Friday, August 14, 2009


Is it this week? Is it spending two hours waiting for my appointment at Swedish today? Is it yet another blood draw? Am I still just coming down from the stress of the biopsy?

Whatever it is, I am so very tired. To the point of not being able to cope. Off to bed!

Some observations about the bag tax

Seattle needs to decide whether to accept a twenty cent bag tax.

Some observations:
- When I was in Italy for three months in 1994, I went grocery shopping my first week. The clerks looked at me, confused - where was my bag? How did I expect to bring home my purchases? In Sienna, you bring your own bag. No questions, just everybody does it. People in Sienna are rich and poor, young and old, and somehow, they all do this.

- Most stores sell reusable bags for one or two dollars, or even give them away for promotions. The reusable bags are not expensive, and what's more, most people have a dozen reusable bags or totes that they could use already, without buying more. Most people I know also have a stash of paper and plastic bags from previous shopping trips that could last them months.

- The plastics industry has spent over a million dollars to try to fight this legislation. It could have provided a million reusable bags instead for the same cost.

- When asked, many Seattleites oppose the bag tax, feeling annoyed by yet another expenditure. But those same Seattleites point out that if they were charged for bags, they'd be more likely to bring their own bags.

- The poor are not likely to suffer from this legislation, despite what the anti-reusable-bag folks have said. Poor people are not stupid, and they are perfectly capable of bringing their own reusable bags with them, and they will. Food banks will hand out food in reusable bags, and people will donate reusable bags to the food banks. (I have a half dozen of them in my attic waiting to be delivered.)

- Approximately 30% of customers are bringing their own bags already. I think that this is up about 30% from five years ago. People CAN change, and though people resist change, it isn't that painful. 30% have already figured that out.

- I decided a year or two ago not to bring any more one use bags into my house. In that time, I think I've brought in five (because I forgot my bag, or my items didn't fit into my bag). I used to bring home 1-2 bags a day on average, so by that calculation I've saved probably 600 bags in a very short amount of time.

- The way that I remembered my bags was by promising myself that I would not shop without them. If I'm in the grocery lineup and remember that I forgot them in the car, I exit the line (taking care not to make people wait for me) if necessary, I park my cart somewhere, tell a clerk I'll be right back, and run to my car to retrieve the bags. This is annoying, and so after doing that perhaps three times, I don't forget my bags any more. If I can learn, you can too.

- I carry a bag in my purse. When buying Tessa a few school clothes items at Old Navy last week, I said "I have my own bag" and put the clothes in that bag. Invariably, I get the same comments from the clerk each time. No, not "why on earth did you bring a bag?" but "oh that's such a cute bag - what a good idea!" I love my purse bag because it has a darling style, it's very strong (I've hauled milk, canned goods, etc in it before with no problem), and best of all it folds up really small so that it fits in my purse and I simply always have it with me. I use it, refold it, and back into my purse it goes, alongside my wallet and keys.

In my opinion, if the bag tax passes, the best thing that could happen is that no money would be made on the bag tax. If everyone brought their own bags, nobody would have to spend extra money at all, and the environment would be a winner. And "the environment" is you and I: the air we breathe, the water

we drink. We all win.

Think about it, please.

And in case you've missed it other times, the bag I love is called Envirosax. They come out with new patterns each season. I have two of them, and one is coming up on two years old, I think, and none-the-worse-for-wear. I use one of them almost daily. (I only have two because I am a bag lady who loves a pretty bag!)
They are available widely; PCC stocks them, and so do some of the cute shops in The Junction.

Ryan has a Chico bag, which is a lot more masculine (it's plain), but the same idea and a little less expensive:
We got his at Thriftway.

I'm not in the bag business, so I'm not invested in anybody buying bags. You can use the freebie given to you at your last conference, or you can reuse the plastic bags in your cupboard, or you can stick things in your purse (purses are really large these days!), or tuck them in your diaper bag, or your computer bag, or your briefcase, or for small items, just say "I don't need a bag" and carry it out in your hand.

This isn't rocket science. And it isn't difficult, either, and once you get used to it, it becomes second nature.

Thanks for considering.

The next day

Today definitely feels like "the first day of the rest of my life." I feel like I have been given another chance - not just a second chance, but another chance - to live my life. This comes with the reminder that it is the only life I have, and that I must give it my all, offering my life the best of myself.

It means I must be true to myself.

I continue to think about what this means to me. What does my "best life" look like? What internal factors am I in control of? Where do I need to change? Where should I stay the course? I think that this is less about going a different direction in my life, and more about tweaking the details. I want to spend my time more wisely, I want to take better care of my body, I want to leave off the excuses.

In the depth of my fear, I was bargaining with God. Of course, I don't believe that God takes these kinds of bargains, but none-the-less, I was bargaining. I need to exercise more, eat more healthy food, less wine, more writing, more structure to my day. Really, I am bargaining with myself, as we all have God within us, I think. This is my life, and I must live up to it. Care of the shell of my body will pay off.

I am just so incredibly grateful to have yet another opportunity to appraise my life from a healthy vantage point. I am tired of wake-up-calls, but I will take the blessing along with the curse. I am thankful to be approaching my fortieth birthay, thankful to see Tessa enter first grade, thankful for my comfortable home, thankful for my community, thankful for my family, thankful for my friends, thankful for the black and white cat curled up at my feet and thankful for the big black dog who gazes at me so adoringly. I'm thankful for the books that are in piles all through my house, and for the many West Seattle libraries which bring even more books in. I'm thankful for garden fresh tomatoes, and for hot sunny days followed by cool damp ones.

I'm thankful for Tessa's laughter as we danced in the kitchen yesterday.

I'm thankful for my big cup of coffee this morning (thanks, Ryan).

I am so thankful for my life.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What I didn't predict... how tired I would be after all this. HUGELY relieved, but exhausted.

Great news


Oh thank you thank you thankyouthankyouthankyou...

More info to follow, but I wanted to post this as soon as I could.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No news

I did call and pester my oncologist's office, but I don't have any news to report. Hopefully tomorrow.

And no question what I'm hoping and praying for!

Keeping busy

I doubt I will hear anything about my biopsies until tomorrow, and so we're just forging ahead with our regular plan. Today Tessa and I will hang out with my parents; unfortunately, I'm not allowed to go swimming but I'll sit poolside and watch. Anyway, I won't be near the computer but trust me, if I get an update, I'll update tonight.

Thank you so much for your messages and continued prayers.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Home from biopsy

It's been a rough afternoon. My appointment was at 1pm and I got home at 5:30pm with light traffic.

The first problem was that they needed some special solution to put the biopsy samples in to test for lymphoma, and they didn't have any at the nuclear medicine place. I sat around in a stupid gown for an hour and a half before I got started.

WHAT???? Lymphoma?

They took six needle aspirations from 2 different locations on my right (untreated) side: one not far from the center of my chest, and the other under my armpit. They dug around for a full hour plus, no joking, under guidance of ultrasound.

She kept saying "It could just be inflammatory." I kept repeating, "You mean an inflammation, right? Not inflammatory breast cancer?" and she was like, "ummm, yah." Sigh. It could be metastases. It could be lymphoma. Or it could be "just an inflammation."

Biopsy results in 24 to 48 hours. In the meantime, I'm poked full of holes, and I have ice packs wedged into my little A-cup bra.

It's been a rough day. Thank you for your continued prayers.

Salmon fillets in red wine

Mark Bittman and Deborah Madison are my chosen muses (great food, but not fussy; check out their cookbooks), and today's dish comes from Bittman, because I had some salmon fillets in the freezer and Madison is vegetarian. We've got some garden tomatoes to serve on the side, and I've been debating whether insalate caprese would be too much with this dish (salmon is pretty rich, after all).

Next I'll delve into Madison's book to figure out a vegetarian meal for Thursday. Tomorrow we're eating with my parents, so I'll bring some kind of side dish that I haven't figured out yet.

My appointment is in five hours. Instead of obsessing over that, I've decided to obsess over food.

Edited to add: Thursday's plan: Summer Squash, Herb and Rice Gratin with home made tomato sauce. (Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Page 286) I was thinking that maybe my family would tolerate the Cauliflower Gratin with Tomatoes and Feta but since I don't have cauliflower right now and squash is in season (yellow crookneck growing in our garden) I'll hold off.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Food thoughts

Since watching Julie & Julia this weekend I have really had food on the brain.

Of course, it is better to think about food than needle biopsies, which is what I'm trying so desperately to avoid thinking about.

But back to the food....

I don't think I have any desire to become a Julie/Julia style cook. I think that there were 100 pounds of butter in the film, and while I do enjoy butter, I don't think of it as my best friend. A little here, a little there - yes. A pound per plate? No thank you. And I do enjoy cooking, but not for hours at a time every single day.

But maybe I can challenge myself in some other way. What if I simply challenged myself to make a home cooked meal, with no processed ingredients, every night for a month? I cook frequently, but I'm not deluding myself into believing that I've ever gone thirty straight days with all home cooked food. We get take-out, or go out, or do store bought ravioli or something.

Tonight, for example, I didn't feel like cooking. But alas, there is the money issue (still haven't found it growing on trees), and in addition, I had some boneless skinless chicken thighs that needed cooking. I rummaged through the fridge and pantry and found the usual suspects: rice,onion, carrot, potato, spinach, garlic, fresh tomatoes from the garden. I decided that this was the basis for a curry....and I used the bottled Trader Joe's curry sauce. Ironically, we're about to sit down to dinner, and I regret my decision to fake it part way through. I make a good curry, and this one is comparably a bit bland. I chopped all the veggies (including finely chopping a couple good handfuls of spinach - shhh, don't tell my family, they won't think they're eating greens), sauteed the onion and garlic, chopped the chicken and seasoned it with a bit of salt, and added that to the onion. I poured the sauce on top, and added chopped carrot and potato, and simmered until they were nearly soft. Then I added the chopped spinach, which sort of absorbs into the sauce. At the very end I'll add some fresh chopped tomatoes. It would have been nearly as easy to measure my own curry spices, maybe some tomato sauce, some coconut milk. Ah well, live and learn.

But I'm inspired to go on some kind of foodie adventure of my own, for its own sake...not for the blogging of it, but because it might be a good lifestyle experiment. And maybe blogging would keep me on track.

I think the rice is ready - dinnertime!

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Yesterday, Susan and I spent a girls' day downtown. We breakfasted, we saw Julie & Julia (thumbs' up), we shopped. Mostly, though, we just talked, the way we always do. It was just what I needed. (I bought myself a trench coat, too - finally - and the bit of retail therapy helped as well.)

I am recovering from Friday's bad news. I am more hopeful now than I was when I got that horrid phone call, and I'm certainly more composed. Don't get me wrong, I'm still freaked out, but not in the way I was on Friday.

Today we'll have a nice family day, then celebrate a good friend's birthday. I'm distracting myself from the freak out that this has become, and I'm moderately successful.