Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

And please let it be a healthy one for us all!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Last night we went to a party thrown (strange word)by a former colleague and cancer survivor who had stage 4 lymphoma. Stage 4 doesn't seem to mean the same across the board in cancer world. In general it means it has spread beyond the original site past the lymph nodes into other organs. In her case, cancer was found in every major organ yet she survives and thrives after a year of hell. I've run across other Stage 4 lymphoma survivors also. Stage 4 breast cancer is a more difficult beast to contain. You can slow down the march but for now, little can be done to stop it completely. Hopefully that will change soon.

So my friend was the only one we knew at the party. Sometimes it is intimidating to make conversation with total strangers searching for some commonality (hard to find amongst all the deer hunters there with their tales of gore) but I did meet a woman who loved long distance bike rides, travel, and has done alot to further science education so I was entertained.

As for deer hunting; I realize that there are too many deer around here and since our collision with one, I am constantly scanning the shoulders, especially at night, for them to come bounding in front of me. These hunters like to go up north even though the deer are scarcer there. Too much cross fire down here for them plus they like rifles not shot guns. (There is a line drawn across Michigan above which rifles are legal) I don't believe that hunters though are doing a 'noble' service. I remember reading how one hunter was patting himself on the back for culling the weaker members of the herd-the albinos. Most hunters are encouraged to do the opposite: go for the biggest buck with the most points leaving the weaker males to breed with females. If they were interested in reducing the herd, extending doe season would help. But you won't find me out there anytime soon shooting does. I cringed hearing their stories. I turn off the nature channel when they insist on showing predator/prey interactions.

So I have one more week to tough it out outside before I can rejoin the Y. I went down to the river yesterday where they occasionally clean the paths. We've had only 2 inches of snow but somehow it melting and refreezing over and over again with no salt has made a safe running surface hard to find. In the past, I've run on much worse and maybe have fallen once due to ice but now I am super cautious and uneasy with my poor balance (due to chemo) and memory of breaking my arm. The path yesterday had a few clear areas and it was good to exercise again but annoying to deal with the many slippery parts. I will repeat this later today.

Shanna stopped by only briefly yesterday with her crew as she has lots of obligations to fulfill. They will return tonight for a 'family' dinner.

Monday, December 28, 2009

2 sick little boys

Although he looks fine here, poor Daniel has a cold

This has been the day of repairing broken things. First the tire of our car. We had run over some broken chain on X-mas and it became lodged in our tires-a flat. Then Naomi came over complaining she has no control in the snow due to bald tires: all replaced now and Josh dropped his car off last night: bent wheel. Oh the phone had been out of order almost a week: now fixed. So the things are all fixed.

But everyone in Shanna's family has a cold and the boys don't suffer in silence. Not much sleep around here for anyone. The deal is that Shanna et al stay here for half the visit and then on to Ramy's. My time is up but on the plus side, it will be quiet at night.But I will miss the babies in the morning.

Too snowy to safely run; I only left the house to take Steve to the mechanic. Naomi came over while the tires were being replaced wanting another cooking lesson. Today's subject: crepes.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Somehow it just doesn't feel like Sunday here. A Happy Birthday to my sister-in-law!! The kids enjoyed their many presents and outfits from the Northwest.

These below are from a Washington Post contest:

Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops
bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone unfortunately, shows
little sign of breaking down in the near future.

Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the
subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.

Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
Karmageddon (n): It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day
consuming only things that are good for you.

Glibido (v): All talk and no action.

Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem
smarter when they come very quickly.

Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after
you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into
your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.

Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Not so close calls

The ladder is on Julia's former store

Naomi soothing the motion junkie

Two events happened in Michigan on X-mas yesterday: the fire started by a terrorist on an Amsterdam to Detroit flight and a fire in downtown Dexter. This was the same flight we took back from Amsterdam only 2 months earlier. As for the fire, it began in the office of an embroidery shop and quickly spread to 3 other businesses and the apartments above them. This embroidery shop used to be the dog bakery (pawtisserie)owned by my daughter-in-law that she had to close in April due to the economy.
So our living room is full of toys. Little Daniel is a motion junkie: he can only be soothed if kept in constant motion. If you try to sit, he screams if he is in that mood.
The snow melted enough for me to get a run in. Yesterday it poured all day (didn't seem to stop the fire though).

Friday, December 25, 2009


Josh and Julia

The boys and their parents

Daniel takes a nap in Naomi's arms

My 3 wonderful kids. Note Naomi's brown hair now. Daniel spit up on Shanna right before this picture.

Oliver was so excited to see Sunny the dog

So the boys woke up to lots of presents under the tree. Oliver loved unwrapping everyones and got lots of trucks-his favorite. We went to Josh and Julia's for more present unwrapping and brunch. Oliver and Sunny chased each other nonstop. Shanna and her family are now at her in-laws and Naomi is with Dontae's family. It is a quiet X-mas night here. A good time for all. Hope everyone has had a blessed X-mas as we did.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The babies are here!

Oliver is happy to be here

Very, very hard to take a picture of the boys together

He is so cute

After driving all night, Shanna and her crew showed up around 6 am. Though they had no trouble with weather or customs and the babies were pretty good, they were quite tired. So while the parents rested, I took Daniel and Steve had Oliver. Shanna was a big baby also but according to my baby book, Daniel has surpassed her for height and weight even though he was a preemie and she came late. He still doesn't have the head control most 4 month olds have but he is very alert and social. It is quite easy to make him chortle. Naomi spent lots of time later in the day entertaining him. I will post more pictures as I load them up.
While Julia has been gone, Josh has been spending lots of time with Naomi and dealing with her many issues: one of which I have been too blind to notice. I am happy that the kids are mostly getting along now. We had a family dinner here that I had Naomi help with as she really never learned to cook. So it is nice to have everyone here.
There was a point yesterday afternoon in which everyone was gone. It was calm and sunny. Although still cold, a narrow clear path has formed on some of our streets and I ran on it. A lady walking on it (vs the sidewalks which are all icy) stopped me: she was a mom of one of my favorite girl scouts. (I had a troop for 6 years for girls Shanna's age). I have seen this woman before over the years but she usually avoids me so I was surprised that she asked me to stop. Also she has orange hair now-very unlike her-so I barely recognized her. Her daughter was a very gifted child but chaffed under her mother's many rules and expectations as she grew up. This seems to happen a lot when the parents are from one culture but they have children in this culture. The kids immediately adopt the American way and this causes many household conflicts. In this family's case, the child made some very bad decisions sabotaging her success to rebel. It was very sad to see happen. It still isn't clear if the mom ever sees the child.She said she never went to the distant city where the child is. I told her that Shanna is home for the time being with 2 baby boys. The mom told me how very lucky I am.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Gatherings

I went to the neighborhood tea yesterday. It was good to see moms that I've known since the boys were in kindergarten. They seemed surprised that I appear so healthy but many of them see me run.

I wish the city would go back to salting tertiary roads. Aside from it impacting my running, it is dangerous. Several people reported sliding into the main road from our neighborhood streets.
They did plow a path along the river where Josh and I walked Sunny yesterday and I returned to run on it today though today, it had a dusting of new slippery snow,

We went to see the IMAX 3D version of Avatar. Predictable story but stellar special effects.
Later I went for Korean BBQ with my old labmates cooking on a hibachi that came out of the table. It was fun and good company.

Our phone is out of order but our DSL works. Argh! So if I don't appear to be answering my phone, call my cell.

Shanna et al is slowing inching her way on Rte 90 as I type. She will drive all night if she has the energy so they might be here real early tomorrow morning. Such a long drive with 2 little babies but they are hoping for the kids to sleep. We used to drive overnight to NYC when the older kids were toddlers so that Josh would sleep (Shanna usually wasn't much of a problem.

Monday, December 21, 2009


I am not a fan of winter's long nights and short days. But for the next 6 months, each day will bring more and more light. Yay!

We don't have much snow here but since they have cut back on city services, no more salting and plowing of side streets so I have no clear path to run. I did run on top of the snow yesterday as there was no ice underneath it but the ice has had some time to form so I am out of luck. My Y membership is in limbo. I will take a long walk with my son and his German shepherd Sunny instead.

To keep me occupied, I have a few holiday parties to attend. Later today is our tea for Moms whose Sons Graduated from Huron in 2000 with a few moms whose sons graduated in 2003 thrown in for fun. We were originally mothers whose sons played on a neighborhood baseball team together. They were usually the worst team in the league but Josh insisted on playing with them as they were his friends (and many still are his friends). Since it wasn't much fun seeing them lose night after night, we'd go out for drinks or coffee afterwards. The baseball days eventually ended so we started meeting once a year to catch up.

Tomorrow, I'll go for a holiday dinner with some former co-workers and next week a party with yet another former co-worker. Wednesday Shanna and her family will be here. They start the long drive from Boston tomorrow. I will be looking at the weather map nervously until they are here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Buche de Noel

The buche de Noel aka The Yule Log

The presents I wrapped 'for the moms' and the Buche

Our tree
Still isn't completely decorated. I am wearing my summer art fair purchase

Every year, our postpartum support group,'The Awesome Moms', has our holiday dinner. In January, we will have our 30th anniversary of our first meeting though I knew 2 of the moms before our group started. Between the 5 of us, we have 10 kids and 5 grandkids. Everyone goes all out to make the dinner special. My task is the dessert. Usually Naomi is around to help with the marzipan decorations but with the snow yesterday, I didn't want her driving. The buche de noel is a jellyroll made to look like a log. The hardest part is making the cake base that will hold up to rolling into a log. This year, my base was a flourless torte-big mistake as it was much too fragile for the rolling up part. (I am going back to a genoise base) It broke into several pieces and my jelly roll turned into more like a sandwich which I liberally covered with a fudge frosting that covered up most of the cosmetic defects. I filled it a whipped cream cherry filling. The frosting seemed too thin initially even though I beat it forever but soon as I put it on the cake, it set up like cement. So the cake wasn't as pretty as I hoped it would be but it tasted very good. Chocolate, almonds and cherries-how can you go wrong with that?

So caviar, cocktail shrimp, special salmon, great salads, brie covered with pear conserves, chambord-champagne cocktails, lots of wine, good company, beautiful decorations, carols, candles, presents... a nice night among old friends who have gone through so much together.

Ms. Naomi made an appearance Friday to help with the tree decorating but got bored after a short while. We have lots of ornaments (even more after last night). Some are looking pretty ragged after 33 years. I was in this craft making phase early in our marriage so we have lots of embroidered or needlepoint ornaments. Also we still have the kids' handmade ones. Our tree has scoliosis; the tree looks straight but there is a curve in the main trunk which makes balancing it a challenge. Hopefully it will hold up..I've lost so many ornaments to trees falling over.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Picking those apples...

I've written before how running is the perfect exercise for me as the equipment and skill requirements are low. Still I don't do it 'right' inviting critics to come out of the woodwork telling me what I am doing wrong. They usually comment about my excessive arm swing. About a mile into my run today, I hear someone gasping behind me wondering if she could give me a little advice as she sees me out here quite often.
Sure why not. To eliminate my arm swing, she said I should imagine that I am picking apples straight ahead on the road. I tried her method for a while and I think she's right that it helps eliminate my side to side motion but it was hard concentrating on that and I was especially tired today. I would do it 'her way' for short blocks of time especially going up hills. My advice to her-don't run so hard that you are sucking air.

My route should be retitled 'the deer graveyard'. At least 4 carcasses are along the side-one with its head missing.

My X-mas decorating is on hold until we can straighten out the light situation. Usually I'm very careful to only pack away 'the good lights' but I must have been too tired last year to pay attention. As it was, I was too tired due to chemo to even decorate the tree though my friends came and did it for me.

A year ago today, my hair all fell out. I was going to a party that day and still had about half of it left. I piled it under a cap and away I went. When I came back, I cut it to about 2 inches as the weight of it was tugging on my burning scalp. I still have that pile of hair. Most of that was gone by the next day.

Some funny puns my friend Nancy sent me:

A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The
stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion
allowed per passenger."

Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, "I've lost my
electron." The other says, "Are you sure?" The first
replies "Yes, I'm positive."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cold, cold days

The past few days have been lazy ones. Since my Y membership ran out (I am waiting word on a partial scholarship), if I want to exercise, it has to be outside. Fortunately it has been dry for the last 3 days.I try to balance the wind versus the cold. It is colder the earlier it is but less windy very early in the morning. Still with the wind chill, it whas been around 7 degrees outside during my runs.

I've done a little X-mas shopping, the tree is up though not decorated and I haven't made anything special for X-mas. Shanna and her family will be here in less than a week. Naomi's last final was today. I've been helping her study for the past 3 nights. Hopefully she'll do OK. She'll seem like she understands her work then she makes careless mistakes on her tests.. I wish I could transfer some of my knowledge to her. She is still living with her boyfriend and the pregnant roommate has returned despite being kicked out a few weeks ago. Naomi has no job and seems to think the car will operate on fumes. She had to be rescued the other night with a gas can. But I'll get a 3 week break from worrying about her school.

We had lunch yesterday with Josh and Julia. Julia just lost her job due to the bad economy. Fortunately Josh's is doing well.

Sleeping has been difficult recently. I awake by 2 am and start thinking about stuff. I then try to read or do puzzles to stop thinking about negative things. Last night my rib hurt worrying me as I did nothing to it. The pain since has gone away so I assume it isn't bone mets (which would be constant pain getting worse as the tumor grows).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Pretty at night

The Kingsley Inn

Our whirlpool

Our room

Sunday was our 32nd wedding anniversary so we went to the western side of Michigan to Saugatuck, which is full of art galleries. We stayed in a little town nearby called Fennville. The jacuzzi made my sore muscles feel better. More and more of my muscles and joints now seem sore. I am assuming this is some sort of post-treatment neuralgia/myalgia caused by Taxol. Sometimes it seems like the bone itself seems sore, which makes me nervous but as it isn't getting any more painful as time goes on, I will assume it's not due to bone mets. There are some nice shops I like to visit in Saugatuck and now I have some very cool tops.

I've been slowing plowing through the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symp. abstracts. So much stuff! Lots of proteins identified that predict survival etc and which could possibly be targeted for treatment. My old company presented data on an oral drug for Her2 positive people. That would cut down on the once a month infusions needed now. Still see no cure for TNBC any time soon but maybe in the next 5-10 years.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

San Antonio

Every year around this time, there is a conference in SA on advances in breast cancer research. It is still on-going and I haven't read the abstracts but so far I haven't seen any news specific to TNBC.

Interesting news for BC in general:
1) Oral bisphosphonates seem to reduce the incidence of breast cancer by some unknown mechanism. In general, women with HIGH bone density are at increased risk for breast cancer presumably due to their higher levels of estrogen, which is associated with higher risk of BC. These women are not likely to be taking bisphosphonates. But presumably the study took this into account and had women with similar bone densities divided into drug taking and non-drug taking groups and the drug taking ladies had 33% less BC. These bisphosphonates are not without risks: osteonecrosis of the jaw is just one side effect along with bone pain. I'm not sure how they convinced ladies with normal bone densities to be on this study (all were cancer free in the beginning of the study).

2) For Stage 4 her2+ ladies: Tykerb added to Herceptin extended their lifespans by 2 years. Herceptin latch onto the protein on the surface of the cancer cell whereas Tykerb attacks it within the call.
All cancer cells have human epidermal growth factors (HER) but HER2+ have extra copies(about 25% of BC). What I am wondering is what Herceptin would do to Her2 neg BC. I'm sure there are studies: I just haven't seen the results.

3) Also for Stage 4 her2+ BC. Generally Herceptin is given until the tumors start growing again as it is assumed that the drug stopped working. But in this study they kept on giving Herceptin resulting in extended lifetimes.

4)Zometa vs a monoclonal antibody for bone mets: just as effective with less side effects. Allegedly a double blind study but as one drug is given iv and the other sc, I'm wondering how 'blind' the study was. As expensive as Zometa is, I wonder how much more this monoclonal antibody product is.

5)and 6)Alcohol consumption and recurrence. Even as 25g of alcohol (1 oz or so)daily significantly increases recurrence significantly. Also increasing death in recurrences is having a BMI over 25. These authors surmise that the recurrence is discovered later in the big ladies leading to increased death rates.

It was sunny, calm but cold this morning for my run. I wore gloves for the first time (I only do if the temp 20 deg but I took them off after 2 miles). I have to stay off the dirt roads now as the ice doesn't melt on them as soon as the paved ones.

Tomorrow is Steve's and my anniversary so we are taking a minivacation. I see that there is freezing rain forecasted for the morning. Yuck.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lazy Sue

It has been so cold and windy here for the past 2 days. Yesterday I ran inside on the Y track-around and around and around. Even though I didn't run as long as I usually do, I am sore maybe because of no hills and constantly having to turn. I couldn't get myself to repeat that today.

Naomi and I went to see her old basketball team play last night. It was nice seeing some of the parents and the players. I miss watching her play. Her semester will be over in less than a week.

I went to the monthly BC support group this morning. Today there were only 2 other ladies-one who was new to me. Before dealing with cancer, she and her husband sailed around the world, which sounded like fun though dangerous as they had close calls with Somali pirates. She has a medical background and keeps current with many treatments so it was interesting exchanging info. I know that some of my readers think that since my cancer is probably gone, I should move on to non-cancer world, although the other people there were further away from treatment than I. It is a much smaller part of my life.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Survivor cooking class

Last night I went to the Wellness Community's cooking for survivorship class. It always is interesting and educational taught by a 2 time breast cancer survivor. A few of us are regulars (though my neighbor could not attend yesterday) and it is nice to see how people are progressing. The topic was "holiday appetizers". The trick is to include healthy foods important to cancer survivors. She made a salmon dip of yogurt cheese, which she showed how she made-non fat except for whatever fat that is in salmon:red pepper,spinach, feta cheese quesadilla, which was tasty and colorful; mushrooms stuffed with spinach and bread crumbs(not so good but if she put more garlic in it, it would be fine; and a hot cranberry mulled cocktail.

But have I incorporated all her good suggestions into my own cooking and eating? Sadly no. I am trying to eat more fruit and vegetables but I fall short. I've made a few of her recipes but not too often. You would think that if I were really serious about surviving, I'd clean up my act. I really have no one to blame except myself as now only Steve and my house guest is here and the latter goes out of her way to eat only healthy foods. I do exercise quite a bit.

Naomi spent a few hours here yesterday. At least she pretends to listen to me but she is struggling in many ways. Dealing with her is like walking on eggshells: anything she perceives as criticism, she stomps out. We are to go to her old bball team's home opener tonight to see how her teammates are doing. They are playing the top team in the state so it probably won't be that much fun.

The weather has changed for the worse with high winds and very cold. The westside of Ann Arbor has no power due to downed powerlines. I went to the Y to do the ellipitical trainer and lift weights. I still have a pain in my right arm when I do certain moves but I am thinking it must be nerve damage somehow and not a bone met.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


There are no targeted therapies for triple negative breast cancer. It is susceptible to being killed by traditional agents (such as my friend the Red Devil)that kill fast growing cells. Mucin 1 is a protein that 92% of triple negative breast cancer cells have (other tumors such as ovarian have it too). It is not clear to me what its function is but a vaccine has been developed by Cleveland Clinic researchers that targets it. If all goes well, the vaccine will create antibodies to any cell containing this protein and kill it before it gets to metastasize. A small study is in progress. Hopefully this will work.

Also in the TNBC news is that these patients are more likely to have 'metabolic disorder' versus non-TNBC breast cancer patients. People with this disorder have low HDL, high glucose levels, high waist to hip ratios, tendency to be diabetic, etc. How this might make people prone to TNBC, who knows. Maybe the TNBC cells feed off the high glucose levels. I am overweight but I don't think I have this disorder. Metformin (an anti-diabetic agent) has been shown in the lab to deplete TNBC cells and kill them. I don't know if any clinic studies are in progress to see how this would help.

Ignorance is sometimes bliss. Every study I read starts with the same depressing spiel on how deadly TNBC is. While in treatment I did a lot of reading and I felt doomed. Now that I feel better, I think that I might escape with my life and that this whole mess will be behind me.

Since it will be very windy in the next 2 days, I ran outside today (cold but no wind or ice) despite this being a Y day.

This is by 400th post on this blog. Someday I will go back and edit.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Little boys..

Little boys will try anything. When Josh was three, I found my keys sticking out of the outlet, fortunately he chose the ground. Yes I had an outlet protector on but he used the keys to quickly remove it. Around the same time, I had left him in a running car while I dealt with the garage door. Within a minute, he got out of his safety seat and managed to get the car into neutral pretending to drive the car. When I looked back, the car was going back into our semi busy street with him turning the wheel every which way.

I get to see the next generation of little boys in a couple of weeks. I can't wait.

It was snowing as I ran today but not enough to stick on the ground. For our anniversary this weekend, we want to go to the western part of the state where more than a foot of snow is on the ground. Maybe we can cross country ski if my balance isn't too bad.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Funny

The world's biggest preemie continues his expontial growth

A New York lawmaker called and asked, ''Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know whose luggage belongs to whom?'' I said, 'No, why do you ask?' He replied, ''Well, when I checked in with the airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said (FAT), and I'm overweight. I think that's very rude!'' After putting him on hold for a minute, while I looked into it, I came back and explained the airport code for Fresno, CA is (FAT - Fresno Air Terminal) and the airline was just putting a destination tag on his luggage.

When we took an Air France plane to Italy, they put 'lourde' stickers all over my roommate's luggage (heavy) but she didn't take it personally.
Twenty degrees when I went for my run today but at least it was sunny. Waiting for my son to take me for lunch. Hopefully he did not forget.

Naomi dyed her beautiful red hair brown. It looks awful and breaks my heart.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Fair

Cute photo sign I got at the Christmas Fair. You had a choice of 6 or so variations for each letter and of course, you could spell any word you wanted.

I went to the Christmas fair this morning at the kids' former high school. Lots of cute stuff. I bought some jewelry for myself and others, a real pretty picture frame and the photo sign pictured above.

I am taking a day off of exercising. My upper right arm hurts. Maybe I sprained a muscle or maybe it is nerve damage from the surgeries/radiation but it worries me somewhat. I guess if it were bone cancer, it would hurt more than it does plus the pain keeps shifting from place to place suggesting nerve damage.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Another device appealing to my inner nerd is my stat counter. I love statistics though not the ones predicting my survival (which fortunately improve with time-just like a two year old has a better chance of surviving until s/he is 80 than a new born). My site averages about 40 hits/day. In the past month, I've had visitors from 36 different countries including Qatar, Mauritus,India, Estonia, Nepal, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Malaysia, Kuwait, Brunei and all the major Western European countries (except Denmark and Austria). I haven't had any visitors lately from South America though in the past, several Brazilians appeared.I have many visitors from Canada and the UK but hardly any from the middle of the US. Some of my visitors are regulars that I know: some like the people from Lidingo, Sweden and the American University in DC remain a mystery. Many visitors come only once led here by a search engine result. I can tell what they were searching for with the counter. For some reason, when I wrote about the Abruzzo earthquake, my site became very popular even though I didn't have anything useful on it. Recently searches for bad ear wax and what color tumors are have led to my blog. One search: Triple negative: am I going to die? was especially sad. Lately my post on 'donkey stew' drew several visitors. Who would search for such a term?
If I look closely, I can determine the operating system of the computer, the internet portal and the resolution of the screen. Not so interesting.

There was a dusting of snow on the ground this morning. I ran out in the country trying to avoid frozen spots. Dirt roads remain icier longer and soon I won't be able to safely run on my favorite path. Another threat to my safety: a young man drove into the sun going 60 mph texting steering with his elbows, eyes on his text. I doubt he even saw me in the bike lane just a foot or so from his path.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ms Pedantic

Back in the lab, my lab mate used to call me "Suzie Chemistry' because he unfortunately heard me introducing myself to a group of high schoolers as Sue Chemist instead of my real name which has a similar sound. He made up a silly song:

Sooo-zy chem-a-stry, Sooo-zy chem-a-stry
She can make a drug or two.

But others called me Ms Pedantic as I was the official proofreader and editor of many of their papers. I had an eye for pointing out others mistakes but learned quickly: only if asked. My favorite target was an English boss who insisted in writing in British English while representing an American company so I merrily circled the esses where zees (or zeds for him) should have been. To keep me on my toes, he always misused the word 'principle' when he meant 'principal.' I know what all of you are thinking: Ms Pendantic, heal thyself!!

I do occasionally reread these posts and are deeply embarassed at all the mistakes I make. I do know better. Also I would like to pull out the cancer card here and remind that word substitution is a common chemobrain symptom. The chemobrain study I was in monitored how quickly I recognized things but there is no way to measure the 'word recall time' as I search for the correct word.

Yesterday was the anniversary of me beginning chemo. What a frightening day! I expected the worst as they slowly syringed the Red Devil into me but really, it was anticlimatic. I was able to run OK the next day carefully monitoring myself as it is known to be cardiotoxic. Over the weeks, chemo slowly sapped my energy.I am so glad that is over.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Poetry Night


All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding
and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul
sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer,
for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.

In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields,
dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats.
All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield, the mowing machine
clacketing beside you, while the sun walked high in the morning;

and after noon's heat, you pulled a clawed rake through the same acres,
gathering stacks, and dragged the wagon from stack to stack,
and the built hayrack back, uphill to the chaffy barn,
three loads of hay a day from standing grass in the morning.

Sundays you trotted the two miles to church with the light load
a leather quartertop buggy, and grazed in the sound of hymns.
Generation on generation, your neck rubbed the windowsill
of the stall, smoothing the wood as the sea smooths glass.

When you were old and lame, when your shoulders hurt bending to graze,
one October the man, who fed you and kept you, and harnessed you every morning,
led you through corn stubble to sandy ground above Eagle Pond,
and dug a hole beside you where you stood shuddering in your skin,

and lay the shotgun's muzzle in the boneless hollow behind your ear,
and fired the slug into your brain, and felled you into your grave,
shoveling sand to cover you, setting goldenrod upright above you,
where by next summer a dent in the ground made your monument.

For a hundred and fifty years, in the Pasture of dead horses,
roots of pine trees pushed through the pale curves of your ribs,
yellow blossoms flourished above you in autumn, and in winter
frost heaved your bones in the ground - old toilers, soil makers:

O Roger, Mackerel, Riley, Ned, Nellie, Chester, Lady Ghost.
Donald Hall

When I was a freshman in college, I especially appreciated poetry. I met a man that wrote poetry. I was so thrilled to have a poet boyfriend, I was willing to overlook his numerous character flaws that later reared their presence, one by one, making the relationship not so much fun. One silly poem he wrote for me is as follows:

How, now brown cow.
She's dead now,
My poor little sow.
Never a corker,
My unfortunate porker.

I was taking a poetry class at the time, 16th through 19th century English poets taught by a TA who thought we all (only 4 in the class) should become English majors. We met at the instructor's house and it was grueling. I ended up spending more time on that class than my science classes.

But my boyfriend was taking a much better class on modern poetry taught by Donald Hall. I would attend with him the lectures, which I really enjoyed. I even bought one of Hall's books of poetry out of my very meager funds. He was a gifted lecturer and of course, poet. He was the nation's poet laureate in 2006. He married another poet, Jane Kenyon, and left Ann Arbor to live in his mother's ancestoral home in New Hampshire and to be a full time poet. He had metastatic colon cancer with little chance of survival but he did recover. Unfortunately, the love of his life, Jane, soon had leukemia and died within 18 months. He went through an extended period of grief without writing but now he deals with his grief in poetry.

Donald Hall was giving a lecture last night at UM so I had to go. He is now 81 years old and no longer has a booming voice but still can command an audience, which was standing room only. He still has quite the sense of humor reading his poem enititled Tennis Ball about a visit to his wife's grave with his lab who becomes distracted by a couple having sex at the outskirts of the cemetary.

Today was my long run out on the 'scenic beauty road' which in Michigan means no cutting the trees on the shoulder. I am slowly making progress against the mess of clothes my closet and drawers have become filled with things that would be nice if only I repaired the zipper or were a few sizes smaller. Despite all the running, I am still too big but at least I've firmed up considerably.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Nerd Heaven

I love maps especially when I am planning a trip. But what I love more is looking at Google Earth. I can place a cursor on any point along my route and I get the elevation. My house is at 926 ft. If I run the 3.5 miles down to the river, the elevation drops to 744 ft or a loss of 182 ft. It is tough for me to go up the hill, which I won't do if there is a north wind. My country route peaks out at 968 ft, only 44 ft just a little over a mile from my house. Seems steeper than that but maybe I'm a wuss. The steepest hill I used to tackle, was the 'arb hill' which is about .75 miles long but climbs 170 ft.

When I was in Gagliano,Italy (in the Appennines) I'd try to run to Secinaro and back-only a 5 mile round trip but too hard for this one. It involved a 391 foot climb for 2.5 miles. I had to take several breaks going there but coming back was easy.

Looking at the Cinque Terre region, our path between Vernazza and Corniglia had us climbing 700 feet or so. Google Earth has a neat feature in which you can tilt the map. Instead of just looking overhead, you can look at it from the side as if you were in a boat. Those hills look especially impressive from that angle.

Today was a Y day even though the weather turned out much nicer than predicted. I might go to a poetry reading tonight.


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