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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Blue Infusion Chair Blues

Got my sixth chemo treatment today while I was in the blue chair in the  treatment room all hooked up to pumps and tubes. I'm now  hooked up to the portable pump  with the 5-FU until Friday.  White blood cell count was up just enough to go ahead with treatment after the three Neupogen shots last week but was still pretty low, so  I'm scheduled to get four shots next week.  Yuck!

Our daughter is coming in from Australia for a two week visit on Monday. I was able to plead with the scheduling nurses and get all the shots scheduled for first thing in the morning so  we don't have   the four days  broken up by mid-day runs to the clinic. Yay!!

Not feeling all that great tonight, having a little nausea for the first time, along with the fatigue and general  feeling of malaise.  Hopefully tomorrow will be better and I can go back to feeding hummingbirds, playing with the dogs and enjoying  Fred and Flo, the  pink plastic flamingos with panache. I may change Fred's name to Floyd, what do you think?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pink Plastic Panache

We have flamingos in the front yard!  Gaudy, colorful, bright pink plastic flamingos. Maybe not a flamboyance of  flamingos,  since there are only  two, but I’m thinking of adding more.  I read of a  Christmas display that featured  eight  pink flamingos pulling Santa’s sleigh. I rather like that idea. Mr. G  went along with  these two, but didn't seem too thrilled about my idea for adding  to the flock.  I thought I heard him mumble something under his breath about my becoming an eccentric old biddy or words to that effect.  Honestly, the man has no sense of adventure!

 I know there are those who think pink plastic flamingos break the rules of decorum and good taste in garden decor, but  some rules just cry out to be broken. By having only two   pink plastic flamingos guarding two potted palms, I have also broken another rule, one of the cardinal rules of  good garden design- the rule of odd numbers. According to the garden guides,  one should plant things in groups of three, five, seven, etc. rather than in groups of two or four or six and so on because odd numbered groupings give a more naturalistic appearance. But let’s face it, there really isn’t a way to make   a gaudy pink plastic bird on wire legs look naturalistic in an Alabama garden, or any garden for that matter.  Since I am rather fond of symmetry, there are only two- one on each  side at the top of the front steps leading  from the parking area to the  front landing. The flamingos have a certain panache, pink plastic panache, if you will.  You can see only one in this photo,  this is Flo Flamingo. There is an identical display on the other side of the steps, with Fred flamingo guarding the potted palm. I’m not sure you can have identical displays with a male flamingo in one and a female flamingo in the other , but  in a whimsical world anything is possible.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Yoga, Doga, Do

Monday  night is yoga night, and I really look forward to our weekly class.  Many, if not most, of the class  participants have had or are having some sort of medical or health issue.  Some  have had   joint replacement or other surgery, several are  cancer survivors who have had or, in my case, are currently having, chemotherapy, and quite a few of us are in our golden years or beyond.   It's doubtful that any of us will be doing headstands,  complex lotus poses  or one-legged cranes, but Jilda, our wonderful instructor, encourages us to do what we can. And in fact, we do  very well with lunges  and planks and as  mountains, chairs, warriors and trees,  although I  will admit that my tree  tends to sway in the wind quite a bit, and since I do chair yoga,  have steered clear of planks. I do  enjoy the class and feel both energized and calm afterwards.

Agatha and Victoria are always overexcited when we get home, particularly when we come in, as we did tonight, with  aromatic food from the neighborhood Mexican Grill.  Agatha was  leaping about begging for  some of my spinach cheese enchilada while  Victoria was more low key, sitting under the table and whining as though she hadn't been fed in ages, when in fact, she had eaten  shortly before we left for class and could, given her current pudginess, stand to miss a meal or two.

Tonight, I decided to  try a new technique on Agatha.  I told her, in my calmest, most soothing yoga voice to  "just breathe  and let your muscles soften and relax.  Let go of your tension and  with each breath feel yourself becoming calmer." Wonder of wonder, she was so  surprised that  she sat down, perked up her ears, cocked her head and looked at me as though I'd lost my marbles. But she was no longer    begging noisily for food. I told Mr. G that maybe we were onto something and should start    a yoga class for dogs. Then I discovered that this isn't a new idea at all- there actually is such a thing as dog yoga- or doga!   There are books about doga and doga calendars like these that I found on
Agatha and Victoria won't be going to yoga class with me, but who knows, one day  there may be a doga class offered at the community center and if there is,  I just might sign them up! 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Confessions of an Unrepentant, Semi-reformed Pack Rat

Remember the messy desk pic from a  few of days ago? In case you don't remember, here it is again:
 Well, today I decided to tackle it.  It was almost like going on an archaeological dig, carefully peeling away  layers of time to reveal the past. There were grocery store coupons that had expired six years ago; store receipts from who knows when because the print had faded so badly; old clippings from newspapers and magazines and more.  Most of the clippings were a puzzlement. I have no idea why  I clipped them. At any rate, I filled a  trash can with stuff.  I am sure that once it has all made its way to the dump I'll remember  why  I was saving some of those receipts and clippings and want them back, but. . .
I finished cleaning up the desk by late afternoon.  Here it is in all its clean, boring, uncluttered glory. It will look like this maybe for a day or two, then it will, in all probability, revert back to its normal disorderly state.
My next challenge was the table - I forgot to take a "before" pic, but trust me- it was piled high.  Plus it  has some trays  holding files.  My first  thought after going through some of  the files, folders and piles of things on the table is that at  some point I must have adopted the belief that if I dared ever to throw anything away, no matter how insignificant, a great monster would swoop down from the sky, transport me to the county dump and force me to  rummage through   trash for eternity.

My second thought is that I am a pack rat, or a hoarder in training.  But my third thought is  that being a pack rat has an upside. I mean, had I not saved  the program, how would I know that at 8:30 PM on Thursday evening, September 30, 1965, I had attended  the  ballets, "Coppelia" and "Carmen"  performed at the Philadelphia Academy of Music by the Royal Danish Ballet? That  actually brought back  memories of standing in a long line   outside the Academy on my lunch break.  and  being late getting back to work. I attended the ballet alone and can remember how entranced I was by the music, the costumes and the beauty and sensuality of the dancers, particularly of Erik Bruhn  and Kirsten Simone as Don Jose and Carmen. I don't think I'll throw away the program just yet.

The table is almost  cleaned off now, and a lot of papers have been either filed in a cabinet or tossed in the trash. There are still plenty of  areas that need to be sorted out and straightened- including the wall hung file sorter which has become another catch-all, as you can see.

I may get   everything in apple pie order, sooner or later or I may not. Maybe someone  will  buy me  the book, The Secret Handbook for Perpetually Paralyzed Procrastinating Pack Rats Anonymous by Patricia NudelmanThen  I could spend my time reading  about how to get   organized without actually getting organized. I'm not going to spend a lot of time worrying about  messy desks or untidy  rooms.  There are birds, squirrels and chipmunks to watch as they  go about their business in the  yard, dogs to play with, people to talk to, points to ponder, Memory Lanes to travel down, and any number of other interesting things to do instead, so I 'll hold off on  sending  my membership dues to Pack Rats  Anonymous for a while and hope we can continue to survive and thrive in a state of semi-chaos.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

To Market, To Market

We went to  market this morning but didn't buy a fat pig- didn't even see one, but we did see a lot of  lovely fresh veggies, fruit, eggs, herbs, breads, jams, jellies, pickles and preserves.  And dogs-  there were quite a few families who   had brought their  dogs to the market.  Small dogs, medium size dogs,  and one enormous dog that was about the size of a  small pony. The dogs were all well behaved, although it was  obvious that several of them would  rather have been off sniffing the other dogs rather than being led around on a leash.

Since I've been on chemo and trying to stay away from crowds because of my  now compromised immune system,  I have really missed our Saturday morning trips to  buy fresh veggies, eggs, herbs, etc. at Pepper Place Market in Birmingham. Once upon a time, when I was making and selling soap we had a booth there, and while I don't miss  getting up   in the wee hours of every Saturday morning to drive to  the market before dawn, set up, then stand out in the heat of summer or the chilly mornings of early spring and fall, or the rains, I do miss  the people and the atmosphere.

We decided if we could get there early, maybe  we could avoid the crowds.  There  were certainly more people who got there early than I had anticipated, but  it wasn't so crowded  that we were rubbing elbows with people, so it worked out pretty well.  We    enjoyed   wandering, visiting with some of the folks we knew from our market days,  and picking out some lovely fresh veggies.   Here are some of the sights from this morning's market.  Click on the pics to enlarge them.

The first booth we visited was  the Red Rubin Nursery booth   for some  herbs.  Bryan was in the booth next to us when we sold  soap at the market and I still  like to get  my herb plants from him. Today we bought some Italian parsley and  two pots of basil. Next we just wandered the market, enjoying  all the wonderful colors of the  fruits and veggies, stopping   to  touch smell, and buy  some, too.

There were purple pole beans and fuzzy peaches.

There was red and green okra in one booth and colorful grasses and flowers in another.

There were muscadines and scuppernongs, tomatoes, more peaches,  some pears and   green pole beans

There were  farm fresh eggs  in many hues,  jams, jellies and preserves, and and some lovely slender little haricots vert.

There were shiitake mushrooms growing on logs and resting in baskets.

On our way back to the car we  walked through the lush area outside Charlie Thigpen's Garden Gallery, enjoying the  lush, colorful plants   displayed.

We're  now looking forward to enjoying some delicious meals with the veggies and herbs we bought.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Islands of Order, Seas of Chaos, Messy Desks

 Most people who know me casually think I'm a well-organized person.   If they only knew!  In all honesty, I am organized in some areas.  My herbs and spices are arranged in alphabetical order. Every   cent I spend, owe or receive is entered into a  personal money management software program. The clothes in my closet are grouped  by color. The towels in the linen closet are arranged in neat stacks according to  their size and color. The books  on the bookshelves are arranged by category (more or less). The problem is,  these areas are  little islands of order in a sea of chaos. Open a cabinet  door in the kitchen and with the exception of the neat little  boxes containing the  herbs and spices, you are liable to be buried in an avalanche of various  bags and boxes of  foodstuffs that have been stuffed in wherever they would fit. Laundry  baskets full of  clothes that need to be ironed or folded  are permanent fixtures. And we don't even want to go  into the    files of documents and  photographs  on  the computer containing  heaven only knows what.  I keep intending to tackle some of these problem areas, but am overwhelmed  by the enormity of the task and give up without accomplishing much.

Which brings us to my messy desk.  Or rather Einstein's desk, as shown in this photograph taken  by Life Magazine photographer Ralph Morse the day Einstein died. The photo and several more previously unpublished photos are featured in this Time article. Einstein is  quoted as  asking, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

Einstein wasn't the only one with a messy desk; as it turns out, a lot of creative people also   kept or keep   messy desks.  In fact,  several researchers at the  University of Minnesota, in  an abstract entitled Physical Order Produces Healthy Choices, Generosity, and Conventionality, Whereas Disorder Produces Creativity,  determined that “order and disorder are prevalent in both nature and culture, which suggests that each environment confers advantages for different outcomes.”

So I will leave you with a picture of my desk. I will no longer worry about it, because with this level or disorder, I must be one of the most creative people in existence! And believe it or not I know exactly where and what is buried in that chaos.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Sense of Accomplishment

Today has been one of those days that began with high hopes of getting  several things on my to-do list done.  I  got two of them done, and it exhausted me. I managed to get three loads of laundry  washed and dried and one load folded and put away.  The other two loads   still sit in the baskets reproaching me.

 The job that  took the most time was   our poor little water feature.  The water feature consists of a  big plastic  flower pot  with a fountain pump that sits atop an inverted clay pot. There are a couple of large rocks and a fake frog to anchor the fountain pump. Here's a pic of it  taken in May when it was all clean and spiffy.

Before I got my port and began chemotherapy in late  May I   kept it cleaned out regularly- or at least I cleaned it when it wasn't serving as a frog nursery.  However, thanks to the fatigue that  hits me frequently and the   miserable heat and humidity we've been having  the garden and everything on the deck  have suffered  neglect.  The water feature has been getting nastier and nastier as algae and  who knows what   have formed a thick, slimy black coating on the  container, the  fountain parts, the rocks.  Today I decided it was time to declare war on the yucky black stuff. Mr. G had a meeting, so  I got him to  dump all the water out and   unhook the pump before he left.  I  put on my   long rubber  gloves and began to blast away at  the  container with a jet from the garden hose. Nothing.  I  didn't want to use any  chemicals  to kill the algae because of the frogs visiting it regularly, so  I  began to scrub with  the scrubby side of a sponge. Nothing. Finally I  went in search of a brush of some sort.  The best I could come up with was a little nail brush.  By golly it worked, but it was taking absolutely forever and I kept running out of steam in the heat, so would take frequent breaks, then move  everything  to a shady spot and  continue working. This has become my primary mode of operating lately- work a while, rest a while, repeat.  It takes longer to get anything done, but it does get done, eventually.  I finally got  the container and the rocks scrubbed clean and picked up the pump to remove the fountain.  I was immediately covered in ants! While I had been scrubbing away the ants had been moving into the filter on the pump. There must have been lebenty kazillion of  those nasty little things. I was finally able to  get the pump taken apart, get rid of the ants, clean up the fountain parts and  refill the  water feature just before the rains moved in  this evening. The fountain is  now happily gurgling away on the deck, looking once more   clean and spiffy.  I feel a sense of accomplishment.
The fountain creates so much foam it looks as though the froggie is  having a bubble bath.  Notice the Terro ant bait thingy  at the side of the water feature. 

I wish  I felt the same sense of accomplishment   about the dinner I cooked tonight.  In an effort at variety I decided to try a recipe from an old cookbook for pineapple  burgers with a spicy sauce, served with  buttered noodles and  frenched green beans. Mr. G. was not impressed.  I told him it was a recipe from the  1960s.  He said it should have stayed back in the  sixties. Oh, well, you can't win them all. I have discovered a  great way to  french cut green beans, though- in the food processor! Works like a charm.  You can see how it works on the Clever Carrot Blog.