Category Archives: Life in general

Diary of a slacker

Yesterday I had planned to make bread. Naturally, one of the power taps at the NOC blew out, taking with it 20-odd servers, and then the switch blew its backplane when the tap was replaced, necessitating a swap of that, and then of course there was the cleanup, answering tickets from people and posting updates to our forums. Remarkable the way the timing works, isn’t it?

After returning from the NOC, I finally got my shower and then did a bit more work, fully intending to head to Publix to pick up a couple of things I needed for breadmaking. Instead, my stomach was rumbling, so I was casting about for something to eat. Problem: I didn’t really want anything that was readily available, and everything else was frozen. I whined about this to a friend, and then got so tired that I just leaned back and took a short nap. I think I am probably not getting enough sleep at night, but with the exception of the treatment months, that certainly is not a new problem. It’d probably help to have someone to curl up with, as I tend to sleep better that way, but there isn’t anyone at the moment (and feeding tubes are definitely not sexy, so that’s unlikely to change for awhile). I know I’m not eating enough, as my last weigh-in (Thursday) was disturbing. I’ve reluctantly – very, very reluctantly – decided that I’ll have to start using the tube again fairly regularly, something I don’t want to do and that I’m kicking myself about. This probably led to my next issue:

Anyhow, a too-brief nap and I was up again, once more thinking about food and feeling in general like a little company to listen to other peoples’ stories as I am wont to do, so I headed out for the evening. First to Biscotti’s for my old standby (soup) and then to the Brick to listen to a little music and have some coffee. One of my sisters and her boyfriend came up and joined me for awhile, and I had some quite good clam chowder and then split a creme brulee with my sister after making sure she had something to eat (parmesan crusted chicken, which she likes quite a bit). The boyfriend wasn’t very hungry and just snacked off her plate. Some more coffee, chatting with strangers, and then chatting with some people from Biscotti’s, who stopped in as they were making their way down the block to Monte’s, and it was not a bad evening at all for me. I’m still a bit bummed about the whole health thing, but I suppose that will pass.

Naturally, though, that means other things that I told myself I was going to do – like make some bread – did not get done, so that will be my early morning task so the bread will be ready by the evening meal. And I still haven’t decided what to make for dinner tonight. Perhaps some boneless pork loin chops with balsamic-caramelized shallots? The only problem with this is that I cannot recall how much the chops were, so doing a per-serving breakdown would be impossible. I’ll probably have to come up with something else to kick off The Challenge.

Every day can’t be a complete home run. I console myself with the fact that the day wasn’t a complete waste. Just most of one.

Some days

Some days I really despise people. In general. In particular, those of the asshat variety. I used to work with a woman whose favorite phrase was, “Oh, that’s nice” said in a sarcastic way, to every little issue that arose, as if it was right there on par with the D-Day invasion being called off because of fog and rough waters rather than being an issue that could be easily solved if someone just used whatever brain cells were available to them. Ever since then, I’ve hated that damn phrase, and really can’t bring myself to care too much for people who act like every little thing is the end of the world or who have to exaggerate issues instead of just dealing with them like normal human beings – or using a little common sense. People who imply that events are other than as they are – usually by omitting pertinent information – rank right up there on that list, too.

That is all.

The sweet smell of success

Or at least paint. Given the size of the rooms in this house and how much circulation there is, there really is no lingering aroma of paint hanging heavy in the house. But while the painter was here, whipping through the remainder of the work, there was a hint of it in the air – the smell of progress. He finished very quickly and very neatly and the main living areas are now complete. It looks great, and the colors are superb.

Dinner tonight: szechuan beef, fried rice, and chicken lo mein. It takes quite a lot of water to get through a meal. I’ve blown through three liters for two small portions of food. I think some ice cream is in order.

Full of spirit’s melancholy And eternity’s despair

Since there is no way my hand would hold up writing this out on paper, and my writing would never keep up with my brain the way my typing does, once again, the electronic version wins. Skip if you’e not interested in things non-food related.

I remember during treatment that the medical folks (and the counselor types) said that there would be low points – sometimes, there would even be incredibly low points where doubt and other things would take up space in my head. They weren’t referring to the treatment itself, but the mental fatigue that sets in as a byproduct of trying to survive the intentional damage being done to your body in order to remove the traces of the invited guests that have taken up residence. These low points, they said, could come during treatment itself, or even on the upside of healing once treatment is over.

I recall only a couple of points during treatment that I would deem low, since I, like many others going through it, was in such a fog from a couple weeks onward that so much energy was taken up just getting through the day that pondering too closely on anything was out of the question. One moment I do not remember well. The other I do: breaking down completely and apologizing to my mother and one of my sisters because they had to take care of me so much. It’s always been my job to take care of other people, you see.

Continue reading Full of spirit’s melancholy And eternity’s despair

Lockout

When I was a kid, I walked everywhere. When we lived with my Grandmother, my uncle – only a handful of years older than me – and I would walk to the movies, to the park, and anywhere else. When I got a bit older and into junior high, I finally got a bike of my own. From then on, I rode everywhere: to the park, to the community pool, just around the neighborhood, along the well-worn paths in the woods, and anywhere else there was enough space for me to squeeze through.

These memories came back to me the other day when I locked myself out of the new house. I have never, in all my years, done this. Of course, it’s rare that I have a door with a lock on both the handle and a deadbolt. Generally speaking, the places I’ve lived are deadbolt-only types. So it was without thinking that I stepped out the front door to pull my baby herb plants under cover in preparation for the severe storm that never arose and let the door shut behind. I must have missed the one way exit sign on my way out. I’d also locked the back sliding glass door to the patio. So, with no phone, no keys, and no id, and with an eye to the blackening sky, I plopped myself down in a chair.

Where I promptly fell asleep for about 20 minutes or so. It was a combination of many things: fatigue, the soft gurgle of the pool as the pump ran, the pines trees swaying in the increasing wind, that same wind gently nudging the chimes outside, and then whistling through the screens on the open windows as it gusted, the distant rumble of thunder promising something it would never deliver…

I awoke to the sound of a few raindrops hitting the top of the patio roof, and thought the storm had finally arrived, but as I roused myself, I realized the sun had broken through and the seven raindrops were all the rain that would be coming. So I hauled myself up and out to find a phone to call someone with a key to get over and let me in.

Overall, I was outside for almost two hours in enforced idleness, almost half an hour of which was spent napping. I can think of worse ways to spend a late spring day.

The walls are dripping

Sounds like something out of a horror movie, doesn’t it?

I’ve been painting off and on for the past two days, in between working, errands, replacing light bulbs, doing some minor repairs, installing a cat door, and so on. But let me say that the walls are not dripping. They are, however, showing the signs of a paint in progress. Sunday I went out and picked up wallplates based on the choice made from the samples I had: solid brass, but with a brushed silver-like finish. They look great against the green tea paint in the foyer/living room, and just as great against the butter cookie/cocoa colors that will be in the kitchen when I get there.

Sunday night was also a night for the first cooking in the new digs. Simple fare, since unpacking is still in progress and the place is in a bit of disarray. Hamburgers, grilled out by the pool. I tossed some bacon in a disposable tin and grilled that as well. Other items on the menu: fresh fruit, sliced tomatoes, corn on the cob, homemade bread and butter pickles, and guacamole. I have pictures of this food, but unfortunately cannot put my hands on the data cable for my camera at the moment, so the upload will have to wait since the memory card from this camera does not fit in the memory card slot on the laptop. use your imagination for now.

I will say that I tried everything, including tasting one of my pickles for just the second time since I’ve made them. Part of a hambuger, several slices of tomato, a few nibbles of cheese (felt a bit like a mouse on this part, I must say), a touch of the guac (the first I’ve had since I started making it again lately), and what I consider to be my crowning achievement of the night: half an ear of corn, on the cob. I know I’ll be paying for this later, giving my jaws a workout like that, but it was worth it. It’s early bicolor corn, but it was just as sweet as it is during the summer months. No butter, no salt – just as is. Wonderful.

As I told a dear friend of mine, who unfortunately had other plans for dinner – unfortunate for me, that is, as the dining company she kept is quite worthy – there’s nothing quite like grilling out by the pool, sun just setting, a few clouds skittering across the sky, Venus rising, a bit of breeze touching your face now and again…

Follow all that by a good bowl of ice cream about an hour later, and a fine evening of dining. I wish I could say that about the rest of my day’s eating, but there was little of it. I’m trying to be better about that, but I get so busy doing things that by the time I realize the time and think I should eat, it’s getting rather late in the day. perhaps as things calm down from the move and I begin to cook more regularly again, this will get better.

Full moon howling

Part one of moving day draws to a close. I know intellectually that all days are the same length, but some days seem to be interminably long. Any day that involves moving all of your stuff from one place to another qualifies, I think.

Still, it’s nice to be in the new place, even if it looks like someone has just moved in. I took some time out from unpacking to skim the pool. The water is holding steady at about 80 degrees and looks very inviting. Of course, yours truly, with feeding tube still in place, cannot go for a swim. Just another reason to get it removed as soon as my calorie intake is high enough that I stop dropping weight. Official weigh-in weight at the oncologist’s office: 114.4. No one is happy with that.

Speaking of things oncology-related, this moving week brought with it two oncology appointments, one with each of the radiation and chemo offices. They poke, they prod, they want another PET scan, so we’ll be doing that again in the next week or two. Hopefully this granular tissue won’t light up the scan, but since I am still(!) healing, no doubt it won’t be zero and we’ll have to do this again three months from now.

Which is not to say I mind too terribly. After all, I can handle the IV, as I’ve no particular qualms about needles, and the opportunity to sit there in the dark while the glucose makes its way in gives me a perfect time for a little snooze.

But for now, it’s trying to get things in order. Trying to figure out where someone has unpacked something I need. Trying to remember not to push things up too closely against the walls because I need to paint over the next few days. And trying to remember that the post-move gets better with a little time. Just like me.

All boxed up and nowhere to go…yet

Looking around the house, you’d think someone was moving.

Oh, that’s right – someone is moving.

Tonight (or, rather, this morning, as I type this) marks the last night/morning in the old house. Moving day – also known as the Day From Hell – will kick off at 9 AM with the arrival of the movers at the old house and the pest control people at the new house, also at 9 AM. The cable folks are slated to be at the new place sometime between 2 and 5 PM, which means that come noonish, I’ll be without internet connectivity until we’re set up at the new place. Whatever will I do with myself? No email that I wouldn’t have time to check, no surfing that I wouldn’t have time to do.

I painted some sample colors on the walls at the new place and will be painting this weekend. We had come to a decision on a color called Soothing Aloe – a very light green – but one of my sisters hated it and suggested a darker, sage-y color. We went off and pawed through paint card samples at the local hardware place and found a color called Green Tea, which looks pretty good on the walls. We also found Butter Cookie for the walls of the kitchen and Cup of Cocoa for the lower half of the walls (think chair rail height). With some white trim, it will all look fabulous, I’m sure. I had toyed with the idea of hiring someone to do the painting, based on the first run with the original color, which was latex, but the new color is enamel and goes on much better, so it will be a snap to paint, as no primer will be required. Rather odd that all the colors are based on names of food, isn’t it?

By tomorrow evening, we will be ensconced in the new house, figuring out what goes where and where to start unpacking. The pool water temp is about 80 degrees, the water is clear (although it does need a little vacuum), and a dip in that inviting bath might be just the thing after the day we’re going to have today.

And then? Well, of course then it will be time to decide what the first meal in the new place will be, look ahead to all the things that Iwill be coming out of the kitchen – including trial runs of truffles, and start seriously planning for our Memorial Day bash on the 28th. I’ll be smoking a batch of ribs the day before, but the main focus on that Sunday will be seafood: shrimp, crabs (and crab cakes!), grouper, snapper, and if I can find anyone but me who eats them, crawfish. It’s going to be a great party, and if you’re reading this and happen to be in the area, feel free to pop in. There will be plenty for everyone.

Signing off from the old and looking forward to the new…

Turn your head and cough

When you go through any significant medical treatment that impacts your immune system – like chemo and/or radiation therapy, for instance – the medical staff always tells you to be careful about exposing yourself to germs and such. Try to stay away from people who are sick with colds, wash your hands often when you’re in a communal setting, monitor yourself closely for signs of illness that aren’t the direct side effects of treatment, and so on. All through treatment, even though the people around me were sick a few times and even though we were in settings with other people, some of whom were ill – after all, most of my time was spent in doctors’ offices and hospitals – I didn’t get sick at all with colds or the flu or anything.

This past week, though, I’ve not felt a hundred percent. The day before yesterday, it started going downhill, and yesterday was just awful: the first cold (or whatever) I’ve had in over a year. I spent much of yesterday napping off and on, only checking in on the biz occasionally to handle some issues, then returning myself to my non-upright position. This morning was more of the same, and since I’ve now poured some formula down the tube and feel a little queasy, I can feel another session coming on.

This is all very bad timing. Within the next two weeks, I’ll be moving into the house I’m going to be buying. There are a lot of things that need to be done for that and then the grand Memorial Day party that will follow. So whatever this is needs to speed its way along and leave me alone so I can get back to everyday business.