Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Full of Grace

  • Going to a new cafe called Puzzles where their mission is to “improve the livelihood of individuals, families, and communities affected by autism spectrum disorders”.  Special needs folks cook and wait tables and make incredible tasting puzzle cookies like this. 

I am very grateful that there are people who create employment opportunities for folks who often have very few other chances.

  • Adele. Her music is helping Beaner get through her break up. And I much prefer Adele blasting through the house to the crass, hip hoppy, rap music Beaner usually listens to.

  • These are back in the stores!  They only make these special edition white cheddar cheese balls at Christmas (snow balls) and Easter (rabbit tails).  I have a very unhealthy relationship with them.

  • Stores that are closing on Black Friday and asking folks to go outside.  And many places are waiving all park fees to encourage just that. I, myself, will be out hiking off the annual overindulgence of mashed potatoes and rolls.
Leftovers suitable for taking backpacking

  • And a very special note of gratitude to all those who work on holidays, not in the interest of consumerism, but in the interest of humanity.  Public safety and health workers, here’s to you and all you do and all you give up, to help and protect the rest of us.

Friday, November 20, 2015


Last week I went for my routine gynecological appointment.  Because I have a high probability of cancer recurrence, I have to get ultrasounds twice a year to check my uterus and ovaries.  Unfortunately this is what life is like after cancer.  Lots and lots of doctor appointments. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for medical technology and its ability to detect problems when they are still treatable.   Early breast cancer diagnosis and treatment allowed me to see my daughters graduate college and hopefully beyond.   I’m a fan, especially when the news is good.

But this time I got a red flag that my uterine lining is thickening.  It could be a result of the estrogen inhibitors I take, or it could be signaling something more nefarious.  So the PA said she wanted to do a biopsy.  Okay, back in the stirrups I went.  But she had a problem being able to get through my cervix and finally gave up.  Which is when I remembered that as a result of sexual assault, my cervix is scarred over.  I was told this long ago when I was going to be the partner to get pregnant - the scars would prevent that from ever happening.  At the time I was devastated but honestly, it's something I don’t have much cause to think about anymore.

Anyway, now I have to return to see a doctor who will do the procedure.  They gave me a prescription for some meds that will help open the cervix and some for pain.  I’m not at all sure they will help because of the scars.  I hope I will be able to talk to the doctor about it when the time comes although I have not been very successful ever being able to talk about it openly.

Still, there are two things that I want to note about this.  First, is that even with this reminder and obvious trigger, I handled it calmly.  Yes, a few choice curse words went through my mind., along with some “when will that one event stop controlling so much of my life?”  kind of thoughts.  I really hate that this stuff pops up in the weirdest of ways, randomly, and with no hope that it will ever be gone entirely. Haunted for life.  But the good news was that I experienced no flashbacks, no out of control anxiety, no PTSD symptoms at all.  I always like to emphasize these times as evidence to myself of healing.

Besides the possible return of cancer, the other thing that is occupying my thoughts is the impact of the world violence that has been is the news.  Most people are mourning the dead.  But my prayers always go to the injured of which there are always many, many more. I suppose my sympathies go there because I empathize with the physical and emotional burden that these people will have to deal with for the rest of their lives.  Like me there will be the horrific first impacts.  But even decades later, injuries will nag and limit.  The most random of sounds or smells or sights will body slam them back to relive their horrors again and again.   Or perhaps like Daphne, their memories and injuries will be too much to overcome.  These are the stories the news never tells. These are the stories that continue to haunt me.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Full of Grace

This time of year I am especially grateful for the change of seasons as it signals a change into snuggly clothes and comfort food.  

- But our weather has been abnormally mild (although I expect we will pay for this later) and I am still wearing shorts in mid-November!  

- Still, the nights cool down quickly and we are making the transition from fruit and salads to cold weather food - Sunday football pizza and wings, mashed potatoes, crock pot anything and Martha’s homemade apple pie, a'la mode, of course.

- That the monster cat we acquired due to the breakup, is slowly but surely acclimating to his new home and furry housemates.  They are not all exactly friendly yet but they are not killing each other either.  It is making our home life much more pleasant that he is not confined to the basement.

- That my sister has returned safely from her travels abroad.

- That this brochure was prominently displayed at my OBGYN.  

When Martha and I wanted children, we had very limited options, we could only find one doctor willing to help us, we had to jump through a kazillion hoops to satisfy his protocol as his first lesbian patients, and totally emptied our savings accounts to pay for it.   I am both amazed and extremely grateful at how fast the world has changed and accepted all kinds of families.  

Friday, November 13, 2015

My Wide World of Sports

Field hockey season is finally over. Peachie, in her first year as a varsity coach, led her team to the best record in the school’s history.  Of course, that doesn’t really say much as the team has always been historically weak.  Many great players have come through the program, but there were never enough good players to gel as a great team.  In fact, one year they were almost to the end of the season, playing an away game, when our team scored a goal.  Our parents and fans went berserk with cheering.  The other team’s fans looked over, a bit disgusted with our ‘over the top’ enthusiasm until we explained that it was the very first goal our team had scored all season.  Then even the opposition started cheering.  Yep, our team got pity applause.

This year their final record was 7 - 5 which far exceeded the former best record of 4 wins.  They went to sectionals where they unfortunately lost on a bad call which took away a goal that was later verified by film footage.  That was okay by me though as it starts to get pretty darn cold sitting outside for a couple of hours in November.  But I did attend every game except for one night game that conflicted with a work meeting.  It was actually relaxing to watch a game where I didn’t have to worry about my daughter getting injured.   Over the years I have watched my girls break numerous fingers, a quad muscle tear, rolled ankles (too many to count ), broken noses (3 times!)  a dislocated knee cap and a fractured eye socket.   

This year Peachie made us particularly proud when a male referee gave one of her players a green card and then told Peachie the player was carded for being a bitch.  Peachie, in no uncertain terms and in front of a bleacher full of parents, told the ref that that was an inappropriate term to use for a young female athlete and that she would make sure he never worked another game in our division. She did, and he didn’t.  That’s my girl!

After field hockey I thought I was done for a bit until Martha talked Beaner into coaching a 5th grade girls’ basketball team. Oy!  Of course, after spending years going to high school and college games, it is kind of fun to watch little girls who are just learning the game.  Their jerseys are longer than their shorts.  They carry the ball down the court forgetting to dribble, pass directly to the other team, have no idea that there is a difference between offence and defense, and often shoot at the wrong hoop scoring for the opposing team.  What makes it even more entertaining is that one girl speaks no English so her mother sits on the bench as a translator. The mother played ball in China and Beaner strongly suspects that the mother is giving different instructions than the plays she is calling in order to make her daughter the star of the team.  I particularly like that their plays are called things like “cupcake” and “unicorn". Yeah, that puts fear into the other team. And I do enjoy Beaner complaining that kids "just don't listen to her". "Really? What a surprise". But unlike the parents who seem to think that their daughter is one step away from a full ride to UConn and continually shout out instructions and criticisms, I can just sit and smile and enjoy the girls having fun.  Not a bad way to spend an hour.

And this week Martha started tryouts for her junior varsity high school team.  From now until mid February I will barely see her.  They practice almost every evening and have games on Tuesdays and Fridays. most of which I will attend.

Growing up I was always athletic, although I only enjoyed solo sports - surfing, skiing, hiking - rather than competitive sports which I never played.  I never imagined that sitting on fields and in gyms, would dominate my life.  But I am going to enjoy this phase when my family are all coaches and I don’t have to worry about them getting hurt.  All too soon I will be back on those fields, chewing my fingers off, worrying about some grandchild getting kicked in the head . . . unless I can convince them to play the piano instead.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Full of Grace

- That the best candidate (IMO) was elected to run my Town after the present Supervisor decided to retire after 16 years.  I will miss working with him as he almost always saw things my way. There will be changes but at least I get to keep my job.  

- Finally sleeping better. Daylight Savings Time always screws me up.

- Cate’s new movie “Truth” finally came to town.  The movie was okay but, as usual, she was heart stopping.  I am going to need Martha to bring a defibrillator when “Carol” comes out.

- Both the girls away for the weekend.  I will miss them when they leave for good but I do love a quiet, cozy weekend with just Martha.

- Pre-winter chores -  leaves all raked and mulched, veggie garden rototilled, oil changed in lawnmower and snowblower, patio furniture cleaned and stored, hoses disconnected and faucets weather-proofed, perennial garden covered with mulch.  Everything is done.  I am ready.  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Full of Grace

  • Getting up before dawn to drive up to the mountains.  Watching the sun create a kaleidoscope of colors in the sky before stopping for a scrumptious cranberry walnut pancake breakfast, in portions fit for a lumberjack.  And yes, I ate them all.

  • Starting our hike through the forest and immediately feeling the calming effect of the smell of damp earth and pine trees. The air was crisp and the sky a deep blue, with big white puffy clouds.  We couldn’t have ordered better weather.

  • I had been worried after we realized that we had picked a weekend that included Halloween, concerned that there might be some strange folks in the woods, but the only people we encountered all weekend were a family with two young kids early on Saturday.  I do love seeing kids outside hiking.

  • Watching an eagle dip and soar and ride the wind, for hours.  

  • Lying on a beach, awestruck by stars.

  • In September I was in a black hole that I finally climbed out of.  But still, feelings of anxiety and sadness and funk clung to me. Now, after a couple of days in the woods, I feel wholly re-energized and re-calibrated (and a very sore and stiff).  I once thought that a group of men took everything away from me but now I realize that there are so many things that can never be taken away. The awesome beauty of nature will always fill my soul.

I didn't take any of these pictures as I don't carry a camera or even cell phone (no service) when backpacking. But these were in the public domain (I hope) and show where we were.  However they don't come close to capturing how the wilderness impacts all five senses in such an amazing way.