days won't hurt."

So yeah, I await Monday at 4am (7 eastern) to find out if I have actually bought a new computer and camera or not.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Are you forkin' serious?

We ate at the Olive Garden two out of the three nights we were in Edmonton. And of course you fill up on their fabulous bread sticks and salad, but that's okay, it just means there will be lots left of your meal to take back to the hotel room for midnight snacking. The room with a mini kitchen including a fridge and microwave. The room with no dishes or cutlery.

The first night we ate at OG we went directly to Greg and April's house for a visit afterward. While we were chatting I said to her, "Do you remember five years ago on my 40th birthday when we were heading to Edmonton to go out for dinner, and you were moving to Edmonton at that time and we travelled together. And remember getting part way and you stopping and "borrowing" my Dire Straits cd with no intention of ever giving it back?"

"Oh my goodness! I'm so embarassed. Let me run get it for you," she says as she jumps up.

"No, no. It's okay I don't want it. I just wanna "borrow" 2 forks. I have no intention of returning them."

We laughed and she found me a couple of mismatched forks.

Two days later I was just going to leave them in the hotel room when we left. But then I remembered a day back when Jed was in high school...

April used to work at the school (I don't recall if this was volunteer or a paid position) Jed loved her being there and often ate his lunch with her - he almost always took food to nuke, not a sandwich. One day I opened his lunch container to wash it and his fork was folded in half to fit inside. I started to rant at him but he interupted me saying, "Aunty April told me to do that so I don't lose the fork." It's kinda been a joke around here ever since.

I brought the forks home and folded them in half and placed them in a bubble envelope along with a Christmas card and took them to the post office last night to mail them off.

The young man tried to fit the envelope through the slot to determine if it can go as a "letter" or if it must be classified as "parcel". It was a few millimeters too thick. Parcel rate was going to be $9.56, had it qualified for letter rate it would be "somewhere around a dollar thirty."

"Here, let me squish it." I said.

I tried and Jed tried but we couldn't get the forks to flatten enough inside the bubble wrap to fit. It was worth over 8 bucks in savings to make it fit. And 9 dollars and 50 cents was too much to spend on a joke. So we ripped the envelope open and removed the forks to try to squish them individually.

OMG, I wish I had a camera to capture the look on the guy's face as I removed the deadly looking bent forks from the package. And Jed launched into his ranting story of Aunty April and the bent forks while I tried to flatten them on the Canada Post counter.

I couldn't get them flat enough so I told the guy I'd take them home and use a hammer or something and come back tomorrow. I see by the look in his eye, he just wanted us to leave before he felt the need to call security.

And off we headed for an hour or so of wandering aimlessly through the mall. When we went to leave, I could not find my car keys. Well this sent me slightly into panic mode, I managed to remain calm. Jed not so much. As I mentally retraced my steps through the mall I told Jed I probably set them down on the Canada Post counter. He got all excited and immediately morphed into Fort George Highway Rescue mode. He instructed me to remain with the car while he returned to the post office.

Under normal circumstances I would not have complied. But there was no way I, the psycho woman with the bent forks, was going back to face the postal guy and admit that, yes indeed I am in fact a lunatic. I remained at the car in -30 degrees in the dark at 9pm.

I can only imagine the scene that unfolded as Rescue Jed (with his Santa hat on) retrieved my keys from the post office.

I did manage to squash the forks flatter at home. I returned to the post office first thing in the morning because, I reasoned, the guy who was working the late evening shift surely wouldn't be on for the first shift the next morning.  I was wrong.






Thursday, December 10, 2009

Going Places with Suzy.

Here I am! I'm alive and well and preparing to go back to work next week.

That fact that I am alive and well is almost certainly due to my husband's extreme driving skills and Suzy's impeccable direction-giving ability. Yes, we decided before our trip to Edmonton that from here on we'd be Going Places with Suzy. We got a GPS before we left. It's a Garmin not a TomTom, so Jed insisted her name be Suzy. (I'm think there was a TV commercial about that a couple of years ago.)

Oh my goodness - that's capital Oh Em Gee! Suzy has changed my life.

We told her before we left home where the hotel was and she took us directly there. (As a side note: We did not stay at the cheap little Algonquin Motel near the Mayfield Centre that we have been frequenting every few years for a couple of decades. Each time we stay there, we comment  how we can't believe it's still operational - the land has to have way more value than the motel itself. Anyway we heard it's now a crack shack and we didn't doubt this so it was time to expand our horizons. The Wingate has become our new West Ed home. But I digress....)  Never again will I need to read a map or be responsible for directing drivers the wrong way down a one way street. I can now close my eyes as the vehicle pulls out of my driveway and awaken when we arrive at our said destination.

Before we left home I Googled all the fantastic children's stores, Ikea, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Greg and  April's house. Every destination I thought we might want was entered into Suzy's little brain and voila! you tap favourites and she takes you where you wanna go from any starting point.

While her voice can be marginally irritating, like Kate from Monk-e-mail, she does refrain from calling Albert "dumb-ass" when he makes a wrong turn. She simply, and immediately, recalculates his next move. Occasionally she keeps us on our toes by saying things like, "In 300 meters, turn left on Winnotoo Avenue." It takes a second to realize it's 102 Avenue.

Apparently you can download other voices, and even enter your own somehow, but I've become accustomed to her and have fallen in love with her so she'll probably remain unchanged.

We only travel in the winter about once every five years because it takes me that long to forget just how much I hate winter travel. For the most part the only bad stretch of highway was, as fully expected, the hour or so of driving between Purden Lake and McBride. On the way east it was solid compact snow that had been driven on for a few days then run over with a grader's jagged-edged blade creating a slot car effect that sort of pulls your vehicle in whatever wiggly pattern the grader operator chose to drag his blade. There was not a single grain of sand anywhere on the shiny smooth slot car track.

The truck has good tires and the world's best driver, but still I found it a bit stressful. I think Suzy intensified my stress a little. On her screen the icon of the vehicle is always pointing straight up, except while you are in the midst of turning a corner when it briefly tilts the icon until the road maps all turn to adjust to your new direction. This of course makes the little vehicle icon look like it's back end is sliding off the edge of the road momentarily and invariably would cause my heart to lurch as a jolt of adrenalin surged through my veins. I tried not to look at her but she just draws your eye. Of course we did not need her input for this particular stretch of highway but being that she was a new toy we had to leave her powered up.

It snowed the morning we left Edmonton but the roads weren't too bad. I glanced at Suzy at one point and she showed a speed of 123km/h. In the least naggy voice I could muster, I asked if we needed to drive that fast. My husband is very accommodating and immediately slowed down, but I think I'll do some research to figure out how to train Suzy to suggest that you are passing every other vehicle on the road in the blink of an eye, perhaps your speed is marginally higher that it should be. 

Of course it was snowing and blowy between McBride and Purden just like my mind had been anticipating and blowing out of proportion for the 5 hours before that. Suzy was powered down after her successful few days in Edmonton so I didn't have to witness the sliding icon, but still I felt the need to tell my husband that the next time I suggest we travel in the winter I want him to remind me how much I hate it. But he won't. He'll just happily oblige my whims as always. He slowed the truck to a speed I could maintain a manageable breathing level but I know he found it hard to keep this pace, which was well under his driving ability, but he said nothing. And I love him for it.

...but I won't be traveling in the winter again anytime soon.



 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sucks to be them.

***UPDATE***

While it sucks to be the person's whose mammogram results I overheard on Tuesday, thank God they weren't mine. My results came back clear and non-suspicious so I am officially in my second year of cancer free living. I will still be monitored every 6 months for a while yet but I can live with that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Someone's got something going on between 3 and 4 o'clock.

You'd think with all the down time I have, I'd keep my blog updated regularly. You'd think. I don't know why I'm finding it hard. Possibly because I like a thread of humour to run through everything, but alas I'm not feeling all that humourous.

For the same reasons I suppose my book writing venture has come to a grinding halt. I'm about a third of the way through it but I haven't even thought about it, much less written anything, in over a month. Damn hormones.

Hot flashes have definitely come to my house. I'm learning to dress in layers to accommodate them. Well, I've always sort of dressed in layers anyway - except that I was always adding another on top. Now I'm playing the on again off again game. The flashes normally only last a minute or so, so if this is as bad as it gets I'll be laughing. But somehow I think I ain't seen nothin' yet.

I had my one year appointment at the cancer unit last week. I saw Dr Lamb, a female oncologist, this time. I discussed the "should I be taking Tamoxifen and/or HRT" issues with her. As suspected she said no HRT and one more year of Tamoxifen.

In our discussion of how to deal with hot flashes I asked what my options were.

"Fans. And wet cloths," was her reply. "And as a last resort, if they are totally unbearable we can put you on an anti-depressant. For some reason they seem to help with hot flashes. But this would be totally as last resort resolution."

As I said, so far they aren't too bad but I'd imagine I'll eventually visit a naturopath.

As suspected the oncologist sent me for a diagnostic mammogram - which I participated in today. Once they take the girl's photos from all sorts of angles, they make you sit there and wait while the technician views them to ensure everything shows clearly before they let you finish dressing and leave.

While I was sitting there in the examining room, which is sort of open to the central viewing room - kinda like a dentist's office, I could hear my nurse (mammographer? I dunno what they are called) having a discussion with someone else whom I assumed to be a technician.

Well, it was more like a one-sided conversation with the other voice speaking to my nurse:

"There seems to be something going on between 3 and 4 o'clock. And there is definitely a cyst at 6 o'clock."

My heart stops momentarily. I have no idea whether my pictures are even ready yet, so I remind myself that they take images all day long and it is quite likely someone else's portraits they are looking at. For one thing I can't imagine they would have that conversation within earshot of me when they are not allowed to confirm or deny anything until I see my family doctor for results. 

"Look here. Compare them to these two images from May."

"Damn," I think. "I was here in May. Those have to be mine." But then I continue my conversation with myself, convincing myself that anyone who had issues in May would routinely be back 6 months later in November.

If indeed they were talking about me, they were talking about my left breast which is the one that had the lump last year because they didn't do a vice grip portrait of the right side in May.

A few minutes later I breathed a sigh of relief when my nurse returned to tell me I was free to dress and go.

Anyway, this is all completely speculations of an overactive mind until I hear otherwise from my family doctor at 9am Thursday morning.

And whatever the outcome, it better not interfere with next Tuesday's planned trip to Edmonton where I shall sleep in The Algonquin, our favourite no-frills cheap motel on the corner of Mayfield and 170th. And I shall feast at the Olive Garden and Red Lobster. And I shall overspend at West Edmonton Mall and Ikea. And I shall have a nice visit with my April and her hubby Greg. And I shall return home exhausted.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Accomplishing things is not a requirement.

Sometimes you just don't get it the first time.

Which is why, the day after my venture to the library, I was up by 7am, had a shower and got dressed (which consumes an entire day's energy in itself) and went to have a visit with the girls at work. I was tired by the time I left but convinced myself this would be a good day to go check out Connie's new house which she has lived in for over two weeks and I have not seen yet. I was, after all, already in the car and already half way across town.

Besides seeing her house, I convinced myself it would be a good idea because I was hungry. If I went home I'd have to make something. But I knew Connie would have food. She always does. Just as I walked in her door she was removing a pizza from the oven. Good call.

I was pretty tired when I got home but rather than napping, I hauled out all my art supplies and spread them all over hell's half acre. (I'm not sure where that saying came from or what it really means cuz I'm sure hell is gonna be a lot bigger than half an acre. And my intended subject [my kitchen] certainly isn't half an acre.)

I know sleep or rest would have been my better option, but Friday nights have always been my "me time." It's the night when everyone else has a meeting, a club, a date or other such venture to occupy their time. I started working on my Christmas cards.

Later in the evening Xander came for a little visit and I sat on the floor and played with him for about an hour. I even sneaked in a little lift-n-hug now and then. This would make a good "What not to do" chapter in the Grannyhood for Dummies book.

And so Friday came and went without a single nap - not even any "lay down TV time." And it showed on Saturday.

I was in quite a bit of pain. My belly felt like it was in labour - funny since there is no womb to contract. And I was bleeding. Not from the incision. The incision looks fantastic and I have not felt any pain at all in the actual incision site. And here I thought I'd never have to touch another pad in my life. Damn. I know this is probably more information than you wanted to read but this paragraph is for my own personal record keeping.

Had it not been the weekend, I probably would have phoned the doctor. But I wasn't concerned enough to tackle the ER. Neither did I have the energy.

Sunday morning I mustered the energy to attend church for the first time in three weeks. But that was about all I managed to accomplish.

"Accomplishing things is not a requirement at this stage of the game," I told myself.

Ken and Jade had an extra long day planned at their Alpha group and needed someone to watch Xander from 5:30-9:00. I certainly wasn't up to it so PaPa got to take him to The Well when he went at 2:00. It was a long day for the Xman but as expected he did his PaPa proud.

And I slept.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Footloose and cancer free.

My pathology report came back clear. Yay for living cancer free for one whole year. So far.

I have an appointment with my oncologist next Monday and he will likely give me a requisition to get another diagnostic mammogram done just to be sure things are still looking good. This seems kind of ass-backward to me - you'd think I would get the mammogram done before I see him. But hey, who am I to question the intelligence of the medical system.

Later today I will go have coffee with the girls at work.

I'm still a bit uncertain of what my employment future looks like. I have a couple of irons in the fire, but they are not heating up as fast as I had originally hoped. My surgeon suggested I be off work for approximately seven weeks after surgery. I'll think I'll go back for 3 days a week on December 1st. While this is only 4 1/2 weeks into recovery, I think I'll be fine. I can get away without lifting if I need to and I have way too much seniority to ever have to sweep and vacuum.

This will mean I only have 2 1/2 weeks left to live footloose. I'm kinda hoping my hubby will blow a couple of shifts and whisk me away to Edmonton for a few days. I could get all my Christmas shopping done in one fell swoop (and have him there to pack everything) PLUS I'd get to go to the Olive Garden and Red Lobster and squeeze in a visit with April and Greg before heading back to the grindstone.

I am pleasantly surprised at how little pain I have had. I take pain killers at most once a day. I have zero pain at the incision site. Any pain I do have seems to be in the bruising about six inches above the incision, which I assume is where they clamped back all my fat. It mighta been a better idea to just cut it off while they had me open.

I do have some pain in my bladder - both when it is full and when I release it. It kinda feels like a knife stab. I'll mention this to Dr Galliford next week when I have a follow-up visit.

I am not a person to balk at sitting around doing nothing, but the "not lifting" is interfering with my lifestyle. I am back to doing most of the cooking and I think nothing of filling the large pasta pot with water and carrying it across the kitchen from the sink to the stove. Or packing the 5lb bag of rice from the pantry room to the kitchen. These are probably things I should be avoiding but they are things I don't really think about until I've done too many and my belly starts to feel like it's contracting in labour.

I haven't ventured outside too many times yet but yesterday I decided I'd make a trip to the library. You know I'm getting cabin fever when I start looking for books - I just don't read anymore. Actually I wasn't looking for reading books, I went in search of watercolour projects. I'm feeling the urge to paint.

I'm thinking I'll do an original work of art for our Christmas cards again this year. However, I learned my lesson last year and I will not be hand painting 84 individual cards for 2009. I will paint one. I will get 84 copies printed.

My trip to the library probably would have been fine except for two things:

1 - A large woman was heading across the parking lot towards the library door the same time as me. She practically ran to get in front of me like there was a prize for the first person to arrive. I, on the other hand, dragged my feet and slowed a bit so she could open the heavy metal door and stand there waiting for me to catch up and go through. She then headed for the elevator door to take her up the four flights to the main floor of our library. My evil mind thought, "Ha! That's why you are so much larger than me. I shall take the stairs."

I arrived four flights up on the main floor completely winded and having a hot flash. I thought I was gonna die. But... I was 20 feet ahead of the large woman emerging from the library elevator.

2 - All the watercolour books are on the top shelf. After my little mini-marathon of stair climbing, I sang hallelujah at the sight of a stool in the aisle of the art books. I grabbed a book off the shelf and pretended to be reading it as I sat on the stool and composed myself and gathered energy enough to reach books down from the top shelf. Do you know how enormous art books are? I think there's a law that in order to qualify as an art book it must weigh more than 12 pounds. Stretching above my head and lifting down these books was more exercise than I should have been participating in. I knew that, but I could not let my venture up the stairs be in vain. I limited myself to 3 books. I couldn't imagine packing more than that to the car. I fully anticipated that once I reached my car I would cry myself to sleep - but I managed to make it all the way home to my bed.



Yes, this is one of the books I brought home.

 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Give me back my ovaries, dammit.

Sunday morning Dr Galliford came in to discharge me a day earlier than expected.

As a final word of advice he says, "Remember, no lifting and no vacuuming. Call me in two weeks."

"Um, when do I start hormone replacement therapy?"

"Oh no. I don't want you doing that. Not with your history."

Well then give me back my ovaries, dammit.

"When do I resume taking my Tamoxifen?" I already know the answer is 2 weeks, but I want his opinion.

"I think you can stop with the Tamoxifen because I've removed your primary estrogen source. But check with your oncologist." I already have. Menopausal women take Tamoxifen for two years instead of five.

Dr Galliford's comment totally took me by surprise and I knew I'd be going home to spend some time with google and then hunting down a naturopath. I had kinda already decided to have a naturopath hold my hand through this venture anyway after reading Sexy Hormones by Lorna Vanderhaeghe.

There was a big uproar over Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) a few years ago when a huge research project by the WHI (Women's Health Initiative) determined that HRT gave a woman a 25-30% higher chance of developing breast cancer and other risks.

There have since been found some flaws in the results, but of course that doesn't make a good story so the further story is not widely published. Even most doctors, like my own, are unaware that for women who have already had breast cancer HRT can in fact reduce the risk of recurrence.

November marks the time for my next six month check with the oncologist, so this is good timing. I shall sweat out any hot flashes until I see him and I get some more direction.



 
Coincidentally my first day without an IV (when I could put on real clothes) was Halloween so my pjs didn't really have the impact I was hoping for.  :)  
Although my anesthetist nearly peed himself laughing when came to visit.   



 
Even after my IV was removed, I continued to require extra oxygen because my levels kept dropping.
Breath deep, Mrs Ziemer, breath deep.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Room with a view.

Okay, I've been home from the hospital for a week now so I guess I should be posting an update.

My room mate was discharged on Friday and was waiting for her daughter to come pick her up. I asked a number of nurses if I could scooch over to the window seat when she left. They all were agreeable to this.

When Michelle (my neice who works in housekeeping) popped in to visit me late in the afternoon my room mate still had not gone home. But Michelle agreed that if the woman left before the end of her shift she'd clean up the room right away and move me over and then clean my side. I knew it was extra work for housekeeping, but knowing I was going to be there a few more days I really wanted the window for the view and the extra space it provided.

The woman never left before Michelle did.

The evening housekeeping woman was not nearly as agreeable to the extra workload.

"I'd really like to be nudged over to that space when you are finished," I said to the woman as she wiped down the cabinet.

"I'd imagine the space is already booked," was her stern reply.

As quick as she could, she practically ran from the room stating loudly that she was going on a break. I'm not sure who the intended audience was, but she made sure I heard it.

Something must have been said to the very friendly nurse on duty who had already told me it should be no problem to move to the window. She came in a while later and said, "I have a plan to get you a window and it won't even look like your idea."

It turns out there were three rooms which each had one woman in them and there were two men expected out of surgery during the night. So they moved me to a different room with a vacant window spot, leaving my original room empty for the two men. My new room had a way better view, giving full vision of the city lights and the pulpmill spewing steam from its smokestacks as it churned out money.



My room mate in this new room went home Saturday morning, leaving me with a room to myself for the rest of my stay. Yay for aloneness.

My IV was removed and a pain killer was delivered via suppository. Apparently this is a fantastic form of quickly dispensing drugs into the system because it is not filtered first by the kidneys. It is also a fantastic way to get moving the bowels that have refused for 2 days to even pass a fart.

Let's just say I'm glad I had a room to myself.

AND I got to eat food for supper. Yay food! Ham and pinapple sauce, mashed potatoes, veggies and banana pudding. I inhaled it.


Xander came trick-or-treating that night and got a couple of toys from PaPa. It was hard to just look at him without being able to have him jump all over me, but I was thrilled to have him visit. Oh yeah...it was great to see Ken and Jade as well. :)

Everyone left by shortly after 8 that night and the nurse came in to do my vitals. "There, you are done for the night, so you can settle in any time," she said. And I promptly fell asleep for three hours.

I awoke at 11 feeling wide awake like I'd had a full night's sleep. It was then I remembered it was time change night and in reality it was only like 10pm. While I dosed off a couple of times, I never did really sleep again that night.

I was glad I had the room to myself and I left the blinds open all night and watched the city lights and even some halloween fireworks in the distance. I was basically pain free and longing for a cheese burger.

 
 
 

Monday, November 2, 2009

Farting is your meal ticket.

I quit taking my robaxicet by mid afternoon Wednesday for two reasons. I wanted it out of my system before anaesthetic Thursday morning and because the label clearly says not to exceed 6 tablets in 24 hours. I'd had 8 in 18.

Thursday morning my surgery goes quick and successfully. I was scheduled for two hours in surgery then two hours in recovery. I was awake in recovery after an hour and a half by 9:30am. I fade in and out of consciousness feeling no pain anywhere. Not my back, my incision nor my throat (which had been really irritated by the tubes during my breast surgery one year ago.) I offer up thanksgiving for morphine and happily settle into my room about 1:30pm.

I don't have a window space so my area is quite cramped and my night table and rolling bedside table quickly become piled with stuff that needs to be maneuvered every time something else arrives. But I do appreciate that none of the rooms in our hospital house more than 2 beds.

I am on a steady low dose of morphine through my IV but I have the power to push the button for "extra shots" every 15 minutes if I want it. The only pain I feel is high in my right side. I assume it's a kidney because it feels like awakening in the morning and having to pee so bad it hurts. I watch my catheter bag fill and it brings no relief. I click my morphine button for good measure .

I have absolutely zero pain at the incision site and I feel no back pain. I continue to push my morphine button about once an hour just because I can and as a result I sleep for most of the rest of the day.

They bring me a meal tray - jello and apple juice. I am sure I'd throw up the juice if I drank it. I don't have the energy to pick up the spoon. I grab a piece of the jello with my fingers and it squishes and drops onto the bed looking like a blood clot. I lick my fingers and verify the flavour is raspberry. And that's what all I had for food on Thursday October 29 - a lick of raspberry jello.

Dr Galliford comes in to see me by 7:15 Friday morning. He is pleased with the results. "Of course we have to wait about a week for the pathology report but don't lose any sleep over it," he says, then adds, "Your liver looks fantastic."

I give him a high five and say, "Yay! I can still drink."

He chuckles, pats my leg and glances at the clock, then tells me breakfast will be here shortly. Good. I am starving.

My tray arrives. It has what I assume is a cup of coffee and my imagination is working overtime dreaming of the glorious breakfast hiding under the dome. I know it won't be a McDonald's Sausage and Egg McMuffin but that is clearly what I envision.

I pop the lid of the mug - it's full of steaming hot water. Oh. My heart sinks. I lift the dome on the food tray. There in the centre of the tray sits a lonely little 4oz cuplet of apple juice. And that's breakfast. Clear fluids.

A nurse comes to check my vitals and asks if I have farted yet. "Farting is your meal ticket," she says. "Once you fart you'll be upgraded to full fluids and you'll get something with flavour."

Try as I may, I cannot work up even a gurgle.

It is Friday and the hospital is teeming with student nurses tripping over each other to provide care to the patients. Cody becomes my main man, checking me every few minutes and cheering my bowels on to fart. (And they say "fart" not some politically correct term like "pass wind" or "flatulence.")

Cody is eager but not confident. He goes into panic mode at one point when the vitals machine starts beeping widely then flat lines. I suggest that he should perhaps not put the pulse/oxygen monitor on the the finger of my same arm he has my blood pressure cuff squeezing the blood supply off to my hand.

A while later I hear the instructor ask him if he was ready to do 24B (that's my number).

"I'm gonna try," he responds as he's walking towards me.

I tried not to be creeped out by his lack of confidence and reprimand him for such. I had already been forewarned that he was about to remove my drain tube and change my dressing.

Turns out he did a fantastic job and I felt nothing as he cleaned me up and put a smaller dressing on my incision that I was very happy to note was horizontal and closed up with dissolvable stitches. God bless you Dr Galliford, I didn't get a vertical zipper stapled closed that I'd read so much about on the internet.

Cody felt bad about freaking me out a bit so he pretended he heard bowel noises with his stethoscope so he could upgrade my lunch to full fluids.

Lunch was a packaged soup that tasted like chemicals. I ate 2 spoonfuls and it came right back up.

"That's because you haven't farted yet," the nurse gives me a knowing look that says she realized Cody upgraded me as a favour. Oh oh, busted.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Geez! She coulda told me.

With the medical school operating at UNBC the hospital is teeming with students training in every facet. My name was called at 6:30 AM on Thursday for my pre-op prep. I stood amongst a small group of girls who no more wanted to be weighing sick people at this ungodly hour than flying to the moon.

The nurse asked, "Who's with Dr Galliford's patient?"

No response.

She points to a particularly unresponsive looking girl and point blank asks her, "Are you with Galliford's patient?"

She snaps into reality and says , "I don't know the doctor's name, just the patient." She glances at my arm band and verifies, "Yes, she's with me."

I kiss Albert goodbye and they lead me beyond the curtain to the recliners and snugly warm blankets where normally you sit in a quiet vegetative state and wait for an interview with your surgeon and anaesthetist. My wait was anything but quiet and vegetative. Elaine stopped by to say she'd be there. Joyce came in all bubbly to inform me she was my OR nurse. And my student nurse sat on the chair facing my recliner to tend to my every need - which was nothing at this point. She just there on the edge of her chair staring into my face and feeling like she needed to keep the conversation going to eliminate any awkward silence.

What she doesn't know about me is that I do not find silence awkward. It was too early for conversations with anyone much less an uncomfortable stranger who looked like a typical young student who was not getting enough sleep. But she kept the conversation rolling, telling me of her culture shock moving to Prince George from Vancouver and experiencing winter for the first time. (Last winter was a doozy, even for us.)

I wanted nothing more than to close my eyes and crawl into my own little bubble. But it was too awkward to go there with her sitting in my face like that.

The anaesthetist walks up behind her and says, "You are sitting in my chair." She continues to sit and I tap her leg and say, "You are sitting in his chair."

My mind is filled with disgust at the lack of respect young people have these days when she says, "Oh. Did you want to sit here?" She got up and moved to the side.

Finally it was time to go to the OR. I was climbing up onto the freezing little narrow table. Joyce was counting scalpels and saws and other such scary instruments. Dr Richardson, the anaesthetist, was arranging drugs and poking me with needles.

I hear my student nurse introduce herself to Joyce, "Hi, I'm Simone, a second year nursing student. I'm deaf so you'll have to speak directly to my face."

If I would have died there on that table, my final word before drifting off into heaven would have been, "Geez!"

I am not a good bleeder.

I arrived at the hospital to get my pre-op blood work done an hour and a half later than I intended. I take a number and realize there is only one person ahead of me.

Phew! I think as I grab a magazine and sit on a waiting room seat which is made of fabric and covered with many layers of stains. This kinda creeps me out. I convince myself it's probably mostly spilled coffee and dripping baby bottles and sippy cups, not the possible fluids I have shoved to the back of my mind: blood and leaking colostomy bags and soggy Depends and other manner of other conditions people may be suffering from and needing to have lab work done at the hospital.

I am thankful my wait is very short before I get called in. One of the two nurses confirms my good timing when she realizes there is no one waiting after me and comments, "Wow, I can't believe we've made it through the entire waiting room this morning." I quietly thank God for my running late and arriving later than I had planned so my wait in those disgusting chairs was minimal.

After having no success in either arm finding a vein, I suggest they use a baby butterfly syringe on my hand. "I am not a good bleeder. " I unwittingly say.

She gets the required blood and puts my hospital bracelets on me to indicate my A-positive blood type and instructs me to keep them clean and dry for four days until my scheduled surgery date.

The entire blood giving process goes much quicker than I anticipated so I decide to stop in at work on my way home to make sure they still remember me and to let them know i am finally booked. I am also wondering if Nic has given birth yet. She's due this week I think.

I get out to my car and am just starting it when there is a knock at my driver's side window. I roll it down.

"Scuse me. Are you going straight home?"

I don't answer but I'm sure the quizzical look on my face clearly said, "Huh?"

"Well it's just that I think you probably don't realize you are bleeding all over the place."

I thank her profusely through my utter humiliation for letting me know while I silently chant, "Five more days. Five more days. I can make it. I can make it."

And I head directly home and try not to think about the next person who has to come along and convince themselves that the disgusting chair they are sitting in has been stained with a dripping baby bottle.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I didn't want to clean the toilet anyway.

There's a lot of things to do last minute when you know you are going to spend five days in the hospital followed by a few weeks laying around. It might not be last minute stuff for everyone else, but for me, well I've always been a last minute kinda girl. It comes with being an expert procrastinator I guess.

I had today all planned out: get up, wash the bedding, clean the bathroom, wax my eyebrows, veet my legs, meet my friend Darlene for lunch, get my hair cut at 1:30, spend some time with Xander, double check my suitcase, have a glass of wine...

But last night got in my way.

I've been pretty diligent lately about not breathing in the same air space as sick people. I've been faithfully taking Echinaforce and vitamins. I made it to within 36 hours of surgery feeling good other that a marginally sore back.

I think I must have been protecting this sore back as I went to kneel on the floor with Xander in my arms. I twisted wrong and a sudden jolt of pain ripped through me and I was stuck in position. I was neither standing nor kneeling but somewhere in between and locked there. Thank God Jed was home to rescue the baby.

I managed to make it to my bed but an hour later I had to crawl to the bathroom on my hands and knees. I found that if I leaned over at a 90 degree angle and leaned on something, like a table or something, the pain was bearable but as soon as I took the support off my arms the pressure on my back was enormous and it was not fun. Not fun at all.

Leaning on the arms of my computer chair was the perfect height. So that's how I got around for the rest of the night - wheeling my computer chair everywhere while I was hunched over like a chihuahua on a beach ball. If it hadn't been so painful, it really was comical. I shoulda had Jed take a video. (It's too late to fake it now just for the sake of the camera)

When Alb got home he ran and got me some Robaxacet and I popped those every few hours all night. I considered calling a chiropractor in the morning to pop me back into shape. There was no way I could have gotten into the hospital in the condition much less fought with an incised belly getting in and out of bed. But thank you God, though I am still in pain, at least I can stand up today.

I did manage to get my legs shaved and sit in the hairdresser's chair. But I got out of cleaning the bathroom.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Oooooph!

Oooooph! That kinda sounds like a kick in the guts don't it? I'm sure that's how I'll feel come Thursday. That's when I get my long awaited total abdominal hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.

Oophorectomy. What a strange word. It simply means removal of the ovaries.

And it simply means I'll wake up Friday morning in full blown surgically induced menopause. Actually I'm not quite sure it'll hit me in the face quite that soon. Even with all the information available at my fingertips it still feels like walking through the door of the unknown.

As I reached my "one year cancer free" mark last week I read through my blogs of last October. It's amazing the details and things you forget in that short time and I am glad to have kept a record, as scattered brained as it may have been at the time.

I am quite sure that this blog will continue to be my outlet and my record of feelings, thoughts and memories as I take this next phase of the journey called life.

While you are certainly welcome to come along with me, please do not feel obliged to do so if you think you might be offended or disgusted by talk of ovaries, and blood and hormones and other such glamorous girly things. But if you do, please occasionally drop a note of support for my amazing husband who is quite likely not going to know what hit him.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'll never be able to find my keys.

Cellphone, bank card, keys. What more does a person need to pack with them? This has always been my position in life. My purses, as a general rule aren't large enough to pack a regular sized pen.





Welcome to the new me.


With my hospital stay looming only 6 days away it was time to start gathering my things, such as my new pj's purchased just for the occasion. Of course this led to my obvious need for a new overnight bag, so off I headed to the mall...

I was on my way to Bently but had to pass The Boutique of Leather so I just popped in on the way and found this fantastic treasure.

(Click on it to zoom in and see the detail - it's fantastic)

Yes it was my original intention to use it as an overnight bag, but I changed my mind. It will be my new purse. I love it that much. It's nice and leathery smelling and soft to the touch. It has some fantastic detailing: leather lacing for a hint of 'biker chick', green and red zippers for a hint of Italy (where I'm sure I will go one day). It's really quite divine.

I transferred everything over from my original purse. It all fit in one of the eight pockets. Now what? What do women carry in these things?

I literally wandered around the house seeking out things which I could put in my purse: pens, note pads, packs of kleenex, cans of pop, bottle opener, heck I could fit the bottle of wine and a change of shoes in there. I could smuggle someone into a concert in this thing. It's crazy.

And I still need to buy an overnight bag...








Monday, October 19, 2009

Unequal treatment.

I stole this from facebook but I liked it so I thought I'd post it.

Two patients limp into their respective doctors' offices on opposite sides of town on the same morning. Both doctors determine that their patients need a hip replacement.

The first patient has an xray done that afternoon and is booked for his surgery the following week.

The second patient goes home and phones another clinic to make an appointment for the next week to have an xray done. The day after the xray he returns to his doctor to receive confirmation that he does indeed need a hip replacement. He is instructed to go home and wait for his file to be forwarded to a surgeon. Two weeks later the surgeon's receptionist calls and books an appointment for the patient to see the doctor in 5 weeks time. At this appointment the patient's need for a hip replacement is confirmed and he is instructed to go home and wait for the hospital to call and book his surgery date. Seven months pass before he receives his phone call telling him he is scheduled to receive his new hip in 10 weeks time.

Why the difference in treatment of the two patients?

The second is a senior citizen. The first a golden retriever.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Not a moment too soon




Just when I was starting to wonder if I got the skill testing math question wrong, I received official congratulations from the people at Buckley's today.

If you'll recall, sometime last winter I made a silly little video clip showing myself making an ugly buckley's face and then doing a little happy dance when I was all better. I entered it in the Buck Up! contest. In June I was informed that if I could provide the correct answer to a math question I would be declared the winner of the contest (which I believe had about 12,000 entries)

This morning, I promptly replied to the email and reminded them of the other part of the prize: A 5-year supply of Buckley's products. I encouraged them to send it out immediately. I need it. I am sick and stuffed up and I must be well in time for surgery in 2 weeks.

I may have to go out and buy some Buckley's tonight.




Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Free continental breakfast on Sunday morning.

Most Sundays Jay comes to church with me. I also pick up Nissa and her two kids. We have gone back to having two Sunday morning services after a break over the summer. I opt for the early service. This makes for a pretty early morning for me, but it sure is nice being home from church by 11 o'clock.

Last Sunday when I arrived at Nissa's door to pick her up it was obvious they had slept in and there was no way she was going to have 2 kids ready for early church.

"Oh, but just hang on. I baked for you." Nissa said to me as she ran to the kitchen and got a nice pan of cranberry pumpkin squares. I thanked her and headed off to church with Jay as my only passenger.

I had a cup of coffee with me and the squares smelled delicious. And I hadn't had breakfast. So I sat in the car when I arrived at church and snarfed back a piece or two with my coffee before going inside. Mmmm, they were indeed delicious.

We got inside and I took my usual back row seat, with Jay settling in a row or two in front of me. I was chatting with a friend before the service started when Jay turned around, gleefully held up a notice that was in the bulletin, and started laughing. Uncontrollably. So much so that he had to get up and leave.

I flipped open my bulletin ... and sure enough, there in large font was an announcement for the youth group fundraiser of a bake sale happening after the service.

Uh...oops.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My doctor is an idiot.

idiot id·i·ot (ĭd'ē-ət)
n.
A person of profound mental retardation having a mental age below three years and generally being unable to learn connected speech or guard against common dangers. The term belongs to a classification system no longer in use and is now considered offensive.

Word Origin & History

idiot 
c.1300, "person so mentally deficient as to be incapable of ordinary reasoning," from O.Fr. idiote "uneducated or ignorant person," from L. idiota "ordinary person, layman," in L.L. "uneducated or ignorant person," from Gk. idiotes "layman, person lacking professional skill," lit. "private person," used patronizingly for "ignorant person," from idios "one's own" (see idiom).

*****


While calling my family physician an idiot may fall under offensive classification, and to be honest I think his mental age is probably marginally higher than that of a three year old, but may I suggest that the origin of the word "to be incapable of ordinary reasoning" rings true.

As I stated earlier, I needed to renew my EI paperwork with medical evidence.

The doctor walks into the examining room where I was sitting on a chair waiting for him. He has his trusty prescription pad in one hand and a pen in the other.

"What can I do for you today?" he asks as he positions his pen to write out a request for drugs.

 "I don't need drugs. I'd just like you to sign my EI papers now that I have a scheduled date from the hospital. I will be having my hysterectomy on October 29th," I reply.

He glanced at the paper then at the calendar and says, "Okay let's set your return date for November 25."

"Um, doctor... that's not even four weeks. The surgeon has recommended seven to eight weeks."

"Oh no. We always only schedule four weeks for surgery recovery. That's all it takes for an incision to heal."

I went on to remind him I was getting a full hysterectomy - ovaries and all, and it was an abdominal incision, not laparoscopic nor vaginal,  enabling the surgeon to inspect my other organs.

In the end he was generous and gave me until November 30th. "If you really feel like you cannot go back to work at that time, we can re-evaluate a resubmit the claim." I interpreted this to mean, "I know you will still be in recovery, but if I have to sign my name one more time I can get another 20 bucks out of you."

With the long weekend coming up, I really didn't want to play any more games, I just wanted to get my paper work sent off so I paid my 20 bucks, took my paper and left. I'll get the surgeon to resubmit at a later date.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I got a date with a knife.

Yay! I think this time it's for real. My surgery is scheduled for October 29th, which works out well because Jed is going on a youth retreat to Vancouver Island from Oct 30 - Nov 2.

A month or so ago when I was phoning OR booking to see where I was on the waiting list she told me it would probably be the end of Sept or early October before I got in. As of yesterday I still hadn't heard anything. My EI ran out on Oct 3rd. Well it didn't really run out, it's just that when I first applied we expected my surgery to be in early August and Oct 3 was my expected return date. I need to get a doctor to sign paperwork so I can remain in a state of retirement until I get into surgery.

I called the ob/gyn's office yesterday and told her my story. She informed me that my family doctor would have to take care of it because the surgeon can only sign off for the actual surgery procedure, not time beforehand. She casually informed me that their surgery dates were booked up for the next month or so. She really wasn't sounding particularly sympathetic towards my cause.

I knew then that it was time to pull out my big guns. It was time to play the cancer card.

I reminded her that I am a breast cancer patient. And I should be taking tamoxifen, but have stopped because of the blood clot risk in surgery. And I played up the possibility of my breast cancer returning while they play wait list games with me. She suggested I resume taking my pills.

"Why? So the hospital can call me on short notice and I'll get to die of a blood clot after managing to survive cancer?"

The long and short of it is that she asked me to give her a couple of hours (because she was swamped) and she'd phone me back.

I never did hear from her again but ten minutes later the hospital called to tell me they had an opening on October 29th. Co-incidental? I think not.



Friday, October 2, 2009

A is for Aaron. B is for book (and blog). C is for cancer.

I knew the blog would suffer once I started writing my book. But I am up to about 7000 words now.

Besides the book, I have been sidetracked in the last couple of weeks with the death of a long time friend, Aaron Taylor. Even my book has been put aside this past week as I collected and scanned photos and listened to every sad song available on the internet as I pull together a slideshow for the memorial service to be held tomorrow (Oct 3). Maybe I'll post it after the service.

I also designed memorial cards and printed off 400 copies. I am wondering if that will be enough. The Prince George Citizen did a nice write-up about Aaron and invited all to attend the service. It's always a tricky guessing game when planning a funeral because there is no guest list and no means of RSVP. I hate it when you run out of cards I always feel like I cheaped out and didn't print enough. But then I don't like having hundreds left over neither cuz it feels like not enough people cared to come out. Ah yes, the dilemmas of being a graphic designer.

Unlike the other three funerals I had this summer, I do not have to worry about food and the feeding of the five-thousand this time. So that's a bit of a relief. Although I must admit I'm a little more comfortable working with a kitchen than a sound booth. But it's not all about me.

And whatever my role, I am honoured to be a part of the healing process for those left behind.

Rest in peace Aaron.
.... damn cancer.



Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

To the pure all things are pure. To the rest of us.....

I received a phone call yesterday morning from Nancy from my church. Nancy works for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Apparently there's a big convention here in town next weekend. Nancy apologized for the short notice then asked if I would possibly interested in making some centrepieces for the tables. Turns out the woman who was originally going to do it had something else come up.

Since sitting around waiting for the hospital to call doesn't exactly take up all of my time, I had no reason to say no. Before the conversation was over, my mind was already building things with the miniscule fifty dollar budget she gave me.

Nancy isn't part of the decorating and set up crew so she told me she'd get someone else to contact me with details of how many, colour scheme and other things I would need to know. She gave me the name of the woman and I responded, "Oh, she sounds very familiar to me. I must have met her before."

She went on to explain what things she does with the Cancer Society but none of it really connected with me.

"Oh, maybe you met her in the office during Relay for Life. She worked the front desk temporarily for a short time," Nancy explained.

"Yes, maybe."

After I hung up the phone it became one of those things that you just know is going to wake you up at three in the morning saying, "A-ha! That's where I know her from."

However it was only three in the afternoon before I said, "A-ha!"

Followed quickly by, "Oh-oh!"

How do I face Nancy at church now, after vehemently insisting that I somehow knew Sue Johansen - same name as the host of the Sunday Night Sex Show.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Clever? Or just 'whatever'?

Ok, give me your honest opinion. Does this not seem exceptionally intelligent to you.
I know I tend to be biased and gush extensively over Xander. Even at times exaggerate my gushiness and enthusiasm for the sake of the blog. But I really do think he's smart.
He was here playing yesterday and as unusual as it was, I did not have a camera pointed in his general direction. I wished I had captured it on video.
He was playing with his foam blocks from Uncle Jed, which he loves. I put the the bucketful on its side just out of his reach on the floor, trying to encourage him to move forward. At the tender age of six months he hasn't quite mastered the art of moving forward and ends up scooting backwards when he tries to move. 
He pushed a couple of times and ended up six or eight inches farther from his goal of the blocks. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but most kids would continue to push themselves away or cry in frustration or get distracted by something else. Not Xander.
He looked purposefully at the blocks. Turned himself a full 180 degrees so he was facing away from the blocks. (Even though there was nothing to distract him in that direction) He scooched himself back 12 inches or so and then immediately turned another 180 and Voila! He could reach the blocks. 
Is it just me, or is that not extreme abstract thinking at it's best for a six month old? He is very clever.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?

Having been off work for six weeks now and not having a lot of energy to accomplish much physically, I've been thinking. A lot. This is not unlike my life under normal circumstances except that I don't have to dedicate six hours a day to employment.

It's becoming evident that they can carry on at work without me. Not so evident that I can carry on without a pay cheque. Retirement tempts me. Reality sets me straight. But I have a few irons in the fire, so to speak, and we'll have to see where it all leads. Probably right back to work.

But I have decided to start checking things off my bucket list. And writing my book tops the list.

The idea of writing a book has been bouncing around in my head for about 10 years now, so naturally many ideas have emerged from that. Ten days ago on the back of a motorbike somewhere around Blue River I decided there's no time like the present. The book was never gonna materialize if I didn't just plunk my butt in a chair and start moving my fingers. 

I spent a week looking a books and styles and content. I even read the bible (gasp). Well, not the entire bible, but parts of it - probably all too small parts but that's another story.

One should probably know the style of book they are going to write before plunging headlong into it. There is no way I have the stamina to stay on topic long enough to ever write a novel. Besides my life is so full of glorious content it would seem ridiculous to make things up.

My blog is messing me up. I've already written all the good stuff. As the saying goes: Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free? Who's gonna buy a book when I've already freely published all the content?

However I came to realize that I have no intention of becoming rich and famous as an author - I just wanna see my name on a cover. Besides I'm perfectly capable of exaggerating and spinning the same story twice so that it's nearly unrecognizable. And quiet contemplation clearly shows that I have a whole lot more sh*t goin' on that no one has heard yet.

And so yesterday I crawled into bed with my laptop and began to plunk. I know 1590 words is a long way from a published book, but I've made a start.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Just say "Nein."

09-09-09

Apparently it's exciting when the numbers all align like this. The number of weddings and lottery ticket sales skyrocketed on Wednesday, September 9, 2009. It was also an excuse for retail outlets to promote the economy by offering a myriad of "9" related sales. Walmart was no exception.

Numerous times on Facebook that day people posted that Walmart was having a photo sale. You could get 99 photos printed for $9.99. I even had people phone and tell me about this sale. (I dunno, maybe I have a reputation for taking an exorbitant number of digital photos of Xander or something.)

I appreciated people thinking of me and giving me the opportunity to participate in this. However, each time I got a reminder of the sale I thought things through and reasoned why I would not partake in the sale:

  • Costco is my usual place to print and they are only 15 cents per copy regularly - and I've seen them as low as 6 cents at times.
  • How would I limit my choices to just 99 photos?
  • I really don't need a printed copy - everyone has seen all my pics on Facebook and the blog.
  • I don't scrapbook, so I'd end up with a box of disorganized photos- just like I have of each of my own children.
  • The only reason I would do it is because of pressure from others. I am stronger than that!

But as the day wore on the pressure mounted and I had to keep telling myself, "Just say no."

But alas 11pm found me logged into the Walmart site and wading through the Xander files. At least I'm marginally organized on the computer and I have a folder for "Xander's birth," "one month," "two months" etc.

There was no way I could stop at 99. When I discovered you could order as many as you want and the copies were 10 cents each after 99 I managed to keep it to 158 files uploaded.

I picked them up yesterday. The very first thing I noticed when I opened the large envelope was that they were all glossy when I ordered matte. Although I'll never understand why someone would choose to have a glare on their photos, making them difficult to look at, I figured, "Oh well. it was only fifteen bucks. I can live with it."

Then as I'm going through them I start thinking, "Something is off here." Many of these photos are cut off and off centre. It's ridiculous. It's a good thing it was only 15 bucks. Like they say, "You get what you pay for."

And next time there's a 999 sale, I should just practice my limited German skills and just say, "Nein."






The original:

What Walmart printed (on glossy paper)

The original:

Walmart's glossy version:

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