Tuesday, February 23, 2010

sunday was a good day (by lucy, as told to laurie)

On Sunday, two of my humans and I went to a very special birthday party.

There was cake.

The birthday girl turned 17.

She looked very pretty.

A good time was had by young and old (I thought S. was a little too cuddly with that puppy).

It was fun to be at a party.

It was nice to have a nap, too.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

eye witnessed

Yesterday, the Globe and Mail ran this article about Joe Webber, a man from Aylmer, Ontario, who was falsely accused of forcible confinement and robbery. He was convicted and served nineteen months in jail, based solely on eye witness testimony Although, the perpetrators of the crime were masked, one of the victims of the home invasion identified Webber, claiming to recognize his "bright blue eyes."

Webber's eyes are actually gray. 

Webber was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in jail but was later cleared when two other men confessed to the crime.

Duane Hicks, who identified Webber, remains adamant that it was Webber and his blue (really gray) eyes that he saw behind the mask.

It's a fascinating and tragic story but it's not the first time, in recent weeks, that I've had cause to think about the unreliability of eye witnesses.

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking the dogs home from the park when I saw a woman and her Bernese Mountain Dog coming towards me. I knew them both from the park and called out a greeting as she grew closer.

J-Dog, my older, bigger dog (55 lbs, the Bernese was much bigger than he was) has been getting a little crochety in his old age. He's taken a dislike to younger male dogs, especially when he's on leash. There's never been any serious fighting but, as a precautionary measure, I've been crossing the street or making J-Dog sit when other dogs are approaching on leash. This time, though, since the dogs had met many times, I didn't think to do it.

When the Bernese got close, Jasper lunged at him and growled. The other dog reacted the same way, his owner went to pull him back and slipped on some ice. She fell into a snow bank and the force of her fall brought her giant dog down on top of her. His paw hit her in the face and cut her lip.

We were both uspet (the humans were. The dogs, having recovered from their tussle, were just standing calmly beside us). I felt terrible not to have foreseen the interaction. We were both apologizing to each other, when two women who had been walking behind us felt the need to jump in, one yelling at me and the other fussing the other dog owner.

They kept asking her over and over again if she was OK. She kept saying "yes!" We both tried explaining that it was fine, that we knew each other and so did the dogs ("That doesn't matter!" one woman exclaimed) but they were zealous in their condemnation of me (and my dog) and vociferous in expressing their anger and outrage.

I realized later, based on a few things they said, that both women believed that they had seen Jasper attack the other dog owner and the Bernese leaping in to protect her. 

And I'm sure they would have made sworn statements to that effect.

The dogs and I ran into the Bernese and his human (off-leash) in the dog park and the dogs played together happily. I apologized again for not anticipating J-Dog's bad behaviouor and she once again stated that she feels both dogs (and both owners) were at fault. She also commented on how the intervention of those "witnesses" had just made things so much worse.

I've learned my lesson. I'm now completely consistent in making J-Dog sit when another dog approaches, even when I know it's a dog he likes. And it goes without saying that the only comparison to what happened to J-Dog and Joe Webber was the absolute conviction on the part of witnesses that they saw something that did not happen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

olympic figure skating ate my brain

I've a post I want to write about the unreliability of eye-witnesses, inspired by this article in the Globe and Mail and something that happened a couple of weeks ago.

I am, however, just too tired.

I've watched four nights in a row of Olympic figure skating and I am bleary-eyed. I love the drama, the spectacle, the artistry and the strength of the skaters along with the feeling that anything could happen at any moment. I also love the personalities and the costumes. It's too much fun.

I have, however, found myself thinking more than once that I would be able to take it all much more seriously if I hadn't seen Blades of Glory.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

update on 10 for february

Last week, I joined a BlogHer Group committed to getting ten things done in February. In the spirit of accountability, here is my progress thus far:
1. Finish sewing the eyes and mouth on D.'s sock monkey hat.

Still to do, but D. has really stepped up the nagging, so I promised him that I would get it done by Friday.

2. Graft the toes on my sister's socks (both these projects have been very, very close to finished for months. It's embarassing). 

No progress yet.

3. Make soup twice twice.

I made sweet potato soup with roasted garlic. It was extremely labour intensive (and I made it worse by not paying attention to the directions and, instead of slicing 12 sweet potatoes in half, I sliced them all thinly. It was ridiculous and made every other step ridiculously complicated) but delicious. And I froze some to eat during chemo week. Very pleased with myself.

4. Read 6 books, including Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, Good to a Fault and The Jade Peony

So far, I've read four books, inclduing Good To A Fault (loved it!) and Generation X (meh). One of the books (Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series) was almost 750 pages long.

5. Average 6 hours of walking every week (I was doing this easily for a long time but have slacked off and I'm feeling it, as are the dogs).

I've decided to change that to 6 hours of cardio (of any kind) per week but I've still only been averaging 4.5 hours.

6. Re-read the first draft of my novel (haven't touched the thing since completing NaNoWriMo).

I've read the first forty pages. It doesn't suck as much as I was worried that it would. In fact, there are some bits I actually liked.  I find it exhausting to read, though - not because it's heavy or difficult but because I wrote it. Can any of you relate to that feeling?

7. Write something 3x every week (I have been anxious and procrastinating. I thought that setting the bar low might help).

I wrote, for at least a few minutes, four times last week.

8. Organize my clothes.

Haven't started. Unless you count putting one pair of pants that don't fit anymore (wore them a few weeks ago but couldn't do them up on the week end) where they won't make me feel so pissed off at myself.

9. Go skating (I live steps from the Rideau Canal yet I didn't even make it out once last year).

I went once with my family and twice on my own!

10. Send a card to my Aunt, with the photo we took in the summer.

I really do need to get to this one. It's something I've been wanting to do for some time. I don't know why it keeps getting pushed down the to-do list.

Anyone else have any progress to report?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

on the canal

I like to say that "I moved to Ottawa kicking and screaming." I loved living in Toronto and only moved because my spouse's short term contracts had led to longer term work and I had quit my job.

But then I fell in love with the place. And yesterday's adventure skating sums up why.

It was a beautiful sunny day, unseasonably warm for February. On impulse, I grabbed my skates and headed over to the canal.

When I hit the ice, I found myself giggling like a little kid. My calves were burning (and when they loosened up my thighs took over. My butt still hurts today) but it was fun.

There were folks out skating in office clothes (including at least one guy in a full suit and tie) and a teenager turning cartwheels on the ice. There were little kids that looked too young to walk, gliding past me. And there were other adults wobbling along or holding the hands of more stable skaters. There were people of all races, ages, shapes and sizes - all out enjoying the sunshine and the joy of movement.

A little more than an hour after I left the house, I returned to drop off my skates and ran to catch the bus that would take me to an appointment. I was hot and sweaty. And happy, too.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

it scares me

Every since I could read (and probably even before), I have wanted to be a writer of fiction.

And now that I have the opportunity, I am terrified.

My professional life helped me overcome a great deal of writing anxiety. When you have a writing deadline and you know that fifteen other people are going to comment and edit what you write, you learn to just put fingers to the keyboard and get the job done. This is a lesson it took me a long time to learn but I got there (more or less).

I enjoyed doing the kind of writing that I was able to do for advocacy organizations and labour unions but I seldom got to pick the subject of the pieces I wrote. I learned to write in the voice of the organization I represented or the person for whom I was writing a statement or speech. It was fun and I got to be reasonably good at it but keeping the writing at some distance helped me to overcome most of my anxiety. 

And the sheer volume of work meant that I frequently had little time for angst between cranking out one piece and then beginning the next.

This blog was the next step in my writing evolution. Beginning when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer and at my most vulnerable, there was little that I did not reveal here. Before long, I realized that my writing had changed, that the voice use is now my own.

Then I began to long to create something new, to make up stories in the way that I had as a child. I set this as my next goal.

And then I froze.

Participating in National Novel Writing Month was a breakthrough for me, as I took the short scenes I had written for a fiction course and the notes in my journal and cranked out 50,000 words in less than a month. I celebrated with champagne when I finished. The completion of this project marked a huge personal triumph.

But I have not looked at a single word of the manuscript since November 29th. Moving continuously forward was the key to getting through NaNoWriMo and I did not let myself re-read as I wrote. Then I permitted myself to take a break in December. Then January came and went. And now, we are well into February.

When I set my ten goals for this month, I included the task of reviewing my draft novel. Two days ago, I finally printed it. The pages fell out of the printer and onto the floor. I scooped them up and dropped them on the dining room table, where they remain, out of order and unread.

I'm off to Toronto tomorrow evening. I'm going to bring the document with me and on Sunday's train ride home, I'm going to start to read.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Is there anything that you really want to do that scares you?

Monday, February 08, 2010

stolen content

If you are reading this post on a site other than Not Just About Cancer (besides Facebook or a feed reader), you are reading stolen content.

I have filed a complaint under the DMCA (US copyright law) and hope to have the site taken down (or at least have my content removed) but since the other blog seems to be scraping all my new content, I thought I would create this special post just for them.

Thanks to Sassymonkey for alerting me to the problem, Elise Bauer for this excellent article and Susan Getgood for suggesting I write this post.

spring dreams and other bits

I had a dream last night that spring had arrived. Everything was green and lush and the tulips were in bloom. When I woke up, I was very disappointed. The current temperature is -9C with a windchill of -18C (that's 16F, with a windchill hovering around 0F, for American readers).

In the spirit of "if you can't beat it, join it" I went skating on the canal yesterday with my family and a friend of my younger son. It was fun but I realized that I am seriously out of shape and out of practice. I think I fooled myself into thinking I was a decent skater when I was pushing the stroller. I'm a lot more wobbly now than I was in those days.

I was in the library on Saturday and a woman ahead of me in the checkout line had a fit because she had a big fine for overdue books. She claimed that it was an outrage that she had only received an email reminder when her books were two weeks overdue. Seriously? It's the library's job to keep track of everyone's books? 

She had a pre-teen girl with her, who was checking out a book. The woman told the girl, loudly, "This is the last book you are getting from here!" and again blamed the library because the books were overdue.

It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut. My older son has been responsible for his own books and his own fines for two years. I think this is a very reasonable expectation. I did tell the staffer who had been dealing with the woman that I thought he was unbelievably patient.

Mom2Amara included me in a post that left me speechless. I was so moved and even a little shocked at being included in the list of those that inspire her that I have been hesitant to mention it here. I want her to know how much that post meant to me, though. I have been feeling somewhat at sea of late and her words were a reminder that I have done some good work over the last couple of years. I will hold her words in my heart for a long time to come.

Friday, February 05, 2010

lists are good

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that I find it hard to resist a good list.

And while I've decided to keep my goals for the year very simple and specific, I was very intrigued by a recent post, written by my friend Sassymonkey, which in turn, led me to the BlogHer group, "List Lovers Unite!"

It seems that a group of folks there have determined to set themselves ten monthly goals. This strikes me as a nice bridge between my very manageable goal for the year (make soup) and my nearly interminable daily to-do lists.

I gave it some thought and then added mine. Here it is, with some editorial comment added:

1. Finish sewing the eyes and mouth on D.'s sock monkey hat.

2. Graft the toes on my sister's socks (both these projects have been very, very close to finished for months. It's embarassing).

3. Make soup twice.

4. Read 6 books, including Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, Good to a FaultThe Jade Peony. and

5.Average 6 hours of walking every week (I was doing this easily for a long time but have slacked off and I'm feeling it, as are the dogs).

6. Re-read the first draft of my novel (haven't touched the thing since completing NaNoWriMo).

7. Write something 3x every week (I have been anxious and procrastinating. I thought that setting the bar low might help.

8. Organize my clothes.

9. Go skating (I live steps from the Rideau Canal yet I didn't even make it out once last year).

10. Send a card to my Aunt, with the photo we took in the summer.

If you are a list lover like me, come join us! And let me know if you do.

Monday, February 01, 2010

soup and the missing muse

I made three soups in January.

Red lentil and carrot from Cooking with Foods That Fight Cancer

Broccoli cheddar from Looneyspoons: Low-fat food made fun!

Jambalaya from Weight Watchers (heavily modified: I substituted white fish for shrimp, used more liquid and had sausage on the side, so folks could choose their level of spiciness. And I didn't use chicken. And I used different spices. This for me, was a wildly adventurous departure).

If I don't run out of time today, I plan on making a pre-chemo Sweet potato and roasted garlic soup from the The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook: Great-Tasting Recipes That Keep You Lean!
A friend gave this one to me. I recall it being time consuming but delicious..

I have had a post on the tip of my fingers about my current highly ambivalent feelings about my life, identity and treatment but I can't seem to bring myself to write it.

In fact, I can't seem to bring myself to write much these days.

Maybe, later this week, as I recover from chemo.

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. And the four year anniversary of my mastectomy.