Monday, December 31, 2007

Review 2007!

I got this over at Life On Flamingo Row, and thought it looked like fun.

Here's the idea:  review the past year in your journal by taking the first line from the first post of each month in your journal and putting them in one entry. 

Well, rather than do the literal first line, I did the first sentence.  Rather interesting:

January:  I promise not to keep posting things from

February:  Having stepped over the threshold into that bigger-than-huge world of non-AOL blogs, I'm finding some pure gold.

March:  I've had a cold for weeks, it seems.

April:  This is one of those entries I'm doing chiefly for our son; the rest of you are welcome, but you may not have a clue what I'm talking about.

May:  My mood is sad because from 3 to 5 PM today I have no way to get to Pizza Hut to pick up my free slice of pizza.

June:  I spent last night at the cabin.

July:  I braided Blue's mane today.

August:  So, life is back to normal with Monica and Natalie here.

September:  Cliff and I went to his family reunion (on his mom's side) today.

October:  The highlight of our motorcycle trip Saturday was the historic Katy Depot  in Sedalia.

November:  Sadie doesn't get to go many places with us, but when we visit Cliff's brother, Phil, I like to take her along, because their house is so isolated from anyone else that I can turn her loose without fearing she'll run away.

December:  So, Cliff's cousin suggested today that if I wanted the picture of a Butter-nut coffee can, I just take a shot of the picture on the monitor with my digital camera.

Boy, I sure do some long sentences sometimes, don't I?

Happy New Year (and resolutions)

For several years, I've made the same resolutions:  The first, to lose (or maintain) mine and Cliff's weight.  Yes, I am responsible for Cliff's weight loss.  I dole out his portions.  I fill his plate.  I cook the low-fat dishes.

That's one resolution that's usually kept, especially since April of 2006 when Cliff had open-heart surgery; that has been a great motivator.  We slipped this year, from before Thanksgiving through Christmas Day.  The day after Christmas we got back on track, and I'm happy to say I've lost four pounds and Cliff has lost seven already.  I thank God often for the resources available to me:  all the low-fat, low-salt recipes, the weight-watcher recipe books and others, and the vast amount of information to be found on the Internet.  I also thank God that my husband will eat pretty much anything I set before him!

A second resolution I always make is to read the Bible through in the course of the coming year.  Sometimes I get this done, sometimes not.  I have a one-year Bible that gives me an Old Testament passage, a New Testament passage, a Psalm, and some Proverbs.  If I miss a day or two, I'll usually play catch-up and read what I've missed.  If I miss several days, I'll just start back in on the reading for that particular day.

I'm going to try and stick with Flylady throughout this coming year.  I'll probably fail at this one, at some point; but hopefully I'll get back with the program after flailing around in my clutter for awhile.  Rather as I do with my Bible-reading, I won't try to catch up if I get too far behind; I'll just start in where I am.  As Flylady says:  "Keep in mind, you are not behind: you are just getting started. I don't want you to try to catch up, I just want you to jump in where you are.

I have resolved, in years past, to play my guitar and sing something every day.  This is one I've never come close to keeping, and this year I won't resolve.  If I play, I play.  If not, my guitar is ready and waiting.

Plans for the year that don't fall under resolutions:  I'll continue to ride my horse often.  Cliff and I will get away on the motorcycle every chance we get, often taking picnic lunches with us.  I do realize that plans have a way of falling apart in mid-flight at times, but we'll do what we can, while we can, to enjoy the rest of our stay here on earth.

For some reason, the old hymn, "Higher Ground", has been playing in my head for days.  Probably because it's on one of my Iris Dement CD's, with she and her mom singing it.

Even if you aren't  a Christian, there are some good resolutions for you in the lines of the song:

"My heart has no desire to stay where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound, I'm moving on to higher ground."

"I want to scale the utmost height and catch a gleam of glory bright."

"I want to live above this world."

I'm hoping this year I can leave the desert of envy, anger, grudge-holding, and self-centeredness, and step upward onto a higher plain of forgiveness, love, empathy, and caring. 

Even if it's only a foot higher:  "Lord, plant my feet on higher ground" in 2008.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I rode my horse today

This is the second time I've ridden since my knee surgery.  The weather has been horrible for riding. 

I need to at least get Blue up to the barn and handle him once in awhile, even if I only groom him; I forget what a prince he really is, when I don't mess with him for awhile.  I forget how he holds down his head and practically puts it in the halter for me, as I hold it in front of him.  I forget how he lets me hug him and put my face against his jaw.  Not all horses are like that.

Yes, as horseback rides go, today's ride wasn't very pleasant.  It was around 40°, with a cold wind blowing over the snow.  I didn't wear enough clothing.  And my toes got cold, after wading through mud to get Blue, and then riding for an hour.

Still, there's just something about being in the saddle.  Something about the relationship you can have with a good horse, the partnership.  Something about the freedom.

Maybe it was a good ride after all.

Canine games

My daughter's dog, Hawkeye, is spending the weekend with us.  He's a house dog at home, but because of his tendency to sleep on furniture when nobody is looking, and the fact that he sheds enough hair daily to make a whole new dog, we're letting him run free outside when we're up and about; he's a very good boy, and enjoys the freedom of the country.  Amazingly, he doesn't follow the neighbor dogs off when they pass by.  Unlike my Sadie, he stays right here, and always comes when he's called.  At night, he's staying in Cliff's shop.  He isn't crazy about that idea, but he's coping. 

I try keep Chew-eez rawhide chews around for Sadie; one of those strips will last her several days.  In the morning when Cliff is awake, but still in bed drinking his coffee, Sadie finds her chewie and takes it in the bedroom, where she lays down on the floor beside the bed and gives it what-for until Cliff gets up.  When she gets down to the last inch or so of her chewie, she doesn't care for it any more, and I usually end up throwing it away.

So.  Yesterday morning I had Sadie on her tie-out, and Hawkeye was hanging around the door nearby.  I decided to give him that one-inch piece of chewie that Sadie never eats.  Suddenly, Sadie wanted that piece of rawhide!  How dare I give it to Hawkeye? 

She was protesting loudly, lunging at the end of her chain.

Hawkeye enjoyed this display, and made sure to stay just out of reach of Sadie's restraining chain while he chomped and chewed on the piece of leather she had originally rejected.

He made it look so tasty.

"Come on, Mom, no fair.  That's MINE!"

So I gave Sadie a brand new chewie of her own.  Guess what?  She still wanted the tiny, leftover piece that Hawkeye had, as you can see in the following video.  Notice that Hawkeye is not totally innocent, since he's obviously taunting Sadie, just out of reach.

Oh, by the way.  Once Hawkeye had finished the piece of chewie I'd given him, he then stole the brand new one I had given Sadie and devoured that, too.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

heh heh heh

Well, if it ain't one person sleeping in that Lazy-boy, it's another.  Or two.

Now playing: James Taylor - Mexico
via FoxyTunes   

Friday, December 28, 2007

the grandson

He had to get up at 3:15 A.M. to go to his part-time job (which used to be his full-time job) this morning. 

The distribution center where he now works full-time is very slow this time of year.  I should know, since I used to work there.

So he showed up unexpectedly early this afternoon... normally he doesn't get off till 10 P.M.

He ate some chips with hamburger dip and laid back in his grandpa's recliner.

Knowing him as I do, I'm sure he'll wake up sometime around midnight and disappear.  I may not see him again until Sunday evening.

He first moved in here in June, and I told him to be out by the end of July.  Although he did a few things that irked me, I decided to let him stay longer.  Now that he's so seldom here, I don't care if he stays forever.  He isn't rocking my boat at all.

I mentioned to him the other day that he's been living here since June.

"Really?  No kidding?  I've been here that long?"

Yeah.  Time flies when you're having fun, my boy, and when you're safe.  Nobody's in your pocket.  You're saving money. 

Keep up the good work.

I love walking in the snow!

Cliff didn't want to walk today; he had projects going, and besides, he didn't want to get his feet wet.  Sadie and I, however, couldn't wait to get out in the white stuff.  We got only an inch of snow, at most; but it was enough to give the world that hushed feeling that I love so much. 

When I got back almost to the house, I saw Cliff had fed the horses some alfalfa hay, so I took a video of them eating.  My original plan was for you to hear their chomping, which was pretty darned loud.  However, wind noise covered up all that, so I added Dean Martin singing an appropriate song... which was a couple of seconds too long, so I added two still shots I had taken of Sadie during our walk.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

If I knew I was dying....

After the loss of two lovely J-Land people in the past couple of days, I've been thinking:

If I found out I had cancer, would I blog about it?

It depends partly upon how much of a chance I had of beating it.

If it looked like the odds were against me, I'd probably keep it to myself.

I'd email a few select, special Internet friends so they could pray for me.

I'd keep it out of my journal.

And I'd leave it to my daughter to let the world know if, or when, the worst happened.

How would the rest of you deal with such a situation?

Now playing: Iris Dement - Mama's Opry
via FoxyTunes   

Some things I forget to be thankful for

I know:  if I'd have used proper English, it would have been phrased like this:  "Some things for which I forget to be thankful."  There's some silly rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition.

Who talks like that?  Nobody that I know.

Somewhere during my meanderings around the Internet this evening, I read a person's description of the migraine headaches she regularly has. 

That's when I realized how seldom I have a headache.

In fact, the only time I ever have a headache these days is when I'm running a fever.

Which is just often enough to let me know how blessed and glorious it is to not have headaches.

Thank You, Lord.

Now playing: Iris DeMent - Fifty Miles of Elbow Room
via FoxyTunes   


Eating right

That's what my groceries look like when we're eating properly.  I have many dishes that feature different varieties of beans, so I keep them handy.  Now, you might think that a diet so full of beans would cloud the atmosphere in our house, but you'd be wrong.  When you're eating high-fiber every day, gas isn't a problem.  Seriously!

I ought to buy dry kidney beans and black beans and cook them myself; that way I'd lose all the salt that comes with those canned ones; but it's so convenient to open a can.  I do rinse and drain them well before using them, which I'm told gets rid of a lot of the sodium.  Walmart has no-salt-added tomatoes these days, so that helps the cause.

We're seldom without bananas in this house.  At Richmond Walmart the other day, bananas were twenty cents a pound, and they weren't even over-ripe!  The sweet potatoes in the picture were super-cheap also; I think they got stuck with a lot of them after the holiday frenzy.  Cliff would gladly eat a microwaved sweet potato every day, and he's almost managed to do that, this week.  They're a "super-food", you know.  Very rich in nutrients.

The Jello is mainly for Cliff; he loves the stuff, and it satisfies his sweet tooth.  He'll grab a few animal crackers to have something solid to go with it (and to toss to Sadie), and it's dessert for him.  I won't say I dislike Jello, but I can do without it just fine.

We went to Cliff's cardiologist today for the yearly visit; Doctor looked at everything and said, "Well, this is like going to the dentist and finding out you have no cavities."

I'm sure glad we're back on track with our eating:  After 24 hours of eating properly, Cliff is down 3 1/2 pounds and I've lost 3.  Of course, we probably won't lose another pound for a week.  But we're off to a great start.

Now playing: Ramblin' Jack Elliott - Roving Gambler
via FoxyTunes   

A couple more journal friends have passed on

I'm pretty sure I have linked to Kim's journal before (I Shaved My Legs For This?).  She's lost the battle with her final round of cancer. 

Also Lahoma, of Lahoma's Laments.  I didn't follow her blog, but in my early days in J-Land, Lahoma was mentioned by others often as being a good friend always willing to lend a helping hand.

I have no words. 

Rest in peace, dear ladies.

I suppose the best tribute to both of these wonderful women would be a donation in their names to the American Cancer Society.  If you'd like to do that, click HERE.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It was a good Christmas

We had a nice Christmas indeed.  Cliff and I don't play the gift game.  If there's anything we want or can afford throughout the year, we tell one another about it and then we get it. 

Cliff watched our new, close-captioned DVD of "It's a Wonderful Life" with me Monday evening, which is the way I like to spend Christmas Eve.

Yesterday as soon as we got the call that the granddaughters were awake, we headed over there to watch them open their gifts from Santa and their parents.  They had gotten me and Cliff some gifts with their own money (probably some of the money we gave them for Christmas), so we had something to unwrap from each girl.  Rachel had made those dipped pretzels that Cliff loves so much, and the Hi-Ho crackers dipped in chocolate that I go nuts over.  And she had lasagna ready for the oven, which we cooked at our house.  For me and Cliff, it was our last big over-eating hoorah.

I've gained 11 1/2 pounds since the first of November.  Cliff has gained more than that.  I hate that it happened, but we're going to fix it.  In the past, getting rid of excess baggage was more of a vanity thing; since Cliff's open heart surgery, it's life or death, and I could kick myself for letting him gain weight and for cooking so many of the wrong things just to give myself a seasonal "sugar-high".

Anyhow, I'm motivated, and we are officially back on track.

Boy, that lasagna sure was good though.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Out and about on Christmas Eve

We went to Wal-Mart this morning.  Not the evil Blue Springs Wal-Mart; oh no.  We chose not to go in the direction of the big city, instead crossing the Missouri River and heading north to Richmond.

Surprisingly, there were many open spaces in the parking lot.  By the time we left, though, traffic was streaming in.  Apparently, we just happened to beat the crowd.

Valentines?  Hey, it's just now Christmas Eve!

Here's a little Christmas story for you:  The man above needed to put that huge package (one of those battery-operated kiddie jeeps) into a small trunk; he was obviously in trouble.  Enter that passing white-haired lady, who happened to be driving an SUV.  It was obvious that she was offering to take this stranger's package to his house for him.

As I was sitting in the parking lot of Pizza Hut (don't ask), I saw this pathetic flag hanging in front of the Lexington Fire Department.  It made me sad to think that anyone would leave such a tattered remnant of a flag hanging like that.  Pathetic.

Looking ahead to the 4th of July

Yeah, I know.  It's over six months away. 

See, that's when our son and his family usually come to visit.  Not this past year, since he busted up a leg and couldn't leave home.  But hopefully in 2008.

When we went to Georgia for Thanksgiving, Cliff and I agreed that the most fun part of our visit was watching our granddaughter playing with her little nieces.  So we've decided that Jim and Debbie should bring all those kids along when they come. 

That's granddaughter Lyndsay, with Morgan along for the ride.  Morgan is a whole side show on her own.

Even when she's unhappy.

Catelynn, a gentle little southern belle. 

Cliff always was a sucker for little girls.

Can you imagine driving seven hundred miles (in a sporty red car made for speed, not comfort) with all those little girls? 

Then there's the new baby (well, she was new on Thanksgiving when we were visiting), who should be crawling and being really cute by July 4th.

Yeah, that's a great plan, Jim and Deb.  Bring them ALL!

(note to my readers:  I don't think this will actually happen, although we'd love it.  I'm sorta yanking my son's chain here.)

Added later:  It just occurred to me that Deb is expecting her first grandson... finally!  Maybe they should bring him, too... if he's born by then. 

I'm relieved to know that somebody in that family figured out how to put the stem on the apple.  (Thanks to Bill Cosby for little gem.)

Now playing: The Judds - Silent Night
via FoxyTunes   

Sunday, December 23, 2007

If you missed seeing Ree, the Pioneer Woman

She's already on Youtube.  I know, those of you who never read her blog probably think I'm nuts.  But once you've read her silliness and down-to-earth humor for awhile, you feel like she lives right next door, ready to loan you a couple of eggs when you run out; ready to give you all her great recipes... even ready to babysit the grandkids if necessary!  Yeah, she's THAT real.  Her blog is right HERE.

So here's the clip from Headline News:

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The pioneer woman, in my living room!

OK, OK.  So Ree was only on my television.  Still, it's pretty exciting to actually see her, and hear her talking.  She'll be on again:  Headline News, News To Me, 4:30 PM today, central time.  If you read Pioneer woman's blog, you'll want to see it; I'd say it's at least a five-minute segment. 

Oh yes, her family was there too.  And the horses were actually moving!

I'm so excited.

Maybe I need to get a life; I never thought I'd be caught dead taking pictures of my television screen.

Somebody just shoot me.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I'd like to wish a Merry Christmas to long-time Internet friends

I will never forget my introduction to AOL chat rooms.  Somehow I ended up in a Christian Seniors chat room, back in 1998; and I made friends I will never forget.  Many of them have passed away now, and it makes me sad to think about that; I guess when you are associated with "seniors", you can expect a lot of goodbyes.

I met many of those folks face-to-face.  Most of them were as real in person as they were online. 

There are some I haven't kept in touch with, but I still feel a very close connection with them:  Helen, Sue, Brenda, Kathy, Tex.  I haven't heard from Jen in months.  I have only good feelings toward all of them, and I hope they're doing well.  Jerry, didn't we have fun fussing at one another?  Meanwhile, there are the ones I have kept in touch with:  Lona, Joanna (I got your Christmas card today), Nance, and all the rest.

Merry Christmas to all my old AOL buddies.  Isn't this World Wide Web a wonderful thing?

It's a wonderful life!

I can't believe it's been three years since I did a journal entry about the old movie "It's A Wonderful Life", talking about why I love it so much.  It's my favorite Christmas entry out of any I've posted on this blog. 

Click HERE.  (Not you, Russ... I know you hate the movie.)

A Christmas song on Youtube

I got this over at Mrs. Linklater's blog, and I just had to share.  Merry Christmas, everybody!

The note

If you've followed my journal long, you've probably noticed that my relationship with Flylady is on-again, off-again.   I get lazy and put her aside.  Then something will get hold of me and I invite her back into my house.

When you start with Flylady, she tells you that the most important thing you can do is establish a before-bed routine.  A crucial part of this is shining your kitchen sink.  People (like me) who don't have a dishwasher are supposed to have a dishpan below the sink where dirty dishes can be kept until they're washed.  I am NEVER to put them in my sink.

I am not a night-time person.  The last thing I want to do just before I go to bed is shine my sink; I've usually been dozing in my Lazy-boy since 7 P.M., for heaven's sake.  But now that I don't babysit, and now that the grandson is working second shift, it occurred to me that I can do my before-bed routine at 2:30 in the afternoon.  Nobody else is going to be in my house to mess up my clean, shiny sink!

The only minor problem I've had is with the grandson; he comes in around 10:30 P.M. and, like any healthy, red-blooded young man after a hard day's work, he eats.  He usually only dirties up two or three items, but when I get up in the morning, there they are in my shiny sink!  I've told him to put them under the sink, to no avail.

So I printed out a note in huge letters this morning, which I plan to leave in the sink when I go to bed:

"Do not put dirty dishes in this sink when it’s shining-clean. 

Beneath the sink, on the right-hand side, is a plastic dish-pan for dirty dishes.  You don’t even have to worry about rinsing, because that messes up my sink; just put them there.

When Cliff gets home, I want the sink to be spotless and empty.  It’s his reward for working hard.  When I get up in the morning, I want to see the sink sparkling.  It’s my reward for getting it to look like that."

Now you might think Flylady is nuts with this sink thing, but let me tell you how well it works:  The other day when I decided to hook back up with Flylady, I cleaned my sink like she says to when you first start her "babysteps", and I put away the ever-present dish drainer.  I cleared off the area around the sink and wiped the counters, and made sure the kitchen table was clear.  That's all.  The floors were a mess because of all the snow and mud we've had lately.  I hadn't dusted.

Cliff came in after midnight, thought I'd totally cleaned house, and took his shoes off.  When he woke up the next morning, he said, "I see the lady from Good Housekeeping was here!"

"Cliff," I said, "All I did was shine the sink, clear off the counter around it, and clear off the table."

"Really?  It felt so clean in here.  You didn't mop the floors?"

"Look at them," I said.  "See Sadie's muddy tracks?"

He couldn't believe it.

So that, my friends, is the magic of a shiny sink.  It makes the whole house look better.

At the bottom of several of the pages of my control journal is this little message:  "Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family!"

Which reminds me of the old saying, "Do something, lest ye do nothing!"

It may not last long, but I'm flying again.  


Thursday, December 20, 2007

My knee

That's the inside of my right knee; notice the instruments inside it, doing their work.  Would you believe I was also given the MRI X-rays to keep?  Good grief, what would I do with them?  They're huge and heavy, and I can't imagine myself dragging them out to show people who come to visit.  Anyhow, at the doctor's office they now digitize them and keep them on the computer, so they don't need the originals.

When the doctor asked how my knee was feeling, I told her it's much improved.  It isn't perfect, but the pain is reduced by at least 90%. 

I asked Dr. Strong about THIS PROCEDURE, a partial knee replacement; she said that would be a possibility for me, since my bone-on-bone is only on the outside of either knee at the present time.  She did mention that there's a greater success rate with total knee replacement.  Also, she said, by the time I'm ready for replacement, the bone-on-bone might affect the whole knee.

Since I'm not ready for anything drastic right now, I didn't try to pin her down to answering the question "which procedure do you feel is better?"

I walked this morning, but I didn't try to keep up with Cliff.  The paths in the shady areas are slick where the snow partially melted and then re-froze into ice; so I stayed up on the mostly-clear, semi-flat areas.  Sadie was quite happy to spend her time running back and forth between us with a stick in her mouth.

Looking down toward the river bottom, all we saw was fog.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Get that Zest glow from head to toe

Cliff and I have purchased Zest soap exclusively since before 1970.  There was a reason for this brand loyalty:  It's been our fortune, living in the country, to be blessed with water from a well.  This has turned out to be, in our case, hard water.  In two different locations where we've lived.

Zest lathered when other brands of soap didn't.

Sad to say, this is no longer true.

I just finished reading THIS ARTICLE on Wikipedia, and it reminded me of so many things about Zest.  It tells how the commercials used to proudly say that they were not soap.  Now they boast that they are soap.

You see, Zest is no longer the product we've used for forty years.  Proctor and Gamble has changed the shape and the smell.  Zest doesn't lather any better than the other brands. 

I hate it when somebody decides to fix something that ain't broke.

I guess it's time to start looking for a new brand of soap.

Wish me luck.


Want to learn how to save money and get out of debt?

In these days of money-crunching, I've mentioned some helpful websites before.  This morning it occurred to me that I got most of my frugal-living, dollar-saving websites from one source:  an AOL journal called Bare Bones Living.

Deb has done the research for us; all we have to do is check out the sites she lists on her journal (one of several blogs she maintains).

Seriously.  Unless you're independently wealthy, go check it out.  There's something there for everybody.  Click on the links she lists on the right-hand side of her journal.  You'll find something you can use.

What a difference a day makes

This picture was taken Monday.

This one was taken Tuesday.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I just read a great post by Heidi the Hick giving her thoughts on Christmas gifts.  As a person who got off the gift-giving merry-go-round some time back, I applaud her.

Click HERE to see what she has to say.  This is a lady who doesn't want her children to grow up thinking that love is shown by how much "stuff" they receive for Christmas.

Cliff's toys and keepsakes

A couple of you wanted a closer-up view of Cliff's toy collection that showed up in the background of the butchering pictures.  Because of the way Blogger lets you click on a photo and make it larger, I put the pictures over there.  Just click HERE.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A walk in the snow

I've been so anxious to get back to walking, and today I finally got out there!  Wearing boots and coveralls while walking in snow is pretty tiring, so we didn't go the regular full rounds.  But getting out in that sunshine was like medicine, and I was so glad to be able to do it.

Here you see Cliff attaching the seeder to the John Deere.  He had his work cut out for him, since he's never used it on this tractor. 

The "point" I talk about so much... it's the area you see in the first picture above, where Sadie is running... is made up of rather poor soil, and the grass growing there is mostly fescue, which leaves a lot to be desired.  If a legume like clover is interseeded with grass, nitrogen is created that actually fertilizes the grass and helps it grow better.

Every fall, Cliff and I will say we are going to buy a bag of clover seed ahead of time and broadcast it when there's snow on the ground.  That's the ideal way to plant red clover successfully (read HERE).  And every winter, after every snow, one of us will say, "Darn it!  We didn't get any clover seed!"

So last week I told Cliff, "Let's pick up some clover seed today; it's cheap enough; we can afford it."  Last time we bought clover seed it was about $30 for a bag.  I figured maybe with inflation, it might cost $50.

Alas, like everything else, it's gone sky-high. Ninety-eight bucks!

But the timing was right, because we got our snow the next day, just the right amount.  And Cliff went out today and planted our clover.  Here's hoping!

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Mosie answers a few questions

I re-read some of your comments and realized there were questions to be answered.  Here goes!

How many lbs of meat do you think you ended up with?  Cliff guesses a little more than 100 pounds.  Of course we share the meat with our daughter's family.  We'd share with the son if he lived closer.

Does Cliff use Chicago Cutlery knives?  Cliff says he uses three brands:  He has a Forschner boning knife he likes because it's easy to clean; he prefers a medium-flexible boning knife.  For skinning, he likes Dexter and Russell knives (a google search tells me those two companies have merged now).  It used to seem to me he used
very expensive knives, because during the years he worked at a butcher shop he had to buy his own equipment; when he bought a knife, it put a serious dent in our very tight budget.  He always had an assortment of both boning knives and skinning knives.  He said he has some breaking knives you'd probably enjoy seeing... some of them look like a sword.  A breaking knife is used when you first start to "break down" the carcass into manageable pieces.

Oh man YUM!  I NEED that potato soup recipe.  I can't think of any way to do a recipe on this, so I'll just tell you the process:  I peel
and dice a bunch of potatoes (about one-inch chunks).  I take a carrot or two and dice it (very small) in with the potatoes.  I don't intend for anybody to taste the carrots; they're just for color because I don't like to eat anything that looks like wallpaper paste.  Slice a stalk or two of celery and add that.  Dice an onion.   Add some dried parsley liberally (again, just for color).  Barely cover with water and cook until done.  Take a fork and mush up the potatoes a little (this serves to "thicken" the soup).  Add milk and some cream and butter.  Cream is my secret ingredient, by the way.  It's what sets my potato soup apart from others'; this is not a diet food.  Salt and pepper to taste.  I like lots of pepper.  I was raised eating crackers with potato soup, but once I married Cliff I adopted his family's habit of having corn bread with it instead.

I've never had tater soup.  Want to share the recipe?  See above; I assume you knew that tater soup is the same as potato soup.

Don't go "hog wild" eating are my inspiration about eating less.       Too late.

I wonder if you could one day do a close up of the  background in picture 6 ?  Are those all toys in that big book case?  Looked like a neat ol' collection of tractors and I think I eyeballed a lunchbox. 
That gives me a good idea for a journal entry, so stay tuned and I'll take you on a tour of Cliff's toy collection before long.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hog butchering, day two

Cliff and I agree that this has been a most enjoyable weekend.  His brother and friend were here yesterday and last night, helping us consume vast amounts of potato soup, cheese ball, caramel corn and hot hamburger dip.  Cliff's sister and her husband came over last night, and again today.  It's been a great family weekend, which is what you want when you have your only holiday feast of the season.  Everything just fell into place, from unloading tractors to butchering.  A good time was had by all.

I was busy cooking today, so I sent son-in-law Kevin out to take the pictures.  The couple who supplied the hogs had dinner with us.  They took their hams and sides up the road less than a mile to the local butcher shop, to be made into cured ham and bacon.  We aren't curing any of our meat:  lean pork is fairly good for us (as long as we stick to portion control), and we don't need any added salt.

I hope all of my readers enjoy their holiday season as much as Cliff and I enjoyed this weekend.

Hog butchering! Proceed with caution

Since Cliff's brother and his buddy are still here, I made Pioneer Woman's latest recipe for breakfast.  When I woke up, I was a little leery about getting out of bed; I was on my feet almost non-stop yesterday, and I figured my knee would be telling me about it.  However, the knee was not protesting at all.  It's a little better every morning when I arise.

Now if you are among the squeamish, you won't want to go far into this picture album:  After pictures one and two, you will see sharp knives.  And blood.  And guts.  I assure you the hog was feeling no pain in any of these pictures.  Cliff shot him with a twenty-two.  I took no pictures until the throat was actually cut and all movement ceased, because I was afraid someone would think the poor creature was still alive.  There's a lot of involuntary kicking and jerking when an animal is dying.  Those of you who were raised on the farm and saw chickens killed know how they flop all over the yard after their heads have been removed.

Today the people who supplied the hogs will come and wrap the meat and help grind it, as Cliff makes it into chops and steaks and ground pork.

So there you have it.  Enjoy (or not).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

food food food

Yeah, I'm still cooking.  BIL Phil brought the lemon juice I needed, so that saved the cherry cheesecake pie.  I might make another one... I have the ingredients.

So... where's the snow?

Four to eight inches, they excitedly predicted on the news, all day yesterday.  I got up at my usual ridiculous hour this morning (4 A.M.) and looked out the door to see only a dusting of white stuff. 

Now, on early news, the man is backpedaling rapidly, saying, "It's looking more and more like we'll only get two inches."  He doesn't sound so excited today.

I made the graham-cracker crust for my cherry-cheesecake pie already, only to discover that I don't have any reconstituted lemon juice for the filling.  I don't think this is an item my daughter or my neighbors would have on hand to borrow.  That's OK, I'll get hold of the grandson before he comes home later today (he seldom comes home on Friday nights... I don't ask where he goes;  I'm not sure I want to know).

The butchering project is still in the plans:  If the people with the two hogs make it here, Cliff will shoot them, skin and gut them, and hang them from the rafters in the shop to cool.  Then tomorrow he'll cut the hogs into genuine cuts of meat.  If I have time and feel like it, I will post pictures.  I will give a warning, though, for squeamish city people who think it's cruel to kill animals.  I trust those of you who feel this way are conscientious enough to abstain from poultry, pork, and beef. 

Actually, I can understand why a person would be bothered by the actual killing and butchering process.  Just don't complain when I post pictures, because this is MY journal.  As I said, I will warn you so you need not see pictures if you don't want to.  You won't click on my journal and see a hog carcass unless you want to see it.  I'll make sure the first picture in the album is something innocent and non-scary.

Is that a deal?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Something got hold of me!

I wasn't going to get carried away with Sunday's dinner; Cliff and I don't need the calories, right?  Just a couple of pumpkin pies for dessert.

But as I told Cliff today, this is the only time of year I'm going to have a chance to cook the stuff I never get to eat.  He agreed.  And I pulled out all the stops.

I'm adding Old Settler's Beans to our meal Sunday.  I already have plenty of potato soup made for tomorrow, because like all soups, it's better if it sits overnight.

I made a cheese ball.  I'm in the middle of assembling Oreo Dessert.  There's a Buck Buchanan sweet potato pie in the oven.  Oh yeah, and I made a batch of oven caramel corn.  I've boiled the eggs for Sunday's deviled eggs.

I'm still going to make hot hamburger dip tomorrow, or tonight if I keep going.  And I might make a cherry cheesecake.  No, forget "might".  I will!

Somebody just shoot me!  It's like I got started and now I can't stop!

google alerts

In the previous entry, I mourned the passing of Floyd Westerman.  He's been ill for a long time, and I hadn't been able to find much information about his condition on the Internet.  So how did I find out in such a timely manner that he had passed away?  After all, he wasn't famous enough to make headlines with his illness and death.

There's a program called google alerts that will help you keep track of anyone you're interested in who might make the news, but not in a big way.  If they're appearing anywhere in the country, or if there's an article mentioning them, and it's published in a paper... you'll get an email with a link to the article.

If you follow big-name acts, you have no problem keeping up with them online.  But I have an interest in several little-known folk artists (Iris Dement for example), and I like seeing what they're up to, all over the country.  It doesn't have to be singers, just anyone who, once in a while, makes the news.

I learned about this through an Iris Dement Yahoo group I'm a part of, and thought I'd pass it on.

Google alerts.  Just go there and type in your email address and the name of the person in whom you're interested.


I'm still perplexed by conflicting weather reports: for my area says "snow showers, possible 1 to 3 inches".  The TV weatherguessers are saying, "Get out your shovels; we're likely to have three to six inches of snow."  Sheesh.

I got a call from Libby's trainer.  Sammie said my filly is coming along nicely and only needs to learn a few manners.  She wants to keep her an extra week (no extra charge) in order to work her in the outdoor round pen.  Sometimes, she told me, a horse behaves differently out in the big wide outdoors than it does inside; it's been too icy lately to work her outside.  Libby has had the luxury of being stalled during all this ice-and-snow stuff.  She must think she's very special!  I'd love to go visit her, but since her trainer goes to school by day and Cliff works by night, that isn't possible.  And this weekend is looking more and more full. 

Cliff's brother Don and his best buddy (no, not his wife) are coming Saturday and spending Saturday night.  This means that while I'm preparing Sunday stuff, I'll also be feeding people meals on the preceding day.  Potato soup sounds pretty easy; that'll likely be Saturday's fare.  If there's hog-butchering going on Sunday, the fellow-butcherers (is that a word?) will be invited to eat dinner with us.  My knee, by the way, is doing well.  I'm sure it'll hold up.

Floyd "Red Crow" Westerman died yesterday.  I realize most people probably don't even know who he was, but his music is a big part of my times at the cabin, where I love to "keep things Indian".  Monica and Natalie often asked me to play my Indian music when I was at the cabin with them.  Floyd will still be singing at my cabin, as long as I'm able to walk back there.

If you're a movie fan, you've seen him at some time or other.  Some of the movies he appeared in are:  "Dances With Wolves"; "Hildago"; and "Poltergeist".  He also appeared on many TV shows:  "Rosanne", "Dharma and Greg", "Walker, Texas Ranger", "Northern Exposure", and many more.

I appreciate him most for his songwriting.  What I didn't know is that he was also an artist, and it appears as though he was a darned talented one in this Youtube interview:

Now playing: Floyd Red Crow Westerman - B.I.A.
via FoxyTunes   
Tags: ,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Weather-guessers crack me up!

After a major weather event like we've just been through, it seems as if the "meteorologists" start enjoying the limelight a little too much.  They hate to see all that attention wane.  After all, we've hung on their every word for four days now, watching for updates and school closings.  It has to be difficult to let go of that.

So here's the forecast for this weekend according to

Really doesn't look like anything to get excited about, does it?

Here's the weather forecast according to Fox 4.

Both mention snow, but it doesn't look to me like there's anything to get excited about.

So why is the Fox 4 weather-guesser screaming about snow coming, saying there WILL be some people shoveling, possibly 3 to 6 inches?

"Got another snow-maker headed our way!"

"If THAT wind on the coast hits THAT system, there's going to be a lot more than I'm predicting!"

"Potential snowfall!  Most of the area will see 1 to 3 inches; fairly good chance some of the metro will pick up six inches!"

It cracks me up!

Snow days

The past two days have been "snow days" for the local school.  So once the granddaughters were awake and ready, Cliff went and picked them up and brought them over.  The girls aren't picky about what they eat, but since our main meal here is dinner at noon, I fixed good old "comfort foods" for the four of us while they were here:  Dishes Cliff and I love, but that are a little (or a lot) higher in fat that the things I normally fix for me and Cliff.

Tuesday I made Pioneer Woman's chicken spaghetti, which always makes a big hit.  So yesterday, Cliff said Natalie asked him as she was getting out of the pickup, "What is Grandma making today?"

"Tuna-noodle casserole."

"Monica!  We're having tuna-noodle casserole!"

I'm glad simple food can cause them such excitement.  I baked a couple of big sweet potatoes in the microwave to go along with the casserole; the girls had never had a baked sweet potato before, they said; they loved them. 

Cliff and I have been eating a lot of baked sweet potatoes lately:  the Walmart in Richmond (not the stinkin' Blue Springs Supercenter that I never plan to patronize ever again) was left with a surplus of sweet taters after Thanksgiving, and I took advantage of them, at 19 cents per pound.  The store also had some lovely celery for 19 cents a bunch! 

I'm sorry, but bargains excite me these days.

Monica played outside from noon till after 3 with the neighbor kids; when she came in, her clothes were soaked through.  Natalie spent over an hour outside also.  I'd love to have taken pictures, but with the ice making it hard to walk, and my knee still healing from surgery, I didn't think I'd better risk it.

Looks like school will probably be in session today.

You have to see this!

My regular readers know that there's a rooster living here who hangs out with my two calves.  Well, I  just watched a video of an animal friendship that is even more amazing... a cat and a crow!

Helen posted this amazing video on her journal.  Go check it out; you won't be sorry!  Click HERE to go to her blog and watch.  I have never seen anything like it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What to say to someone who has cancer... part 2

After my other post on this subject, I researched the subject a little more and found these tips at

        What Should I Say to the Person Who Has Cancer?

It is normal to feel that you don't know what to say to someone who has cancer. You might only know the person casually, or you may have a closer relationship. The most important thing you can do is acknowledge the situation in some way – whatever is most comfortable for you. You can show interest and concern, you can express encouragement, or you can offer support. Sometimes the most simple expressions of concern are the most meaningful.

Respond from your heart!

Here are some ideas:

  • "I'm not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care."
  • "I'm sorry to hear that you are going through this."
  • "How are you doing?"
  • "If you would like to talk about it, I am here."
  • "Please let me know if I can help."
  • "I'll keep you in my thoughts."

While it is good to be encouraging, it is also important not to show false optimism or to tell the person with cancer to always have a positive attitude. Doing these things may be seen as discounting their fears, concerns, or sad feelings. It is also tempting to say that you know how the person feels. While you may know this is a trying time, no one can know exactly how the person with cancer feels.

Humor can be an important way of coping. It is also another source of support and encouragement. Let the person with cancer take the lead; it ishealthy if they find something funny about a side effect, like hair loss or increased appetite, and you can certainly join them in a good laugh. This can be a great way to relieve stress and to take a break from the more serious nature of the situation.

When the person with cancer looks good, let them know! Avoid making comments when their appearance isn't as good, such as "You're looking pale," or "You've lost weight." Cancer and its treatment can be very unpredictable. Be prepared for good days and bad days.

It's usually best not to tell the person with cancer stories about family members or friends who have had cancer. Everyone is different, and these stories may not be helpful. Instead, it is better simply to tell them you know something about cancer because you've been through it with someone else.

I also got some input in my comment section, and in email; thanks, folks, for your heartfelt thoughts.  I'm sharing those here also; I know not everybody has the time to come back and read the comment sections:

Comment from cvgflydis |
12/12/07 9:42 AM |

I think that the post is appropriate! My Mom had cancer~and it took her from us. She felt like shit most days, but never let on........always said, "I feel alright". I knew she felt horrible, but knew she worried more about us than herself.

The most astounding thing to see, for me, while she was ill, was the amount of food that came into her home. I thought it was a lost art, honestly! And I cannot tell you how much it helped myself and my Dad! We were able to concentrate on her care, and not dinner. No need for grand menu's..........homemade soups, store brought deli sandwiches........bottom line, we didn't HAVE to cook.

I miss her everyday. Every Single day. I think this post would summarize everything she felt and more.


Comment from csandhollow |
12/12/07 9:18 AM |

I have not gone thru it. I do know people that have. I heard them same thing from some of them also.
I know that when I broke my back,people would say to me at least you can walk and you are not in much pain. What did they know? Could they feel my pain? ARGGGG        

Comment from mutualaide |
12/12/07 7:43 AM |
Hmmm.  I think just jumping in and doing what needs doing without a word is pretty effective and helpful.  I applaud this woman's willingness to put her feelings out there because the reminder to me is 'think before you speak'.  But I also remember we are all only human and we are all imperfect.  Maybe some credit should be given for 'the trying'.
I think this person expressed her feelings very well and she gave us quite an insight into what she'd gone through.  A lot of what she was saying to NOT say I'd have thought would have been obvious, but maybe not to some people.  I know from my own end I often worry excessively over what to say to someone fighting cancer.  We could all, probably, inadvertantly say something unthinkingly "stupid", and we're going to have to be able to forgive ourselves if we do that.  But I think when someone going through chemo or other treatments can let us know what this lady is letting us know it helps us to be more caring and considerate in what we say.  I can remember a woman once saying that when she had a death in the family her neighbors came over and without asking or explaining or waiting to be told, they cleaned the lady's entire house, and they stocked the refrigerator and pantry.  When the family got home from the trip to the funeral they had a well-stocked and clean home.  Sometimes, like this woman says, just being there is important.

Comment from riverdaughter196 |12/11/07 3:54 PM |Actions [+]
Yeah I would have to agree with some of it.  Chemo sucks.  But at least that person has the option of chemo.  My father didn't.  He also didn't have the option of radiation.  Doctors sent him home stating there was nothing to be done.  At least that person gets to fight it.  He/she had that option.  Some cancer patients don't.  

Comment from breakaway1968 |
WOW and again I say WOW!  Ya it IS so hard to know what to say to someone who has cancer and I know it's MIL has/is suffering from it right now.  She has had it three times now and was on Cemo all three times.  Her new cancer now is brain cancer!  Yes, it'shard and NOOOO us who have not had cancer don't know how it feels BUT we try our best to comfort and be there for the people who are suffering from it.    I'm sure that if the people she is talking about in this rant reads this they  will be hurt and think OH my I didn't realize...because honestly we DON'T know what to say.  I can certainly see how and why this person is upset...yes, some of the things in here ARE things that... if you have any common should not be saying to a cancer patient.  However, some of the things like telling them they will be ok for instance...I would think that they would only be trying to help make her feel hopeful with that statement not mean any disrespect at all!.  These rants are what makes those who don't have cancer afraid to confront those who do because what if we make them feel bad??  I know I would not want someone to get sad who is already fighting a terrible deadly disease to feel even worse!  SO, what DO we say to them?  They are right when they says just bring that movie over and lets have a  movie night...I'm sure that would be a great thing to do when someone is down.  That is a great idea!  It is nice that they also add what we CAN do to help.  
Boy, I sure hope THIS comment doesn't get anyone angry or make anyone feel hurt by it because I sure don't mean anything hurtful by it at all.  Just my opinion on the rant is all!  And my heart does goes out to those suffering from this horrible disease!  It is so hard watching someone suffer EVERY single day for so long!  I sure wish I could take My MILs pains away if only for a day!  I would

This from a long-time friend who has seen some tough health issues in the past couple of years:

“I read the posting on your blog with a great deal of interst.. the chemo will not be part of my treatment ever as it will not be an option.. and at this time I am doing well.. saw the oncologist yesterday and he was pleased.. white count is up but thats not going to change.. part of the lymphoma... but no new swelling in the lymph glands and i hopefully will not see him again now for 3 months.. I understand a lot what the woman was saying after having had a year of really icky health... and I know people do say some strange things but I always tried to remember they were trying... none ofus ever always says the perfect thing...but the friends who were just here... sitting quietly when talking was not easy... doing my laundry when I could not do it.. these are the memories i shall always have... it has been a learning year for me too.. and hopefully made me much more appreciative of each day.. I think the best thing one can say to anyone in a time of problems is.. I am here.. I care.”

And this from Mary, who has worked with oncologists in their offices in the past:    

I just read your entry about the persons suggestions of what NOT to say to someone with cancer.  When I ran a practice I found that the people were so defined by the cancer that they appreciated if you asked them normal questions, not CANCER questions.  How is your son doing in law school?  Hey that blouse is beautiful; where did you get it?  Are you going to the office party?  JUST THE STUFF YOU'D ASK OTHER PEOPLE.  They are sick of answering "How are you?"  & hearing " YOU LOOK GREAT".  Or constant cancer questions.

Cliff's breakfast

Cliff usually has the same thing every morning for breakfast.  Once he finds something he likes, he'll gladly stick with it.  Which is probably why he's still married to me after forty-one years.

After his open-heart surgery, I looked into healthy breakfasts.  Everyone seems to agree that oatmeal is good for the heart, so I started reading labels.  Cliff really likes the flavored, individual packets, although the servings were pretty meager.  In order to fill his tummy, he needed a couple of packets.  Then I noticed the amount of sodium in these packets.  Even in the Quaker "Take-Heart" variety.  Terrible!

So I bought a store-brand container of old-fashioned oats and began experimenting:  I started with 1/2 cup of oats and 1 cup of water in a large, microwavable dish.  I added a sprinkle of cinnamon, a few raisins, and a packet of artificial sweetener and microwaved for five minutes.

Cliff liked it just fine, but I figured we could improve on it.  So these days, while it's cooking, I take his serving dish and put a couple teaspoons of chopped nuts and half a banana, diced.  When the oatmeal is done, I pour it over that, add a little non-fat milk for taste, stir, and serve.  I call it "loaded oatmeal".  Cliff calls it yummy.  It does add up to around 400 calories, but Cliff doesn't get hungry until lunch time, and it's healthy calories.  With NO sodium, I might add.

This morning I decided to surprise Cliff with heart-healthy coffeecake.  We love this stuff, and when I get to feeling sorry for myself because we can't eat home-made cinnamon rolls or donuts any more, I whip this stuff up.  I say it's as delicious as anything I've ever baked.  Notice the serving size... we usually have a double serving, which is about the same amount of calories in the loaded oatmeal.

                               HEART-HEALTHY COFFEE CAKE

For best results when baking with margarine, be sure you select a brand that contains at least 60% vegetable oil

Nonstick spray coating
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour (can substitute all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ½ cups finely chopped, peeled apples (I use the food processor)
1/4 cup frozen egg product, thawed (I use two egg whites and let my dog have the yolks)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon whole-wheat flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon margarine or butter
1/4 cup chopped nuts       

1.  Spray a 9-inch round or 8-inch square pan with Pam; set aside.  In a small bowl stir together the 2/3 cup flour, ½ cup whole wheat flour, baking soda, and 1 tsp. Cinnamon

2.  Combine apples and egg whites.  Stir in granulated sugar, 1/4 cup nuts, and applesauce.  Add dry mixture; stir.  Pour batter into pan.

3.  For topping, stir together the brown sugar, the 1 T all-purpose flour, 2 T. Whole wheat flour, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.  Cut in the butter.  Stir in 1/4 cup nuts.  Sprinkle topping over batter in pan.  Bake in a 350̊ oven for 30 to 35 minutes or till a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Remove from pan; serve warm.  Makes 10 servings.

Nutrition facts: 202 calories, 5 g fat (1 g sat. fat) 0 chol., 175 mg sodium, 37 g carbo., 2 g fiber, 3 g. protein.  Daily values: 2% vit. A, 2% vit. C, 1% calcium, 8% iron

The animals are doing fine

Although the news people are saying city streets are clear, here in the country we have a brand new layer of ice.  It rained all day yesterday; in fact, when I was out taking the above pictures, my head got pretty wet.  But the rain wasn't freezing then.  At some point during the night, the temperature lowered enough for the precipitation to freeze on the ground.  I won't be going outside today!

Cliff spent a couple of hours re-arranging the animals so everyone could have shelter from the rain if they so chose.  Most of the time, the horses choose to stay outside and be covered with a layer of ice.  Although Cliff said that when he came in the house for the evening yesterday, they were in their shed.  So he feels a little better about all that work.  Once we see that the freezing rain is over, he'll put them back out in the big pasture and let the calves have their accustomed lot.

As long as I was careful, I had no trouble walking around the yard and barn yesterday taking pictures.  By the way, when I first got out of bed today, I thought to myself, "Hey, my knee almost feels normal!"  So the swelling must be going down.  Now understand, by "normal" I don't mean my knee feels like it did twenty years ago; but I'm not in constant pain, and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Seen on Craigslist: opinions, please

Here's an item I found on "The Best Of Craigslist":

Cancer Rant
Date: 2007-10-31, 9:31AM PDT

In February of this year I was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkins Lymphoma. I went through eight months of chemotherapy, everything looks really good, and now I am just waiting my post-chemo scans to indicate remission. I am finally done with chemo. Woop woop. This is very good news for me. I’m real happy about it and I am excited to get on with my life.

I was a good cancer patient…no, a great cancer patient. I was tough. I didn’t curl up in a ball and hide, I faced it, I sucked it up, and got through it. I’m not looking for a medal, I just want to preface what I am going to say with the fact that I am not whiney or self-pitying, and that I realize that I am not the only one who’s had to deal with this crap, and that there’s worse things that could have happened to me. I have a wonderful family and caring friends that have formed a very lovely support system for me. I cannot thank them enough for all their help and love.

That said, here’s my rant…This goes out to everyone I know – friends, family, co-workers, doctors, nurses, radiologists, technicians, friends of friends, exes, and others…

1. There is no “good” kind of cancer. Yes, this kind of cancer at my stage has an 80-85% survival rate. That’s great, I am happy about that – really, I am, but that doesn’t make it “good” or any “better” than any other kind of cancer. Cancer is a scary thing, the treatment is excruciating, and at the end of the day, if you happen to get “lucky” and be one of the 15-20% that don’t survive, that statistic turns from a “good” one to a not-so-great one. Really. That’s like one out of five. Can you think of five friends? Picture them. If one of them up and died would you consider it a “good” number of them? I didn’t think so. So please, don’t tell me I got the “good” kind of cancer – don’t even suggest it. Don’t even say, “Well, at least you didn’t get _________ cancer, that would really suck.” Uh, hello, this pretty much REALLY sucks. Next time you get cancer I’ll ask you if you think the kind you got is “good”.

2. Don’t tell me things I don’t want to hear. For some reason, it occurred several times that when I told someone what I was going through (which is kinda awkward anyway), they would say something to the effect of “OH, my (mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, insert any other relative or even remote acquaintance here) just died last year of cancer.” Or “Right, my (insert distant relative here) died of Hodgkin’s.” What the hell?? I have been diagnosed with a terrible disease and am undergoing intensive and debilitating treatment, and you’re going to tell me about someone dying? What? Seriously? It’s better just to not chime in here. Again, next time you get cancer, I’ll try this line out on you and you can let me know what you think.

3. DO NOT ask me about my hair. With the kind of chemo I had, my hair started falling out around treatment #3, slowly at first, then lots at a time until I finally, and very sadly, shaved my head. THAT WAS REALLY HARD TO DO. It’s about a lot of things…it’s about vanity and feeling ugly, it’s about the stigma of being sick and that being obvious to the world, it’s about knowing or not who you are without your hair/eyelashes/eyebrows, it’s complicated. And, I take ownership of the fact that some of that is really superficial shit – but it’s very real and it’s emotional. So, comments like “How’s your hair doing?” “Wow, it’s really thinning out!” “So is your hair just coming out in handfuls?” and “Is that a wig?” are not helpful and WILL make me cry. If you think this is stupid or oversensitive, let me say it again: next time you get cancer let me know how this goes.

4. Don’t tell me it’s going to be ok. Bottom line is this – I know I want everything to be ok, and I know you want everything to be ok – you wouldn’t be my friend/involved family member if that weren’t the case. Unfortunately, we BOTH know that it just might not be ok. We BOTH know that there exists the possibility that it’s not going to be ok and that the disease isn’t going to respond, or is going to come back, and that even if I am tough and brave, it could kill me. I have had to deal with that idea since the word “cancer” came out of the doctor’s mouth. In that moment, and in the hours and days to come, I knew that it could happen that everything was not going to be ok. If I didn’t know that, cancer wouldn’t be such a big deal. If that weren’t a possibility, we wouldn’t have shed tears when we heard the news. So, for my sake, don’t say that line. I know it’s the first thing that comes to mind, and I know you mean it well, but try something else that actually means something, like: “Whenever you need anything I’ll be there” or “This is going to be rough but I’m here for you” or “I’m on my way over with a last season’s Top Model” or even just “Give ‘em hell, sista”. I know you may not get it, but next time you get cancer we’ll share profound understanding when I tell you that I know it may not be ok and that I know that’s real scary.

5. Don’t comment about my weight. Ok, here’s something that I didn’t know before I started this. Chemotherapy is NOT a weight loss plan – YES, they have indeed discontinued all the fringe benefits from the cancer card membership. Turns out, they give you steroids that make you hungry all the damned time. And, you feel like complete shit and don’t even have enough energy to walk up the stairs, much less to exercise. In the beginning when I was still trying to figure out how to deal with shitty side effects like constant vomiting, painful mouth sores, etc, I lost weight because I just literally couldn’t eat. But once I got that under control, the hunger would come on, and man, I can eat a lot. I was in pretty good shape (at the gym five days a week, healthy foods, etc) when all this started and now I have gained weight and am up a pants size. The once-muscle has turned into mushy fat and I’m not happy about it, but during treatment there was just no fix. So, the “wow, you’ve put a couple on, haven’t you?” or “I thought you lose weight on chemo” comments are not helpful and again, will make me cry. Next time you get cancer, see how you feel when I tell you to “hit the gym.”

6. Chemotherapy sucks. I think everyone knows that – I don’t know what the first thing is that pops into your head when you read that word, but I would venture to guess that it’s not something warm and smiley. It sucks, it really sucks. You vomit, are nauseated (which is so much worse than vomiting) all the time, you get terrible headaches, you can’t sleep, you get sores in your mouth and chronic yeast infections, you get seriously seriously constipated, your brain malfunctions and you can’t remember how to get to the bus stop or where you normally leave the toothpaste, your whole body hurts, your toenails fall off (wtf? Yeah) and now they give you shots to stimulate white blood cell production (at least in my case) that cause relentless, incapacitating pain that made you simply want to give up on living just to make it stop. Ok, I said it, chemotherapy sucks – and I am really good at being tough and not letting everyone know all the shitty stuff that’s happening to me at once, but you know it sucks. So, no, I am not interested in hearing you whine about a cold you think you’re getting, your scratchy throat, your eye/ear/sinus infection, your sleepiness, your headache, etc. I know you really don’t feel good, but c’mon man, suck it up – or at least go tell someone else who doesn’t have cancer. Next time you get it, you’ll drop kick the asshole that spends ten minutes talking about how bad their hangover is.

7. It’s a REALLY long road. Eight months is a long time to be sick. It just is, and I KNOW (I really know) that it gets old. In the beginning everyone called all the time, offered to go to chemo with me, sent lots of e-mails, came over to visit when I was sick….but after the months drag on it’s like people get sick of it. I understand that – ‘cause I got pretty sick of it too. I got sick of calling in to work, not doing anything fun, not seeing anyone….even just answering the damned “How are you feeling?” question….I felt like it was better to lie and say “fine” than to say how I really felt because people kind of don’t know how to react or don’t want to hear it. I have a wonderful husband and mother who took exceptional care of me, even when they needed a break, even when it got old, even when they got sick of hearing me say I felt like shit. They did that because they knew I needed them. I needed other people too, I needed girlfriends to just come over with a movie or a dvd of a funny tv show, or to call me on the days they knew I had treatment, or to just call when they hadn’t heard from me in days. Some did and some didn’t. You know who you are and why you didn’t. Maybe you didn’t feel comfortable or maybe you were too “busy.” Regardless, I love you, and I will do it for you the next time you get cancer.

I really, really hope you never get cancer. I mean that for everyone – even if you’re a jerk, even if you write to me and rant meaningless bullshit about my rant, even if you really deserve to have something nasty happen to you – I hope you don’t get cancer. It’s awful. I’m not one of those “I’m a survivor!” types, I’m not one of those in-your-face super tough post-cancer freaks, I’m really normal and I will get over this. That said, if you do get cancer or if your friend or (insert any relative here) gets cancer, you can bet your bottom dollar that if/when I hear about it I’ll be on your/their doorstep with a big teary welcome to the cancer club hug and a mop and bucket to clean the floors, or popcorn and a dvd for the kids, or dinner so you/they don’t have to make it, or whatever it takes, for as long as it takes – and you won’t have to ask for it, and you won’t have to say thanks, because we’ll both just know. It’s a special club and we take care of our own.

Now then, you who have had cancer, or have had a close family member with cancer, I'd like your thoughts:  Do you agree with this person?  I'm sure not everybody thinks alike under the same circumstances.  But I certainly want to know the right thing to say to people who have cancer; I wouldn't want to compound their problems!

By the way, I found several other people on the Internet address this question.  You'll find one person's views HERE.  If you go there and read it, be sure to look at some of the comments, which are as helpful as the blog entry itself.