Monday, June 29, 2009

Now and Zen

I've been trying for some time now to stay present, in the moment and aware, but as I'm only human I am thinking of about 10 different things at once more often than not. No wonder we so frequently feel overwhelmed! When my mind starts to race or I find myself trying to do to much and as a consequence am overwhelmed I stop and take a few deep breaths. One thing at a time, prioritize. Then I can concentrate on what I'm doing. I find it amazing that when I do that, even the most mundane tasks becomes a bit more interesting.

Our culture is so enmeshed in the more, more, more philosophy: work more so you can buy more; the more you have the more you want; get more done, be more productive. Even when we're aware of this unhealthy cycle it is very difficult to break out of it because this how our society operates. We're always thinking of the next thing we need to do and not concentrating on our present moment.

While I was a patient at MGH I had several interesting conversations with one of the RTs who was taking care of me. He was a Buddhist and told me this great little story about staying in the moment: Once there was a man, who, while walking one day came upon a hungry tiger. The tiger started to chase him. He ran, only to find himself up against the edge of a high cliff. What to do? He faced a certain death if he stayed, the tiger would eat him. He decided to jump. As luck would have it as he went over the cliff, about 5 feet down there was a plant growing out of the side of the cliff. He grabbed the branches and hung on for dear life. Growing on the plant he noticed a single red, juicy, sweet strawberry. He picked the fruit, ate it and enjoyed it. The end.

Wait a moment! That's the end? What happened to the man? What about the tiger? Did he survive the fall?

It doesn't matter how the story ends, that's not the point. The point is that he ate the strawberry and enjoyed it. Moral: enjoy what you are doing at the moment, no matter the circumstances. Had the man been thinking about the tiger chasing him, or the fact that he was hanging by a small branch over a large drop he probably wouldn't have even noticed the strawberry. But he was present to his situation, and while he was eating the strawberry, he was fully aware of how it smelled, the color and the taste. He didn't waste what were probably his last few moments alive worrying about his fate and what was to become of him.

I'm sure I'm not expressing the thoughts as eloquently as the Zen RT, but hopefully my explanation makes sense. Pay attention to what you are doing. The end.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Soap Logo

As a rule, I'm not a wishy-washy person. Some decisions may take a bit more thought and mulling than others, but once I've made up my mind, I rarely look back. That having been said, I'm having a bit of a cold-feet panic attack over the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival, which will take place in August. Link

My friend Jill pointed out their website to me. In an effort to promote Salem as a vibrant artistic community, they are soliciting local artisans to participate in the vendor's section of their festival. It is a juried fair and any local craftsperson is encouraged to apply. In a moment of uncharacteristic confidence I sent in my application with the requested 3 photos of my work. If I don't get accepted, fine; if I do, it will be a fun experience. Right???? That's what I keep telling myself, anyway.

Today I'm in panic-mode. What on earth ever made me think I could do this? I have no experience. I'm not good at packaging, display. I don't have a business. I'll be amongst professional artists and craftspeople who are seasoned at this. What was I thinking?

Ok, deep breath. I need to think about this logically. True, I don't have any experience. So what? How do I expect to get any if I don't just jump in? Yes, there will be people there who have done this many times before, but hopefully I'll be able to learn from them. Despite the fact that I'm a bit green on the business end of things I do have good people skills and know my craft. That has to count for something.

I'm sure this mood will pass and I'll once again be excited at the prospect of a new experience. My dear friend Mary, who has business experience, has offered to help me out the day of the fair, should I be accepted; my other goddess friends have also offered their support and creative ideas. I need to accept that my anxiety is just a part of the process- I can use it as a motivator and not be paralyzed by it. The worst that can happen is 1) I won't be approved by the jury or 2) I will be approved and will flop miserably- I won't sell even one bar of soap. When I look at it that way, even the worst isn't so bad. Time to get working on a label!

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Big Mac Attack

My HP notebook computer died 2 days ago, right in the middle of my latest blog composition! No word of warning, just -lights out- and no response to any key or the on/off button. No lights. Nothing. Kaput.

Since this was the 3rd (or possibly 4th, I've lost count) time this has happened in its 2 year life I swore I'd never by another HP. And that I was dissatisfied enough with it to go to the "other side". The Apple! My brother made the switch a year or so ago and told me "once you go Mac, you never go back". I figured I'd see what all the fuss was about.

The apple store was packed! There was a wait to even speak to a salesperson. Hmmmm. I've never seen this sort of thing in the past when we've bought PCs. Come to think of it, HP, Dell or Toshiba don't have their own store, you have to buy them at Staples or Best Buy. And talk to someone on the other side of the world in order to get support or service. (As an aside, I have spoken to so many tech support people in the 2 years I owned the HP I can tell you that Mumbai is 10 hours ahead of us, when their rainy season is and that it never gets below 30C there.)

Finally we were served by a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic young salesperson. She knew her stuff, answered all my questions and I decided to take the plunge. I hope they are easy as they appear to be in the store.

It is a beautiful computer. I'm so accustomed to the Windows system that it is taking me a while to figure everything out, but so far I like it. I'm sure I'll be learning for quite some time. The older the dog, the harder it is to learn new tricks.

Interestingly, we heard on the news this morning that Windows is coming out with a new OS: Number 7. Clearly, a lot of thought was put into that name! I liked Vista but was frustrated with all the things that required patches or didn't work at all with it. Seems to me like they should have worked out all the bugs on that one before creating a new one, but hey, who am I to say? I'm just happy to be a member of the Apple family now. I won't miss the crashes!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...Reward

I'm not one of those dedicated yard sale people who check the papers, get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday and make the rounds, haggling and being sure to get the lowest possible price on everything. It's not that I'm yard-sale averse, but it feels like more work than I'm willing to put in. Plus, my goal is to avoid being a person who needs to have a yard sale; therefore I want to keep the amount of my possessions under somewhat reasonable control.

I applaud the premise behind the yard sale: getting rid of things that are no longer of use, and having them end up in the hands of someone who will appreciate them. It keeps a lot of volume out of the landfills and gives new life to old stuff while allowing someone, who could possibly not afford an item otherwise, to purchase something they need or want.

All of this having been said, I was helping some friends with a yard sale the past Saturday and I noticed, buried amongst a pile of dirty dishes and bowls, a well-worn wooden salad bowl. I've always loved wooden salad bowls, their solid, natural appearance and the soft glow of the wood. This one was unusual in that it was much deeper and made from a darker wood than most I'd seen. It was water stained and had a nasty, sticky residue on the inside, presumably from many years of use.

I bought it for one dollar and added it to the ever-growing pile of treasures I was finding.

After doing a bit of research online as to how best to refinish a wooden bowl, I scrubbed the sticky interior with a bit of baking soda and salt. It took several attempts and some good old-fashioned elbow grease, but I finally got the sticky coating off. The wood grain inside as well as outside was absolutely beautiful. Now for the fun part- (note sarcasm here)- the sanding. I started with 100 grit paper and a sanding block for the exterior, which cleaned up fairly quickly. I progressed to 150, 22o and finally 600 before I was satisfied that all the stains had been removed and the wood was smooth.

The interior was another matter, since the bowl had such steep sides and was so curved. I finally ended up wrapping the sandpaper around a tennis ball and was able to manage the curves that way, but it did take a bit longer and a lot more effort, as the wood grain seemed to have been a bit "raised". Several hours later I was pleased with how the inside looked as well, and it was smooth as a baby's bottom.

I truly wish I had gotten some photos of it before the refinishing process. It was a diamond in the rough to be sure, but to truly appreciate just how nice it looks now it would be helpful to compare the "before" and "after" photos. No matter, I'm just thrilled at how it looks with several coats of mineral oil on it. I'll oil it every day for a week; every week for a month and then every month for the rest of its life. Hopefully a family heirloom, and all for $1!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tribute to my Dad

For Father's Day I want to give credit to my Dad, who is responsible for giving me many of my best traits.

One of my earliest memories is of telling my father I wanted to be a secretary when I grew up. He replied: "you can be anything you want to be, not only a secretary." At the time I was probably 4 or 5 years old and it didn't mean much to me, but it was something I never forgot. As I grew up I had no doubt that I could opt for any career path I desired.

My dad is a very hard worker; I'm sure he gets his work ethic from his own parents, and so on back through the generations. It's nice to think of the past being carried down through the family tree in such a way. Relatives I'd never even known, some I've never even heard of, are patchworked into my DNA and will continue to be carried on in future generations.

When my brother and I were young my dad would work long hours, sometimes not returning home until 8 or 8:30 pm. I'm sure he wanted nothing more than to have a bit of peace and quiet after 14 hour day, but we clamored to have him spend time with us, which he always found the energy to do.

He loves animals and from him I learned to have our pets "talk". Some might call this anthropomorphism or even crazy, but for us it was just something we/our animals did. We had a lot of laughs doing this; our dogs Parrish, and later on Max, would come up with some interesting comments and/or thoughts.

He has a great sense of humor and i think from this I have learned to see the funny side of nearly any situation. One memory is very clear for me: During a long hospitalization I had when I was 19, my dad happened would come by at lunch time to keep me company. Despite it being a difficult time for my family with my illness and lots of uncertainty, we found humor listening to the ribald elderly man in a room across the hall, who loudly recounted the story to a visitor of "having a tube shoved up his ass". This struck us as incredibly funny and we couldn't help but break into laughter. It wasn't so much what he was saying (well, yes, it was that too) but the fact that he was practically yelling it for all the world to hear, on top of the fact that we tried to stifle our laughter, made it all the funnier.

We learned financial responsibility at a young age and one of the most important lessons I got from my father as not to buy something you couldn't afford. Saving up for something was the way to go. With credit, you ended up paying more for a purchase than it actually cost, if you didn't pay off your bill each month. I'm very grateful he passed on this wisdom, it has been one of the most important pieces of advice I've received.

We both share a love of gardening and the outdoors, in fact, my dad's father had an amazing vegetable garden. Any successes I have in the yard I can no doubt credit to my genetic makeup and also probably absorbing information unconsciously while watching my dad dig in the yard as a kid.

I'm thankful for all the traits I inherited from my dad and can't imagine having anyone else for a father. Happy Father's Day, Dad, I love you!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Extra Effort

I'm up very early for a Saturday, which is usually a day to lie in bed and watch a bit of the news or perhaps do a little reading. Some good friends are having an enormous yard sale and I've promised to be there to keep them company- the yard sale starts at 8:00, not really that early, but I have my treatments to do before I can go out.

As much as we all try to consider life from another's point of view we are never really able to completely understand what others go through. Just as I can't imagine what it's like to be diabetic, to have to constantly monitor blood sugar levels and be aware of dietary intake, or have lower extremity paralysis or have suffered a stroke, I doubt anyone else would understand what it's like to need to do these treatments twice a day. Every day. Day in, day out, whether I feel like it or not.

I once was in contact with a physician who was an intern at MGH who had CF. He was 'in the closet' and didn't let anyone know about his illness. He said something that summed it up perfectly for me: No matter how hard everyone else tries or works, we have to do the same thing, with less energy and 3-4 hours less in our day due to treatment times. Yes! Some days when I'm feeling less than productive I need to remind myself that my day is shorter than everyone elses (in a sense) and no matter how motivated or energetic I am it doesn't make up for the time I need to spend doing treatments.

Yes, it is time well spent because it maintains my health, but that doesn't mean I actually enjoy it.

Lately, I've tried to consider my exercise as part of my treatment time in addition to the vest and nebs. I find that if I put it in that context I'm much more likely to be compliant with it. After all, it is just as important in terms of airway clearance. To use an analogy, it is like brushing your teeth but not flossing them (sorry to all the non-flossers out there!) Both activities are important maintenance which are most effective when used together. Sometimes when I'm a bit short of time, this morning for example, I'll just do the nebs and vest and perhaps try to squeeze in a walk later on. My goal is to exercise at least 4 times a week and for the most part I'm able to achieve that.

I've gotten a bit rambly here, my original point was that I need to get up 2 hours earlier than if I didn't have CF just to make it out the door on time. If I'm going out in the evening, I either need to: a) plan some time in the afternoon before going out to do treatments, b) plan on doing them after getting in, or c) skip them altogether. Skipping is a bad option because I'm going to feel worse the next morning. Just as not brushing your teeth one morning or evening won't cause all your dentition to fall out, skipping a treatment here or there won't kill me. In the short term I'll feel worse and it has the potential to become a pattern so I do try to avoid it.

Still only 24 hours in the day with more tasks to complete. I've got to remember this and be more forgiving when I'm 5 minutes late or can't get everything done that I'd like to. Amen!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tomcat's Pet of the Month - June 2009

Tomcat magazine is pleased to introduce Miss June 2009, our pet-of-the month centerfold winner.

Gracie is an uninhibited gray and white tiger with a bit of buff who hails from north of Boston. She is a saucy 9 months old. She loves posing for photo shoots and playing with her litter-mate, Millie, with whom she lives.

Date of Birth: 9/9/08
Astrological Sign: Virgo
Relationship Status: Neutered
Favorite Places: Window sills, quilts, down comforters, computer chairs
Favorite Color: gray and white, of course
Turn-ons: moist food, small rodents, warm laps, yarn, napping, being stroked behind the ears
Turn-offs: sudden, loud noises, water, tail-pulling, children and trips to the vet

Gracie states: " I absolutely adore playing and love to show off my furry body of feline perfection. I'm full of adventure and enjoy exploring new territories. Nothing is off-limits for me. I'm thrilled beyond meows to have been chosen as Tomcat's June pet-of-the-month and hope that it will jump-start my career into modeling. Or possibly professional napping."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Little Purple Dress

After a sumptuous lunch of graduation party leftovers on Tuesday, two friends and I drove 30 minutes north to a consignment shop that we'd heard about. This isn't your run-of-the-mill thrift store; it's set up like a high-end boutique. The window displays look like something you might see at the mall; mannequins wearing pretty dresses that it's hard to imagine someone getting rid of. The store itself is spacious, sunny and the sales person (a volunteer) was sweet and helpful. The merchandise was well organized, clean and plentiful.

The proceeds all go to HAWC -- Help for Abused Women and Children. In these times when state and federal funding for social programs are shrinking it's nice to be able to support (in some small way) a worthwhile charity, and get a good deal in the process.

After trying on a number of tops that didn't fit I came across this plum colored Ann Taylor dress, brand new, with the original tag still on. It was a size 8 so I wasn't optimistic when I entered the changing room, but when I zipped it up I was amazed. It fit like a it was made for me! It's quite a bit lower-cut and shorter than my usual but it was less than half price and fit so well that I couldn't resist it. Plus, my 2 friends were egging me on, what choice did I have? I'm planning to knit a bamboo lacy wrap to cover my shoulders since there is a lot more exposure than I'm used to.

Pity the price had been cut off, then I would have been able to gloat at how much money I saved!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Always Three Steps Ahead

Animals instinctively hide any signs of illness or weakness as a survival mechanism and I think that trait has also evolved in humans to some degree. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule; I do know some people who appear to delight in giving you a run-down of all their bodily ailments. For the most part, I think the people in my circle tend to downplay their infirmities and carry on with life.

Many cystics are able to get away with this to the point of nobody even knowing they have the disease. For some, this is preferable, whereas there are others who believe in being open about it, educating people and "spreading the word". Neither approach is right or wrong, it simply is a matter of personal preference; what feels most comfortable to the individual.

For most of my life I have belonged to the former camp, preferring to blend in with the crowd and not share the fact that I have cystic fibrosis. Until about 10 years ago I was able to pull this off fairly well, with only the occasional remark about my cough ("You gotta give up those cigarettes".... if people only knew!) as acknowledgment that there was anything amiss. I suppose it happens to us all, at some point, when it becomes more necessary to divulge our illness.

Monday, June 15, 2009

List of Goals

I've never been one for long-range planning, someone who sets a goal and doggedly pursues it. I admire those who do that! It would be easy for me to blame it on CF, and perhaps it is partly to blame, but I suspect it's more of a personality trait than anything. I'm just not one of those people who has the vision to see what I want to be doing 2, 5 or 10 years down the road. In my mind, there are too many variables.

One of the reasons is that I just never know what life is going to send my way. It's true that none of us do, but some people are better at pursuing a goal despite this. I prefer to ride the wave, see where it carries me and then make the most of where I am on the journey. It isn't that I'm lazy or purposeless, but that going with the ebb and flow of life is the best way for me, personally, to feel at peace. In the meantime I can focus on where I am at that time and accomplish some short-term goals that suit me for the phase I am in.

I've seen some blogs where people list 101 things they'd like to do in 1001 days. Now, that I can handle! Some are big dreams, like bungee jumping or writing a book; others are smaller, such as getting a pedicure. I won't make a list of 101 things (yet) but have decided that this week, in addition to making my 'must do' list, I'm going to put a few things on it that I'd like to get done, loose ends to be tied up.

Yesterday I cleaned and organized the closet in our spare bedroom and came across several unfinished projects: a couple quilts that just need to have the binding finished, an applique square that is 80% done, and a few other odds and ends. It would be nice to have these things completed and crossed off my list.

Maybe once they are finished I'll feel more ambitious and will either start a new quilt or even write a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Upload the Toad

The title of this post was going to be something
to like "Frog Blog", which had a great ring to it, but Joe thoughtfully informed me that the subject of my photos is a toad, not a frog. Well, as luck would have it, there is an internet-y word that rhymes with toad as well. So there!

We've had a dreary week with lots of barely-raining days, drizzle and just plain clouds. I don't know for sure if toads like this kind of weather, but I can imagine that they might. Their warty skin would stay cool and damp if they are out and about on a day like this.

I noticed this little fellow as I was leaving the house one morning; at first I thought it was a clump of dirt (aaah, camoflage!) on the bottom front step. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was a little frog.... oops, toad.

Seeing wildlife, even something as ordinary as a common amphibian, always makes me happy. I shouted into the house for Wilson to hand me my camera. I wanted to try to get this little guy's picture before he hopped off and went about his business.

I'm glad to know he's living in my garden. I hope it's a sign of my organic yard being a hospitable environment. I'm going to sound crazy, but I worry about the birds and other creatures that wander onto the property of those who have the little yellow "caution- pesticide application" flags on ther lawns. Birds, snakes and frogs are all great for the garden- they're nature's pest control- and I am lucky to have them in my yard, protecting my veggies and flowers.

Sometimes I'm a Winner

I'm so excited! All it takes is something unexpected to make an ordinary day a seem bit more special. Yesterday when I was reading one of the blogs I follow, I noticed the name Kim in the body of the latest post. She had won a prize, just for being a reader! "Wow", I thought, "there are quite a few 'Kims' out there". As I read on I realized that the Kim they were referring to was me!

I had been selected to receive a grab bag of merchandise from the blog owner, who also happens to be a soap maker and soaping supply vendor. You can see her blog here: Adventures in Science and Art. Thank you again, Daniela for making my day, I'm looking forward to your goodies!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Crazy Cat Lady or Crazy Cat?

I'll be the first to admit I'm hopelessly gushy about my cats. I'm sure I am no different about the kittens than the parents of young children who are blind to some of the (ahem) less endearing traits of their offspring. Well, maybe not quite that bad, I am aware of the misdeeds of Millie and Gracie, but I'm able to laugh off all but the worst messes. They're just so cute, how can I be angry with them?

If I'm not like a parent of a spoiled child, maybe more like a benevolent grandparent? I'm probably splitting hairs here.

This photo is one that probably only my CF friends will truly understand so I'll interpret for those who aren't fortunate enough to belong to the elite club that is CF. Gracie is on my lap, sure, everyone sees that. The black buckled jacket with the large blue tube to the left of Gracie is part of the infamous vest, which shakes and makes quite a racket. Cats aren't known for enjoying such an environment, but Gracie puts up with it; in fact, this is the only time she'll sit on my lap! Invitations to join me on the couch, with a soft quilt on my lap, go ignored. Instead, she prefers the noisy, shaky environment of my treatment time.

The clear tubing in the photo is leading from a compressor on my desk up to the nebulizer cup, one of three nebs that gets smoked each morning. As you can see if you look closely at the laptop surface, it is covered with small spots- these are the medications that fly out randomly from the neb cup, coating everything within spitting distance. Including Gracie. For some reason she is also willing to put up with this, merely shaking her head if a drop flies there, or turning to lick furiously if one drops on her side. She seems to think it's mildly annoying, maybe a bit inconvenient, but certainly not something to jump down and stalk away from.

So yeah, I'll admit to being a crazy cat lady. But does Gracie have to admit to being a crazy cat? Fair is fair, after all.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Get Back to Where You Once Belonged

Yesterday I made an appointment for a consultation at the CF clinic where I used to be a patient. When I was diagnosed in 1984, the average age for a patient was 19, which happened to be my exact age at that time. Because the majority of people didn't live into adulthood patients were treated at children's hospitals. I thought nothing of this: CF was, after all, considered to be a pediatric disease.

I received top quality care from doctors who were pediatricians, and since many had quite a bit of adult experience as their CF patients got older this really wasn't a huge issue. Sure, it was a bit uncomfortable being treated at a pediatric institution. I had to explain that I, not my son, was the patient. There were times that the doctors were pretty much out to lunch on some of the adult issues such as employment, families, the social implications of the disease and what it was like as a "grown-up" to live with this chronic disease.

Fast forward 20 years. With the many advances made in research, drug development, and prevention the average age is now 37. As the age of patients started increasing there became a trend to transition the adults into adult clinics or to adult hospitals affiliated with the pediatric institutions. My hospital, Children's Hospital in Boston, was one such place.

Any transition is difficult, but in particular it is difficult for patients to leave a place where they have been treated their entire lives. With a disease such as CF patients form very tight bonds with their care providers. They are seen in clinic every 3 months and often treated inpatient for weeks at a time with IV antibiotics to keep the infections at bay. For many, the hospital is a home away from home.

From the hospital's perspective, I'm sure it was incredibly difficult to write the policy and move patients to another, albeit nearby, institution. A relationship was being formed between Children's and Brigham and Women's hospital in which patients would be treated up until they were 18 at the pediatric institution, then move over to the adult care setting for their adult care.

At the time of the change over of adults to The Brigham (as it is referred to in Boston) there were many different and conflicting stories, the new hospital wasn't up to speed on cystic fibrosis and it was, in my opinion, quite chaotic. I didn't feel good about moving over to the Brigham.

For this reason, along with several others, I decided to move my care to Mass General Hospital, the biggest hospital in the city, which had both pediatric and adult care. There was no need for their younger patients to leave the hospital once they became adults. I loved the adult care providers, the physician and nurse practitioner, and they seemed to be building a solid clinic in which the patients would receive excellent care. There was also a lung transplant program at the hospital (something Children's didn't offer at the time, the adults were transplanted at The Brigham) which was appealing as an option for me should I decide to take that route further down the road.

After a year at MGH the CF physician decided to leave to pursue her career elsewhere. The NP stayed behind and was the main care provider for over a year as they searched for a replacement physician. Once one was hired, the NP also left. So much for stable, consistent care!

Since then, there have been several more staff changes. The team that is currently in place is good. I particularly like the NP who has many years of clinical experience and is great at prioritizing. She knows her stuff. The doctor is good, I've been impressed after some appointments and disappointed at others. I think the bottom line is that he is very overwhelmed and the hospital is reluctant to pay for a second CF physician, which is crucial. There are over 150 adult CF patients for one doctor, who also covers in the ICU and has regular pulmonary patients. On top of that, the transplant program at MGH appears to be sputtering.

The clinic has grown in my time there with the addition of a nutritionist, an excellent physical therapist and a social worker. The thing that I find to be lacking is a passionate physician, one who is up to date on the latest developments, drugs and research, who will guide the clinic to be one that people seek out for excellent care. The care is adequate, but not outstanding. After a conversation with a dear friend, whose husband has had experience with both MGH and the Children's/Brigham clinic, I started thinking about giving the latter another look. Her description of the care providers at the Brigham as being "passionate about CF" really struck me. That's the main thing I find lacking at my current hospital: passion! I'm going to consult with a physician at the Children's/Brigham CF clinic and see how I feel about switching back.

I don't consider my time at MGH to have been a failure or a waste. My PFTs haven't slipped more than a couple percentage points in the 6 years I've been there, which is better than the 2% average that CF patients lose per year. I can't afford to lose much more without a drastic decrease in quality of life. For the past 12 years I've been super-compliant and willing to stick to a tough regimen of daily care; I want my providers to be the best they can be. It doesn't make sense to be doing hours worth of treatments per day and not be using the latest data/treatments to optimize my time and the results.

I'm not agonizing over the decision as I did last time when I moved over to MGH. I'm going in with an open mind: I want to check the clinic out, see how it is run, how the relationship with the adult hospital works, what research is being conducted, what the adult doc is like. If I do decide to leave MGH, it's nothing personal, just that I'm looking for a clinic that will best fit my needs and give me the best care possible. I won't have any problem explaining that to my care providers. Boy, do I love being in my 40s!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Soap Swap

Since I've started making my own soap I've been visiting an online soap forum, which has been a wonderful resource. There are all levels of soapers there and if I'm having a problem I can be pretty sure that someone else has gone through it too, and will know the answer. Unfortunately, this doesn't prevent me from making mistakes, though I've never made the same one twice.

One of the newer members suggested a soap swap and a long-time, experienced soap maker offered to hostess and walk us new folks through it. It operates on the same premise as a cookie swap: The hostess invites up to a certain number of people to sign up, in this case it was 10. Everyone will make a soap to send to each person. We're making 9 soaps (since we won't be sending one to ourselves). Instead of meeting at the hostess's house we smail her the 9 bars and she then distributes one of each to everyone. I think we're all looking forward to some unbiased feedback on our creations.

I made a batch on Friday and was disappointed with the result. Not only did I not have enough essential oil to make a large enough batch, but I subbed another oil and wasn't happy with the results. On top of that, the batch gelled partially, which left a darker ring at the center of the soap. It's still perfectly usable but oh, the embarrassment of having to send a "flawed" soap to other soapers! Horrors.

My mom suggested using a fragrance she is particularly fond of, Lilly of the Valley, for a new batch. She's brilliant! I made the batch yesterday and was quite happy with the results. I even attempted a swirl on the top, something I'm not at all confident with, and luckily it came out fine. I haven't cut the bars yet, I'll wait another day or two when the soap will be a firmer. There's a lot of pressure here!

The soap is white with a dark yellow swirl on top. The scent is Lilly of the Valley and it's very pretty, if I do say so myself. I can't wait to see what everyone else has made.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pretty in Pink and Purple

Some late spring garden pictures, pinks and purples are dominating right now. I love this time of year!

Solomon's Seal on the north side of the house, a nice shady garden. They smell so sweet!

Wild pink Columbine in the front yard.

Siberian Iris on the south side of the house.

Chives in herb garden.

Iris in the back yard.

Wild pink Geranium.

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Treasured Gift

This bellows belonged to my grandmother, my parents gave it to me for my birthday. As a kid I loved to use it to blow air into my, or more likely, my brother's face. I've always been fond of it and was very excited when it was passed along to me.

I'm not sure of its history, other than that it was painted by my grandmother's dear friend Molly, who was quite talented. The back of it has my grandmother's initials: SEB. It will be hanging next to our fireplace with our fire implements and I'll think of my grandmother each time I see it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


A quick anecdote about a fenced-in yard that is on our walk route: There are a couple life-sized cement geese in the yard and someone (not sure if it is the owner of the property, or someone else with an impish sense of fun) moves the geese around from time to time. Sometimes they are in the corner. Other times they are up close to the fence. They have also been known to stand in the center of the yard, which houses a couple makeshift carports and a boat in the winter.

When Joe was off from work and we were walking more often we'd see them in the same place for a few days, then suddenly, they'd be moved. Now that he's back to work and we're only taking 1-2 long walks a week they are in a different location each time we go by. It's become a little joke for us to look for them; where are they this week?

It's such a simple little thing- lawn geese that are moved around- yet we get a huge kick out of it. They can't be light, being life sized and made of cement. Who moves them? Is it the owner? Or some neighborhood kids? Has anyone else even noticed that they move around? I hope whoever is moving them knows that we appreciate his efforts. Sometimes you just have to appreciate the little things.