Monday, July 1, 2024

j u l y . 2 0 2 4

 firecracker hot! 

     it will be a good time to stay indoors, as the week leading up to the holiday weekend should peak at over 110 degrees! 


Saturday, June 1, 2024

j u n e . 2 0 2 4

horses and hope

     hopefully this month ends with the last chemo session, but first we have an historic horse race!  I was still recovering from the 3rd treatment, so didn't "dress" for the Belmont.  of course I had to watch it - this is the first year it was run at the historic Saratoga Race Track, as they will be renovating Belmont for the next couple years.  it was another thrilling race and the favorite again didn't win!  

     my final chemo session fell on my company's holiday for Juneteenth, so I had the whole day off.  I bought a commemorative shirt to honor the day, and found an excellent audiobook to listen to while I was being infused, Dick Gregory's Defining Moments in Black History.  this is the first picture I've posted on FB showing the total loss of hair; until now I've shared wigs, hats and turbans.  


     when I feel up to it I have creative activities to fill my time.  I saw this beautiful pineapple filet crochet pattern - symbol of hospitality - and then got a great pineapple gold yarn to work it up into a lovely lightweight afghan.  


     I was happily astonished and surprised at work when I received notification that my manager had nominated me to the rarified group of admins - at the corporate level, not department or division - and had been one of the winners for this season!   my manager said she listed many, many of my accomplishments, but apparently it was the unique use of my extensive theater background that captivated them the most.  the winners in this group, and in another group in October, will be in the running for Admin of the Year in January 2025!! 


     the last treatment and recovery took so much longer than the previous episodes.  the pain was so much more intense and excruciating.  luckily, it was The Last (at least according to all info I've received).  I will return to work full time in July, and just use my personal time off when I need to take shorter days.  it will be so much easier than dealing with the Disability organizations.  



Wednesday, May 1, 2024

m a y . 2 0 2 4

 ahhh may!

may I continue to progress through chemo treatments, and ultimately full recovery! 

     but for now, I'm back at work, working up to 20 hours a week, so half-days, while the chemo isn't kicking my can :-)  my team was so happy to see/hear from me on my first day ... definitely felt the love. 

     after just the one chemo treatment I've already experienced hair loss, so I had my hair stylist give me a really short style that will make cleanup and loss much easier.  I also went to the wig shop recommended by my care team, and got myself a cute little pixie cut wig that matches my natural hair color from way back when I was 21!  not more than two weeks after my cute haircut, 95% of my hair had fallen out, so I borrowed Craig's clippers and mowed it short.  I bought a few turbans for quick trips out and about when I didn't want to mess with a wig.  hmm... wonder in what color and style it will grow back?!

  

First Saturday in May!  I'm Derby - 150th Derby - ready!!

  

     when the time arrived for the final race of the day, I donned my second chapeau (plus wig) and made a very light mint julep in my QEII 70th Jubilee glass with the 150 bourbon.  this year's winner was Mystik Dan who was technically a "long shot."  

     since I can drive myself to my treatments, I pack a go bag with all my needs.  they recommend ice mitts and booties to fend off neuropathy in hands and feet.  and since my hands are my livelihood, I'm all about that!  I decided to wear theme shirts too.  the second treatment was NASA related, and I queued up the audiobook Grateful American by Gary Sinise, one of my favorite actors in the movie Apollo 13. 


     mid-month we had a solar event that caused an aurora borealis!  Joyce took some pics from their location, and there were a bunch of beautiful shots all over FB.  I made a short video of some of the best ones.  I was in bed already, (necessary chemo recovery) so didn't get to see it live.
 

     two weeks after the first race, the second of the triple races was held on a rainy day in Maryland.  I donned my yellow bonnet and attached a bright flower - reminiscent of a Black Eyed Susan - and watched the Preakness.  sadly there will not be a Triple Crown winner this year.  but the bright spot was the horse was a beautiful gray, and not only was this the jockey's first Preakness, but also his first Preakness win!  

     Craig went on his annual week-long Boy's Trip to Palm Springs starting right after my second chemo infusion and Mothers Day.  luckily I am the awesome event planner that I am so I prepped all I would need to sustain myself during the absence, and survived handily all alone.  the pain was as crippling and agonizing as it had been the previous time, but at least I know it decreases, and I have a couple "good weeks" following the really bad week.  I get to see so many of the chemo patients with people in attendance with them, but there are us few who are there enduring it solo.  we are warriors! 
 
      at the end of the month my order for a second wig came in; I love this cute gray-blonde pixie a la Dames Judi and Helen.   then it was time for treatment #3, and I went with a 60s Flower Power theme - the Monkees, a turban giving me "flowers in my hair" and the audiobook Monkee Business. 

  

     then Craig had a business trip that coincided with the worst part of my recovery, but didn't give me enough notice to prep before I felt "run over."  instead I had to improvise, once again relying only on myself. 
 
     when I had turned the corner and was able to drive again, my coworker who asked me to narrate his training videos provided me a third opportunity!  while I didn't drive to the bay area this time - no way I could have done that - they set me up with a remote audio session at the Folsom campus, and I met the audio tech that lives up here.  he was just wonderful to work with, and at the end of the session he said, "you could read audiobooks!"  yup.  I think I would like to do that!  

 

Monday, April 1, 2024

a p r i l . 2 0 2 4

no foolin' - it's been a tough year so far

 hoping that this month it gets better! 

     catching rsv in January, taking the fall at work in February, and then getting the cancer diagnosis and surgery in March ... I really hope that April is full of rest, recovery and rejuvenation! 

     to lighten my mood each morning, I get to watch this little guy scrounging for bird seeds and the occasional toast crust I might throw out to him :-)  

 

   


  
 

     after my morning coffee, I spent a good chunk of one morning watching the great american eclipse, as it came to be known.  HERE are a number of photos I took (from the web) as I enjoyed the experience from the safety of the patio and kitchen.  

     chemo treatments started mid-month, and will go on for nearly three months.  so far, I haven't experienced any of the extreme discomforts, but it is early in the process.  but it is good to know that I'm not starting out bad only to go to worse.  I am blessed!  

      at the end of the month I cooked another shuffle online meal.  I know, what was I thinking!?   but I had signed up for it before I even had my first exam, and I was just hoping I'd be able to do it when the time came.  it was a braised pork belly with garlic demi-glace and fricassee of spring vegetables.  I did a lot of prep before the class so I'd have time to sit at points during the live class.  it was still wearying, but I made it through and of course it was delicious! 


     very few of the morning glories grew back after winter, so we planted new flowering vines ... here is peacock two-point-oh.  



Friday, March 1, 2024

m a r c h . 2 0 2 4

 still winter-y

marching in like a lion!

     nearby mountain weather is supposed to be "white out conditions" this first weekend of the month!  our chief of staff confided that he and his family had cancelled their plans to go to Tahoe, knowing how completely unsafe it would be.  I'm grateful all we have to look forward to is bands of cold and rain coming through.  oh, and some hail!  Craig of course complained that it was ruining any potential golf opportunities.  ah well, time to hunker down and get some home work done. 

     last month I had taken my serger in to the sewing repair man to have him give it a tune-up, since it has been years since I sewed with it.  I found a pattern to make chef coats, aprons and toques, so I promised Janet I would make her some for her cooking adventures as well.  I find it hilarious - but so right - that we shopped independently without discussing our preferences, and yet our fabrics are so similarly themed!  great minds do think alike!


     I made the simpler garment first, to get the feel of the fabric and get back in the swing of sewing a garment from beginning to end again.  (I only made alterations to the costumes for P&P, so minimal machine sewing involved.)  I'll make her chef jacket next after this (modelled after her own best-fit jacket hanging behind). 


     this month's cooking adventure was Spanish Paella, one of my favorite international foods.  I actually had paella in Spain (!!) that was served with rabbit.  this was my first attempt to make it at home.  I decided to get a proper paella pan in hopes that I would get it closer to correct than not.  



     for Craig's birthday dinner we went to our favorite lobster house, where he enjoyed his favorite cioppino, and I had delicious lobster raviolis.  we both even had dessert - Craig got NY cheesecake and I had banana cream pie, our bartender/server's favorite.  after all, it is also pi day!  (I had a procedure earlier in the afternoon so wasn't in any condition to cook.) 
     I was a lucky winner of a spot in the lunchtime paint & sip activity at work, where our subject was titled "bee kind" and was for the Kindness month of March. 

     one Saturday morning I saw a recipe in the NY Times Cooking article, and so made a pan of Shakshuka, my first in this kitchen. 


     the following Sunday matinee I went to another new venue for me to catch a production of Cotton Patch Gospel, a delightful retelling of the Easter resurrection story set in Georgia in the 60s, and Jesus is a black man.  it is a small venue, so the small cast of actors could see their audience - and I was in the second row.  when I walked out to the sidewalk where the actors received us after the show, Jesus said to me, "you have the most wonderful smile!"   I couldn't help but hug him back.  
 

March 7 to 27 - an epic whirlwind journey

      at my annual women's health visit we decided to take next steps on a lump I had discovered.  (it ended up being 3cm in size, between a boulder and a jumbo in marble sizes).  five days later I was getting a mammogram and ultra-sound; two days after that I went in for the biopsy.  in five more days I was meeting with a surgeon to discuss next steps, and less than three weeks after my first office visit, I was having mastectomy surgery.  
      the "hope" rock below was in the conference room where I met my surgeon; I knew I wanted one last "before" photo, and this is the night before surgery; and in our garden, one of my plants has naturally grown into a pink heart shape, for breast cancer. 

  


Thursday, February 1, 2024

f e b r u a r y . 2 0 2 4

 surviving winter

trying to stay healthy

     early in the month the kids shared that they had closed on a house they had been eyeing.  she finally realized her dream of being a homeowner! 

     when I started to feel a little bit better, and was able to do a little more in the kitchen, I saw a recipe in the new issue of this cooking mag.  yup, a beef stew sounds like the perfect remedy for feeling cruddy.  


     for the first time since my trip to the bay area (when I got sick) I went in to the local office in Folsom.  guess I shouldn't have been so adventurous before I was completely well, because I managed to trip and fall on the hard granite floor in the cafeteria (during busy lunch hour!) and spent the rest of the afternoon with the site nurse, and then at urgent care, making sure I hadn't broken anything (I didn't).  the medic recommended working from home and the RICE remedy I'm so familiar with.  here I go again, back into seclusion.
     and to add insult to injuries, we watched our football team in the super bowl, but despite valiant efforts all the way through the game, they lost in overtime.  heart-breaking!  well, at least the food was great! 
     a week past my injury and stilly feeling cruddy, it was valentines, so Craig brought me flowers and made his version of shrimp creole. 




     an audition opportunity cropped up literally last minute, as I only read about it the day before the only night I could go to their two nights of auditions.  I completed the registration paperwork, emailed my headshot and extensive show bio, and then posted on my FB page that I was going to audition.  lots of my theater peeps and fam wished luck/break legs, and one of my oldest theater peeps, from high school, said she'd see me there!  we had a wonderful time catching up, reminiscing about so many shows, and meeting all her friends who were there auditioning too.  she's been doing shows here for about ten years from what I gather.  sadly, it was a small cast and many ladies tried out, so I was not selected.  small comfort, but neither was my friend, so at least we're "not doing it together." 
     finally a month and 10 days after the last time I was there, still on orders from the doctor to work from home, I took the train to the bay area.  the paperwork for my move from the headquarters building as my base location to the office in Folsom had been put in place well before my manager wanted, and without her knowledge.  I knew I wanted to grab some items from that office before it was no longer "mine."  and Janet and I caught up in the parking lot for a moment to exchange fabric, and I gave her a purple blanket I made from fabric that was "just calling out to me."  I knew she and Wilbur would just love it! 
     with the "move" to the non-sili-valley digs comes a huge hit to my income, as there is a pay differential between hi cost and lower cost regions.  so there's only one good thing from this change, at least now when I go there for business trips I can legitimately take the air shuttle, and any stay-overs won't be on my dime any more.  sigh ... end of an era. 

     Wilbur had only a couple of days to enjoy his new purple blankie.  Janet posted that she had to let him go on Leap Day.  <<sadness!>>
 
     the way I knew I had been moved was I received the local weekly newsletter from the site excellence team - which I couldn't receive before because it wasn't my home location (no matter how many times I asked).  one of the activities in the newsletter was a happy hour opportunity in the late afternoon; of the two drinks that were showcased, I bought the ingredients to make the roaring 20s drink known as The Last Word, with gin and chartreuse.  (the other was made with Mezcal and called Naked and Famous.)   I had a wonderful time with the fellow employees who I guess are "regulars" at this "bar" so I will definitely be signing up to attend future opportunities! 
 
     

Monday, January 1, 2024

j a n u a r y . 2 0 2 4

new year, new opportunities...

but first

     I got to see my girl and meet her guy! 

     she was in the bay area for business, so first we had dinner with Janet at our favorite pizza joint Thursday night.  then I brought her home, took off Friday, did a little shopping together and he flew in Friday night!  we had dinner at our favorite BBQ & bourbon joint in old Folsom.  

Saturday, Craig golfed in the morning while we wandered around Old Sac.  



     we boarded the Delta Queen, which had more open areas than the last time I visited.  we even went below decks and got to see the theatre, which had been roped off previously. 

     lots of fun old-timey shops! 
  


     we took a walk down "memorial row" which had markers honoring veterans, the architect of the transcontinental railroad, the pony express, and old Sac, among many others. 

  


     we all met up at the Railroad Museum.  before Craig joined us we had a short tour led by our docent Earl, who provided a lot of excellent information about California history and the railroads.  

 

     ...about the women and minorities' stories that were erased from our history books for so long, or made mere footnotes....



     ...about the fight to be first and to go farthest, to get the most of the government funding...

 

     after the tour we could go around the rest of the museum and explore the many exhibits and displays, including examples of the beautiful dinner service and the glorious art deco and beaux arts decorations. 


 


     the postal car had a docent who explained how mail was sorted and delivered all along the route on every trip!   this music cover was very cool, because we do love California! 

 

     then the kids came over for dinner where I made my famous beef etouffee, and stuffed corn bread.
  

     the next night Craig grilled steaks and I made the asparagus with Calabrian pepper aioli for the four of us. 

     Monday morning I drove the kids to the airport, in style in Craig's truck, and said goodbye with lots of "miss you" hugs!!
     the following Wednesday I drove down to the bay area for work again, and came back home with what I thought was a wicked allergic reaction from being in a very fragrant conference room.  I treated it with allergy meds until I finally had to give up and go to Kaiser, only to find out I'd caught RSV!  since it's a virus, there was no medicine I could take to kill it; I just had to endure it and medicate to alleviate the symptoms.  it was brutal!  all I could do was work half-days, take the knock-out meds, get barely minimal sleep from all the coughing day and night; luckily Craig cooked most of the time. 
     after watching all the play-off games, we're happy our team is in the super bowl again, finally! 

  
[these pics from a friend at the game :-) ]

     another shuffle cooking opportunity, our next level Chef Tucker led us in a lesson on New Orleans Style Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo.  she even gave me a shout-out that my presentation was excellent! of course I still felt weak from the virus, but I masked up, sat on my bar chair while doing food prep, and didn't go on camera for the first time since I started attending these classes.  
     in my down-time, I put together a table of contents of the last twenty plus years of the events I've captured in the website and blog.  You can find it here.  this is the list of the trips to D'lands too.  and finally, I've gathered in one place the list of all the shows we've done, with links to their locations.