Thursday, December 29, 2011

Things to Do While Convalescing

  • Read an essay by Susan Straight on California Patios, titled Sun Boss--Inventing the Patio.  This is from her series for KCET, found *here*
  • Read the series of papers given to me by the hospital, a collection of helpful and inane pages (including one on how to prevent the spread of disease, which includes the timely tip to "wash hands for at least 20 seconds")
  • Talk on the phone to friends, my parents and my brothers and sisters.
  • Sleep.
  • Write back answers to sweet, touching, kind and caring emails.
  • Moan.
  • Read poems from the website Poetry Daily (a sample)
  • Grimace when I forget and roll onto my left side, where they performed a "wide excision" and took out a hunk of my leg (or at least it feels like they did).
  • Be grateful that I didn't have cancer in my lymph node.
  • Sleep.
  • Talk to the nurse on the phone as she calls to check up on her surgery outpatient.
  • Finally enjoy my first real meal: a pot of homemade chicken soup, cooked up by my husband.
  • Lay in bed.
  • Realize that I can't think clearly, and that my mouth feels like cotton.
  • Read the news online, as I can't concentrate on anything other than short blurbs.
  • Stare at the bumps in the ceiling.
  • Look outside at the beautiful day and wished I felt well enough to sit outside.
  • Try not to sit (it hurts).
  • Admire the way the clutter on the nightstand can be stacked to include glasses of ginger ale & water, pretzel bread brought back from Ohio, cell phone, regular phone, books, clock and eyeglasses.
  • Count my many, many blessings.
  • Sleep.
  • And remember that--
"The mind wants this: a door in the wall,
         an open field, a narrow path
         through the woods, an open field" 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Palm Reading

 When I was a girl I was fascinated by the idea that a person could tell their future by looking at the lines in their hands.  The theory goes that these lines will show your future.  I spent a long time pouring over the tiny palm-reading book from the grocery store, trying to figure out if I would marry, and how many children I would have.  I was always a bit concerned, though, because on my left hand (the non-dominant hand) the life line, which wrapped around the base of my thumb, showed a distinct interruption, even a cessation.  Whatever was promised on the left hand, was ameliorated by the smallest of lines connecting this supposed break on the right hand--which indicated that I would make it through.  At the ripe old age of eleven, the fact that something may happen to me mid-life seemed to be a thrilling horror and I wondered what it was.

When the dermatologist's office called me after I returned home from a two-day jaunt to my daughter's and said I had to come in today (there were three messages on my answering machine), and I subsequently was told that the small biopsy from my revealed malignant melanoma, my world began to reel and rock.  I barely made it out of their office, with its chaos, strange office helpers, and a myriad of instructions before the deluge of tears came.  I sat in the car talking to Dave, the tears flowing as we discussed what had now interrupted the forward flow of my life: Cancer.  The big C. 

An appointment had been made for me with surgeon the next day, so I dutifully went to do my lab work in preparation for the surgery that would surely follow this diagnosis.  I felt like I was in some sort of a bubble as I had my chest X-ray, my blood drawn.  Instead of going home, I went to the grocery store to buy the food for our own Christmas Eve meal, which we had decided to hold that evening (we had plans to spend Christmas Day with our children in a faraway state). I zombied around the store, trying to keep my wobbly self intact, trying to answer this pressing, inane question: what kind of food do you prepare when you've just been diagnosed with cancer? 

Answer: sauteed mushrooms, London broil steak, potatoes.  Apple cake with a rich lemony butter sauce.  Food that grounds you.  Food that makes you shop because you have none of this in your house so it forces you to do regular little things like interact with the meat guy, smile at the checker, to stuff an extra dollar or two in the Salvation Army's red kettle on the way out of the store.  To drive home.  To not talk to anyone while you put away the groceries, to start the laundry for the trip you hope you'll take.  To try not think.  To try not to cry.

At dinner, I tell Dave about my two hands, one with a complete break of the life line, the other with a tenuous connection between the two halves of my life.  I realize it's a silly thing (bunk science, he agrees) but when all the things that make your world itself, those the multiple layers of normalcy that keep you upright and sane and going forward suddenly crumble, you are left pondering the truths that an eleven-year old once believed in, yet find them wanting.

In one of the multiple phone calls and emails that followed in the next few hours, I was reminded of other dark days when the layers of normalcy were suddenly seared away.  I got through them with a more mature faith, through the knowledge that there was a power much greater than an illustrated booklet.  I got through them one prayer at a time, both by me and by others in my behalf.  For after all is said and done, none of us control much of our mortality. 

In the end, all we can do is place our trust in hands not our own, but in those of our Heavenly Father.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas to All!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

United's Tunnel

The first time I came to O'Hare Airport was when my 32-year-old year old daughter was an infant with a very high fever.  We were between flights and I was trying to find some way to take her temperature and get some aspirin.  I think she and I just suffered through, made the connection and from then on I carried a thermometer in my make-up bag.

The United Tunnel, also known as the Gershwin Tunnel, is part of my memories of O'Hare, with all its lights.  I don't know how many times I'll come here again, so I took a short movie to remember it by.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Snowman Cartoon Fun

We don't have snow in California, so we have to get our snowmen fixes this way.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Divided Brain

A little animated video, courtesey of RSA and my having graded research papers all week.

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." - Einstein

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Merry Christmas Season Begins!

My friend and her family do a Christmas video every year.  We know we can start celebrating and decorating when we see it arrive.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Cult of the Done

Two brilliant guys, Bre Pettis and collaborator Kio Stark wrote down everything they knew about bringing "a creative vision to life. They called it The Done Manifesto. Illustrator James Provost then took the extra step of turning their 13 maxims into a poster":
  1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
  2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
  3. There is no editing stage.
  4. Pretending you know what you're doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you're doing even if you don't and do it.
  5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
  6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
  7. Once you're done you can throw it away.
  8. Laugh at perfection. It's boring and keeps you from being done.
  9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
  10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
  11. Destruction is a variant of done.
  12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
  13. Done is the engine of more.
from Infographic of the Day

My favorite is #13: Done is the engine of more.  I find I get stuck in "not knowing" a lot, and my other swamp is denying the principle of #2, that everything is a draft.  Perhaps if I memorized these, or posted them somewhere prominent--like my bathroom mirror--I might eventually conquer #5: procrastination.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

In Honor of my Mother, my Daughter(s)

A Little Treasure of Hope to start off your Christmas season.