Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Is 24 Hours Always 24 Hours?

Can anyone tell me why thirty days in June is only half as long as thirty one days in January? June days are longer in terms of daylight hours than January. Wouldn't you think the month would seem longer than it does!

Perhaps south of the equator the opposite is true.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

How to Get Rid of Those Pesky Fruit Flies in the Kitchen

There are simple remedies to get rid of those pesky fruit flies or gnats that flit around the kitchen in the summertime. They don't really hurt anything...they're simply annoying and ever-present.

Here's a simple remedy that I used this week.

Place a tablespoon of cider vinegar and about a 1/4 cup of water in a small glass or jar. Place plastic wrap over the jar. If you wish, you can secure it with a rubber band. Poke several holes in the plastic with a tooth pick. You want the holes to be large enough for gnats to crawl through. Once inside the jar they seem to be unable to find their way back out through those same holes. They're sorta klutzy that way.

I've read where others add a teaspoon of dish detergent to the vinegar. I suppose that tends to cause them to be unable to retreat from the vinegar but I did not do that. The jar I rinsed out this morning had two dozen of the critters - dead in the vinegar.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Don't Waste Your Cancer! Or How To Rightly View Your Circumstances

A couple weeks ago I read a message by John Piper written when he had prostrate cancer in early 2006. The message, entitled "Don't Waste Your Cancer" contains ten points that he makes in regards to cancer in our lives and how we, as Christians, should not "waste" the circumstance of it. It has been expanded with comments by David Powlison, so please note that paragraphs marked by "DP" are in addition to Piper's original message.

I won't copy Piper's message here in its entirety. You can go to the message itself to read or print it in full. Piper mentions ten points so you will want to read it all. But here I want to share point #5. Here's what he said:

"You will waste your cancer if you think that “beating” cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ."

Piper continues with this explanation: "Satan’s and God’s designs in your cancer are not the same. Satan designs to destroy your love for Christ. God designs to deepen your love for Christ. Cancer does not win if you die. It wins if you fail to cherish Christ. God’s design is to wean you off the breast of the world and feast you on the sufficiency of Christ. It is meant to help you say and feel, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” And to know that therefore, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 3:8; 1:21)."

I believe that my cancer was part of God's plan for my life before the foundation of the world, before creation began, before I was born. King David, in prayer to God, says it this way in Psalm 139:16 - "Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them."

God is sovereign and awesomely more than we imagine in our wildest dreams. Our lives are like "little stories" that are part of God's "Big Story". From our personal viewpoint we tend to think that it is "our" lives that are "big". And they are! But when considering our miniscule lives in context with the Eternal Almighty Creator God, we must admit that we are just a bit of fluff in terms of time, space and eternity. And when we begin to realize that...that we are the created and that He is our Creator, the one who works in all aspects of our lives, the one who saves us from ourselves, the one who rescues us from the dominion of darkness (Colossians 1:13), when we begin to realize the awesomeness of that, then we are compelled to bow down in humble and grateful thanks. No matter what.

Tweet, Twitter, and Today's News

I used to think it would be a form of hell-on-earth to reside bed-bound in a nursing home with total inability to speak or move and all the while the TV is spewing some soap-opera. (I intensely dislike soap operas.) One step towards even worse hideousness would be if the TV were tuned to one of those "reality" shows. (Yah, right, they know a lot about reality. Let them live my life for awhile. That's reality. Snicker. ) But the absolute worst scenario would be if I were forced to endure the spew of today's non-stop so-called news channels.

I long for the days when the evening news presented "just the facts, ma'am". No editorializing. No opinionating by commentators who opinionate 24/7.

But NOW! Now they not only pontificate about their own opinions and invite a host of "guests" to add Their Opinion, but they also invite YOUR opinion by tweet or twitter or whatever. Do you realize how really un-profound that is? That somehow my opinion appearing at the bottom of the screen of some national news show is actually important? Is it going to change anything? Is it going to cause someone with decision-making powers to sit up and take notice that, "Hey, she really has a good idea there! Let's listen! Let's put it into action! Let's pass a law!" What! News is now a social event?

Twittering as a social media is fun. I follow a couple friends/family that way. I enjoy the banter that takes place and sometimes they point me to interesting topics. But when I turn on the news channel, I want to hear the news. Just the Facts, Please! Puhleeeeze!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yiddle Makes Yiddle Cookies!!!

I'm in a hurry this morning as my brother and I are visiting the VA hospital 65 miles down the road. So today I'm referring you to Yiddle who has posted a yummy recipe for "I Love Lemon" cookies. She makes them bitesize which means you'll end up eating a whole handful instead of one or two! Yikes, Yiddle!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Word of Wisdom About Your Birthday

Today's headlines mention Nine Nasty Online Scams. You can bop on over there to read about them if you wish.

But I have a word of wisdom as well. I read a number of blogs and am surprised by the number of people who post their full name AND their birth date including year. I read one lady who posted all four of her children's names/birthdays. (I can't remember her name so if I am stepping on toes, please forgive me. It's just that this does not seem like a good idea to me.)

My advice? Don't do that! And if you already have done so, go back and delete those posts.

I've mentioned previously about ourselves being the victim of ID theft. Both events occurred after using our credit and debit cards at local restaurants. You know how it goes! They bring you the bill in a padded folder, you view the bill, place your card confidently inside the folder, and off goes the waiter with YOUR credit card in hand. You'd better hope he/she doesn't have one of those small pocket size devices that can READ your card's data. With that data the dirty low down crook thief has the ability to charge to your account or to take money from your bank account. IT HAS HAPPENED TO US! Word of Advice? Never let your card out of your sight. You can read more about that kind of fraud and what you can do about it if it has happened to you on previous posts here.

P.S. I forgot to mention the time someone used Hubby's name/SS# to get a driver's license several states away from our residence. We found out about it when a collection agency sent us a notice for $$ owed for multiple parking tickets on a college campus. The crook even had a personalized license plate indicating he was using our name. While we were able to convince the agency/State/SocSec that this was a fellow using false ID, and even tho they were able to track this guy, none of them could give us his name or other info due to his "right to privacy". Yah! Right!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When Chemo Takes Your Hair, Don't Forget the Sympathy Factor!

Yesterday I had to attend a meeting of various agency people where we each had input as to where the issue should hence go forward. One of the persons is an attorney representing one of the other participants.

In the past this attorney has been very stern, very protective of his client, very suspicious of my inputs.

Yesterday, knowing I had chemo, and seeing me present myself with a scarf on my head and eyebrows drawn on by hand (not crookedly, I hope), he was a much more kindly and pleasant in our interactions. He even nodded his head in full agreement with one of my spoken concerns.

We have to appear in court on this issue in three weeks. I'm considering going bald. I'm thinking the "startle factor" might cause my words to be heard more carefully by all.

(You do know that I am being facetious, don't you? I don't think I have the guts. )

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's a Lot More Difficult These Days to Tend the Garden

I picked the rest of the cherries this morning and while I was surrounded by the leaves of the tree, reaching here and there for the remaining red fruit, I thought upon Adam whose job prior to his sin was to "tend the garden" (Genesis 2:15). It was assuredly a lovely garden and the work must have been sweet.

Before Adam sinned, he had it easy. There were no swarms of bugs, no thistles and weeds, no hot sun bearing down with intense, scorching heat. He even had Eve as helper, one who was of him, one who was his companion and of like mind, one who loved the tending. It must have been pleasure to tend the garden. Sweet pleasure.

But Genesis 3 brings bad, sad news. Adam's disobedience to one simple command brought death to himself and to his posterity (that's us, folks!). His disobedience to one simple command brought death, destruction and chaos into the creation. It is not only we who suffer...the animal and plant kingdoms were also thrown into disarray. Everything is broken.

After Adam's sin this is how the Creator put it to him,

Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
"Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return."

So there I was this morning, swatting bugs, pulling weeds at my feet, sweating in the early morning muggy heat.

I love it that as Adam's children God still puts inside us the urge to "tend the garden". Some folk enjoy flowers. Some like to landscape the front yard. Some enjoy growing bushels and bushels of vegetables to can or freeze or to eat fresh. Oh, how we anticipate that first ripe tomato or the first few ears of sweet corn! It's as if we are remembering the joy of goodness that Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

LOOK GOOD FEEL BETTER is a Great Resource For Those Who Lose Their Hair Due to Chemo

Losing your hair after chemotherapy is, to say the least, startling. Even though you know almost immediately that you're going to lose your hair, the actual loss still stuns. It is even worse that many of us also lose our eyelashes and eyebrows. (Believe me, it's difficult to draw a eyebrow when you have no brow hairs left to make a decent dotted line for the brow pencil!)

Oh, sure, they say your hair will grow back, but that can be months down the road or longer, depending upon your particular cancer treatment program. I'm figuring I'll be fortunate if I have hair by Christmas! Sigh!

If you are dealing with chemo-induced hair loss I want you to know there are resources available to help you feel feminine and pretty even in the midst of all of this. The website for "Look Good Feel Better" offers videos on makeup, wigs, scarves, etc., that will help you move gracefully through this time in your life. I found these videos tremendously encouraging and picked up some good tips! This is a free, non-medical, brand-neutral, public service program and you will not be hassled to buy a thing. Volunteers are on hand to affirm and serve you in a loving way.

If you would like to attend a program in your hometown, simply type in your zip code at this webpage and find a locally provided LGFB program. This program is free and

P.S. Check with your insurance company...some companies do provide part or all of the cost of a wig for women who experience hair loss due to chemo.

Bless you!

I Miss the Old Singing

I grew up in church. We were in Sunday school and to church nearly every week of the year. Part of what I miss most about those years is the music, the wonderful harmony of hymns, the congregation singing in four-part with soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices filling in at beautiful moments.

I even miss the consistency, the repetitiveness, the tradition. Some today think "tradition" is not "real worship" in the sense that it becomes "rote". However, for me it was never rote. It was beautiful! The Scriptural readings, the words of the heavy hymns, all had great meaning to me. (Oh, I admit that there were a few hymns that just didn't "sing" to me.)

I cannot say the same for today's choruses. They are less rich. It's difficult to sing harmony. The rhythm is unpredictable. The musical notes must be picked up in the air from those leading the singing and that is just never as effective as having the written music in front of you where you can "read" the alto or tenor or whatever you sing.

One of my favorites was the doxology at our church. (Doxology - a usually liturgical expression of praise to God.) We sang it after every offering and we sang it prior to any shared meal in the basement kitchen. I still sing it now and then to myself and it never fails to lift me from a bad or ungrateful mood.

Such a simple little verse and yet such real meaning. It does us well to remember that all blessings come from God above and that all creatures owe Him praise, both creatures here below (that's us) and those in high heavenly places (the blessed angels, seraphim, cherubim and any other created creatures that we might not yet know about). I can't write the musical notes here, but the words were sung in a beautiful minor key.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

I've found that it is impossible to bow down with grateful attitude and still maintain despair in the heart. The two do not combine. In submitting our minds and hearts to praise God, we prevent despair from ruling our lives.

Praise God, all ye creatures!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Crashed But It Was a Soft Landing

Chemo #5 was Wednesday. The meds that they give me during the chemo help avoid allergic reactions, etc. They also tend to make me feel really, really good for a day and a half afterwards. As in manic. I dash about the house with lots of energy and feel well until I crash two days later.

Today I crashed, but the landing was surprisingly soft. This time I'm experiencing only mild weakness and achiness in my legs. No nausea. Some "inertia" which describes the feeling better than do the words "tired" or "lazy". It's a strange feeling...I lie on the sofa and think about getting up and doing something but my body totally disregards anything going on in my brain.

Disobedient body.

Garden News: Not only the robins but also the local squirrels have found the cherry tree. This morning one little fellow was happily hopping through the tree, shaking the branches and leaves. All I could see was his fluffy tail sticking out through the leaves. He was a coward, though, for the moment he heard me slide open the patio doors he hopped to the ground and made a hasty escape.

Where is Whiner the $800 Cat when I need him?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Can She Bake a Cherry Pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy -- Oh, Yeah, I Can and I Did!

I'm no Martha S but I can bake a meaner cherry pie than she! (I've been in and out of jail a lot more times than Martha! More on that later.) After this morning's baking session I should be on the front cover of her magazine. Nobody has baked a better looking sour cherry pie than this one!

Those pesky robins didn't get the last of the cherries. I'm still feeling pretty decent after my chemo last Wednesday...the meds they give me keep me hopping for a couple days afterward. (I get real prolific with words, too!) I notice I work a lot faster and with more energy in the kitchen but under the influence of the meds, I notice that I'm a lot more klutzy and sloppy. Tossing cornstarch on the counter and all over my digital camera. Flour all over my front. Crumbs everywhere. Now I know what it feels like to be my hubby working in the kitchen. Not that he's swiping any of my meds, mind you, but he does tend to be a bit more sloppy than I. He's such a good sport when I mutter about his spills and crumbs. Whatta guy!

The robins. The cherries. Back to my story. Came home last evening from a visit elsewhere and picked a large bowl of cherries. I figured those pesky robins weren't going to eat us out of pie and home. Since I don't have a cherry pitter anymore (result of a previous move) I used a small plastic spoon to dig out the pits. That was a lot slower but it worked! Pitted raw cherries will turn a yuckie brown so I decided to cook them up with sugar and cornstarch, let them sit overnight, and then bake a pie this morning.
can she bake a cherry pie billy boy
Yesterday hubby had brought home a sack of whole-wheat pastry flour so this morning I made a crust and made my Billy Boy Cherry Pie. I took photos in case Martha gives me a call and wants my recipe. I think she cheats on her lattice pies, just laying strips across each other. I don't have any magazines on hand at the moment, but I'm sure that's how they appeared in her photographs. I, on the other hand, wanted a "genuine" lattice pie and so I interwove the strips. Whole-wheat pastry is a bit tricky as it breaks easier than regular dough, but it worked. Interwoven lattice always tastes better than the lazy version. Everybody knows that. (I think if you click on the photos you will be able to smell the pie--sorta like scratch and sniff ad in magazines! Oh, I'm exaggerating but you CAN get a closer look!)

Tip of the Day! When baking a fruit pie be sure to place either tinfoil or a non-stick cookie sheet underneath the pie. It's a lot easier to toss a piece of foil, or to wash a cookie sheet than it is to scrape that cooked on juice from the bottom of the oven!

And, Oh! I had enough crust left over to make a mini-pie which here is sitting on the dirty cookie sheet. Clean oven floor. Dirty cookie sheet. That's the way to do it. This one has a non-stick surface, so it was no big chore to clean it later.

And enough cherries left over for ice cream sauce! Now how good is That!

Oh! The jail time! We teach Bible in a small county facility. I've been not going in since February due to the low white blood counts after chemo but my oncologist said this week that if counts are within a certain range I'm approved to go back. I'm happy about that.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Whiner (aka the $800 Cat) Earns His Name

Whiner, the neighbor's cat, has not visited us in some time. His brother, Franklin, died last year and he's been pretty much of a recluse in his home. However, yesterday morning he appeared on our deck. Being the good neighbor that I am, and wanting to stay on good terms with PETA (see previous post), I stepped outdoors to give him a pet. He loves to have me rub his ears, his head, along his back and insists this not be a short-lived experience.

Since I had not seen him in some weeks, I figured he came over to wish me well on Chemo day. I asked him how he was feeling and then assured him I was doing well. And I asked him to keep the robins away from our dwarf cherry tree. "Don't kill 'em," I said. "Just keep 'em away from the cherries." I have no clue whether he listened up. There are still cherries on the tree but it appears some are missing. Those pesky robins.

I stepped back into the house and Whiner came to the door to whine, what else! He has earned his name well. However, I never let him in the house for fear he will set up a second residency. Nice cat that he is, I don't want him in the house. Outdoors is good.

The $800 cat? When Whiner was a kitten he climbed up under the hood of a neighbor's car and got caught in the fan belt when the owner hit the switch. Poor Kitty. His owner says, "Eight hundred dollars later we had a three-legged cat." Whiner has a crooked grin because the same incident knocked loose several teeth on one side. (you can click on the photos for a closer look)

He's a fortunate kitty. And I like to have him visit. But no whining, Whiner! It simply won't do! We don't tolerate whiners and complainers around here!

After awhile he decided it was a no-go and he headed home to breakfast. He did not take a second glance at the robins in the cherry tree. Silly cat. Silly me for mentioning them to him. Not so silly robins.

Pardon me if this shows up twice. It appears blogger has lost my original post about Whiner. He deserves better than that!

This Has To Be The Dumbest News Ever!

I suppose PETA's next bit move will be an attempt to stop me from swatting mosquitoes as they suck my blood count down still further. I believe in being kind to animals but this one is just too much! You can read about PETA's latest dumb complaint here.

By the way, PETA, in spite of its activism on behalf of flies (and possibly mosquitoes), has no official position on abortion. That's sorta weird, don't you think? I'll bet they are adamantly opposed to abortion of puppies and kittens. They just haven't quite thought as far as human babies. That's a really excellent (but weird) example of logic not carried to its logical conclusion.

Dear PETA Person...I'll be swatting every mosquito I can. And I'm grateful to the city for spraying for the critters, killing millions of them, no doubt. And I catch flies with one hand, too, when they invade the house, killing them and tossing them in the garbage. I'm pretty good at that. It impresses the grandkids. It's a skill I perfected as a child and still practice today. The only down side is that I immediately have to scrub the germs off my hands with dishsoap. After all, said flies undoubtedly feed on doggy doo doo next door. Lotta germs involved!

I even swing a shoe at any spider I spot in the house. And for that matter, silverfish. And crickets. Thankfully, I haven't had to deal with ground squirrels since the time we lived in California when I had to dig a nest of stinking dead ones that had fallen inside the wall and couldn't get out. Baaaad smell! Wasn't my fault they fell there and died. Was their momma's fault, I guess. What's a ground squirrel doing inhabiting a house, anyway? What's with that?

I do pet my neighbor's cat whenever he visits my deck. I wonder, PETA, if that makes up for every time I put on a pair of leather shoes?

Sometimes I get a bit cynical.

P.S. Laurie's comment reminds me that I, too, encourage those insects that do us good. Lady bugs in the garden are a good thing as are praying mantis and others. And one of those beneficial bugs found wandering in the house will be taken outdoors and let loose. PETA members who are concerned about flies should live in an area where flies abound such as did on the farm where I grew up. Their tune might change in regards to bug control.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chemo Session #5 Today. Only One More To Go!

It seems this is turning into a chemo blog and that was not my intent. I'll try to do better tomorrow.

Had my fifth chemo session today. One more to go. The doc told me that since my after-effects are considerably mild compared to so many taking the same chemo (carbo/taxel) they are able to give me doses at the high range of prescribed amounts. So hopefully this means I will receive optimum benefit.

So far I have not experienced nausea but there's always a first time. So tonight I steeped a few shavings of ginger root in a hot cup of water and made "ginger tea". I have enough shavings to make a second cup tomorrow night. And by then I should be past the need. I've avoided anti-nausea meds so far which is remarkable.

Tomorrow will be a good day. The steroids will still be in my body and I'll have lotsa energy. Then I will crash for the rest of the week and spend considerable time on the couch with aches and pains and listlessness. THEN, I will be on the uphill again and feeling better every day.

Today's chemo session was delayed three weeks in a row due to low white blood counts, particularly the neutrofils. In anticipation and hoping to keep the last session on schedule (three weeks from now) I will begin taking daily neupogen shots for five days, beginning tomorrow. More (mild) aches and pains but so far I have been able to avoid pain meds. I figure why toss more chemicals into the pot (that is, my body, and particulary my kidneys and liver) if I don't have to. I can endure a certain amount of of pain. I'm a wuss when it comes to pain so it seems to me that my experience is milder than most cancer patients have to endure. I don't know why God is blessing me in this way, but He is. And I am grateful.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Aches and Pains by Friday! Yayyyyyyy!

My chemo session #5 has been postponed three times this past three weeks due to low white blood counts. This morning those readings are within the acceptable range and I'm looking forward to chemo #5 tomorrow (Wednesday). It's hard to believe I am happily looking forward to several days of aches and pains, but I am! Each session is one session closer to again growing hair!

What If! Totally New Concept in Shoes! Nike! Call Me!

I'm lying in bed this morning and this idea popped into my head.

What if they had a machine that could scan your foot in various postures...flat-footed on the floor...stepping off with only the ball of the foot on the floor...heel to the floor as the body moves forward onto the foot from the last step!

These scans could provide complete specifications for your feet. Since our left foot sometimes differs slightly in size from our right, dual scans would be taken. The specs would be fed into a machine that then constructs shoes designed to fit your feet to a T. The machine would allow the buyer to choose a variety of materials, colors, etc.

These specially designed shoes would have the appropriate amount of flex, support, cushion, and whatever else you need in a well-designed shoe. In fact, the machine could make one type for walking, another for running, yet another for dressy events, with stretch and flexibility appropriate to the use. And they'd fit like a kid glove.

Wouldn't that be cool?!

Of course, these specialized shoes would cost a cool bundle.

Ooops! The phone is ringing. I think it must be Nike. Or Born. Or Skechers. I'm not signing anything until my lawyer reads the fine print.

P.S. Maybe this has already been invented! Perhaps the rich dudes in the world already have access to such a machine! But the masses should be able to wear a customized pair of WhiteStone Shoes, wouldn't ya think?!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Watcha Gonna Do When Your Hair Falls Out! -- Or How to Tie that Doggone Scarf!!!!

The first week or so after I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in January 2009 I was simply working on getting well enough to go home from the hospital after debulking surgery. For those of you unfamilchemo scarf aiar with this cancer, I will mention that one of the first things to happen after diagnosis is that your doctor will schedule debulking surgery to remove the bulk of the cancer from the abdominal cavity. Chemo will follow and is intended to kill off any remaining cancer cells.

The chems used in chemotherapy work by killing off fast-growing cells. Cancer cells are fast growing, but so are hair cells, skin cells, blood cells, etc. That's why chemo patients struggle with low blood counts (red and white), skin and mouth ailments, and what often seems the most egregious of all, hair loss.

Once chemo is completed the normal body cells tend to regain their function. Hair will grow again.
chemo scarf b
When my chemo nurse told me that, yes, indeedy, ALL patients receiving carboplatin and paclitaxel (carbo/taxel) would lose their hair, I began googling to find out what was available in head coverings. I did get a wig but frankly, I feel more comfy (natural, if you please) wearing a scarf and/or hat. During the winter months I wore an assortment of knit caps. In the summer I wear scarves.

If you are newly diagnosed I will make the following suggestions:

1) Cotton scarves work the best. I have a particularly gorgeous silk scarf that my daughter bought for me and I do like to wear it with a hat when I want to dress up. But for the most part, my scarves are cotton.

2) I prefer a square scarf, about 24-36 inches square. Fold it over into a triangle, place it on the head, tychemo scarf hating the ends in back. You can google and find websites that show how to tie the scarf. However, I quickly switched to using a pony-tail rubber band, one of the thicker kind and simply wrap it twice around the ends of the scarf. It's so much easier than wrestling with tying. Sometimes I will wrap it once, pulling the scarf ends all the way through, and then on the second wrap, pull the scarf ends only partially through the band. Fluff it a bit. That will leave a nice little bun at the neckline and it appears as if you had tied a bow. You could also buy fabric covered scrunchies in colors to match your scarves.

3) Be aware that scarves are sometimes rather high priced. Watch the sales and hit the teen sections...I've found nice scarves there.chemo scarf d

4) The blue one in this photo was a very long rectangular scarf but the width was about 24 inches. So I simply cut it at 24 inches and hemmed the cut side by hand. You could use a sewing machine to hem if you prefer.

5) The long rectangular scarves will work but they must be wide enough that they will cover your head when drawn to the back for the tie. Pony tail rubber bands really work well on these scarves. Simply place the scarf over the head, draw everything to the back and place the rubber band.

6) Wear your scarf plain! Or cover with a cap for a sporty look! Or wear the scarf under a hat for a more dressy look.

Hope this has been helpful to newbies in the cancer world. You can go online to find resources for headcoverings. One is Tender Loving Care which is associated with the American Cancer Society. They have an assortment of relatively inexpensive caps. I have a couple from a similar source. But I generally prefer a simple scarf and cap.

Today's Scripture? 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

If you are newly diagnosed with cancer, be comforted in knowing that others are walking the same path that you walk. Look to God and to them for encouragement, and in turn you will be ready to encourage others. Remember that all of our days are in God's hands and trust Him for comfort and strength. Bless you.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Filthiness, Silly Talk and Coarse Jesting

Let me say up front I like to laugh. I like to hear my husband laugh....he really knows HOW to laugh with joy! And the neighbors know it! Awhile back we had a family birthday celebration on our deck. Friends who live two blocks away told us later they knew we were having a party... they could hear my husband's laugh throughout the afternoon. Two blocks away!

Laughter is good. And good comedy is good. I like comedy.

But there comes a point when comedy and laughter can turn mean.

The news channels reported the jokes David Letterman made this past week in regards to Sarah Palin and her 14-year-old daughter.

And I have to say this...it wasn't funny, Mr. Letterman. It was mean, snide, nasty and ugly.

That's not comedy.

I don't care if the comments were in reference to Palin and daughter, or Michelle Obama and daughter, or Hilary Clinton and daughter, or Laura Bush and daughter. They were ugly comments. Ugly and coarse.

I'm not a follower of Letterman so I have no idea whether or not he professes to be a Christian. But on the off chance that he is, I suggest he read Ephesians 5:1-5 and particularly, Eph. 5:4 where Paul admonishes believers that ..."and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting..."

Unfortunately, it appears Letterman prefers the old adage, "Anything for a laugh."

But in this case it is ugly laughter.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What If A Cancer Clinic Said This....

My good friend Marian left a wonderful and encouraging comment in regards to my frustration over delayed chemo. I know she won't mind if I copy it here for you to read as well. Her words are good reminder to me as to whence comes our help. Here are Marian's words...

Sorry to hear your counts are still low. We will be praying for you. It frustrates me that there is a "schedule" to keep up with. I wonder how many patients can actually keep to it? It got me thinking....

What if....
a Cancer Clinic said this--

"We don't put people on "schedules" with chemo because we realize that God in His infinite wisdom sovereignly has charge over each cell in our body, whether diseased or healthy. He is our loving creator and He alone understands best how our bodies function. We will use the technology He has given us to determine when is the best timing for each chemo session. We are confident that this method will have perfect results for the patient because we know that His timing is perfect."

"Therefore, if you feel your progress is not moving fast enough, do not lose heart. Here are 2 tips to try at home:
  1. Cling closely to your Savior. He is able to renew your mind and make you more like Himself
  2. Please consider any frustrations you experience along the way as gifts from above to help you think more deeply on eternal matters rather than temporary matters that fade away."
Marian's comment was a good reminder to me. And both points are important.
First, it is when we forget to cling to Christ that fears rise up inside us. And fear can overwhelm us. But Scripture often advises us to "Fear not!" Paul reminds us in Romans 8:31 that "if God is for us, then who can be against us?" The answer, of course, is No-One and No thing! Not even cancer. By saying this I am Not saying that all Christians who have cancer will be healed. No! Some will. Some won't. What I am saying is that we are secure in Christ's love and when we cling to Him we can survive any trial that life brings. We get our strength from Him, not from ourselves.

Secondly, we know that "all things work together for good for those who love God." Romans 8:28. And if that is so (and we believe it is) then we must look at all things in life as gifts from above, even the hard things in life. If life were easy, we would seldom (never) seek the Lord and His provisions. On the other hand, when life is NOT easy, we know that we will experience spiritual growth through the process. "...we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
Romans 5:3-5

In Case You Were Wondering....

In case you were wondering if I spent the entire day yesterday bemoaning my low blood count and my postponed chemo, please note today's photo!

I'm learning something new about sourdough each time I bake. Yesterday I kept the dough almost "sticky" which made it almost impossible to knead. So instead of kneading I used a scraper to scrape and roll the dough in upon itself. After about ten roll and turns, I let the dough rest twice, ten minutes each time. After the third session of roll and rest, I placed the dough in a large glass bowl that I had rubbed with butter. It took a couple hours or more to rise. Punched the dough down and then shaped into loaves. My last batch made some very large loaves, with sides overhanging the bread pan. This time I made THREE loaves instead of TWO to avoid that issue.

The wet dough made for a better sourdough texture (translate that to mean that the crumb was very airy with large holes) and a moist crumb. I confess that I ate nearly half a loaf yesterday. This morning I reformed and made my usual oatmeal/raisins/bananas for breakfast. I'll eat more sourdough later!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I Want My Chemo!!!!!!!!

Well, fiddlesticks. Had my blood drawn this morning in anticipation of chemo tomorrow. My white blood count is low...specifically the neutrophils which are those white cells that make up the first line of defense against infection.

That means first of all that my immune system is compromised.

Secondly it means I won't be having chemo session #5 tomorrow.

I'm really bummed about that. Session #5 has been postponed twice already...my previous chemo was five weeks ago. I'm rescheduled for next week and it will have been SIX weeks since last chemo...that is, IF my counts are acceptable by next week.

I am sitting here sighing. It's bad enough to have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer but I hate it that I can't even do the chemotherapy as scheduled.

You might be wondering "how I feel". Physically I feel rather good. We walk daily. Some days we even ride our bikes. I'm puttering around the house and the yard and garden and generally keeping busy. So physically I feel good. Mentally? I'm bummed.

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's a Deceptive Green, Promising "Forever"

We sat out on the deck this evening. Eating ice cream. Looking out over the green that comes only with spring. It's a deceptive green in that its appearance seems to promise "forever". But spring will not last. Summer will come. And there will be hot days, really hot days. The grass will begin to brown, the trees will be dirty with dust, and weeds will begin to take over the garden.

As we sat there I stilled myself and let my senses enjoy the moment...the quietness of a small town on a late spring evening. Off in the distance I could hear faint sounds of the summer ball games. Close by I heard the calm chirp of birds. I imagined I could almost hear time itself and if I paid close attention I might catch glimpses of days gone by.

I had a similar experience two days ago. I had been cleaning the weeds out of the flower bed near the deck and I was on my knees, using an old steak knife to skim the earth free of weed seedlings. I sat back for a moment and almost laid down on the grass the way we used to do as children. I should have done that. Lie on the grass, feast on the sky, soak up the moment.

Maybe I'll do that tomorrow. Before summer gets here.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Yummy Black & White Cookies by Yiddle

Yiddle over at yiddle.net spent yesterday baking cookies. Not just plain ordinary cookies, mind you! No! These are fabulous Black & White Cookies! Think of these when you want a special treat at your next fun event.

And these would also be a great project for your kids. Her secret "how-to" is simple and so easy that anyone could make them. Of course, they take a teensy bit of hands-on effort but the process is much simpler than I thought.

These are so cool I think you will definitely want to jump right over there and see how she makes 'em. Yiddle gives a link to the recipe she used as well as written instructions on how to make 'em.



Friday, June 5, 2009

Is It Real Sourdough or Not?

I've written before about my KH (kitchen hobby) of making sourdough bread. My Mom tells me that her mother kept a batch of bread starter (a flour and water mixture that had been fermented with yeast) in the basement. On baking day Gramma would send one of the kids down to fetch the starter. Gramma would add flour and water to the starter and set it in a warm spot to make a "sponge". The sponge would be allowed to sit for several hours or overnight to ferment. She always saved a small amount of the starter and fed it with flour and water before setting it back in the basement till the next baking day.

After the sponge had time to bubble and ferment, she added additional flour and perhaps sugar and milk until the dough was just the right consistency to make bread. After being thoroughly kneaded, the dough was set aside again to rise. Then it was punched down, shaped into loaves, let rise again, and baked in Gramma's old wood stove.

You can read about my previous experiences with sourdough here. ( Be sure to scroll down to read all posts. You can also find out where I got my original sourdough starter.) Originally I used recipes that included the addition of yeast which insured the dough would rise in a reasonable amount of time. The yeast added a bit of extra kick, if you please.

However, a real sourdough shouldn't need yeast to cause the dough to rise, but I hadn't quite figured out how to bake without the additional yeast...my few attempts resulted in a dough that just sat there like a lump on a log, refusing to rise even after sitting overnight. I ended up tossing them in the garbage. I believe the problem was that I was not using sufficient starter for the recipe I was using.

But Today!!!! Today I made "real" sourdough without yeast.

Last evening I began a sponge by taking one cup of my starter, adding two and a fourth cups of flour plus two cups of water, and placing the resulting sponge in a warm spot overnight to ferment. This morning this is what it looked like. (I fed the remaining cup of starter by adding 1/4 cup each of flour and water and placing it in the fridge till my next batch of bread.)

I was pretty certain I had finally figured out how to avoid adding yeast but I decided to split the sponge into two batches. Each had the same ingredients added to the sponge (flour, water, milk, butter, salt, sugar) but one batch had regular yeast added and one batch did not.

Naturally the yeast batch rose faster. In fact it was speedy enough that it was baked and out of the oven before the "real" sourdough (without added yeast) had risen enough to punch down and shape into a loaf. However, the real stuff did eventually double in size and I shaped it into a loaf and placed it into a pan to rise, later to bake.

The thermometer? Who would figure to use a meat thermometer when baking bread? I had my old favorite bread recipe down to a T and I knew it took exactly 23 minutes at 400 degrees to bake a good loaf of bread. However many websites that talk about sourdough mention using a thermometer to bring the internal temp up to 200 degrees before declaring a loaf "done". So now I bake the loaf to "almost done", add the thermometer, and watch it for a few minutes till it comes up to temp. No more half-baked loaves. (I'm the only one half-baked in this house.)

When both loaves were done, I set them side by side. The size is about the same. The texture of the crumb is about the same. The taste is slightly different and I actually prefer the sourdough over the yeast/sourdough.

I recognize that traditional San Francisco sourdough has a much holier (not meaning "holier than thou") texture...I mean that it is full of large holes formed by the formation of gasses during the rising stage. But I'm not working towards that. I'm just happy to have the stuff rise and bake into a yummy loaf of bread.

I think I'm getting the hang of it!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Let Me Say Up Front....

Let me just say up front that I am not a hugger. I don't know why, but I seem quite satisfied with a happy "how do ya do". (No, I don't really talk that way!) However, society seems to deem a hug appropriate and often expected when greeting other women, especially friends and family. So I've learned to hug. But it still feels weird to me. (I know, that makes ME seem kinda weird!)

I've mentioned that Dad has been gone for 24 years now. And I miss him. So I was a bit stunned a couple years ago as we were paying for a meal at Red Lobster to see another customer who was almost the spitting image of my father. He was about the same height, had the same hairline, the same swollen arthritic knuckles, a quiet demeanor and was wearing an overcoat similar to what my dad wore. The resemblance was so amazing that I'm certain I stood with my mouth hanging open and my eyes glued upon him. If he had been facing me he surely would have noticed my stare, but he wasn't and so I let myself watch, pretending I was seeing my dad once again.

Later I kicked myself for not going up to the guy, for not being brave enough to say something stupid like "Hey, you look just like my dad. Can I have a hug?" But I hadn't and I figured I'd missed out on a real hug opportunity. Even though I'm not a hugger, I'd dearly love to get a hug one more time from my dad.

Sometime after that scenario my hubby and I had gone to a live performance at the theater in the city up the road. As we left the building I was surprised and delighted to see this same old gentleman. He was standing at the curb, waiting for the light to change so he could cross the street. This time I thought to myself, "Aha! I have a second chance!" And so I figured, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I turned back, walked up to him, explained that he looked just like my dad and boldly added, "Can I have a hug?"

Well, you can imagine his reaction. This very nice man looked at me as if I were some kind of weirdo. He was probably right. I mean, wouldn't you think it weird if someone walked up to you and said you looked like their late Aunt Jane and then asked for a hug? Think mugger! Or pickpocket! Or purse snatcher! Can you blame the guy for abruptly stepping down off the curb and high-tailing it across the street? Yep! I was a bit embarrassed.

Just goes to show you...weirdos come in every shape and form. I see one in the mirror every day. (She said with a slight, ever so slight, giggle.)

I'm anxious to get this chemo done and get my immune system back to normal so I can feel free to hug again. I need to hug my family and friends more often. I need to stop feeling weird about hugs.


If my dad were alive today he'd be 109 years old. Do the math. You probably think I'm a lot older than I am. But Dad did not marry until he was 40 years old. Then he went on to raise six kids, working hard as a hired hand on a small farm. In many ways he was a remarkable man, able to fix anything and everything that needed fixing on the farm. Not that he ever held a high-paying job nor enabled his family to live in luxury. We lived frugally on a hired hand's wages. Sometimes there simply was "no money".

But we were not "poor". We knew kids in school whose families were "poor". In comparison to their tough lives, we had it easy. A roof over our heads. Food in the garden and cellar. Eggs from the chickens and milk from the cows. It meant hard work on his part as well as ours for we learned young how to help our mom and dad with chores, make beds, dust floors, cook eggs or hamburgers in a cast-iron skillet, peel potatoes for supper. By the time we were ten or twelve, we were earning small amounts of money by picking up corn (gleaning) from the ground after the combines had done their job of harvesting. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays meant we were out in the field, walking the rows, shucking and tossing corn into a five-gallon bucket which we filled and carried to a spot in the row where we dumped the corn, piling it in piles until we could later drive Dad's old International pickup through the field to gather the piles into the truck. By the age of twelve, we were spending our summers in the field as well, hoeing seed corn fields, detasseling, and hoeing beans until the start of the new school year.

Yesterday I visited my dad's grave at a small country cemetery in Saunders County, Nebraska. Dates on the stones range from the late 1800s to this decade. My family's plot includes my dad, one of his brothers and a sister, and their parents. I and my siblings make the 100 mile trip now and then. Sometimes every two or three Memorial Days apart. In the past we've coordinated our visit to meet there together, bringing sandwiches, coffee, chips and picnicking under the trees. It's a peaceful location, atop the hill, looking out over Nebraska farmland. The homestead next to the cemetery is the one on which my parents lived when they first married before they moved to Iowa. Did I say peaceful? Yes. And I myself get a certain amount of peace looking out over the hilly countryside, trying to see back into time, into the lives of my parents and grandparents.

This time I cried. Wept. Not in a maudlin way, but in a "missing" way. I miss my dad. He's been gone 24 years now and that's a long time not to see your dad.

Today's Scriptures include John 5:25 and John 11:25 and I Thessalonians 4:13-14. (Don't forget to place your cursor over the scriptures to read them.)


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Well, Fiddlesticks! Delayed Again!

Tomorrow was to have been session 5 (out of 6) of my chemotherapy. However, my white blood counts are too low, in spite of last week's jump with the neupogen shots.

Who would ever believe a person would be disappointed about missing a chemo session? But I am. (ungrateful wretch!) This means I will not complete chemo as soon as I thought. We've had three one-week delays now and I'm guessing the 6th session will be delayed as well.

Another disappointment this week is that my eyelashes have disappeared. I was feeling a bit low about that until I sez to myself, "At least it's not teeth!" At least hair and lashes will grow back! At any rate, I can't change any of it, neither the delay nor the hair loss, so may as well sit back and enjoy one more week of feeling good. (still an ungrateful wretch!!!) So instead of fretting, I will let God deal with the "when" of it all.

Today's Scripture is James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city (and have chemo), and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit."Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that."

Monday, June 1, 2009

In the Midst of Pain and Death We Rejoice!

For ease of reading, you can place your cursor over the referenced verses to read a pop-up of the verse. In most instances I've typed out at least part of the verse, but you can use the pop-ups if you wish.

Last week in reading in the New Testament the words in Luke 10:20 jumped out at us. Jesus had sent seventy disciples to go out into the villages, etc., to teach and to heal. When they returned the seventy were rejoicing that "even the demons were subject to them".

But read Jesus' response in Luke 10:20...""Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven."

Names recorded in heaven? Where? And for what? Let's check further!

In Psalm 139:16 David speaks of God having chosen him from his mother's womb, before he was born. He says this...."Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.

Daniel 12:1-2 speaks of a book as well..."at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued."

In Philippians 4:3, Paul is instructing the brethren to love and be of help to one another. He describes his fellow believers as those "whose names are in the book of life."

In Hebrews 12:23 the writer describes believers as being members of the "church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.."

The Spirit of Christ is speaking to the disciple John in vision when he states in Revelation 3:5 "He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."

In Revelation 13:8, we see that not all are written in the book of life. This verse speaks of those who worship the beast (those who do not worship God). And it speaks of them "whose name has NOT been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb..." Also see Revelation 17:8 in regards to those whose names are Not written in the book.

And now we go to Revelation 20:12 wherein it states, "And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds." Follow that verse with Revelation 20:15 and you will see it is Not Good to not have your name written in the book of life! Then Revelation 21:27 speaks of the New Jerusalem (the heavenly city) when it says that no one shall come into the heavenly city except those "...whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."

Now I want to take you back to Luke 10:20. Jesus instructs the disciples (and believers) to rejoice! And he says in regards to experiences, even miraculous experiences, that we are to rejoice not in those experiences but in the fact that our names are recorded in the book of life from the foundation of the world.

We can rejoice that God, before Creation itself, had already prepared a kingdom, a New Jerusalem, heaven if you please, for His people. We see that in Matthew 25:34 where Jesus is speaking of Judgment Day. He says this: "Then the King (that's Jesus) will say those on His right (believers) 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'"

Regardless of our earthly circumstances those who follow Christ are to rejoice! Our names are written! Christ's redemptive work was put in place before the foundation of the world...the plan of salvation was a sure thing...our salvation was a sure thing...and now we walk with joy. Ephesians 1:4 and Hebrews 4:3.

Rejoice! Even in the midst of cancer, I can rejoice!