Tuesday, September 01, 2015

this week i talk to...

This week at work, I talked to:
Kathy, who I worked with at MSH from 1979-1981.
Myrna, who I met in 1980 when she worked for Nicollet County.
Sarah, who was in how-to-have-a-baby class with me in 1987.
Tamara and Jen, who came down to have drinks on the patio in the sunshine.
Joel, a lonely man whose wife passed away.
Edna, who I worked with for many years.
Tim, who celebrated his 60th birthday last week.
Jim, who helped clean up my yard after the tornado.
Gail, who knows Nancy in Omaha who knows my friend, Linda, in Brookings.
Sabrina, with beautiful red hair.
Barb and Bill, old teaching friends who share my joy in retirement.
Lola, who knew my Aunt Vi many years ago.
Jane in Iowa...many stories, many laughs, many tears. Friends since 1975.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

learning a few new things

One of the best things about retirement is that it's given me the time to learn a few new things. I've taken lots of classes...ballet, yoga, painting, writing, cooking...which are mostly successful because I have had good teachers.

I've bought books (marginally successful) and I've tried to teach myself things from Youtube (epically unsuccessful). I have books on dragonflies, butterflies, and straw bale gardening. I've learned a lot by following groups on Facebook: native pollinators of the midwest, bird and nature photography, and season watch.

I have always loved taking pictures but mostly as a way to document things. I have only recently begun to learn that my camera can do a lot more than just point and shoot. Regis is teaching me some things and I have some books. I try to analyze the photos that I like, find out what kind of lens they used, and how the shots were composed. It's a lot for an old head.

Here are a few pictures I took the other night. I didn't have my cheat sheet and of course, couldn't remember the different modes of the camera, but overall, I was happy with how they turned out.

Friday, August 21, 2015

confessions of a recipe hoarder

I hoard recipes. I used to hoard them on index cards until that got unwieldy but about the same time, the computer came along. Ah, electronic recipe hoarding.

I wish I was the kind of person who had favorite recipes and stuck with them. I have favorites, but then I keep adding to the collection. I still make beef stew and tomato soup the way I have for years, but the recipes I keep discovering...now those are special.

A few years ago I found a recipe for a Summer Vegetable Gratin in a Cook's Illustrated magazine. I make it at least once every August. Last year, my friend Cheryl, introduced me to Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good. Now that is a must-make in the fall. I found a recipe on Smitten Kitchen for PearTarte Tatin and it's my showiest autumn dessert.

You can imagine that things get out of hand. I have recipes in binders: two Christmas binders, a Thanksgiving binder, an Equinox/St. Patrick's Day binder, and a Current Favorites binder. I wind up with overwhelming piles of recipes to sort and organize (badly). I tried going completely electronic but there is something appealing about a recipe with a smear of butter or a smudge of pumpkin.

The internet, as much as it is helpful with my addiction (I use Plan to Eat) it is also part of the problem. I love food blogs and food sites: Smitten Kitchen, Food Network, Simply Recipes, Yummly, Tasting Table, and so it goes. I can't find one recipe for fish tacos...I have to find six recipes, compare them, use the fish prep part of one, the sauce recipe from another, the cabbage from yet another. So now I have to keep all six. It is a sickness.

These last weeks of summer, I am drawn to recipes for things from the garden: vegetable gratin, salsa, soup. Soon, I'll be moving into fall recipes which are my favorites. I love the aroma of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and pumpkin. Oh, my. It's good to be alive.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

a long day but a good one

Always wear boots to oncology appointments. It's my rule. The second picture is one I had Regis take during my diagnosis-treatment phase. He didn't want to take it as he said I was posing like a corpse but I added the crown for a little extra zip.

All is well so I will try to not over-dramatize the events. I do get some nasty anxiety leading up to the day. I remember I went into this situation three years ago all optimistic and shit. That didn't get me too far. Haha! They called me at 10:30 to tell me the mammogram was "negative normal" and it took me a couple seconds to translate that into regular English. Bloodwork was all within normal limits and exam revealed nothing of concern. I go back in November...trying to get this all on a six-month rotation.

I did a couple errands then went down to Tandem Bagels to meet Peter and April for coffee. I strolled down 2nd Street to look at some of the Art Walk. I think this is my favorite piece because you can sit on it....and I know what it is.

I realize it may make me seem sort of rube-ish but I am not fond of art that has to be interpreted for me. What the hell is this?

This I like. I know what it is.

I read the artist's statement because I wasn't sure about the next one but there is something appealing about it anyway. It's not so abstract that I didn't recognize the shape.

At the end of the long day, I went to my favorite grocery store to pick up some things. I was greeted by this lovely sign of autumn.

The grocery store was crazy busy but I ran into several old friends...Diann, Ann, & Jean. Stocked up on a few things for the week and weekend. We're having each kid and family for dinner one night before school starts. It's more fun to cook for them separately than collectively.

We're also having a Labor Day Pig-Out to honor the end of summer. It's a fun meal to plan and to prepare. One year we did a Jersey Shore theme. This year, the theme is pork.

More torrential rain today. I'm not leaving town but I am having coffee with a woman who was recently diagnosed with clear cell carcinoma. That's something that will make you feel more positive about whatever is wrong with you.

A local radio station that we have adopted as our own has adopted the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. His real name is Norman Odam. You can look him up in the google and find out all kinds of information about his show business career. He appeared on Laugh-In for one thing. He'll be 68 on September 5th and KMSU is calling for all fans to send him a birthday card. Here is his address if you are so moved. Include a SASE and he will most likely send you a promotional photo...or a grocery list. We have gotten both. It's one of those goofy things in life you just do because it's a hoot.

P.O. BOX 730742
SAN JOSE, CA 95173

Regis and I went to visit Mom this past weekend. Mom and I went to visit Irene who just turned 95. Such a sweet surprise to find my dear, old friend Linda there, too.

Make it a good day. Stay dry!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

done ranting

Ire at insurance companies is wasted energy, I know. Done with that.

I have been using Picmonkey to edit photos this summer. I follow a couple photography sites on FB and have admired their photo editing but wasn't sure how they did it. Now, I am learning.

Blue Moon

Stained Glass

Late Summer

a rant

Since my breast cancer surgery, I have experienced lymphedema in my left arm. I think they told me about it right after surgery but my head wasn't in the game then so the information drifted out immediately. When I started having symptoms, a year later, I figured it out fast.

Here is a pretty good explanation of lymphedema:
Lymphedema is a potential side effect of breast cancer surgery and radiation therapy that can appear in some people during the months or even years after treatment ends.
Lymph is a thin, clear fluid that circulates throughout the body to remove wastes, bacteria, and other substances from tissues. Edema is the buildup of excess fluid. 
So lymphedema occurs when too much lymph collects in any area of the body. If lymphedema develops in people who’ve been treated for breast cancer, it usually occurs in the arm and hand, but sometimes it affects the breast, underarm, chest, trunk, and/or back.
Why does lymphedema happen? As part of their surgery, many people with breast cancer have at least two or three lymph nodes removed from under the arm (sentinel lymph node biopsy), and sometimes many more nodes (axillary lymph node dissection). If the cancer has spread, it has most likely moved into to those underarm lymph nodes first because they drain lymph from the breast. Many people also need radiation therapy to the chest area and/or underarm. Surgery and radiation can cut off or damage some of the nodes and vessels through which lymph moves. Over time, the flow of lymph can overwhelm the remaining pathways, resulting in a backup of fluid into the body’s tissues.
If you already have lymphedema but don’t remember hearing much about it during breast cancer treatment, you’re not alone, says Dr. Marisa Weiss, founder and president of Breastcancer.org. “I can say from experience that the time right after diagnosis, when you are considering options and planning treatment, is a blur. When you are feeling so anxious and overwhelmed, it is hard to listen, understand, and decide. So even if lymphedema gets mentioned during this time, you may not remember it. Or it may not come up because the focus is really on getting you well. So if lymphedema does develop later on, it can feel like yet another insult to the body, one that many women weren’t fully prepared for. The good news is that women can learn how to manage it and lead normal lives.” 
Although there’s no way to know for sure whether you’ll develop lymphedema after breast cancer, you can help yourself by learning more about it. Know your risk factors, take steps to reduce your risk, and be aware of early symptoms. Left untreated, lymphedema can worsen and cause severe swelling and permanent changes to the tissues under the skin, such as thickening and scarring. 
Adding to the frustration some people feel is the conflicting advice about how to prevent and manage lymphedema — perhaps you’ve encountered some of it! There’s still much more research to be done before we fully understand this condition. Also, many doctors don’t have a great deal of experience with lymphedema. Realize that you may need to take charge and find your way to an experienced lymphedema therapist.
Recovery involved physical therapy, exercises at home, a compression sleeve, and bras that were prescribed by the doctor and filled by a specialty shop. No more fancy under-wire garments. These were serious, wide-sided, no nonsense things. And seriously expensive.

The first year, I got two and made do with those.

In May, they told me that I could get up to 12 a year. I thought that might be excessive, but I thought I would get what was needed and no more. So, off I got to the specialty store to be measured and to order two new bras. The woman who helped told me that they dispense them two at a time so I could call in August and order two more.

I called Monday and the person who answered the phone said she would order them for me. Yesterday I had a message saying that Medicare will only allow three in six months and my prescription expires on the 20th of August. I called back and said there must be a mistake, I have BCBS not Medicare and I have a RX for a year.

Here is where it gets interesting. She said their company had been purchased by another company and they follow Medicare guidelines no matter what kind of insurance you have. Long pause. I said I pay $2100 a month for premium health care. Not her fault. I get that. But I am pissed.

She said they could fill my RX only if the bras are medically necessary. I asked who decides that and you guessed it...the insurance company.

Friday, August 14, 2015

summer evenings

Regis drove the transit a lot this week which left Gus and me on our own. We spent much time outdoors as the evenings were beautiful, coolish, and pretty much bug-free. Our patio is so peaceful. I love to sit out there and visit with passers-by, watch the birds at the feeder, and see the sun go down. You can see Gus scanning the horizon for the transit. He misses the master.

In the grand scheme of things, I have gotten a few things done this week. I renewed my supply of cosmetics and made a new spray with my collection of essential oils. I read a couple books and learned a new word game. I made stuffed peppers on the grill. I had lunch and did some shopping with a friend. I finished my ten-week session with my very awesome trainer. (And I don't use the word awesome lightly.)

In my strength training world (which I do not for vanity but for osteoporisis and cancer), I got my report card on Thursday. I started leg presses with 50 pounds on each leg and went up 27.5 pounds. Those are big muscles, though, and the other results were not quite so impressive. I did improve in each exercise and I am feeling stronger. I told Gunner, I can squat way to the ground, take a picture of something, and stand right back up without support. Not bad for an old gal.

Tom Hynes, the new word game is called Alphabetty and it's by the same folks who brought you Candy Crush. I like the game but it only has 50 levels and then apparently you have to pay. Sad face. I can waste a lot time playing word games but I guess it could be worse. I downloaded Words with Friends, Mom, and will give that another go. I am not competitive, though, and if I start losing, I might quit.

I finished my applications to sub in two neighboring districts. It was an arduous process, believe me. I barely remembered enough to write a resume and barely cared enough to find the information. Ha.

That's Bob Dylan's (I Used to Care) but Things Have Changed. My official theme song. Some of my Facebook friends were doing a stress test this week and scoring between 50 and 85%. I got 15%. I am not living the perfect life but I am oblivious to a lot of things which helps.

Lot of water under the bridge.

Note: When I looked at my stats and reviewed my posts for August, I see I repeated myself a few times. Sigh. Sometimes I can't remember if I composed something in my head (I do this OFTEN!) and then wrote it down or if I only did the inside head composition. Ah, well. You know how to skip, right?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Woodrow Call...guest blogger


That's not so hard.