Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tea party success

Everything was wonderful. Altogether, there were ten of us, and there was talk and laughter and lots and lots and lots of food.

I'm exhausted. It's the happy kind of exhausted, but I'm wiped out. The sinus infection plus all the hubbub and I will be going to bed when Tessa does!

Still, the dishes are put away, the linens are soaking, and I have a big box of sweet treats to contribute to the coffee hour at church tomorrow.

A lovely day. Maybe I'll do it again next year!
PS Mom S, your apron was a hit! I have requests to see if you'll sell them. :-) I love it and it gets so much use...and today it got an audience, too.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tea Party

Our church holds an annual auction as a fundraiser, and of course asks for donations. I decided to donate a tea party, and the auction sold tickets. Today I've been preparing...for tomorrow is the big day!

I have taken great joy in bringing out Aunt Helen's pink Limoge china, the lacy napkins made by my Great Grandmother Brown (my mother's mother's mother), wedding china, and all fo the silly collected items that I've picked up at thrift shops. I say "silly" because who really needs pink and gold china items - but I love every bit of it.

There is something so incredibly restful about a tea party. Women gathered together to relax in the middle of the day - ahhhh. Delicious things to eat (including curried mango chicken salad sandwiches, cucumber dill sandwiches, creme freshe with lox....and sweets such as chocolate vanilla cupcakes, brownies, and blueberry lemon tea bread; and no tea is complete without scones with lemon curd, preserves, and cream....) with piping hot tea.

And the teapot that Grandpa Goddard gave me goes so delightfully with the tablecloth he gave me. And the sofa that we sit on every day is just so "right" for a tea party. Did Grandpa have this in mind when he gifted me these items?

The timing is terrible because I don't feel great, but it's okay, because I do love a good tea party. All this baking (and cleaning!) wears me out, but tomorrow will be the reward of enjoying the effects of my labors.

Really hopeful

I have been chewing on the idea that my fatigue and memory issues are not cancer treatment related.

Suddenly, I am filled with optimism. Perhaps the real me will return! Perhaps I am not stuck in this body, but this body can change (for the better). Perhaps I will get more energy, perhaps I will have a working mind....

Please oh please oh please. I am so very tired (bad pun) of all of this.

So today I'm hopeful. Maybe a tune-up and I'll be good to go again!

In a sadder note, unrelated to myself....
Today I logged on to the YSC to find out that a single mom was diagnosed with mets. She's coming up three years since diagnosis, and her lungs "lit up like a Christmas tree" on her last scan. I hate cancer. Please put her in your thoughts or prayers. Please include her young son in those thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Not an overactive imagination

The bad news: I have a sinus infection, and a "quite large" polyp extruding from my sinuses. (Google "sinus polyp" if you'd like to see some disgusting pics.) This is apparently a sign that the infection is pretty bad, has been ongoing, and may need further attention. We're not talking surgery yet, but left untreated that's what happens to polyps.

(I have had three sinus surgeries. Prior to this whole breast cancer business, my sinuses were my worst physical problem. I was operated on at age 13, age 15, and age not-quite-21, and the last surgery corrected lots of things by removing bone and tissue and other nasty stuff.)

So I'm on some kind of nose spray, and antibiotics, and saline rinses, and I have to follow up with the doc in a few weeks.

My thyroid hormones are "off," and I got another blood test today to see how much.

I thought that I was just dealing with fatigue from the last few years, but the doc said he didn't think so. He thinks I've got a few things going on that might be correctable, adn that, when corrected, my energy will rise. Now wouldn't that be nice?!

In the short term, I feel crummy. (Checked my blog, and I've been coughing for over six weeks. Yuck.)

In the longer term, I'm hopeful that this is not how I will feel forever.

Can I take a nap now?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ode to the Library

I have been falling in love with the library almost daily lately.

I owned a copy of Sarah McLachlan's 'Surfacing' album, but somehow ended up with just the empty case and liner notes. So, I got it from the library.

I was looking for a good read, and stumbled into The Art of Racing in the Rain -which I finished last night, with sighs of contentment. (Disclaimer: I skipped the entire section where the mom's illness overtakes her and she dies. Just couldn't do it.)

I've been doing yoga videos from the library, and loving it, because some of them are great and some stink, so I can learn which one I want to buy by test driving them. On hold right now is Yoga for stress relief .

Tessa requests "Saddle Club" videos, Ryan reads sci-fi and historical fiction, and I read, well, just about everything else.

Go check it out.

Internal Debate

I have an opportunity to take on a volunteer position for Alki that would commit me at least 5 hours per week, plus meetings. (This equates to one day per week while Tessa is at school, plus some.)

Involves writing. Involvement in Tessa's school.

Big time commitment.

I'm not writing as much as I want to, I'm not bringing in as much income as I want to, and I'm certainly not exercising as much as I want to.

Sigh. I want to do it all. But can I? Should I?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lovely words to chew on

This came to my email today from the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, and I loved it enough to share. (Anything that quotes Wordsworth is likely to get my approval, but this in particular I like.)
Eknath Easwaran’s Thought for the Day
March 25

The little unremembered acts of kindness and love are the best of a good man’s life. – William Wordsworth

Our lives affect others, whether directly, through the environment, or by the force of our example.

For instance, we could say that smoking shows a lack of love. First, our capacity for love is actually caught in the compulsion to smoke. But more than that, the example tells even casual passersby, “Don’t worry about what your doctor says. Don’t worry about the consequences. If it feels good, do it!”

Pele, the Brazilian soccer star, was in a position to command a king’s ransom for endorsing commercial products. He never gave his endorsement to any cigarette, putting the reason in simple words: “I love kids.” That is a perfect choice of words. He does love kids. He knows that in most of the world they will buy anything with his name on it. Therefore, though he came from a poor family, no amount of money can tempt him to do something that will mislead young people or injure their health.

To love is to be responsible like this in everything: the work we do, the things we buy, the food we eat, the people we look up to, the movies we see, the words we use, every choice we make from morning till night. That is the real measure of love; it is a wonderfully demanding responsibility.

Too scheduled

Today is one of those days that runs and doesn't stop.

Oops. I planned it that way, didn't I?

Six minutes between one activity and the next. Now, ready, set, GO! again.

Monday, March 23, 2009


There is no plastic cheese in my house.

You can find cheese from the Farmer's Market, you can find Tillamook cheddar, you can find Manchengo and parmesan, but you will not find Kraft Singles in my refrigerator.

But you already knew that.

Tessa brings her lunch to school with her most days. Last week, she came home and said that her lunch was "the best." "What did I pack again?" I asked, forgetful as usual. She told me, but then added, "I didn't like it, though, so I went to the sharing table. I got a sandwich and it was SOOOO good!"

She had actually brought part of the sandwich home, so I asked to see it. I even took a nibble so that I could verify.

Yup. White bread with fake cheese, grilled with margarine.

As a part of my parenting philosophy, I said, "I'm glad you liked it honey." When she said, "Will you make that for me?" I said "I'll make you grilled cheese, sure!" When she said, "Just like this one?" I had to say, "No." I added that what other people did was their own business, of course, and she could share her friends' food....but I don't use that kind of cheese.

Too funny (to me, anyway). This granola organic locavore mom is going to raise a Kraft mac-n-cheese girl who adores Top Ramen, Velveeta, and cake from boxes. Ah well, I'm trying!

To engrave upon my heart

Be kind, for everyone you know is facing a great battle.—Philo of Alexandria

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; (1)
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, (2)
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus (3) rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton (4) blow his wreathed horn.
- William Wordsworth

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

Live simply that others might simply live.
- Mahatma Gandhi

What is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
- Mary Oliver

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
- Goethe

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.
Henry David Thoreau

Just a few quotes that I wanted to collect into one place....these are driving forces in my life right now.

Waste not, want not

I'm getting more old fashioned by the minute. Old slogans from my Granny Goddard are making more and more sense to me. I may not be a modern woman at all, because I like this new, old fashioned version of myself. (But please don't take away my iPod or make me stop blogging.)

I still remember being a young girl and taking the kitchen scraps out to the back garden with Grandpa Goddard at their Sechelt home. And I remember hanging clothes on the line with Granny. And I remember having Sunday ham dinners, and then making something (beans, soup) with the ham bone. Apparently Granny and Grandpa were way, way ahead of their time, because now I'm trying to learn how to be like them.

This morning I'm making dinner in my new* crockpot/slow cooker. I did inventory of the cupboard stores, and I found a recipe using what we already had. Onions, cumin, cayenne, cloves (yes, cloves), garlic, and chicken drumsticks are at the bottom of the pot. Beans are on the stovetop, plumping up. And next to the beans, the bag of kitchen scraps from the freezer - broccoli ends, carrot tops, chicken bones, and the like - are simmering in a pot with water and salt. When the timer beeps, I'll strain them and add their broth to my chili, and add the beans on top of that.

The recipe called for skinless drumsticks. I pulled the skin off, and threw it into the stock. The beans came in a plastic PCC bag from the bulk bins, and I'll save that for my next trip to the store (I'm out of white beans now). The recipe also calls for canned chilis, which I don't have. I've decided to walk Shep to the store (we both need the exercise) and we'll buy fresh chilis and quickly roast them before throwing them into the pot. That way we won't get BPA from cans, we won't have to throw away or recycle a can (recycling still uses lots of energy and resources), and we'll have fresher food.

This is an entirely new way of cooking for me. A few differences:
1) Using chicken with bones. I used to only buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I stopped that habit because it's the most expensive way to buy chicken, but I'm realizing how much I'd given up by doing that. For one, the bones and skin make great chicken stock. For another, it's so much more expensive. For yet another, the slightly darker meat of the other parts of the chicken has great flavor and is more tender. (The extra fat is minimal, especially when you consider that we're eating much less meat per serving than usual - I'd rather have extra tasty meat in smaller quantities.)

2) Beans. My family has not enjoyed beans at all, ever. Then, delightful Ms. McChesney, Tessa's PE teacher, started to teach the kids about the health benefits of beans, and Tessa came home absolutely indignant because I didn't cook beans and "they're healthy, you know!" Ryan is also opening up to certain types of beans, because he wants to be healthful, too. And they're so much better for the environment than meat. I know, I know, this recipe has chicken in it....but I've cut the meat by half, and we'll still get plenty of protein from the beans, and it is a huge step in the right direction.

3) Reduction of packaged things like chilis and tomatoes and stock. I've been a scratch-cook for some time (at least a decade), but I hadn't thought about cans and boxes a bit. I'm thinking of it now.

4) Every part of the food is, well, food. The inedible (to humans) bits make great compost (which gets converted back into edible food in our veggie garden), or worm food (which also returns to us in the veggie garden), or stock (those bones and broccoli ends). I used to throw a lot away that now finds an alternate use.

So I'm learning. With all of these changes, I don't find myself wanting the old stuff, and I'm learning how to cook in such a way that I don't add a lot of cooking time by going the long route. (Throw the stock ingredients in a pot before chopping the onion for the the time I want it, it will be ready. Of course, I'm making a quick stock, not a rich one, but I think I could manage that, too. It's just a different way of thinking.)

* My old crockpot died, because I accidentally killed it by pinching the cord between the hot pot and the crockery insert, causing it to melt and (briefly) flame. I didn't want to throw it in a landfill, so I called around to find a place to repair it. The cost of the repair would have been $20, which is $14 for labor and $6 for the new cord. The only problem is that it wasn't the greatest crockpot in the world, and I was able to get a brand new, nice one that came with a small "bonus" crockpot suitable for things like spinach dip, that had a better design than the first one, on sale for $27.99. For $8 difference, I got a major upgrade. I really wish it had been more cost effective to keep the old one, but I did get a new one. I saved the crockery insert and I'm planning on using it as a garden planter, at least. :-)

Monday mumbles

It was a good weekend, quiet in a lovely way. On Friday night we headed to see BobCat Bob at C&P, and again felt our good fortune at living where we do. On Saturday we again went to C&P - I hadn't been there in weeks and it was great to hang out - and laughed over the crossword puzzle, talked to friends, and drank buckets of coffee. Then it was gardening time, and we gardenend until we were hobbled. We did take-out for dinner - the first time in a long time - and got Buddha Ruksa Thai food, which was delicious. Sunday Ryan went for a ride while I did a few chores and Tessa did art, and then we all went to church where we got to hear Jim Scott (the composer of serveral UU hymns that I already knew) preach and play guitar and sing. Farmer's Market, more gardening, and then Michele, Dave, and kiddos for dinner.

See? A good weekend.

At the Farmer's Market they had organic starts, and I bought a little flat of veggies. It made me happy just to see them there - so exciting, because it means that spring really is here. I bought (and planted) three kinds of lettuce (12 plants total), two kinds of chard, yellow onions, cabbage, spinach (from seeds), fava beans (seeds), sugar snap peas (seeds), leeks and parsley (last year's parsley seeds didn't get past the slugs; I'm hoping that by doing starts this early, before the slugs really get going, they'll be thriving by warm slug season). These are all cool weather crops, and the entire side garden (last year's garden bed) is full! (There were already strawberries, raspberries, and garlic planted.) It' hard to believe that we've already put in the equivalent of last year's crop, and we've barely gotten started. Next weekend I have plans to put in potatoes in the back yard's raised bed, and if we can work through some of the soil from the new bed then I'm dying to get carrots in. (I actually would like to have a huge carrot section - some of them can overwinter and we eat tons of carrots, so they wouldn't go to waste; plus, they are the perfect children's vegetable, and all the kids who come over just love picking and then eating them).

Ryan has dug up about a quarter of our front lawn - I think of the section he's finished with as the tomato section, because it's the section with the least amount of shade and tomatoes love and need heat.

When I planned the garden in my head, it seemed like it was going to be so large that I could plant whatever I wanted. If only that were the case! Despite its growth, I'm going to have to be judicious in what I plant, because space IS limited. Fortunately, with what I'm learning about crop rotation, I can do some spring crops and then some fall crops in the same place in the garden, doubling the output....

So I'm happily puttering along. Frugal (well, there are start-up costs but in the end it definitely works out to our favor), very green, very healthy. I have aches and pains like I can't believe today but I'm proud of them because they mean I've been working my muscles, and I won't complain if I get some toning out of this.

Today is writing day. Tessa will be at school and then has a playdate, so I'll even get a chance to get in some exercise. Ahhhh.

And on that - I'm off! Time for the morning rush.