Friday, October 30, 2015

Hat and Scarf - Whodunit?

Package in the Mail
I received a package in the mail, yesterday.  And the stamp said "Royal Mail"!  As you can imagine, it was a bit out of the ordinary!  Especially since I wasn't expecting anything in the mail, royal or otherwise!  The customs label said "fabric hat".

Inside, there were two smaller packages:


One was a lovely, soft scarf:

Quite large and square; the pattern looks like interwoven lace! 

Scarf Spread Out

The other item was a fabric hat; black, with a braided trimming with beads, and two fabric roses at the back:

Black Hat

Sorry, the picture doesn't do it justice:
Hat - Another View

There was a card from the company:


It says:  "Angels from up above, Please protect those we love" and thanks me for shopping with them and hopes that I am happy with my purchase and enjoy wearing my headwear and that they will be around when I need them, and if I think there is something they can improve on, please feel free to send them my comments.

But it doesn't tell me who sent it!  Because I didn't order the items they sent.  Which must mean that someone else ordered it and had it sent to me.  Someone who knew my name and address and even my phone number (since that was included on the mailing label).

I wish I knew who sent it because then, I could thank them personally for this very thoughtful gift.  I checked with my daughter to see if she was responsible for it, but she says no, it wasn't from her (although, now, she wishes it was! :D  )

So, to the anonymous person who sent me this lovely gift, THANK YOU!  I truly appreciate the gift of the new headwear.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Elephants and Redoing a Display Case

Elephants on Parade

A friend of mine mentioned she had been asked to participate in a "White Elephant Sale".  She, being a professional organizer, said she had no unwanted clutter to take to a White Elephant sale and would have to buy something especially for the purpose!  I, having more than my fair share of clutter, joked that if we lived closer to each other, I could have found her a whole herd of elephants, white or otherwise! 

But the one elephant she couldn't have is this one:

My Father's Elephant

He's carved out of wood and painted black.  He's battered and cracked, his paint is flaking off, he's missing a tusk, and his tail broke off (I have it stored in a container).  But he belonged to my father and my father is supposed to have sat on him as a small child (which, if true, makes the elephant over 100 years old).  I brought him with me all the way from Sri Lanka and he stands guard at my front door (he usually faces the living room; I just turned him sideways to take the picture).  

I hadn't set out with a plan to collect elephants.  The brass item with three seated elephants is actually a stand for a carved brass bowl, representative of the begging bowl carried by Buddhist monks (I removed the bowl for the picture) and is a very traditional decorative item I had bought on one of my return visits to Sri Lanka; it was bought from an antique shop owned by my stepfather's friend.  The blue and white elephants were gifts from my mother, because I do collect blue and white china.  The larger, red, hand painted wooden elephant was also a gift from my mother.  The smaller painted wooden elephants were bought by me. 

I display the majority of the smaller elephants, along with some other bits and pieces, on a wooden display shelf unit:

Wooden Display Shelf Unit
Since everything was rather dusty, I removed everything and washed them and the shelf unit (the grid part comes out for easy cleaning).  But I was tired of the plain wood.  I had originally intended to paint it, when I first bought it, but had never got around to it.  So, today, I decided to do something about sprucing it up, a little bit.  I wanted something quick and easy, so, instead of painting it, I decided to line the inside with scrapbooking paper:

Paper Lined Shelf Unit

It took 3 sheets of 12" x 12" paper (the 3rd sheet was cut in half and taped to the full sized sheets).  The photo was taken in the evening when the light was not as good, but the paper is lilac with a light green pattern.  The grid keeps it all in place:

Paper-Lined Shelf
Maybe, one day, I might get around to painting the grid, too.  But for now, the paper lining brightenes it up, and I can always change the background if I want to.  And then, I put back all the things I display on this shelf unit:

The Collection

Just about every item displayed is special to me.  The green glass bird on the upper left was a gift from an aunt.  There is another, tiny, clear glass bird, as well, in one of the square spaces, which was given to me by another aunt, when I left my parents to attend university - aunt said it represented the baby bird flying the nest!  The glass Snoopy-like dog and 2 smaller dogs were a gift my mother sent me, from Hong Kong, when she was teaching there and I was in Wisconsin, attending college; originally the puppies were attached to the mama dog with gold chains, but the chains broke and the mama dog and one of the puppies have also broken their tails!  I've had the two tiny porcelain  Siamese kittens, just below the glass dogs, since I was about 10 years old - originally, there was a mother cat and 3 kittens.  The three tin hearts were bought from a little shop in Wisconsin (there was a time when I collected heart-shaped items).  The creamy carved snuff bottle was a souvenir I purchased in Taiwan, when I was there in 1974 - I purchased it with "lucky money" given to me during Chinese New Year.  The little wooden Paddington Bear was bought at a swap meet (yes, I used to collect teddy bears, too, at one time). 

Some of daughter's little collectibles have also made their way to the shelf unit - a Hello Kitty, two characters from the anime Hamtaro, and a little Vietnamese dancer statue given to her by one of her friends.

It is hard to declutter and streamline when everything is full of special meaning and of sentimental value!

Do you have collections of items with sentimental value?  If so, do you display them?  If you were asked to participate in a White Elephant sale, would it be easy for you to find something to take to it?  

Remembering My Neighbor K

I received a phone call this morning, from my neighbor K's nephew.  

I met K even before I bought my house, because my cousin had moved into the neighborhood before I did and K had introduced herself to my cousin.  K was the type of person who was the first to introduce herself to a new neighbor and welcome her.  Later, when I bought my house, K became my neighbor, two houses down from me.  I couldn't have asked for a better, more helpful neighbor.

K was retired from her job in the phone company.  She had never married, but had family in the neighborhood and on the East Coast.  She took an interest in everyone in the neighborhood.  She was our Neighborhood Watch block captain and knew everyone.  She would go around the block, reminding people to move their cars on street cleaning day, notifying us of neighborhood watch meetings, and generally looking out for us.  She was fearless and would talk to anyone in her blunt, no-nonsense manner.  Everyone knew K.  

When I went to the hospital to have my daughter, K had inquired after me from my cousin, and, noticing that my front lawn needed mowing, had asked her nephew to mow it for me.  She later said that she would have had him mow the back yard, too, except my gate was locked and she couldn't access the back yard.  After that, my mother and I asked her nephew to be our gardener and he has cared for my garden ever since. 

When I had a problem with the neighbors behind my house (their small children kept throwing trash over the fence into my back yard), it was K who went with me to talk to the neighbors.  

When my mother fell and broke her hip, K volunteered to walk my daughter home from the elementary school, two blocks down (I was too nervous to have my daughter walk home alone, even though it was only two blocks from home).  And K was my go-to person when I needed someone to check in on my mother during the day, when I was at work.  It was K who found my mother, seated in her chair and unresponsive, on the day my mother died.  It was a day when K's nephew had come to do the garden and together, they called the paramedics and notified me at work.

Then, K, herself, fell and broke her leg.  She recovered from her fall, but gradually, she became more feeble and confused.  She fell again, more recently, and had to be taken to a nursing home.

This morning, her nephew who does my garden called me.  K passed away, this morning, he said.  Rest in peace, K.  You were a blessing and will be missed.    

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

An Ordinary Day

"I see you, Mummy!"

Today has been something quite rare since my cancer diagnosis: an ordinary day!  Except for the fact that I was home on sick leave on what would have been a working day.  But, today was a drama free day.

I woke up at 8:00 a.m. to call daughter (she had to register for next semester's classes, this morning).  But I went back to bed and slept in until she called me back, at 11:30 a.m.!  I guess I needed the extra sleep!

I took my time waking up.  Such a luxury not to have to rush.  I had a leisurely cup of coffee and went on the computer checking emails, etc.  Later, I made myself a sandwich for brunch, washed the dishes and put away the laundry.  And watched some of my favorite cooking shows on TV.  I don't watch soap operas, but love cooking shows.

In the evening, I went for a walk around the block.  I am trying to make a daily walk a habit.  Ysterday, I went for a longer walk, but today, I just went around the block.  I might do a longer walk, tomorrow; I've invited my cousin to walk with me.

I've spent the rest of the evening on video chat with daughter.  Tomorrow night, she'll be back home and I can chat with her in person.  :)

An ordinary day can be such a welcome blessing.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Everyday blessings

How was your day?  Did you have the blessing of a drama-free, ordinary day? 


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Apartment Fire Update

Just got a phone call from daughter.  Her apartment is OK! Thank Goodness!

The 3 apartments between the elevator and her apartment all have water pumps or shop vacs, vacuuming up the water, but her apartment is dry!  She thinks hers might be the first apartment to not have any water damage!

Someone had been in and had put a towel from her bathroom on the floor just inside the front door (but the towel was dry) and had moved her trash can.  So, maybe a little water might have come in from the hallway under the door, but looks like they have wiped it up.  Or, perhaps the towel was a precautionary measure.  But the walls and her things were dry, the floor was dry (she checked the closet, under her bed, etc.), her bed was dry, and there were no signs of any water damage anywhere.

This is such a blessing!  We are so grateful.  It means she has a place to stay and sleep tonight!  We had wondered if she'd have to check into a motel for the night, if her apartment was water or smoke damaged.  It means she doesn't have to replace any of her belongings.  We have renters' insurance, but still, putting in a claim and replacing things would have been a hassle, especially on top of everything else that we are going through.

She's off again, to go to work (1 hr. late, because she wanted to check on her apartment first, but she cleared it with her supervisor, who told her to take the whole afternoon off, if needed); later, when she comes back, she can run her dehumidifier, just to be on the safe side and I told her to watch out for mold in the bathroom and be proactive.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Daughter had a safe flight back
- Her apartment has no visible water damage
- All her things seem to be OK
- A friend was there to give her a ride to the airport
- Her supervisor being so understanding and accommodating

Latest News:

Daughter received an email from management stating there was some water damage to the wall in her hallway and maybe ceiling, and they have installed a big dehumidifier. They will come and inspect and do any repairs as needed (replace dry wall if needed, etc.), but her stuff didn't get damaged, so it's all well and good.  She'll be coming back home tomorrow and will go up next Wednesday, so, if they choose to do repairs over the weekend, she won't be there to be bothered by the dust, etc. (she has asthma).


Halloween Wreath

We didn't celebrate Halloween when I was growing up and I was quite unfamiliar with it, although I knew about All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2).  I first learned about Halloween only after I came to this country.  Now, however, it seems to be celebrated world wide.

I never really decorated or did anything special for Halloween until my daughter was born.  Even then, I wasn't planning to do anything special, but friends kept asking me what was daughter doing to be dressed as for Halloween, etc., and so, I got into the spirit of the occasion.  Daughter was a Jack-O-Lantern for her 1st Halloween, and looked very cute, if I say so myself.  :)  As she got older, I decorated more, with her help. 

Until the year my mother died.  Then, suddenly, all the ghosts and gravestones and R.I.P. signs just became a little too real a reminder of the actual death of a loved one, especially since Halloween is barely 2 weeks after my mother's birthday.  That year, I didn't decorate for Halloween.  I focused more on the Fall/harvest festival aspect of things and decorated for Thanksgiving.  Gradually, as daughter got older, I stopped decorating, altogether.  Last year, for example, she was in Berkeley on Halloween and so, I didn't bother to decorate.  The box marked "Halloween" has remained unopened in the garage for the past couple of Halloweens and I had been thinking of donating the items stored in there.

In fact, I had been getting away from decorating for most holidays.  But this year, after my cancer diagnosis, I've decided that I shall make the effort to decorate for all the holidays, again.  To celebrate the present, to celebrate the passing of the seasons, to celebrate all there is to celebrate in each year.

Table Runner and Jack-o-Lantern
So, today, I asked daughter to take down the box of Halloween decorations and we decorated.  We put the table runner I had sewn on the coffee table with daughter's first trick-or-treat Jack-o-Lantern bucket, bought for her 1st Halloween.

Close Up of Table Runner Fabric (needs ironing!)

We decorated the living room mantel with papier mache mini jack-o-lanterns (bought several years ago from the dollar store), a mug daughter had received as a gift with a straw scarecrow stuck in it, and her collection of characters from the anime Hamtaro which are all dressed in Halloween costumes (a one-time toy give away from a fast food place; we were allowed to buy them for $1 each).  My mother's pictures are on the mantel.

Living Room Mantel

The dining room was decorated with the wreath that I had made several years ago.  In previous years, the wreath hung outside, on the front door.  But this year, I decided to hang it inside the house.

Dining Room Decorations
The Jack-o-Lantern trick-or-treat bucket on the dining table was bought one Halloween when daughter was about 5 years old and forgot to take her 1st trick-or-treat bucket with her; we were on our way to trick-or-treat at her piano teacher's home and discovered we didn't have her bucket with her, so, made a stop at a grocery store and picked up this one.  

There's another bucket on the piano, in the living room, near the front door - these buckets will be filled with candy for handing out to trick-or-treaters, next week. 

As you can see, I've kept the theme to pumpkins, Jack-o-Lanterns, and scarecrows, rather than ghosts and gravestones.  More cute than scary, in my opinion.

Do you decorate for Halloween?  

Monday, October 26, 2015

Apartment Fire

So, we get news this evening that there had been a fire in one of the units in daughter's apartment building in Berkeley! We have no idea if her apartment unit has suffered any smoke or water damage. She won't know until she returns to Berkeley, tomorrow.

At least she wasn't up there during the fire to go through the trauma of experiencing having to evacuate due to a fire and she has her laptop with the draft of her thesis down here, with her. So, even if her clothes, text books, printer, TV, etc. got damaged, they are only things that can be replaced.  Daughter is safe and she has her most important stuff with her. But hopefully, her unit is OK and there has been no damage, or just minimal damage.

It's always something, isn't it?

We are grateful that:

- She is safe
- She wasn't there to experience the trauma
- She has her important items with her down here
- Whatever got damaged can be replaced
- She has renters' insurance

Latest Update: Appointments Galore!

Called the various doctors' offices, this morning, and made my appointments for the upcoming weeks.

Surgeon's appointment is scheduled for November 3 to have the sutures taken out.  He'll also be able to see how the infected/inflamed incision is doing (hopefully, all will be found to be well).

Primary care doctor's appointment is scheduled for November 12 for follow-up/check infected lumpectomy incision, and she also wanted to check my A1c glucose levels, on that visit.

The oncologist's appointment for the 1st chemo therapy session is now scheduled for November 13 (postponed 2 weeks from October 30, due to being on antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.)

And somewhere in between all those doctor's appointments, (on November 11, to be exact), I shall be celebrating my 60th birthday, with all my hair intact!  :D

Today, I am grateful for:
- Access to medical care

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday: Continuing to Recover

Sunset Skies

I'm continuing to recover from the surgery and the incision infection, today.

I had a good night's sleep.  Woke up once at 7:00 a.m., but went back to sleep and slept in until 10:00 a.m.  Such indulgence!

When I was making morning tea, one of my friends called to say she had cooked some manioc (cassava), could daughter come and collect it.  So, after she had her tea, daughter drove over to collect the food.  I had her take a bag of curry leaves, as well, to my friend.  In addition to the manioc, my friend sent fish curry, dhal (lentil) curry, cooked green beans, and coconut sambol, which is a relish made from freshly grated coconut mixed with finely minced onions, chilli powder, salt and lemon juice (one of daughter's favorites).  Have I mentioned how blessed I am when it comes to caring, generous friends?

I did a load of laundry while daughter was gone.  At least, I put the sheets to wash and daughter hung them up to dry for me, later.
After picking up the food, daughter did a bit of grocery shopping for me and brought another friend home to visit me.  Later, daughter drove her home.  

Afterwards, daughter and I both took naps on the family room sofas.

Later in the evening, after tea, daughter and I went for a walk around the block.  She took the photograph I posted above, of the sky at sunset.  She also picked another pomegranate from the tree.  We will feast on fresh pomegranate, tomorrow.
Tomorrow, I need to call the oncologist's office to ask them if we can delay the chemo due to the infection and call the surgeon's office to schedule an appointment to have the sutures removed. 

Today, I am grateful for:

- Caring friends
- Phone calls with cousins
- A walk around the block with daughter
- Pretty sunset skies
- Sleeping in and afternoon naps
How was your Sunday?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Morning After

Just a quick update to say I'm feeling fine.  Had a good night's sleep, last night.  I had taken one Tylenol, which is half the recommended dose, before going to sleep, and that was sufficient for the bit of pain I felt.  Woke up once at 5:00 a.m., but went back to sleep and slept till 8:00 a.m.  Then, dozed on and off until 9:00 a.m.  Daughter made me a cup of tea and that was lovely.  It's been awhile since I was served tea in bed!  :)

Daughter and I were invited to my friend's daughter's 21st birthday celebration (a brunch at a restaurant), but I didn't feel up to going to it.  So, only daughter went.  I'm taking it easy and resting.

I hope everyone reading this will have a lovely, blessed day.

This morning, I am grateful for:

- A good night's rest
- Morning tea in bed
- Not much pain from yesterday's surgery
- Daughter being home for the weekend
- A new sock pattern to try 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Post Surgery Update

Everything went well.  I told the nurse about the incision being inflamed; she removed the dressing to take a look and paged the surgeon.  He came and took a closer look, including pressing the sides to see from where it is oozing, and determined that the infection was superficial and it was OK to carry out today's surgery.

But he approved my decision to hold off on the antibiotics, etc.  He said he'll give me an antibiotic through the IV today while I was there and then, I can start the other meds later today after I went home.

This morning's surgery went well.  We woke up at 5 a.m., left the house at 5:40 a.m., arrived at the hospital by 6:10 a.m. (hardly any traffic at that time in the morning), well before the 6:30 a.m. time I was given to be at the hospital.  Surgery was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. and took an hour, plus another hour in the recovery.  Then, a short while in the short-stay area (30 mins. or so) where I was given a drink of apple juice and kept till I went to the bathroom - they won't release you until you've drunk something and gone to the bathroom.  I didn't feel much pain, or feel dizzy, etc.  :) We left the hospital around 11:00 a.m., I think.  We were home by noon.

One of my cousins came to the hospital just after I was brought to the short-stay area and came home with us.  I was happy I was able to offer her lunch (all the leftovers from the rosary).  She stayed and chatted with us for a while, which was also nice.  I took the antibiotics and anti-inflammatory meds, and 1 Tylenol (no real pain as such, but just a little discomfort).

Now, I am resting in bed and planning to take a nap.

Oh, and the consensus is to postpone the chemo by at least a week.  At least until the course of antibiotics is over.  I will call the oncologist on Monday (don't feel like doing it today) and explain the new situation to them.  Surgeon thought it would be best.
Today, I am grateful for:
- Antibiotics and other modern miracle drugs
- Pleasant, caring nurses and other medical staff
- Loving, caring family members
- Not feeling much pain
- Naps!

Thank you, again, for all your thoughts and prayers.  Hope you've had a blessed day, today.

Another Step Backwards, Maybe?

I had an appointment with my regular doctor, this afternoon.  She wasn't very happy with the way the wound/incision is healing.  Apparently, it is inflamed!  Who knew?  She cleaned it, put antibiotic ointment on it and a nice big dressing.

I am to clean the incision (she gave me a bottle of saline solution) and put the antibiotic ointment twice a day.  And she prescribed an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory drug.  Both to be taken 1 pill each, twice a day.  Except, I didn't think to ask if I should start tonight (and just take 1 dose) or wait until after surgery tomorrow.  Because, I don't think I'll be able to take them tomorrow and one shouldn't start antibiotics and skip a day.  Also, one of them lists diarrhea as a side effect, and I really don't want to have to worry about that when I am recovering from surgery, tomorrow.  Yes, I told the doctor I have been scheduled for surgery tomorrow, but I forgot to ask her if I should start right away or wait until afterwards. 

Anyway, after the doctor's appointment, I went to the pharmacy to fill out the prescription.  It was past 8:00 p.m. when I came home. 

Daughter came home, tonight.  We've discussed what I should do.  We'll talk with the surgeon, too, but I'll probably hold off on taking the newly prescribed medications until after surgery tomorrow and maybe start on Saturday.  I've waited this long - another day shouldn't make much of a difference, should it?   

And maybe I should postpone the chemo by a week until I finish the antibiotics?  I will have to call and ask the oncologist's office.  I think it might be best to wait until I have recovered a bit more. 

Oh, and of course, even though I had signed the release forms and all the documents say "send reports to my regular doctor", she hasn't received any!  :p  I had to update her (and she sounded surprised at how quickly things are moving) and give her a copy of the path report!  I've a follow up appt. with her in 3 weeks' time.  Hope all will be found to be well by then.

So, it's off to the hospital bright and early tomorrow - I have to be there by 6:30 a.m.!  Wish me luck, please!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Three Months Ago, Today

Three months ago, today, on July 21, I went in for what I had assumed would be a routine mammogram.  It proved to be anything but routine, of course.  The results came in the mail, a week later, saying the results showed an abnormality. 

Since then, I've had a more focused, follow-up mammogram; an ultrasound guided core needle biopsy, which detected invasive breast cancer; a lumpectomy which determined it was Stage 2 cancer; and now, I am scheduled for chemotherapy, to be followed by radiation, to be followed by anti-hormone therapy.

Three months ago, today, my life took an unexpected twist and my world tilted, as did my daughter's.  There has been a paradigm shift in our lives, since then.
Hard to believe it was only three months ago, today.

Tuesday: Work and Echo Cardiogram

Today, I went to the office in the morning.  Everyone was very happy to see me again.  
My primary care physician's office called and I now have an appointment to see her on Thursday afternoon.  Good timing, since I will be going for the insertion of the port for the catheter on Friday.
Later in the morning, I went for my echo cardiogram.  My appointment was for 11:30 a.m., but I had to wait an hour before they called me; but we've already established that I am good about waiting patiently!  :D  I chose not to read any of the magazines while I waited; instead, I relaxed and rested, to the point where I was almost falling asleep!  The doctor did apologize when she finally called me in.  My heart was normal, she said, other than the fact that it has had to work harder due to the hypertension and the walls had thickened as a result.  They will do another echo cardiogram after chemo is over, to see if there has been any damage; if there is, she said they have drugs to give for that!

Went back to the office after the cardio appointment.  I will continue to work, this week, until Friday.  After that, who knows?

Managed to make a quick trip to the pharmacy during my morning break to pick up daughter's prescription refill.

Came home after work and did 2 loads of laundry.
One of my aunts had called and left a message, so I returned her call.  Later, I called a friend of mine.  Both aunt and friend are concerned about my upcoming treatment and me being alone (when daughter returns to Berkeley).  I tried to make light of the situation, but I don't think that went over too well!  I was told I was laughing when it was a serious situation.  Well, yes.  But, if I don't laugh about it, I'd cry; and I'd much rather laugh than cry.  I am not looking forward to any of it, and I am both nervous about it and a bit scared, too.  But, I am trying not to mope about it.  It's as Laura Ingalls Wilder quotes her father saying in one of the Little House books:  "What must be done is best done cheerfully."  

Today, I am grateful for:

- A good echo cardiogram
- My heart is bravely beating
- Coworkers were happy to see me again
- Chocolate cake
- Video chatting with daughter
How was your day, today?  Did you have a good day?

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Day After

Today started off well enough.  I called the car dealers to make an appointment to have my car serviced this afternoon and worked on office work.  
At noon, I took daughter to the airport; she went back to Berkeley today (but she'll be back Thursday night to accompany me on Friday morning when I go for the port to be inserted).  
On the way home, I visited my mother's grave (since I didn't have time to go yesterday) and put gas to the car; I like to start the week with a full tank of gas. 

Came home, had the last piece of the chocolate babka from yesterday, and did more work until it was time to go for my 2:00 p.m. car service appointment.  The service consultant said it would take about 1 1/2 hours.  I said no problem, I'll be in the waiting lounge; he said he'll come and call me when the car was ready.  I sat in the lounge and waited.  And waited.  And waited, some more.  Finally, after more than 3 1/2 hours of waiting, I walked over to the service department to see what was taking so much time - to see that the car was ready!  The service guy had called and left a message on my home phone and no one had come to look for me in the waiting lounge.  Aaarrgh!  So frustrating!  

Daughter had called me when she landed at the Oakland airport; I had received her call when I was in the waiting lounge.  But, apparently, she had called again when she reached her apartment, and I didn't receive that call or her subsequent calls.  So, she had called home twice and left messages, as well.  She was worried and upset, when I finally got her call.

By the time I got home, it was past 6:00 p.m. I was hungry, thirsty, tired, and in a thoroughly bad mood.  And upset that I had caused my daughter to be worried on my behalf (she said she was going to wait until 7:00 p.m. and if she hadn't heard from me by then, she was going to call my cousin or one of our neighbors and have them go to the car dealers' in search of me!)
Anyway, I took the trash cans to the curb, collected the mail (received the pre-op instructions for this Friday's surgical procedure), went on video chat with daughter, and had a late lunch/early dinner.  At least there was enough leftovers, so I didn't have to cook on top of everything.  And slowly, we both relaxed and calmed down. 

I called my friend who spent the weekend helping me to check on her and thank her; called my catering friend, too, since she never told me how much I owe her for the fish curry.  Called the temple, too, to update the monks about this week's medical appointments.  My mother and I taught them English when they first came to this country and over the years, we've developed a close friendship with them. 

One of my cousins called to say she was sorry she couldn't stay behind to help me after the lunch, yesterday.  I told her it was OK, as two friends stayed and helped.   We talked for a long time about this and that and I told her I'll call her later, maybe tomorrow, to help me put away the washed dishes.  I had planned to do that this afternoon, but the whole afternoon was spent waiting for my car! 

I was feeling frustrated, this afternoon, but, nevertheless, today, I am grateful for:

- Daughter had a safe flight back to Berkeley
- The car service was completed without requiring additional repairs
- Service was covered under the warranty, so no charge
- I sat in a comfortable, air conditioned lounge while I waited for the car
- I was able to vent my frustrations over the long wait to my cousin and my friends 
- Dinner was already in the fridge, waiting for me

All in all, it really was a good day.  :)

How was your day?

The Rosary Prayer Gathering

I hosted the Rosary prayer gathering, today, which was also the 95th anniversary of my mother's birthday.

I woke up relatively early (considering I didn't get to bed until nearly 3:30 a.m.!) and my friend (who stayed the night) and I had our morning tea and started on the rest of the work that had to be done.  Even with the majority of the meal being prepared by others, there was still quite a bit of preparations we had to do - serving dishes had to be taken out, chairs had to be pulled out from around the tables and arranged around the rooms to provide sufficient seating for all, an altar set up on the living room mantel, flowers (roses, plumbago, and lantana) had to be cut from the garden and arranged in vases, the salad and the fruit platters prepared, the bathrooms cleaned, guest towels set out, etc., etc., etc.  I always make a list of tasks to be done and I go down the list checking things off to make sure it all gets done.

But everything got done in a timely manner and my friend, my daughter, and I were ready and relaxing when the first guests arrived.   Once everyone who was attending was here, the Rosary was said.

Afterwards, a late lunch was served.  Since almost everyone had brought a dish, there was quite a spread.  The friend who said she'll bring the rice and a vegetable, actually brought 2 vegetable dishes.  One cousin had brought 3 different desserts, so, in addition to the yogurt & treacle, chocolate fudge cake, and fresh fruits, we had a lemon tart, pumpkin spice cake, and a chocolate babka (a sweet yeast bread)!  Obviously, we take desserts seriously!  :)

There was so much food, I urged everyone to take some home with them.  Two of my friends stayed back to help me put away the leftovers, clean up, and wash.  Have I mentioned how blessed I am, when it comes to friends and family?

One of my cousins also brought me a gift of three scarves.  Two of them can be used as head coverings, as well as worn around the neck.

Even after I sent some of the leftovers home with various guests, almost half the chocolate fudge cake was remaining.  So, I called over one of my neighbors and gave her half of what was leftover.  She said her husband will be very happy with the cake.  :)

Daughter will take some of the leftovers with her, so she won't have to cook for the rest of the week.  I have enough, too, to last me the rest of the week!  I might freeze some of the chicken curry, if I can find room in my freezer!  :)

Today, I am grateful for:

- A wonderful prayer gathering
- Everyone pitching in and helping
- A surprise light shower of rain, in the morning
- Flowers from the garden
- A clean house

Did you have a good day, today? 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Prayer Gathering Preparations

Saturday was a day of preparations for Sunday's prayer gathering I'll be hosting.

Usually, the person hosting the gathering will prepare a meal for all the participants.  But, this time, due to my health condition, people asked if they can bring a dish and I gratefully accepted their offers.  Such a blessing to have them help.  Daughter and I will prepare a chicken curry and a salad and provide beverages, etc.  I have also asked a friend of mine, who does catering, to provide a fish curry.

The menu, as it stands now,with person preparing it in parentheses (if other than me):

Appetizers: Spicy Indian snack mix

Rice (friend)
Chicken curry (daughter)
Fish curry (catering friend)
Pork curry (aunt)
Shredded greens cooked with coconut (friend)
Eggplant vegetable (friend)
Another unspecified vegetable (friend who is bringing the rice)
Salad of sliced cucumber, tomatoes, red onions, with halved hard boiled eggs

Yogurt (cousin) served with treacle (palm syrup)
Fresh fruits (grapes, strawberries, etc.)
Chocolate cake (friend)

Two other cousins will bring some wine, since I don't drink alcohol and have no idea what kind of wine to buy for those who do drink it.

I have invited 25 people, but, most probably there will be only 20 to lunch, as not everyone will be able to attend.

I dusted the family room while daughter and a friend of mine did the grocery shopping.  My friend also swept the living room.

Later, in the evening, two of my cousins and an aunt came over to help, and it was almost a party, in and of itself!  :D

One cousin and my friend replaced the sofa covers and swept the family room.  The other cousin helped daughter in the kitchen while daughter cleaned and cut the chicken for the curry.  Aunt kept me company, since I wasn't allowed to do too much other than tell daughter how much of spices to add to the chicken curry, as it was the first time she was cooking for a crowd.

Tomorrow morning (or rather, later this morning, since I am writing this at 1:30 a.m.), I will prepare the salad and daughter will help me clean the bathrooms.  I also want to buy two bunches of roses - one for the altar and one to take to my mother's grave site, because it is the anniversary of her birthday.  She would have been 95 had she lived.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Family and friends 
- Helping hands
- Laughter
- Hugs
- A clean and tidy house

How was your Saturday? 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

We Are Climbing

Today, I called and scheduled the echo cardiogram for Tuesday, (October 20) at 11:30 a.m.   Most probably, I'll go to the office in the morning and then, go to the echo cardiogram from there.  And afterwards, I should be able to return to the office for the rest of the afternoon.
The surgeon's office also called, this morning, and said they received the authorization for the port for the catheter to be inserted; I've been scheduled for that procedure on Friday, (October 23).  I have to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. for that!  It'll be an out-patient procedure performed under local anesthesia and sedation.  Daughter will come down from Berkeley, again, to be with me during that procedure.
And the 1st chemo session is scheduled for the following Friday (Oct. 30), at 9:00 a.m.  Yes, daughter will come down for that, too. 
I am planning to work through Thursday of next week.  Then I will take sick leave for the surgery and I don't know if I'll be sufficiently recovered to return to work the following week before I start chemo therapy.  Once I start chemo therapy, I suppose I will go on a medical leave of absence.  
We are starting on the next phase of the climb.   It's going to be steep and I will need all the help I can get.  
Today, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to move the car.  Several streets were being resurfaced, not just mine, so, there were lots of cars parked on the streets that were not being worked on today.  I guess a number of people parked their cars in the night, so they didn't have to worry about it early this morning.  I considered doing so, myself, but decided not to.  I prefer to keep my car in the safety of my garage.  And then, of course, there were the neighbors who ignored the request and kept their cars parked on our street until past 7 a.m., because our street hadn't been blocked off, yet (some of the other streets were already blocked off at 5:45 a.m., when I was looking for parking).  When the street crew came to do our street, they first drove down, honking a warning, and those cars were finally moved. 

I didn't go back to sleep, but stayed up to call daughter at 6:30 a.m. to wake her up, so she could leave by 7:30 a.m. to get to the airport in good time to catch her 10:30 a.m. flight home.  Ever since she arrived at the airport with less than 5 minutes left to board before the flight took off, she's made it a point to leave earlier than needed to allow for any unexpected delays.   

And I worked on the documents I had brought home from the office.

At 11:40 a.m., I picked up daughter from the airport.  We swung by our favorite Thai food place and bought lunch to take home.  After lunch, she napped while I did more office work.
My gardener came to do the garden around 2 p.m.  They reopened our street while he was still here, earlier than the 6 p.m. they had put on the notice, so I brought my car back in and parked it in the garage. 

I took a nap in the early evening.  The perks of working from home!  :D

I did a bit of cleaning, too.  I have a 5-tier plastic shelving unit in my bathroom, for storage.  It was quite dusty and I decided it was time to clean it.  Shelf by shelf, I took everything off, removed the wax paper shelf linings, wiped the shelves with disinfectant wipes, put new wax paper shelf linings, and put things back.  Much later in the evening, I dusted the living room and dining area and swept the kitchen.  Daughter tidied the family room.  Tomorrow, I will dust the family room. 
But it wasn't all work and housework.  Daughter and I played a board game called "Up Words".  It's a word game, a bit like Scrabble, but you can place tiles over existing words to change the spelling and create new words.  We didn't play for points this time, but it was fun.  We might play for points another time.  
Today, I was grateful for:
- Daughter had a safe flight
- Being able to work from home
- Getting my medical procedures scheduled
- Getting some cleaning done
- Playing a board game with daughter.  

How was your day, today?

Friday, October 16, 2015

First Day Back to Work

Today, I went back to work for the first time since my surgery, almost 2 weeks ago.  I had no problems with driving the 20 miles there.

  Most of my co-workers were at an all day training workshop away from the office, but the few who were in the office, including my supervisor, were happy to see me back.  I spent most of the morning responding to the 60+ emails and the few voice mails that were waiting for me.

During my morning break, I went to the pharmacy to pick up my medication refills, a box of face masks, and to get my flu shot.  Now my left arm is sore from the flu shot!

I had planned to put in a regular, full day, but, around 11:30 a.m., my supervisor told me to go home at noon!  She said that I could work from home for the rest of the afternoon and tomorrow, too!  I resisted the urge to insist that I was OK, I could work in the office for the rest of the day.  Instead, I finished processing the last few emails, gathered up some documents to work on at home and drove myself home again!  Who am I to argue with my supervisor?  :D   I do have one of the best supervisors.  I must say that it was pleasant to work at home.  My sofa is more comfortable than my office chair! 

Today, I received the insurance authorization for the echo cardiogram.  I will call tomorrow to  schedule the appointment.  Another step up the mountain!

Tomorrow, the street in front of my house is being repaved.  It will be closed from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  So, if we need to drive our cars during the day, we need to move them out of the garages and driveways and park along the neighboring streets.  I will need to go to the airport at noon, tomorrow, to pick up my daughter (yes, she's coming home again, for the weekend!)  I guess I'll be getting up early to move the car.

Today, I am grateful for:

- A safe commute to work and back
- A warm welcome from the few co-workers who were at the office
- A kind, sympathetic supervisor
- Being able to work from home as needed
- A cooler day

How was your day, today?  Did you have a pleasant day?  



Wednesday, October 14, 2015



Daughter and I picked the first pomegranate from the tree in the garden, yesterday.  I cut it and removed the seeds for us to enjoy and forgot to photograph the cut fruit. 

This morning, I picked another one and cut it:

Cut Pomegranate

Perfectly ripe and tangy sweet.  Full of vitamin C, too.

I added a few seeds to a glass of water to make some infused water.

Pomegranate Infused Water
I've been told that I should drink a lot of water and stay well hydrated when receiving chemo.  I've also been told that the chemo will leave a metallic taste in my mouth and that will make water taste bad.  I am planning to make infused water with various fruits to counteract that.  I will freeze some of the pomegranate seeds to make infused water when I am undergoing treatment.

Have you tried pomegranates?  Do you like them?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Post-Op Follow Up Visit with Surgeon

Met with the surgeon, this afternoon, for a post-op follow-up to see how the incision is healing (still a bit of oozing from it) and to discuss the insertion of the port for the catheter (minor surgery under local anesthesia required).

The visit went well; he looked for sutures, but couldn't find any!? We concluded he might have put self-dissolving ones. I requested and received a dressing over the incision.  I am to keep it in place for a week, unless it becomes saturated.

I've been OK'd to raise my arm above my head, to drive, and can return to work on Thursday.  I asked for a doctor's note to that effect (OK to return to work) to take to the office.

We discussed the port for the catheter - he explained how it will be inserted and said the only risk is puncturing the lungs, but assured us that he hasn't done that in years!  LOL. 

So, the next step is waiting for paperwork authorizing the insertion of the port and the echo cardiogram. 

Daughter drove me to the appointment and back.  We stopped for subway sandwiches on the way back.  Came home and called my supervisor to let her know that I'll be back on Thursday (not tomorrow, as I had originally thought); she was fine with that.

Today, I am grateful for:

- The incision seems to be healing well
- Recovery is going well
- Daughter being able to drive me places
- Safe drives to the clinic and back
- Jello and ice cream for dessert 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Corn Bread for Brunch

Corn Bread

Woke up fairly early, this morning, while it was still relatively cool, and decided to make banana bread, but the bananas were beyond being overripe due to the heat, and so, I changed my mind and went for corn bread, instead.

There is a recipe for corn bread on the back of the box of yellow cornmeal, which calls for 1 Cup of flour and 1 Cup of cornmeal.  But I didn't use that.

Instead, I adapted the muffin recipe given on the side of the box of yellow cornmeal:

1 1/2 C. all purpose flour
1/2 C. yellow cornmeal
2/3 C. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 C. milk
1/3 C. oil

(recipe also called for 3 Tbsp. butter, melted, but I omitted that)

Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl; mix all wet ingredients together in a smaller bowl, add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just combined.

But, instead of making muffins, I poured the mixture into a greased 8" x 8" square baking pan and baked in a preheated oven at 350F until done!  It took about 30 mins. to bake; I usually test for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center - it if comes out clean, then, the corn bread is done.

I had to go fasting for my blood tests, this morning, so, I skipped my morning coffee and had two pieces of corn bread for brunch!  Daughter had her morning tea and had one piece of the corn bread.  We usually eat this plain, as is, but it is very yummy with a little butter and maple syrup, too.   

This version is a lighter, sweeter corn bread than the other recipe on the back of the box (which I have also made).  I will send several pieces with daughter, for her breakfasts and snacks, when she goes back to Berkeley. 

Have you made corn bread?  Do you have a favorite recipe?  

A Warm Sunday

More than warm.  Downright hot!  It was 97F, today. 

I slept in and had a relaxed morning.  Later, in the afternoon, a friend of mine came to visit.  She brought me a book of crossword puzzles - I shall save it to do while I am receiving chemo.  She came by bus as she doesn't drive any more, so, daughter and I drove her home (daughter did the driving and I just went along for the drive). 

Came home, had dinner, and then, both daughter and I took a nap on the family room sofas!  And now, it's midnight, and of course, we are both wide awake.  She's looking up tips to overcome chemo therapy side effects, on-line, and I am writing this rather short blog post. 

Tomorrow, I will go for my blood tests, first thing in the morning.  Then, I will try to do some paperwork while daughter works on her homework assignments and works from home in the afternoon.  It is forecasted to be another hot day.  So, keeping cool will be a priority.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Sleeping in and naps
- Ceiling fans and stand fans
- Electricity to run the fans!
- Friends visiting
- Crossword puzzles

How was your Sunday?  Did you have a relaxed day with your family?

Saturday, October 10, 2015


When I started kindergarten, my mother tied a 10 cents coin in a corner of a handkerchief (back then, we still used cloth handkerchiefs on a daily basis!) and pinned it to my crisply starched, white school uniform.  It was meant for a lollipop from the school "tuck shop" (canteen), during "interval" (recess). 

When class was let out for recess, I went down the corridor to where the canteen was.  Others were already queuing up in long lines to buy their treats (quite often, recess was over before everyone in line could buy her treat!).  As I stood off to the side, not knowing quite what I should do, an older girl, in a higher grade, approached me and said, "Little girl, what do you want?  A lollipop?  Give me your money and I will stand in line and buy your treat for you."  I was a trusting little girl, used to having older family members doing things for me.  I happily handed my money to her and stood waiting, patiently, expecting her to bring me my lollipop.  Of course, she didn't bring me anything!  The bell indicating that recess was over rang and I finally went back to class.

Later that evening, my mother asked me if I had bought my lollipop, and I told her the whole sorry story.  My mother was not pleased.  The next day, she came to school with me and spoke to the class teacher, and it was agreed that the kindergarteners would be allowed to go on recess 10 minutes prior to the rest of the school, so that we could go to the tuck shop before the older kids and get our treats without problems.

Obviously, the incident left its imprint on me.  Almost 55 years later, I can still recall it, as clearly as it happened yesterday!

Other than money to buy treats at school or from the local snack shop, my mother didn't give me an allowance, as such.  However, my step-father gave me an allowance, or, "pocket money" as it was called.

My daughter started receiving an allowance (from her grandmother, my mother), when she started kindergarten - $1.25 per week (25 cents per school day).  Five whole dollars a month!  That was a lot of money to a 5 year old child.  There wasn't a canteen where she could buy treats, at her school, so she never took her money to school with her; but, nevertheless, I shared the story of my stolen 10 cents and lollipop and warned her about older children wanting to take her money from her!

Daughter's allowance was not tied to doing household chores, but rather, her "job" which was her school work (studies, homework, assignments completed on time, etc.), and it increased as she went up each grade.  I believe it doubled to $2.50 per week  when she was promoted to 1st grade after only 1 month in kindergarten (she was already going to grade 1 for math and grade 2 for reading, after 1st week in kindergarten), and by $10 per month with each additional grade.  When my mother died, I took over paying out the allowance; it had reached the amount of $12.50 per week.

I think having an allowance taught basic budgeting and money management.  Daughter learned that she had to save up her allowance to buy items she fancied (I paid for all necessities such as clothes, school items, etc.).  She could buy more or less what she wanted, but I had final say; if I considered it inappropriate, then, I had veto rights as her parent.  We've always talked things over, so there were no problems.  We never had any of the "typical rebellious teen" issues.

As she got older, we went from a weekly allowance to a monthly one.  It worked out well for both of us; it was easier for me to give her $50 at the beginning of the month rather than dole out $12.50 every week, and the lump sum payment made it easier for her to save up for bigger purchases.  However, it stayed at $50 per month from then on, until I stopped paying her an allowance once she started college and started working.

On one or two occasions, when daughter needed an advance on her allowance, I paid for the item and then, withheld payment of her allowance until her "debt" was paid up.   For example, in high school, when  her laptop computer got knocked down by accident, she offered to pay half of the cost of her new computer (it wasn't her fault that it was knocked down; otherwise, I would have had her pay the full cost);  I paid the $600 for a new laptop, up front, and withheld payment of her allowance until her "debt" was paid up.  Yes, she went without an allowance for 6 months.  I'm sure some members of my extended family thought I was being unnecessarily mean, but I was anxious to teach financial responsibility to daughter and she thought it was a fair deal.    

Once she was in high school, in addition to her allowance, I also gave her control of her portion of my budget (what I budgeted for her clothes, school supplies, etc.)  I gave her spending guidelines, but left the final decisions to her.  It was my way of preparing her for adulthood and financial management.  Later, once she started university and did a part-time job, she herself put an end to receiving an allowance from me and started paying for her own clothes, school supplies other than text books, etc.

Did you receive an allowance as a child?  If so, what are your first memories of your allowance?  If you are a parent, do you give your child/children an allowance?  If so, is it tied to doing household chores or something else?

The Next Stage of the Climb - Chemotherapy

Friday afternoon, I met with the oncologist.  He went over the pathology report with me and we went over the options.  His recommendation was chemo followed by radiation followed by hormone therapy.  He confirmed that, due to the size of the tumor, it's classified as Stage 2.  Had it been Stage 1, radiation and hormone therapy would have been enough.  To give him credit, he did ask me my opinion and what I would prefer.  I have already discussed this with daughter, before hand.  I feel I need to do what I can to reduce chances of the cancer recurring.  Because, if it does recur, then, it would be considered Stage 4. 

He explained the recommended treatments, answered daughter's questions (including why he recommended what he did), referred her to supporting studies at her request, etc., etc., etc.  I am not questioning the need for chemo.  Just dreading the side effects.  Not so much the hair loss (much as I love my long hair, losing my hair doesn't really phase me), but the other stuff (nausea, fatigue, etc.).  I can only hope and pray that I will be one of the lucky ones who will feel less side effects.  But, I do have a tendency to feel nausea at the drop of a hat, so, most probably, I'll have at least that particular side effect.  :p

Oncologist recommended less spicy food while on chemo (to reduce nausea, apparently; I was brought up on spicy curries!).  Also, I was told to avoid raw food (to avoid ingesting any bacteria, etc., since my immune system will be depressed) and that includes vegetables and fruits, in addition to steak tartare, sushi, etc. (which I never eat, anyway, so not a problem).  If I do eat raw veg and fruit, I have to take extra care to wash them carefully, peel, etc.  It'll be easier to cook them. 

The doctor ordered more lab tests (blood work - I'll get them done on Monday), an echo cardiogram (to be scheduled), and a port for a catheter inserted, surgically, for the chemo.  I'll have to see the surgeon for that.

Chemo is most likely to start in 3 weeks' time.  I will need to go in weekly.  Initially, the chemo will be administered every three weeks, with hydration and other drugs (to combat nausea, to boost immunity, blood cells and platelet counts, etc.), being given on the alternate weeks.  That is supposed to last 3 months.  To be followed by another 3 months of weekly chemo.  Followed by radiation.  Followed by hormone therapy. 

After the consultation with the surgeon, I went into the treatment room (a large room with two rows of recliner-type chairs lined along the walls; someone had made an effort to decorate it for Fall with scarecrows and autumn leaves), sat in one of the chairs, and spoke with a nurse who went over a few details and tips with me and gave me some literature to read.  It made it all too real. 

My smile felt a bit cracked, all evening.  I had known I'd likely receive chemotherapy, yet, having it confirmed left me feeling a bit shell shocked.  I guess I had been secretly hoping that I could avoid it.  Have I mentioned that I rather dread the treatment and its side effects?  

In the evening, family and friends called to inquire about the results of the oncologist visit.  Some friends brought dinner and their daughters brought a movie to watch with daughter.  Aunt and cousin came to talk and give support with their presence.  I am grateful they kept us company. 

Tomorrow, I will take a deep breath and start preparing myself for the next stage of the journey up the mountain.  One step at a time.