Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dehydration and Death

Recently I was reading about the end stages of dying in the cancer magazine Cure. Morbid I know.
This was of interest to me as I always wondered how cruel my mother's death was. Hospice had warned me that when she was no longer able to feed herself, that was going to be it. They didn't exactly follow that rule. As she lay dying, an aide shoveled food into her mouth. What the aide failed to realize was that she swallowed none of it. The nursing home found my mom with cheeks full of food. I was furious.
As the article said, no one dies because they are not eating; they are not eating because they are dying.

Dehydration though did seem cruel. However the article says that dehydration causes endorphins to be released in the dying patient (how do they know this?). Furthermore, artificial hydration leads to pulmonary edema (difficulty breathing) and vomiting. It may not prolong living but it may prolong dying.

Still hot and still no rain.

Friday, June 29, 2012

When you let a 2 year old select her clothes

Maya presumably screamed when Naomi was putting on her sandals. She was then told Fine, Pick out your shoes yourself. She grabbed the boots and giggled as they were put on. Then off to class..


The sign  for the intersection of Gott and Hiscock is the number one sign stolen in Ann Arbor according to a recent article. Did city planners have some sort of sense of humor? Gott is German for God. Are there any  God streets? I used to ride  my brother's bike on the Del Dios Highway (short for Paseo Delicias del Dios) between Escondito and Rancho Santa Fe (muy lindo!) but I haven't come across an actual God street.

Also frequently stolen are High, Easy and John Street signs.

In the UK, usually the main street of town is called High street (why?).

Not mentioned in the article was the nearby intersection of Nixon/Bluett. In the 70s, this sign frequently went missing.

Still hot. I went out before my coffee just to get a short run in at least. Although it won't be over 100 again today, it will be close.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

102 degrees

It is ungodly hot right now with the heat index around 109.

I dusted off my camelback for this morning's ride so that I could constantly sip water while riding. The temperature was only in the 70s when I started.

I wish it would rain. I keep watering the flowers but they are being baked out there.

All the grandbabies were here this afternoon. Maya was here waiting for me when I returned from my ride. She didn't recognize me with the helmet, weird shorts and the camelback. She wanted to wear the helmet. Wish I took pictures.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Breast cancer yoga

Why should breast cancer survivors have their own yoga class? Because they have a lot of the same issues to address: lack of shoulder mobility due to treatment, bad balance, stiffness, phantom pain on the affected side, expander pain, port pain, etc. Now I don't have the last two as I never had a port nor do I need expanders because I still have my breasts (at least one and a half of them any way) but I do have the other problems. Several of the ladies are still in treatment. Our usual teacher, a BC survivor herself, goes very slowly and addresses the concerns we have unique to us. The other day, we had a substitute that instead of being gentle and soothing barked like a drill sargent. She admitted that she had not dealt with BC survivors and asked ahead of time on our limitations. Several women could not raise their arms. This happened to me after radiation. Unfortunately for one of the women, her inability to raise her arm was delaying her radiation as you must be able to put your arm behind your head. Even though she was told about several limitations, she proceeded to ignore them and went through her probable usual paces. Most women there could not do what she asked and felt badly. As yoga was to relieve stress, this actually caused stress.
Now I have been out of treatment for 3 years. Most of the problems have vanished brought on by BC. I remain tense and inflexible. I also still have poor balance. Additionally, I seem unable to follow rapid-fire multistep directions: Do this then this then this then this just annoys me.

So I did get more of a workout and was sore the next day which I suppose was good for me. I missed the leg massage the other lady gives. Many of the women though were quite discouraged and won't come back unless our original teacher is there.

And two of the newbies were in their late twenties or early thirties. Breaks my heart. BC is creeping earlier and earlier in our lives.

A new heat wave is settling in. Tomorrow: 97 and no rain in sight. The dryness makes it easier to run in the heat but tough on my yard. I awoke especially early today and ended up checking out bargains at the Farmer's Market. Not as many as I would have liked. I did redo my rock garden as it was taken over by Snow in the Spring or whatever that plant is called. Its pretty white flowers have morphed to tan seed pods covered everything. I cut most of them of and removed half of the plants replacing them with hopefully prettier perennials.

Mom's Happy Hour tonight featuring $2.50 margaritas. Yum.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Petunias and lilies

The SW corner of my patio. All the glass glimmers in the setting sun. This however was taken early this morning. This is what I see as I drink my morning coffee. The hummingbirds visit then too.

My new petunias

Along the fence. I used to be able to plant tuberous begonias along this strip. Now the roots from the neighbor's arborvitae make this impossible. The ugly plant in the corner is Steve's papyrus. Not a fan of it.Usually my bags (4) of impatiens are so full this time of year, you can't see the bag. Got a late start this year.

A mess of lilies growing among gooseberries, raspberries and columbine

My hen and chick (or is it a rooster?) is happy to see me. It will grow a few more inches and then get flowers on the tip and then die

My petunias. The Asiatic lilies will die down in a few days but then the day lilies will be in bloom

This is a perennial whose name I forgot. I love the delicate little cups. Next to it are morning glories I haven't killed yet

True gardeners, I have been told, never use annuals. They carefully balance perennials. Although I have some perennials, a lot that came with the house have died due to ignorance and neglect. Someday I will replace them. Until  then, it is mainly annuals for me.

Haven't found my chipmunk. As they do everything so noisily, I thought I would at least hear it. Had all 4 grandbabies this afternoon.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Solar gardens with solar punch bowl

My solar punchbowl with punch made from water, food coloring and corn starch

Just some of my lights plus moon

Stalking the wild hummingbird

From our feeder: So much fun to watch them chase each other
Very tiny feet

The female: not so colorful

You can barely see his red neck here

Is there a chipmunk in the house?

Yep there is.

Ever since Fluffy moved to Texas, we have been crawling with chipmunks. They like to bite through my strings of solar lights, just for fun. They scamper under my feet as I sit  on my patio. Today as I sat on my patio (an especially beautiful day today) I could see it peering at me from inside my kitchen. I am not sure how it got in. I assume it was hiding between the two glass sliding doors and snuck in as I opened one of them.  I've looked for it in the house. No luck but I am not sure how I am going to get it out of here.

I went for a nice long run into the country today. I am tired. The Livestrong alumni class starts up today in which we work with weights and do stretches but between all my training and the yoga, I decided to wait until fall.

I have Ms. Maya this afternoon.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Solar punch bowl

I bought the solar punch bowl at IKEA to add to my light collection surrounding my patio. We'll see how this works out.

It is finally drizzling. Our grass is so dry. I tried to get up bright and early for my longish bike ride but I was just too tired. The later it is, the more wind and traffic. I am getting stronger. Now I have biked 250 miles, roughly what I need to do in 6 days but I have been biking for about 5 weeks.

I put the odometer on this bike the year Josh did his last ride. He was 15. It has a solar battery. Surprisingly, this thing still works 15 years later. I know it was disconnected for about 3 years. It records the highest speed obtained. I never have cleared it. It was 41.5 mph on a steep downhill near Traverse City on the last day of our ride back in 1997. My road bike record was 46 mph near Central City MI. Scary going that fast.

I am using a mountain bike with semi- bumpy tires.  When I was in shape, the effort to go 15 mph was about what would be 18 mph on a road bike.

We went out to eat at a fancy restaurant last night using a Groupon. Never would  have gone there without one. Then we watched the hummingbirds battle for the feeder until it got dark. I have 2 males this year. Fortunately the dryness means no mosquitoes so we can sit outside without being eaten. The fireflies were out too.

On my ride this morning, I came across twin fawns. So cute.
We met up with Josh for lunch. He is moving on without Julia.
Here's a picture from the web of the punchbowl. The ad in the store showed it full of liquid eerily glowing. Must take my own photo I guess.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hot real estate

After the economy being in the doldrums for the past 5 years, things are finally looking up in Michigan, particularly in Ann Arbor. Houses on my street that have been for sale for 2 years finally are getting sold. Prices are going up. The problem with buying a somewhat new house in Ann Arbor, one is always in earshot of the expressways that ring the border. Shanna looked at several on my street: all have offers pending. She is also looking at Canton where her husband grew up. Houses are newer and cheaper there but the schools are not quite as good. Where Josh lives, one can still buy a nice, new house for not much and extra bonus, no expressway noise. The commutes are longer though.

We had the boys last night. Within minutes, they engaged in a fight over the same toys. Oliver refused to eat his dinner until I cut the grilled cheese into teddy bear shapes. My strategy was to tire them out so they would sleep. It was hard to engage Daniel in outside activity but Oliver rode the tricycle for a good hour straight. He will be an endurance athlete.  A long time ago, I bought this light that looks like Saturn that projects the planets and stars all over the room in multicolors. It looks cool. This amused the boys as they fell asleep. Daniel still doesn't always sleep though the night. He woke up briefly a couple of times calling for me but fortunately he fell back asleep each time.

I thought it would be cool this morning but again, too hot.

Tonight Steve and I will use one of my many Groupons I've been hoarding, in Plymouth.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Garden Faux Pas

Gardening for me is strictly trial and error. What side of my rock garden most approximates an alpine meadow for my edelweiss? Died after one season in the N sector. Doing fine for 3 years in the S sector.

No more dahlias no matter how pretty they look. They always die, usually in less than a week. Same for lupine and delphinium.

No more giant cosmos. I AM good at growing these with them  reaching a height of 9 feet with numerous blooms. However everything below them dies (except for the impatiens). Also, one strong wind and the one inch thick trunk breaks leaving me with just a stump. I am sticking to the short variety (3 feet tops). They are pretty and hold up to the wind.

No more impatiens except in pots and bags along my patio. They will smother everything too. Same with alyssum. The later keeps coming back in my rock garden wiping out other plants.

No more morning glories unless they are the big blue variety. The small purple ones took over my patio last year to no good effect. I've been killing their seedlings, fortunately easy to identify. I can't tell the difference between snapdragons, petunias, and zinnias until they get big. I have them all over the place too.

I found out the name of my new favorite: Blue Angel (alkanet). Still going strong after almost 2 weeks and they are allegedly perennials.

Today I got a call from Naomi. She was told she had to bid on a job.

How much do I have to pay?


I went to Maya's new class with her: In and out. Some of the time is to be spent on the center's fancy playground. Sharing is so hard. One little boy took a toy out of her hand and she chased him down ready to wreak revenge, usually by pinching. They have circle time in which they sing the same songs each week so the kids will have a routine.

Fortunately the 'cold' front cooled things down to the mid-80s. I did my running  close to noon, not a good time but the cloud cover was my friend. Then biking: I've gone almost 70 miles in the past week. Hopefully I am growing some muscles.
Tonight I will have the boys all night while their parents celebrate their new life in Michigan minus kids. The MIL will have Ms. Tess.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cutesy phrases I can not stand

Recently in an obituary (yeah I read them) someone died whose age was listed as "80 years young". OK I get it. The person was more youthful than her years would indicate (except she died).

Perhaps our language has it wrong  with  the emphasis on 'old' when we ask "How old are you?" We might as well ask "How close to dying are you anyway?"

In Italian: "Quanti anni hai?" (Make sure anni has both  ens  pronounced or you would be asking how many anuses do you have) How many years? Like you earned them. Better than emphasizing the 'old'.
 or "Quel age as-tu? More neutral.

The other phrase that annoys me is referring to the Atlantic Ocean as a 'pond' as 'we flew just across the pond' as if England and the US are so close. They are not, in distance or attitudes.

I was watching the special on PBS on Queen Victoria and Prince Albert: an interesting couple who took the welfare of their subjects seriously. They tried to eliminate the law saying that England could not import any grain (the Corn Law). People had to pay the over-inflated prices for the grain grown on the lords' land. No grain was allowed to be imported to feed the Irish during the potato blight. The US had plenty.

Again, it was 96 degrees this afternoon. I sat outside as the cold front came through about an hour ago with strong winds. Unfortunately , just a short lived drizzle.  I was productive today running biking, doing my laundry and buying  some more perennials. I planted them before the sun was too strong.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer Solstice

The longest day and also the hottest day. I am waiting for the traffic to clear before I do my intermediate length bike ride. Fortunately I can bike semi-comfortably when it is in the 80s. Running more than a few miles would be impossible. It didn't reach 90 until noon yesterday so I was able to bike and run.

These are the lazy days of summer. Not much to blog about. I had a project that had to be finished Monday so I spent all day missing my yoga class. In the morning, my favorite time, I drink my coffee (prepared by Steve, he thinks I make too much of a mess if I do it myself) on the patio seeing what flowers have bloomed overnight and dead-heading the ones that have faded. Half of my lilies are in bloom so things are especially pretty now. The hummingbirds are most active in the early morning and in the evening.

Yesterday all the grandbabies were over. Maya still just signs to communicate. The other day while I was taking her picture, I asked her to smile. Instead she gave the sign for 'smile'. Hopefully there is a point in which the signing transitions into spoken language. According to all these tests, she is normal in all other aspects.  She is quite co-ordinated and likes to make up dance moves.

They are all so different. I was helping Daniel put together a puzzle yesterday. His brother when much younger was putting together puzzles for 8 year olds. Daniel struggled with this age appropriate puzzle. However, his vocabulary is quite advanced. No speech therapy will be needed for him.

Ms. Tess born the day after spring started, has lived through one whole season. Soon she will need the same size diaper as Maya. She is quite the dumpling. However most of the plump breast fed babies I know ended up quite slim by their 2nd birthday, especially her mother.

They are doing a very noisy construction project in front of my house much to the delight of the boys. All kinds of noisy equipment. I had Maya help me water the flowers, with the temps in the mid 90s, they certainly need it.

The exercise class for Livestrong alums resumes next week. I could work on toning my body. Between babysitting and training for that bike ride, some how time is slipping away.

Oh my experiment in nuking corn? I had to cook 5 ears at Josh's the other day. 12 minutes did the trick though the husks didn't fall off as nicely as the one in my class.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Red Asiatic lilies. The orange ones are blooming today too

My new variegated  hydrangea. It did not come with instructions. Hopefully it likes partial sun. The neighbors had a white one for many years on the other side of the fence until they replaced it with the arborvitae, now 20 feet tall

Don't know what this is called  but it is supposed to be covered with little blue flowers all summer. We'll see

Edelweiss. My number one hit for my blog even though the picture I had wasn't mine. This is mine

California poppy. Not so many this year.
I woke up early to do by long bike ride. According to the radar, a line of storms were coming. Not good for bike riding (but good for my plants as we are in near drought conditions). I noticed that the line was slow moving so off I went for 25 miles (okay, that isn't long but all is relative). Saw many deer on the edges of fields going so early. Big plus: no wind, the enemy of bikers.

Father's Day today. We will have a family dinner at Josh's but he needs lots of help in making some of the dishes. Also Shanna had other plans but we will see her and her kids soon.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Oriole or not?

My yard is home to various birds: my two cardinal pairs, a pair of noisy blue jays, at least 3 chickadees that visit my patio to drink the water that is in my glass flower, numerous robins, my three hummingbirds, the chimney swifts that fortunately aren't living in my chimney any more making a big mess and twittering away all night but still are flying around my house far  above and now, maybe, a pair of Baltimore Orioles. I looked up and there was the male on one of my shepherd's hook. All I saw was the bright orange breast. I thought he was bigger than a robin (who has an orangish breast too and often are on my patio getting the worms from the soft dirt of my garden beds). Last night as I sipped gin and tonics I could see him again with another bird way up on the top of my locust tree. Orioles like tall trees; robins seem to nest within ten feet of the ground. Now if I can just find its pouch -like nest, I will know for sure. Today I heard what might be his song. I quickly listened to known tapes of orioles and they sing loud and have varied songs, sort of like the cardinals. One of my cardinals likes to sing birdy, birdy, birdy over and over again. The other male has a more varied song so maybe I was just listening to him. I could see the putative oriole preening 70 feet high with its black head and orange breast.

The hummingbirds mainly visit early in the morning and as the sun sets. Then they dive bomb each other. They don't like to share my feeder and their fights are fun to watch.

Today I ran and biked a little before the sun got too hot and then visited garage sales turning my living room into more of a toddler paradise. All of my decorative glass stuff has been removed.

Friday, June 15, 2012

My garden omelet

I collected a variety of herbs and chives from my garden and added them to an omelet (along with some roasted peppers and sharp cheddar). Tasty!
We will have a week of hotness. Got out early for both a run and a bike ride. I am finally biking more miles than running.  This year's bike ride fortunately covers less miles (250) than previous years but I am not so much in shape as I used to be. When I took the boys, it was hard to get them while training to go much more than 20 miles at a time as they always found something to divert them. They were able to handle the 300 miles/6 days with no problem but they were especially energetic.I took a break from my ride sitting on the steps of an old German church out in the country drinking my peach ice tea watching the vultures circle seeing farmers' fields for miles. Very pretty.
Here's some recent pictures of the grandboys: They came over for a brief visit yesterday.
Oliver, when he gets a cold, has breathing difficulties. He is on his nebulizer.

Daniel at a nearby park sailing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cooking corn in a microwave

We learned this trick last night.

Take the ears of corn still in their complete husk and microwave 4 minutes/ear. Corn will be steaming hot so remove with hand protection. Take a sharp knife and cut the cob through on the stem side (cutting only a half inch or less of the actual cob). Then hold the silk end and wiggle. The ear will fall out silk-free and husk free perfectly cooked.

It worked. We were amazed.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Baby you can drive my car...

The top picture is one of the morning glories I didn't kill. It is growing in between my pavers. Like all kids, Maya likes to pretend to drive, real cars, or her Little Tyke Police cruiser.
Scariest moment: Josh liked to drive too. Some how when he was 3 or so, he managed to get the car in neutral and it coasted into our semi busy street. Fortunately nothing was coming down the road at that moment. Now one has to put a foot on the brake before one can get it out of park. Good idea.

It was the last day of her "Fun at One" class. The first time she took it, she was the youngest. Now she is the oldest at 23 months. The next class? In and Out. The class today had a Sit and Spin. My kids were all champion Sit and Spinners, though Josh called it Pit and Pin. This updated one had buttons for lights and music. Maya didn't get the hang of it. Naomi thought this updated one was a lot smaller. No, you are just a lot bigger. Her favorite part of the class today was the scarf dance. they were to wave multicolored scarves to the music and freeze when the music stopped. She just kept dancing..little dancing fool as she is.

I watched her while Naomi swam laps. I didn't have much time for my bike ride so I tried to go as fast as possible. Then my cooking for survival class: Spices to combat cancer. Yum.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Harry the conure

Naomi occasionally watches my friend's conure Harry. Harry doesn't like many people and it took a while for him to get used to Naomi but as you can see here, they are now friends. Below is Ms. Tess happy to be here.

Today I tried to transplant some of the snapdragons. They don't like to be moved. We'll see what survives.  I bought some $1 perennials. Hope they take. Only about half of what I plant survives to the next year. I bought a few cheap annuals to provide color. I didn't plant seeds in advance as I was out of town though I have a few zinnia babies and the snapdragons, morning glory and cleomes seeded themselves. Only one California poppy reseeded itself though many alyssym did.

Monday, June 11, 2012

In one nostril; out the other

We practiced one nostril breathing at my breast cancer yoga today. We are not so good that we can do this without the help of a finger.
What do I hope to get from this?
I am so inflexible. The latest indignities: it hurts to look over my shoulder to see if there is traffic while biking and it is even harder to get off my  bike. We stretched those inner thigh muscles so maybe that will help.

Yesterday I found 3 deer in 3 different places on the road while I was biking. They stopped and stared.
Today it finally rained. We really needed it. The expressway was closed the other day due to a median fire.

Yesterday, a good portion of the day was spent with Josh. Today: grandbabies. Maya in the morning and Shanna's three this afternoon. In between, I ran in the rain.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


These love growing in between my paver blocks. They drive Steve crazy as he thinks they are destroying the patio and look messy. But I can't kill snapdragons. I transplanted some of the smaller ones but the large ones' roots go under the pavers. The cleomes loved germinating in between the paver blocks too but their roots are straight and transplantable

Salmon colored petunias: never saw these before

Some how the container gardens don't look as pretty as they are in real life. Yesterday it was over 90 and very dry. Today will be a repeat. I got up bright and early for a bike ride. I figure if I have 300 miles under my belt, I'll be ready. Well 180 to go. I went 21 miles this morning and managed to avoid traffic. Added bonus: no wind except a slight south wind that faced me as I came back down hill to home.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


I love Google Earth, particularly the altitude feature. I can see how high up I am running. My house is at 924 feet. The river, about 3 miles away, is at 749 feet. Running back against a north wind can be a pain. At least I am not in its flood plain. The steepest hill that I routinely ran  was the Arb Hill starting at 757 feet and going to 871 feet in less than a mile.
My brother now lives around a half mile away from the ocean. His house is at 376 feet so I imagine that is quite the climb. The moving truck was unable to handle the switchbacks.
Where Shanna lived was only 2 blocks from the Mystic River. It didn't seem such a steep hill either with her being only 21 feet higher. Was she is a flood plain? Allegedly not though Alewife Brook, about  a half mile away flooded often even though it is much smaller than the Mystic River.
The house I lived in New York did get flooded. According to Google Earth, it was 31 feet higher than the nearby river which was surrounded by a fairly high dike. During Hurricane Agnes in 1972, this dike was breached. Hurricane Agnes was the only level 1 hurricane to have its name retired. The rains were the killer, not the winds.
So far, my bike rides this year haven't resulted in much change in elevation, 50 feet at the most. The steepest hills I have biked were in California. In the 7 miles between Santa Ysabel and Julian, I climbed from 2900 feet to 4220 feet. Earlier in the day, I pretty much was at sea level. Going next to the water doesn't guarantee flatness. Approaching La Jolla from the north on PCH 101, one climbs from 18 feet to 440 feet in less than 2 miles (quite the trip flying down that hill). I did that to prepare for my mountain riding. It is even steeper on the interior park road at Torrey Pines Park ( I admit to having to walk part of that but I didn't on the PCH)

And hiking the Cinque Terre trails: It seems to peak out at 550 feet (sea level there is about 16 feet). But sheer drop offs were involved and my lack of balance no thanks to chemo and some wine at lunch made that trip extra interesting (but so pretty!).

So it's my favorite month. There are still some cool days (though not in the near future) and plenty of summer ahead.  I've been busy working my garden. Still it doesn't look as good as I want it too. I love making container gardens the most. Yesterday was devoted to grandbabies. I had the boys and Maya for most of the morning and a good part of the afternoon. Ages: almost 2 , almost 3 and 4. Pure chaos! Then I went to visit my friend's 3 grandbabies who were in town. Fun! I used to babysit their father. How time flies!

Why I was watching the kids? Naomi and Shanna made a trip out into the country to our hairdresser. Fortunately most of Naomi's red hair remains but she wanted blonde streaks. Don't know why young people like to make those kissy lips.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


You are lucky that you just got the cancer with the 70% survival rate; you could have gotten the one with just the 10% survival rate.

What an awful thing to say to someone who has cancer? The only thing that would be worse is speculating out loud why you have the first cancer in the first place. If no medical reason could be figured out, well maybe a karma reason. People get what they deserve, right?

No one has really said this to me per se. People have recounted all those they knew who had breast cancer and survived with the message You should too! And I was told repeatedly, Don't worry! Easy for them to say, they aren't facing a 30% chance of death in the the next 5 years.
But I have survived though the five years aren't up. Most of the bad stuff happens earlier so I am thinking my chances are fairly good. Cancer isn't my biggest worry.

 I am lucky.

Early on my blog was sort of like an on line pity party. I was very upset with having to deal with BC especially TNBC. I remember writing that those who are estrogen positive are lucky because their survival rates are so much higher and their treatment wasn't initially so horrible. I think I erased this once someone with estrogen positive BC reminded me that was a very poor choice of words. And I probably have more readers who have had ER+ than ER-. No one with cancer feels especially lucky even if it could be worse.

One thing I fortunately do not have to deal with is blocking the little bit of estrogen my body still produces. Not only are these estrogen blockers very expensive, they are chock full of nasty side effects. Post-menopausal women are told that they should take aromatase inhibitors, which prevent estrogen from being formed but for some reason cause crippling joint pain. Tamoxifen causes less joint pain but its side effects are more insidious. It acts as an estrogen antagonist in breast tissue but as an agonist in uterine tissue. It is not clear if it actually can cause uterine cancer but it does encourage it to grow faster if it is there. It can also cause blood clots leading to strokes. So women are left doing their own cost benefit analysis. Their physicians can give them the chances that their cancer will come back minus the drug  and the chances that the side effects will be deadly. Most of the time, the drug presumably has more benefits than risks but the pain and other uncomfortable side effects usually aren't part of the equation.

One of my readers was told she should take Tamoxifen. As her biopsy samples were not preserved due to some horrible error, she could not be accurately staged and so the benefit of the Tamoxifen could not be accurately calculated. Now she has uterine growths suspicious for cancer. She didn't sign up for that.

New research is emerging that 88% of  ER+ breast cancers are also fed by androgens. Blocking the androgens gives the same survival as blocking the estrogens with hopefully less side effects (and a positive side effect, no extra hairs). 25% of TNBC is sensitive to androgens so for those 'lucky' women, antiandrogens could help survival. Do they test routinely for androgen sensitivity? Not yet but maybe they should.

Another friend was not told that the high dose steroids she was told to take could lead to osteonecrosis. Although both hips have damage, one hurts so badly, she can barely move. They both now need replacing.

Yesterday was spent with grandchildren: Maya in the morning and Shanna's kids in the afternoon. I was able to get down to the Farmer's Market very early to buy supplies for my container gardens. Alas no giant phlox!!! So my patio is gradually shaping up with my 3 new containers. The excess plants flank the ground around the patio. I also bought a e angel wing begonia with its huge feathery red flowers. It doesn't like sun and mostly what I have is sun. I am hoping it will survive.
Today I biked and ran. In the next few days, it will be too hot to run far.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Thyme on my hands

Some how I manage to keep busy despite all this time on my hands. What do I have in my herb garden? Thyme, fennel, dill, cilantro, rosemary, chives, and basil. I suppose lavender could be considered an herb too. My mint all died. I am probably the only person in the world who has killed mint. Apparently it likes to be watered.
The other day, I thought I had touched a baby poison ivy. As it is now 4 days past and no rash, I guess it was not. I am now to the point that one touch equals 3 weeks of misery.

I had placed a few leaves of basil on the cauliflower I served at our family dinner the other day. It was greeted with suspicion. The scapes went into my orzo risotto. Our kitchen is getting too small for our family dinners. Steve uses the dining room as his office although we have an office upstairs. I guess that room is considered mine. There would have been 12 of us now at the family dinner if my DIL did not defect. A decision  will be made soon on how to handle that. It just makes me sad.

I have been trying to get into shape for my bicycle ride. Biking takes so much more time than running, which I have been doing too. Today was cool in the morning so I was able to do my long run out in the country.
Over the weekend, I was treated to a wonderful sushi dinner. Yum. And later we sat drinking wine watching the fireflies twinkle. Yep, fireflies. Usually they first appear closer to the beginning of July but everything is happening earlier this year.

My hair now is darker and more shaped. I  made the long trip out into the country yesterday where my hairdresser now does her work. Two new birds for my list just outside her window: a red headed woodpecker and a phoebe though I probably have seen the latter before. It looks like a cross between a sparrow and a tit mouse but its identifying feature is that it likes to shake its tail feathers when perched.

Today's battle is with the credit card company that used to do Northwest Airlines miles. I didn't cancel it because I still had miles on it when the airline was sucked up by Delta. It charges an annual fee which I usually get them to add more miles into my account when I try to cancel. They also let you pay the annual fee with miles. Good but there is a catch. You may be thinking you have paid the annual fee with miles but they take so long to credit your account, you start to accrue late fees. Evil, evil. Why does it take more than a week to credit ones account? Thanks bank deregulation!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Great Scapes

What are scapes? Blogger is underlining the word in red as it isn't in its vocabulary. Scapes are garlic stems minus the flowers. Good garlic farmers keep harvesting these stems before they flower so that the plant devotes more of its energy into bulb formation. The scapes themselves taste very garlicky and chopped up, give quite a bit of flavor. We will see what I can do with them for our family dinner tomorrow.

I purchased scapes yesterday from The PrettyGoodGarlic farm, which features 40 kinds of artisanal garlic, owned by former neighbors. The man is a former colleague though I never worked directly with him. The woman is 3 time cancer survivor and nutritionist who has written a famous cookbook for cancer survivors. I have the fifth edition of the thirteen published so far. Somehow our paths have never crossed until yesterday though I have read her blogs. The following is what she has written about Komen.
Basically she believes (as do many) our high fat diet contributes to many of our cancers, particularly breast cancer. To purchase pink buckets of fat-ridden chicken to combat  breast cancer is akin to smoking a particular brand of cigarettes to stamp out lung cancer. She is a delightful person appearing much younger than she is. They invited me to run over to their farm. Well that would be a 14 mile round trip but certainly bikeable.

She had neuroblastoma as a 6 month old which was treated successfully with massive amounts of radiation. She and her parents were worried about the long term consequences. They were warned that secondary cancers could develop. When she was 34, she had breast cancer than had spread to one node. When she was 44, she developed a new breast cancer that had spread to multiple nodes. She had chemo both times but wanted to ensure that she would not have a fourth cancer. What could she do? Live as healthily as possible which included a major overhaul to her diet, which already was fairly healthy by most standards. To sum things up, the diet is very low fat, all organic and lots of fruits and vegetables. It is similar to the one that my cooking class recommends (the instructor and her are good friends).

I've been fairly busy. I went to Maya's It Takes Two to Talk class bright and early yesterday. I was annoyed to find out that the class was missed last week as I failed to remind Naomi. Maya was removed from the class for some additional testing. When the tester switched activities, Maya became upset and pinched the tester. I told Maya that she should not pinch. Later the tester came up to me and told me that I shouldn't tell Maya not to pinch as this just brings attention to her negative behavior and makes her want to repeat it. Just love it when someone without kids and who is younger than my kids, tells me what to do.
Then I went out to lunch and coffee with Shanna. Fun. After my food digested, I went for a run in the drizzle (better than the pouring rain earlier). Then it was time to replenish my cheap book supply at the local elementary's book sale, then the Dixboro Farmer's market where I had my scape episode. Then a visit from Naomi and her family....

I meant to garden more today in the cool weather. But the Farmer's Market was so crowded today, I couldn't walk freely in the aisles. I left without anything. Wednesday morning, I will get up early and buy flowers for my container gardens.


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