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Posts tagged “Off With Their Heads

The War on Christmas Road Trip (with PICTURES!)

Wow, I realized that this last month I have sucked at actually completing a blog post and then posting it. Again, I’ve been writing them, or perhaps I should say, I start writing them, get in the flow, getting my words on, and then I start to feel nauseated and have to get the medical equipment and address it. Then, as those of you who are familiar with the medication are well aware, one of three things happen:

  1. I continue writing but by the time I get to the end, I’ve rambled on for seven pages and feel that I need to split it up into sensible chunks before I can post it. (rare)
  2. I say, gee, I just need a little nap now, and I’ll finish it in in a hour. And then two days later, I have to recover said document and save it because I never titled it, and then the computer froze. It’s still not done. (happens pretty regularly)
  3. I see something shiny or flashing on the internet, or decide I need to make some Christmas doo-dad, and then fall down a fuzzy rabbit hole in which I learn that baby reindeer start growing antlers almost immediately after being born. Oh wait, I haven’t watched https://reindeercam.com/ today. (and off I go to watch reindeer – happens all the time) (I just went to the interwebs to get the URL for reindeer cam and found out I have been eating pancakes all wrong, you should make a hole in the middle of the stack and pour syrup in there. Wow. Yes, I’m medicated)

And as you can see, the likelihood that I ever finish what I was doing becomes very small, and I promise to do it tomorrow, just like I do with letters, bills, unanswered text messages and laundry. But not today my faithful readers, I will complete this. I have sworn not to do anymore origami Christmas wreaths for my Christmas card until I write this entry and post it with the photo collages I spent hours creating this morning. (do you want an origami Christmas wreath ornament, or a Christmas card? Because I am so on that this year – send me your address). That is not to say that I have not completed some things. The house is well decorated for Christmas, although not quite finished. Fear not, the pictures of the house where Christmas threw up will eventually make their way to the blog and social media. As will the entry about what happened at the Dr. on Monday in all its gross and graphic detail, but I am here with a purpose today. So with no further delay.

Well the plan was to leave at 3am. Which was actually 5am. I cannot sleep in the car no matter how medicated I am, and no matter how tired. So Andy drove first for a while, and then I drove through the visual wasteland of Ohio and the flatness of Indiana. Andy took over and drove the rest of the way when we got to Illinois. I let him drive in cities because he thinks he’s better at it than me. It’s one of those battles I don’t care to fight. We got to the hotel earlier for check in because I forgot the time change, so we checked in at 2ish, and I finally got to nap. We ordered delicious Thai food, watched criminal minds and were asleep by 9. The hotel was very very nice, amazing beds, and pillows and quiet and right next to Lake Michigan. I would be amiss in not noting that while we were driving, I saw two hawks. I may or may not have talked about hawks and what they mean to me, but I was not pleased to see them because they always are a harbinger of change for me, and it’s never initially good. Saw a hawk, got laid off, saw a hawk, find out my cancer is back, see a hawk, overdraw my account. There’s a pattern. I know change is always ultimately good, but I still hate to see them, and this time, one of those motherfuckers flew straight at the windshield like that damn pigeon did on our 2013 Mother’s Day road trip to the beach. Except it didn’t actually hit the windshield. Anyway, I was on alert. I know that is sounds superstitious, and I typically don’t get all wound up by those things, but hawks freak me out. I can’t really explain it.

Day two started with Andy deciding to let me know he was going out to wander the city at 5am. Have fun honey. Bring me breakfast. I’m still sleeping. Off he went, and I slept and slept and then he came back by nine-ish with some lukewarm cocoa. And no breakfast, so I ate leftover curry. Then I decided to go for a swim in the hotel pool. It was a lap pool with no children in it so it was heavenly. I actually swam at least ten laps and felt amazing. I knew I would pay for this later, but hell, that’s what the medication is for. Then I even enjoyed the sauna. Since we were planning to go to the aquarium, I woke the sleeping Andy and we headed to the see the fishes. Curiously, Chicago’s aquarium and museum have odd admission prices. Like the GA admission to the aquarium is only $8, but if you want to see the sharks, and the stingrays, and the penguins and something else, it goes up to $30.95. Having seen sharks, penguins and rays, we elected to get the $8 tickets, which was the wise choice, because the penguin exhibit was under construction, the rays were closed for the winter and well, I’ve see sharks. It was a cute little aquarium without all the bells and whistles of the special features and had many penny-flattening machines. The Amazon exhibit was exceptionally humid and it started to make me feel a little sick so I was sitting down a lot during a visit. I was only able to take pictures in the very well lit places so I think I took three. Then I ordered Andy about to take more since his phone camera doesn’t suck the way mine does. We saw monkey and frogs and birds, as well as fish. I must say my favorite were all the big fish that had funny fish faces, the lumpfish, and the giant snapping turtle. And I gave every pufferfish I saw the finger and told them I hate their fucking presence everywhere.

We headed back to the hotel after buying expensive souvenirs, magnets and the photo package of the photo they take of you when you enter the aquarium. It was time to get ready for The Lawrence Arms First Annual War on Christmas show, and I needed a nap and a shower. This is where the not so good changes from the hawk comes in, and I am about to get graphic, so if that bugs you, STOP HERE. You can resume at the word RESUME. Anyway, I had to pee before I took my shower, and as you may or may not know, the pufferfish that lives inside me has been growing back to it’s original size after the last draining. It really started to cause issues the last week before leaving and all I wanted to do was have my trip to Chicago and I swore I would call the Dr. when we got back. Especially since I did not want to end up in the ER with tubes. Wednesday night, I was having some issues with being able to pee, and was worried, but that worry was gone by Thursday evening. Not only could I pee as I can when the cyst was drained, there were waves of fluid leaving my body. I was like, hell I didn’t drink that much water. When it finally stopped, I went to flush and realized is was a weird bloody mucus fluid, just like they drain out of my cyst, but then (GETTING EVEN GROSSER HERE) I also have had the gift of hemorrhoids since I was pregnant with Andy, and they occasionally burst, so I thought maybe that was it too. Whatever, I had a show to go to. I wasn’t saying anything to Andy, and was just gonna hope it was a fluke. I padded up just in case, and off we went. Whatever it was, could wait until after the show, unless I began hemorrhaging, and then we’d have to reassess the rate of blood loss to see if it could wait until after Off With Their Heads’ set. You may RESUME HERE.

So we got in the car and headed to the Double Door. We found it no problem. We should have taken Uber or public transportation, but then we FINALLY found a parking space just an ½ block away. Of course we started walking in the wrong direction and then realized that the one minute walk had turned into a ten minute walk, and I turned to my trusty GPS to get there on foot. The will call line was literally down the block. And we had to wait. I was beginning to get nervous because it was close to the time of OWTH set and I was like, we did not just drive 10 hours to miss this. We got in at the nick of time, just before they took the stage. The first person I saw was Tommy at the OWTH merch table and after an exchange of hugs and such, he told me to stand behind the table for the set, because he was going down front, and I would have a great view from where I was. And I did. And I did the best ever job of selling nothing for OWTH for their entire set. Then Tommy came back and took over, and introduced me to his friend Sarah who then because the merch girl while Tommy socialized. And I must say she did an excellent job, particularly with the complicated notebook sales recording system.

OWTH were great, it was very festive set, and as always, amazing. During the break, Ranae suddenly appeared and we too exchanged hugs and stuff and snuck away downstairs to talk during part of the Lawrence Arms set. We decided that Brendan Kelly looks like a golden retriever with his bandana around his neck and you just want to scratch him under his chin. I drank cranberry juice straight, as I am still protecting the kidney from any more tubes, and asked Ranae what hospital I should go to if I needed one. The rest of the time, I pretended to be perfectly fine. Ranae and I had a great time chatting, and hanging out, and of course I got to see Ryan, Nice Jon, Robbie and Ryan Fisher too and get hugs. I can’t believe I used to not be a hugger. They were going to go across the street after the show, and as much as I wanted to go too, I was just wiped out and more than a little nervous about the whole blood thing. And my body has a way of just shutting down when it has had enough. I get cramps in my legs, a pain in my lower abdomen, and cramps in my sides. It’s like it just says stop. And it was saying stop. So I had Andy take me home – I told him to go back and hang if he wanted to, but he worries and stayed with me. I had a medicinal mixture when I went back to the hotel and passed into a coma. At least I didn’t see anymore blood.

No more blood in the morning. I went for another swim/sauna deal, while Andy when and got breakfast – yummo. Challah bread french toast and home-fries with ham, swiss, and mushrooms. He ate many plates of eggs and potatoes with chorizo and cheese. I then took a nap and we watched Christmas specials like Rudolph’s Shiny New Year and The Year Without A Santa Claus before we got ready to go to the zoo. Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo is free, and has Zoo Lights. Again, my camera pictures suck so what you’ll see here is my shitty pictures. It was beautiful. And and awesome zoo with no major hills. It has tigers. And lions. They gave out cool 3d glasses that turned the lights into little elves’ heads. I wished I was medicated. Because not only were the glasses cool, so were the lights on their own. We had a great walk and the lights were amazing. Even Santa was there. Again, an ridiculous amount of money was spent of souvenirs. And we headed to the Big Bus Tour Holiday Express which is a nighttime tour of Chicago’s Christmas-y attractions. We started at the Chicago Hershey’s Chocolate World, which is not even close to the well-loved Hershey attraction. We waited and waited for the bus, as it was really late, and Andy was being a cranky baby because he ate way too much food and had a belly ache and was being a buzz-kill Finally the bus came and the bus driver was like, no you have to go get a paper ticket before you can get on, and I was like for real? We just waited for you for 40 minutes (they are supposed to be on a 10-20 minute cycle) and now you want me to walk to another stop and wait for you there? Do you see this miserable 20 something with me? Do you think I want to tell him he has to walk somewhere? So she said stay on the bus, and I’ll take you to the scanner stop. Yay! A small win. And I’m still not bleeding. Maybe things are fine.

We ride up in the top part of the bus, and enjoy the lights and what not, and decide to check out the Christkindlmart which had some beautiful things, but you could not get close to them because PEOPLE. It was a mob scene. I am not a big fan of people or crowds to begin with and this place was insane. Any food stand had a line 100 people deep. You could barely walk. Andy wanted hot apple cider and got in line for it. I managed to walk the entire market, even pausing to look at a few things, and by the time I got back to the hot apple cider stand, Andy was just being served. We took a sip or two of cider and headed back to catch the bus. We rode it to the rest of the stops, and then returned to Chocolate World, got our free hot chocolates, bought some cookies and headed back to the hotel. Again, my body was letting me know it had enough. And now the blood was back. I ate a cookie, drank a ton of water and went to bed. I wasn’t bleeding enough for it to be an emergency, but enough to be annoying.

On Saturday, I tried to get together with Sarah and Christy for breakfast or something but Sarah had already left to the airport and I wasn’t feeling very good, so we just packed up our shit (or most of it, forgetting my toothpaste and brush, all the leftover food, beers, and most importantly, the medication in the safe, at the hotel) We were going to go to the museum. Which like the aquarium has a GA price and then all the really cool exhibits are extra. First we were going to try to hit the Christkindlmart again, but when we drove by it was already a mob scene and NOT EVEN OPEN yet. Scratch that. Onto the museum. By this time, we decided we would just get out and take pictures of the cool Chinese zodiac sculptures and then get a Chicago hot dog, take a picture of outside of the museum and head home because I don’t feel my best, and well, blood. And that’s what we did. We also planned to stop to see some of Andy’s fellow Milts, Christina and Eric and their little guy Zane outside of Indianapolis. This is when I discovered that Jack in the Box exists in Indiana. Next to seeing OWTH and hanging out with Ranae, this was the best part of the trip. I was able to get and devour the unidentifiable flavors of the Jack in the Box tacos and egg rolls, bringing back California memories of looking for some place to get food after being out most of the night and heading home. Still tastes the same.

We stopped at Christina’s and were going to stay a couple of hours, but that’s when I really started to bleed heavily, so since I didn’t have enough supplies and I was afraid to sit down anywhere, we had to leave early. Andy is such a trooper and ran in Target to get pads for me; I am thinking maybe we should go to an ER, but really, I just want to get home, and if we have to drive straight through to Hershey to the ER, then that is what we’ll do. I tell Andy we need to stop at the first rest area because I need to change clothes and when we do, it’s virtually impossible to discreetly make it to the restroom to change when you’re drenched in blood. But I do, and things stay heavy for a while, and then slowly taper off. Andy and I switched driving around 11 and I drove through Ohio and into PA. When we got to PA, I started getting really tired, and would stop every 50 miles because I couldn’t keep my eyes open, but I also wanted to get home ASAP so I can decided what I need to do next. As I mentioned, I can’t sleep in the car, no matter how tired I am, so every time I stop, I end up just sitting there with my eyes wide open. Finally I woke up and Andy and had him drive the final 150 miles home. We got home around five, and the bleeding seemed to have stopped. I slept the sleep of the dead for at least 5 hours.

I’m gonna end this here, because it’s pretty long, and I can pick up with the call to the hospital when I tell the tale of the Dr. visit. No matter how much blood I lost, it was entirely worth it to have had this adventure. I can’t even put into words what it means to be able to do this stuff with Andy and make memories of good times for us. It was a fabulous time, and I would do it all over, even with the bloodshed, again because it was so fun. With that said, and it being Christmas time, do fun stuff with the people you love – buying shit doesn’t mean nearly as much as having adventures. Andy and I never really had “vacations” when he was growing up, and I regret that now – not that we didn’t go on day trips and stuff – but I wish we had taken more vacations, had more adventures. So take my advice and have as many adventures as you can. And now that I am done this entry, I can resume writing a whimsical holiday poem as is my tradition. Enjoy your evenings, lovelies, and don’t forget I still didn’t get a real puppy yet, or a miniature pony, so please let Santa know. I do have my other puppy sitting right here though, but he doesn’t like to go on walks. And I am always available for cookie tasting. Now, be off with ye…

And excuse grammar and such errors. I really don’t feel well today and I am staying medicated, so I can’t properly proof-read today.

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Free At Last!! (At Least From The Horrors of the Tubes, Anyway)

I actually got ready early this morning, because we had several things to do be we left for my appointment at Hershey – which included going to vote with Andy and having a discussion about voter suppression, since once again, illegally, the polling place had a sign that said new voters had to show ID. I don’t know whether it’s blatant disregard that that no law was ever passed, or just ignorance developed from watching too much Fox News. Whatever. Not to mention that the polling place door is always surrounded by people campaigning for local candidates, making it somewhat intimidating to enter without being assaulted. But enter we did, and refused all the little cards the lurkers tried to force upon us to help up select our candidates. Really, if you don’t know who you are voting for and why when you get to the polls, you shouldn’t be voting at all, because you are clearly uninformed. I hate the way small town voting always seems shady, but our votes were cast and we received our stickers, which is my favorite part of voting.

After voting, we then had to hit the pharmacy because I was not going anywhere near that hospital today without being armed with a full prescription of pain meds. I wish I had had something for anxiety, because while the pain of the last tube procedure was just a memory for my brain, my body was fully remembering the trauma of the last visit, and on high stress alert. Not to mention that I couldn’t eat or drink anything for several hours before this stabbing, and I was nauseated by the Tamoxifen and shaky from not eating or drinking. My brain kept trying to deny that this time would be as painful as last, but my body was having none of that. Being sedated last time when I was leaving the Vascular Radiology department, I could only remember it was down the hall from Interventional Radiology, and wandered around lost in the bowels of the hospital trying to find it. I did find my friend Joanne, who works at PSHMC, and we then wandered together until I found it. I checked in and went to the waiting cell. As is typical at PSHMC, Fox News was on. I was doing okay until they started interviewing Donald Trump, and he began spewing outright lies, and no one even challenged him. At that point, I went and stood in the hall, because Tamoxifen raises my blood pressure and that asshole was making it worse. Not to mention all the crazy supporters in the waiting area who find him appealing as a candidate. And lest I forget, the man who spent his time reading his magazines aloud, then also audibly commenting on the articles he just read. I could feel my blood pressure soaring.

Finally I was beckoned to the dungeon, er, staging area. IV insertion did not go smoothly, and my very sweet nurse called for a vein whisperer after her first two attempts did not go as planned. My left hand is now going to be a large bruise. The second nurse got the IV started in my right hand after a few harrowing minutes when it looked like that vein was going to blow too. Settled onto my bed, I actually had a pillow this time instead of a fold-up blanket like last time. I tried to lie down, but I wanted to puke, so I asked the nurse to help me sit up so I wasn’t choking. She offered me Zofran, I wanted my herbal medication, and declined, and said I would deal with it when I got home. She said, oh do you drink ginger ale and I giggled and said, yes, but I also smoke marijuana. She nodded her approval. The Dr. then came out and told me that they had discussed my tube at their morning meeting and agreed that if they ran dye through my tube and it made it to my bladder, they would pull that sucker out. I agreed completely – then found out that since that was the plan, there’s be no sedation, no pain meds and no need for the IV so carefully stuck into my hand. However they left it in, and wheeled me into the procedure room, where in 15 minutes, my 13 weeks of torment were over. It was almost painless, but not really. I couldn’t wait to get a drink and some oxy to ward off any impending pain. I was wheeled back to my waiting space and released. Now to find Andy and my mango smoothie.

Andy and I hit the road after finding each other, and headed home. I drank my smoothie and ate my pills and was still cranky because I needed to eat. I wanted wings, but the wing place didn’t have any interesting flavors, so I settled for a jr. bacon cheeseburger, and some nuggets from Wendy’s. After my angry, hungry beast was fed, things were much better. We got home without any serious pain like last time. My little friend Erin was there to great me when I got home, and after a couple minutes of chatting with her, I headed to the tower, more pills, my medicine pipe, some advil and water. Having adequately medicated, I tried to sleep. Then the pain came. I guess I didn’t take my meds at the right time to prevent the last dose from wearing off completely, and just like last time, I couldn’t move my right side for without screeching pain with every movement. It’s since toned down a little, but that’s the main reason I am blogging tonight, because I need to get another dose in before I go to bed, so that I don’t wake up crying. My kidney spasms every now and then like it’s pushing small pieces of glass through it, and that my friends, is horrific. It lasts less than a minute, but it jolts me awake. Hopefully by tomorrow morning it will be tolerable.

The pain however was what got me thinking about blogging tonight was, because I don’t know if this happens for other people, but it does for me, when I am in pain I tend to hum, and then I hear songs in my head that are relevant to my situation. For instance, the song of the evening that is replaying in my head is Off With Their Heads’ Trying to Breathe. It’s my way of self-soothing I suppose. But I seem to have certain soundtracks to my life – like last month, I often heard one of U2’s earlier songs, October, over and over in my head. November is the month of the Jesus and Mary Chain because Joey’s birthday and the day he died are both this month, and the JMC is what reminds me of our friendship. And when the depression hits, I often turn to the Smiths and Elliott Smith to highlight my misery. When I was first diagnosed with cancer and I had to make the 4:30am drive back and forth to Hershey, I listened to OWTH’s In Desolation, to and from, every day…it got me through those six weeks and far beyond. OWTH is still one of my go-to bands for catharsis, and that’s the reason I try to see them as often as I can because there’s a sense of belonging among that crowd that I am not alone in my pain, fear, and frustration. It’s healing and cleansing. In fact, if you were to ask me about specific times in my life, there would be an album or a band that I would identify it with. R.E.M got me through being dumped during my pregnancy. I made mix CDs (and now playlists) of songs for seasons – there were summer songs, and loneliness songs, and dark brooding goth mixes with Black Tape for A Blue Girl. Some people enjoy music – my music gets me through the hard times, helping me put to words what I am feeling inside, and scream it out loud on winding back roads, helping me heal. There’s even driving music, which I have to be careful with because it seems to enhance my leadfoot. Then there were the new bands I discovered and would listen to when I first got to California and had to take the 2.5 bus ride to and from work every day – Husker Du, the Replacements and the Hoodoo Gurus to name a few. And Echo and The Bunnymen’s Songs to Learn and Sing. Andy’s first show was the very first Lollapalooza when I was 8 months pregnant. Most of my friends are clueless about the bands I listen to and love, but without my music, I’d be lost. It’s not just music, it’s my way to cope. Especially while I have been dealing with this C-monster that has me in its clutches. When I got the last prognosis, I spent hours driving and crying and singing my throat raw before I could pull it together to come home. I listen to classical when I need to focus; I listen to weird rhythmic pieces by Gabrielle Roth when I need to stretch, and I had playlists for the gym when I still had the strength to go. There was music for strength training and music for the elipti-hell machine. And there are songs that I will listen to on repeat until every ounce of pain has been expunged. And while I find peace in the bands I discover and love, there’s also music that makes my ears bleed – and gets under my skin like a festering splinter that I can’t wait to be rid of. Like when we went on the dinner cruise in DC, and the music they played on the observation deck made me want to leap into the Potomac or shoot out the speakers, or both – music can indeed make me miserable. Or it can make me laugh, like the song Bunnies by Pansy Division. (Go ahead and download that one) And for those who received them as holiday gifts – there are my impressive holiday songs collection, which have had some gems on them. It’s not just music, it’s part of who I am.

Music was the reason I was willing to put off chemo for two months so I could go to shows and festivals and see the bands I love. And while I made it the shows that mattered most to me, we all know how difficult the kidneys and bladder made following through on a lot of that was. In fact, going to shows made me fight a little harder to stay healthy so I could go. And it gives me a connection with Andy, that we enjoy a lot of the same music gives us something we can do together. In fact, my Christmas present is going to Chicago for the War On Christmas shows in December. Part of my “things I still need to do list” includes seeing bands I’ve always wanted to see live, which is a pretty short list these days, but there are still a few I haven’t seen.

Well now that I spilled all of that out there, it’s time for another round of pills. I’m still having pain, but it’s getting better – I will probably need my dressing changed in the morning – the doctor said that my kidney will seal itself, but there may be some discharge for a few days. I am allowed to swim and take baths again – they said 2 days, but I’ll wait a little longer, like when the hole is actually closed, and I don’t need a bandage on my back. It’s really the tape tugging at my skin that causes the most pain – there are scars around my back where the tape tore away my skin just like it did on my thigh. And it itches. But it’s almost completely over and I am so thrilled that I can’t even stand it. I rolled around on the bed just for fun, because nothing was tugging and pulling at my skin and kidney for the first time in over two months. I could literally feel the stress slide off after I got in the car to come home. I can deal with cancer, and I know at some point these things might have to be a part of my life n the months to come, but they don’t need to be here now. I just want to be able to do things and go places now while I can, without these encumbrances. Not that I minded taking the punk rock stroller to the shows, but I’d much rather be free of the attachments. No, that’s a lie, I did mind taking it, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

So now that my pain pills are slowly making their way into my bloodstream, I am ready to head to bed so that I can get up and get things done tomorrow, at least some laundry and maybe making dinner. We’ve been eating a lot of fast food, food other people have so kindly made for us, and frozen food. I haven’t had the energy to cook, but I’m hungry for jerk chicken and mashed potatoes and corn, and I know Andy would be grateful for his mother’s cooking again. The ladies arrive from CA here in Shenandoah on Friday, and Saturday morning we are going to Shady Maple for breakfast (and for the gift shop so I can get a new toy). I am so excited to see them all and spend time with them. And I am very thrilled to see all my other friend at the benefit on Saturday, and to score some of the good food that will be there, especially the stuff Lisa’s making, because that woman can cook. Best breaded chicken ever. My only hope is that my dad doesn’t over do the wine and drag up every less that optimal decision I ever made in my life. Presently, he’s blaming my circumstances on moving to FL with my much older alcoholic and drug addicted boyfriend when I was 17. That’s a long time and a lot of therapy ago. But that’s my dad. It’s still going to be a good time.

Before I forget, I did get my panda suit. It was very hot. I sat on the porch for over an hour waving at cars, but only 4 people total ever waved back. I scared Andy, Eric and two other people walking by. People showed the panda no love. If I saw a giant panda just sitting and waving on a porch, I would have stopped the car for pictures. Then I let Andy borrow the costume for a show he was going to. The panda body no longer exists any more because he was far too tall for it, and it showed. However, panda’s head is just fine, so I’ll just toss on my new security blanket, my OWTH hoodie, and sit on the porch as punk rock panda, and see if that makes a difference. Now it’s time for bed, and more water because we have to keep the kidney in good shape. Sweetest of dreams, I’ll probably be back after everyone returns to the West coast with pictures and stories to tell. Enjoy these last few warm days. And remember to give lots of hugs and tell people you love them every chance you get. You can’t do either enough. And sorry for the rambling, it’s the medication, I swear.


Beating Back the Blackness

So as I was shoving that third piece of pizza into the yawning chasm of my mouth, I finally gave in and accepted that I am sunk in blackness and I was stuffing my feelings. Also why I have put off writing for so long again. Because I’m a scaredy cat. Not like a cheetah or a lynx, but like a big ol’ cowardly lioness. And it’s paralyzing.

I promised myself that I would write first about the good things, because there have been a lot and when I look back at them, I feel like a whiner for feeling the way I do. Of course that doesn’t make my pain and weakness go away, or make it any less valid, but I am grateful for so much and for the people in my life, and I don’t say it enough. So let’s do this, and if I am not ready to pass out when I get through the good, then we’ll move on to the bad. If not, there’s always tomorrow.

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OWTH

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Silent Bell

So first there was the fabulous road trip to Minneapolis. Once again, Andy and I hit the road for punk rock adventure. Andy got me tickets to Dillinger Four’s 21 birthday 4th of July Show at the Triple Rock in Minneapolis. We drove straight from home to Minneapolis, speeding through the dark night through the states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Well, okay, it was getting a little light out as we drove through Chicago, but for the most part, dark Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio are similar to the daylight version. Wisconsin was pretty and has a curious number of large animal statues at different roadside shops and hotels. Like a giant moose. Or a giant mouse with cheese. There were more, but Andy wouldn’t pull over for everyone. Minnesota is also quite lovely. We hit the aquarium in the Mall of America, which was small but very cool, unlike the Mall of America, which is, though large, a mall. Okay, okay, it has an aquarium, and that Nickelodeon amusement park area, and a way cool lego store, but bottom line, its a mall, and the massive amount of people and the mindless consumerism reminded me of why I shop online. Of course, that was the first time during the trip my body betrayed me and we headed back to the hotel, which was fabulous. My sore sick body fell in love with the bed, and even more so after I swam for an hour in the pool. The next day, we went to the Minneapolis sculpture garden which was very cool. (Note to self: EARLY mornings and LATE afternoons are best to be outside when your body likes to randoIMAG2366mly overheat to 1000 degrees throughout the day.) They have a giant spoon with a cherry on it that’s a fountain, and a bell that doesn’t ring, for which Andy and I posited theories about what a silent bell represents before moving on to two sculptures which we both decided were representative of vaginas. Once again I had to retire to the hotel to rest before we could go to the D4th show. After a quick nap, we headed out to the Triple Rock. The show was amazing – albeit hot – and I hid behind a tree most of the time avoiding sun. Even cooler than the show was getting to meet Ranae and hang out with her at the show, not to mention that Ryan gave me an awesome gift of the vinyl Jesus and Mary Chain’s Darklands, which is my favorite record of all time. I also got to meet a bunch of great people and make fun of a selfie stick. After the show, Andy and I went back to the hotel to catch a quick nap before the after party, but Andy is a still a young pup and he fell asleep so I ended up going back to see The Underground Railroad to Candyland by myself, which was a big deal, since I never have gone to a club in a strange city by myself. I was glad I did, because they were amazing. Really, every band that played was excellent, we missed some of the openers, but thanks to seeing the line up posted on FB, we got there in plenty of time for OWTH. We also saw Toys That Kill, Dillinger Four, Lftr Pllr (the special guest whom I never heard before but were amazing) Scared of Chaka, Tim Barry and Against Me! It was just one of the best days ever, and after the show, I went back to the room and tried to trick Andy into letting me sleep in, but no, he was up and ready to head back at the crack of dawn. So with a stop at the cheese shop where we bought a ridiculous amount of snacks, we headed home, tired, bruised, but happy happy happy. And Andy and I had only two screaming matches at each other during the whole trip – once at 5am when I needed to pee and couldn’t find a bathroom and the second when we were stuck in traffic in Chicago for 2.5 hours because of those damn hippies at the Grateful Dead thing going on there. Still, it was a fantastically fun weekend and I am so glad we did it. Plus spending the time talking with Andy always is worth it. And Andy got a ton of fireworks that could not be purchased here, so he was very happy too.

Then I got to see two of my oldest and dearest friends, Donna and Denise, who were in town for a wedding. It was 15 years since I’d seen either of them, and it was like we never had been separated. We drank and laughed and looked at photos to point out all the people we knew who were dead. I also got to see all of the kids, which was great. Then we also got together for breakfast which was another laugh riot. It would have been complete if our friend Anne could have joined us, but she had an event that she needed to prep for, so hopefully another time. Nevertheless, we had a blast and we need to not wait so long to hang out the next time.

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me, Denise and Donna

After that, my friend and former common law domestic partner, Debbie, her husband, kids, and her parents, brothers, sister in law, and niece and nephew came to Hershey to meet Andy and I to hit Chocolate World and get some dinner. I hadn’t seen Debbie since Andy’s graduation, and I hadn’t seen her family since Andy was 10. It was a day of great hugs, great laughs, and fun. The girls, Tyler and Kylie, are gorgeous and I adore them. And again, it was like the miles and the years between us just disappeared, I only wish we had had more time to just hang and talk, but I’ll find my way home to the west coast eventually.

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me and Deb

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Jenn, Kellie, Sue, Heidi and moi

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Komodo Dragon

Then was my surprise trip to DC with my friends from work. We left early Saturday and got to DC around noon. After a fun drive with mimosas and my breakfast of brownie, we parked and headed off the Natural History Museum. Now, you may or may not know that the National Mall is under construction which means if you want to get to something on the opposite side you must walk ALL THE WAY AROUND. Now, had I known this I would not have worn my black OWTH shirt and would have applied sunscreen, but I trudged through the heat (and it was fucking hot) darting under shade trees as we traveled along. We paused for rest and put our feet in the fountain on the mall, which was enjoyable until you realized how warm the water was. I saw my favorite strange bunny sculpture,  but my phone dieIMAG2453d so there are no pictures. We checked out the museum, which was crowded but fun, and then took a pedicab back to the hotel which was ultra fun, as I waved, queen-like, to the masses as we traveled. The guy who pedaled our cab was interesting and it made a great way to get back to the hotel. The hotel was very cool, and I had my own room, with another one of those comfy beds. When we got back, we grabbed some drinks and headed up to the rooftop pool, and I got kicked multiple times by a rambunctious child without parental supervision. My leg buckled under me after getting out of the pool, and I had a major cramp, but it went away, and and after a nap, I had a brownie and we headed out to the dinner cruise on the Potomac. Our cab driver was an idiot and it took us twice as long to get there as it would have if we walked, but I couldn’t handle anymore walking. The cruise was very nice, the food was awesome, and I ended up hanging out with Jenn on the observation deck most of the night, just enjoying the night air, the lights on the shore and sailing. Unfortunately there was non-stop “cool jazz” playing and it was making my eyes bleed by the end of the night. After the cruise, we’d planned to go to the hotel bar, but once I got to my room, I was cooked. The next morning we got up and headed out to the National Zoo where we rented me a scooter and began the zoo adventure. Unfortunately, the red pandas were unavailable, and the elephants under quarantine, but the Komodo dragon poked his head out when I got to his enclosure. We got to see some special “double turtles” (see photo) and vultures. I tried to race a cop who was on a segway, realizing after I IMAG2478dared him that I had had a brownie for breakfast and probably shouldn’t have been driving a scooter at all, not to mention racing cops. There were three lazy pandas there though and that was pretty awesome. We made it through the zoo by noon before it got REALLY hot (it was already blazing by then, and not even mid-day). After the zoo, we were all really tired, and headed back home. We stopped to get some fabulous Thai takeout and have lunch at Quaker Steak and Lube, which none of us had been too, and now having been, really have no desire to go again. Tired, and full we finally made it home. It was very fun, and I am jusIMAG2573t glad none of us were arrested. What was even moIMAG2466re special about this trip was that ALL my coworkers contributed to it – they had a pot luck luncheon where we all paid $5 for lunch and we brought a dish, and then the next day, we had a reduced lunch for $3 – which was actually a fundraiser to raise money to do something fun for me. I know I’ve said it before, but I can’t say it enough, I work with the best people – our job may suck, we may bitch and moan, but my friends at work have the most generous hearts, and the fact that they did this for me made the trip even more special – I only hope I can return the kindness for others later. Needless to say, after the trip, my body decided I needed to stay home with crampy legs and nausea, but it was well worth it.

And that brings us today. All that goodness took the edge off the gloom that’s clinging to me. I expect I will write more over the next two weeks as I stress about my upcoming CT scan and Dr. appt. I am bummed that my CT scan is the day before Andy’s birthday, and I am going to try not to read the results until the day after, but let’s be realistic, I’m gonna be hitting refresh until the scan is posted on my online med portal. The next couple months will be busy too, we’re planning to go to Riot Fest, and then I have OWTH tickets for September in Philly and Baltimore, and we got Bouncing Soul tickets in October, and if I can manage it financially, and physically, I want to go to Fest in October too. I’ve been putting these things off for years and I need to do it now or it may never happen, especially since I think there may be chemo ahead and the pain that was my constant companion last year, has returned and PA is still lagging on the medical marijuana bill. Sigh. Call your local representative.

But before I go, I strongly encourage you, if you are a fan of OWTH, or Bad Religion, or good music in general, to go to Ryan’s Anxious and Angry web store and buy something so you can get the free flexi of OWTH covering Bad Religion’s Sorrow. It’s amazing. Just buy something from Ryan even if you don’t want the flexi, because he’s a good guy and is super generous, and is always willing to help people out. And because his cat Stray Charles is blind. Or don’t buy anything and just make a donation to suppor the podcast. And listen to his podcast, which is very interesting if you like punk rock and mental health issues, and has helped a lot of people dealing with mental health concerns know they are not alone. Really, it’s worth the listen. And now it’s time for bathroom trip 5 tonight and then try and sleep. Let’s hope it comes quickly. Sweetest dreams, my dahlings!


The Most Wonderful Day of the Year

Okay, it was three days, but that would make a super-long title, and I was trying to be succinct. (As if that ever happens.) I bet you thought I was going to write about Chemo Day, but that’s today, and hasn’t technically happened yet, except for the pre-gaming with Decadron and water and the daily cancer killing tea. I still need to shower and pack my stuff for the day, and am faced with the usual decision of do I take my cute pink back pack and carry the lap-top separately or do I take the black one with wheels? I am leaning towards wheels today because it fits more and well, has wheels, and I’m not feeling my best but I don’t seem to have a cold or ebola, and I don’t have a fever – which is awesome because I was scared I would be sick today and then have to postpone today’s fun fun fun. My chemo-buddy today is Kellie, who I know is thrilled beyond anything to be accompanying me to today’s festivities.

BUT! This entry is about the best three days I have had in a long, long, long, long time. If you have reading my blog, you know Off With Their Heads is one of my very most favorite bands. Listening to their record In Desolation (“Drive” video here) got me through my first six weeks of radiation and all that first round of chemo and their music accompanies to nearly all of my drives to and from Hershey over the last 3.5 years. When I remember my headphones, I listen to Ryan’s Anxious and Angry podcasts at work, or in the car. The music has become part of my support system. Well, Thursday, Andy and I drove to Pittsburgh on what was supposed to be a beautiful day to see OWTH play at Howler’s Coyote Cafe (note: saw no coyotes – I would make a cougar joke here, but I find the term cougar offensive, I prefer tigermom). Their show was amazing, the energy and passion of the band was amazing. They played songs from all of their records, and Ryan was awesome. The energy was awesome. The opening bands – World’s Scariest Police Chases, Barons, and PEARS – were all incredible. I met an internet friend, Erica, her husband Brian and some of her friends at the show – we became friend because we both like OWTH and punk music in general, and surprise, we are both work with kids in the system – I snatch ’em and she assists the ones that the court declares incompetent. After the show, I got to get hugs from Ryan and talk to him for a little while, which is always fan-girlie for me, because I can’t believe someone that I look up to takes time to talk to me. I got to introduce him to Andy too, which was cool. I had to have a drink with him, but alas, Howler’s is a bar that allows smoking, and by the time the shows were over, I was dizzy and shaky and a little nauseous and just wanted to go home. Ryan said they would probably be playing in Philly in September, so I hope to have that drink with him then. It was an amazing night. I also got to meet and talk to Zack from Barons while I was standing outside the bar waiting for Andy to bring the car around. Fucking stupendous night. (and if you read this Ryan – THANK YOU for being who you are – you made my night)

Day two was supposed to be the Warhol Museum, but Andy and I decided that even though it was snowing, we were doing the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, because when I have to choose between becoming more cultured or seeing animals and making animal noises, I will ALWAYS choose the latter. Bring on the Komodo dragon, red pandas, and giraffes. And very sad elephants. And PUFFERFISH. Several different kinds of pufferfish, evil, evil pufferfish. Did I mention that the Zoo is on a hill? Or should I say a mountain? Because it’s a mountain. A huge mountain. And Andy would not push me in a “safari cruiser” IE. wheelchair. So I had to walk. Wearing heavy Doc’s sandals. Carrying water. It was brutal. We probably walked at negative 1 mph. Lots of heaving breathing and a frequently sweating head that was frosted by the subzero wind chill and flurries. It was fun though, spending time with Andy, telling him about the trips to the zoos and aquariums when we lived in California, making animals sounds, trying to find the animals that were clearly not home, and making flattened pennies like when he was 5. Afterwards we went back to the condo, got some great Italian beef sandwiches from a tiny place called Tooties (yum!), then just hung out and watched non-cable tv and napped. Later we got pizza from this greek pizza place called Ephesus, and again, awesome food. We just hung out and talked and slept the rest of the evening.

Saturday, we got up, cleaned up the condo, packed and headed out to an overlook to see Pittsburgh from the top of one many hills. Pittsburgh is an awesome city. We found an overlook, not the one we were looking at because in addition to sucking at taking night pictures all of the sudden, my phone’s GPS takes us to places that don’t exist. Or rather, when asked to take us to a location, it agrees but then leaves us in spots that are clearly not even remotely near where we asked to be. We did get to see a lot of Pittsburgh though, and Andy is even considering going out to Pittsburgh to finish school (YAY, FUCK YEAH!) Fortunately, the GPS cooperated with taking us to Abby Lee Miller’s Dance Studio, where I stalked cars pulling into the parking lot to see if there was a real Dance Mom getting out for class. None were available, but there were the cutest little people being brought to class. The studio was less impressive from the outside that it appears on the TV, but it was still cool to see it. Then we headed to Philadelphia. Did I mention it was FREEZING? Like super freezing. And snowy. We got to Philly by about 4, and hung out with Blaine and Lizz and had a delicious dinner from a real Mexican restaurant called El Jarocho that made scrumptious lamb tacos. Then we headed to see TBR/The Wilhelm Scream/ Pennywise, which was a fabulous show, but in my opinion, lacked the energy of the bands on Thursday, although it was very cool to realize that Pennywise has been a band for longer than Andy is alive, and I finally got to see them with their original vocalist. I hadn’t seen them since 2008. Long time. Unfortunately, I got a horrible horrible pain in my side and had to go stand in the back to try to work it out – we ended up leaving before the last song or two, but at least the pain subsided for the most part. We caught a cab back to Blaine’s to get the car, and headed home. But not before we stopped at Wawa, and got to see two drunk girls in ridiculously high heels almost wipe out several times in the store as they tried to outlast the state police DUI checkpoint. Good times.

We finally rolled home about 2 am. The house was freezing, but honestly, it was a small price to pay for such an awesome weekend. It felt so amazing to be among my people, enjoying simple things with my son, and talking about life and lessons and futures and hopes and dreams, and meeting awesome new people, singing at the top of my lungs to songs I love, and finding some peace in all of this. I basically slept through the next day – I was exhausted. I made it to work on Monday, and realized that if I died that day, I’d have no regrets – not like I don’t have plans for the future – but I was pretty damn happy, and would be okay if there wasn’t anything else ahead – I’d made peace with what could lie ahead. And made arrangements with Andy to be turned into fireworks whether things end in the next few years, or 50. I’m okay with it all. That’s not to say that I am not concerned, and wouldn’t prefer to live another 50 years, but whatever is ahead, I’m gonna be okay with it.

I’m actually finishing this early Thursday morning – post chemo. I’m going to stop here, and write about my Dr. visit and chemo later today, because I decided to wind down tonight with a cocoa-vodka/oxycodone mix, so I can sleep pretty soundly tonight. I also drank a lot of water today, so I am trying to avoid waking up ever hour to run to the bathroom. And I’m still feeling okay with my life, and what’s unfolding in it. The three day trip really refreshed me, reminded me that despite the horror of the last year and a half, from the time the pain started to today, dealing with this stupid fucking disease, I’m learning about me and what matters to me again, and finding the strength to make plans again, even if I still can’t act on them. Life is still hard, I’m still not always making the best choices, but this weekend reminded me of the person inside, and what brings me joy. I just need to bring more of it into my life.

So with that said, here’s some of my favorite pictures from the weekend – I didn’t take any pictures at Blaine and Lizz’s house – I don’t know why because their puppy Pancake is a sweet dog and fun to play with. It was great to see them again, and just hang out. But I am derailing again – here’s the pictures, including the evil pufferfish, enjoy them and come back later today to learn what the Dr. said my future looks like…sweet dreams my dahlings, I will have a peaceful early morning rest, hopefully, before the sickness starts.

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the “a to “aw screw it already” challenge” aka I really should be doing work

I guess you expected another alphabet challenge entry. As predicted, I got to k, and have decided that for me, having to write with a prompt just is no bueno. I have too much going on in my head at any given moment to be limiting it to a single character to capture it all.

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Ironically, the next letter I would have written about was the letter L. Which is the type of work I am avoiding right now as I blog instead. Legal. I should be preparing my court questions for my hearing tomorrow. Or completing affidavits. I loaded up the flash drive on Friday to get this work done over the weekend. I was all about about doing work at home. I was….really. That said, because I knew I was going to do paperwork, I made a ham, cleaned my bedroom, organized my yarn. organized my art supplies, read some magazines, drank coffee, made a scrumptious salad with the ham, did laundry, napped, stacked books, watched tv shows I tivo’d, surfed the internet, pinned some shit, and made four hats. Procrastination 1000, Work 0. I will eventually get to the work stuff…probably at 11, and then I’ll get up at 5 am to do some more, because as my fellow baby snatchers know, the night before court is one restless night. No matter how solid your testimony is, no matter how much you have prepared, if you have to be at court, it’s usually because you are about to make one of the parties unhappy. And baby snatchers are disliked enough without having to deliberately make people more miserable. That’s not to say what I do isn’t necessary, and in the interest of keeping kids safe, but it’s never like anyone is all like…”hey, it’s CYS, hey how ya doing? Good to see you, I was just saying, I wish CYS would come by and visit, and uncomplicate my life” “oh we’re going to court? And you are going to testify against me and argue why my kids aren’t safe in my care? Well, come on in and let me bring you some cake!” So anyway, that’s why I will be up all night, tossing and turning – already I’ve got the burning knot in my stomach – and I actually enjoy testifying. I can only imagine what it is like for my co-workers who are uncomfortable with it. At least I now have a computer that has all the necessary keys present on the key board and isn’t possessed, throwing the cursor around wherever it wants and devouring whole manuscripts never to be recovered from the hell files again.

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Anyway, I was pretty fired up this morning when I realized that if I touched my computer I might be required to work, that I decided to wait a little and see if the passion subsided. As those of you who have delighted in my work for the last couple years know, I love to watch the Sunday morning political talk shows – specifically Meet the Press, and Face the Nation. If you have read this blog long enough, you will also know that I am a liberal of the worst kind…an uber bleeding heart socialist who believes that the wealth should shared in this country, guns are unnecessary, death penalty is inhumane, people come in all shades, sizes, languages, belief systems, gender identities (or not) and love who they love, kum-bi-yah (fill in the rest of the typical derogatory references to my political ideology here). I am also able to see past “belief systems” and see the person, which is why, despite my super left leanings, I also have a number of conservative friends who love me and I love as well. OH SHIT, I forgot to say I’m also a feminist with minor in women’s studies and a thesis on Feminism in the Colonial Period, which also makes me an intellectual elitist. For those of you still reading after this disclosure, I should also add I am fat and poor in material wealth, and also non-christian. Whew.

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So back to Meet the Press. The recording artist,Will.i.am, was on Meet The Press today. He’s a big supporter of the power of education to change lives. He has his own foundation. Of course all the political shows were heavy with people of color due to that nut job Sterling, but Will.i.am was not playing into it. He asked the politicians on Meet the Press, why does our country not care about making our children the smartest in the world and emphasizing things like project based learning. Then the politicos would open their mouths, and based on their political leanings, would blame the lack of funding for education by the Right or the stomping on State’s Rights by the Left. Of course, Obamacare is also to blame. And the Christian Coalition.

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Now, I suppose you’ve dozed off by now, but I will continue writing. Because here’s what I found fascinating. Will.i.am’s only question was why are we doing it, not who is to blame, and if we really want to foster American’s exceptionalism, why is it that we don’t capitalize on American creativity, and make it easier for our own citizens to get solid educations and hands on learning? He asked if we all believe in the same thing, then why don’t we do something to make it happen? And that’s when the light shone bright on how screwed up our nation is and why we border on the edge of the decline of Western Civilization. No one walks their talk. I find it hard to believe that every Republican politician believes in his or her heart that abortion is evil, we should let poor people starve, and that God should be forced into our education system. Nor do I believe that every Democrat believes that guns are the root of all evil, we should never say the word God in public and that socialism is the only answer. Yet, once we elect a “democrat” or a “republican” – they have to toe the party line and object to anything the other party asks for. No more acting for the good of the electorate. Make sure you don’t act outside your limitations. Don’t live your beliefs, adopt the beliefs of your party. And of course, it once again made me lose hope that anything will ever change, as the questions continued and each politician in turn, didn’t answer the question, but said why the other political party was foiling all of their ideas. And so another day, week, month, passes in America, and teachers are forced to teach kids to take tests, and try to squeeze actual learning and creativity in and around the indoctrination. Sigh. I did however, enjoy the jokes from the White House Correspondents Dinner, and yes, I am a science and political nerd. Add that to the list.

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I have so many more things that have been brewing in my brain to write about, and were stymied by following rules. Not that it wasn’t a good idea to start with, and I learned some new words, but 26 letters, that’s a lot for one month. While I have your attention however, or if you just skipped to the last paragraph to pretend like you read this, I encourage you to go to iTunes and download Ryan Young’s Anxious and Angry podcast. In episode 4, he interviews P22, the California mountain lion with mange from eating poisoned rats. I wish I would have emailed a question, to find out why they call him P22, and not ML22. Seriously though, its a great podcast, with very interesting discussions it’s swell being able to listen to Ryan talk with his guests and find that their lives are not entirely different from our own. It’s also quite effective in calming you down when you want to explode with rage at coworkers. Not that I ever would, but sometimes I am seething on the inside, and I wonder if they can hear my thoughts. Or if sometimes my thoughts are actually coming out of my mouth in a mumbly sort of way. So go download it. You can do it here. You should probably buy something on the website too. I mean, he went after a mountain lion with mange to try and reunite it with its family. That should make you buy a shirt. And be careful with the box, because there may be a note inside that you might almost recycle because when you tore the box open to get your shirt and flexi out, you weren’t paying attention. (Thanks for the note Ryan! – I will let you know if the flexi did its job in July – Harsh Realms is one of my favorite songs from Heart Burns btw) And there’s a link to the Anxious and Angry website on the right sidebar too. Just in case you forget to go here.

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Time to get my life together for work tomorrow…here’s a picture of the flexi and the awesome note I almost missed – I would have take a picture of the shirt too, but it’s currently in the spin part of the wash cycle…

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Oh, and before I forget, I believe the birds nesting outside my window must be eagles – they came swooping and screeching down this morning…definitely not sparrows.

 IMAG0092The almost lost note and the healing flexi disc

 IMAG0088ZOE_0006-004two of the 4 hats I made  – these went to a baby shower.