Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Don't Look a Gift Pig in the Eye

There's a funky little bar in Salem called In a Pig's Eye that's been there as long as I've lived in the area. We've been a few times, either for a quick bite to eat or a refreshing cocktail on a hot summer's eve out and always liked the atmosphere (casual) and the food/drinks.

Saturday I got an email with an invitation to participate in a Christmas Fair there on Nov. 29 - first come, first serve. There's only space for 10 crafters to participate --so despite it being Halloween in Salem (something we try to avoid at all costs!)-- we drove over and dropped off a check to reserve a table.

I have no idea what to expect, how many people will be attending, or if the people who have participated other years will resent a "newcomer". Another learning experience, to be sure, but it's only for 3 hours. I'll get through it whether it's fun or a disaster. Above is a picture of some cranberry-orange marmalade soap I made so I'll hopefully have enough for the fair at the Swampscott High on the 28th and then the Pig's Eye on the 29th. I won't mind if there is a lot left over because I love the scent!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

View from my Window

Although it's depressing to think about the short days and cold weather of winter, I love fall: the vibrant colors, the dry, cool weather, the return of routine. Autumnal hues are warm and healing-- the reds, oranges, yellows-- all fiery before the drab browns and dirty white of winter that follow the first pristine snowfall. If only we could hang on to fall a bit longer, but the brevity makes me appreciate it all the more.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reality Bites

This is what makes me different.

I don't always feel isolated and separate from my "regular" friends but the sensation has been more pronounced lately. Maybe I'm in a bit of a funk after E's death, or there is just a fresh wave of reality washing over me. Whatever the cause, I'm just trying to experience it and not do too much dwelling.

I've never been too concerned with being part of the crowd and, in fact, have for the most part avoided group interactions, preferring one-on-one social situations. I find groups overwhelming, with too many conversations whizzing around, my hearing loss making it more difficult to keep up with all the chatter. Give me a nice heart to heart with one person and I'm in my element. Nevertheless, I do have a group of women friends that I dearly love being with and see on a regular basis.

This past weekend, during the drive up to our dinner I was really feeling like the odd man out, not because I wasn't taking part in some of their activities, but because my life is just so very much unlike theirs. I know there are people who understand my unique situation, but even for them, it's impossible to fully grasp. I have trouble taking on more than I already do, though it is unfortunately my nature to want to. A good 4-5 hours of my day is taken up with self-care and equipment maintenance- such as washing sterilizing nebs, a major chunk by any standards. I don't think anyone can imagine the burden and tiresomeness of the routine, twice a day, every day of my life. Luckily, I'm able to back-burner it (as I think most cystics do) and just dwell on the time that is spent not doing treatments.

I remember a time when I was a teenager that I didn't want to have to "rely" on any medications. Yes, I took them as prescribed, but pushed my doctor to get me off them. Looking back, I wonder why I ever felt so strongly? I have come to realize they are part of my life. There are certain things about the internal workings of my physical body that are defective or missing; if there are pills to take that replace or "fix" these defects, why wouldn't I take them? So, I do.

I'm not sure of the purpose of this posting, other than to jot down some of these feelings I have. I imagine it must be difficult for a non-cystic to understand why we form these tight, intense relationships, usually over the internet ('cuz we're not supposed to be face to face due to infection control issues) but this feeling of being different is really it. It's comforting to speak to others in the same situation who have a level of understanding that nobody else truly can. The relationships are no less real or heartfelt simply because they aren't face to face, and they have been invaluable to me in my life. So, thanks to Paul, Kelly, Ellie, Laura, Laura, Shawn, Tina, Tamara, and Liz; some of the best people around. My whiny rant is now over and I'll give myself a good kick in the arse and start my day now that my nebs are finished. Edited to add: A huge omission! I had the feeling there was someone very important I was forgetting but for some reason couldn't figure out who it was. I'm lucky she let me know -- Lisa!! Now how in the world could I forget her? We share a name :-) Sorry, Lisa, you know I love you!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


The front of the house is nearly shingled and I love the color. I wasn't sure it was exactly the same as the previous paint job we had done, but the dormers are still the original shingles and there is in essence no difference between them and the new ones. I love our new look. Now all we need is a few sunny days in a row so the guys can come and get the other 3 sides done. I don't blame them for not wanting to work out in this frigid rain we've had!

Friday, October 16, 2009


When someone leaves the earth I imagine there must be a huge splash followed by tiny ripples that widen and eventually reach everyone that person ever touched.

Yesterday I learned that a friend had died, not a few days or even weeks ago, but back in August. How could I have not known for so long? Yes, I had known she was sick and had surgery, but my old friend denial was working his magic and it never even occurred to me that she might not be with us any longer, though I hadn't heard from her in a couple months. We'd email, chat online or speak by phone and it wasn't unheard of for us to not speak for a month or so at a time. She was incredibly busy with 2 young children, a husband and having moved a couple years ago. That was why I hadn't talked to her, right?

But still, how could I have not known? Maybe, deep down inside, I did, but didn't want to acknowledge it. Maybe on some level I felt the small ripple wash over me, but it was too much to face. Better to keep busy and ignore the growing sense of unease.

After not seeing a new blog post from her in 3 months, I finally became concerned enough to check her facebook page and there I learned the dreaded news. Ellie had died back in August. She had emergency abdominal surgery in July and was quite ill afterwards, developing a serious pneumonia that never went away. She didn't leave the hospital.

We connected because we both have CF, and are mothers, though she had 2 adopted children who are quite a bit younger than my one. There are unique concerns when you are a CF mom and it is somewhat comforting to be able to voice them to another person who feels exactly the same way. It was Ellie who, as a former college admissions office employee, read over Wilson's first draft of his college essay and gave the feedback that it was one that most incoming freshman write: "an event that changed my life". When he heard that he changed his topic and was quickly accepted early admission to the college of his choice. Her feedback was invalauble.

Ellie was also the one who encouraged me to start a blog. She had one for a few years, and gave me the link to it one time. I'd shyly read it, feeling a bit voyeuristic, but intrigued. It's amazing to read someone's thoughts and daily struggles, things they might not necessarily talk about openly. When she asked me one time if I was reading it I sheepishly admitted I was. She laughed and said, "I gave you the link, its OK for you to read it- I want you to!" She was a wonderful writer, open honest and she had amazing insights into situations. She was brave beyond words and so loved being a mommy. Her family was her life.

Ellie was very supportive as W went off to college, and when I was in the hospital for 2 weeks during his freshman year she sent me a helpful book - Letting Go. Her concern and caring for other people was extraordinary, she always wanted to hear about the other person and what was going on in their life, despite some serious challenges in her own. Clearly, she was in the right field as a social worker!

I'm going to miss her laugh, her stories of how Michael and little Gabe are doing. I'm sad they didn't have longer to know this special person who was their mom, though I know Charlie is going to keep her memory and spirit alive for them. Rest easy, my friend, and know that I miss you and always will.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I've Got Shingles

But thankfully not the Herpes zoster kind. These are red cedar and will be going on the outside of the house - finally we get rid of the naked, Tyvek-wrapped look! The truck arrived promptly at 7:25 and it was quite exciting watching the pallets being unloaded. I'm sure the neighbors appreciated all the noise and the large truck taking up one lane of the road. The pallets are stacked in our driveway but luckily I got my car out of the garage before they arrived. Hopefully tomorrow I'll have pictures of the front of the house with its new, red, facade.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lady Grace

Gracie loves jumping on top of the desk and looking down on me while I do my treatments (when she's not on my lap). The camera was nearby and i snapped a couple photos of her, this one was actually an accident, though I wish I could say I took it intentionally. She looks like she's singing... maybe a Modest Mouse song?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall Drinks

I came across these recipes for some of my favorite Starbuck's lattes and rather than leave them on the scraps of paper that I'll just lose, I figured I could write them down here where I can refer back to them. Sorry, Starbuck's!

Pumpkin Spice Latte
1/4 -1/2 cup espresso
1 tsp Torani Pumpkin Spice syrup
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tbsp vanilla
8 oz steamed milk

Gingerbread Latte
8 oz steamed milk
1/4 cup gingerbread syrup (recipe below)
1/4-1/2 cup espresso

Gingerbread syrup:
makes enough for 6-7 drinks, refrigerate between uses
2 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 15"

Peppermint Mocha Latte
3tbsp baking cocoa
3tbsp water
1 1/2 tbsp Torani peppermint syrup
1/4-1/2 cup espresso
8-12 oz steamed milk

Yum, yum, enjoy!


As soon as I saw the envelope arrive I knew what it was; folded twice, with my address in my own handwriting. Thick enough to contain 3 photos, a returned check and a letter. When the envelope was opened my guess was confirmed- a rejection letter!

I had applied to a 2 day juried holiday craft show in Newton and this was the "non-acceptance" letter along with the photos and booth fee I had sent in. No reason or explanation was given so I'm left guessing. Perhaps they already had their quota of soapmakers, or that they preferred not to carry soaps at all. Or, maybe they just didn't like mine! The bottom line is that I wasn't accepted.

Surprisingly, I'm not as upset as I imagined I might be. A little disappointed, but not devastated by any means, and I certainly don't take it personally. There are always going to be minor (and this is so very minor in the scheme of things!) bumps in the road and it's important not to let it get you down or discourage you. I'll just have to trust in fate and figure that it's for the best that this one didn't work out. Back to the drawing board!

So often it appears that successful people just seem to arrive at their success, when actually there are many hours of work, small successes, failures and twists and turns to their journey. It's all a process and this is just one step along the way. I hope I'll find another fair to participate in, but if not, heck, I know what everyone is getting for Christmas!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

All Decked Out

The carpenters finished the flooring on the deck on Tuesday, after the new windows went in. It looks amazing! The size is just perfect and the stairs are solid and wide, unlike the narrow, rickety ones that were at the back door before. It will be the perfect place for our grill and a few plants, maybe a window box. We can even fit a table and a couple small chairs if we want to sit and have a glass of wine in the evening.

I planted 2 peonies and a white climbing rose that Mary gave me in front of the new lattice, hopefully they'll survive the winter. There's been a good bit of rain in the past week, great for the plants I've moved and the many daffodil bulbs I planted. Bulbs are somewhat of a let-down; after all that work, there's absolutely nothing to show for it- until spring when there are all these beautiful yellow flowers. Delayed gratification!

Today I'll be applying 2 coats of urethane to the new windows to protect them, then I can put the inside of the house back together, something I'm looking very much forward to. Maybe then I can relax in our new old house!

Saturday, October 3, 2009


The contractor tells me that the singles still aren't in, but he assures me they are on their way down from Canada, somewhere between here and there on a truck. No matter, the carpenters have other things they can be doing. Friday the deck was framed, and hopefully it will be completed on Monday. It's exactly as I had hoped it would look; enough room for our grill and a few plants, without taking up too much room in the back yard.

The new windows will be going in on Tuesday, which is exciting. I've taken down and washed the curtains so as soon as the windows are finished I'll be able to put them back up and have everything nice and sparkly clean. I've been putting off doing a good, thorough cleaning until after the windows go in because I know with workmen inside, it doesn't really make sense to clean beforehand. I'm looking forward to the end of the clutter and chaos!