Jul. 31: Big news for Kath

Today’s my sister’s birthday, and I decided it was a good time to honor her on my blog, as well as reveal a truth her family has hidden from her for her entire life:

These are your real parents:


I’m glad you were able to grow up surrounded by us good-lookin’ folk. Although who knows, you could’ve won a whole wagon-load of Clean Barn Awards if you’d been raised by hayseeds.

Anyway, I’m almost done with your birthday cake. How many candles do you put on a cake for someone as old as you who’s finally learning the truth about her origins? Wikipedia is so not helpful with these matters.


Still trying to figger out how to get that damn kitten to keep quiet inside the cake. He’s all “mew mew mew” like he can’t breathe or something. He also keeps popping out with the sign upside down, or sideways, and sometimes not at all. Sheesh, animals.

Please know that regardless of the trouble I’m having with your cake and finding decent photos of your real mom and dad, my birthday wishes for you are sincere. If this is actually your birthday, that is. No one really knows for sure. I love you, “sister!”

Jul. 30: IDCEAYWTPFriday

It’s Friday, and that means you get a post called I Don’t Care Enough About You to Write in Transitioning Paragraphs Friday.

  • There’s a new, limited-edition Tillamook ice cream called Grandma’s Cake Batter and it. is. delicious. Like most cake batter-flavored ice creams, it tastes like cake batter and has sprinkles in it. But the Grandma’s Cake Batter also has cream cheese frosting ribbons through it—YUM!—and pieces of cake. Uh, I want to make sure you get that: PIECES OF CAKE. In the ice cream. Pieces of cake in the ice cream, yes. So good. So evil. When you browse the freezer full of Tillamook ice cream cartons at the grocery store, look for a red lid. The red means extry-tasty. (You locals can find it at New Seasons, not Albertsons.)
  • Have you read Sarah Palin’s secret dictionary? It’s a good’n.
  • I went in for the appointment with my doctor on Wednesday. The nurse fell all over herself with concern, but the doctor was fairly indifferent. When he asked how I was doing, I said, “Well, I have cancer…” but he didn’t take the opportunity to apologize or say “oops” or anything (not that I expected him to), and went right on to more questions. Overall he wasn’t a total jerk, but he wasn’t Dr. Super-Nice-Guy-Because-I-Nearly-Let-You-Die, either. And I handled it all grownup-like, without yelling or crying or flipping him off outside my head, so there’s that. I got my prescription refill and left with a stronger-than-ever resolve to find a new primary care physician. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to send them my way, because I really, really hate this doctor.
  • If you like Zach Galifianakis and haven’t watched any of the Between Two Ferns shows at Funny or Die, you’re missing out. Be warned that they are not for little ears. The latest one is with Steve Carell:

  • Yesterday was Vic’s birthday. He turned… older. We partied with much delicious food over at Darlene and Wellington’s, and were glad to have his sister Sonya and her family, as well as Sally and Presley (Daryl will be here in a few days) there to celebrate with us. We have such a good time when we’re all together. I married into a lovely family.
  • I had chemo #12 on July 20 and still haven’t written about it. I will, though. Still needing to follow up on a small issue and then I’ll actually have something to say.
  • This is weird: a dance studio in Scotland is offering pole dancing classes for kids. Now, we all know that pole dancing is a good way to fight cancer and look fabulous doing it, but I’m not sure how I feel about lessons for little ones. Whatevs.
  • So now that I’m a big fan of Flight of the Conchords, I was excited to see Kristen Schaal (Mel) was on Letterman this week. She was quite charming and funny:

  • Yesterday I shopped for Katie and Jack’s school supplies. I can’t believe it’s already time to start getting ready for a new school year. Yes, we still have a month of summer left, but there’s so much to do and I know the time will fly. Just thinking about it exhausts me. Dina, you threw a last day of school party; how ‘bout I throw a first day of school party? Five Lemon Drops for everyone!
  • The almost-constant sun we’ve had for the past few weeks is making our garden grow and grow. I’ll close this week’s IDCEAYWTPFriday with pictures I took in our yard earlier this week.

 Our coneflowers finally bloomed!

 I think their big fat centers are so cool.

 This is one of the bellflower plants, and it’s beginning to wither.
It’s still got beautiful color, though, and lots more buds to enjoy.
What I love about these flowers are the centers. Take a closer look:

See how they’re all curly?
In the wider angle, you can see the shadows of some of the middles too.
I love these tiny little details.

  Here’s a close-up of one of our tiny little sea thrifts.
The blossoms don’t last long on these flowers, but they bloom for months and months, so I don’t mind.

  I was so glad to see our agapanthus finally started to open up last week.
The ones we planted last spring froze during the winter; this is a new one and much smaller.
If it lasts through next winter we’ll have a nice big one next spring.
Keep your fingers crossed for us.
Muy importante.

I gotta say, I’m glad to see this week finally end. It was a rough one for me. It shouldn’t have been, with the kids at Grandpa and Grandma’s almost all week, but it was. I’m not sure what triggered the slide down down down, but I was exhausted in every way. I look forward to a peaceful weekend and having Victor home for a couple days. (I kinda like him.) Y’all have a good weekend too! Smooches—

Jul. 30: Plinky ~ bad teacher

Plinky is back. Yay! Here’s my first one since it returned. It’s from a week ago, but I just now finished writing up my answer, so… sorry? (Pssst… I’m not really sorry.)

Describe the worst teacher you ever had.

I never thought anyone could top my fifth grade teacher in the “worthless” category, but that was before I took my first management class in college. The professor was the type who wrote up his class outline in 1965 and never bothered to update it again. Exams were always multiple choice—the ones that came with the textbook, because GOD FORBID HE PUT ANY EFFORT INTO TEACHING—and classes were all-lecture-all-the-time, straight out of the book. We never had projects or papers to do. I can’t even remember daily assignments, but there must have been some, right? Or quizzes? Maybe Mike Devitt can remember—he was in the class too.

What made this ineffectual and out-of-touch teacher even worse was that he was a male chauvinist. I mean, the guy was, like, 749 years old and never changed his way of thinking since the days it was okay to tease girls and punch boys. I was almost embarrassed for him sometimes. Almost.

The strange thing was that even with all of his old school ways, he was a really nice guy. I was a reader for one of the other professors in the department, and whenever he saw me working, he’d stop and chat for a little while. I guess not taking time to prepare for his classes gave the guy time to get to know his students.

I have one happy memory of that class: a new kind of M&Ms had just come out, and a bunch of us shared handfuls nearly every day. Yes, what I got out of my first management course in college was a long-term love of peanut butter M&Ms, and not much else.

Jul. 29: Life in the dark place

There are times when I read about someone dying too young, and I lose all hope. Within seconds I am in that dark place. You know the place. It’s where my cancer has won and I’m gone. My blog goes un-updated. My Facebook status sits at something insignificant. The library books I have on hold come in, but no one picks them up and the library sends that snotty-sounding automated email to say they’ve been released and given to someone else—a message that goes unread, of course, because I forgot to show Victor how to check that email account. It’s where my dogs wander around the house looking for me and my kids grow up without their mom.

It doesn’t matter how much the oncologist says, “If you have to have cancer, this is the one to have; it’s got the best cure rate,” because in the dark place, all I can think about is lymphoma’s recurrence rate (it doesn’t seem all that low to me). In the dark place, I question the whole treatment process because it’s so much pain and expense when I’m going to die anyway. I make a note to remind a lot of different people that I want to be cremated with a hat on so I won’t be bald if/when I’m ever resurrected. And then I make a note to tell them to stop laughing, I do too still have a chance at eternal life, and just for that, I’m going to spend it making them sorry they ever laughed at me. If they’ve seen zombie movies, they know to be afraid.

I don’t like the dark place. I try not to go there. It feels like I’m having a pity party for myself, and I hate the idea of “why me?” Because, y’know, why not me? Cancer isn’t choosy. It picks good people and bad people with reckless abandon. (Please do not tell me in which of those categories you think I fit.)

Sometimes the only thing that can bring me out of that dark place is the idea of Vic rolling around in the life insurance money he’ll eventually get. But most often, it’s just time that eases me back out. And it’s weird, because when I do get out it’s not even a halfway-out kind of thing; I’m all the way out and suddenly the happiest person in the world. I am energized by my friends’ kindness, new blossoms in the flowerbed, the quotes Brenda and Tony post on Facebook, the sun gleaming in the blue sky, a good cup of coffee. It takes the simplest of life’s good things to make me feel lucky to be alive, to realize how good I still have it.

And I do have it good. I have the best of friends, a loving family, and yummy ice cream in the freezer. To expect more out of life would be greedy, right? So I carry on, enjoying being alive and hoping that when I end up in the dark place again, I won’t be there long.

Jul. 29: Thursday Thunks #14

Thursday Thunks (TT) is a blog meme for those who need a little kick in the butt to find something to post about. Your blog posts/answers to TTs can be type or pictures, doesn’t matter! YOU pick, not us, we just give you the assignment (yep, just like English class... only we won’t grade your spelling and grammar).

  1. Do you draw anything in the sand when you go to the beach?
    Usually. We write our names and maybe draw smilies or something. I can’t remember, really—it’s been a while.
  2. What is out your back door?
    Deck and backyard. Bugs.
  3. Do you prefer the beach, a pool or a lake? Why?
    Around here, a pool. At the Oregon coast, a pool (that water’s friggin’ COLD!). In the tropics, I definitely prefer the beach. Not a huge fan of lakes, except for being ON them, not IN them. I don’t like water critters very much.
  4. What is something recently that happened to you that you are REALLY excited about?
    My hair is growing!
  5. Are any of your great-grandparents still alive? If not, did you ever meet them?
    No. The closest I came to knowing any of them was my Grandma Saltmarsh’s mom (“Teeny Grandma”), who died sometime close to when I was born.
  6. When was the last time you spoke in front of a large group? Tell us about it.
    It was probably the last volunteer orientation I did at the school—there were about a million moms and dads heading out on a field trip.
  7. Have you ever bungee jumped? Would you ever bungee jump?
    No. No.
  8. How strong emotionally do you think you are?
    I always thought I was pretty weak, but the past eight months have shown me otherwise. I think we’re all capable of more than we believe.
  9. What is the first thing you notice about people when you meet them?
    Their smiles.
  10. Who do you mess with the most?
    Tease? Definitely Victor.
  11. Who was the last person you talked to on a land line?
    (What’s a land line?) Ours hasn’t worked for a couple weeks and I don’t care because I have so little need for it. I called to shut it off the other day and the Comcast dude talked me into a new Internet-TV-voice package that was cheaper than cancelling it. He told me how to check the phone problem, but I’m still in no rush to get it working again.
  12. What was the last movie you watched long after it came out and loved?
    Night at the Museum II: Battle of the Smithsonian
  13. What did you dream about last night?
    Weird, I can’t remember. I usually have vivid dreams and remember every detail. Hm.

Feel free to play along in a comment or your own blog!

Jul. 27: Dr. Nick/Spaceman/Effer

I have a doctor appointment tomorrow. It’s with a doctor I vowed I’d never go to again—the one who wouldn’t order any kind of scan to see what was causing my back pain last year. I have to see him, though, because I need a refill on a prescription that (apparently) only he can prescribe. It’s a medication I’ve been on for years, and my refills have run out. I really can’t be off it—it’s one of those that makes me all dizzy and sick if I suddenly stop taking it. I was hoping to quietly renew the prescription online, but it’s been too long since the original prescription, and the other doctors I’m seeing now—the rheumatologist and oncologist—say it’s a primary care physician thing.

I know, I know. I need to find a new primary care physician. I haven’t been in a big hurry to do that, because any health issues I’ve had lately are directly related to chemotherapy and my oncologist has been able to handle them. In fact, even if they weren’t specifically cancer-related, it made more sense that she handle them than a doctor who is not only not an oncologist, but completely unfamiliar with my medical history.


Over the past eight months I’ve considered writing a strongly worded letter to my primary care physician, but ultimately it just seemed like a waste. It’s not like he’s going to respond. Several people have asked if he’s contacted me since my lymphoma diagnosis, being that he gets the results of every test I’ve had in the last eight months. But no, I haven’t heard from him, nor did I expect to. What’s he going to do, apologize? For being a bad doctor? And kind of a major asshole? Unlikely.

There’s a big part of me that wants to go in tomorrow and play all nice at first and then scream bloody hell at him. Maybe I should take my mom in with me—I bet she’d work up a good hollerin’ in his honor. There’s another part of me that thinks it would be more mature to go in and just get what I need and get out. This is not a doctor visit I ever planned to have, and I don’t know what to do. Here are my options:

  1. “Hello, Dr. A-hole. Why yes, I do have cancer. If you had ordered a scan at the beginning, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be going through this hell right now. What do you have to say about that?”
  2. “Hello, Dr. A-hole. Why yes, I do have cancer. If you had ordered a scan at the beginning, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be going through this hell right now. I would like you to sign this piece of paper that says I AM A VERY BAD DOCTOR AND ALSO KIND OF A MAJOR ASSHOLE. Thanks!”
  3. “Hello, Dr. A-hole. Why yes, I do have cancer. If you had ordered a scan at the beginning, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be going through this hell right now. To make up for your ineptitude, I think the very least you could do is throw in a prescription for medicinal marijuana. Maybe one for all my friends, too. And enough Xanax to keep me from going home and taking my extreme frustration with you out on my family.”
  4. “Yes. No. Yes. Yes. Uh-huh. OK. Yes. Thank you. Bye.”
  5. “I’m sure you asked me to bring in a stool sample. Here’s my dog’s. No, really, please take it. I insist. I’ll just mash it into your hand to make sure you have a good grip on it. I’d hate for you to drop it.”
  6. Cry, just to make him feel rotten.

Please offer your advice, friends. I need to figure this out before 11:30 tomorrow morning.

Jul. 26: Hair watch #6, Day #75

Last night I had a dream that I went to visit my dear friend Sherrice. She’s a very honest friend, and if she saw a hair growing out of my neck, she would totally tell me. I know it. She would probably not even wait until there were fewer people around to point it out, which might make me love her a little bit less. But in my dream, the first thing she said to me when I walked in her house—after years 0f not seeing each other—was, “Jen, feel free to use my tweezers.”

I was all, HUH?

So I went into the bathroom and there, growing out of my chin, were two stray hairs. And it’s not like Sherrice spotted them because she was all eagle-eyed. No. These were long, L-O-N-G hairs. Like, two inches long and black and growing straight out, but with just a touch of curl, as though I might have not minded them so much and had even taken time to style them.

I woke up from that dream and went straight to the mirror. Nothing.

(Well, nothing more than the usual stray hairs that pop up during the night, damn them all to hell.)


It’s painfully clear that I have an obsession with my hair growth right now. Pretty much from my mid-neck up, I’m super-sensitive to any new sprouts. And so, it is time again for a check on my head’s hair growth. To review:

Hair Watch #1, Day #1 looked like this:

I believe the Latin called this “chromus domus.”
Also kinda goose-bumpy, but I don’t know how to say that in Latin.

Hair Watch #2, Day #19 looked like this:

Still side-show hideous.

Hair Watch #3, Day #25 looked like this:

Tropical Storm ‘Jen’s Hair’ was developing nicely.

Hair Watch #4, Day #32 looked like this:

So. Very. Grey.

Hair Watch #5, Day #40 looked like this:

So. Very. Sparse.
Also about the time the cat decided I needed to be groomed regularly.
By her.

That brings us up to date, and now we’re at Day #75 of my hair growth. Thirty-five days have passed since I last took pictures of my noggin, and we should expect to see a dramatic change, right? OK, a change. Maybe not dramatic, and certainly not attractive.

This picture is deceiving. It appears that my scalp is barely visible. I assure you, my scalp is definitely visible. If I were to go around hatless right now, people would question my sanity. It’s not pretty. It’s not lustrous. It’s just a teeny bit of hair, not even half an inch long, and I can’t even mess it up. I can, however, get hat-head and I gotta admit, that’s kinda cool. I’ll try to remember to take pictures of that next time.


Again, deceiving.


See? Lots of scalp still. And lots of grey. Sooo not pretty.


Now, here’s the photo I really like because it shows the beginnings of some actual STYLE in my hair:

What? You don’t see it? Geez, I gotta point out everything to you, don’t I?


But next thing y’know, I’ll look like this:


Now, here’s the real pisser of seeing your hair grow from nothing. When you see your hair grow from nothing, you notice every little thing—every little grey hair, every little cowlick, every dent and bald spot and texture change and color variance and it makes you hate everything that breathes and has supermodel-like hair and suddenly it seems like EVERYONE has supermodel-like hair. Here’s what I mean; let’s take a look at the arrows that show all the directions my hair is currently growing:

I’m pretty sure this ain’t supposed to happen. I can deal with a cowlick, sure. But this craziness is more like a curse, probably related to my tear hole hairs. OH YEAH, DID YOU KNOW I HAVE TEAR HOLE HAIRS???

Ah, the old days. I miss them so. ‘Member when my hair looked good?

Alright, well maybe my four-year-old self swimming naked in the backyard and my fourth-grade bespectacled self aren’t the greatest examples of my best historical looks. But the fact is, once upon a time I had hair that didn’t grow in 49 different directions. Pfft.

Jul. 25: Delinquency

I didn’t blog all weekend. Victor didn’t do the dishes all weekend. We are bad. But at least we didn’t invent this:

I’ve got a list of about four different things to blog about, so watch this space for updates soon. As for the dishes, well, they never stop, do they? Vic will be busy for a while. Please don’t bother him.

Jul. 23: IDCEAYWTPFriday

It’s Friday, and that means you get a post called I Don’t Care Enough About You to Write in Transitioning Paragraphs Friday.

  • On Wednesday, I finally thought to call and cancel the service on our dead TiVo. The customer service rep told me that that very day, July 21, was my six-year anniversary as a TiVo customer. Hooray! I love TiVo! Surprisingly, no balloons or giant checks were offered, and there was no freaky TiVo mascot thingie at my door—OK, I gotta kinda THANK BUDDHA for that. We were offered a replacement box for super-cheap and free service through November, and that’ll do just fine by me.
  • I’m absolutely in love with this blog I ran across: Issa Sarza. Tons of fun, easy craft-y things, printables, and all sorts of homey goodies. I think the monster tissue holder is especially goofy-cute.
  • My big re-organizing project is nearing completion, at least for now. These tasks are never really done, are they? I’m quite proud of how many storage boxes I’ve managed to empty, and the very large, clear space on the garage floor. Seeing fewer “go through this stuff” piles around the house is good too. Katie still won’t let me go in her room, but the rest of the house has improved dramatically.
  • I doubt I’ll see this movie, but the trailer is pretty funny:

    Vampires Suck Trailer
  • Do you like your orange juice pulp-free or with extra pulp? Sometimes I think the pulp-free is too much like Tang; on the other hand, the extra pulp variety can get awfully chewy. There are so many options these days, huh?

  • Did you hear that Plinky is back? It is! I was so disappointed when its developers decided to focus on another project, but thrilled to hear another group recently bought it. However, it’s kinda lame right now. Like, stupid-questions-lame. I’m going to give it a chance, though—its feed is back in my reader. Back in the day, Plinky prompts were frequently awesome.
  • Sherilee sent me the link to this fab collection of mojito recipes. Suddenly I’m so, so thirsty.
  • I’m totally bummed out after watching Deadliest Catch this week. Y’know, I knew back in February that Captain Phil died, but seeing his friends, family, crew, and the rest of the fleet get the news was just heartbreaking all over again. The season finale is next week and I gotta say, I’m kinda relieved it’ll be over for a few months.
  • I absolutely love this quote:

Have a great weekend, folks. Ours will be busy. I’ll try to post again soon.

Jul. 22: Thursday Thunks #13

Thursday Thunks (TT) is a blog meme for those who need a little kick in the butt to find something to post about. Your blog posts/answers to TTs can be type or pictures, doesn’t matter! YOU pick, not us, we just give you the assignment (yep, just like English class... only we won’t grade your spelling and grammar).

  1. What is the most common question that you are asked (in life) that is none of the questioner’s business?
    Probably “How are you?” Geez! Who do those people think they are???
  2. Who makes you happiest right now?
    My fab friends. They rock. All o’ dem rock.
  3. Would you consider yourself to be spoiled?
    Completely, and I highly recommend it.
  4. Do you want to be famous one day?
    Only if it’s for something good. I don’t want to be the girl in the YouTube video who tripped over her own feet in the grocery store and knocked over a display of toilet paper, sending another shopper to crash face first into the lobster tank, which starts an electrical fire in the meat department, burning the store to the ground. But most likely, that’s exactly what’s gonna happen. You just watch.
  5. Could you handle being in the military?
    Nope. Too much of a weenie.
  6. Do you believe in Karma?
    When I first read this question, I read “Karma” as “Kansas.” And my first reaction was not “Oh, I must have read that wrong,” but “Really? So now we’re thinking Kansas may not be real? Hm.” To answer the Karma question, YES.
  7. What’s the stupidest thing you ever did with your cell phone?
    Let my kids use it. Because: Oh, the fingerprints! And the grime! But worst of all, the clearing of my high scores, dammit!
  8. Who knows a secret or two about you?
    Way. Too. Many. People. I should really get fewer friends. The good thing is that I trust most of the people who know the secrets. And it helps that I know a few myself.
  9. Last thing you did that ticked off your significant other?
    I talked about getting a puppy. Well, “talked” is a little inaccurate. What I did was much closer to “whined.”
  10. Have you ever purposely been irritating to someone? If yes, explain.
    I’m a little sister. OF COURSE I’ve purposely been irritating to someone.
  11. What’s crazy to you?
    That I have four Facebook friends who “like” Glenn Beck. I’m afraid to click and find out which four they are. I don’t want to know. Because honestly, who can listen to that man? He’s an idiot jackass.
  12. Who writes the most interesting blog?
    There are so many good ones in my reader these days, and they vary so much in style that it’s hard to pick out a favorite. I suppose the one I read that makes me laugh the most would be The Bloggess.

You’re welcome to answer these questions yourself in a comment or your own blog. You know I love it when y’all play along wit’ me.

Jul. 21: Simplifying my simplifying

As I mentioned the other day, I’m going over our entire house trying to get rid of unneeded belongings. My biggest noticeable accomplishment so far has been working through the closet under the stairs; I was able to get rid of three large boxes worth of things, so there’s a lot of extra space in there now. (So much so, in fact, that Jack wants to move into it, à la Harry Potter—I say that’s just fine. I’d love another spare room.) Although going through the garage storage was a bigger accomplishment, there are still too many piles of things to be moved elsewhere to see it as a FINISHED project. But the closet! The closet! Look what I did to the closet!

Another thing I’m proud of is getting rid of about 50 friggin’ bottles of craft paint. You know, the ones that cost about $1 on sale, and multiply, I’m pretty sure, as they sit in storage boxes for years. Those. I tossed all the almost-empties and dried up ones, and sorted the rest for donation or sale. I now own NO craft paints. When I need some, I will buy some. So there.

There have been lots of things like that in this de-cluttering process, and that’s what motivates me to keep going. In fact, that reminds me that I need to contact April about the banker box full (yes, FULL!) of diskettes I found—she works for a technotrash recycling company. I wonder what they’ll recommend for the four dusty laptops in my garage. And the 79 serial cables. And the 326 telephone cords.

One rule of thumb I’ve been applying to this huge task is the I-haven’t-seen-or-thought-about-or-needed-this-item-in-at-least-a-year one. It works—sometimes. But it doesn’t apply to everything, so last night I browsed the ‘net looking for ideas to help us thin down our possessions (especially with Katie, because the screaming doesn’t seem to be working). I found one site that recommended just two rules: the above rule, but with six months instead of a year, and simply getting rid of 10-15 percent of all belongings.

This means that if Katie has 300 stuffed animals, she would chuck 30-45 of them. I LOVE that idea! She does not.

There are tons of sites out there with tips on de-cluttering. But I’d like your help. How do you decide whether or not to keep things? How do you decide when it’s time to get rid of something you’ve had for a long time? Generally speaking, what’s your best advice for de-cluttering?

Winner of the best suggestion gets my undying devotion. You can’t buy that, Pal.


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