Monday, September 29, 2014

Baby steps

I tell my students to measure their progress in baby steps. Today I had to take my own advice. By the time I got everything set up for painting and had cut the fabric and figured out a way to dry the finished pieces, I was exhausted. Play will have to wait for tomorrow.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Knitting between naps since I got home.

For tomorrow - messing about with paint.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dancing in air

I first saw this video when I was flat on my back in a hospital bed. The freedom of the dancers moved me to tears.

Now I see and hear the dancers' joy.

This was filmed vertically on the walls of Oakland's city hall. The dancers are Amelia Rudolph and Roel Seeber. I received the original link from This is Colossal. Check out the recent pictures of the San Francisco salt ponds.

Friday, September 26, 2014


My first solo walk. I was discharged on Monday and the weather has been beautiful ever since. Each day I do a little more.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Two of a kind

I have lots to write about the events of the day but it will take time to organize my thoughts. For now, I will leave you with this observation.

They tell you that the older you get, the more you are reminded of your mother.
Her, August 2014
Me, today

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Something about sheep

A guest post from Susan Tilsley Manley.

To be called sheepish is generally an insult - a mindless follower easily led, no original thought, intention or courage. But I ask, if the sheep trusts her shepherd, and knows that the shepherd uses her power for good, then is the sheep following dumb or blind? Or is she making an informed choice based on what is best for her?

At any time, livestock can bolt.
At any time they can wander.
If a sheep appears to obediently follow, maybe it's not about flock mentality so much, as survival instinct. "If I stick with this person, and do what I'm advised, my life will improve."

I called Chris a shepherd the other day, and joked about her increasing her flock.

She sees potential and nurtures it. She doesn't waste her time and efforts on stubborn old ewes who simply won't change. She's not into lost causes. Like the farmer at auction, she'll bring home critters who she can nurture, who'll enrich her flock.

So to be chosen is really a compliment. To be coached, herded, helped, advised is a gift.

If you look, really look at a photo of a flock of sheep, you'll see every face is different. Every one unique within the community. I think this is how Chris sees.

I am happily willing to stick with my shepherd. And it is scary to change, to follow advice that I may not want to hear, to trust my coach, AND I believe my life will improve. So it is an act of courage on both our parts to venture forth together.

Go ahead, call me sheepish. Baa Baa.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hospital humour

I have a great team looking after me, here in the hospital and outside. Some have 'assigned' roles and other have assumed important functions. Among those is a friend who has appointed herself Minister of Funny for the occasion. When she heard that the next stage in my recovery would be marked by 'passing wind' I received a series of appropriate jokes.

Here are a couple of them.
Your ass is so tight that when you fart, only dogs can hear it.

What happened to the blind skunk? He fell in love with a fart.
When I wrote back to say that I had passed that milestone and was on to another I received these.

Have you heard about that new movie "Constipation"? It hasn’t come out yet.
 Why does Tigger smell so bad? You’d stink too if you played with Winnie the Pooh all day. (I have to get better ones)

I am proud to report that the second milestone has been reached. My new goal is getting rid of some of the holes and associated appliances that are scattered all over my body. Does anyone write jokes for that?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Definitely drowsy


dazed, weak, or unsteady, especially from illness, intoxication, sleep, or a blow

Or this? 

sleepy and lethargic; half asleep.

  1. Or this?


    sleepy and lethargic; half asleep.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Finished: #6 - Lace Canopy Cardi Wrap

I finished this one last week. It is the first crocheted sweater I have made in decades. But it won't be my last. It turns out that I love the feeling of dense crochet, so long as it is made with a light yarn and worked to a gauge that allows drape.

This one can be worn many ways. I will probably use it more as a blanket when I am in hospital but I can also wrap the ends around my neck or let them hang and use a belt.

Finishing plans are on hold until I am discharged. Then I am going to work on a sweater for George. In the meantime I will work on the log cabin blanket.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Soundtrack for surgery

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Two excellent surgeons will do their best to eradicate the cancer and reconstruct things so I can live a 'normal' life. My friends are laughing now. I don't think they regard me as normal, ever.

For the last few days a song has been running through my head. I can't really recall many of the lyrics but the chorus is clear. I found the song when I was looking for something suitable for a message-based indoor cycling class. The profile for that class came up first when I did a Google search to write this post. I guess there aren't too many other people interested in the song. It seems that's because the singer/songwriter spends most of her time training and competing in Western equestrian events, not singing or promoting her work.

So I can't let you listen but you might want to track down 'Fear Has No Place Here' by Rachel Leigh Ory.

There's another chorus which has been rolling around in my head. It is from the same class. Even though the lyrics seem to be about death, that's not what I hear. I like the concept of 'destination darkness'. We all have to go to a dark place sometimes and the message 'no fear' is what we all need to embrace. The rhythm of the song really works for me as I think of taking step after step toward the light.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


I am fond of saying that one of the things that interests me the most when I become engaged in an activity is the opportunity to create and participate in a community. I use that term in the context of this definition:
a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
As a biologist I also like this definition because of its emphasis on interdependency.
a group of interdependent organisms of different species growing or living together in a specified habitat.
Following through on the first thought, here's a definition of fellowship:
friendly association, especially with people who share one's interests.
I am most interested in the effect of fellowship on the ability of people to achieve specific goals, and, in the reverse, the way in which shared goals can create friendly associations.

I have participated in a lot of communities but I have been thinking about one, in particular, during the week leading up to my surgery. That is the group of people who committed themselves to cycling the Cabot Trail in 2012, even though they had never dreamt of doing so and were not initially prepared in terms of fitness, cycling skills or mental attitude. Through the course of the summer they were brought together by their shared goals. They trained and ate and partied together. By the time we were ready to ride the Trail, a definite community had evolved.

On a day in late August I stood with them in the parking lot of a motel in Cheticamp, Nova Scotia. Within the hour they were going to tackle the first of three significant climbs, up grades that they had never before experienced. As I addressed the group I knew that none of them would have gotten to that place on their own. And I knew that the group would provide support that they couldn't receive from anyone else. At the end of the day, and in the months to come, our community would also help its members put their successes and failures into perspective. 

I have been reflecting on what they must have been feeling on that morning. By rights, they should have felt fear or at least anxiety. While I am certain that there was a small measure of those feelings they were mostly upbeat, confident and light-hearted. They had done as much preparation as they could and were going to rely on our small community for everything else.

I feel much the same way about my pending surgery. People have been asking me if I am afraid or nervous. I am not. Someone just asked what I am feeling. My answer was 'prepared'. I have done everything I can do and I will rely on my community of friends and medical staff to get me up the hill. They share my goal to emerge healthy and happy and  are working alongside me to ensure that we achieve that end.

This week I was I inducted into another community. One of the people who stood in that parking lot came to the house with a gift for me. It was a quilt which was given to her five years ago when she too had an encounter with cancer. The maker asked that it be passed along to someone who needed support, as I do now. I will use and care for it and will wrap myself in the community it represents and then I will give it to someone else who needs what only other people can offer.

  1. Doesn't it seem that Tolkien should have called the first book of his trilogy The Community of the Rings - shared goal, and all that.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


My brain automatically sees patterns as well as connections between various activities in which I become engaged. I can't help it. I don't offer up all of my observations but they swirl around in my brain.

Here's someone else who has seen and written about a connection. And there's knitting.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


My day of appointments started with a sweater for George, one third done. It ended with this.

Life is short, too short to spend time trying to puzzle out the changes I made to the pattern. It's better to start again and make something better suited to the yarn.

Sorry. I might be a little giddy these days.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Celery soup

As I get closer to a couple of weeks of hospital food, my interest in cooking, which has always been high, has increased to the point where I am making several new-to-me dishes every day. It helps that I have boxes full of veggies and fruit from the CSA. They serve as the starting point in my search for recipes.

My recent favourite is Celery Roquefort Soup from the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special cookbook. If you try it, I recommend ignoring the instructions (as I did) and blending all of the ingredients to create a smooth cream soup. The final product is a long way from the canned Campbell's celery soup I ate every weekend when I was in college.