Toilet Paper Dreams

I had a dream about toilet paper.  I was in a grocery store and there was only toilet paper stacked floor to ceiling. I decided if you’re dreaming about toilet paper it’s definitely a sign not to give up your blog.  When I started this blog 6 years ago, it was all about moving to Portland and our adventures surrounding that.  It turns out it was genius to make a friend in the toilet paper business so we have no worries in that department.  Another sign to keep writing is that focusing on your health is not all it’s cracked up to be.  Distraction is good.  Especially now.

I received this package at my front door.  It was from my neighbor, so thoughtful! Don’t we have enough to worry about without worrying about toilet paper? Take sports.  I pretty much plan my life over sports.  I know this is not normal but I also know I am not alone.  So first, my very favorite tournament of the year was cancelled.  March Madness.  I pretty much watch all the games, I love how each team desperately wants to win and get into that Final Four.  And my team had a chance.  So instead of watching the finals of the March Madness tournament last weekend, we were out scrubbing  our deck on our hands and knees.  Then the Masters Golf Tournament was postponed.  I tell you it’s just pure torture.  But a little ray of sunshine to look forward to as today I had an appointment with my doctor who was in the National Squash tournament a few weeks ago in Minneapolis, MN.  She and her partner came in second place and when I grilled her on her strategy and will to win, she promised to send me the video of her playing.  I am very excited and I hope it took them three sets to clinch second place.  I am now reduced to watching my doctor play squash.  If you would like to see it, I can ask her if I can send you the link.

I thought sports was going to be the worst for me but the soap opera I watch, “The Bold and the Beautiful” just announced they were going to stop production for the time being.  I am crushed.  Will Sally actually die?  Where did that nasty Thomas go and will Quinn blow up Brooke and Ridge’s marriage and ruin Katie in the process?  How much loss can a person take?

When I  went for a walk this past weekend I heard two women behind me talking.  One of them was talking about her healthy diet and complaining about all the people eating junk and the disgusting things she sees them putting in their grocery carts.  What’s it to her?  She was obviously feeling pretty superior to people just trying to put some semblance of happiness into their otherwise pretty miserable lives right now.  How judgmental can you be?  When you’re stuck at home and maybe surrounded by bored kids who you now have to home school while also working yourself, who cares if you buy extra bags of Cheetos and chips, cookies and fruit loops? Anything to keep the kiddies happy.  I am enclosing this link of an Italian mother who isn’t coping all that well.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8U6zU4MXmnA   Or even if you’re there with just your husband, a bowl of ice cream is pretty wonderful.  This too shall pass, I’ll get my sports and soap opera back and then everyone will go on a diet.

Today I am cleaning out my refrigerator.

How are you coping? And what was the hardest thing for you to give up?

The Fat Lady Sings

Have you ever wondered where the expression “It’s Not Over Till the Fat Lady Sings” comes from?  How it came to signify the end of something?  I found the following online:  The origin is sort of up in the air, but most entries have to do with a particular basketball game between the San Antonio Spurs and Washington Bullets in 1978.   Sportscaster Dan Cook said it on television  when the San Antonio Spurs were behind in a playoff series with the Washington Bullets.  The Washington Bullets’ coach, Dick Motta, repeated it and was widely quoted by the media.  By the time the Bullets came from behind to win the finals that year, the saying was on thousands of T-shirts, “fat ladies” were coming to games to cheer the team on, and the proverb’s popularity was firmly cemented.

Why the opera reference?  Again, another theory is our stereotype of the female opera singer is that she’s hefty and usually has a horned helmet.  Well anyway, that’s what I think of.

I hate to say it but the Fat Lady is Singing and telling me it’s time to end my blog.  I so appreciate all my readers and the great comments I’ve gotten over the years.  I started this blog 6 years ago when we first moved to Portland.  I recorded my many adventures and discoveries moving to a place where we knew next to no one.  It was frightening but what an experience.  We would definitely do it again.  Eventually the blog evolved and I guess you could say it’s evolving again.

It turns out I am not quite out of the woods as far as my health is concerned and I need to concentrate on that.  I love to write about funny and uplifting things, not to mention all the blogs where I’ve made fun of that guy in the picture standing next to me.  Lately, those things are hard to come by.  So thank you for making time for me in your busy lives, I truly enjoyed it.

Better Than Butter

It all started over a year ago when my college girlfriends came to Portland for our annual get-together.  There are six of us and even with kicking Tom out for the week, I didn’t have enough room for everyone.  So one of my girlfriends and I stayed at a neighbors, just to sleep.  I stocked up on junk food and everything else I could think of.  The first morning as I was making toast, I pulled my go to margarine spread out of the refrigerator and you would have thought I was about to put bacon grease on their bread.  “What is that crap?, that’s plastic, it doesn’t even melt on the toast, where’s the butter” were the comments. “I don’t have butter, this is what I use, take it or leave it, besides, I like it” I said defensively.  It devolved from there and so began another reunion of bad jokes, trash talking and jabbing each other.  We always have the best time!

Fast forward to right now.  My friends are all sure that it was the spread that caused my cancer and they have actually talked me into using real butter.  However, I am rethinking my diet and how it contributes to health and am determined to change a few things.  Mostly less sugar, less alcohol , more vegetables, you get the picture.  I am going to change my recipes to make them better and I may take you on this ride with me.  I was perusing a cookbook I found when rearranging the book shelf called “What To Eat Now” The Cancer Lifeline Cookbook, and guess what I found.  A recipe for a butter spread that is healthy.  I looked with skepticism at the ingredients and then decided to make it.

BETTER THAN BUTTER:   Makes 1 pound

1 cup sweet cream butter,  1 cup canola oil, 1 cup buttermilk, 1 cup ice water (this is the ingredient I was skeptical of)

Soften the butter at room temperature until very soft.   Combine softened butter and oil in a deep mixing bowl and mix until smooth.  This will take about 5-8 minutes.  Slowly add buttermilk and blend.  Then add ice water and blend.  Tip:  Measure a cup of water in a two cup measure. Then put in the ice and pour out excess water until the measure is one cup.  The water makes it all come together. After everything is all blended up, put the resulting concoction the refrigerator where it will firm up.  It works!  And it melts on the toast and it tastes good.  Try it and then let me know what you think.  I can’t wait to see what my college friends will think.

 

Now What?

Today, one year ago, I discovered the lump that would change my life and Tom’s for the next year.  It was a playoff football game I was watching on TV when I jumped off the couch, upset at a call made on the field, crossed my arms and felt the scary lump.  I can’t remember what teams were playing, but because of what I considered a bad call, I found that lump.  My oncologist discovered there were two lumps, not just one and there were two lesions on my liver.  This is Stage 4 Metastatic breast cancer which isn’t something you want to be diagnosed with.  Today, one year later, after a very aggressive treatment regimen, I am in remission.  My oncologist told me that only 1 in 5 patients with my diagnosis reach remission.

What have I learned over the past year?

  1.   Always wear lipstick
  2. . Find an Oncologist with a sense of humor.  It helps.
  3.   Expect the unexpected.
  4.   You will be stunned at the number of friends you have.
  5.   When your friends set up a meal train for you, tell them chicken noodle soup is your least          favorite dish, because if you don’t, by the end of the meal train it will be.
  6.   Tillamook Salted Caramel Toffee Gelato is worth every single calorie.
  7.   It’s really hard not to have hair and you will be stunned at how big your ears are.
  8.  A scary cancer diagnosis is a great motivator.  After thinking about and putting it off for several years, I wrote our family cookbook and memoir.
  9.  Staying positive is essential.
  10.  Staying active is essential.
  11.  Make cookies for the nurses, they will think you are a superhero.
  12.  I really missed wine.
  13.  Everyone needs a Tom
  14.  Always wear lipstick.

I keep asking myself the NOW WHAT question and the why did I get so lucky question, am I supposed to do something amazing?  But I am finding happiness in just the routine things I wasn’t able to enjoy this past year and feeling so grateful to be able to do them.  I do want to make some changes, which I will probably write about, but I am a changed person for sure.  What that will look like this coming year, I will find out!

A Pescatarian High Tea

Was it real or a dream?  If it was a dream, it was a good one.  We were in the car driving to Port Townsend WA to spend the night, then on to Port Angeles the next morning to catch the ferry to Victoria BC.  We were getting away for a long weekend.  When we arrived in Port Townsend, I knew it wasn’t a dream.  Apparently we were the only ones among our friends who had never been to Victoria so we had lots of information on places to see, where to eat and where to stay.  We were set.

The ferry trip was an hour and a half and when we landed, the scenery was awe inspiring.  We were staying about an hour away at Sooke Harbor and when Tom went to put the address into Google Maps, our phones didn’t work.  We had no service and were on our own.  Remember those days?  Luckily Tom has a map in his head.  As we went along, Tom got into a left hand lane to turn and I said, ” wait, my instinct is to turn right.”  He just looked at me. “Thank goodness you’re not driving, we’re trying to go toward the water, not away from it.”    There is no map in my head.

The Sooke Harbor House where we stayed was wonderful.  However, we had to go back into Victoria to see the City and have dinner at an Italian restaurant that many of our friends recommended.  Since it was our anniversary, it seemed the perfect place to eat, an intimate romantic place.  Victoria was very busy when we got there, people everywhere and crowded.  A little overwhelming.  Then we found out it was a holiday weekend.  Did you know that Canadian Thanksgiving is on October 14th?  Neither did we.

We found the restaurant in a cozy little alley.  So far so good.  Once inside our anticipation of a quiet intimate dinner disappeared.  The place was huge and it was packed.  The servers all had to be thin or they would never have gotten through the narrow aisle.  The service was very, very efficient.  No sooner than we sat down, we had menus and water.  That was quickly followed by bread and then the server ready to take our order.  Hearing was difficult.  The food came fast.  It was good, but…not the dinner we had in mind.  “Let’s pretend our anniversary is tomorrow night when we’re back at the Sooke Harbor House” I said.  “Good idea” Tom said.

Victoria is famous for Butchart Gardens and once again all of our friends who had been there said it was a must see.  We were also encouraged to have the High Tea at the gardens.  As I’ve never experienced a High Tea before, it sounded like fun so we did.  And so glad we did.  The Tea was in a beautiful room and we got a perfect table right by the window.  Our sever explained the protocol, we were to get everything on the menu, we only had to choose our tea.  Everything sounded so good and we were definitely going to get a lot of food.  Then another couple came in and sat at the table directly behind me.  As they were ordering, I heard them make a lot of substitutions.  Finally the server, who didn’t miss a beat said “Okay, I have one Vegan High Tea and one Pescatarian High Tea.”  She acted like she knew exactly what a Pescatarian was!  I had never heard the term before and believe me, I really thought I had heard it all.

It was the perfect getaway before the final phase of treatment and I highly recommend everyone go there!

Just Along For the Ride

What to do when you get that scary cancer diagnosis?  Why not that very thing you have thought about  for years but have just never gotten around to?    Well, guess what.  A scary cancer diagnosis is the best motivator there is.  Now or maybe never.  There are so many things I have learned and experienced throughout this whole process that in writing them down, I realized it would take more than one blog and why not start with motivation and Super Hero’s?

It takes a whole team.  The doctors, the nurses, family and friends and especially Tom.    All my doctors and the nurses were superheros but this one actually dressed the part. I stayed overnight in the hospital after my first and second surgeries.  All the rooms in the hospital are private, much to my delight as I fully expected to be in a room with someone else.  I had experienced that in CA after my former go around with cancer and it didn’t go well, so I was dreading the roommate part.  After the first surgery, he was wearing this red superhero outfit and after the second one he had on his black superhero outfit.  Humor is a  great distraction and a super way to heal.  Thank you Steven for making me smile.

 

I have always wanted to write a family cookbook and now was my chance.  I decided to combine the book with a memoir and to include both my family and Tom’s.  Memories, stories and recipes consumed me in between chemo treatments.  Sometimes I didn’t feel like working on it but  with the help of a very creative and patient friend of Tom’s in Ohio,  lots of laughs, remembering old stories, food mishaps, recipes and stories coming in from the extended family, and months of work, it got finished!  Two of my previous blogs had stories that are in the book:  My Favorite Memory of my Mom and My Favorite Memory of my Dad. When I finished it,  no one was more surprised than me.  It ended up to be 272 pages and was published by Heritage Cookbook Publishers based out of Canada.  I am not selling it, it’s just for the family but I hope it’s a book that will be cherished by everyone and we have all learned a little bit more about each other.  For any family members reading this and wondering where their book is, patience is a virtue!  Of course now I’m wondering what’s next?

I have a whole list of other things that a scary cancer diagnosis has taught and given me.  Stay tuned.  Has anyone out there written a cookbook?  How about another kind of book?