Saturday, September 22, 2007


Today I took most of the day to myself.

At noon, Michele picked me up and we went to Lori's, where we decorated a mustache cake. (It's a long story, but there was a lot of laughter!)

At 3:30pm, I left Lori's, and caught the bus downtown. By 4pm I was at S.A.M. (Seattle Art Museum), listening to Beethoven on my iPod and gazing at beautiful art (and glancing at some ugly pieces, too....yes, it's subjective).

The museum closed and I went on a short but fruitless search for some cute, comfortable winter shoes (what part of not buying it would that fall under?) with my feet hurting more each step in my cute, UNcomfortable shoes. (Actually, cute PAINFUL shoes would be more accurate. Alas, I will never wear them again. I think they're made for narrower feet than mine.) I came to my senses, and decided to have dinner.

I went to Palomino's bar because it was convenient and the people watching was great. I had the cappellini pomodoro with some rotisserie chicken added, and a lovely glass of Malbec. While sitting there, I wrote in my journal, ruminating about life's questions, pondering things.

It was lovely. Absolutely lovely.

I am fully determined to spend more of my time doing things like this. I enjoyed my time with my girlfriends, but I really needed some time by myself. It's so rare that I spend any time by myself, and I found my soul filling up again.

I'm remembering who I am. I love to be loud and talkative and throw parties and commit every minute of the day to a day fully lived....but I also like the quiet and some solitude. I've been out of balance, and I'm aware of that. I'm trying to rebalance a lot of things.

And now, I'm going to have a cup of tea with Ryan in our candlelit living room, and then I'm going to soak in the tub up to my neck in bubbles while reading. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. When is the last time I did that?!


After a trip to C&P Coffee, our day is going on with chores, and then I'm taking the afternoon to myself (wahoo!). I'm looking forward to the down time.

I got another call today. You know, the one that says, "My friend was just diagnosed with breast cancer." I get a lot of those calls. I hate them because I'm so sad to admit another member to the club, but I'm glad to be a part of helping people. Never hesitate to call me with that piece of news, because I do want to help and I'm glad to be in a position to do so, but still, it makes me so sad to envision women's grief and loss, as I know all too well what it feels like.

"The pile" is gone, thanks to hours of filing and recycling and such. HURRAH! I'm determined to keep it at bay in the future. I even started a folder for coupons...let's see if I can actually keep that up and use them before they expire (ha that would be new).

Okay, back to chores...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thinking about it

I read half of "Not Buying It" last night before I fell asleep. I'm very, very intrigued. Some of it is right on target for me: my home is filled with stuff, stuff, and more stuff and I'm irritated by finding places to store it, ways to clean it, ways to feel less cluttered, etc. I do not need more stuff.

I'm also not ready to go absolutely crazy. The author (Judith Levine) had a rule where she wouldn't eat anything pre-made, and I don't really see the point. She and her partner would go to Chinatown and buy green buns (a dumpling with greens inside) and on the program, she refused to spend the $1 for her favorite treat because it was premade. I don't think that really served any purpose: it's a healthy, inexpensive item and I'm not giving that kind of thing up.

She also gave up theater, movies, movie rentals, concerts, etc. I think that this might defy some logic in my own life, as well. Those are the things I should be doing MORE of, not LESS of. I need LESS junk from Target, but the memories of a beautiful play last me a lifetime and inform my thinking. I'm looking for higher quality experiences, and less impact on the environment, not intellectual deprivation.

But I could eat out less. And I could do more books from the library, instead of buying them. Less impulse anything. Less money on coffee out (to remember why, did you see how many ways I have to make coffee in my house?!). Less eating out because I'm too lazy to cook, and more eating out for special moments. (Which equates to less eating out overall; I love resturant dinners but sometimes it's "well it's 6pm and I'm tired and I don't feel like cooking" and then it's easy to blow $30-50 on an unremarkable, unmemorable dinner.)

In other news...
Tessa LOVES her preschool. It costs more than we're used to paying but really, she loves it, and as a result, I'm loving it, too. She's learning vocabulary words, she's got a job (helping to put out snacks), she's learning all kinds of things about nature (last week it was about how spiders molt their skin, and humans shed skin too...they have a "pet" tarantula named Charlotte and Charlotte shed, and this led to the whole lesson). She is so ready to learn that she's desperate for someone to teach her, and school is going to be great.

Shep has a new friend. Our neighbor Becky, a block away, has a chocolate lab named Cooper, and we're exchanging playdates. Right now, Cooper and Shep are running around the back yard, tossing balls in the air, and (hopefully) wearing one another out.

And I have work to do - Ryan comes home tonight and I am determined to be able to say "Look, honey, no pile!" when he arrives. ("The pile" is of paperwork: resturant coupons, junk mail, correspondence, bills, magazines, preschool papers, medical paperwork....ugh. I hate the sight of it and I'm determined to make change! The pile grows overnight, I swear, and it's reached horrible proportions at this time. Every day, I vow to find a way to keep the pile away forever. We'll see if today is that day.)

We have committed to attending church, WSUU, until the new year, at which point we will reevaluate. So far, I think it's something that is going to be really great for our family. I really appreciate the opportunity to sit down and think about my life, to learn lessons, to remember how to be a better person. (I say remember because I think we all know, but need reminding.) I love this church because it has a philosophy similar to my own: it has a global stance, incorporating world religions and ideas; it's fairly liberal; it teaches that our actions are a better judge of our character than our words -it's easy to talk the talk, not to walk the walk; they have child education....many things that i admire.

I'm doing emotional, spiritual, and physical housecleaning. It is the beginning of the year, and I'm excited to make positive change.

Ryan will be home tonight, and I'm looking forward to seeing him. Absence DOES make the heart grow fonder, and I've missed him. It's not often he's gone for four days, and we'll be glad to have him home.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Not Buying It

I picked up the book at the library today. I am more and more serious in my contemplation of this idea.

I went to Target today to return something, and managed to walk through the store without buying anything: not one impulse purchase. But it did cross my mind that I would do better if I didn't GO to Target. There's always something there that is just a bargain and so cute and maybe I could use it and....wait a minute. Before I saw that item, whatever it was, I had no need for it. So why do I need it now? I don't. But when I see things I want them.

I have started throwing away all catalogs that come to the door. When I look at Pottery Barn I become convinced that my things are the wrong color, that I need something different, that my room would be so much more comfortable if I just had an X. Again, things that I wouldn't notice until I saw the catalog.

I'm also letting my magazine subscriptions run out. I enjoy the articles, but I'm tired of being told that I need 30 Top Make-up Products, that the new clothing color is gray and that it's replacing black (let's face it, black is black and black is cool.....other colors come and go, but black is here to stay, and I bet that the same writers of that article are still wearing black), that my purse is all get the picture. Sometimes, when I get dressed up, I feel cute. And then I read a magazine and learn that I am not cute. Where exactly is the advantage, here? And isn't beauty beautiful from one year to the next?

I have four sets of wine glasses. Countless towels (and they match). Two computers. A coffee maker, a large french press, two small french presses, and an espresso machine. Oh, and a camping percolator coffee pot. I have several fancy dresses (the kind I wear once a year, maybe). I have three pairs of knee high black boots (pointy toe, round toe, square toe). I have bookcases filled to overflowing. I have everyday dishes and flatware to serve 12, everyone matching, and I have enough china to host Dinners of State.

I could go on, and on, and on about how much excess I have.

Very little I own is from Pottery Barn. I am not stylish, most of the time. My clothing does not have the "right" labels in it, for the most part. My home does not resemble a home decor' magazine cover, a showroom floor, or even an Arts & Crafts period ad. I rarely wear make-up, because I don't like to. But my home is comfortable, and often filled with people who have come to share in it. There's coffee to go around. Children run and laugh here; adults drink wine and laugh and talk here. Nobody has ever come here and said, "What a dump!" because it's not (and because rude people aren't invited). I'm not fashionable, but I don't think I'm a frump, either. My clothing is appropriate, and some of it, I even love to wear. I'm not too cold or too hot because of my clothes, and I have things to wear to the ballet, the park, the Junction, girls' night out, and gymnastics class (Tessa's, not mine).

Still, though, I find cravings. I crave silly things that are inconsequential. I craved getting a new couch, even though the one I have is very high quality, matches our other things, and is a beautiful reminder of my Grandpa Goddard. I'd like to get rid of all of my dishes because I'm tired of the dark blue band around them, and get plain ones instead (so much more versatile, I tell myself). I'd like a gray wrap dress....all the rage, you know. And that little shirt would look so cute on Tessa (never mind that her drawers are so full that when laundry is caught up it's hard to close them)...

It goes on. I'm declaring that I must stop! I see things and I crave them for no particular reason other than that I want them. I do not wish to be this kind of consumer, but I really am. Ugh.

There are other reasons for me to stop.

The environment is one really good reason to stop: the packaging alone is enough for catastrophe, but the pollution of manufacturing, the stuff that ends in landfills, and the use of resources alone would be enough to stop. Finances are another (less sexy) reason to stop: who couldn't stand to save some money? Life lessons (mine, and what I model to Tessa) are another. World politics are another (I'm pretty sure that half the stuff I have is made in China in suspicious factories).

But still, I think it would be really, really hard to stop buying things cold turkey. I'm American! That's not what we do! Is it even possible? Do I have what it takes to do this?

There will have to be rules. Obviously, I can't just cut up my bank cards and be done. We must eat. The car must have fuel (no I'm not giving that up; I like to visit people, pick up groceries, etc.). There are gifts to buy for others (I'm not expecting the world to jump on this bandwagon with me, and I don't want to be stingy.) Candles burn down and need replacing; light bulbs (even energy efficient florescents) burn out; soaps get used; toilet paper is a necessity. Things that we use get worn and quit working.

What then?
- Groceries and other consumables (gas, TP, candles, batteries) will be used as always
- Gifts...problematic. Maybe experiential stuff that doesn't end up in a landfill?
- Broken instead of tossing and replacing. When not cost effective, replace with gently used items.
- Tessa outgrows consignment.

This is not a done deal; Ryan and I have a lot of talking to do (a note here: this was Ryan's idea to begin with, and he read the book already). I think I'll re-read "Voluntary Simplicity" and "Your Money or Your Life" and "All Your Worth" in addition to "Not Buying It." I have a lot of thinking to do. I want to save the environment, buy consciously, save money and get out of "year from hell debt," teach Tessa life lessons....but this is pretty extreme, and I know that. Can I do it?

Enough. I'm declaring enough. We'll see where I take that exclamation.

"I feel more confident than ever that the power to save the planet rests with the individual consumer." - Denis Hayes, Chair, Earth Day Network

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
— Mahatma Gandhi

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Oncologist appointment

Today I met with Dr. Rinn to discuss my joint pain and fatigue.

I've crossed lines; the quality of life is being impacted. My fingers don't work the way they're supposed to sometimes, and this is frustrating. I can type well, but it's hard to hold a pen and to write. This morning I couldn't push the button on the coffee pot to release the coffee, and I ended up having to take the lid off to get my cuppa Joe. This is relatively new, but unacceptable.

It's probably the Femara.

I have agreed to switch to another AI, Aromosin (Aromasin?).

Hopefully both the fatigue and the joint pain will improve. I could go to bed at 7 every night and not feel rested, and that's REALLY old. And who can go to bed that early? My productive time used to be from 8-11pm, and if I lose that time it's usually my only "me" time in the whole day.

I'm also getting blood work done to test for arthritis. It runs in the family, and the symptoms are the same.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Today I found out that Tessa's preschool teacher's mom, the beloved "Grandma Dorothy," is a 29 year survivor of breast cancer. YES! I need more people like this is my life, and the more success stories the better.

In the paper yesterday (or the day before?) there was an article about a violinist who is about to celebrate his 90th birthday; the article talked about his involvement with music, the community, etc. The headline read "How do you get to 90?: Practice, practice, practice". I'm practicing living right now, as a matter of fact. And the headline is currently taped to the bottom of my computer monitor.

Ryan is in Montanta, so it's just Tessa and I for a couple of days. I did the lazy way out tonight and we went to Korkoras, a local Greek place (total bill with tax: $11.21 - nice!).

I am still seriously contemplating a year of buying nothing, or some derivation of it. I think it would be good for me at a number of levels...

Tessa is growing and learning by the minute. At school they have vocabulary words and she is filled with them: she told me about being "absent" and what that means. I love that she loves words and language as much as I do, and that she's proud of her learning.

I'm starting to get the pit-of-my-stomach dread that comes before each surgery. Mine is fast approaching and I dread it.

Tessa's doing art, and I'm puttering around....time to tend to her. Bath night!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Dinner disaster and strange flashbacks

Tonight I made a dinner disaster.

This one compares with the time I made a stirfry with flank steak and didn't know to cut the steak on the diagonal. (For those who don't know, I'll point out that cutting WITH the grain creates a great shoe leather, almost impossible to chew.) It also ranks up there with the time I made a red snapper dish that was so fishy it made me gag (and I'm a seafood lover; I think the fish wasn't fresh). It's been years since an incident of this caliber; I'm a decent cook, but about every 5 years I do a doozy.

Tonight it was a home made chicken pot pie, Cooking Light style, with lots of root vegetables. I'm in a fall mood, and it seemed like comfort food.

I went to buy the groceries a couple days ago: celeriac root, parsnips, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots. I thought I'd be creating a gentle melding of delicious nutrients...yum, yum.

I went wrong with celeriac. I didn't expect it to be available at Trader Joe's, and it wasn't, so I went to Thriftway. I didn't see it at first, even though I was staring at every bin of produce. Finally, I found the sign: celeriac (celery root). It didn't look the way I'd remembered it; I remembered it being a kind of a hard, knotty root ball, but I discounted my memory as it's not an ingredient I use very often. What they had in the bin labeled celeriac was more of a long tuber root, with the top and bottom chopped off. Whatever.

Whatever is right. What I bought, I discovered AFTER an hour of chopping, simmering, stirring, whisking, seasoning, baking, rolling (dough) and setting the meal on the table is that I bought horseradish.

You know, the kind of thing where a tablespoon can feed the whole table. Only I used the whole darn horseradish root in my chicken pot pie. NOT celeriac.


To say that it was inedible would be kind. Dang it! Oh well, we all had a good laugh.

And in a totally unrelated post...
For my birthday I asked for, and received, a video of Tessa's life, which had been trapped in the camera for four and a half years. Watching it gave such sweet joy; our gorgeous baby getting a bath; Christmas presents; Easter egg hunts; birthday parties.

The first haircut scene took my breath away, though. May 7, 2005. I saw the date in the lower left corner of the screen and all I could think was, "I had cancer, but I didn't know it yet. I didnt' know that on May 25 my whole world would get turned upside down."

It was hard to breathe, seeing that. And remembering the moments that followed.

I also saw, briefly, myself bald and with a crewcut. I was smiling for the camera, catering to Tessa, cheerful voice, but I know better. I know it wasn't happy at all, even when I was pretending.

And on that, I must go to bed. I ate just enough of the chicken-horseradish-pot-pie to feel rather ill, and I think I'm going to have to sleep it off!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Happy birthday to me

At 9:59am today I turned 38 years old.

There were some times I didn't think I'd live until or past my 36th birthday.

Today I am happy and healthy. I will take any wrinkles that come my way, should I be lucky enough to receive them. Every birthday is a victory.

I'm looking forward to birthday cake this evening.