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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Day After (Not That Kind)

A Cancer Post™. Also a Troperiffic Post™.

This is not a scary, post-apocalyptic Day After.

Although that sort of thing is very popular around here; After The Hunger Games, dystopian After The End stories are all the rage in the teen set (and I've always rather liked them too, as long as they didn't seem too plausible. There is that Volcano Day issue I have after all).

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

You will be pleased to note that Laston's Avastin  (it rhymes!) did not make him nearly as ill as it did last time, two weeks ago. This time he had preemptive ginger ale and crackers, which might have helped. And he also knew what to expect. It does, however, explain the cough and the raspy voice getting worse. And here we thought he had a cold or seasonal allergies (which he may well also have, but Avastin is a common culprit in such things).

I now understand both FMLA and what my employer calls Me Time much better than I did. Thanks, managerial and human-resourcey folks. Appreciate it.

Abby has great grades, two Bs and a slew of As. We haven't actually received her report card yet, but at junior high and above, we can log into the grading web site and see the grades; the dates indicate that they are end-of-semester grades. She wins a sleepover during midwinter break. I'll be home for part of it and it's Not a Chemo Week™, so it's doable.

Once in a while.

No idea on the other kids' grades, but Lizzy earned a special honor at the end-of-quarter assembly at the elementary school; she got an award for Accountability. They do different character traits during the year; in past years, Lizzy was usually Accountability and Perseverance, and Abby was pretty consistent with Empathy and Service. Thus are the two children who live here, nutshelled.

It's still cookie season, so drop us a line!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Of Classrooms and Cookies

Not a Cancer Post™

No, this is (mostly) a post about Lizzy.

Today we had Reader's Theater (essentially a short play on-book; they have their scripts in hand) in her classroom; she played a girl called Lizzie (sic; she cannot deal with the different spelling, and gives little screams of laughter every time she has to write it down) in a short story called Grandpa for Sale.

Lizzy (as Lizzie) is even bigger of a ham than usual. She asked her teacher if she could do "a British accent," and actually did a passable job of it (if a bit questionable as to region), certainly better than some professional actors I could name. I guess she's been paying attention to Who and to my nightly readings of first both Alice books and now The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. And when she started the accent, her classmate who played opposite her felt she had to do it too.

There was also Lizzy's friend S (in a different play), who seems to be a born stage manager, as she seemed to know her own lines and everyone else's.

And a neighbor boy, C, whose mother came to see him perform in spite of having had a baby three days ago. She is a stronger woman than I.

Speaking of theater, Abby auditioned for another one tonight; she's trying for a part in Studio East's upcoming production of Little Shop of Horrors. This is the first time she's been one of the youngest auditioning (minimum age 13) instead of somewhere in the middle of the age range, and as her voice is not all that mature yet, well... we shall see.

She is also doing Cadette Journey with her Girl Scout Troop. I am sorry to report that her troop is not selling cookies this year.

But Lizzy's is, and Abby's willingly relegating all sales she would otherwise have gotten to her sister. We will work out rewards and who gets what (and if they earn that pink fedora and they both desperately want it, we can always see if there is an extra on ebay or something when the time comes).

So, all ye who would like some cookies, please feel free to give me a shout at my email if we won't be seeing you for the next week or two. Dear workmates, I'll bring in the order forms. Laston's once-and-hopefully-future workmates, ping me and we'll work something out.

Now off to bed; tomorrow's gonna be a doozy; I'm sure half the east coast - including our call centers - is buried under a couple feet of snow. It'll keep us busy...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Days Off, They Call 'Em

They're not, and this one is more than most.

Not if one is "adulting," as the latest internet memes call it. I kind of like "adult" as a verb, actually. It's sort of all-encompassing.

Take today, for example. Laston - he's on the doesn't-feel-too-crappy upswing of his treatment cycle (and BTW, this is Not a Cancer Post™) - has done some writing, tidied up a bit, grocery shopped, and paid some bills. Given his energy levels, this is an impressive list of things (especially the groceries) for a couple of hours in the morning; just because he feels less like crap than - say - a week ago doesn't mean he feels well. Just less bad than usual.

I, on the other hand, am well. I got the kids off to school, took a short nap, did a load of laundry, a load of dishes, put dinner in the slow cooker (more on that later), changed the sheets, and made a big pot of gypsy tea. Now I can hang out and relax between laundry loads, maybe (re)play a little Final Fantasy 7, read, like that.

Note: the term "gypsy tea" is used with respect rather than contempt; the idea is one of inventiveness in using whatever one has handy, rather than of pity for not having much on  hand. Someone called me out on the term last week and I wanted to make that clear. In this case, it's black tea plus raw sugar plus a peach-apricot tea I got at a local tea shoppe.


So, dinner in the slow cooker: part of the reason Laston is out doing some grocery shopping is that we were running low of things I often use, like Campbell's Golden Mushroom soup. And eggs, which we were low on because the last batch from had some that were broken upon arrival (they're really good about this; even though over half the eggs were fine, they refunded the price of the entire delivery. I loves them).

Anyway, using what we already had on hand, I have the following in the slow cooker: three chicken breasts, a bag of mixed veggies (without lima beans, thank you very much), and a bottle of Soy Vay Garlic Hoisin Sauce and Marinade. I'm serving over pasta. If this means that Lizzy eats pasta and veggies, and Abby eats pasta and chicken, so be it; I'm tired of cooking to accommodate their picky little selves. I mean, I'll still do some; if I'm making sandwiches I'll make them each their own favorite, and I'm certainly not going to force them to eat things like red meat (for Leanna) or allergenic nuts (for Abby). But I'm not saying if-not-this-then-that anymore.

Oh, BTW - any of you who are my workmates, I changed computers and my internal IM contacts didn't transfer. Q me, would you, so I can rebuild my contacts list? Thanks.

Abby and I are starting Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Except that tonight we're watching Clueless again; she is using an excerpt for her audition tomorrow. We are adjusting for language though; this is children's theater, after all. We loves Studio East too.

This has turned into a Random Thoughts Post, hasn't it?

Thursday, January 14, 2016


David Bowie, Alan Rickman... the other 69-year-old male British entertainer is Tim Curry. Take care, Mr. Curry.

The spurt of energy Laston gets on the day after his chemo treatment can be very useful. My kitchen is pretty clean right now, even down to the floor.

I love it when a throw-it-together in the kitchen does an A-Team. I used 3 lbs of chicken breast, six cups of water, a cup of barley, a packet of Just Juice marinade, and a can of mushrooms (and a slow cooker) and now we have some pretty good stew. Needs salt (unlike anything else I have ever cooked, ever).

I in no way endorse nearly anything Carly Fiorina has to say. Except that this morning, I heard an interview with her on NPR where she opined that "Donald Trump is the Kim Kardashian of American politics." I think that's pretty accurate; it's like he's the reality TV candidate, the train-wreck we can't stop watching. So yes, I agree with Fiorina on something. Mark the date.

Arg - another evening of Lizzy Has to do Word Work. She doesn't need help as much as she needs a traffic cop; it's all redirect-redirect-redirect.

Maybe the older girls and I will watch Galaxy Quest this weekend in honor of Alan Rickman. They're too young for Die Hard, and I don't want the darkness of either Harry Potter or Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

The pregnancy parallels get more and more frequent. Laston is craving - of all things - Jell-O parfaits, and his doctor prescribed him a drug intended for morning sickness. Yes, we know about marijuana, and no, ginger ale is working fine for now.

I went to my jury duty this morning. I watched the How to be a Good Citizen video, read the pamphlet, and made desultory conversation  with my fellow potential jurors for two hours (and read a book; good thing I had been warned). Then they dismissed all of us because they didn't need us today. This is apparently not uncommon. I have to call again tonight after five to see if they may need me tomorrow.

That's all I've got at the moment.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

This Week I Learned (A Cancer™ (and other things) Post)

...Colon cancer metastasized to the liver is not the same thing as colon-and-liver cancer. In fact, colon cancer (even when found in the liver) is much more treatable than liver cancer. This is a Good Thing.

...However, this does not make Laston feel any better; in fact, he feels like crap, and he complains that his cast iron stomach isn't cast iron anymore (to which I replied that it still  is cast iron; it's just that there's a large spot where it's almost rusted through).

...On the other hand, according to his oncology nurses, he's doing better, just feeling worse. Arrgh.

...Going to get gas for the car and ginger ale for the rusted-out cast iron stomach ten minutes before Powerball sales end and the prize is over a billion dollars... is a Bad Idea.

...Lizzy thinks that if we win, we can "buy toys and cure cancer." I think that sounds grand and eight years old and kind of sweet.

...I find it interesting that this is the same little girl who recognizes a word being out of familiar context. We were reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and she remarked that she knows what the word curious means - it means you want to know about things - but Alice doesn't mean it the same way. Well, no, Alice is from 1860s England, where and when curious meant weird.

...Thirteen-year-olds whine as much as three-year-olds. Maybe more. And they have this twisted logic that makes no sense to anyone over fifteen, apparently.

...Again, on the other hand, thirteen-year-olds are pretty good at throwing out story ideas for the second-grade sibling's homework, and at assisting with their sister's Brownie troop when their own troop is not doing cookie sales this year (more on that in a few days; the cookie sales do not begin until the 22nd).

...I still do not understand why Lizzy, who loves to read and loves to make up stories in her head,  would rather die than actually write one down.

Even with her sister helping by throwing out those story ideas.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Weeknight Movie Night Reminds Me of the Babe

What babe?

The babe with the power.

What power?

The power of voodoo.

Who do?

You know who do. And it's not the usual Who we have over here.

This is also Not a Cancer Post ™. Not exactly. While we know Bowie died of cancer, we do not have confirmed reports of what kind.

But it's still a little worrying for those of us living with the New Normal.

Granted, Bowie was 69; he's 19 years older than Laston. And almost certainly rode harder and put away wetter than Laston too.

I am reminded of the babe, however, and so we're having Movie Night on a Monday. Lizzy has never seen Labyrinth (at least not to remember it), but I have some very fond memories of it as regards Abby at a very young age (though the Fireys scene still creeps me out a bit).

My favorite was from when she was about four, when she innocently asked me why, "the Goblin King has sparkly makeup and hair like a princess?"

I told her it was because it was the eighties. Thankfully she was too young to notice (or care) about the other ah... salient parts of his costume.

Wondering what she will think about it tonight, at thirteen years old.

At the moment, she is engaged in being Lizzy's backrest, because the opening scenes of said movie scared Lizzy.

Who will warm up to it, because she and I finished Alice's Adventures in Wonderland last night, and she's definitely in the mood for things that are curious (in the 1860's sense of the word, meaning "weird" rather than meaning "interested in how things work." She figured out that the word made no sense (in her limited context) in the Wonderland book day before yesterday.)

Bizarre logic puzzles also appeal to Lizzy.

Hopefully the big fat bruise on her cheek - she will keep running on laminate floors while wearing socks - will not distract her. She does like some of the eighties pop music.

Abby thinks that "Magic Dance" is "one of the best songs ever". I am inclined to agree.

In any case, we are here having a celebratory memorial viewing of Labyrinth, on a weeknight, because we can.

I imagine we're not alone; there are probably people all over the world celebrating / mourning in like fashion.  At The Rock Pizza down the street (where a very sweet waitress comped Laston a buffet lunch last week "because he's one of her very favorite customers and she was sorry to hear about the cancer") they are almost certainly playing all Bowie all the time tonight.

Which we will also do.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Star Wars and Seafood...

...was my Christmas gift from Laston.

You see, with the exception of major things like furniture or paid medical bills, we have enough stuff. What we don't have is enough time together, just the two of us (because time in the infusion suite does not count).

(And no, in spite of mentioning the infusion suite and the medical bills, this is Not a Cancer Post ™. Cancer is just there as part of the New Normal background.)

So for Christmas, I got Date Night. Or Date Afternoon.

We went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and then to Anthony's Seafood Grill.

I will not spoil the big stuff, just in case we're the only people who hadn't seen it before today. I'm a science fiction fan in general, and a Whovian in particular; I have excellent Spoiler Etiquette.

But a few things:

All three major actors (playing human characters) from the first three movies have aged very well. I don't know what all the fuss was about over Carrie Fisher no longer looking all slave-girl-bikini. She looks great, just thirty years older. Which is kind of the point. Ageist jerks.

Ditto the gender and skin tone of the new crop of major characters. One's a woman, the other dark-skinned. Why is this a problem for some viewers? I mean, there are major players in this setting who aren't even bipeds, for crying out loud, never mind actual humans with different skin colors or in-and-out bits.

Never piss off the Wookie. Or (as with other Disney properties), the girl not yet in full control of her powers. Because she will end you.

Speaking of Disney properties, a sly reference to that in the person of one Han Solo, saying, "Princesses!" in that tone. So funny.

Lots and lots of throwback references, of course. And the new droid is super cute and in spite of his roundness, reminded me of Wall-E in a couple of scenes. Again Disney/Pixar. Also references to other science fiction, not just the Wars and the Princesses. The potential for crossover fanfic is enormous.

I am pleased.

And my usual craving for steamed clams (yes, I am a native Seattleite) was assuaged.

I remember wondering, vaguely, if Wookies can swim.

I also didn't realize until I got winded walking across the parking lot that this bronchitis crap? Not over.

But in the meantime the Force has awakened.

And it was glorious.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Usual Suspects

Not a Cancer Post ™

And not these usual suspects.

I thought I had made it safely through the holidays with nothing more than allergic asthma, but alas, the asthma has - as is sometimes the case, especially in winter - complicated itself into the exciting combination of sinusitis and bronchitis.

Given my medical history, this means prednisone and amoxicillin, because if it's not a bacterial infection yet, it will be.

I found myself amused that the doctor - whom I had never met but who had obviously read my file from the last time I was in this particular chain of urgent care clinics - knew this right away.

Don't worry about Laston. I'm militant about hand washing because of precautions already taken for chemo, I'll be not-contagious at all in about twenty more hours, and it's not like I'll sleep (with him or otherwise) tonight anyway; prednisone precludes that as a rule.

At least it waited until after the first of the year, when things like paid sick leave and the like have reset. I'm making up the time anyway, but it's nice to know the option for paid sick leave is there.

At least it does happen a lot less often than it used to!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Welcome to 2016

Not a Cancer Post ™ (except in that we plan to kick its ass).

Laston is sitting behind his computer, writing and chatting with online friends before this week's chemo knocks him utterly flat for a couple days (likely this evening).

There is a load of socks in the laundry.

Abby is using a Christmas gift (How to Tell a Story) to, well, tell a story. It's like Mad Libs meets Story Cubes, and it's super cool. That rampaging dinosaur has added drama and tension.

The dishwasher is running.

Lizzy has cleaned off the kitchen counter so she can use her Snap Circuits Junior set. She is explaining earnestly that the resistor in Project 18 makes the sound quieter than the sound in Project 17, because the resistor steals some of the electricity.

(She's using the counter because the table is covered in piles of clean laundry, (which will be put away by the time I get home from work this evening, rightRIGHT?)

Pizza for them and chicken wings for me are on the way before I leave for work at 4:30 (a four-hour shift for the holiday. If it's anything like yesterday's shift, I'll finish my jigsaw puzzle).

There is Hoppin' John in the fridge (ready to become Skippin' Jenny).

So pretty much like normal, actually.