Monday, February 29, 2016

First Rose of the Season

The First Rose of the Year

Happy February 29!  It comes only once every 4 years, so, it seems one should do something special to celebrate the date!  I am celebrating with the first rose of the season!

This morning I had another hydration session and another immune booster injection.  My white blood cell count is at its lowest point in the cycle right now, so the immune booster shots are important to keep the immune system performing well.  Each immune booster injection costs over $600, so I am very grateful to have insurance.  With my insurance, I just pay $15 copay per injection.  And, of course, I am very grateful for my job through which I get my insurance.  While I was at the clinic, there was another patient who was having some rather severe side effects from the medications; made me feel grateful that my side effects have been relatively mild.

Later in the afternoon, I dropped daughter off at the airport to catch her flight back to Berkeley.  By the time her flight arrives in Berkeley and she takes the subway from the Oakland airport to Berkeley and get from the subway station to her apartment, it will be later in the evening and dark.  She always calls me when she arrives at the airport, when she gets to the apartment, etc., to let me know she's completed each stage of her journey.  She knows I tend to worry about her safety.

I noticed, today, that the first rose of the season has bloomed.  So, of course, I had to take a photograph of it.  The weather this week is just gorgeous with temperatures in the mid-80s.  No rain in the forecast at least until Sunday, so what that means is, I'll be needing to water the rose bushes that were newly planted on Friday and the rest of the rose bushes that are just forming buds or starting to flower.  I hand water them with the garden hose and that takes time and energy.  Hopefully, this week, I will start feeling better and more energetic.  Today, I watered the front garden, including the newly planted rose bushes.  I plan to do the back garden tomorrow.

Today is also the day to take the big trash cans to the curb for trash pick up, tomorrow.  Daughter already took the big green yard waste bin and the big black trash can to the curb for me, earlier today, so I just had to empty the waste baskets and take the inside trash to the can.  I did that when I went to water the front garden, so that job is done.

My nextdoor neighbors were returning home when they saw me out in the garden and stopped by to chat.  Our conversations are usually pretty interesting (lots of miming and smiling and nodding) because they speak very little English (the gentleman speaks a little English but the lady speaks only Spanish) and I speak almost no Spanish.  But I understood enough to know they were asking me how I was and maybe telling me to wear a hat to protect my head from the sun (today, I was wearing a scarf, it was 5:30 p.m. and the sun was setting; but they've seen me bare-headed out in the garden earlier in the day on other days).

And one more picture because the orange tree looks so lovely:

Orange Blossoms and Fruit

Today, I am grateful for:

- Insurance coverage to pay for my medical care.
- My job through which I get my medical insurance.
- Relatively minor side effects and discomfort compared to others.
- Daughter had a safe flight back to Berkeley and a safe ride from the airport to her apartment.
- The first rose of the year.

How was your Monday?  Did you do something special to celebrate that fact that it is February 29?

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday's Activities

I am afraid I might have done too much yesterday, because, today, I felt more tired, again.

Yesterday, I took pictures of the garden, watered the peach tree, sewed on my quilt, knitted a bit, did a load of laundry and hung it up to dry, played the piano for a bit, watched some TV, etc.

Today, I didn't feel quite so energetic.  I still sewed on my quilt in the morning and knitted a bit in the evening, watered the orange tree with water saved while waiting the shower water to warm up, put away the laundry I did yesterday and gave myself a pedicure of sorts, but I had a nap on the sofa in the afternoon and took it easy in the evening and watched the Oscars on TV.

The evenings seem to be the hardest.  I have more energy in the morning and I can sew, etc., when there is daylight as the light is better, then.  By evening, I am tired and there's nothing much I can do other than watch TV and often, I don't want to watch anything.  I am looking forward to the day when I have my full energy back.  Hopefully, next week, I will have enough energy to do some house cleaning, too.

Daughter did a little more grocery shopping for me today and went to the pharmacy (they sent her a text saying medications were ready for pick up but when she went, there was nothing new to be picked up).  Later in the afternoon, she went out with some of her friends to watch a movie and have dinner out.

Tomorrow, I have hydration in the morning and then, daughter leaves in the afternoon. 

Today, I am grateful for:

- Feeling better, overall
- Being able to sew on the Flower Garden quilt
- Being able to knit on the scarf
- Giving myself a pedicure
- A nap in the afternoon

Hope you had a lovely day, today.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Saturday Morning in the Garden

Do you remember this picture from a couple of weeks ago?  February 13, to be exact.

Aeonium Inflorescence

 Well, the flowers are blooming now and today, it looks like this:

Aeonium Flowers

 A few feet away, the orange tree is full of the sweetest smelling orange blossoms:

Orange Blossoms

The little peach tree has finished flowering and the leaves are starting to come out.  Among the spent flowers, one can see the beginnings of some peaches forming.  Of course, this is just the 2nd year for this little plant and most of the forming fruit will drop before they become any bigger.  But, hopefully, one or two might become big enough for us to have a couple of fruits to eat later, in the summer.

Peach Tree

 And finally, one of the three lemon trees, covered with lemon blossoms:

Lemon Blossoms
The tree was buzzing with bees who are enjoying the nectar from these flowers.  I'm sure I'll have another good crop of lemons again, later this year!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday: Hydration, Injection, a Near Scam, and Roses

Friday morning I went in for hydration and another immune booster injection.  Stopped on the way home to pick up some Japanese fast food - teriyaki bowls that are a favorite of ours.  Of course, I could eat only about a quarter of my bowl, but that's OK; daughter will have the rest of it for her dinner or tomorrow's lunch.

I was resting in the afternoon, when the knock came on my front door.  A gentleman in a uniform, flashing his company badge, telling me that he's from Company X, my house qualifies for a water conservation meter, and he's here to take the specifics and install the meter!  Excuse me?  Who are you?  What are you trying to do?  He assured me he was there to save me money on my water bill!  The municipal water I receive is metered and I am billed every 2 months, along with electricity and sewage treatment fees and solid waste collection fees.  The gentleman claimed that by installing their water meter, I would see a savings on my City water bill.  How?  It's a water conservation meter, it conserves water.  And there is no charge for installation.  Because my neighbor down the street has one and they are in the neighborhood to install his meter, so they can install my meter free of charge.  But there is a fee to pay later on?  Oh, yes, a monthly fee of $19.99 which can be paid from the savings I'd be making on my regular water bill when I install the water conservation meter.  What happens if I don't install the meter?  Your water bill will go up next month because they are raising the rates.  And if I don't install the meter by this weekend, the state will start charging for the installation, starting Monday.  Oh, my!  The pressure to decide on this matter right then and there!  Can I have some literature to read about it?  He left me a piece of paper, preprinted with a website, on which he wrote his name and phone number; not quite the literature I was wanting to read about the program.  Daughter called the municipal department of water and power and they agreed that it sounded like a scam.  Anybody tinkering with the water meter needed to have a permit to do so, etc.  I called my neighbor to warn her and she said the person was already at her door, talking to her husband.  They too, asked for literature to read about the program and declined the gentleman's pressure to have the meter installed right away.  He did admire my copper pipes, so now, I am wondering if he'll be back to steal my copper pipes away!  

Later in the afternoon, my gardener friend stopped by and planted the 5 new rose bushes he had bought earlier.  They all went in the front garden rose bed, filling in the holes where earlier plants had died.  I am supposed to water these roses until they take and water them more once they have taken.  They are burgundy iceberg roses, so hopefully, they'll do well in that location where they'll get full sun most of the day.

Newly Planted Roses

Another View of the Rose Bed

And just because I couldn't resist the pop of color:

The Lantana Border

Close Up of the Lantana

Today, I am grateful for:

- The hydration and the injection
- A little bit of an appetite
- Avoiding getting caught to a scam!
- Newly planted roses
- The front garden landscaping is almost completed

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thursday: Blood Test

Wednesday was spent sleeping, for the most part.  I managed to wake up long enough to accomplish some office work and send it off.  Got to keep the job going, no matter what.  Especially as they are willing to accommodate me. 

Today, I woke up early and drove myself to my blood test.  Came home and was tired enough to sleep for two solid hours!  Woke up and sent some completed office work back to the office and replied to an email.  Hope to accomplish a little more office work before needing another nap! 

Daughter is coming home again this evening, so I am looking forward to that!  She will drive me to my hydration, tomorrow. 

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to drive myself to the blood test and back
- The heater on a relatively cool morning
- Being able to nap as and when I want
- Being able to get enough office work done in between naps!
- Daughter coming home again for the weekend!

Hope your Thursday is coming along just fine.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuesday: Injection and Fatigue

Fatigue has set in - I was in bed by 8:30 p.m., last night, and slept till this morning, waking up once or twice to drink something. 

This morning, my friend's daughter came to drive me to the clinic for my immune booster injection.  Afterwards, I spent the major portion of the day sleeping!

I had a high protein drink in the morning for breakfast and managed to eat a piece of salmon for lunch.  I am thirsty, but not hungry.  So, not sure what I'll be able to eat for dinner - my neighbor brought me some soup, maybe I'll have some of that, or maybe a piece of fruit.  Or another protein drink.

In the morning, my regular doctor called and we spoke for a bit.  The oncologist keeps her updated about my treatment. 

I also sent in today's portion of office work.  Once again, I'm grateful I was able to get enough done over the weekend, when I felt well, to cover for these past two days when I haven't felt up to par.

Today, I am grateful for:

- My friend's daughter giving me a ride to the clinic and back this morning.
- My neighbor bringing me some soup.
- Getting enough office work done over the weekend to cover for a couple of days.
- Being able to rest when I feel fatigued.
- The nice, warm weather.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day for me.

How was your day, today?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday: Hydration and Injection

Just a short post today - I went in for hydration and an immune booster injection, today.  Came home and all I wanted to do was sleep.

Daughter left in the afternoon; my neighbor's daughter drove her to the airport and daughter called a little while ago to say she's had a safe flight.  She will call me again, when she gets to her apartment.

I slept most of the afternoon, but woke up enough to take out the trash cans and to put a little water to the newly transplanted plants.  Then, I sent in part of the office work assignment - I worked on it over the weekend to make up for days like today when I want to sleep.

I have to go in for another injection, tomorrow morning.  My friend's daughter will drive me to the clinic and back.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Daughter had a safe flight back to Berkeley
- Neighbor's daughter giving daughter a ride to the airport
- Friend's daughter being willing to drive me to the clinic tomorrow
- Good friends who help so willingly
- Flowers blooming in the garden

How was your Monday?  Have you had a good start to the week?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Well, the side effects are back.  I had to take anti-nausea medications today.

But I managed to do some cooking (pancakes for breakfast; sauted salmon for lunch) and I'm still eating.  I managed to have one pancake for breakfast; a small piece of salmon and cucumber salad for lunch; a piece of pear for snack. I enjoyed the pear the best, although the cucumber was good, too.  Haven't had dinner yet - might eat a piece of the chicken I made yesterday, or perhaps another piece of fish.

I did some office work this morning and then, sewed a bit.  Working on the Flower Garden quilt.  But apparently, my hexagon sides are not all even, so I am having to unpick to fit in the seams as best I can!
I took a long nap in the afternoon.  Still feeling a bit tired.  Not the best of days, but not the worst, either.  At least my daughter is here to keep me company.  Of course, she's leaving tomorrow afternoon.  Don't want her to go, but that can't be helped.  She'll be back on Thursday evening.  

Today, I am grateful for:

- Anti-nausea medications.
- Still being able to eat a little.
- Sewing project to keep me occupied and my mind distracted from my physical discomforts.
- A friend picking up some postage stamps for me (and daughter going to collect them from her for me).
- A nice long nap.

Hope you all had a lovely, blessed Sunday.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Finished Project!

Finished Scarf

I knitted on the blue and white scarf during chemo, yesterday, and again, last night.  Finally, this morning, I was able to finish knitting it.  I would have liked it to have been a bit longer, but the length was determined by the amount of white yarn I had left in the stash.  I briefly considered buying another skein of white yarn, but decided against it.  I am trying to use up my stash of yarn, not add to it.  I was able to use up the leftover blue yarn to add the tassels which added a bit to the overall length.  I will set aside this scarf to be given as a holiday gift, this year.  Since it was made entirely with leftover yarn from another project, it makes a very frugal gift.  One work-in-progress completed!  7, possibly 8, more to go!

I woke up really early, this morning!  Just after 4:00 a.m.!  After going to sleep after 1:30 a.m.!  I tried going back to sleep, but I was wide awake.  I lay in bed until 5:30 a.m. before I gave up trying to sleep and got up.  Had a cup of tea and then, went on-line for a bit.

At 6:30 a.m., I logged onto the office and worked on some of my office assignments for the week.  I am not required to work only during office hours during this period of working from home during cancer treatment.  As long as I put in the required number of hours each week and complete my assignments, I can work at anytime during the day or night, weekends and weekdays and thus work around my treatments when I have to be at the clinic.  Such a blessing I can do that.  I was quite productive this morning and got a lot of the assignment completed.

Took a break around 9:00 a.m. to have breakfast - French toast to use up the last of the bread before it got too stale.

After I did the morning's office work, I finished knitting the scarf. 

I will do a little sewing on the Flower Garden quilt in the afternoon, when there is daylight (better for my eyes).  I'll do the rest of this day's office work in the evening.  I am working now, during the weekend, while I still feel fine, in anticipation of being fatigued and wanting to nap later, during the week. 

Daughter is off to do the week's grocery shopping and run errands for me.  What a blessing that she can do that for me.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Feeling well this morning; no nausea, no fatigue.
- Being able to work from home at my convenience.
- Daughter doing the grocery shopping and running errands for me.
- Finishing up one of the in-progress projects and a frugal holiday gift.
- A warm, sunny day.

How is your Saturday?  Are you having a good start to your weekend?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Mountain Climbing: The Fourth Round of Chemo and Going Bald!

Today, I climbed to the top of another flight of stairs and reached another plateau on the Mountain!  I completed the fourth round of chemo and it was also the last round of the Adriamycin and Cytoxan (also known and A & C) combination of chemo medicines.  The A & C rounds are supposed to be the hardest part of chemo, with the more severe side effects.  So, with this last round, today, I might be over the hardest part of my climb!  Time to celebrate - with milk shakes on the way home!  My taste buds have changed and the milk shake didn't taste quite "right".  But I drank it anyway!

I now get a 4-week break before I start the next round of chemo, which will be Taxol.  These will be done as weekly treatments; 12 in all.

The Taxol will have its own share of side effects, including nausea, hair loss, dizziness, joint and muscle pain, diarrhea, tingling and numbness in hands and feet, etc.  But the dosage is supposed to be lower than the A & C and so, the side effects will be lesser (which is why it will be given weekly).  Of course, all will depend on how I react to the drug. I am hopeful that the side effects won't be too bad. 

The Taxol will be followed by 6 weeks of daily radiation treatments.

This morning, daughter and I left the house at 7:30 a.m. as usual for the 8:45 a.m. appointment.  I had to wait for almost an hour and a half before I was called in to consult with the nurse practitioner and it was 10:45 a.m. before I was hooked up to the IV for the actual treatment.  By which time I was hungry!

So, daughter went to a nearby fast food place and got me a small hamburger!  The patient seated next to me was eating a submarine sandwich which included raw vegetables, a healthier alternative to a burger, but, at the same time, totally disregarding the recommendation to avoid eating raw vegetables!  When I first went in for treatments, I didn't want to eat in the treatment room out of consideration for the other patients, but I soon realized that several patients had their lunch during treatment and I presumed it was OK as the staff didn't say anything.  So, now, I, too, eat lunch during treatment.

Today, I also made an appointment to be fitted for a wig!  They are provided free to patients by a non-profit organization formed in the memory of a lady who died of cancer.  I had been resistant to the idea of a wig; I had planned to wear scarves or hats, instead.  However, I saw another patient with her new wig, today, and it looked nice and she persuaded me that a free wig would be something good to have.  It will give me another option.  I have to shave my head before I go in for the fitting, so I'll do that.  I have lost quite a bit of my hair and it's time to complete the process.

Here is how my hair looked on December 14, 2015, ten days after the 1st chemo session, still long and abundant:

December 14, 2015

Ten days later, on December 24, 2015, Christmas Eve, I had daughter cut it short for me, as I was combing out clumps of hair:

December 24, 2015

 And this is the back of my head, today, February 19, 2016, after my 4th chemo:

February 19, 2016 - Going Bald!

Sigh.  Oh, well, one of the tenets of my religion (Buddhism) is that all things are transient and subject to change.  The loss of my hair is just another change.  And my mother always insisted that change was good!  So, I shall take this in stride and move forward.  One of my friends thinks I should get a fun, blue wig, just in case.  My daughter has offered to buy me a purple one because, when I started to go grey and various members of my family and some friends urged me to start coloring my hair, I threatened to dye it purple!  (Purple is a favorite color of mine).  LOL. 

I knitted on the white with blue stripes scarf (one of my works-in-progress) while I had my treatment and daughter did her reading for homework.  Treatment was over at 1:00 p.m. and we were home a little after 2:00 p.m.

White with Blue Stripes Scarf in Progress

My gardener bought me 5 rose bushes (purple/burgundy iceberg roses) to fill in some of the bare spots in the garden and a bag of gladioli bulbs.   He will also buy me some planting mix and bone meal, as well.  As I don't go shopping these days (due to my compromised immunity), I give him the money, he does the purchasing and brings me the receipts, and we settle up accounts as needed.  He was feeling a bit under the weather, so after he dropped off the plants, he left.  The new roses will be planted next week.

In the afternoon, I worked on office work (received new assignments, today).  I plan to work on office work during the days when I feel well enough, next week, to minimize the amount of sick leave I have to take.

I haven't made any plans for tomorrow.  It all depends on how I feel, in terms of side effects. Of course I am hoping that there will be minimal side effects.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Reaching the milestone of my 4th chemo and the last of the A&C ones!
- Having climbed the hardest part of the mountain!
- Milk shakes (even if the taste has changed!)
- Never had to contend with a metallic taste in my mouth, just changed taste buds (can't taste salt, for example)
- Knowing that all things are subject to change and change is good!

Thank you all for coming along with me this far on the journey and mountain climbing. 

How was your Friday?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Works in Progress

Works-in-Progress/Unfinished Projects

We all have them, don't we?  Works-in-Progress or projects we've started and haven't finished yet.  How many of us actually start a project and then, complete it before starting a new project?  Not too many of us, I think.  Almost everyone I know of, who crafts, sews, knits, etc., has on-going projects.  I know I do!  I start with the best of intentions, but then, something else comes along that I want to try doing and before I know it, I have several works-in-progress!

This morning, I rounded up the majority of them (I have a suspicion that there's a sari blouse I cut out and never sewed, stuck in the drawer, somewhere) and set them out on the sofa for all to see!  These are only the ones I've started - not the ones I've planned to start!  LOL!  I've plenty of those, too!

First in the line up, the Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt.  I am currently working on this, but it is very slow going.  I have 16 more flowers to attach to it:

Grandmother's Flower Garden Quilt in Progress

I keep my in-progress projects in various bags or drawers in the spare bedroom (which functions as a guest room, my crafts room, storage room, and home office!)  For the most part, I'm pretty good at remembering what I have in progress, but, occasionally, I forget one.  Such was the fate of this scarf that I had started and then, put aside; I found it today, when I looked inside another project bag:

Scarf in Progress

Had I remembered it, I would have taken it with me to chemo and hydration sessions to work on.  But now that I've unearthed it, I will work on it during my next chemo session, tomorrow, and the next couple of hydration sessions until I've finished it.

Also, had I remembered this unfinished scarf, earlier, I would not have started this other scarf!

Another Scarf in Progress

I guess this will now be kept aside until the other scarf is completed.

The next work-in-progress is a skirt I had unpicked with the intention of making it over for my daughter:

Skirt in Progress
It had become too tight for me, so I was planning to take it in to fit daughter.  I don't quite know why I put it aside - quite possibly the make over was too much for me.  I will have her try it on when she comes home this weekend and then decide if I want to continue working on it.   If not, I might repurpose the fabric to make a tote bag or something (would that be considered as starting a new project, if I change my mind about what I want to make?)
The next unfinished project is a sweater.  I have the back completed and part of the front done.  I remember stopping it when it came to shaping the neck and armholes because I want to maintain the lacework pattern but it requires some calculations (I am not following a printed sweater pattern; the only pattern I have is for the lace; I make up the shapings as I go).  Apparently, I like doing the easy parts and then, stop when it becomes more complicated. 

Sweater in Progress

The next work-in-progress is another patchwork quilt top.  It is called "mile-a-minute" patchwork, as one simply sews pieces of fabrics together at random and then, cut out squares to join together.  I thought it would be a good way to use up my stash of small bits and pieces of fabric, and it is.  Not quite sure why I set it aside; probably ran out of time to sit at it, or needed to put away the sewing machine and tidy up the dining table (I sew at the big dining table) or a combination of both.  I have decided to work on this quilt and call it my Mountain Climbing quilt instead of starting yet another one.  I can incorporate the pieces I cut for the Mountain Climbing quilt into this one.

"Mile a Minute" Patchwork Quilt in Progress

Next comes the bag of Granny Squares I've crocheted: 

Granny Squares in Progress

This is definitely an on-going project as I crochet a few granny squares as the yarn stash gets to a critical point.  I haven't decided what I will make from all the granny squares, but I suppose it will be another blanket.  Not that I need another blanket.  Maybe I can make something else with the granny squares.  Once, I made a scarf with some of the granny squares and gave it away as a gift.  I have also  toyed with the idea of making tote bags with some of the squares and then, giving them away as holiday gifts.  Should try making a tote bag with some of the squares to see how it would look.

And, last but not least, a blouse I started sewing for myself:

Blouse in Progress

The lace and lining were fabrics I found in my mother's fabric stash.  I cut out the blouse last summer, I believe (or was it the summer before?) but when I basted (tacked, for my British readers) it together and tried it on, it was too tight!  So, I put it aside.  Well, I've since lost 12 lbs. (due mostly to the chemo treatment), so, maybe the time is right to try it on again!  Maybe it will fit now!  If so, I can set up the machine and sew on it and have a new blouse to wear for as long as I manage to keep to this new weight.

So, those are my Unfinished Projects or Works-in-Progress!  And, as I said before, there might even be a sari blouse in the making, tucked away in a drawer, somewhere!  (I looked but couldn't locate it). 

I put myself on a yarn diet (no buying new yarn unless needed to finish a current project) some time ago and have done well with reducing the yarn stash.  I have put myself on a no new fabric diet and haven't bought any new fabric in over a year.  I now need to put myself on a no new projects diet until I have finished all my on-going works-in-progress!  I have enough to keep me busy for the rest of this year, I think!

What do you have that are currently works in progress?    

Today, I am grateful for:

- An abundance of in-progress projects to keep me occupied!
- Last night's good soaking rain.
- A sunny day, today.
- Daughter will be coming home, later today.
- Feeling well and "back to normal" before my next chemo session, tomorrow!

Hope you are all having a wonderful day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wednesday: Blood Tests and Rain

Today was a productive day, too. 

I went for my blood tests in the morning.  You know you've been going to the lab for blood tests too often when the staff know you on a first name basis!  I had to be fasting for today's blood tests, so, after I came back, I made myself breakfast - fried potatoes, ham, and a scrambled egg; the same as yesterday's.  I also had a quick chat with one of my cousins.

After that, I downloaded the new work assignment and called my supervisor to discuss the assignment with her.  Then, spent most of the day working on office work.  I was able to send back half of the completed work assignment by the end of the work day, today; the balance half will be done tomorrow. 

In between, I stripped the beds and did a load of laundry (the bed sheets, etc.)  Lunch was half a small (personal size) frozen pizza; I'll probably have the other half for dinner.
It has been raining, here, all afternoon and evening - a slow, gentle, drizzly rain, but rain, nevertheless.  Just the thing for the newly transplanted plants and my garden in general.  It's turned cool, too.  We are not in the 80s and 90s anymore.

I need to remake the beds, and will video chat with daughter and knit, later this evening.

Today, I am grateful for:

- The rain!
- A safe drive to the lab and back.
- Continued work assignments.
- Washing machines.
- A productive day.

How was your Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Quiet Tuesday

I've had a quiet, but productive day, today.  I started off the day putting away a load of laundry that had hung up overnight to dry and walking around the garden to check on the newly transplanted plants (they seem to be doing OK).  Paid a bill and kept in the mailbox for the letter carrier to collect and brought in the empty trash cans from the curb.

A bit later in the morning, I video chatted with a friend who lives overseas.  Isn't technology just grand?

Afterwards, I made a late breakfast of fried potatoes, a scrambled egg and some ham, with apple juice to drink.  Lunch, eaten at mid-afternoon (3:00 p.m.), was leftover rice, sauted beef, green beans curry and lentils curry.  Dinner will be a bit later, something light - maybe a peanut butter sandwich and banana. 

After breakfast, I did another load of laundry and hung it up to dry.  I hang everything to dry indoors - most of the clothes on clothes hangers hung from the tops of the door frames (most of the doorways have wood frames) and the rest (towels, socks, other small items) on a metal clothes dryer/airer.  It's been such a warm day that the laundry is now dry and ready to be folded and put away.

Once the laundry was in the washing machine, I settled down to do some office work.  I took a short break to hang the laundry to dry and then, worked until I finished the assignment and submitted it, with a request for additional assignments for the rest of this week.

Later, I did the dishes and sewed on my quilt.  Hand-sewing is slow but meditative and therapeutic, I think.  I recite my prayers, listen to music, think about various things, etc., while I sew.  I am hoping to have it completed by the end of this summer.  
Daughter called once, between classes and work to check on how I am doing.  She was on her way to her last class of the day which ends at 8:00 p.m.  We will video chat once she gets back to her apartment.  Tuesdays are super long days for her, as her first class starts at 9:00 a.m. and the last class ends at 8:00 p.m. and she has work in between.

It is 6:45 p.m. now.  I have closed the windows (I had them open the whole day as it was such a nice, warm day), drawn the drapes, turned on the lights, and fed the cat.  I am debating if I want to make myself a cup of tea or not; I think I will. 

Today, I am grateful for:

- A video chat with my overseas friend and the technology which enables us to do so
- The continued lovely weather
- Letter carriers who pick up outgoing mail while delivering incoming mail
- Time to sew and contemplate
- Completing my work assignment in a timely manner and the technology which enables me to work from home

How was your Tuesday?  Did you have a good day?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Mending my Purse

Torn Pocket

My purse has an outside pocket where I keep my keys, cell phone, work ID, a pen, etc.  The pocket consists of a silky fabric and I noticed that there was a fairly large tear along one of the side seams and things were falling through the tear to the inside of my purse!

This morning, I emptied the purse and pocket and noticed that the other side of the pocket was also starting to tear:

Lining in Process of Tearing

I trimmed the edges of the torn side seam, turned them inside, and sewed a closely spaced blanket stitch to seal it closed.  I didn't mind using white thread on a cream colored fabric because this is the pocket lining and the sewing won't be seen.


Torn Side Mended

Since the other side seam wasn't fully torn, I did a row of running stitches to stabilize and reinforce the edge and then, did a row of blanket stitches:

The Tearing Side Mended, Too

It took me less than 20 minutes to sew the two torn seams, but the repairs should extend the life of the purse by several months at the very least.  I have only this one everyday purse and this purse gets a lot of use.  I seem to carry everything but the kitchen sink in it and it weighs a ton!  But it is what I'd grab first if there was an earthquake, etc., and I had to leave the house in a hurry.  I used my previous purse for 2 years and I am hoping to use this one for the same length of time.

If you had a purse with a torn pocket lining, what would you have done?  Speaking of purses, do you have several that you switch to match your outfit, etc. (I used to do that when I was younger and had several purses and matching pairs of shoes!), or do you have just one or two everyday purses?  Or do you just not bother with a purse, at all?  If so, what do you use in lieu of a purse?

Today, I had a cup of tea and a banana for breakfast.  For lunch, I pulled out items from the freezer - previously cooked sauted beef, green beans curry, lentil curry, and squash curry; reheated them and cooked a pot of rice.  One of the Valentine's Day chocolates for dessert.  Haven't decided on dinner, yet.  Maybe leftover macaroni and cheese from the other night.

Daughter will be flying back to Berkeley, a little later this afternoon.  I will drop her off at the airport and come back.  The house will no doubt feel lonely with her gone.  However, she'll be coming back at the end of the week to accompany me to my 4th chemotherapy session on Friday.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to extend the length of use of my purse by mending it.
- Knowing enough sewing to mend the purse.
- Being able to practice a bit of frugality by mending the purse.
- Food from the freezer for lunch (plus leftovers for the next couple of days).
- A beautifully warm, sunny day and the sound of birds singing.

Hope each and every one of you is having a lovely day.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy St. Valentine's Day!


Happy St. Valentine's Day to all of you! 

I don't normally celebrate St. Valentine's Day, but friends of mine sent me a box of chocolates!  And I reminded myself that I had intended to celebrate all holidays this year, to the extent I am able.

Since there are pink accents in my living room already, I decided to go with pink and hearts as my decor theme.  I moved a heart-shaped picture frame (with a photograph of my mother and me when I was pregnant with my daughter) from the bedroom to the living room mantel:

My Mother and Me

And I pulled together a tablescape with items I had on hand: 5 small heart-shaped containers, a book about hearts to craft, and the set of 3 candle holders with pink tea-light candles in them, on a pink and white doily (notice how the leaves on the flowers resemble hearts!) my mother crocheted:

Coffee Table Decor

The three tiny heart-shaped tins were bought when I was at university in Wisconsin, back in the mid-1970s!  I normally keep them on the display shelf in my bathroom. The other two containers were trinket/jewellery boxes; the white ceramic one was a gift from my sister to my daughter and the red plastic one was a gift from my mother to me (originally there were 3 nesting boxes).  Their lids have broken, but I keep and use the bottoms to hold coins, pins, etc. on my dressing table (I just transferred the contents to other containers to free them up for the display).

I considered making a garland of hearts for the mantel, but decided it would be too much.  I want something subtle enough to be kept on display for the rest of the month of February, even after St. Valentine's Day is over.

Daughter has gone out to breakfast with two of her friends (my friend's daughters; our daughters have been friends since they were 3 and 4 years old!)

I am having a quiet morning.  I plan to sew on my quilt and vacuum, later (I dusted, yesterday).  I would also like to tidy up the kitchen a bit more, if I feel up to it. 

Today, I am grateful for:

- Gift of chocolates from friends
- Gift of good friends for my daughter
- A reminder to celebrate each day
- A warm, sunny day
- Being able to decorate with what I already have

I wish you all a lovely day, today, spent in the company of loved ones.  Do please go ahead and have a chocolate to celebrate St. Valentine's Day:

Chocolate Ganache Cups

Saturday, February 13, 2016

More Garden Pictures!

As promised, here are more pictures of the garden!  Warning - lots of pictures!

The peach tree as of this morning:

Peach Tree with more Flowers in Bloom

Just two days of temperatures in the upper 80s and almost all the buds on the peach tree have bloomed!

Peach Flowers: Close Up

At the very back of the garden, in the corner, this yucca plant and schefflera have established their dominance!

Schefflera and Yucca

 The calamondin tree, whose flowers are perfuming the whole back garden:

Calamondin Tree (and variegated Schefflera)

There's a variegated Schefflera plant growing under the tree - it is in a pot, but has managed to break through the pot to root itself in the ground!

Close up of Calamondin

The fruit is edible, but very sour.

The Aeonium arboreum "Zwartkop" that I mentioned was growing in a neglected corner at the very back:


Aeonium arboreum "Zwartkop"

It is also called Black Rose, I've read.  I plan to take cuttings to root and then, plant them in the front garden, or, at least, another spot in the back garden where they will be more featured and noticed. 

I currently have another one of these plants in my back garden that is ready to flower: 

Aeonium Inflorescence

I am 5 ft. tall and the top of this flower is a few inches above my head! The buds will open up to reveal bright yellow flowers.

Close Up

Meanwhile, in the front garden, the gazania plants that were transplanted, yesterday:


Newly Transplanted Gazania Plants

More newly transplanted Gazanias, between the two purple flowering African daisies, in the same planting bed (the silvery white plants are "Dusty Miller":

More Newly Transplanted Gazania

And the newly planted aloe plants, with the other plant gardener M gave me (I forget the name of it, but he said it was a type of variegated iris):

A Circle of Aloe

I think I will ask him to make a planting bed and put a larger circle of border stones around the outside edge of the aloe plants.

And finally, 3 photos of the front planting bed, going from right to left (when facing the planting bed):

Right End

The Middle Area

The Left End

This planting bed is 20-feet long, and leads from the front driveway to my front door.  There's another, shorter planting bed to the right of this planting bed, that is centered under the living room window, which is planted mostly with the white African daisies (and one or two other plants).

I made waffles for brunch, today, washed dishes, and put away a load of laundry.  I pottered about the garden a bit and planted one Aeonium I had already rooted (tucked it into a corner of the front planting bed, after I took the above pictures) and spoke with my nextdoor neighbor while I was out in the garden.  I plan to do a little sewing in the afternoon and maybe decorate for St. Valentine's Day, tomorrow, if I feel like it.

Today, I am grateful for:

- The garden coming together, little by little
- The warm, sunny day
- Yummy waffles!
- A relaxed day
- My daughter's company

Hope you are having a lovely weekend.  What are you up to, today?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday: Hydration and Gardening

I went for my hydration this morning.  As usual, it took most of the morning, too.  My appointment was for 8:45 a.m., so we left home at 7:30 a.m.  I got there on time, but I didn't get called in until 9:45 a.m., and I didn't get hooked up for hydration until 10:10 a.m.  I was at the clinic until after 11:30 a.m.  It was close to 1:00 p.m. by the time we got back home. 

I spent most of the afternoon reviewing office documents.  I was able to finish today's assignment and sent it off later in the evening.
But I took a little time off to go into the garden when my gardener friend came over, to point out to him what I wanted done.  He brought me a plant cutting and planted that along with the aloe and transplanted some of the gazanias.  I will have to water the newly planted items for a few days since we are still in the mid-to-upper 80s here (it was 88F this afternoon).  But once they are established, they will all be drought tolerant.
I also gave him some money to buy me 5 more rose plants and some gladioli bulbs.  I am going to do up the front rose bed and give it another chance.  And the gladioli will give me some nice flowers this year and, hopefully, come back and maybe even multiply year after year.  I will be taking pictures of the garden later, but I think the front garden is starting to look a little bit better cared for, now.
I've been warned to be very careful when gardening (to wear gloves to prevent accidental cuts, scratches, etc., to minimize chances of infection), so I haven't done any weeding, or anything, yet, but I think a few minutes spent tending to the plants would be a good thing.  Weeding, to me, is almost like meditating.  I am out in the garden, surrounded by the plants, the sunshine and fresh air, the bird songs and butterflies, and time just stands still.  And I feel my mother's spirit close by when I am in the garden.   Gardening was her passion and she was someone who could stick a dry twig in the ground and have it grow into the most beautiful plant.
Later in the evening, I made "kheer" which is Indian rice pudding, that is flavored with cardamons,  other spices, almonds and raisins.  I used a boxed mix that daughter had bought, this time, and it was very easy - just cook 2 1/2 cups of milk with the contents of the box until it thickens to the consistency of your choice. 
Today, I am grateful for:

- The hydration went well
- I didn't require another immune booster injection
- I got today's work assignments completed
- Indian rice pudding for dessert
- The garden getting some much needed attention

How was your Friday?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thursday: More Gardening Plans

I had my blood tests first thing, this morning.  Once that was over, I worked on office related work and sent the completed work assignments back to the office and received the next assignment.  Enough to keep me busy on Friday and Monday.

In between, I took short breaks to sew on my "Grandmother's Flower Garden" quilt. 

I also took another stroll around the garden.  I wish I could convey the fragrance of the calamondin tree in bloom.  Calamondin is a type of citrus which look like miniature oranges.  The fruit is edible but very sour; it is grown more as an ornamental plant than a fruit tree.  I'm sorry, I didn't take any pictures today.  There are buds on the orange tree and lemon trees, too, but they haven't opened yet.  The calamondin tree, however, is covered with flowers and the garden smells divine.

I identified several gazania plants that can be dug up and transplanted in some bare spots in the front garden.  At one time, I had gazania plants in the parkway, but they died out and now, I'm trying to grow African daisies out there.  But there is another flower bed, with African daisies as well as some roses and a few other plants.  There are several bare areas in this flower bed, where the gazania would fill in, nicely, if planted.

I also identified two areas where I could plant the new aloe plants.  One is an existing flower bed with a few rose bushes - at one time, I had 16 rose bushes in the front garden, but now, that number is down to less than half that.  If I have my gardener friend transplant the roses to the back garden, this bed could be planted with the aloe.  Otherwise, I could make a new planting bed for the aloe.

I also found another Aeonium plant at the very back of the garden that could be dug up and planted in the front where it will be better featured.  I can't go shopping at a plant center under present circumstances, so I am shopping in my own garden and moving plants around.  Well, they haven't been planted yet, but that is just a matter of time, I think.   I will talk to my gardener M and see what he has to say.

I also did a load of laundry today and hung it up to dry.  This has been the extent of my housekeeping this whole week, other than doing the dishes and a little bit of daily tidying.

Daughter is flying down today; she just called to say she has boarded her flight.  She completed her thesis and handed it in today, one day before it was due.  Hopefully, she can now relax a little bit.  In the meantime, I'll be happy to have her home, for the weekend.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to complete my work assignments on time
- Getting the blood tests done without any difficulty
- Time to sew on my quilt
- Planning the garden
- A walk around the garden, sunshine, warmth, and the fragrance of flowers

How was your day, today? 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Garden in February Continued

Little Peach Tree

Today, I took a stroll around the back garden.  The little peach tree we planted last year is having blooms and buds!  The promise of good things to come, if all goes well.  This little tree is all of 3-feet high, so I will be happy to get even 3 or 4 peaches from it, this year (we had a crop of 2 fruits, last year!)  

Peach Blossoms

But while I wait for the peaches, there are oranges to be enjoyed now!

Oranges on the Tree

Not as many or as big as one would like, due to the drought, but still, some of the sweetest oranges I've ever eaten.  I picked some and sent with daughter when she went back to Berkeley. And I juiced one to have with my sandwich for lunch.

Oranges, close up

More African daisies; these are known as Gazanias. I have both orange/yellow and cream colored flowers:


Orange/Yellow Gazania (and Bug!)

Cream-colored Gazania

The gazania's  are self seeded - they are wind-dispersed and tend to grow where ever they land and find a hospitable spot.  I used to have the gazania's growing in a flower bed, at one time, but they died out in the planting bed.  I now have some other gazania's springing up in spots in the non-existant lawn areas.  Since I no longer have a lawn, I am just going to allow the gazania to grow where ever they want - or maybe relocate them to other areas of the garden where I would like to encourage them to grow.

The camellia bush was one of the few plants I found growing in the garden when I bought the house:

Camellia Bush

My gardener, who is a prize-winning grower of camellias, calls it the Grande Dame of Camellias!  It, too, has suffered from the drought, but, year after year, rewards me with double colored flowers.

Camellia Up Close

By the back wall, we planted a small cutting of a succulent known as Euphorbia tirucalli; there's a species of this known as "Sticks-on-fire" because the growing ends are reddish.  This is the all-green version, also known as "pencil tree".  It is on a mission to take over my backyard!

The Euphorbia that's Taking Over the Backyard!

However, it's getting a little competition from the rosemary bush in taking over the backyard!  It, too, was grown from a small cutting taken from a friend's garden.  This is after it was cut way back in the fall!  It stands about 4 feet high and about as much wide.

The Rosemary Bush

And finally, the 5-foot wide strip between the house and the sidewall, which is my side yard.  Overgrown with grass and weeds after the rain!  The nearby trunk is one of the feijoa (pineapple guava) trees; the tree at the far end is the cherry guava tree.

The Over-Grown Side Yard

Hope you enjoyed the visit to my back yard!

In other areas of my life, I went to the clinic for my immunity booster injection in the morning.  I am so happy to be well enough to drive myself there and back.  I clarified something about the endoscopy - apparently, they are just going to do a blood test, at this point to determine if I need the endoscopy at all.  I am glad to have that cleared.

I also sent back the first half of the new batch I work I received yesterday.  I've promised the second half tomorrow or by the end of the week. 

Today, I am grateful for:

- Phone calls from cousins
- Being well enough to drive myself to and from the clinic
- Having a safe night, last night
- Waking up well and alive this morning
- A walk in the garden

How has your day been?  What are you grateful for, today?