Thursday, December 29, 2011

Omne Trium Perfectum III ~ Revenge of the Appliances

I've already done two posts this year on how things happen in threes: first it was flat tires on each of our three vehicles in July, then it was various elements of the well and water system in September, now it's aging appliances. We have to replace the washer, dryer and dishwasher. Now to be fair to these old dears, they gave us 15 years of good service, amazing in this day and age.

Though it was tempting to hit the big box stores for appliances, we decided to shop local to keep our dollars local. Our favorite repair expert gave us recommendations on brands and models and what to avoid which helped us narrow down the list tremendously. So off we go to Santa Rosa and at our first stop ~ boom there's the washer and dryer set that was high on the list on sale. The color is silver which made us laugh out loud. Our sales person gave us kind of a quizzical look until we explained we just celebrated our 25th (silver) wedding anniversary. Silver will work really well in our newly updated laundry room.

Okay two down one to go. On to the dishwasher section. It was suggested by our repair person that we bring some of our dishes to assess how different racks will or won't work, a dry run so to speak. We narrowed it down to two models and after talking to our sales person about pros and cons we make a choice, it too is on sale. Inside an hour we're done, so we treat ourselves to lunch, a walk around Spring Lake and Mission Impossible at the movies. A day well spent. 

Alas, today there is one more set of three: An appraiser is showing up this morning (We're refinancing to reduce our interest rate to 4% and lower monthly payments by $160), the appliances are getting delivered and installed today and our exterior paint guru is, weather permitting, going to prime and paint our skylights.

I'm definitely in for the day, but my studio is warm and I'm working on some great projects. That said, Puleeze let this be the last set of Omne Trium Perfectums!

 Acorn Brandy

Happy New Year! Your mission for 2012 is to fill your life with love, creativity, plenty of play days and time with your friends. Now get to it!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I Left Town with Santa and Returned with the Fool on the Hill

December 21st was our 25th wedding anniversary. How time flies when you're spending it with your best friend: still in love and still laughing. We had some lofty ideas about what we were going to do to celebrate: from returning to the scene of the crime in Gold Hill, NV to spending a few days on the Rogue River in southern Oregon at our favorite getaway. What we decided on was a little staycation to explore some of our own neighborhood and off we went to Healdsburg, a little town about 20 miles to the north of home. 

We went up Tuesday morning and returned Thursday afternoon. The weather was unseasonable to say the least: cold in the morning, but sunny and in the mid sixties during the day. I actually had to water my flower barrels before we left town!

We rented a small cottage about a quarter mile from the downtown square and did a great deal of exploring on foot: walking to breakfast, lunches and our anniversary dinner, 9 antique stores and cooperatives, and two second hand stores. One afternoon we hopped in the Honda and visited two nearby casinos and entertained ourselves for a couple of hours at each. On the way back we stopped at the huge Salvation Army Thrift Store complex north of town (an awesome place to shop for anything). 

Needless to say we had more to show for the shopping than from the casino play, but it was all fun. We found 3 shirts for Rod and 3 sweaters and a tank top for me. We scored a pair of vintage wrought iron stands that will make great new stick stands for our fair displays and this awesome jester's hat (Peter Connors has met his match).

On our first day walkabout we passed a small bar and restaurant called Barndiva. The menu looked interesting so we decided that's where we'd have dinner on the 21st. When we arrived I mentioned to the hostess we were celebrating our wedding anniversary and thought nothing more of it. During a fabulous and tasty dinner our waiter delivered to flutes of champagne as a treat from the house and the truly decadent dessert arrived with candles. We felt really special and were delighted with the whole experience.

It's amazing what you can find close to home and the best part is that it took less than an hour to get home. We're usually on the road this time of year, but since Rod saw his family in November we find ourselves at home with no promises to keep for only the third time in 30 years. What a delightful dilemma! We're going to do a little work outside today since it will again be sunny and warm. Christmas day we're going to pack a lunch and head down to Marin County for a picnic and hike on Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Breast Cancer Journey - Post Script I

As mentioned in my last BCJ post I graduated from "radiation class" on December 9th. I had none of the expected side effects like a raging sunburn or fatigue, only the alleged diaper rash on my left tata. It has faded over time, though still a visual, there's much less itch.  

However, as the first post treatment week went by I started experiencing some extra added attractions:

  • slight swelling ~ expected ~ I'm very flat chested so having a breast in my way is amusing to say the least!
  • soreness ~ expected
  • left nipple feeling like roasted marshmallow ~ unexpected
  • sporadic sensation of needles pricking said nipple ~ unexpected
  • occasional pain and super sensitivity ~ an unexpected step up from soreness.
This time of year clothing optional is not an option so I found a soft cotton tank top that goes under anything and helps with irritation. I called in and talked to nurse Kim at the Rohnert Park Cancer Center on Friday. She said the first week after finishing treatment is usually the worst with the symptoms like I described. A well kept secret I'm thinking, funny that wasn't mentioned. Then again perhaps I should have asked.

She did mention a product available at Target made by Ameda called ComfortGel Pads that are used by nursing mothers. We had a good chuckle at the thought of a 66 year old asking where the breasting feed pads were located. There is something amusing in any situation.

Well, off on our 25th wedding anniversary adventure tomorrow morning ~ a staycation at a sweet little place close to home for a few days and then a Christmas camping trip on the north coast. We haven't been at home for Christmas in 30 years - no sense changing a tradition.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Reuse & Recycle = Elegant Zeroscape

In early spring our Oregon Oak leafs out to a gorgeous canopy that shades the house, and provides habitat for numerous birds and our the resident squirrel families. The added bonus is an elegant visual for us and the neighbors and a perfect spot to hang two swing chairs for summer reading.

Late fall arrives and with a few cold nights the leaves begin to change and drop off over a period of weeks ~ creating raking and play opportunities for Rod and the kidlets next door. This year however, we had a cold snap and then warm, gusty Santa Ana winds out of the north. Not only did the leaves all come off all at once, the wind neatly pushed them up against the back fence.

We decided it was time to lose our pathetic excuse for a lawn which was basically mowed weeds. We hired our teenage neighbor Solomon to lay out gopher cloth and then bring the leaves down from the back. The tree provided about a six inch deep cover of the whole area. It will mulch over time, and our beloved poppies may show up again in spring. 

A simple and elegant solution ~ repeat next year

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Breast Cancer Journey ~ 1st and Goal

My 20 day radiation schedule has gone quickly, only 2 marbles left in the out box! Monday was the last day of traditional radiation which targeted the whole breast. The last four days target the area of the original tumor and incision, it's called a "boost" and is site specific.

My "A" team of fellow travellers at the cancer center have all been a part of the journey and we sometimes have a chance to visit while awaiting sessions. On Friday we got off on a tangent talking about the ailments du jour. Suddenly everyone got really quiet and then we burst out laughing, aghast at the idea we were becoming our mothers. One said her grandmother used to call it "organ recitals" and they were banned from family gatherings and dinner conversation. A conciousness raising moment for sure.


Spirit Horse

As for the decorative sunburn and random rash I was blessed (too bad there's not a font for sarcasm) with just the rash. It looks like someone placed a pancake over my breast as protective gear and then dusted the surrounding treatment area with buckshot. I don't have kids but I'll bet it's akin to diaper rash and it itches like poison oak. I quickly found a solution to that little inconvenience: Mama Meryl's Healing Salve. It's made here in Sonoma County and available at Sebastopol Hardware. We've been using it for years for everything from cuts to scratches and burns to stings. One of the main ingredients is calendula which is in a number of recommended potions in the "dealing with it primer" for radiation patients so you may be able to find something akin to it closer to home.

Not feeling the predicted fatigue or I've just been too busy with life to notice it. The serendipitous timing of our four craft fairs following each week of the radiation sessions is perhaps no coincidence, but a handy coping tool nonetheless. I will say that during the last week or so, when 4pm roles around the barcalounger, a tall glass of water and a couple of chapters of an NCIS marathon are a pleasant diversion.

Once I graduate on Friday I'm going to take December off and give my body a rest. The next step in this journey will be five years on an estrogen inhibitor called Anastrozole which of course has a host of potentially nasty side effects.

I've always be one to question authority so I'm doing some homework. First I'm looking into an alternative to ingesting medication orally by talking with a compounding pharmacist who can use my prescription to make a topical cream. We also have local MD who believes in incorporating alternative therapies into her practice and some of those may mitigate potential side effects of the medication. Her specialties cover my gambit of concerns: women's health, oncology and hepatology. Both are willing to work with my oncologist at Kaiser so once I have more information I'll contact him to discuss possibilities.

Apologies for the football analogy in my title today, but our beloved SF 49ers have come back to life after what seems like decades. It just goes to show you should never give up hope ~ ever!