Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cooking in Poznan, Poland

We lived in Poznan, Poland from 1979-1981.  We arrived at post with 17 month old Courtney, five cats and a dog.

When we first got to Poland, we arrived in Warsaw to check in at the embassy.   I know we stayed in a small apartment there, but really don't remember much of anything about it.  It had a kitchen I am sure, but it left no impression on me at all.

When we got to Poznan- west of Warsaw, we were put into a "transient apartment" on the third floor of the US Consulate building.  There were offices in the basement, and the main floor.  There was another foreign service family living in the apartment on the second floor (the first floor by European standards). The apartment we lived in for six weeks was on the third floor.  And it was a walk up.

I had to walk the dog at least three times a day going up and down all of those stairs.  I had a backpack that Courtney rode in.   Needless to say, I was very thin!

It was a small apartment with two bedrooms I think (we only used one), one bathroom, a kitchen, living room/ dining room combination.  I am pretty sure we did not have a TV.

The apartment that was designated as our permanent home was having work done and so it was not ready for us yet.

Since I have been writing about kitchens, I will try to conjure up images to convey.  I kind of picture a small table in the kitchen.   The dishes and kitchen appliances were supplied, and stayed with the place when we moved on.   There was a strange, (to me) new kind of Italian coffee pot.  I figured out how to put the ingredients in, cook it on the stove, and pour out coffee.   Not too bad as I recall.

When we lived in Poland, it was still a Soviet dominated communist country.  There were shortages of just about everything- including meat.   The US Consulate had an arrangement where we bought our meat from a hospital supplier.   I had a list of types of meat, like shinke which is pork, or polendvetsa, which is a long roll of beef that can be cut into different types of meals.    I have the meat lists still and when I look for them, I will be able to write the information down correctly.

At any rate, I would check off on a list (in Polish) the meat I wanted and the amount.  Sometimes you actually got what you ordered.  You never knew until you took the parcel into the kitchen and unwrapped it.

One time we got a big, white sausage.  I decided to boil it in water as the main course of our meal.  I remember poking it with a sharp knife to see if it seemed done.  What I had not realized was that the casing held in all of the juices, and the boiling made it swell up.  So, when I poked it, a huge geyser of hot,sausage water shot up into the air and made an arc across the kitchen.  It is amazing nobody got hurt- especially little toddler Courtney.     It was a pretty ugly piece of meat no matter how it was cooked, but we all tried it.  On another occasion I had received a large piece of beef in my weekly meat order.  Since we had our cats and dog running around the apartment, I couldn't leave meat out on the kitchen counters.   I put this big roast inside one of the cupboards, and forgot about it for a little while.  When I went into the kitchen later, there was a puddle of bright red blood on the kitchen floor.  I thought something terrible has happened to one of the cats.  No, the roast had "leaked" blood out through the closed cupboard door, onto the counter top and onto the floor.  It really looked like a a murder scene!

I think that's enough for tonight.  I will write about the kitchen in our permanent apartment next time I write about kitchens.

Maybe after I finish all of the kitchens, I will start writing about bathrooms.  All of the places we have lived have had interesting and unique bathrooms!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I lied

yes, I lied.  I am not writing about kitchens.  Not right now. 

I have created a Caring Bridge page:

It depresses me because it makes all of this more real.    It seems like a good idea because it is a place where family and friends can keep track of what is going on with me medically.  I can write- or Courtney or Carol or any other family member.  And it is out there.  Less stress of contacting everyone individually.  Less stress of having everyone call and check on me.   But sad.   This is not something I ever wanted.

I am always preaching that allowing others to help is a gift to the giver as well as to the recipient.  Most of the time I am the "giver".  I support and educate new moms.  I try to listen to my kids and their ideas.  And so on and so on. "Og så videre", as we say in Norwegian.

Now I am the recipient.

And life goes on.   Another day closer to finding good health and energy.

Coming soon to a blog near you: Kitchen stories

Since I started writing about kitchens I have known and had a relationship with, I have been thinking about the kitchens I have not  written about yet..  Next up will be Poznan, Poland.

Right now I am too tired to write about kitchens.   Here is something I posted on facebook last night:

Most of you know that I have a brain tumor. Many of you know I knit. My husband says, the only thing more dangerous than a woman with knitting needles is a woman with knitting needles and a brain tumor.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

I've been thinking...

That's a dangerous way to start out isn't it?  Thinking.   Hmm what does that mean?

I decided to try to write about anything but my headache and my brain tumor.  Ok, so I didn't succeed, but that is only the into, so I say it doesn't count. And since this is my blog, I can make the rules!

I have been thinking about kitchens.  I guess maybe in part because I am always (well often) watching TV shows like "Kitchen Crashers" where the house gets an all new kitchen.

Having been a Foreign Service family means we have moved a lot, and as a result, we have had a lot of different kitchens.

When we first got married, in 1972, we lived in College Park, Maryland in a cute Cape Cod house that was built in 1938.   It was small by the standards I would want to live in now, but it was a sweet house.   The kitchen was small.  Too small for a table and chairs.  We had white cupboards and black and white ceramic tile on the counters.   There was a big, white sink.  The only counter space was on either side of the sink.   On the opposite wall was the shove- a gas stove that might have been original to the house, and the fridge.  Since it was a self defrosting refrigerator, it is fair to saw it wasn't very old.

Here's a beat up picture of that pretty house:

The driveway was behind the house.  There was a small stoop and a door into the kitchen that we came into with groceries.   Or just about anything since we always parked in the back.   Next to that door was a door into the ancient, dank, basement.  Another door led to a small pantry in the kitchen.   The three doors would all clang into each other if you weren't careful.  There was also a window onto the back yard, and a lilac bush by the back door.   No dishwasher, no microwave, not sure about a garbage disposal- I think we had one.  The floor was a god awful red linoleum that was as old as the house.  At some point, Nick replaced the floor with pretty yellow flooring and wall paper with daffodils.  I'm sure that there are pictures somewhere.

In 1976 we began our traveling life.  Originally we were posted to Chiang Mai, Thailand though we were only there for a short time before being sent to Bangkok for most of out two years in Thailand (that time).   The house we lived in in Chiang Mai was an old wooden house that looked like something out of a movie about foreigners living in South East Asia.   There was a big porch on the front of the house.   Ceiling fans inside the dark wood paneled rooms inside.    The kitchen in that house was at the back of the house.  It struck me as a sort of after thought.   It was entered through the dining room, and also had a back door into the yard.  Such as it was.  There was a gas stove (probably propane, I don't remember).  There were double doors between the kitchen and the dining room that were closed and padlocked at night.   The upper walls had screen from about ceiling level to 10 inches down.  This was for ventilation.  There were a great many lizards there- especially on the outside of the screens.  There was a long counter. table, where the transformer was and our American appliances were kept.  We had a blender, toaster oven, iron, coffee pot and whatever else one had in 1976 in their kitchen.  We had a maid, Ampai, who did all of the shopping and cooking.  ( she and I are still in touch).

One weekend, Ampai and I went to Bangkok because Nick was there TDY.  We took the animals (5 cats and one dog) and went by train.   While we were gone, someone broke into the kitchen.  They took all of the American appliances, and the transformer.   The local, Thai language paper had a little article that said "The US Vice Consul's house at 69 Tung Hotel Road was broken into while the consul is out of town.  He will be gone for another two weeks".   Yup!   But, nothing else was stolen because they got all the good stuff already!

For the first few weeks in Bangkok, we were in a big, seventh floor apartment.  The kitchen had an American fridge and stove.  But the oven only seemed to have one temperature- HOT.  Like 500°!   A lot of food was burned in that oven.  Fortunately, Ampia did most of the cooking, and most Thai food does not require an oven.

One weekend, when Ampai was off, we had to fend for ourselves.  We went to the grocery store down the block and bought some ground beef and a box of Hamburger Helper.  When we got back to the apartment, we realized that the instructions were in French.  I know no French, and the French language studies Nick had taken did not offer any preparation for cooking this stuff.  We browned the beef and then decided that it must says something about adding water and other stuff.  It came out edible, if not brilliant.  After all of the translation work, we realized that there were instructions in English on the other side of the box!

When Ampai came home the next day, she saw the Helper stuff in the fridge and was very confused about why we had cooked dog food and then kept it in the fridge.  She got us on that one!

When we moved into our permanent quarters in Bangkok, we had a good size kitchen, with a walk in pantry.    American refrigerator and stove.  No garbage disposal.   Cartons of bottled water in the pantry and in the fridge.  The kitchen had two doors- one into the dining room and one into the hall- for bringing in groceries.  On the weekends, when we gave Ampai off we would cook some.  Mostly we went to Central Department Store and had fried rice (for about a dollar or so), and one night a week we would order pizza and tacos from Kings Crown Pizza- they delivered on a motorcycle.

Courtney was born in Bangkok in February.   Our tour there was over in June, so we left when she was 4 months old.

From 1978- 1979 we were back in College Park while Nick studied Polish. 

I am going to take a break now and write about our Polish kitchen later.  Maybe.

Friday, May 23, 2014

There is no "good" brain tumor!

This is what I wrote on my Facebook page today:
Here are my profound thoughts for today. There is no such thing as a "good" brain tumor. There is no such thing as a "benign" brain tumor. A brain tumor is something that is in your brain that is not supposed to be there. This is not good. Here is a definition of tumor: Here is a definition of tumor: "An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Tumors may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer). Also called neoplasm."
In this context, the word "benign" means not cancerous. It does not mean "good". I have a brain tumor. It is a meningioma. I get told that "if you have to have a brain tumor, this is a good one to have". Really? What so good about it?
I have constant pain. I cannot drive. I have to have surgery and have my head/ skull cut open with power tools. What's the good part about this?

This evening, at about 6:00, I had a terrible, horrible, skull splitting headache.  I felt like my head was going to explode from the inside.  I wrote the above while I was feeling the pain building up.  I went outside and sat on the deck holding my head and crying.  Nick came out to comfort me.   He listened to me (helplessly- nothing he could do), and he let me cry.

I had taken some Percocet at 4:00, so I couldn't take any more so soon.   I am really good at making sure I don't take too much Percocet, even when I feel so bad.   

I may not have had enough water to drink today.  After drinking some water I started to feel better.

Finally, at 10:00 I took some more medicine and it started to help.

I need to read and re-read my information and see what it says about feeling so bad.  Maybe I should have gone to the hospital- I don't know.  I don't know what, if anything it means to have the pain get so much worse.

Now, my eyelids are dropping and I am going to get to bed for a good nights sleep. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

There's nothing so bad....

My brother-in-law, Arne' used to say "There's nothing so bad it isn't good for someting".

I have been thinking about that for the last eleven weeks, since I was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Mostly I have been too busy with headaches to be very philosophical.   Certainly it never occured to me that there was anything good abut having a brain tumor.

Then, today, I realized what it is.For all of my adult life I have thought about my weight and my body image.  When Nick and I got married I only weighed 125lb.  Even then I thought that my thighs were too fat!  Really!

Well, since I found out about my brain tumor, I haven't spent any time thinking about my weight.   None.  I step on the scale, but more as a curiosity than as an opportunity to beat up on myself.

How about that.  There's the good.   I wonder what other good will come out of this episode of my life?.  My family's life really since we are all effected.

I am not ready to thank my brain tumor.  I have not really enjoyed it's company.  But, it has taken my mind (bad pun) off my other worries!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Headaches suck!   I took some medicine about a half an hour and am ready to go on living.   Before it kicked in, I was ready to die.  No, I do not want to kill myself.  I don't really want to die.   There is still so much life I want to live.

I woke up feeling crummy.  Headache, sinuses hurting, stomach issues and just plain old tired.  I didn't take anything for the head pain.  I don't know why.  I hate that I need to take drugs every day for my headache.

I sat outside on the deck and let the tears stream.   Closed my eyes and rested my head- leaning back.  Thinking that 60 years is a nice amount of time. I have lived a lot in my 60 years.  No, I do not feel "old", but sometimes I feel done.  Ready to just stop hurting.

In all honesty, I am terrified about having brain surgery.   I will be knocked out.  My head will be shaved.  I will wake up with staples and bandages on my head.  "There's no guarantee that the surgery will make the headaches stop".  That's what I have been told.   I hope.  Hope!

I am worn out.  I want to have some fun!  I want to drive again- I know I will.

The medicine has kicked in.  the pain is less than what it was.  Not completely, but much better than before.

Wow, I am a lot of fun!  Nope, just tired.  Just under 4 weeks.

My joy is here.  It's just hiding.   For a while.  It will come back  

Monday, May 19, 2014


I started sewing when  I was 10.  My mother taught me on her little Singer Featherweight.   I still have her Featherweight.

In high school I sewed most of my clothes- not the jeans, but all of the other clothes I wore.

When the kids were little I sewed for them.  Especially at Halloween.  My kids never had store bought costumes!   One day I will scan pictures of their costumes!

I watched my two grand nieces for 8 years total.  One since she was almost two and the other almost from birth.   I loved sewing and knitting for them!  What a lot of fun!

When Courtney was home for Christmas, she saw some of the dresses I had made for the girls and she asked me if I could sew something for her like that.  So I did.

Here's the dress I finished last week- Courtney got it in the mail today:

The old hippie's younger hippie daughter!

When Courtney was in third grade, she came home one day and told me that she was going to be Martha Washington in her class play.  She needed a costume/ dress by the end of the week.  So I dragged the kids to the fabric store and bought the fabric that looked the most like what she should have at the cheapest price I could find.  I was probably hugely pregnant with Austin at the time.  I don't recall what her lines were, but I do remember how I cried when I heard her speaking and sounding so confident and grown up.  My little girl.  And now she really is grown up!

 Here's Courtney as Martha Washington :



I was sitting around this evening, knitting and thinking.  I started to think of the decades of my life and wondering what, if anything I could remember.  So, here goes:

Age 10, my first decade.   I had a birthday party and a cake with plastic horses around it.  I wore a tight pony tail and had bangs.   I was very blond.  I have pictures somewhere of the cake with the candles burning.  I'm sure my mom baked the cake

Twenty years old.  I had been married for almost 2 years.  It was 1974.   I think I had dropped out of college by then so I could work full time.  I worked for Singer Company.  I sold sewing machines and I drove a van with the Singer logo on the side.  I went to  people's homes to repair their sewing machines.  I also delivered sewing machines.   I was married.  Yeah I already said it.  But I was. To Nick, who seemed so old.  He was 26!

In 1984, I was pregnant with my third child, Darcy.  We were studying Norwegian at FSI (the Foreign Service Institute) when it was in Rosslyn, VA.  I remember, in class we all drank a toast to me and my birthday because decade birthdays are important in Norway.  Our teacher turned 40 that year, and we drank to her too.

Forty.  I was still nursing my youngest.   We were here, in Virginia.  I was busy being a mom and La Leche League Leader (still am).  My best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and when I went for my first mammogram I was sent away because I was nursing.

My mother died shortly before I turned 50, before I graduated.  I graduated from college with a BA in English from George Mason University.  My mom was still alive when I got my cap and gown, and I modeled for her.  She was so happy and so proud.  She bought me a class ring.  I wear it every day.   It was also my 25th anniversary as a LLL Leader.

Looking forward towards turning 60, I decided that I wanted to be as fit and well as I could.  I was working out at the gym, both by taking classes and meeting with a personal trainer.  I was there five to six times a week. I was tired a lot.  I found out that I had low thyroid.  Then, I found out that I have a brain tumor.

And here I am.  I had to fill out a form last week and for the first time, I had to put "60" on the place where it asks your age.  It didn't bother me so much, it just felt weird.  I mean 60?  Huh?   How did that happen?

I guess that this is how 60 feels.  I hope I get to see how 70 feels!

I wonder what I will write about in ten years?

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Why is morning so hard?  Woke up at 7.  Had to pee, and felt unbearably hungry.   Came downstairs, ate a little, fell asleep on the sofa.  Woke up feeling crappy.   I just wish I could sleep until I am not tired, and eat so I feel better.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Brain Surgery is on June 16, 2014

I just realized that June 15, 2001 was the day Dale died.  My only brother.  I guess I have been so self centered that it didn't hit me that surgery is so close to the anniversary.   Well, maybe that will be a good omen.   At any rate, I will not be on a motorcycle!

How ya' doing?

Doesn't everyone say that, or some version of that when you see them?  Well, I will tell you how I am doing.  Not too great.  Not at this moment anyway.

My head hurts.  My eyes are dry.  My knees hurt when I climb stairs.   So many complaints.

I am feeling blue this morning.  It's humid and I feel clammy.   I know a shower will help that, at least for a few minutes.  But I don't even feel like having a shower.  I want to stay in my pajamas all day.  I tell myself that anyway.   Sometimes staying in pajamas all day IS the right thins to go.   But some days it just keeps the blues running toward me and doesn't chase them away.  This morning is like that.

Yesterday I went to my weekly Starbucks Breastfeeding Cafe'.  I didn't go last week.  The moms were there with their beautiful babies.  One of the moms said that she could see in my eyes that I was not feeling as good as I have in the past.   It shows in my eyes and my face.   I don't know if the people I am closest with notice.  Maybe they do and don't want to.  Maybe they really don't notice because they see me all the time.  It is hard to see change in things you look at all of the time.  Or maybe they cannot see my worry and saddness over their own.

I am so used to managing and micro managing everything.  I need to let go for my own mental health.  But it is so hard.   Nick and family will be going to the hospital with me.  I will be residing in my hospital room.  They will be residing somewhere else.  Probably a hotel.   I get into conversations about hotels and prices and parking and shuttles and ....   Wait, this is not my problem.  My housing is taken care of.  Let them figure it out.  It is so hard to keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself.  

Youngest child is home for a day or so.  He has been driving with expired tags and inspection sticker.   Last night Nick said "I guess we'll have to take care of it".   I said "we".  How can I help, really?  I cannot drive right now.  Nick meant the parental "we".  Nick took care of it, mostly.  The car did not pass inspection.  It needs new motor mounts.  For somewhere around $400.00.   Stay out of this Nancy.   Not my problem.  But I make it my problem.  Somehow.

Is this what being a mother is?  Or is it that I like to be in control?  Or is it that I am pretty good at getting things done and don't trust anyone else to do it right?  A bit of all of those I guess.

Last night I dreamed about my brain tumor.  I dreamed that they found it to be cancerous.   They did not put the piece of skull back so they could go back in and do whatever it is you do about cancerous brain tumors.  We were all sitting around a conference table;  the doctor, Nick, Carol, Courtney and me.   Carol was crying, Nick and Courtney were in shock.  I was talking, asking questions.  Asking about options. 

I hope that is not the case.  It is pretty unlikely.  But I am always thinking about the "what ifs".  

Okay, it is almost 11:30 AM.  I have had breakfast, had my coffee and written in my blog.  Now I think I will go lie down for a bit.  Then I will take a shower.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

February 25, 1978

I have probably posted this picture here before.  It is a reminder of the day I became a mother.  You only become a mother once.  After that you are the mother of, five, in my case.  But there is only one first. As you can see in the picture, I was happy beyond belief that I was about to become a mother.  (This is before the serious labor set in).

I had a pregnancy before this one.   I lost the baby.  I was about 20 weeks along.  I was, at that time, looking forward to being a mother.  I was a "mother to be".   But, alas, it was not to be after all.  I never saw the little one I lost  I grieved and cried and was in a bit of shock.  Nick and I both were.  And when I became pregnant with Courtney, before the day of home pregnancy tests, I had the doctor's office repeat the positive test 6 times before I would allow myself to believe it.  

There is a term that I have learned recently:  Rainbow Baby.  That is a child who is born after a loss.  Courtney is my [first] rainbow baby.

I had an early miscarriage in 1989, before I got pregnant with Chance, my fifth child (seventh pregnancy).  That makes Chance my second rainbow baby.

All of my children have been my sunshine and my rainbows and my days and nights.  They have been my heartbeat and my breath.   They have held onto my hands and let go.

I wanted to be a mother and I got my wish.

  What a lucky woman I am!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Roller Coaster?

Trite to say, but my life is like a roller coaster.  I have highs and lows.  There are times when there is so much pain I am not sure what to do.  I want to scream, but I don't.  I think that would probably make the pain worse.     Then, there are times when I have had some pain medication and am just relaxed, lying on the couch watching TV when I don't even think about the pain.  It is there, but it is not dominating my consciousness. 

I am on a couple of  meningioma "lists" on Facebook.  One of the women on one group has been making these virtual ribbons, and she made one for me today:  Just over 5 more weeks until surgery.

June 16, 2014 is the big day!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A long ramble

Every day I think about what to write here, on my blog.  Then, nighttime comes.  And I am really full of words and thoughts and ideas.  Or, on a night like tonight, I just sit here and wonder what, if anything I have to say.

I look forward to being more mobile.  I am not driving at all right now, so I sometimes feel trapped.  I know that I can get a ride wherever I want pretty much whenever I want.  But I want to just go.  Anywhere.  Just drive.  Maybe to the fabric store.   Maybe just looking at pretty houses.  Anywhere.  I hope that once I recover from my brain surgery I will recover well enough that I can drive.   Look out world, here I come!

I am not sure what, if anything I am learning about life since being diagnosed with a brain tumor.   I know that I should be reaching deep into my soul and discovering the meaning of life.  I should look at the world with new eyes.   I should appreciate the birds and the flowers.  And all that jazz.   Thing is, I have done all of those things most of my adult life.  I am thoughtful.  I wonder and think and try to understand life.  Sometimes it all seems to make perfect sense- like when a mother finds that moment of bliss with her newborn.   Fleeting as it is, it is the magic stuff of life.

Then I go all human and damn the beauty and the philosophy.   Sweep the floor it's a mess.  Mow the grass.   Care about how the world, my world at least, looks and feels to me.  I probably care more about that kind of stuff than a deeply philosophical person "should".  I should be more Zen.  More in the moment.  I should meditate.

But dammit, I don't want to meditate.  I don't want to always overlook the negative and only think about the positive.  I want things done my way.  I feel like a small child stamping my foot and being angry while everyone looks on and tries to figure out what that child is upset about.

I have often joked that I am a Martha Stewart wanna be and turned out to be more of an Erma Bombeck!   The order of Martha Stewart seems so soothing and blissful.  Order.   And the reality is, life is messy.

It's a funny thing, remembering back to when I was a teenager.  I wanted to be different.  To be a non-conformist.  And how did I do that?  By wearing the same clothing and hair styles as my friends.  Sometimes I was ahead of the curve.  I wore "Twiggy" eye make up and painted flowers on my face before any one I knew.  Or maybe they didn't even do that.  I wore hiphuggers bell-bottom pants and went without a bra.  Of course I was so thin I didn't really have any hips to speak of, nor did I "need" a bra.   I stopped shaving my legs and arm pits as an act of rebellious independence.    Of course, the only one who cared, or even really noticed was my mother, who, I thought, didn't know anything.

So, here I am.  Past middle age, unless I expect to live to be 120 years old.  And I am still that free spirited teenager.   Somewhere deep inside I am still there.  I think of my uniqueness and look at the world as a miraculous place.

But, I am also the mom who sold Tupperware in the late 1980s.  I drive a car and live in the suburbs and spend hours balancing the bank account and paying bills.  I like having manicures and pedicures.  And I live in a very middle class neighborhood.  With people who I cannot imagine ever having been as cool as I was "back in the day".  Of course I don't know that, but I imagine it.

My neighbors have pretty houses.  They have nice lawns.  The houses I have been in over the 32 years we have lived here are well kept and tidy inside.  I love tidy.  I love clean.  Clean carpet.  Clean floors and counters and dishes.   I love the idea of having a nice yard.  Like the neighbors.   I know that is probably superficial.  But maybe, to me anyway, it is not superficial.  I mean, I know that I will be dead and gone one day and nobody will ever think "oh Nancy Sherwood, she did have a nice lawn".  I know that.  But the order in the groomed lawn and the organized home is only superficial to those who feel that way.  These are things that bring me peace. 

Maybe I am more Zen than I realize.   I grew up in chaos.  We had meals at regular times, and had clean clothes.  My mom kept the house reasonably tidy.  But there was so much chaos.   Tension.  Fear, constant fear that maybe I had not brushed my hair right or my shoes were dirty or I held my fork wrong.   We had to sit up straight at the dinner table. We never knew if someone or another would explode.   Food would go flying.  Loud, hurtful words would go flying.  Fists and belts lashed out. 

Maybe on some level that is why I find peace in order.   And why I have trouble coping when I feel that I am not understood.  I know for instance, when the kids were little, and they got dirt on the floor, they were not doing it to hurt me.  I am sure they didn't even know that they had done anything.  But I felt it.  "look at the dirt you tracked in"  "slap". 

Not sure if I am saying it in a way that will make sense to anyone reading this.  I am learning and going back there as I write.

I guess that the clutter in my world speaks to the clutter in my memories of my growing up years.

And then, I go and get a brain tumor.  What could be messier. symbolically, than that?

I know, I need to learn to "let go".  I have learned that.  Not 100%, because I am who I am.  But I am so much stronger than I need to be because that is how I survived as a reasonably intact human being.

This is a much longer ramble than I expected.  I will not read it over tonight, I will just post it.  Tomorrow I will probably do some editing.   Right now, I am going to go to bed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Miniature Horses

As far as I know, this is the final, actual, real date of my surgery: June 16, 2014 at 5:00 am.

A long wait, but it is what it is.  I had thought, when we first went to Hopkins, that it would be much sooner.   I was looking forward to getting the surgery part out of the way and the recovery part started.  It turns out that the whole thing is more complicated than originally thought, so I have to wait for the whole team of folks to be available and in the operating room.

Can you tell I am a little bit obsessed about my brain tumor.  Wouldn't you be?  

Today, on top of having my constant headache, I have been feeling sick.  Sore throat and swollen glands.  If I am still feeling sick in the morning I will go see my regular doctor.   I don't want to feel any more physical misery.

Nick worked today.  I slept in and then for most of the day I had time to myself and I just knitted and sewed and watched TV.  

On the weekend, my sister and I took her two granddaughters to Frying Pan Park to see the animals.  Specifically, the miniature horses.   They are really amazing, they are so tiny. 

We met some neat nuns.  yes, I said nuns.  They are from a monastery in Pennsylvania I think.  The raise and sell the horses to make money.  As the Sister said "you have to pay to pray"   They sure were working hard, wearing full habits.

And now, before heading to bed (before 2am for a change) I will post some pictures.

Monday, May 5, 2014

I'm 60, so now what?

I got these beautiful flowers from my kids.   This picture is cropped to show off the flowers and the card.  I was also either called or texted by all of my kids, my cousins, my Aunt Gerry & Uncle John- who sang to me, my sister in law Betsy, who also sang.  Whew!

I do not understand all of the magic and mystery that is the internet.  Somehow Google knew it was my birthday.  I got a picture before it disappeared at midnight:

I have a tentative date for my surgery, June 2.  It seems to be taking longer than I would like, but, just because my schedule is open doesn't mean the surgical team's schedule is.  So I have another month of tumor stress.  Then I will have recovery stress.  I wonder how different that will be.

I am really happy with all of the birthday wishes I got today.  I won't ever be this age again.  I wonder if and when it will hit me- that I am 60?   I wonder...

We actually had a very simple, quiet birthday- aside from all of the calls and texts.  We had so much chocolate in the form of brownies over the weekend that I couldn't handle the thought of a birthday cake.  Austin's girlfriend, Katy, baked brownies for Austin's birthday, plus gluten free brownies for me.

Nick and Austin and I had carry out Chinese food, which is just what I wanted.  We watched Jeopardy together.  Then Nick and I watched the  Bletchley Circle followed by Midsomer Murders

That's all for now.  Nick is asleep, and I think I will join him!

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Happy Birthday to a very important person in my life.

Austin, giving birth to you was one of the most empowering experiences in my life.  Maybe even THE most empowering.   I labored for hours and pushed, took no drugs at all, and felt this incredible rush  of emotion, adrenalin and love after you were born.   I really believe that you are the one to give me the strength and patience to be an advocate for myself, all of my kids (especially when you were little) and an advocate for other mothers.

What a sweet faced, lovable little boy you were!

I love watching Jeopardy with you because you always surprise me what how many things (many obscure things) you know.  For someone who spend a lot of time hanging out quietly on your own. you sure know a lot!

An artist.  A singer.  A hockey player. A Friend. 

You are all of these things and so much more.  I am always putting my thoughts in writing.  But it is hard to do that when so much is feelings and no words.

I Love you son,


Wake up call!?

Okay, I have been thinking about the phrases we use like "it was a real wake up call".  What in the world does that mean?  I know it is supposed to mean that something dramatic has happened to make you realize the importance of ...what?  I guess if you find you have a heart condition, when you learn about it, it's a wake up call to start taking better care of yourself.    Or, in my case, if you have a brain tumor, I should say that I have had a wake up call to reflect  on life.  What's important.  What I need to do to make my life better.  What to prioritize and what to let go of.

Well, I guess.  But I have not changed my basic values, concerns or my desires.   I guess I have re-prioritized what I want to do.  I wrote about my bucket list a few weeks ago.  I wrote about things I wanted to do and see.   I still want to do all of those things.  I just feel less anxious to do these things.  My main priority is to not only get through with this brain tumor.   By get through, I mean survive intact.  I am not ready to become totally physically dependent on others.   I know that I am loved, and I know that between Nick and my sister and kids and friends,  I will continue to be loved whether or not I make a full recovery.

I am always saying "I know I will be alright".  How do I know?  (Courtney used to say that all the time as a three year old!).    How?  Well, to be honest, I don't know.  I don't know like one doesn't know they will arrive at the grocery store when they are on their way to the grocery store.  I don't know if that makes sense.  I guess another word for it is "faith".  I have faith in the doctors, the hospital and my care to believe that I will get there.  There?  My "destination" is the other side of this brain tumor and surgery.  "There" is back to walking with confidence, driving myself, getting back to work helping moms and babies.   Being pain free.  That is where I am going.  That's what's on my GPS.  (Dr Brem being the figurative GPS).

Meanwhile, I sit, I knit, I sew, I watch TV, I stay in touch- partly by keeping this blog.  

I asked Dr. Brem about getting my hair cut- I wanted to know where the incision will be.  He said not to get my hair cut before surgery.  I don't know why, or if he was just kidding.  I am a short hair lady.  My hair was getting to the point of scraggly that I could not stand it!  So, yesterday, Carol took me to get my hair cut.  I have been going to this hair dresser for more than 20 years.She was very understanding about the surgery and the scar(s) I will have.    I feel so much more human!

I got a call from Dr. Brem's appointment person.   She said she would call me back either yesterday (she didn't) or Monday.  There are so many things that need to be coordinated that it is complicated.  There will be at least two doctors, two anesthesiologists, nursed and an available operating room.  I guess being the doctor's office manager's job is not unlike the job of an event planner! 

Today is Austin's birthday!  I want to post some pictures of him, but they are not on this computer.  Now I am going to go upstairs and get my Austin pics!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Dammit doll!

Today Nick and I made our second visit to Johns Hopkins.   We went to meet Dr Ishii
the doctor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. My neurosurgeon wanted
me to see Dr Ishii before the plan was made for my brain tumor surgery. Dr
Brem (neuro) was concerned about the proximity of the tumor to the sinuses.

I started the morning with a CT scan and then went to Dr Ishii's office. Dr
Ishii explained that because the tumor is actually leaning against the wall
of the sinuses in my forehead, they have to be careful when removing the tumor.
Dr Ishii will be doing the surgery with my neurosurgeon, Dr Brem.
Still no date for the surgery.
 sent me a dammit doll that I received today. Am attaching

I need this surgery. I need to get well. It will be a long road, but I am
glad that we are living now instead of 100 years ago.

I have needed a haircut for a while, but have been putting it off until I found out about the surgery.  Then, when we met with Dr. Brem, he said not to get my hair cut.   I might get it cut anyway- it is driving me crazy! 

After we got home, I was so tired I couldn't keep my eyes open.  So I took a nap upstairs in bed, instead of downstairs on the sofa.  I am still tired!

When Nick brought the mail in, there was a package.  My sister sent me a "dammit doll"  We bought one for our step mother when we were in Arizona 20+ years ago.  I guess Carol thought that I needed one.  Maybe she's right!